Cottar’s 1920s has been in the same family for generations and is the oldest safari camp in Africa. The proud heritage shapes the experience of hospitality in this luxury outpost.
There are many for whom landing in a chartered small plane in the middle of an African Savannah would be adventurous enough, but at Cottars it is only the beginning.
Having been greeted by a welcome party with drinks and smiles—but only briefly meeting the current heir of the family business, Calvin Cottars, who nevertheless managed to infect us with his enthusiasm for the Cottars’ way of life—we were taken on a vintage safari car ride to the camp.
Like in a Hemingway novel
Actress Keira Knightley, who was photographed in a safari-themed fashion shoot at Cottars wrote that the camp is “like something out of a fairytale”.
It’s hard not to agree. The 1920s has been designed to recall the colonial past and give its guests a real sense of what it must have been like to safari a hundred or so years ago. Everything is reminiscent of the bygone era of romance, adventure and elegance.
The public areas are filled with memorabilia from the very earliest days of safari. The lounge, strewn with faded antique rugs, is decorated with all kinds of colonial trinkets: old gramophones, telescopes, binoculars, ancient typewriters, vintage photos and prints, polished butlers’ trays, hurricane lamps and other whatnots.
The tents are furnished in the same fashion. Four-poster beds take a central stage and are accompanied by billowing drapes, North African rugs, wooden rocking chairs (with a carafe of brandy right by) and other period pieces (a claw-foot tub!). In any other place the interior decoration might feel overdone, but here it just adds to the magic of Cottars, creating a homey, original safari ambience.
The romance and heritage
Full of passion and integrity, the Cottars family maintains a place of true authenticity and unbroken connection with the golden era of safari and adventure. (See and hear Mr Calvin Cottars talk about this heritage in the Cottar’s video)
History and romance come alive at night when the camp is lit up with lanterns and candles, in the danger-in-the-wilds safari tales told around the dinner table or by the campfire. But fear no dark: a Masaai warrior will accompany each guest to the tent—and he will guard it throughout the night.
The wildlife experience
The camp is pitched on the eastern border of the Masai Mara reserve, not directly on the national park territory. Thus the game viewing is very private, and Cottars is able to offer unique activities, such as bush picnics, guided walking and night game drives. Cottars’ game vehicles are also allowed off-road, which means more freedom to follow animals.
This is done in the most professional manner, though: of the 15 gold level certified ‘professional Safari Guides’ in Kenya, 3 of them work at Cottars. The game viewing here is simply superb.