Our first day in the Mara had included lions, wildebeest, giraffes and a truly phenomenal sunset – so it was going to take a lot for day two to live up to the incredibly high standards that Cottars had set for us.
We awoke early to the sounds of the jungle. Birds sang and the bigger game bellowed as loudly as they could, providing a wake up call like no other.
Blearily, we dressed and downed a quick but delicious breakfast, before jumping in a game vehicle (but not before turning around and finding a giant waterbuck next to me) and setting off for our morning game drive.
It didn’t take long to spot wildlife (hello zebras!) but what struck me more than the game, was the sheer beauty of the land. Of all the safari’s we had been on, our safari in the Maasai was by far the prettiest. Open plains, scrub that looked like spun gold and rolling hills all combine to make a land that is undeniably glorious.
This land is also home to many awe-inspiring and fierce creatures. It didn’t take us long to find this gorgeous lion feasting on the carcass of a baby zebra. It’s a strange thing to witness, because on one hand, you are so sad for that zebra, but on the other, it is at times like this when you really appreciate the sheer power and ferocity of these enormous cats.
There were just lions for days on this morning! We seemed to run into pretty much all of the lions in the Mara, but you better believe that I wasn’t complaining.
This old male looks like any other lion at first glance, but once he turned his head to face us I realised just how special and unique he really was.
He was actually missing an eye!
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to the lions and see what other creatures we could find. The elephants were as beautiful as ever…
The zebras couldn’t have looked more majestic if they tried…
But it was what we spotted next that really made the day…
We found this stunning leopard walking across an open plain, without another animal or car in sight! We ended up following her for about an hour, all without seeing a single other soul. She was very clearly on the hunt for her next meal, and unfortunately for her, there wasn’t exactly a lot of opportunities grazing amongst her territory. However, her bad luck meant that she had no qualms about being out in the open, which made for one of the greatest game sightings I’d had ever had.
She wasn’t worried about getting too close to us either, and for a moment, I locked eyes with this incredible cat, and what a magical moment that truly was.
This is probably far too many leopard photos to feasibly include in one blog post, but I just couldn’t cull the number down any further… the leopard and the landscapes are far too photogenic!
Watching her skulk, stalk and search the plains was nothing short of phenomenal.
Eventually she moved into a more thick part of the bush and we were no longer able to follow her. We settled in for a bush breakfast before heading back to camp. After a little nap (I love safaris, but the early rises are murder for a night owl like me) it was time for a little more indulgence courtesy of the Cottars team.
One ‘activity’ that is totally unique to Cottars is the bush bath!
These portable canvas baths are reminiscent of a distant era, and they are such a simple thing to offer guests, but they were certainly a highlight for us. A bottle of champagne and a platter of goodies accompanied us and made for a sublimely romantic experience.
Once we had been sufficiently pampered, soaked and fed, it was time to embark on a walking safari. In all of our safaris, this was something that we’d just never had the chance to do. Led by our wonderful Maasai guides (shoutout to Enock) we explored the bush in the same way as the game, seeing zebras and more from a different perspective than a game vehicle can provide.
The walk ended with sundowners drinks in the bush and another sublime Kenyan sunset.
Later that evening, we were indulged in a private dinner in our tent. Dining at Cottars is mostly a communal affair, but if you prefer to have a quiet or more romantic dinner, all you ever need to do is ask!
Each course was brought to us by our wonderful butler, and each time we looked out from our tent we were met with the telltale flicker of hundreds of eyes. Zebras, wildebeest and other game seemed to flock to the area in front of our tent to rest for the night, which is pretty amazing.
The next morning it was time for us to say goodbye to Cottars. The goodbye was definitely a bittersweet one – I certainly did not want to leave! However, as we drove to the airstrip (once again in our Rolls Royce) we went passed many of the local Olderkesi people as they moved on to a different part of the conservancy. As we drove, we were met with many waves and greetings, which made the goodbye even more memorable.
I really cannot wait to return one day.
Getting to Nairobi: This international airport is one of the biggest hubs in Africa
Getting to Cottars 1920s Camp: From Wilson domestic airport, Governor’s Aviation fly to Cottars daily
Cottars 1920s Camp: One night a luxury safari tent starts at $956 USD per person including park and conservancy fees during the shoulder season
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: The price may be on the steep side, but for the unparalleled Maasai Mara solitude that this conservancy provides, you will get a world class safari experience