New Mara Plains Camp reopens
The Maasai Mara is well known for its astounding wildlife numbers and one of the highest densities of predators in the world. But as of July this year, it is also home to the new Mara Plains Camp, Great Plains Conservation's latest in bespoke safari experiences. Emulating the style and community of its Botswana camp, Zarafa recipient of many "best of" awards, the brand-new Mara Plains Camp adopts many of the same values and design ethics but with its own East African twist.
Still limited to just seven tents, and set among the riverine forest of the Ntiakatek River, the camp overlooks the plains of the Maasai Mara Reserve and the 35,000 acre private Olare Motorogi Conservancy. CEO of Great Plains Conservation, Dereck Joubert, a National Geographic filmmaker and explorer was instrumental in the design of this brand new Mara Plains Camp, along with his wife Beverly.
Dereck & Beverly Joubert at Mara Plains
A camp’s success is in the details. Dereck explains, ”I spent two full days pacing the approach from where vehicles might arrive, then waded across the river in a direct line that the bridge now takes, through the thick riverine vegetation, imagining the arrival, the emotions of people who have just flown across the world to get there. As you approach the main tent area, there are wide open entrances on both side so that the actual Maasai Mara plains can be seen framed by two massive reclaimed railway wood “sleepers” or ties. That part was easy but what took me days to figure out was what you will see and feel on arrival, and with some small adjustments, now as you walk up the small slope, to the giant steps, your see the horizon with one single flat topped tree, one of the most quintessential shapes of East Africa, right through the tent. As a boy, a son of a surveyor, direction combined with a physical and spiritual compass was important to me. A lone tree on the horizon grounds the lines that dissect the camp, and very few will notice it, but hopefully everyone will feel somehow at peace here. As you approach this view the framing has been calculated on a perfect 3:2 proportion that is largely known in photographic circles as the golden rectangle." The new Mara Plains camp is more than safari camp. It has been designed and built as a home away from home, with the comforts you might expect of a lavish residence yet all carried out in the style of a grand 1800s safari expedition. Kenya's wildlife heritage is on your doorstep and often wanders freely through camp; while the magic of the Maasai and Arab culture is reflected in the decor. Ancient Swahili culture is represented by large wood doors from the coastal town of Lamu. Accents of deep reds and purples are to honor the region's great Maasai chiefs and warriors and campaign furniture of deep leather, copper and brass nods to the colonial exploits. The camp's 70+ year old wooden floors are recycled from old African railroad ties. According to Dereck, ”camps need to have stories deeply embedded in them. East Africa has a history of railway lines, some that have resulted in world famous stories of man-eating lions in Tsavo for example. So we found some antique chandeliers from the romantic era of rail travel across Africa for the main area. Touches of history and storytelling with every object brings the camp alive with legend and myth, and casts a romantic spell on our guests.”
Combining this sense of romance and adventure this intimate camp blends the finest wildlife viewing with the absolute best of safari hospitality and guiding to include bush walks, all day game drives in custom-designed open vehicles. No other camp offers the extensive traversing area of Mara Plains Camp, with access to a total of 100,000 acres of private conservancy land of the Olare Motorogi and Mara North Conservancies as well as the world-renowned Maasai Mara Reserve, home to the Great Migration. Each of the seven tented suites comes with a complimentary set of professional Canon 7D camera and lenses (including a 100-400mm lens) and a pair of Swarovski 42x10 HD binoculars for use during a guest's stay. This stylish camp will be the camp of stars and royals, not just because of its design but also because it is far from the crowds, located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy, on the border with the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Each guest’s stay at Mara Plains Camp contributes considerably to the success of the Olare Motorogi and Mara North Conservancy’s flourishing ecosystems; conservation fees paid safeguard this habitat, while supporting over 1,000 local Maasai families. This partnership agreement ensures the survival of an important ecosystem, biodiversity ranges and the astounding volume and variety of wildlife. Besides being of beautiful design, and beyond the million or so wildebeest, Mara Plains Camp is also one of the 'greenest' ever built, replicating the innovative schemes used at Zarafa Camp in Botswana for a low-impact operation.
Mara Plains is a place of dreams, of romance, of style and beauty, where one's soul is grounded by a single tree on the horizon line. Where Chef Juma hugs you on arrival, guides who grew up on this very site take you into their worlds, and managers Richard and Lorna delight you with their perfect hosting, colourful stories and wit.
Join us! On behalf of the Mara Plains Camp team... Karibu sana.
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