Globalista | 2 Nov 2009
In the Masai Mara the animals are so used to people that they pose for photos. Find something exciting like a kill, and you’ll have to share the experience with a fleet of four wheel drives. So it’s a pleasure to stay in Ol Seki – a luxury tented camp situated idyllically in the heart of Eastern Koiyaki – on the edges of the Mara. It’s where the animals are timid and humans scarce. At night, guards with poison darts patrol the camp’s perimeters, ready to defend against marauding buffalo and hungry lions; and guests sleep, safe and sound, inside the tents with hot water- bottles.View transcript
As we arrive, a baboon is trying to break into our tent. The manageress shoos him away and calls a guard who arrives with his spear a few minutes later. She says our primate friend won’t return unless we offer him sweets, which seems good enough reason to ban sugar from Africa. The frisson we feel increases when we learn that guests are only allowed to their tents accompanied by guards. Welcome to the delightful excitements of Naibor Camp, one of the most exclusive tented safari camps in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.
The camp is hidden in a grove of riverine woodland on the banks of the Talek River, enjoying possibly the best location in the Mara. Captivatingly, hippos bathe in the river at the bottom of its garden and can be seen hauling themselves out in the evening. The area has the region’s highest concentration of leopard. Rhino hang out on the south side of the river. Plus it’s strategically placed for the wildebeest migration, being close to all the major crossing sites on the Mara River. And because it’s in the heart of the Mara, there’s wildlife viewing throughout the year.
There’s a small air-strip 30 minutes away for landing private planes (or for charter ones, if you must). Or it takes mere seconds to get here if you come in a Lady Lori helicopter, as did the squillionaire who had our tent before us. The celebrity transport of choice, Lady Lori is renowned for accessing the inaccessible from finding a plant not seen by botanists since the Seventies to offering superlative safaris from the air.
But we’re here to enjoy things from the ground, to explore from an open-sided Land Cruiser the rolling open grassland and Safari Wonderland outside our tarpaulin door. So, accompanied by our guide Daudi wearing Masai suka (blanket) and beaded headdress – we set forth into Animal Disney World. We don’t wish to spend time spotting different strains of the Greater and Lesser Safari Jeep or the hot-air balloons that litter the sky so Daudi takes us off the beaten plain.
We are soon rewarded with a herd of elephant, including mini Barbars gambolling and frolicking in the sun; a band of mongoose; and enough zebra to make a crossing. Then we see one of the world’s most spectacular sights: thousands of wildebeest and zebra crossing the great Mara River. A crocodile hovers nearby. But I have to admit that, in this instance, there are also other predators in sight: the animals are closely surrounded by bands of Homo sapiens and a fleet of four wheel drives.
Our next stop is lunch. It’s nothing like the steak and baked pineapple and custard enjoyed by some back at Naibor Camp. Instead we’re served a truly memorable Out of Africa picnic complete with chairs, table and chest of food eaten under a tree on the open plain under the wide sky. If it’s specifics you want, then imagine delicious chicken drumsticks with rosemary and honey and potato salad, eaten under the ‘sausage’ fruit tree beloved of rhinos and in which the leopard likes to lie with his kill.
Back at base camp and done for the day with the wonders of the natural world, it’s hard not to marvel at some man-made wonders. Take the Little Naibor tented suites with their enormous under-lit, low-floating beds on fig-wood bases, Savannah-sized cream sofas and African wool rugs: contemporary style allied with muted bush colours. And as for the Mess Tent with its rustic fig-wood dining table and chunky bush dining ‘thrones’…well, it’s pure Conran en Afrique. And if such style doesn’t sound like the bush, you should try reflexology in the spa tent…
Naibor Camp is also so eco it makes you weep and recycle your tears of joy. Everything is solar- run. It has safari showers and charcoal-heated irons. It attracts khaki-heeled guests who want to leave the world a better place, families, people who want luxury in the bush and rich businessmen. It’s also popular with honeymooners, sipping sundowners and eating romantic meals privately under the stars. After all, it’s particularly charming at night; candlelit and gas lanterns light the paths as the sounds of hippos, frogs and crickets fill the air. And as you sit chatting about the day’s adventures around that communal table, a camp fire burns cheerily…
From £1868 per person based on two sharing for 3nights on a fully inclusive basis including flights, air taxes, park fees and transfers. Book through Scott Dunn: 020 8682 5000; www.scottdunn.com; www.naibor.com. Lady Lori helicopters can also be arranged through Scott Dunn.