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Why is Cottar's fly camp the most authentic private safari camp in the Maasai Mara?

Nicola Shepherd By Nicola Shepherd
10 Sep 2019
Kenya - Cottars Fly Camp - guest tent.jpg

For me, Cottar’s Fly Camping is the perfect way to be at one with Kenya’s nature in a safari camp which is simple but authentic, mobile and exclusive!

Cottar’s Camps are owned by third generation Kenyan, Calvin Cottar. Located in 7000 acres of pristine land abutting the Maasai Mara National Reserve, south of the equator, Cottar’s offers not only the most wonderful game viewing experience but also an important insight into the strategy for the survival of species through community partnerships.

 


Why choose mobile tented camping on your safari to Kenya?

The Fly Camp has been designed for those that want to get back to being at one with nature on their safari to Kenya. The accommodation is simple but amply appointed in a tented, exclusive mobile camp; as it was done in the early 1900s. Indeed the Cottar family have a long pedigree of operating safaris and have done so for 100 years.

This experience is ideal for those who want the exhilaration of a night (or more!) in the bush, who are prepared to sleep in small tents with an element of “simple luxury” and admire safaris as they were “back in the day”; full of romance, adventure, excitement and quality! 

 


The quality element is undoubtedly retained – it is just that the accommodation itself has been pared back, allowing you to connect with and savour every moment of Africa and her gorgeous environment, with the blonde savannah grasses surrounding you.

What can you expect from your exclusive fly-camping safari?

Each day, one has the option of going out walking with one’s guide, exploring the tracks and trails of animals before you and establishing what they were doing and the direction they were heading. This is such fun! On a previous visit, we traced an entire story of a zebra that had been taken down by a pride of lion.

From the point of interest, to the careful, deliberate tracking, the pouncing and the dragging. The lion cubs had been following in tow. We then found the actual pride, resting beneath an Acacia tree, bellies filled, observing us all along. Quite fascinating and thrilling!

 


That evening, we chatted animatedly around the camp fire, beneath a star-studded sky as we discussed the following day’s activities and plans. We spoke of our favourite sightings and memories and aspects of the safari that resonated deeply with each experience.

The guiding at Cottar’s is some of the best in Kenya and one can even pay additionally for Calvin to be your guide, should you so wish. One can partake in a range of other safari activities, all tailored to your own requirements and interests which include:

 


  • Game drives by day and night in a private safari vehicle with your expert guide and ranger,
  • Guided bush walks allowing you to see all the minutiae that one misses on a drive such as learning which droppings and tracks are for which species, and seeing the insects up close,
  • Cultural visits to local Maasai villages, which are entirely respectful and enlightening,
  • Private bush meals and sundowners,
  • Swimming in a nearby waterfall, a fantastic and refreshing dip on a hot day,
  • Seasonal fishing,

 


  • Children and teenagers always enjoy spending time with the Maasai guides in ‘Maasai Warrior School’, learning how to shoot arrows, track wildlife and survive in the bush,
  • Drifting silently over the Mara in a hot air balloon.
  • If you visit during the Migration, one can witness the herds of wildebeest and zebra on the plains, along with the plethora of predators which follow them; a truly astounding wildlife experience! The Great Migration occurs in the Mara from July through September (although it is rain dependant).

This is Africa at her best, when one has complete exclusivity and freedom!

 


How can you extend your stay in Kenya?

For those who would only like a couple of nights of glamping, one can couple this with either their permanent private bush villa, of which you have exclusive use, complete with private swimming pool. Alternatively one can stay in a luxury tents at the main tented camp.

This gorgeous trio of accommodation (the main camp, the private villa and the private fly camp) is located on the Olderkesi Conservancy - a place of incredible natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and innovative conservation thinking. Cottar’s is the only establishment in this area, so one does not see hordes of tourists when out on game drive.

 


Why is Community and Conservation at Cottar’s Camp so Important?

How rewarding it is to know that your stay enriches the lives of both people and animals and that you personally are directly contributing to local philanthropic projects!

Cottar’s have a wonderful partnership with the local community. This project creates a much needed haven for wildlife while empowering the local Maasai community; in simple terms it’s known as 'land leasing‘. The conservancy is managed by two trusts: Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust (CWCT) and Olderkesi Wildlife Community Trust (OCWCT).

These two groups have worked closely together over the past 20 years to create a vital, truly sustainable conservancy management plan. Olderkesi Conservancy is owned by the Maasai, but it is rented by Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust.

 


CWCT arranges a long-term lease of land from the OWCT, paying fair rates that exceed what could be charged by sub-dividing land for increased human habitation, farming, and ranching. This is most easily described as ‘renting land for wildlife.’ Rent payments go to the entire community, not just a few leaders in the group- everyone gets an equal share. CWCT also assists with creating opportunity and growth for the community in other ways.

To date, the CWCT has built schools, provided medical and ambulance services, employed security scouts from the community, installed radio communication networks, built water troughs for cattle, and provided bursaries and local assistance to protect local cedar forests from predatory logging. In return, the leased land is to be left alone, free of settlements, farming, and grazing, and exists to create safe habitat and passage for wildlife.

 


The Maasai agree to live on other sections of their land, supported in part by the payments from the Conservancy. The land use policies are enforced by the Maasai people, with assistance from CWCT where necessary.

One can respectfully visit the local Maasai community as part of your stay with Cottar’s and speak to the local people, discuss how the approach is assisting them and learn about their way of life. This is an authentic experience and often the Maasai are as interested to meet you as you are to meet them.

If you would like to learn more about safaris to Kenya and private mobile camping, please do feel free to contact me.

 

 

Images provided courtesy of Cottar’s Safaris.

Image 2 of Maasai herders copyright to Marcus Westberg

Image 3 of guests in savannah grasses copyright to Michael Poliza Photography

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