Kenya safari: A love affair with the wild
Love, romance and adventure are all part of a timeless story best experienced through the hidden delights of the luxury Kenya safari. While it might have changed in many ways over the last 100 years, the magic of safari...
Love, romance and adventure are all part of a timeless story best experienced through the hidden delights of the luxury Kenya safari. While it might have changed in many ways over the last 100 years, the magic of safari is still very much alive and intimately connected to the essence of the original safari. Falling in love with the modern safari is made so much more fulfilling and deep by learning about its rich natural and cultural heritage in the Kenyan wilderness of the Maasai Mara.
The history of safari, the way of life and cultural traditions of the Maasai community, the unique biodiversity specimens and the Mara’s keystone species, and incredible wildlife conservation stories – finding out about all of this helps shift learning to meaningful engagement with and appreciation of the complexity of Africa’s wild spaces. The safari of today is about unique, purpose-driven experiences that contribute to sustainability in Kenya.
Grand luxury for special celebrations
Romance has, for decades, found a warm and adventurous home in the Maasai Mara, the wild heart of Kenya’s internationally renowned safari spots. It remains the destination that many newlyweds get away to for honeymoon and where lovebirds swoop in to nest for an utterly dreamy retreat. A luxury camp surrounded by the natural beauty of the Mara bush makes for a classic safari sojourn.
Authentic and inspiring encounters begin from the moment you set foot in camp. From the rolling savannahs unfolding below and beyond the hilltop bar to the library nook fit snuggly next to the fireplace nook, and a dining area inspired by a bygone era, a perfect pairing of old and new sets the scene for unforgettable moments.
Big love is worthy of grand luxury, romantic indulgences and wild adventures that will etch an indelible imprint in your mind. Tuck into scrumptious afternoon teas served on Victorian-era silver tea sets, melt away stress in gorgeous canvas bubble-baths beneath a canopy of stars, fall asleep together in a huge four-poster bed with draped netting, and feel the morning sun warm your feet as you relax on one of tent’s outdoor loungers.
Seamless and effortless movement from the outdoors into the camp’s interior means that you are surrounded by nature’s sights and sounds. This makes for the ultimate immersive and transformative safari experience, unplugging you from the noise of civilization and connecting you to the wilderness therapy of the Mara.
Adventures ignited by purpose and passion
From under canvas romance at camp to the magic felt while exploring one of Africa’s most pristine and remote wilderness areas. To take care of the wild is to love it deeply. A values-based safari provides purpose and impact through a collection of experiences that have a positive effect on all involved – you the visitor, the complex and unique biodiversity of the Mara, and the local Maasai community.
A safari in the Maasai Mara is an exhilarating escapade into Big 5 territory. A term coined in the 1800s, the ‘Big 5’ refers to the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo, which were considered by colonial hunters as those animals most dangerous and difficult to bring down. Now these iconic African animals are revered for the importance they play – particularly as some of them are keystone species – in maintaining the health of the sensitive Mara ecosystem.
Game drives allow you to get up close to these, and other wildlife species, while traversing the different ecosystems of savannah, riverine and mountain. While on a game drive, take time to learn from your guide about the key challenges and opportunities that the Maasai Mara faces. Use this time to explore ways to further engage sustainability while travelling and live with greater environmental sensitivity in general. Ask questions of your guide and, of course, simply enjoy the rejuvenating power of nature.
As erosion is widespread in the Mara, an electric bike ride (e-bike) helps lower your carbon footprint and immediate impact on the vulnerable parts of this precious landscape. Out and about on an e-bike is a wonderful and different way to explore the ecosystem near to camp, perhaps passing some plains game along the way.
A walking safari is a low carbon footprint activity and the habitats through which you hike will unfold in the most fascinating of details. It is a wonderful way to look at the smaller critters, take an interest in the plant diversity, and see the wildlands at a slower pace. Turn a walk into a run in the morning or evening with a local Maasai warrior as your guide.
Love for people and place
The Maasai are one of the few tribes in East Africa never to have been enslaved. To this day, they retain their bold, colourful clothing and unique cultural traits. They remain a semi-nomadic tribe that has lived, relative to other tribes, harmoniously and sustainably alongside the wildlife of the Mara.
Unscripted and informal – as opposed to ‘canned’ type – interactions facilitate respectful engagement and learning about the culture and community of the Maasai. Find out about the ancient traditions alongside the contemporary struggles and adaptations to modern life that the Maasai continue to deal with.
A village visit involves a trip to some of the manyattas (mud huts) that are designed and built completely by hand, understanding the establishment and operational running of the community’s security, healthcare, education and resource management (livestock, meals, water and firewood), and stopping at the local market that is full of wonderful hand-crafted Maasai artefacts and attire.
Then, hear from a local astronomer about the constellation of stars seen from the African equator, and understand how this starlit view can elicit such illuminating and culturally different stories. The night skies of Kenya are simply phenomenal and take on significant meaning when explained intricately by someone who has looked up at the stars on every clear night and knows them well.
Calvin Cottar is Director and Owner at Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa.