Gretchen’s Trip Report: Part 6

February 10, 2012  By: Gretchen

I awoke refreshed after a night of sound sleep at Porini Rhino Camp to a chilly morning with a bit of fog hanging above the ground. We enjoyed breakfast (very memorable banana pancakes!) in the main tent before heading off to explore a bit more of Ol Pejeta as we headed back to the airstrip to fly to the Conservancies outside of the Masai Mara.

Our flight was quick and uneventful, though we had two stops en route to our airstrip. We landed on the outskirts of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy and were met by our guides Ben and Simon. We drove from the airstrip through community lands, enjoying seeing the Masai settlements and surrounding pastures turn into wild bush as we ventured deeper into the conservancy. Despite the heat, we saw a fair bit of game en route to our site visits; wildebeest, eland, zebra and impala were abundant.

Our first stop took us to Encounter Mara Safari Camp.  Each of their twelve spacious tents features its own private veranda with a view over the surrounding savannah.  Tents are constructed out of canvas and natural materials and furnished with handmade furniture.   Tucked into the edge of the forest, the tents are side-facing, which allows for a larger veranda as well as a “bathroom with a view.”  There is generous spacing between tents, giving guests a strong sense of privacy. The decor is simple and elegant and the feeling in the camp is one of being well out into the bush, with treks through the forest between tents and the main area.

Encounter Mara offers day and night game drives, walking safaris and visits to a local Maasai community.  They also take pride in the birding expertise they have in their ranger staff.  Birding certainly isn’t a mandatory activity, but for those that are interested, the rangers have the passion and knowledge to make for a memorable birding experience.

Next, we visited Ol Seki.  The camp has 6 luxury tents as well as 2 brand new two bedroom family/suite tents.  The camp is perched at the edge of a bluff and each tent has a stunning 270 degree panoramic view of the surrounding bush.  All of the luxury tents have a large en-suite bathroom and changing area with flush toilet and hot shower.  Traditional colonial decor is coupled with all the modern amenities and gives a classic Africa feel.  Each tent remains hidden from the next, providing privacy and seclusion.

Ol Seki offers day and night game drives, guided bush walks and visits to a local Maasai community.  They also offer visits to the local guiding school.

Finally, after a drive out of Naboisho Conservancy, we arrived in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy; our home for the next 24 hours. Ol Kinyei belongs to a Maasai community who set aside the land for the purposes of wildlife conservation. Ol Kinyei Conservancy is home to only one camp in its 17,500 acres, the Porini Mara Camp which accommodates a maximum of only 12 guests at any given time. Staying at Porini Mara Camp is not only an exclusive experience but one that respects the principles of eco-tourism. Located within the Serengeti-Mara eco-system, Ol Kinyei is renowned for its unspoiled and breathtaking scenery with diverse terrain with its open savanna plains and rolling hills. The land, with an abundance of water sources in the form of springs, streams and rivers, coupled with spectacular views across the Mara plains, is home to a wide variety of animal species.

There is a resident lion pride of over 20 animals and several leopards also have their territories within the conservancy and are often sighted by guests from Porini Mara Camp on evening or early morning drives (more on that in our next post!). Cheetahs are frequently seen and it is not rare to come across large numbers of giraffe as well as Cape buffalo and elephants. The wildebeest migration also passes through Ol Kinyei when herds from the eastern plains of Loita join the migration to the Mara Reserve. The local Masai make first class guides and are on hand to share their experience on what to see and do.

On arriving in camp, we were warmly welcomed and relieved to sit down to a freshly set table under the shade of a yellowwood tree where we could enjoy cool drinks and a bit of lunch as we were given an orientation to the camp. The food was light, fresh and delicious and the perfect thing for a hot afternoon. After lunch, we settled into our comfortable tents situated along the river for an hour of relaxation.

In our next posting:  more lions!