“The lion is getting ready to attack the zebra,” whispered Mako, our Maasai driver peering through his binoculars at the nearby zebra.
The lioness Mako was referring to was roughly 20 metres away from the zebra, creeping closer and closer – about to catch her morning breakfast. Within seconds of Mako alerting us to the imminent action, the lioness took off, sprinting towards the zebra in a chase, eventually stretching out with one paw onto the backside of the zebra nearly taking it down. The zebra evaded the attack, eventually leaving the lion in its dust.
“How did she miss it,” we all gasped from the Land Cruiser. The lion collapsed, tired of the chase, watching on in disappointment as the zebra was freed, scarred, and startled from its near death experience.
This was the first day on my trip to Maasai Mara, and it only got better!
I was staying at the world-renowned Cottar’s 1920s Camp, after a long-awaited absence from the Mara. I was overdue for some time in the bush, sleeping under canvas, experiencing epic sunsets, and viewing amazing wildlife. There is no place in the world like the Mara, and this trip only reaffirmed my high expectations, building on past trips.
I had heard great reviews about Cottar’s 1920s Camp. It is known as one of the best tented safari camps in Kenya, and truly one of the best in the world. The Cottar Family has been in the safari business since 1919, and opened Cottar’s 1920s Camp in the Mara in 1998. The properties continue to be run by the Cottar family today. Staying at the campground gives you a true feeling of how deep the roots are for this long-standing connection to the safari industry. Grounded, and always responsive to current demands for the ultimate safari experience.
Breakfast Under the Acacia and Cascading Waterfall at Dawn
When visiting Cottar’s 1920s Camp, I learned that there are two essential times to experience it in all its glory – sunrise and sunset. There is no place on earth I’ve ever been more excited to jump out of bed at 4:30AM. There is something magical about catching the morning sunrise in the Mara, starting the day with tea outside your canvas tent, and then heading on a game drive, hoping to see big cats on the move. Every morning our Cottar’s game drive was completed with breakfast under an acacia tree with a spectacular view — where I decompressed and reminisced about the morning experience.
One morning we had a private breakfast on the sand of the Sand River, with cascading rocks and a waterfall in the distance. The setting was out of a movie!
After the meal, I decided it was time for a dip in the riverbed without really thinking about what was down below. “Alright I’m going in!” I didn’t hesitate to jump right in but after 10 minutes, my mind started to wander. “What could be in here? A baby croc? A water snake? Yup, something just touched my foot… I’m out”.
Putting my water fears aside, the morning was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Swimming at a waterfall in the Mara. Come on, you can’t top that.
Evenings with Giraffes, Gin & Tonics, and a Traditional Canvas Bath
The evenings and sundowner experiences at Cottar’s were spectacular, and every night topped the next! It seemed that every night I was transported to a new sundowner experience, with deliciously prepared cocktails, roaring fires, spectacular sunsets, with animals in the distance – in one case about twenty giraffes passing by.
Many of the evenings were centered around great conversation and company along with the Maasai guides and staff. I truly think this is what separates Cottar’s 1920s Camp from the rest, as there was minimal divide between guests and staff. I got to know each and every staff member, as they joined us in many of my experiences at the camp: laughing, learning, and sharing stories with each other about our differing backgrounds and upbringings.
One of these special experiences was on a walking safari led by Letilet and Moses, our bushwalking escorts. Moses is a man with a fascinating life story: he was previously a poacher turned tracker. Moses took us on a long trek to our sundowner location, pointing out plants, birds, and animals along the way. Once we arrived at the special spot, he showed us how to shoot a bow and arrow at a target, which led to some fierce competition with the group.
Finally, you can’t experience Cottar’s 1920s Camp without partaking in the famous outdoor traditional canvas bath that is prepared on the veranda outside your luxurious tent. This bath in the wild, full of bubbles, and a little champagne to round out the experience is truly once in a lifetime. I put on my favourite relaxing playlist, sat in the canvas bath while looking out on the vast grasslands of one of the most picturesque places imaginable. I reflected on the amazing experience I had on this trip, as the sun began to set over the Maasai Mara.
Cottar’s 1920s Camp made this dream possible and I will cherish it forever.