Matchmaker: Great Plains Conservation Kenya Camps
July 13, 2021 by Hidden Doorways
Kenya is calling. Discover Kenya’s captivating beauty teeming with wildlife in breathtaking landscapes dotted with East African acacia trees amidst the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro and the vast Greater Maasai Mara Reserve. Deeply connect with the land through unique safari excursions guided by their team of expert guides and meet welcoming local Maasai tribes who introduce you to their storied heritage. Great Plains Conservation, members of Relais & Chateaux, offers luxurious, sustainably designed camps in Chyulu Hills, the Greater Maasai Mara Reserve, Olare Motorogi Conservancy and the Naboisho Conservancy.
Experience the heart of these areas imbuing nostalgic East African safari romance from traditional game drives to more intimate experiences from horseback riding to bush walks and meeting welcoming locals from the Maasai tribe. Learn which Great Plains Conservation camps are right for your clients on their next journey to Kenya and remember that each stay directly contributes to their conservation initiatives and empowers local communities.
The Soul of East Africa: ol Donyo Lodge
Nestled in between Kenya’s Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks in the heart of Chyulu Hills and in the shadows of Mount Kilamanjaro, ol Donyo Lodge pays homage to Africa’s 4,000 Maasai who own the Mbirikani Group Ranch set on 275,000 acres on which the lodge rests honed from ancient lava rock that spewed out of Kilimanjaro 360,000 years ago. There are ancient lava tunnels for one to walk through. This lodge thoughtfully blends contemporary design with the rich Maasai culture.
Immerse in the beauty of Kenya’s iconic “Out of Africa” vast landscapes where you are surrounded by diverse wildlife and head meditative state when you hear the calls of animals such as elephants rumbling nearby. Africa’s crown jewel, Mount Kilimanjaro presides over the plains, providing a majestic backdrop for the lodge. Guests are free to roam on a private guided safari via foot, bicycle, game drives or even horseback. Catch a glimpse of majestic elephants (even some super tuskers) roaming, perhaps during their seasonal migration or hear the poignant calls of leopards piercing the night’s serenity. Along with traditional game drives, ol Donyo Lodge is home to an impressive stable of 20 horses where guests can set out on a guided horseback safari. This is available for riders of novice to advanced levels, families (with children over the age of 12), and couples and individuals looking for some alone time in nature. Merging outdoor and indoor living, the seven distinctive suites and villas (no two are the same) dot the landscape. A two-bedroom family suite houses its own plunge pool and roof terrace, where a “star bed” can be set up, allowing for the thrill of sleeping under a canopy of endless stars. Dining is a surprise at ol Donyo Lodge where guests will enjoy savory meals set in a new place. A morning wakeup call begins as the sun rising gently along the volcanic mountain peak, calling guests to soak in the natural beauty of this sacred land.
Who is it right for:
ol Donyo Lodge is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who are seeking a variety of different safaris from walking, biking, horseback riding and traditional game drives. Unlike Mara Plains, you have to search and work hard for your wildlife siting. You are in total sync with your guide as you listen to wildlife calls, trek footprints leading to opportunities to be in close proximity to wildlife. Since the lodge exudes a sense of serenity, it is great to put at the end of your itinerary.
The Iconic Maasai Mara Safari Experience: Mara Plains
One’s arrival at Mara Plains in East Africa is dramatic and surreal as guests cross a swaying narrow foot-bridge over a river that leads to the lodge overlooking an endless horizon. Located in the private 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, this discrete lodge, which has been completely renovated, is the perfect base camp for a peaceful safari voyage hosted by passionate guides who heed the call of the wild. The ancient plains serve as home to a vast number of wildlife species from big cats and zebra to cheetahs and crocodiles. Seven tents are raised on decks with views of the savannah; each tent is nestled under a canopy of trees surrounded by dense vegetation. The décor is influenced by Maasai and Arab cultures with touches of Swahili heritage. Rich leathers, chandeliers, copper and brass accents, and expedition-style campaign furnishings recall the grand era of Africa exploration with photographs taken by National Geographic photographers and filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The tents expansive terraces allow guests to take in the natural surroundings. Dining is a feast for your senses featuring simple and healthy dishes, prepared and presented with nature’s bounty as the centerpiece.
