Dramatic skies and sunsets

What do you envision when you hear the words Maasai Mara? Is it the wildebeest migration, the rolling savannah plains, the amazing Maasai people and their rich culture, the astounding display of wildlife including the big five and the famous cheetah coalition, a balloon safari over the plains followed by a champagne breakfast, remarkable sunrises and sunsets or all of the above?

The Maasai Mara is a mecca of wildlife and home to one of the seven wonders of the natural world – the annual wildebeest migration.  A place that is every safari goers dream and bucket-list destination and every photographers’ must-visit. Mara is a place where you can experience an array of wildlife second to none.

The chase – who is the king of the jungle?

We are very lucky that this gem of a place is only a 45min flight or 5hr drive for us to get to.  But why write about a place that has already been written about so much?

Well, this time, we want to tell you about one of our favourite places in the Mara – the stunning eco-concious “Mara Bush Camp”.  This was a place that had been on our bucket-list for a while and we were even more excited to visit when we heard about their commitment to being as eco-friendly as possible, which is one of our priorities when looking at lodges to stay at and to recommend guests to visit.

Mara Bush Camp was built in 2007 on the banks of the Olare Orok river, just a few minutes away from the Ol Kiombo airstrip, with only 8 tents and later expanded to 12 tents. In 2013 the owners added on the “Private Wing” which is the more up-market version of Mara Bush Camp with 12 larger/more luxuriously furnished tents and more privacy.  The camp is not fenced and the trees and bushes have been left in place to minimise the impact on the eco-system.  In fact, the furniture was handcrafted by the camps’ in-house carpenter, using local materials in the textile industry and sustainable wood.

The natural setting of the camp along the Olare Orok River
Photo courtesy of Mara Bush Camp

We asked the lovely Gabby, the co-owner of the camp as to why they chose to build a camp in the Mara at that location.

She said “in those days, not only was there was a lack of accommodation, but we also wanted to establish an eco-friendly brand with an excellent location, right in the heart of the game reserve. Personalized service has always been our motto and guests usually leave very happy, feeling “at home” as our team truly looks after them. For photographers Mara Bush Camp & Private Wing are simply in one of the best locations due to being surrounded by BIG CATS and all wildlife in the reserve. The HIPPO POOL is our favourite feature of the camp – located 10 metres above the river, it offers a stunning view of the hippos below, happily living and playing in the water. A little bar compliments this setting for anyone seeking peace and quiet and a welcome change to the usual game drives.”

The beautiful hippo pools
Photo courtesy of Mara Bush Camp

Now onto our safari there….

We normally love to drive our beloved Pajero on our safaris, but on this particular trip, we decided to fly to the Mara, and have the full game experience of the camp – a decision which was totally worth it.  We were picked up at the Ol Kiombo airstrip by our lovely local Maasai guide, Wilson.  A soft-spoken man with a wealth of knowledge about the area, the people, the animals and the birds.

Our amazing guide Wilson. Can you spot the kikapu for the rubbish in the car?

Over the weekend, we came to appreciate his guiding even more in regards to how he not only made sure we got amazing sightings of the big cats, but also of other unique birds and animal sightings, like a new born Topi.  He approached every animal sighting with the animal’s welfare at the forefront and making sure not to be part of the “safari vehicle crowd”.  He did that, while at the same time ensuring we got a superb sighting with amazing photo opportunities.  I’ll let the pictures below do the talking.

The look after a great meal. Wilson got us amazing sightings, while still putting the animals welfare first. The cheetah was surrounded by safari vehicles, and we made the decision to park a distance away and watch the beautiful cat. Little did we know that Wilson had anticipated the next moves and knew that the cheetah would eventually walk directly towards us – with no other car where we were!!
Walk like a vulture
That’s cute – said the king to his cub.
The beautiful black-and-white casqued hornbills
Eyeing the prize in the bushes?
The landing….
Tower of giraffes causing a road block
The birth of a topi
The storm – is it a tree?

And how did we find the camp?  Remember, our expectations were pretty high considering all that we had read and heard about it.

