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Ilkeliani Camp - Masai Mara, Kenya

Masai Mara National Reserve - Kenya

Located on the banks of the Talek River, overlooking the famous savannah plains of the Mara, the eco-friendly Ilkeliani Camp, a luxury tented camp, offers just 17 elegant tents, each with its own ensuite bathroom, private verandah and view of the river. Presented in the style elegant hunting safaris of the 1920s, the camp features its own elegant mess tent and bar.

World renowned for the breathtaking spectacle of ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth', the awe inspiring annual migration of the wildebeest, the Mara is Kenya's most visited protected area. Technically an extension of Tanzania's renowned Serengeti National Park, the Mara constitutes only 4% of the entire Serengeti ecosystem but its rolling grasslands, meandering rivers and towering escarpments offer one of the world's most rewarding and evocative wildlife arenas.

Location
The Masai Mara is 270 miles from Nairobi (five hours by road). All weather air strip - less than an hour from Nairobi by plane.

Kenya hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodge or tented camp, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

The Background
The camp takes its name from Ilkeliani, the name given to a young Maasai before he becomes a warrior or ‘Morani'.

The Miracle of the Migration of the Wildebeest

All the time, when on the move, the wildebeest emit harsh grunts, something like the sound of frogs, something like that of old men clearing their throats. People have called them ungainly because of their high shoulders and sloping hindquarters and also clowns because of their long pale faces and white beards, but in fact they move with grace and sometimes playfulness, leaping and cavorting with apparent joie de vivre.

Last Days in Eden
Elspeth Huxley and Hugo van Lawick

Between the end of July and November, over one and a half million wildebeest accompanied by half again as many zebras and gazelles, migrate from the short-grass plains of the Serengeti to fresh pasture in the grasslands of the Mara; thus creating one of nature's grandest spectacles. Moving in groups of up to 20,000 at a time they thunder across the plateau hesitating only briefly to cross the Mara River, where many fall prey to the waiting crocodiles. Towards the end of October they begin crossing back into Tanzania. The actual timing of the migration, however, is dictated by the weather and does not always ‘run to schedule'.

Accommodation
There are 17 luxury tents each with its own view of the river. Widely spaced, the tents offer 24-hour solar power, ensuite bathrooms (24-hour hot water, showers, flush WCs), spacious verandahs and elegant furniture.

Dining and bars: The central mess tent and elegant lounge bar are located in the centre of the camp with glorious views over the river. Stylishly presented using ecologically friendly materials, both have been designed so as to create the traditional safari ambience, with lanterns, campfires and Maasai artifacts. ‘Sundowner' cocktails are also offered around the campfire before dinner.

Wildlife highlights: Offering an abundance of herbivores, the Mara makes the ideal hunting ground for Kenya's famous ‘big cats' and hosts her largest population of lions. It also offers the best chance of spotting a leopard in the wild. Other predators include cheetah and spotted hyena. Historically teaming with wildlife, the Mara is famous for the large herds of elephant and buffalo that meander its plains; also for the fat pods of hippo that wallow in its mud-brown rivers. Other stars include the distinctive Masai giraffe, plum-coloured topi, Coke's hartebeest, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, zebra, impala, Kirk's dik-dik, bushbuck, waterbuck and red duiker. The Reserve also boasts plentiful Nile crocodile, monitor lizard, baboon, vervet, blue and red-tailed monkeys, nocturnal bush babies, and tree hyrax. There are over 550 resident and migratory species of birds.

Child-friendly: The camp welcomes children.

What to see and do
When it comes to game-viewing, there is nowhere in Africa richer in wildlife or more eventful in encounters than the Mara. A pristine wilderness of haunting beauty, it promises its visitors a profusion of wildlife, prolific bird life and the unprecedented opportunity of catching up with all the members of the ‘Big Five' in one morning.
As to scenery, the 1,800 sq kilometres of this veteran reserve offer the classic mix of African imagery; miles of lion-gold grasslands, shoals of lilac-misted hills, a meandering river, acres of thorn-bush and mile upon mile of undulating wilderness. Meanwhile, back in the cool of the camp, guests can lounge by the 12.5 metre ‘lap' pool with views out over the savanna. There is also a charming gift shop.

Other attractions: The camp has its own Maasai naturalists who leads nature walks and gives talks on the culture of the Maasai (both are offered free of charge). Game drives are conducted in traditional 4x4 vehicles.

 

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