Kenya See Yourself Here? Focus on the Maasai Mara Reserve
By Richard Jones
Did you make a promise to yourself during lockdown to see more of the world?
Perhaps the past year has given you the desire, inspiration and urgency to tick a box on your wanderlust wish list and spend time under the sun and the stars on the holiday of a lifetime.
The word safari translates as “going on a journey”, and Britain’s foremost writer on African wildlife trips, Brian Jackman, hit the nail on the head when he said, “everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all”.
Picture the scene – sipping on a sundowner cocktail as a herd of elephants slowly amble past, shaking their ears, with the golden sun slowly setting behind the mighty Kilimanjaro.
No matter how many David Attenborough documentaries you have seen or how many zoos you have visited, nothing can prepare you for sights, sounds and smells of an authentic African safari.
And there is nowhere better for close encounters with the continent’s storybook animals than the birthplace of the traditional wildlife safari, Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve.
This was where the BBC’s Big Cat Diary was filmed, and between July and October you will see arguably the greatest wildlife show on Earth – the annual wildebeest migration – as well as most (possibly even all) of the famous ‘Big Five’ – lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants and rhino.
Cheetahs also show off their speed in this big cat territory, as do endangered wild dogs, and the more abundant antelopes, zebras and giraffes.
And for those with a keener eye there is the so-called ‘Small Five’ (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, ant lion, rhino beetle and leopard tortoise), as well as well over a 1,000 species of birds, many of which can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
Away from the wildlife (but not too far), Great Plains has two amazing, but slightly different accommodation options for a luxury Kenyan safari.
At both you can wake up in your private residence with the sunrise and birdsong, as well as distant lion roars.
Then, after a day of adventure out in the bush, relax with a tranquil candlelit dinner beside the camp plunge pool, before heading to bed ready for the following day.
Dereck Joubert, CEO of Great Plains says: “I’ve always felt that our guests want to come to Africa to see wildlife, and experience that spirit of the continent – to be seduced by its romance and warmth of our communities.
“Guests stay with us to have their hearts, and their minds stimulated. At Great Plains, they come to step into a movie script where everything is perfect, stylish and breath-taking.
“I know you will fall in love here. I do each time.”
Mara Plains Camp
Situated in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, one of the most iconic wildlife destinations on the planet, Mara Plains Camp is re-opening in June after undergoing a full refurbishment.
The refreshed camp is completely elevated on high-rise decks and its brand-new Honeymoon Suite offers couples a stay on a peninsula island which can only be accessed via suspension bridge.
The new suite has large wooden Swahili doors, paying homage to the essence of East Africa, while the open-plan design and décor has a colonial influence with wooden floors, big antique brass chandeliers, red-hued interiors and fine brass furnishings.
As well as the Honeymoon Suite, Mara Plains is also introducing its eagerly anticipated Jahazi Suite.
This impressive new private two-bedroom villa features a shared lounge and a dining area.
The services of a private game drive vehicle, guide and chef come as standard.
Throughout the stay, activities include day and night drives, hot air ballooning (at an additional expense), and a chance to immerse yourself in the Maasai way of life.
Mara Toto Camp
Meaning “baby” in Swahili, Great Plains’ new camp is 2km down river from its big sister Mara Plains.
Located along the banks of the Ntiakitiak on the border of the Maasai Mara, the intimate camp is hidden in the forest, offering guests privacy and wonderful game-viewing opportunities with access to both the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the adjacent Mara North Private Conservancy.
Accommodating up to eight guests, Mara Toto blends a feeling of comfort and adventure.
It is an excellent base for budding big cat photographers and perfectly designed for intimate groups, for couples, and families with children aged six and up.
The new camp consists of four canvas tents with tranquil blue coloured interiors with leather and canvas touches and spacious brass baths, along with a communal relaxation area, and indoor and outdoor dining options.
To learn more about Great Plains, an authentic tourism conservation organisation consisting of 16 prestigious owned and partner safari properties in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, please see: greatplainsconservation.com and greatplainsfoundation.com
Package 1: Great Plains Mara Toto Camp
From £3,075.00 per person sharing including BA economy flights, one night in Nairobi with transfers, four nights at Mara Toto Camp.
Package 2: Great Plains Mara Plains Camp
From £3795.00 per person sharing including BA economy flights, 1 night Nairobi with transfers, four nights at Mara Plains Camp.
All flights, transfers, activities, F&B etc included, and trips are bookable via Safari Consultants. See: safari-consultants.com. Tel. 01787 888590