Who is right for:
Mara Plains exudes sophistication and is a classic Maasai Mara safari experience. Design mavens will appreciate its attention to detail with its décor. As it is open all year round, it is a must to include on a Kenya itinerary, especially those who are on their first safari. The wildlife population is dense and offers excellent game viewing with your guides. Mara Plains also offers a spacious family suite.
For the Adventurous Spirit: Mara Expedition
Perched high in a grove dotted with East African acacia trees, Mara Expedition overlooks a valley in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. While it offers exclusivity being located on a private area, it offers access to some of the region’s best wildlife. Guests don’t miss out on the intense action of the Maasai Mara’s ecosystem and the 70,000-acre Mara North Conservancy. Mara Expedition offers six tents shaded by acacia trees. The interiors harken back to the days of early explorers with vintage Indian campaign chests and brass chandeliers. Guests rave about the sense of community and conservation at the camp, the bush breakfast picnics, game drives and the friendly people who make it all happen with exceptional service. Maasai Mara National Reserve is a magical spot where travelers cross paths along the plains with teeming wildlife. This is the perfect location to observe the annual wildebeest and zebra migration. Notable ambassadors of the property include National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and acclaimed filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert. Travelers uncover a life-changing experience with photo opportunities that will forever capture their journey at Mara Expedition Camp.
Who is it right for:
Mara Expeditions are great for a take-over for families or multi-gen celebrations. For those seeking to experience a great migration, travelers can catch the famous annual Serengeti migration and the green season migration from Loita Plains.
The Perfect Combination in the Maasai Mara: Mara Nyika
Located on the private 50,000-acre Naboisho Conservancy on the cusp of Kenya’s vast Maasai Mara, Mara Nyika means “Large or Great Plains” in Swahili. Ringing in the romance and nostalgia of East Africa. Perched under the indigenous flat-topped Acacia kirkii tree’s canopy, the five tents offer shade and privacy with unparalleled views overlooking the bush while elevated walkways connect the tents to the camp’s main common spaces. Before the sun rises, guests can venture out in the bush on guided 4×4 game drives and enjoy a picnic breakfast afterwards. Later head back out at dusk to see nocturnal animals and feedings. A Canon EOS 5D camera and high-quality binoculars are provided for guests to capture the special moments out in the wild. Children can partake a wide range of experiences from birding to the art of tracking wildlife. In the spirit of Great Plains Conservation, the camp is run on a solar farm and each guest stay plays a major impact on local Maasai communities by supporting over 500 Maasai families with a sustainable livelihood through conservation fees which also protects the wildlife in the Maasai Mara’s interconnected eco-system. While wildlife densities are excellent year-round, January, February and March in particular lend themselves itself to excellent wildlife viewing. Here you take only memories and leave only footprints.
Who is it right for:
Mara Nyika is situated perfectly to combine with stays at Mara Plains, Mara Expedition or Toto Mara in June, July, August and October. For those traveling with children, the family tents are very spacious.
For The Nostalgic Safari: Mara Toto
Nestled on the banks of the Ntiakitiak River, Mara Toto, which means Baby Mara, is shaded by spectacular ebony trees just walking distance from Mara Plains. Designed as an original 19th century expedition camp, Mara Toto offers four double tents accommodating up to eight guests made with light and airy spacious canvas with bucket showers and designed for those who are searching for East Africa’s romantic safari era. Step back in time to a nostalgic era drawing from East Africa’s original explorers in search of a romantic safari era. At Mara Toto, guests will experience the best of both worlds: the intense action of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, as well as the more private 70,000-acre Mara North Conservancy. The camp is locally famous for its leopard residents wandering the riverbanks. Safari aficionados are able to take advantage of two migrations – the famous annual Serengeti migration and the green season migration from Loita Plains where an additional 50,000 wildebeest and over 100,000 zebras are rivaling to graze. Mara Toto is a place for the ardent safari enthusiasts. Immerse in some of Africa’s most prosperous game viewing, which is renowned for extraordinary predator density and frequent hunts. For those seeking seclusion, Mara Toto offers access to both the Reserve and Mara North Conservancy.
Who is it right for:
Mara Toto is a designed for safari aficionados, explorers, photographers and private groups or multi-gen families seeking to take over the camp. It offers incredible wildlife life viewing including spectacular leopard sitings, hearing the soundtrack of hippos, crocodiles, monkeys and leopards to name a view. It pairs well with Mara Expedition but is a seasonal six-month camp because the river floods.
Great Plains Conservation
Cape Town, South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0) 87 354 6591