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Mara Explorer - Masai Mara, Kenya

The Masai Mara National Reserve - Kenya

The luxurious Mara Explorer tented camp lies at the confluence of the reserve's four main game viewing areas, and enjoys prime views of the spectacular wildebeest migration between June and September. During the remainder of the year, herds of watering elephant, giraffe and other animals can be seen from your private verandah.

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.

The Background
The Masai Mara National Reserve
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.

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
This exclusive camp offers ten luxurious, well-spaced tents, each with its own private deck overlooking the Talek River. Seven of the tents have giant double beds and three have twin beds. All are furnished in a classic blend of ancient and modern, with fine hand-carved mahogany furniture, rich African artefacts and luxurious bathrooms with twin basins and all modern amenities. The tents are specially designed to open up to the sky and each boasts a private, open-air Victorian bath tub from which guests may enjoy a unique new perspective of the African bush. Personal butler on 24 hour call. Full laundry and valet service. Early morning calls with tea and coffee. Safety deposit boxes and foreign currency exchange service. Sockets for battery charging and reliable 240v electrical supply.

Dining and bars
An intimate canvas covered dining area looks out over the river and meals are served using fresh vegetables and herbs grown in the camp gardens. Meals can also be enjoyed on your verandah, or at one of the specially selected "bush sites" close to the camp. Next door, the camp bar provides beautiful river views and a well stocked library, while the spacious lounge offers large luxurious sofas. All public areas are decorated with old African artefacts and memorabilia from the early days of African safari.

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
• Personal game drives with experienced guides in custom-built 4x4s
• Walking safaris in Mara Conservation Area
• Bush breakfasts and dinner
• Visits to Masai communities supported by the camp
• Transfers for early morning hot air balloon rides
• Arrangements for fishing safaris to Lake Victoria
• Lectures and slide shows on Masai culture and wildlife
• Swimming pool at sister camp

Other attractions
Mara Explorer was constructed as an eco-friendly camp and its operations are designed to have a minimal impact on the fragile Talek ecosystem. Waste is mulched for compost and water heating is fuelled by briquettes made from used coffee husks. The company also runs a Community Development Fund and guests are invited to visit the local institutions that benefit from the fund. These, and visits to the villagers' own manyattas, offer a fascinating insight into traditional Masai life.


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