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Wild romance and unforgettable safaris with guaranteed big cat sightings in the land of the Masai
The Masai Mara is a part of the Serengeti and the beautiful landscape that almost everyone knows from the movie “Out of Africa”. And who have not heard about the great Masai warriors with their red robes? That is where we went. We visited the Masai, the wide-open savannahs and one of the areas with the biggest variety of wild animals in Kenya.
“Mara” means “spotted” or “dotted” in the Masai language. A land spotted with thorn trees, animals and shadows of clouds.
During our two and a half hour flight in a small Mombasa Air Safari plane, we flew past Kilimanjaro, from Diani Beach (Ukunda) to Olkiombo Airstrip.
We love the vastness, the nature, the people and the animals in Africa! Getting out of the small plane was almost like coming home. Africa feels like our second home. Only someone that has already been there will be able to understand!
A fee is charged in Kenya, when you stay in a national park. The good news is this fee is used to combat poaching.
After our flight, we were picked up by Simon, a guide from the Mara Bush Camp. But, instead of going to the camp, we went straight on our first small safari.
Past the hyenas, antelopes, topis and huge herds of buffalo we comfortably drove to the camp. Unfortunately, there were no lion sightings, but that was yet to come. It is almost guaranteed that you will see lions in the Masai Mara, because it is one of the areas with the most lions in the world.
Spectacular: Every year between July and October thousands of wildebeest and zebra from the wildebeest migration are on the plains of the Masai Mara. However, during our time there in November, they had already grazed everything and migrated. There were only small isolated herds left, which had no desire to move on.
We were fortunate enough that almost all the animals just had their young. Small baby animals were to be seen everywhere!
Mara Bush Camp – Private Wing
One of the best camps in the Masai Mara is located in the bush, in the heart of the Masai Mara Game Reserve and directly on the banks of Olare Orok River. It consists of two small eco-friendly camps, Mara Bush Camp & Mara Bush Camp – Private Wing, each with 12 tents.
The tents in the Private Wing offer a lot of luxury and are built on wooden platforms. In comparison, the tents in the Mara Bush Camp are directly on the ground.
Off the beaten track, the Mara Bush Camp – Private Wing offers complete privacy, it is centrally located and thanks to the manager, the lovely staff and the Masai, it also offers very friendly and personal service.
Interview with Camp Managerin Michela Consiglio
We spoke with the Italian manager Michela. In the interview, she tells us a little more about the camp and its heart for social projects.
Michela takes great care of the well-being of her guests. She is the very soul of the camp and almost always there, just in case, she would be needed. We had a great time with her and her team.
The camp has a cozy bar tent with lots of seating, comfy sofas, books and a beautiful view of the river.
With a delicious drink in hand from bartender John you can just relax.
There is a separate photo lounge for photographers. Here you can recharge batteries and view the images of the day. There also is a small shop with all sorts of beautiful things by local artists.
The camp was erected in harmony with nature by Sunworld Safaris, is operated environmentally friendly and still has every luxury! Both camps received silver awards from the ECO TOURISM SOCIETY in 2014. Camps that save water, energy and reduce the production of waste are awarded annually.
As with the Nkasa Lupala Tented Camp in Namibia, this camp can also be completely dismantled and would not even leave a trace. The soap is handmade and electricity and hot water are produced entirely from solar energy. There is a generator, only in case of an emergency. And even the wastewater treatment system of the flush toilets is based on a biological basis. Learn more >>
All the tents are far apart and offer a lot of privacy. Eight tents, including two family tents, are located directly on the river and four more are hidden in the forest.
The tents are very generously in size, have comfortable four poster beds with mosquito nets (or twin beds), an en-suite bathroom, a safari-style shower, wardrobe, desk and private veranda with sofa and deckchairs.
There are soft plush carpets everywhere. All handmade – I would love to have some of them at home! The furniture is also made locally and exudes that true safari feeling.
Fresh water is provided daily for tooth brushing and drinking in an eco-friendly glass container. The shower water (warm water from 17:30 to 20:30) comes from a nearby well.
We stayed in one of the (family) tents that has a veranda right by the river. Pure luxury and wilderness! At night we could hear the hippos snort. Sometimes it seemed as if they were right next to the tent.
The camp has no fences, so you may not even walk around alone at night As soon as we came out of the tent there was always a Masai waiting to accompany us.
You have to get up early in Africa, if you want to go on safari. Every morning, just after sunrise at 6:30 on the dot, we left with Simon on our morning game drive.
And it is well worth it, many animals are active in the morning, so you get too see plenty of them. If you would like to, you can also do some game watching from a hot air balloon.
Especially the big cats are at their most active in the morning and in the evening.
We did not think it was possible to see so many animals, especially lions in the Masai Mara. Absolutely impressive! On our six game drives in three days, we saw 18 lions – nine of them were just a few months old.
Simon could even tell us the name of every lion. These ones are, for example, Morani and Scarface (he lost an eye in a fight).
And the two here, with their full bellies comfortably dozing after the hunt, are Blacky and Lipstick. Lions are almost always seen in twos and quite often they are brothers.
We were lucky to also see many elephants. With the help of rangers and by educating the locals they are well protected here in Kenya!
Another highlight was these two lionesses with their just caught prey and four young cubs.
We saw lots of lions, jackals, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, leopards, wildebeest, various birds, antelopes, zebras, warthogs and hyenas. Only the rhinoceroses are unfortunately very seldom seen.
Breakfast in the bush
Of course you get a delicious breakfast in the camp after your morning safari. We thought it was really cool that we could take our breakfast along with us on the game drive! A great idea so that you can be out and about for longer – instead of 9:00, we only returned to camp at 11:00.
