Having done 4 safaris in the last 10 years, I can honestly say that each one has been special in its own way. There are so many ways to experience a safari. First, there are at least 8 African countries in which you can do a Safari, and all offer very different landscapes and wildlife. Second, the region within each of these countries can vary vastly which impacts game viewing. And finally, the same safari in the same region can be completely different depending on the season. We keep going back for more for these reasons and the simple fact that we can’t get enough of African Safaris. There are many different factors that go into choosing a safari destination. These include: accommodation, game viewing, weather, ease of access and authenticity. Authenticity is what made our latest safari adventure unforgettable. Find out why this once in a lifetime luxury safari at the beautiful Cottar’s 1920s Camp won our hearts over in a different way.
Cottar’s 1920s Luxury Tent In The Maasai Mara
There are so many options when it comes to accommodations; lodges, luxury tented camps, mobile camps, public campsites, hotels and guesthouses. We decided to step outside our comfort zone and opted for a luxury tent. OK, maybe we took a teeny tiny step outside our comfort zone. You’ll understand what I mean when you see the pictures! Cottar’s 1920s Camp is 1 km away from the Maasai Mara game reserve and its private conservancy occupies 6,000 acres. The camp only has 10 tents which makes this reserve very exclusive.
The Swala tent, where we spent three nights was very private, authentic and luxurious. You can enjoy a gin and tonic on the veranda in between game drives while taking in the spectacular view of the distant Maasai Mara and Serengeti plains. The tent is equipped with a private ensuite dressing room and bathroom leading into the main bedroom where you have a sitting area and king size canopy bed. This is what I meant when I said that we “sort of” stepped outside our comfort zone.
During the night we heard the eerie sound of hyenas, nightjar and several other animals that I couldn’t identify. I do have to disclose that I only slept without ear plugs once. It can get loud at times and it felt like animals were right outside our tent. I did not dare to unzip the tent to find out if this was the case. I instead woke up in the middle of the night and inserted my earplugs. Ignorance is bliss and if I’m going to get eaten I may as well be well rested.
Daily Game Drives At Cottar’s 1920s Camp
Every morning, bright and early, well maybe dark and early, you’ll get a wake-up call. This usually involves a room attendant calling out your name and serving tea or coffee with cookies to help fuel you for the first game drive. Once ready, we would call for someone to escort us to our vehicle. We were advised not to venture out alone when it is dark because we could bump into wildlife along the way. Since we aren’t talking about cute little cats and dogs, we followed instructions.
Cottar’s 1920s Camp has 4 of the 23 Gold-Standard ‘Kenya Professional Safari Guide’ qualified guides in Kenya. The remaining guides all hold a Silver-Level KPSGA qualification. Our Gold-Standard KPSGA, Mako, did not disappoint! When you Safari at Cottar’s, you also get to experience the Maasai culture first hand by visiting nearby villages. Read all about Mako and the amazing Maasai people in his village on a recent post: Just A Little Romance In The Wonderful Maasai Mara!
Mako and Kitipa, our spotter, worked tirelessly to find wildlife. From the most elusive Leopard to the more common ones like zebra and antelopes. I am happy to say that we once again saw the big five and for the first time we got to see the majestic Cheetah. Not only did we see a Cheetah but we saw FIVE laying together in the bush!!! Another highlight from this Safari was our Lion encounter; we almost witnessed a kill! But due to his lack of resolve we settled for two roaring lions, one up close and another in the distance. It probably went something like this: Lion 1 “Hey buddy, there’s a bunch of zebra coming your way, you may want to position yourself.” Lion 2 “Yeah, I see them, I think I’m going to sleep this one off.”
Dinning At Cottar’s 1920s Camp
Breakfast was served in the bush during our game drives soon after the sunrise every morning. There is nothing more serene than sitting under the warm African sun watching animals graze while enjoying a cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast.
Lunch was served in a communal dining setting with a selection of cold and warm buffet items. The food was decent, it hit the spot, and the good company made up for its shortcomings. I would have enjoyed an a la carte option but completely understand the limitations that come with being secluded and trying to maintain a sustainable operation. For that reason, I cannot say anything negative.
Dinner was served shortly after arriving back from our evening game drive. Each evening consisted of a set menu which included an appetizer, main dish and dessert. This meal was slightly better than lunch, but the lack of options is the only thing I can criticize. Guests are asked about food restrictions or preferences prior to their arrival so there is no need to worry about going hungry because you don’t eat certain things. I'll eat pretty much anything, so I happily finished whatever they served. I was also starving at dinner so that helped.
Cottar’s 1920s Camp Community Initiative
Douglas, the Camp Manager, shared all the wonderful things that Cottar’s 1920s Camp does for the community. Cottar’s built Olpalagilagi Primary School where over 200 students have the opportunity to receive an education. For this reason, we decided to pack for a purpose and brought a suitcase full of supplies for the children of the nearby villages.
They also provide a market for beadwork and other traditional handicrafts produced by Maasai women. This allows them to earn money to help preserve their culture and provide for their families. On top of providing employment for the local community Cottar’s 1920s Camp also conducts clinic visits.
The Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust (CWCT) also runs an operation for wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching and anti-deforestation.
Cottar’s 1920s Camp is truly unforgettable and offers an exceptional experience for the most discerning traveler. Cottar’s rich history contributes to its uniqueness and sets them apart from the rest. With nearly a hundred years in the business it is needles to say that they know what they are doing. You will not be disappointed.
Have you been on a Safari? If so, what was your experience like? If not, is this something you would like to experience? Let me know in the comments below.
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