Karen Blixen Camp
Situated in the community-owned Mara North Conservancy, this Danish-owned camp is set right beside the Mara River. When not out exploring the conservancy, you can sit out and watch the resident hippo pod belching in the water or grazing along the banks, view birds through your binoculars or watch zebra coming to drink.
The 22 canvas tents are raised from the ground and each have a spacious deck overlooking the river, a large en suite bathroom and an outdoor shower. While there are more tents here than at other camps, it still retains a peaceful atmosphere and feels private.
Your time is spent on game drives through the conservancy, but you can also opt to do a walking safari, take a dawn hot air balloon ride or visit a Maasai village. Around camp, you can visit the on-site cooking school, plant a tree and find out more about the environmental initiatives in place here by joining an ‘eco walk’.
Meals are served on individual tables in the dining area, in front of the river or out in the bush. In the evening, a campfire is lit and you can gather with fellow guests to discuss the sightings you’ve had that day.
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The generously sized tents are raised on platforms and spaced along the riverbank, each with a large private deck so you can sit and look out for hippo, birds and plains game drawn to the water. The sound of the flowing river, grunts of hippo, and birdsong form a constant backdrop to your stay.
Made of canvas, the tents are sheltered by a high thatched roof. Inside, the dark-wood floors are strewn with Persian rugs, you’ll find a large double bed or twin beds and an en suite bathroom, with a walled off outdoor shower and dressing area.
The camp is situated in the Mara North Conservancy, which is owned and leased by local communities who graze their cattle on parts of the land. There are just a handful of camps here, so you’ll see far fewer vehicles than in the main reserve. A maximum of five vehicles are allowed at an animal sighting to reduce disturbance and improve guests’ safari experiences. Lion, wildebeest, buffalo and Masai giraffe are all commonly seen here.
Food and drink
- Breakfast, lunch and three-course á la carte dinners are served on individual tables in the main dining area or outside in front of the river.
- The food is of a high quality and takes influences from Europe, with ingredients sourced from different areas of Kenya.
- Bush breakfasts and dinners can also be arranged, as well as sundowner drinks and snacks at the end of your afternoon game drive.
- The main area has a bar (at an additional cost) and a coffee machine (complimentary) during your stay.
- Each tent can have up to two extra beds added for young children, while the family tent has two bedrooms and a shared veranda.
- The camp is unfenced, allowing animals to roam through, so children must be accompanied at all times.
Facilities and activities
The camp has a swimming pool with loungers, a spa offering a range of massages and treatments, and a shop selling local crafts.
Your stay includes morning and afternoon game drives through the conservancy, with the option to drive into the main reserve during the Great Migration. For an additional cost you can also join a guide and armed ranger on foot for a walking safari, or take a more leisurely nature walk around camp focused on finding out more about the smaller animals and plant life found here. Dawn hot air balloon safaris over the Masai Mara can be arranged, as well as visits to a local Maasai manyatta (village).
Environmental and social responsibility
The camp is solar powered and offers ‘eco walks’ for guests to find out about its efforts towards protecting the environment, conserving wildlife and benefitting the local communities. Projects include IT education for staff and the local Maasai community, foreign language and literacy courses. The camp is also passionate about green technologies, including an extensive solar panel system, solar heaters for showers and an eco-friendly cool room used to store vegetables. You can also plant a tree in the camp’s grounds (a small cost applies).
It has a well-run cooking school for local young people, who over 18 months can earn a City & Guilds qualification as well as gaining IT and language skills and experience in a real kitchen. It also runs a project for single mothers in the region to take part in beading workshops and make eco-friendly brickettes for fuel, helping them to earn a living.
In addition to its riverside location in a quiet conservancy, well-appointed tents and high levels of service, we like this camp for its focus on environmental and social initiatives and recommend taking part in the eco walk during your stay.