Right on the Mara River, next to crocodiles, hippos and in the company of countless birds, we were served breakfast on the bonnet of the jeep.
At noon lunch is served at the wonderful outdoor Al Fresco Restaurant. This is so special. The tables are set up far apart from each other and the ambience is simply unique!
The cheerful chefs and Masai offer delicious African, Indian or even Italian dishes buffet style as well as some “live cooking”.
The special thing about this camp is the Hippo deck with Hippo Pool. From the cozy observation deck you can watch up to 60 hippos at once.
We were even able to watch a very young hippo that has just been born, during his first swimming exercises.
At 16:00 we went on our next game drive. It is always exciting to see which animals you will encounter this time round.
Again, we had good luck and Simon had a real sense of finding us lions! This time we were able to watch the lionesses and their cubs again.
The lionesses also move in pairs, if one is on the hunt, the other one takes care of the young.
We almost saw a hunting leopard in action, but unfortunately it was getting dark and we had to return to the camp. Leopards are very patient hunters!
One of the best things about Africa is the evening campfire! Wildly romantic with the soft glow of paraffin lamps, it is the place to relax and enjoy interesting stories.
Dinner is served outdoors under the starry African sky. If it rains, you get to enjoy your meal in the chic dining tent.
Surrounded by solar lamps delicious 3-course meals are served. Very romantic! A wide variety of dishes were on offer and the food was always very delicious!
Social projects l Travel and do good
40% of the employees are from the local Masai community. The “Bed Night Fees” entirely goes to the local community. As such, tourism contributes considerably to improving the quality of life in the entire region.
The Camp Manager Michela and Sunworld Safaris have set themselves the task to promote and support local artists and girls, especially.
A wonderful project is the recycling of plastic – Eclastic (Eco & Plastic) – “Buy Eclastic and not Ivory”! Beautiful jewellery and accessories are made from old plastic bottles or DVDs, which are also sold in the shop of the camp. Currently, 20% of the proceeds are used to teach the Masai women how to produce sell and jewellery from plastic. More information can be found on www.eclastic.org.
A brand new product is “The Elephant with a Message” chains – cute little elephants made from recycled plastic in different colors and with sayings like “Dreams come true”, “Enjoy each day”, “I can and I will”, “You are special”, “You are loved” or “Keep going”. With the proceeds Mara Bush Camp adopts orphans from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. So far, two orphaned elephants have been adopted.
You can help!
Sunworld Safaris and Mara Bush Camp also support the Olmalaika Home, a shelter for young Masai girls that helps to protect them against forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).You can also help these girls by fulfilling a couple of requests on their wish list. (Insights are given in Kim DeWitt’s video)
We love the Masai Mara and this camp! It is wonderful romantic and you just feel completely at ease! Right from the word go we were lovingly cared for by all the staff. We were able to experience very impressive game drives with our guides, ate delicious food and enjoyed the peace and quiet of nature very much! Our tent was really cozy – a mix of pure luxury and safari feeling! The Masai are incredibly warm-hearted people and there is so much wildlife to be seen – you have to experience it yourself! You see more animals than you ever would expect to. We would have loved to stay longer!
Rooms: 12 Tents with 12 more tents located in the Mara Bush Camp
Duration: About a one hour flight from Wilson Airstrip (Nairobi) and about two and a half hours from Ukunda Airstrip (Diani Beach) to Olkiombo Airstrip with Mombasa Air Safari; nonstop from Frankfurt to Mombasa with Condor in eight and a half hours
Check-in /Check-out Times: 12:00 / 10:00
Air Temperature: Minimum: 11° Celsius at night, Maximum: 28° Celsius during daytime
Malaria: Malaria risk, please take the necessary precautions e.g. malaria prophylaxis (Malarone)
The following vaccinations are recommended: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B; Vaccination against yellow fever is recommended when entering through neighboring countries such as Tanzania.
When to visit: All year-round; Best time: mid-December to mid-March & June to October; Peak of Wet season: mid-March – May; little rainfall: Nov. and Dec.; Wildebeest Migration Period: July to September
Time difference: 2 hours; in summer only 1 hour
Price: From 425 EUR per person/night full board included and from 533 EUR per person/night for the Game Package
National Park fee: EUR 70 per person /night
Specialties: Seasonal camp, only open from July until the end of October
Honeymoon Special: Fruit covered in chocolate
Perfect for: Couples, families, game watchers, photographers, nature lovers, honeymooners
Mara Bush Camp – Private Wing
Masai Mara, Kenya
SILVER ECO-RATED – ECO Tourism
Some insight into the Mara Bush Camp:
The other, somewhat wilder, but equally beautiful part of the camp is just a few minutes away. It is similar in structure to the Mara Bush Camp – Private Wing. All the tents are located on the river tucked away in the bush and are far apart from each other. The only difference is that the tents are directly on the ground and when you want to shower, you first have to order your warm water. It is then heated beforehand. Apart from that, it also has a dining tent, a bar tent, a photo lounge and an al fresco restaurant with a romantic fire place! We found both camps great!
Price: from 285 EUR per person /night full board included and from 365 EUR per person/night for the Game Package www.marabushcamp.com
Safari Beach Combo: For the perfect vacation in Kenya, a safari can easily be combined with a beach holiday! We highly recommend The Sands at Chale Island and The Sands at Nomad just 10 minutes from Ukunda Airstrip and directly on Diani Beach!
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Note: During our stay we were supported by Sunworld Safaris and for the transfer to the airstrip by D.M.Tours. Thank you so much! The opinions expressed in this article are absolutely 100% our own! The trip was organized by Magical Kenya (Kenya Tourism Board). A heartfelt thank you!!