Keeping the age of Exploration alive.
With Valentine’s Day just over, I feel a certain sense of frustration with all these ‘days’ and ask why they should end. Why should we isolate it to a day?
I found a clip from a film that bridges that sense of love for Africa and the age of exploration.
A glimpse of the world through God’s eye (Out of Africa)
As I re-read Karen Blixen’s book, a quote stands out ‘People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue.’ A commentary more on what Africa is all about than on people, about what it is to all of us, what it evokes, what dreams it makes us dream.
A safari is really all about evoking those dreams, and when I was asked about what I think about when designing a safari camp, I said that it was about those dreams, creating a romantic setting, and telling a story.
Last week, in Kenya, we ‘broke ground’ on two new camps. Well, we didn’t actually ‘break any ground’ because when we build, it is with a very soft and temporary touch!
We recently signed a lease on a wonderful hilltop piece of land in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, and we’re moving Mara Expedition Camp up onto this hill. We have new tents being cut right now, which when completed with a fresh look and décor, will ensure that ‘totally fall in love’ moment. We won’t be washing your hair (that famous moment in the film), that is between you and whoever you share this experience with. The new Mara Expedition Camp (with only five tents built on the ground), is where you can walk out onto the wonderful selection of plains grasses of the Maasai Mara, under Acacia trees, and will be exactly the kind of camp you would imagine being on a film set for the remake of Out of Africa, but with you in the lead role. The tents are an upgrade from the old camp that was so popular but kept getting flooded, with showers and an antique iron bathtub in each. All our staff, your favourite chefs and guides will follow this camp up the hill and be ready for you in June, in time for this year’s migration.
Down at the river where we once Mara Expedition Camp stood, we’re excited to let you know that we are about to offer you a high end and private safari offering, revisiting what must have rated as most people’s favourite camp name – Mara Toto.
I fell in love with this name from another classic East African film, The Kitchen Toto, and Toto means “small,” but in a very affectionate way. Toto is also the name of a leopard cub, born under one of those original tents before the camp was flooded a few years back. So in a weird reversal, where this cub got her name from the original camp, our brand new camp gets its name from her!
Mara Toto will offer just four tents, of the same style as the new Mara Expedition on the hill. Still, as it will be tucked away, along a river line under a thick forest canopy, it has a totally different exclusivity feeling. We would prefer it to be booked as a whole camp or home, but we are open to individuals too. Mara Toto Camp will be the epitome of a private and authentic ‘Explorers-styled’ safari camp that embodies all those romantic and exclusive elements one really wants in a camp with a small group or family.
Mara Toto Camp will open from
May 15th to November 15th annually
In addition to the two brand new camps, we are also completing our brand new Jahazi Suite, at Mara Plains. This 2-bedroomed offering is a continuation of our villa concept originally started at our Zarafa Dhow Suite in Botswana. It is more like a private home for four, at Mara Plains, and a response to what I think will be a trend with Great Plains guests – a natural desire to move in, and settle down for a week or longer in one location, in one very comfortable space so you can enjoy life in the bush at your pace, the pace of that famous scene in Out of Africa, floating across the plains as, Karen Blixen also wrote, of giraffe, ‘like delicately painted ladies dressed in mists and fineries.’
Such delights await and it’s not just for people who dream.