travel guide Masai Mara

Roho Ya Chui, Swahili for "soul of leopard", your partner for innovative training solutions in combination with safari packages and wildlife photography.

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M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya M a s a I M a R a M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya s l E E P I N g M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya M a R a N o R T H c o N s E R V a N c y 4 Sleeping oMaji Moto Eco-Camp TENTED caMP $$ (% 716430722, 041-2006479; www.majimoto; per person full board Us$80) S Set on a hillside among granite rocks contorted into fantastical plasticine shapes, Maji Moto is around 60km north of the reserve proper. The camp is a fairly simple but beautifully conceived creation where guests sleep in large dome tents with mattresses on the floor. It's a brilliant camp for families, with warrior training, dances, village visits, bush walks, full-day safaris to the Mara and soaks in the hot springs all on offer. Multiday walking safaris to the Masai Mara can be organised and your stay genuinely helps the locals. Mara North Conservancy Established in 2009, the 30,000-hectare Mara North Conservancy (www.maranorth. com), which abuts the northwestern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, is one of the better known, more popular and more successful (in terms of benefits to both the local community and the local wildlife) of the Mara-area conservancies. The countryside here is an absolute cli- ché of what East Africa is supposed to look like: the flat-topped acacias, the long gold- en grass and animals everywhere. Leopard sightings are common and there are lots of very large lions, as well as some cheetahs and masses of plains wildlife. In fact, dur- ing the migration the horizon can be utterly covered in the black dots of wildebeest and seeing lions on a kill is very common. 4 Sleeping oElephant Pepper TENTED caMP $$$ (% 0730127000;; s/d full board Us$952/1588; W ) S This inti- mate camp has eight tents that are luxurious without being over the top and food that is of a genuinely high standard. But what re- ally makes Elephant Pepper stand out is its setting, under a dense thicket of trees with views over rolling grasslands that, at times, can be a seething mass of grunting, growl- ing and trumpeting megafauna. In fact, so much wildlife can sometimes be found right outside the (unfenced) camp that lying in your tent at night, listening to the sounds of the African night, might leave you feeling like a part of the food chain! For most people it's wonderfully exhilarating, but for those with a nervous disposition, it may all prove a bit much. oSaruni Mara TENTED caMP $$$ (% 0735950903, Nairobi 020-2180497; www.; s/d full board Us$910/1520; W ) S Way to the north of any of the other camps, and virtually on the border of the conserv- ancy, this breathtaking camp has around a dozen tents dusted with antique furnish- ings and colonial bric-a-brac. Some even have open log fires inside! The setting, in animal-packed, forested hills, is very differ- ent to most other camps There are quite a few Maasai manyat- tas on the plains just below Saruni Mara, and this human presence does mean that wildlife can be scarcer and you may have to drive up to 45 minutes to really get into the heart of the conservancy. On the plus side, there are lots of opportunities for bush walks and cultural encounters. It also runs a family-friendly 'warrior for a week' programme where children can learn the art of lighting fires without match- es and other such skills you don't really want them learning! Off Beat Mara TENTED caMP $$$ (% 0704909355;; s/d all-inclusive Us$740/1480; W ) S With just six tents, this is one of the smallest and most personable of the Mara North camps with bush-chic tents filled with heavy wooden furnishings that exude an authentic old- African-safari feel. Wildlife abounds around the camp and there's even a resident lion pride whose nightly growls may seep into your dreams. The camp has a charming young staff and excellent guides, including a special- ist walking guide who takes guests on long bush walks through valleys filled with wildlife Kicheche Mara TENTED caMP $$$ (% Nairobi 020-2493569;; s/d full board $Us835/1400; W ) S Stunningly sit- ed in a lush green vale rammed with zebras, impalas and, in the river that passes close to camp, a hippo or two. It has a handful of giant, seriously luxurious tents stretched along nearly 1km of hillside. If all that wasn't enough, there's an often-seen leop- ard resident in the area. 1 2 1

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