Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, which co-joins Tanzania’s Serengeti, is arguably the single best place on the planet to see dense concentrations of mega-fauna. This is the home of the famous wildebeest migration when up to a million of these creatures, as well as thousands of other herbivores, move between the dry plains of the Serengeti and the rain-fed grasses of the Mara in late June and then back again in early October. Snapping at their heels is an apparently endless parade of giant feline predators.
As a wildlife spectacle the Masai Mara reserve is second to none, but undiscovered wilderness it is not. Those stories you might have heard about dozens of safari minibuses surrounding any lion silly enough to show its head can, at times, be sadly all too true. But there is another way of visiting the Mara region without the same crowd pressure.
As its name suggests, Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp takes its lucky guests back to a time when no self-respecting traveler would even consider venturing into the bush without a pith helmet, a couple of trunks’ worth of dinner party clothing, and rather a lot of gin and tonic.
The Cottar family were one of the first to offer full-service African safaris, and Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp has mastered the art of trying to recreate this “luxury colonial” safari theme. The “tents” here are more like antique-stuffed country manor houses moved under canvas and into the bush. All have big open fronts, quality Persian rugs, easy armchairs, writing desks (complete with typewriters – though there is wi-fi if you think the postal service might be lacking…), drinks cabinets, and bubble-bath-filled bath tubs.
What’s more, the camp, which has some of the best guides in the business and impeccable service, sits all alone in a stunning hilltop position in the middle of a 6000-acre private conservancy. This seclusion means that you, and you alone, will have this giant slab of classic African safari country completely to yourself. And no, you don’t need to wear a pith helmet to enjoy it.