Mara Plains Camp
Imagine a camp set right in the heart of some of the greatest predator country of Africa…
This is Mara Plains Camp, located on the northern border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in the 30,000 acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Rarely a night passes without lion roaring nearby, while leopard are regularly found to wander through the camp and cheetah have established territories on the savannah nearby the main area.
Mara Plains Camp is a small, high quality, seven-roomed camp under canvas and on raised decks with sweeping views across Kenya’s notable savannahs. It is among the smallest and most personal camps in the Masai Mara region. It is just one of five camps currently operating within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, which boasts the region’s lowest vehicle density with no mini-buses, and only one guest room per 700 acres!
Here, it is possible to avoid the high tourist density of the Masai Mara Game Reserve proper, if desired. In total, guests of Mara Plains have access to over 100,000 acres of low-density vehicle tourism lands as well as an additional 375,000 acres within the Masai Mara Game Reserve itself.
The camp caters for only 14 guests in seven uniquely designed octagonal canvas rooms. Each is raised on decks, and opens on three sides to the outside. Floor to ceiling net walls and the marquis ceiling make for very open-air and inviting environs. The rooms have a dressing area as well as private verandahs with seating and exquisite views. The en-suite facilities consist of a double basin vanity, flush toilet and shower.
The fresh air, getting on and off vehicles, and walking will incite an appetite and there’s no going hungry here. Complementary refreshments and snacks are served on all our drives and include tea and coffee on the morning drive and the traditional “sundowner” cocktail in the late afternoon.
Mara Plains offers possibly the widest range of activities anywhere in the greater Masai Mara – early morning and late afternoon and night game drives, balloon safaris (at extra cost), authentic local village visits and unrivalled access to superior wildlife habitats.
Game drives – day and night to see the wildlife and beauty of the conservancy
Cultural & village visits
Photographers – for photographers and non-photographers alike – have specially designed our Toyota Land Cruisers. We are among the only, if not the only camp, in the Masai Mara to have completely open game drive vehicles. The thoughtful engineering provides all-round visibility with a (removable) canvas roof, and comfortable bucket seats. These rugged, 4X4 vehicles provide access to all of the region’s diverse ecosystems, and do so with ease.
Bush breakfasts & lunches
Mara Plains is located on the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, one of the northern conservancies which act as a buffer zone to the Mara reserve in south western Kenya. The OOC is run and based on a low impact but high yield model of conservation and what makes it special is that it is the local Masai people who benefit from having the wildlife on their land.
Mara Plains is one of a few camps in the Mara that have been constructed without any cement so making it possible for the entire camp to be removed leaving no trace. All the existing structures in the camp are on raised decks limiting covered surface area. The rooms all have only three ‘feet’, each resting on a flat river stone lying on the surface.
As any camp should, Mara Plains tries to minimize any impact it may have on the surrounding ecosystem so as to be as natural and eco- friendly as possible.
Water – Water for the camp is drawn from a hand dug well located next to the Ntiakitiak River. This water is pumped by solar pump to header tanks so as to cut out any burning of fuels. The water from the header tanks then passes through a triple filter system with UV treatment before heading to the camp. The camps water is now fully solar heated unless no sunshine then we have backup eco-boosters.
Electricity – The Electricity in the camp is currently run on 24 deep cycle batteries operating through a duel inverter system.The batteries are charged by 72 solar panels providing 24/7 electricity. We have a generator as back up.
Wastes – Mara Plains tries to cut down as much as possible on our waste. All drinking water is bottled and is brought to the camp in 20L recyclable containers. When guests arrive they are given their own personal water bottle for the duration of their stay. These bottles are filled as need-be and re-used meaning other than the plastics collected by guides on drives the camp has very little plastic waste. The small amounts collected at Mara Plains as sent to Nairobi for re-cycling. All metals, cans, tins etc are collected and stored in the camp before being sent to recycling plants in Nairobi.
All glass is also collected and sent to Nairobi for recycling.
All combustibles are incinerated on site.
Organic waste is put into a bio pit where it decomposes. This pit is not accessible to the wildlife ensuring there is no dependence being caused by the presence of the camp.
Grey Water – All grey water from the kitchen passes through a Biobox system. This system is comprised of two layer of porous stone acting as a media to house bacteria. The sewage water is evenly dripped over the media and then slowly filters down with the bacteria eating away it leaving a clear, unharmful and odorless water at the end. This water then flows down a French drain back into the water table with no harm to the environment whatsoever.
Black Water – Black water passes through a septic tank before filtering through the Biobox system.
I grew up in the wilds of Scotland, spending most of my childhood tearing around the countryside on my fat pony, skiing in the Alps with family, or exploring the shores of my hometown, St Andrews, with friends. Anything and everything to do with being outdoors, and I was keen! At this point in time, Africa was a far off dream and one that I would not get to realise until the ripe old age of 28…
Following my school years in Scotland, I travelled to Australia to complete a Yatchmasters sailing course, involving some incredible trips out in to the Pacific Ocean, as well as travelling to Asia and Europe. After my gap year, I headed up to Edinburgh University to study Psychology, leading me on to my masters in Real Estate Management in Oxford. Typically, week one of the course saw the financial crash kick off, resulting in a tough battle for a job! Happily, I managed to persuade the bosses at King Sturge (now JLL) to take me on as a graduate, where I then spent 6 great years working as a Chartered Surveyor in both the Industrial and Residential Investment departments. However, the inner outdoors kid never grew up, and I soon could not ignore the constant pull for adventure, and the opportunity to experience life in the wilds again. So, having never set foot in Africa, I decided to quit my job, pack my things, let out my flat and head to Kenya: I can honestly say I have not looked back!
