Mahali Mzuri

Sir Richard Branson's Kenyan Safari Camp

Mahali Mzuri Kenya

The name means ‘beautiful place’ in Swahili.

Mahali Mzuri is Sir Richard Branson’s 12-tented luxury safari camp in the Kenyan Bush.  Located in the world-famous Maasai Mara ecosystem and right in the path of the annual great migration.

At Mahali Mzuri you’ll have a front row seat, not just to the migration, but also to the abundant game you can see all year round. The camp is situated in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the wider Maasai Mara ecosystem.

Think of Safari and you think of Kenya the Masai Mara and the great migration.

Is this the ultimate in Safari destinations?

In my opinion it is both yes and no.  Some areas suffer overcrowding.

There are far too many vehicles in the National Parks and they detract from the experience.  However (and it is a big HOWEVER!), this ignores the concessions that have been granted around the edges of the parks and the Masai Mara in particular.

Access to the concessions is restricted and there are a limited number of lodges within them.

Elephants Near Camp

Take for example Olare Motorogi Conservancy in which Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Safari Camp is located.  Within this concession there are just 5 lodges and camps.  Strict rules are imposed on the number of vehicles.

Mahali Mzuri is located on top of an escarpment that drops in to a valley with a semi-permanent river (in that there is always water but it does not always flow) which means that even in the driest of seasons there are always animals around.

The camp comprises of 12 guest ‘tents’, a dining ‘tent’ and a lounge/bar ‘tent’.  Located low down the escarpment is a spa area.  There is an infinity pool overlooking the valley below.  The views from everywhere are breath-taking.

More on the guest ‘tents’.  They are referred to as tents because they are made out of canvas.  There all resemblance to a tent ends.  As you would expect of any Virgin Limited Edition property luxury abounds.

The tents are specially designed to funnel any breeze though the gap between the outer roof and the inner lining of the living space.  The effect cools the inside of the tent without the need for air-conditioning thus reducing power usage and the carbon footprint – it works by the way!  Air-conditioning is not needed, and I did not need my fan turned on except for a short period during the very hottest time of day.

The floor of the tents is dark wood and the interiors are superb.  I will let my pictures do the talking on this.  The bathroom area is located just across the hall from the bedroom area and is just as luxurious.  There is a sofa inside the bedroom but also there is a covered outside living area as well as a sundeck.  Forgive me for one criticism, but a jacuzzi or plunge pool on the terrace would have been the icing on the cake – but that would be too indulgent even for me!

The camp is designed so that the bar and dining area are at the centre with 6 tents arranged to each side along the ridge of the escarpment.  Tents are located far enough apart to give complete privacy but close enough to give reassurance should any wild visitors disturb in the night. (the decks on which the tents are placed are raised above ground level so there is no worry within the area of the tent or on its terrace).

There can be quite a walk between the main area and some of the tents mine (Tent 1) was situated farthest away and a good 10-15 minute walk from the bar area.  This was fine to walk alone during the day but once dark I was accompanied by a spear carrying Masai warrior for my safety.  It all adds to the fun of the wild!

There is full 220V power between 4am and midnight each day and along with this full high Speed wifi.  There is also mobile coverage.  The tents are connected to the main area by phone within these hours and outside these hours by individual 2-way radios.

mahali mzuri breakfast

Dining is as you would expect from a high-quality safari camp with added options of the occasional dinner held out in the wilds if you wish.  Meals can also be arranged on your private deck or by the pool.  Cuisine is European with an African twist and much of the produce is produced on site in the gardens or sourced as locally as possible.

All meals and drinks (including alcohol) are included in the package.

Game drives are twice daily, normally early morning and late afternoon/evening.  Wild animals roaming the Kenyan plains include wildebeest, elephants, zebra, lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffe, impala and gazelles, but that’s just for starters.

The abundant animal life in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is quite simply jaw-dropping, and you won’t need to go far to see some unforgettable sights. All the drama that only nature can provide is on your doorstop and you’ll be in the hands of our experienced Field Guides with a front row seat on your safari tour.

A number of lion pride territories meet in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy which can make for some interesting encounters as the different groups battle for dominance.

Of course one of the biggest draws to the area is the annual ‘Great Migration’, which sees up to one million wildebeest plus hundreds of thousands of zebra, gazelles and other game undertake a journey of roughly 1,600km through Tanzania and Kenya.A number of lion pride territories meet in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy which can make for some interesting encounters as the different groups battle for dominance.

The area is also home to roughly 150,000 Loita Wildebeest that don’t make the annual migration south and seem content to ‘loiter’ all year round!

I went ‘out of season’, in that I was not there during the annual migration period.  However, the game I saw was spectacular and, being there in March, I was privileged to see many new born animals, including a few who were just minutes old.  It is awe inspiring to see the tiniest of giraffes struggling to its feet for the first time.

Getting there: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Kenya Airways fly non-stop to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport .  Onward flights to Olare Orok airstrip (25 minutes from camp) are with either Safarilink or Air Kenya from Nairobi-Wilson Airport.  Overnight stays may be necessary in or near Nairobi dependent on flight schedules.

Special charter flights can also be arranged on request if the scheduled times don’t suit you and these flights can land at the private airstrip in the conservancy, roughly 20 minutes’ drive from camp.

Governor’s Aviation also serves Olare Olorok and I would recommend that you combine a trip to Mahali Mzuri with one of the lovely Governors properties Such as Mfango Island on Lake Victoria or Loldia House on Lake Nakura in the Great Rift Valley

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