To walk on the Angama’s viewing decks, or to enter its beautifully designed tented suites is to have the breath taken away for a brief moment, every time. Perched high above the African plains of the Mara, this place is sure to give you a sense of floating, as if suspended in a dream. But Angama Mara is so much more.
“Out of Africa”. You must have heard it many times. The Out of Africa safari, the Out of Africa style, the feeling, the romance, the aeroplane? Many camps in Masai Mara and Serengeti try to bank on the sentiments behind that quintessential African romance story, told in the 1985 film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep (and earlier in the original Karen Blixen book).
More broadly, the nostalgy for the 1920s safari adventures seem to inflect the savanna camp concept towards the vintage look, to the point where it is almost expected. Too soon, maybe, to accuse the Masai Mara properties of following the cookie-cutter design templates, but the attitude is there.
So it is this much more refreshing to discover a safari lodge that not only can lay the strongest claims to the Out of Africa legacy but that it can do so without serving its guests that retro vibe. Quite the opposite, in fact. Angama Mara differentiates itself with its contemporary design and style.
The link to the Sydney Pollack film has to do with the camp’s location. The lodge is perched just meters above the spot in which some key scenes of the film were set. Also, the composite photograph for the promotional poster was created from the shots taken here. (We tried to recreate the shot, for our own amusement — did you see the photo on Instagram?)
That poster only hinted at the amazing views the location enjoys. The lodge describes itself as “suspended in mid-air”, and this reflects our impression of the place. As we’d come at sunrise out to our suite deck or stroll in at lunchtime to the main viewing terrace, every time we were simply amazed at the panoramic vista of Masai Mara, hundreds of meters below.
The breathtaking scenery alone makes the stay here worthwhile. But the design of Angama Mara, the safari drives, the high service level, are all just as important elements of the experience.
A different safari style
The lodge is split into two parts, with 15 guest tents and its own lounge and restaurant area. Each lounge is an open space, wrapped in stacking glass doors and divided by internal columns, floor level changes and distinctive roof features. Opened to the expansive viewing terraces, these living areas are very much focal points of the camp.
We loved to hang out here, and not only because of the views. The food is a major plus of Angama Mara. It was probably the best we had during this trip (in which we toured Tanzania and Kenya). What we loved the most about the menu was that it was changed every day and that it was focused on simple, unfussy and light cuisine. And all very tasty.
Sophisticated and elegant, both the overall architecture and the interiors of Angama Mara are thoroughly contemporary, with only hints of the “safari vibe”. It lingers in the chic furniture, in the splashes of red colour reminiscent of the Maasai blankets, in brass fittings, or in heavy carafes filled with whisky and gin.
The open plan and free-flowing space is the almost a standalone feature of the common areas, and this carries over to the guest tents. The outdoors are invited in, and the expansive views are never forgotten.
Sights and memories
A spyglass on the terrace by the restaurant is a great tool with which to try and spot animals a few kilometres down on the savanna, but, of course, we were here to do it for real.
The drive down into the Mara is not smooth, and the all-terrain vehicles are tested to their limit, but it is always worth it. We savoured the safaris here and enjoyed some amazing encounters with the wild inhabitants of the Mara Triangle.
One morning we had a breakfast on the savanna, under a lone acacia tree, with a pair of cheetahs hanging out just a few hundred meters away.
Thanks to the guides of the Angama, we brought great memories from the trip, and a desire to return to the area once more. And why not again to Angama? It’s pretty much the perfect luxury lodge from which to rediscover this beautiful corner of the planet.