From the word go, what struck us was the incredible level of service we received at the camp – it was second to none and really stood out in our mind.  We were warmly welcomed by Nelson and his team and taken to our beautiful river-side tent.  The camp epitomises simplicity and elegance in natural bush surroundings.  The tents are of a very high quality and large, with comfortable beds and awesome showers (some of the best that we have experienced in the Mara).  

Did I mention the great shower?
Photo courtesy of Mara Bush Camp

It is evident that great attention to detail has been put into the planning and furnishing of the tents.  Water in the room was provided in glass bottles and the eco-friendly toiletries which are made with natural ingredients were all in refillable containers.

Beautiful, elegant tents with great ambience. A perfect place to end your day after a safari. Photo courtesy of Mara Bush Camp

Next let us talk a little bit about the food.  What can we say?  The meals were just wow and we loved that all the dining was done outdoors.  The ingredients were fresh and each dish was very flavorful and healthy.  The camp has a small vegetable garden and all other vegetables required are sourced from an organic farm. We were so busy devouring the food that we forgot to take photos.

And finally, we love that you know that your eco-footprint will be minimal when you travel here.  Something which is more and more important with the current state of the world.

It was very refreshing to see the many ways that the lodge had reduced its’ plastic consumption.  Water at the lodge was provided through dispensers when we were last there, and since then, Gabby has let us know that the camp has installed a reverse osmosis water plant.  We were given our own very high-quality double walled water bottle to not only use at the camp, but to take home with us.  If you choose not to take the bottle home, the lodge will donate the bottles to local villages and school children after thoroughly cleaning them.

At mealtimes, complimentary filtered water was provided in carafes. All carafes and food were covered either in beautifully beaded nets or beeswax covers – there was no cling film in sight.  The camp has a no straw policy and if a straw was needed, you would get a re-useable metal straw (We didn’t need one as we carry our own metal straws with us on our travels).

Outdoor dining in the bush is the norm – a life we could get used to. Notice the beautiful carafes for the water.

Waste at the lodge and in the vehicles was put in a sisal bag (kikapu) bin – how innovative and pretty.  The camp manager also informed us that they recycle waste water to use in the kitchen garden.

Our packed breakfasts were in beautiful steel tins with fresh juices in small glass bottles and the yoghurts and muesli in glass jars.  We thought that this also made the presentation prettier compared to the normal packed boxes and ready-made juices and yoghurts – all single-use items which contribute towards plastic pollution.

Nothing better than breakfast in the bush. What a great idea to have the stainless steel containers for the food. And can you spot the glass jars for the freshly squeezed juice?

The camps owners are also involved in tree planting initiatives throughout Kenya.

In fact, the camp is an Eco-gold rated facility and won the Eco-warrior award in 2019.

If this has not sold you on visiting, then let us list the reasons why you should:

  1. The camp has an excellent location in the heart of the Mara for game drives & for relaxing near the hippo pools.
  2. You will get great privacy and world class excellent service.
  3. There is a dedicated photographer’s lounge & workshop tent.
  4. Even though the camp is gold eco-rated, it is still super luxurious.
  5. The guides and staff are very well trained & very experienced.  
  6. They have open game drive vehicles & wonderful activities
  7. There are so many fun activities for the kids, which we wish we had experienced.  Children can learn the Maasai ways of life and their daily chores such as cooking African food, the art of stringing real Maasai beads, go on bush walks, do scavenger hunts, playing typical board games, listen to African stories, read Children story books available in both English & German as well as play with African toys. 
  8. The camp has some good size family tents available as well as a special tree house for the kids.
  9. When you visit the camp, you know that you are supporting the local community through employment and bed night fees.
Enjoying some quiet time in the lounge. Simple, yet classic elegance
Love photography? Mara Bush Camp has you sorted with a dedicated photographers lounge. Photo courtesy of Mara Bush Camp
Night time views of the lounge

At the moment, only Mara Bush, Private Wing is open and they are fully compliant with COVID measures as per Ministry of Tourism/Health guidelines. The camp can be hired on EXCLUSIVE USE at the moment which is a major advantage for larger families or groups. Contact us at info@kampurtraveldiaries.com for special offers till the end of 2020.

All photos in the blog are our own and subject to Copyright unless otherwise stated.