Hotel Of The Week: Elephant Pepper Camp, Mara North, Kenya

Location, location, location. We all know it’s a key selling point and at the Elephant Pepper Camp they’ve taken that real estate advice to heart. Not only is this small and intimate camp (eight tents, but it feels even smaller than that) located bang in the middle of the fabulous Mara North Conservancy – one of the most wildlife-rich of all the Mara conservancies – but its setting, huddled under a small copse of trees with views over seemingly miles of wavy grass savannah, is second to none. During the annual wildebeest migration huge numbers of ungainly wildebeest, zebra and others fill the plains directly in front of the camp.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

So Elephant Pepper has the location, and it certainly has the wildlife, but what we think makes it really special is how involved in the wildlife you feel when you stay here. The camp is as laid-back-luxurious as any of the other top-end camps and lodges, but at the same time they’ve managed to retain that same close-to-nature feel that you would get if you were just out bush camping alone. Lying in your bed at night, listening to the bleating and neighing of zebras and wildebeest, followed moments later by the heart-stopping roar of a nearby lion, is utterly exhilarating. And the wildlife really does get close here. When eating your breakfast under the shade of an acacia tree you can expect to be watched by all manner of grazing animals and the managers will relate stories of lions taking down an antelope for dinner just metres from guests’ tents.

And talking of dinner, food is taken seriously here (perhaps thanks to the French and Cypriot camp managers). Elegant and delicious salads and Mediterranean dishes fuse with spicy curries from Asia to make some of the more memorable meals of any of the Mara lodges, and evening drinks, around an open fire in front of wildlife-speckled plains, are a delight indeed.

Elephant Pepper then might not appeal to those with a nervous disposition, but for those who want to live, feel, and breathe the African bush, then this camp is hard to top.

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