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Bateleur Camp - Masai Mara, Kenya

Masai Mara National Reserve - Kenya

The effortlessly elegant Bateleur Camp is set amongst the forests on the edge of the Masai Mara, adjacent to the area in which many of the scenes from the film Out of Africa were filmed. Echoeing this theme, the camp has been styled to suggest the opulence and luxury of the early safaris of the so-called 'white hunters' such as Denys Finch Hatton and Baron Bror Blixen, who considered it imperative that their safari camps feature silver service, cut crystal, butlers, fine wines and excellent cuisine.

Word 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 camp itself is is directly in the path of famous annual migration of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara

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 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
The camp offers nine luxury tents. Each with a thatched roof, private veranda, ensuite bathroom (with hot and cold running water and twin basins), ceiling fans, safe, hairdryer and antique writing desk. The beds are large and luxurious and presented with crisp white linen, and each tent has its own butler service. At night, the winding paths between the widely-spaced tents are lit by hurricane lanterns imparting a uniquely magical feel to the camp.

Dining and bars
The lounge is presented in time-honoured safari style with leather sofas, polished hard woods, natural rugs and a fascinating assortment of safari bric-a-brac. There is also a safari library. The camp prides itself on the excellence of both its cuisine and its wine cellar. Meals can also be taken out in the bush, while 'sundowners' are taken on the veranda as the sun goes down over the rolling plains. After dinner, port and cigars can be enjoyed in front of the open fire.

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.

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
• Game drives in open landrovers
• Night game drives on private Maasai land.
• Guided walks
• Visits to Maasai communities.
• Daily scheduled flights from Wilson Airport, Nairobi
• Hot air ballooning available

 

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