After our wedding in December 2014, Henry and I then spent 6 months in South Africa, training as FGASA Level 1 field guides. We then very happily took on our roles as managers of Mara Plains in September 2015…. and every day we pinch ourselves, to realise how lucky we are to be able to call this beautiful corner of Kenya our home.
Some of my earliest memories are of skiing as a child during white-out blizzards near our home in Norway, a far cry from the savannahs of the Maasai Mara. I was not fortunate enough to grow up in Africa. I knew from the first moment I set foot on its soils that I should have been here all along. My love of the African bush was steadily nurtured through books, photography and wildlife documentaries from a very young age, growing up in Europe. It was not until I was a teenager that I experienced Africa in the flesh; I was hooked from the off. On finishing university, I spent a summer driving a Landrover from Capetown, South Africa to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in what I can now look back at as a truly life-changing experience. After completing a year of travels, I enrolled at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to begin a career in the British Army. Following 12 months at the Academy, I was commissioned into the Scotland’s senior and only cavalry regiment, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. I enjoyed 5 very happy years as a junior officer, deploying to various places around the world, including Europe, Canada, Australia and Afghanistan.
During this time, my memories and my love of Africa lay dormant, but unforgotten. The urge to return, but in a more permanent fashion, began to grow, to the point that it was impossible to ignore it any further. With mixed feelings, I resigned my commission and proposed to my then long-term girlfriend, Hattie, in the same week – what a week! We married in December 2014, and within a matter of days, we waved goodbye to family and friends and moved to South Africa, to complete a 6 month intensive professional guiding qualification. On successful completion, we accepted positions working with Great Plains Conservation as the managers of Mara Plains Camp. This is the beginning of a new chapter that sees us realise our dream to live and work in the very place where I first experienced my passion for Africa, Kenya. It feels almost surreal and yet I consider myself blessed to have ended up in this truly magical place.
Born and bred in the Mara region, Daniel attended schools local to Mara Plains camp, and always strived to work in the tourism industry to meet people from all over the world and to share with them the beauty of his country. He graduated from Koiyaki Guiding School in 2007 with a certificate in Tour Guiding and First Aid, and furthered his education there in 2009 qualifying in Advanced Field Guiding. He was immediately employed by Ol Seki camp in the Mara, and later moved to the Chyulu Hills near Kilimanjaro, to guide at Ol Donyo Lodge, in one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Kenya, where his knowledge of birds and plants were especially enriched. Staying with Great Plains Conservation, Daniel joined Mara Plains in 2011, and is thrilled to come back home to his native lands. Most importantly Daniel strives to teach his guests about the rich diversity of wildlife here, as well as the desperate importance of protecting this priceless ecosystem. He feels extremely privileged to have the opportunity to deliver the message of wildlife and environmental conservation to a global audience for the benefit of generations to come.
Born in Talek in 1985, local town to Mara Plains, Kevin attended Ole Sankale boarding school, and then Olchekut Sipat Apostolic School where he developed a keen interest in tree planting and was a member of the Friends of Conservation Society. He later joined Riverside Camp, working as a freelance guide for two years, developing his understanding of mammals and birds. From there he enrolled in Koiyaki Guiding School near his home in the Masai Mara, excelling in his studies of flora and fauna, and graduating with a certificate in Tour Guiding and Wildlife Management. Joining the Mara Plains team in 2009, Kevin continues to wow his guests with his hawk eyes, uncanny intuition and acute understanding of wildlife.
Johnson ‘Ping’ Nkukuu:
Born in 1973, Ping began his training as a naturalist whilst herding cattle with his father, who taught his son all of the Maasai’s medicinal uses of plants and trees as well as explaining the behaviour of the wild animals. At primary school Ping enrolled in the Environment and Wildlife Club, and then in high school became Provincial Organizer for the Science Clubs. Moving on to Nairobi, Ping studied Tours Travel Administration, Guest Relations and Essential Guiding Skills, and then trained as a ranger and safari guide in two prestigious South African guide schools. After graduation Ping guided for three safari camps in the Masai Mara, before travelling further afield. He moved to Florida in 2000 to work for Disney as guide and host of their Animal Kingdom attraction, and then to Atlanta Zoo where he interpreted and explained African wildlife behaviour for visitors. Coming home again to Africa Ping returned to the Masai Mara to guide safaris in very high end camps, conduct environmental awareness programmes for local children, and to give lectures on the very rich Masai culture. He joined Film Safaris Camp in 2007 and stayed on when it changed hands in 2009, becoming Mara Plains. He is senior guide, a fountain of information and a huge asset to the team.
Juma, our head chef, trained for 3 years in Food & Beef Production, Service & Control at NYC College, Nairobi. Then he went on to train for 2 years in bakery, pastry, cake making and decoration. So he loves nothing more than to make cakes for special occasions, and all round is an outstanding chef.