Long Run Alliance Member

Cottars 1920’s Camp

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Cottar's 1920's Safari Camp in the Maasai Mara returns to the original spirit and essence of 'safari', reminiscent of a golden era - one of romance, professional guiding, adventure and elegance, in a timelessly unspoiled setting with panoramic views and boundless wildlife.

The Cottar’s 1920 Safari Camp is situated in the Maasai Mara and borders the Serengeti and Loliondo reserves in an untouched 250,000 acre exclusive concession providing the discerning client a guarantee of privacy and an abundance of wildlife. The Cottar Safari tradition which began in 1919 captures the original spirit and essence of safari, reminiscent of an era when safaris were unrushed, elegant and romantic.

In addition to offering an unparalleled safari experience, the Camp strategically located in a key wildebeest migratory corridor. The great wildebeest migration is undoubtedly the highlight of the Maasai Mara experience. Watching this massive movement of animals from such a vantage point makes guests feel one with the rhythm and sheer force of nature. It is truly a humbling experience for visitors to the camp. Moreover, guests have access to a host of other wildlife – from the big cats to elephants and large herds of hippo, impala and the Coke’s hartebeest.

The Camp’s location in the South East of the Mara – offers guests reprieve from the crowds of the more popular western Mara region. The camp accommodates up to 22 guests in authentic white canvas tents, which are spacious and luxuriously furnished. They incorporate original safari antiques from the '20's, private en suite dressing room and bathrooms, main bedrooms and verandas. Guest activities include guided bush walks, bush meals, cultural visits, river swimming and fishing, as well as day and night game drives in either state of the art four wheel drive vehicles, or in our authentic old wooden car.

The owners of the Camp, Calvin Cottar and his wife Louise have, along with their team, have worked tirelessly to maintain the ‘secrets’ and wondrous appeal of Cottars Camp for years. Cottars Camp is in the business of making memories that last forever. Its pristine natural surroundings provide the makings of a real African adventure.

The South East Mara, where Cottars Camp is situated, represents the remaining 7% of the woodlands that historically supported such unique browsers as the impala, buffalo, giraffe and others species which are now under threat. Some of these browsing species have been reduced to 10% of their former populations. Through the establishment of the Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Camp has been actively engaged in the preservation of natural habitats and wildlife in the area. It contributes a significant portion of its revenues to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Since it was started in 1996, the CWCT has actively engaged with neighbouring communities, sensitising them on the importance of conserving the environment. It has, with great success, made communities realise that it is much more profitable to preserve wildlife than to damage the environment through activities such as farming.

As a testament to Cottars Camp’s unrelenting commitment to environmental conservation, the CWCT is working to set up a conservancy. Working with a land committee, comprising of representatives from the Maasai community that owns Olderikesi Ranch where the camp is built, the CWCT has been at the forefront of advocating for the establishment of the Olderikesi Conservancy. This conservancy would occupy an area of land of approximately 27 square kilometres that would be managed by the CWCT on behalf of the community.

The land earmarked for the conservancy is made up of a vegetation system – Acacia, Cedar and Riverine forests, grasslands, natural streams and springs and salt pans- reminiscent of what the Mara looked like 40 years ago. To ensure direct benefits for the community, a payment for ecosystem services model would be set up where tour operators, for example, would pay a conservation fee that the Camp would channel toward community development initiatives of its neighbours.

Cottars Camp maintains close ties to neighbouring communities and is keen to address the challenges they face. Through the Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust (CWCT) the Camp has for many years actively supported the Maasai community’s struggle to obtain land tenure which has been one of the main impediments to community development in South East Mara. Without land tenure, communities are essentially squatters on the land and therefore have no claim or decision-making power with regards to its use.

Until recently the Olderikesi Group Ranch had been one such parcel of land and been held in trust for the Maasai community by the Narok County Council – a local government body. To help build the land tenure case for the Ranch, the Camp funded land surveys, study tours and provided logistical support to representatives of the Narok County Council to assist them collect the data required to make a decision. As a result of these concerted efforts by the CWCT, the Olderikesi Group Ranch was declared as owned by the Maasai at the end of 2010.

As part of its continued commitment to community development, the CWCT currently supports a total of 139 pupils through its bursary scheme. It also trains youth in the community as tour guides and provides employment.

Cottars Camp is neighboured by the Maasai community, a tribe that has so far maintained its traditional way of life. The links between the Camp and the Maasai community are immediately obvious to anyone who visits as it encourages its staff to wear traditional Maasai attire. To ensure its guests don’t miss out on the intricacies of this vibrant culture, it takes them on excursions to various Maasai villages for them to experience Maasai culture first hand. It also provides a market for beadwork and other traditional handicrafts produced by Maasai women as an additional way of preserving Maasai culture.

Cottars Camp is truly a model business that balances out its commercial needs with its responsibilities to neighbouring communities. It always re-invests in the community through bursaries, training, providing medical care and by offering employment. More than this, it supports budding enterprises of Maasai women by providing a ready market, through its guests, for their beadwork and other handicrafts.