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This Watch Wednesday we announce the opening of new camps in Kenya’s Maasai Mara

We watched two Secretary birds float up in a nest on a tree in the Maasai Mara recently. Each bird placed a twig exactly where it most made sense – structurally, aesthetically – and probably to impress. It reminded me of the complex chambers of the Hammerkop (or Lightening bird) nest down at the river.

Toto, a young leopard, decided to investigate a Hammerkop’s nest recently. As she went up offering a young warthog kill as a house gift, she collapsed the entire roof. Once she was in ‘their’ nest, though, she decided that it worked pretty well and so moved in for the day, resting for hours.

Nests, homes, camps and lodges can be functional and just as perfect as Toto found out in her “nest”. This entire weekend David Stogdale (Managing Director Great Plains East Africa) consistently shared walkthrough videos of our own new “nest” to me, as the final touches were coming together because this week is HUGE for us.

A brand-new Mara Plains Camp is now open, and the fantastic 2-bedroomed Mara Plains Jahazi Suite opens a little later this month! The camp is now entirely built on high stilts with walkways of ancient railway ‘sleeper’ wood winding their way through the forest, in and out of trees, to each tent. We have added Lamu doors, raised the library to treetop height, added a honeymoon suite on a separate island accessed by its own bridge and a wine cellar with a spectacular view.

I loved Mara Plains before, but this new camp is the perfect evolution of what was there before but utilising some unique opportunities to expand the tasteful camp design into nooks and crannies of the trees that have grown into an amazing forest. Mambo, who has been in camp for over ten years now, and Claire, are delighted to welcome you to their new camp.

Also, this month we finish Mara Expedition Camp on an entirely new site, up on the hill overlooking the Maasai Mara and under flat-topped acacia trees. This brand new camp, opening 20 June 2021 and managed by our hugely experienced managers Damaris and JP, was initially designed as a template for a high-end expedition offering that we will be rolling out in the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Ironically we fell so in love with this camp that it is staying up year-round!

And… some of you will remember our camp, Mara Toto, the same camp where the leopard cub Toto was born (isn’t that a coincidence?). As we looked at this collapsed “nest”, I found it difficult to walk away from this site even though it floods annually. So we have spent the past six months refurbishing the site, adding brand new tents with that unique design everyone loved but added technical ways for us to remove the tent before any floods. We also revisited the name, Mara Toto Camp, to be opened today! It will open each year in May and close each year at the end of October, a seasonal migration camp, but in one of the most beautiful hidden valleys of the Maasai Mara. I love it!

Great Plains Conservation, therefore, has three new camps opening this month in Kenya’s greater Maasai Mara.

We are open for business to any and all leopards who wish to give birth under or on top of these beautiful tents.

You are welcome too.

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