Located in a private conservation area, the Olare Motorogi in the Masai Mara, a partnership between 277 Maasai landowners and five lodges/camps, Mahali Mzuri is approximately an hour's flight due west of Nairobi.
This striking camp lies right in the heart of the wildlife-rich plains and the migration path (July-October), ensuring wildlife aplenty, with a high chance of spotting the stars of the show.
Part of the Virgin collection, the camp has an element of unmistakable Virgin glitz about it, so although it may not appeal to safari purists, for those who embrace the Virgin brand's element of fun this camp is spot on offering a high quality safari experience, fabulous service and great location. Reviews on TripAdvisor are excellent, and will give you a good feel for what is on offer.
It is well known that Sir Richard Branson has always had a personal love for Africa and has visited Kenya on multiple occasions. Back in 2007 he was made aware of the threats facing the Maasai Mara ecosystem, in particular migration paths and set about investing in the area with a view to expanding the protected area for the benefit of both the local community and wildlife alike. It wasn't until 2013 that Mahali Mzuri unfurled its canvas.
There are just 12 statuesque tents here, designed by Kenyan architects, with thatched bow roofs, arranged either side of the main area to make the most of the views and linked by a footpath. The furthest tents are only a short stroll from the main area. The camp sits on the edge of a beautiful valley and all the tents and dining areas enjoy superb views. Giraffe, hippo and elephant wandered along the valley during our stay in 2018, and we saw leopard and lion right below camp.
The 33,000 acre private Olare Motorogi conservancy directly borders the national reserve to the south, and with a total of just five boutique camps here in all, you will rarely see another vehicle - this is a real joy when you think of the large lodges and high vehicle density in the main reserve, especially around the time of the migration.
Ten tents accommodate up to two people each in twin/double beds, with the other two tents, No 7 and 8, reserved for families - these accommodate a family of four in a double bed and two single sofa beds in the living room.
Although the tents aren't huge (around 106 square metres including decked area) they do cater for all needs and are very comfortable with everything you could possibly want - ensuite bathroom, running hot and cold water, claw foot bath, rainshower, double vanities, fully stocked complimentary mini bar, hairdryer, torch, ponchos - there's even insect repellent and sun cream provided. The wide decked area is really beautiful with wonderful views over the river valley - a great place to sit in the middle of the day and watch the comings and goings below you.
The whole camp, including spa and 12m infinity pool look out over the valley to a small river. Wildlife is commonly seen from the decks around camp. This area is known as big cat central, with the territory of several lion prides crossing over. There is good wildlife viewing year-round and exceptional wildlife viewing July-October during the migration months. The small team of five bronze and silver accredited local Maasai warrior guides help you explore this beautiful area with morning and evening game drives. We were guided by head guide Dickson who was outstanding.
It is also possible to walk with your guide to learn about the medicinal plants around camp and to enjoy a night drive. Because you are in a private conservancy you are not restricted to game viewing only between sunrise and sunset like in the national reserve - it's a lot more flexible here. Askaris (Maasai warriors) look after you and escort you to and from your tent after sundown.
Food is highly rated here, adding to your overall enjoyment. Dietary requirements can be catered for - just let the team know. Meals, picnics, afternoon tea and glorious sundowners are served in a whole variety of locations - out in the bush, on the deck beneath the stars, in the stylish open sided mess tent or around the fire pit or pool for example. Private tables are laid for breakfast and lunch but convivial dining with fellow guests is the norm for dinner giving everyone a chance to swap safari tales and exchange experiences.
The central reception, living and dining area has a lovely fire pit, lots of comfy seating, well stocked bar and you'll also find a whole range of DVDs, games and books. There is also a camp telescope for star gazing.
Special Offer: stay 4 nights, pay for 3 until 14 June 2018 and between 15 October - 21 December 2018 subject to availability.
The 12 luxury tents have wooden floors, an en-suite bathroom, plenty of living space and a lovely raised deck with views over the surrounding bush and wildlife. There are six tents located on either side of the Main Tent, each reached by a walkway. The furthest is still only a 5 minute walk from the Main Tent. Ten are designed to sleep two adults and all can be split, if necessary, into twin beds. Two tents are configured to accommodate up to two children with their parents (on sofa beds in the living area). Children aged 6 years and above are welcome at Mahali Mzuri.
For a small camp there are surpisingly luxurious facilities including a dining room, comfortable sitting room and bar. There is also a lovely 12-metre infinity pool with a sunbathing deck and the Nasaro spa treatment room offering a range of treatments (additional expense).
Twice daily, you'll hop into a 4x4 Land Cruiser with your experienced guide and explore the wild beauty of the 13,500 hectares of game land. This is a truly intimate experience with uninterrupted views of the animals, plus drinks on hand to toast the sunrise or sunset. You can also take guided bush walks to learn more about the plants and their medicinal properties, as well as getting a closer look at the smaller animals and insects that Africa is famous for. Game drives are shared with other guests unless you are in a family group of 4-6 guests in which case you will have your own vehicle. If you would like an exclusive vehicle for up to 3 guests, the cost is $350 a day.
The local market day is Thurday and should your visit coincide with market day a trip to see the sights is included. Community visits are also possible - this costs around $20 per person (paid locally) and goes directly to benefit the local community.
Although Mahali Mzuri does not operate it's own balloon safaris, they do work closely with Hot Air Safaris and we can book and arrange everything on your behalf should you wish to include this most magical experience. Guests are usually collected before dawn, at around 5am, to be transported to the take off site around an hour away. The flight is usually 1 hour in duration with a champagne breakfast served upon landing. Guests then enjoy a safari back to their camp, arriving at around 1030am. Please do ask us for further details or let us know if you would like this included.