Mara Plains Camp

If a camp’s success lies in its details, then Mara Plains Camp is truly blessed, located as it is on a bend in the Ntiakitiak River in the heart of the 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy which abuts Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve to its south

Upon arriving at the camp, you walk across a bridge over the river, through a thick, riverine forest, up a small slope to some giant steps, only to be greeted by an endless horizon with one, single, flat-topped tree – the quintessential shape of East Africa – right in your line of sight.

It’s a small detail, perhaps, but one which Great Plains co-founder Dereck Joubert spent days considering as he paced the approach to ensure the impact of arrival in camp was maximised. On deciding the best route, his only hope remained that an elephant didn’t flatten that all-important tree!

Such are the apparently unimportant decisions which, when added up, go towards making Mara Plains Camp the marvelous combination of romance, adventure, discovery and exploration that it is.

When sitting in the middle of one of the richest wild ecosystems in the world it’s exceptionally important not to try and upstage what nature has provided, so the design of Mara Plains is one of understatement and quiet class. The decor pays homage to the essence of East Africa and its chief influences – Maasai and Arab culture. Ancient Swahili heritage is reflected in large wooden doors from the coastal island of Lamu, and accents of deep red and purple honour the great Maasai chiefs and warriors who have roamed this land for millennia.

Add to this cultural melting pot a nod to the colonial era, with rich leathers, copper and brass used in expedition-style campaign furniture and you have a lavish, residential atmosphere which complements, rather than overwhelm the surrounding wilderness.

One of only five camps on the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, guests at Mara Plains have unrivalled access to more than 100,000 acres of exclusive, low-vehicle density tourism land, home to extensive areas of important habitat for a vast number of wildlife species, while still having unfettered access to the Maasai Mara’s additional 375,000 acres.

Large Canvas Tents on Raised Decks
The camp is nestled in lush forest on the meandering bends of the Ntiakitiak River, and careful thought was given to every detail. The camp is not an imposition on the landscape, but rather a subtle refuge among the wild. The camp’s main area takes your breath away; positioned just so, the horizon lies ahead, punctuated by a single acacia tree. It’s the Africa of the mind’s eye. Flanking the main mess area is the library, an area to enjoy a quiet afternoon passing the time reading books or editing photographs. Flowing fabrics, open-air spaces and strong teak structures ground the space.

Each of the seven tents has deep canvas canopied ceilings, rough hewn wood floors and accents of East Africa’s rich safari history. Thick Lamu wood doors, deep purples, and brass accents – these small details transport guests to a time and land far away. The well-appointed en-suite facilities (including a deep copper bath) plus the extensive private verandah complete what is genuinely a stunning concept. These stylistic elements coupled with thoughtful environmental elements such as solar power and an absence of cement make Mara Plains is a modern-day safari retreat. Tents 1 & 2 share a deck and can act as a family unit. Tents 4 & 7 can serve as honeymoon tents. Tents 5 and 6 are most suitable for guests with limited mobility. Tents 3 & 5 is closest to the main area with minimal steps and a banister.

Wildlife drives (day & night)
Game drives (day & night) take place in some of the Mara’s most coveted vehicles. Each of the four Toyota Land Cruisers is open-sided, canopied and customised for photographers (fold-down screens, raised roofs, photographic bars, multi-plug invertors). With just four to six guests each, the Cruisers also have fully-stocked fridges stocked with drinks and snacks. No two days are the same on safari. Game drives typically start at sunrise, returning for lunch and depart again in the mid-afternoon before returning just after sunset. However, very often we will go out all day, deep into the Reserve or Conservancy with a packed breakfast and lunch. One visit per guest per 3-night stay included, additional visits subject to park fees. Very often, our safaris will continue into the night, a possibility because of our location on a private conservancy. Night drives are particularly prolific in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and while they take patience, sightings commonly include lesser known nocturnal mammals and even lion and hyena hunts.

Cultural Visits
If a chance to learn about the Maasai is of interest, then cultural visits to a nearby Maasai village (locally known as an “enkang”) are also a highlight. Locally produced crafts are available for purchase at the camp, all proceeds of which go toward the community, and particularly the women’s groups and schools. Guests are also able to visit the local ladies beading workshop to try your hand at beading or just to learn about how these beautiful goods are made.

Photography
Each of Mara Plains’ guest tents has a professional Canon camera set, including a Canon 7D camera body and Canon 100-400mm and 24-70mm lenses. Photos will be downloaded to a memory stick on guest’s departure. Each tent comes with a pair of Swarovski binoculars for guest use as well. Photographic tuition can be arranged for guests (at an additional cost) and we recommend prior booking if possible. Tuition can be either on company cameras or own guests’ personal cameras.

Hot Air Balloon (Additional Cost)
Hot air ballooning is available, but should be booked in advance and is subject to availability and additional cost. Departures are very early in the morning to allow time to transfer to the nearest launching point.

For more information on Mara Plains Camp click HERE.

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Stunning Base for the Great Migration
Stay 4 nights / pay 3
Stay 8 nights / pay 6
* Can combine with other select GP Kenya camps (restrictions apply). Valid: Nov 1, 2020-May 31, 2021 (ex. Dec 20-Jan 10, 2020/21).