“Here I am; where I ought to be,” said Karen Blixen in the film ‘Out of Africa’. I thought of her as I sat at the antique explorer’s desk in my luxury tent and I retreated to an age of travel far more genteel (and yet probably much more dangerous) than today. The romanticism of the bygone era is all around you here at Cottar’s; so’s the urge to explore the ‘dark continent’ and all the kit and paraphernalia that went with this fascination, a passion that paved the way for today’s stylishly retro and superbly comfortable safari camps—case in point, Cottar’s 1920s Camp.
Since 1919, the pioneering Cottar family have worked in partnership with the Maasai on this exclusive 6000 acre private concession adjoining Maasai Mara National Park. The National Park has strict rules—open only from 0630 to 1830 hrs and with no off-roading—which could have set me into a tailspin as it can be difficult to get close to the animals without going off the trails. Yet here, game is so prolific and there are so many trails that you’ll spot plenty. Plus, at Cottar’s, you can go on drives off-road on their private land for a greater scope of viewing.
Due to its location on the edge of the Tanzanian border, Cottar’s also abuts the Serengeti National Park and so it’s also the first camp to witness the migration—and the last—as millions of grazers cross the border like stampeding locusts.
There are six ensuite tents, a honeymoon tent and four family suites, plus a private house—the Cottar’s Bush Villa—so multi-generational families or groups of friends can stay together on an exclusive-use basis.
It has sterling credentials for conservation too, as one of ten accredited Global Ecosphere Retreats (GER’s) in the world which directly manage or influence a natural area of significant, global conservation value. This camp may or may not be your nirvana. It’s perhaps a bit too ‘close to nature’ for some and it’s not slick style-wise, however, if you’ve a passion for authentic, enthusiastic, golden era travel experiences, then this is truly the only way to experience Kenya.
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