July 2013 the new Mara Plains Camp in the portfolio of Great Plains Conservation became the latest in bespoke safari accommodation and experiences.
The brand new Mara Plains Camp adopts many of the values and low impact design ethics of their Botswana Zarafa Camp, but with an East Africa twist. It is also one of the “greenest” ever built. Here’s mention of other lodges and camps with green ideals.
Intimate at just seven tents, Mara Plains is set among a riverine forest and overlooks the Maasai Mara plains – it brings a lump to my throat just re-living the images in my mind.
“Africa Will Get In Your Blood!”
I spent 3 months in the Masai Mara throughout the wildebeest migration and the sight of those vast plains in reality, not just on TV, allowed me to leave my other life behind and embrace Africa. Before I went someone wise said, “Africa will get in your blood and you won’t be able to leave.” I had no idea that would be true!
CEO of Great Plains Conservation Dereck Joubert National Geographic filmmaker and explorer, along with his equally adventurous wife Beverly, designed the new Mara Plains Camp. Looks to me like they’ve got great taste!
The reason I give space to Great Plains on this blog is to highlight their goal to save some of the last great, iconic, and wild places of the world through the right formula between conservation, communities and commerce. Great Plains Conservation’s model takes stressed and threatened environments, surrounds them with compassionate protection and intelligent management.
Success is in the Detail
I’ve been to over 200 safari lodges and perhaps Dereck and Beverly have been to more, so they understand the combination of offering authentic experiences with the comfort expected by people paying a high price to be there. “A camp’s success is in the details.” Dereck explains, “I spent two full days pacing the approach from where vehicles might arrive, then waded across the river in a direct line that the bridge now takes imagining the arrival, the emotions of people who have just flown across the world to get here.”
As you walk up the small slope your eyes are taken to the horizon and one single flat topped lone tree – one of the most quintessential shapes of East Africa. As you approach this view the framing has been calculated on a perfect 3:2 proportion, that is largely known in photographic circles as the golden rectangle.
Now that’s what I call detail! I have to see it for myself! Leave a comment as soon as you’ve been there and make me jealous!
The new Mara Plains camp is in the style of a grand 1800s safari expedition, with the magic of the Maasai and Arab Swahili culture reflected in the décor. According to Dereck, “camps need to have stories deeply embedded in them” and their use of 70+ year old wooden floors recycled from old African railroad, carved Lamu doors and antique chandeliers enrich the spaces with a palpable past. It’s a feeling you just can’t get when everything’s new.
Canon Camera and Swarovski Binoculars in your room!
And how’s this for fringe benefits: each guest tent comes with complimentary use of professional Canon camera and lenses (including a 100–400mm lens) and a pair of Swarovski 42×10 HD binoculars.
It kind of goes without saying that the wildlife experience is amazing – especially if you happen to be there during the wildebeest migration (approx July-Sept). But don’t think that just because you’ve got a super Cannon camera to hand that you’re going to get shots like these by Beverley Joubert, of the great herds crossing the Mara River. In the 3 months I was there I only saw it once, because vast herds of zebra and wildebeest can wait days and days on the banks plucking up courage to cross. It’s often a zebra that takes the plunge first then the wildebeest follow.
Each guest’s stay at Mara Plains Camp contributes considerably to the success of the Olare Motorogi and Mara North Conservancies. A partnership agreement ensures the survival of an important ecosystem, biodiversity ranges and the astounding volume and variety of wildlife. Click here to read more about Great Plains ethos.
Mara Plains Camp is possibly my ideal safari camp – I’ll have to go and report back, unless you get there before me!
Did you know lions are endangered? Read this story about The Last Lions documentary by Dereck and Beverly Joubert.