Contemplation and Change – a ‘Values Based Safari’
Cottar’s Safari Services is a fifth-generation family operated Kenyan safari business. Established over a century ago, in 1919, it has witnessed wars, economic shocks and significant biodiversity decline. The recent impact of COVID-19 has given the family time and opportunity to contemplate issues that matter to them most, creating the space to adjust, and develop a collection of more meaningful safari experiences, whilst also completing a sympathetic refurbishment which celebrates the pioneering spirit of safari.
Cottars’ 1920s Camp is already a leading-edge Global Ecosphere Retreat member of The Long Run with a significant commitment, innovative and unique approach to sustainability. The Long Run is one of the world’s largest initiatives led by nature-based businesses so the era of the COVID-19 lockdown not only allowed for the refurbishment to take place but also for the family to further develop unique, purpose-driven experiences that contribute to sustainability.
Louise Cottar, co-owner, explains: ‘Luxury safaris and the Big 5 game experience have become commonplace. We believe that travellers still value these elements, but that they also want to participate in a safari that provides values, purpose and impact. As such, we have spent the last year developing safari impact experiences that have a positive effect to the client, to the complex and unique biodiversity that surrounds us and to the local Maasai community as we move forward into the next 100 years of providing safari and conservation services’.
Some of those experiences include engaging and learning about vulture rehabilitation (in just 30 years, more than half of the vulture population in Kenya’s Maasai Mara has been decimated, seven of Africa’s 11 vulture species are on the edge of extinction, and 90% of reported vulture deaths in Africa are from medicinal use and poisoning), spending time with the only all-female conservation ranger unit in the Masai Mara, learning about the unique medicinal plants of the area, foraging and tasting local wild food, touring the community-owned private conservancy and participating in a reforestation seed disbursal bushwalk experience.
The Cottars have also developed a ‘Full Circle’ safari experience which enables guests to stay longer in the Maasai Mara, and move from the 1920s Camp to the Conservancy Camp to a mobile camp, whilst maintaining the same support team to minimize Covid-19 risks and to enjoy for longer the amazing breadth of experiences that the Maasai Mara has to offer.
An Extensive Refurbishment:
Following an extensive refurbishment, the Cottar’s 1920s Camp in the Maasai Mara now includes a signature Mess tent, as well as an Explorer’s tent, and a stunning new interior for the second Honeymoon tent. Everything is ready and open, and we are excited to receive guests following on from the news of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Mess tent, situated with a hilltop view of the rolling savannahs, encompasses an Art Nouveau centre bar, an explorer’s library fire nook, a Victorian-era inspired dining area and vintage lounging area. After braving antique auctions in Kenya and in Europe, the Mess tent refurbishment has many authentic and inspiring safari pieces such as first edition Africana books, and authentic explorer equipment such as sextants, binoculars and telescopes. Evenings are warmed under lighting from Kenya’s 1920’s ‘lunatic’ train line, working gramophones and original photography portraying the history of safari.
The Explorers tent is the equivalent of a scaled ‘cabinet de curiosite’. The tent showcases the history of safari, the Maasai culture, unique biodiversity specimens and conservation stories in an interactive and engaging space, where evening talks expand on such issues as the life of the Maasai community, conservation and the importance of the Mara’s keystone species.
The Honeymoon tent, rivalling a suite in size, with two bathrooms, separate fire room, living and dining areas, and bedroom with matching Bauhaus inspired 1920s walnut burl wardrobes and a huge 4-poster bed. Private afternoon teas are served from original travelling trunks containing Victorian silver service tea sets. Experience the ‘bath of a lifetime’ and soak cares away in bespoke safari canvas baths, in a secluded open-air enclave, a perfect backdrop for a classic romantic safari sojourn.
The Cottar family have three places to stay in the Maasai Mara Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Cottar’s Bush Villa and Cottar’s Conservation Camp. Prices begin at $750 per person per night on full board accommodation including most activities (excluding park and conservation fees). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.