We travel to discover new places, new cities, new food, new adventures and new cultures…it’s all about creating new memories and expanding what we already know, with new information and experiences. All of this sometimes comes with the joy of staying in hotels, and not having to worry about a thing. Getting into fresh linen beds, with poufy pillows and tiny chocolates on the pillows after a day of soul searching and complete relaxation. If you’ve read my post on Magic in the Maasai Mara, then you know all about the escape for some soul searching, and experiencing the wild, at the Mara River Camp.
The joy of game drives, sitting in silence in a safari jeep. Day after day, watching the same pride of lions move around the plains with three naughty little cubs. Or the herd of elephants we finally got to see after 5 days, and 10 game drives with our amazing Guide. These are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. While going on safari is an experience of a lifetime, (and one I encourage you to try if you haven’t already), my trip to the Maasai Mara was more about connecting with home and family. Home is where the heart is, and despite how far you travel, you can never shake the dust of Africa off your heart and soul.
My family and I stayed at the Mara River Camp for five days over Christmas. The camp is set on the banks of the Mara River, heaving with hippos and crocodiles. You drive through a thick tunnel of forest trees that let in enough brightness and blue sky, with the odd scattering rays of sunshine, on the red African soil below. The camp is built at the base of the Oloololo Hills, close to the Western edge of the Masaai Mara National Reserve. It’s built to blend with the nature around it, simple and rustic, with the beautiful charm of African interiors. The reception area leads through to an open bank of grass with an outdoor seating area over a deck, and just behind it, a comfortable seating area with sofas and chairs adjacent to a bar and dining area.
A rustic raised deck is built to extend slightly over the river’s edge where we spent hours during the day watching the hippos grunting below us, soaking up the sunshine, and the occasional male hippos version of fight club. I spent hours watching the swirling trails of water bubbles down the river as the crocodiles made their way to sand banks, when the water levels were low and the sun was high. In the afternoon, it was a quiet and serene area to sit and read. Cocktails and plenty of wine always went down a treat during sundowners on the deck watching the sun slip behind the hills. At night, the bonfire was toasty and warm before retiring to the lounge and fireplace. It was here, that several attempts were made, to play articulate.
There are 22 tents at the Mara River Camp. Scattered across the camp, in between trees and foliage, all with enough room to give you privacy. If you’re looking for solid walls in the wild and a more safari cottage-like experience, you can relax in the Log Cabin. Located on the edge of the camp, with its own private patio outside, and a cosy private deck built over the edge of the river. Across the river, you can spot zebras, dik diks, giraffe’s and impalas grazing. At one point, we were joined by a family of vervet monkeys. With flailing arms, which probably made us look like the bunch of nuts they were trying to grab off the table, we were able to shoo them away. We could hear them scampering in the trees above us as we continued to enjoy an evening high tea on the private deck of the log cabin. Dinner, was a wide spread of various cuisines by the extravagant in-house chef, who caters to every palate and craving. My favourite was early morning slices of cake with a cup of coffee. The perfect wake-me-up pre morning game drive, outside my tent, at the crack of dawn. Which was then followed by breakfast, while out on safari, overlooking the plains.
Each of the canvas tents is sheltered beneath additional covering built above. During the afternoons, the mesh windows give way to a cool breeze, the smell of the wild, and the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees above. All enjoyed with a view from your bed that over looks the river and the plains behind it. I enjoyed the peace and quiet sitting on the raised stone built deck outside my tent. I was safari distracted my entire stay and chickened out on dipping in the cold refreshing waters of the swimming pool built in the middle of the camp. My mind was all about reconnecting with a part of home I miss the most. At night, the feeling of slipping into bed with a hot water bottle by your feet, and falling asleep to the sounds of lions and hyenas in the background, was beyond perfect.
As dusk falls over the plains, rich with wildlife and flora, it was hard not to relive and reflect on each day’s safari experience. Followed by moments of peace and relaxation, while watching the thousands of stars light up the African night sky above. When you’re sitting around the fireplace with your nearest and dearest, it really feels like you could be at home at the Mara River Camp- if you’re home has a bush baby running amuck on the roof. The camp has a sense of warmth and heart in it, which is exactly what you want, when you’ve come to get to the heart of nature and reconnect with nature.