To celebrate my birthday I decided to make it a bit special by taking a trip out to Olare Mara Kempinski – a luxury safari camp in the Masai Mara. What was so great about it? Absolutely everything! It was also the season for the wildebeest migration, I knew this would definitely be a highlight for me. I was only staying for 2 full nights just at the tail end of the season, so I timed everything just right and made the most of my trip.
The Masai Mara National Reserve and the surrounding conservancies constitute one of Kenya’s most famous wilderness areas. They also provide the backdrop against which is enacted what has been dubbed ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth, the annual migration of the wildebeest. Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara is located in Olare Motorogi Conservancy which borders the Masai Mara National Reserve. The camp comprises 12 luxury tents of which one is a honeymoon suite with its very own plunge pool. Olare Motorogi Conservancy is home to the biggest population of big cats.
The Conservancy has set a maximum of 72 beds in four mobile tented camps, equating to one guest for every 350 acres. This gives guests the ability to enjoy an ‘almost’ private safari experience The conservancy around Olare Mara Kempinski is a miracle of conservation efforts by the people of Kenya. Olare Motorogi Conservancy has over 30,000 acres of wilderness and borders the Masai Mara National Reserve. The entire area is a tribute to the protection of wildlife, while at the same time ensuring the needs of local people.
Climate: the area receives the highest rainfall (average 1000 mm pa) in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Rain falls throughout the year but peaks in December, January and April.
Vegetation: rolling grassland, riverine forest, acacia woodland, swamps, non-deciduous thickets, and Acacia, Croton and Tarchonanthus scrub.
Wildlife: the ecosystem hosts over 95 species of mammals. Highlights include elephant, buffalo, hippo, Masai giraffe, topi, Coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, impala, Kirk’s dik-dik, bushbuck, waterbuck, red duiker, baboon, vervet monkey, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, nocturnal bush baby, and tree hyrax.
Birds: more than 550 recorded species (5 globally threatened).
Nestled at the heart of its own private conservancy, the Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara promises all the luxury whilst delivering a classic under-canvas safari experience. Surrounded by rolling savannah, across which wanders a glorious pageant of wildlife, this exclusive tented camp blends the welcome, simplicity and vibrancy of Masai culture with the opulence of a five-star experience. Featuring twelve tents, a central lounge and dining area, a tented bar set deep within a forested glade and a shaded swimming pool, the Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara delivers the ultimate fusion of untamed wilderness and sophisticated elegance. Meanwhile, the action includes campfire cocktails, sundowners on the plains, game drives, guided walks, balloon safaris, horse-riding and a colourful range of cultural interaction.
I stayed at the honeymoon suite, which enjoys uninterrupted views across the golden savannah plains where zebra, giraffe and wildebeest graze, it included a private plunge pool overlooking the wilderness and an exterior dining area where lantern-lit dinners can be taken. Styled to echo the elegance of a traditional Edwardian hunting safari tent, the luxurious bathroom offers a magnificent claw-foot bath, a private lavatory, indoor and outdoor showers, and his and her’s basins.
Amenities: include a Writing desk, power supply for chargers, hairdryers, fans, night spotlights, Nespresso coffee machines, tea-making facilities, drinking water, and safety deposit boxes.
Cell phones: a reception for cell phones is available around the camp. Safaricom offers the best reception.
Wi-Fi: Wifi is available in the lounge area.
In-tent spa facilities: They offer a wide range of massage services, all of which can be carried out in the privacy of your tent. For further information, please contact our front desk.
However, the absolute best part of my tent experience was the fact that it had a terrace overlooking the Ntiakitiak River below, and its pools filled with massive hippos. In daylight, I watched the hippos live their lives from above and was fascinated by their magnificent sounds at night. These nocturnal noises will stay with me as I close my eyes each night.
Elegantly presented in classic safari style the extensive dining room delivers a subtly different experience for every meal, while in the evening it is transformed into a romantic candle-lit realm that provides a fitting backdrop to a dinner that celebrates the pure opulence of safari tradition.
The forest bar and campfire glade Situated in a forest glade and reached by a timbered bridge leading out of the central lounge, the tented bar is both intimate and welcoming. It also features a traditional campfire area where our guests can gather before or after dinner to share their experiences.
All guests get to enjoy two game drives per day. Game drives can take place in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. So please let us know your preference Game drives through the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is a voyage of discovery that promises to transport you into a whole new realm. This is your chance to observe creatures great and small against the backdrop of a pristine wilderness. Often awe-inspiring, always enchanting, a game drive allows you to be part of the great wilderness landscape: to breathe it: to smell it: to live it. Managed in cooperation with its ancient guardians, the Maasai, this is a realm where you will rarely see another safari vehicle, where the savannah is yours, and where you will often find yourselves as the only spectators to such events as lions at play, wallowing hippos, wandering elephants, browsing giraffes and careering herds of zebra. During the season, you can also witness one of the world’s most stunning natural events: the annual migration of over one million wildebeest and their attendant wildlife cast. The custom-built six-person safari vehicles offer comfort, panoramic viewing, dedicated safari guides, refreshments on board (soft drinks and local beer) and radio links for fast location of the game. Traditionally, game drives take place early morning or late afternoon/early evening.
The unique ecosystem of the conservancy hosts over 95 species of mammals. Highlights include elephant, buffalo, hippo, Masai giraffe, topi, Coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, impala, Kirk’s dik-dik, bushbuck, waterbuck, red duiker, baboon, vervet monkey, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, nocturnal bush baby, and tree hyrax. Predators include lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas. Birds: 550 recorded species, 5 of which are globally threatened.
HOW TO GET TO OLARE MARA KEMPINSKI
For those already in Nairobi, Kenya, or those flying into Jomo Kenyatta International airport, you must make your way to Nairobi’s regional Wilson Airport. From there, you will take a bush plane to the airfield an hour away from Olare Mara Kempinski, where the resort will have you transferred to the camp.
TIP: The limit on weight per person is 15kg, so pack for the appropriate weight.
THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
The dry season in the Kenya wild is between June and October
Temperatures are slightly cooler but still relatively hot and humid, with a lower chance of rainfall.
The presence of The Great Migration takes Game Viewing from impressive to exceptional.
A great period for river crossings as the crocodiles make easy work of the sick and weak individuals in the herd.
The sunrise experienced during the cool mornings is a reason in itself to visit this region.
The Masai Mara can get crowded with tourists during this month.
Below are some tours you can take to the Masai Mara or find other activities to do while there