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2 zebras embrace

An amazing new safari camp has taken the legwork out of wildlife watching. 

Leopards for breakfast, lions for lunch – what more could you want when on safari in Kenya? And we’re not even on a game drive.

We are watching these magnificent animals from the dining deck at Mahali Mzuri, Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Safari Camp whose remote location on a ridge overlooking a lush valley in the Motorogi Conservancy of the Maasai Mara is a grandstand for wildlife viewing.

This valley, 240km from Nairobi, is the watershed for the annual migration when up to a million wildebeest plus hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles travel 1600km from Tanzania to Kenya, funnelling through the Enchirtit gorge, immediately in front of the camp.

“There’s not a fence between here and Mozambique 2000km away,” says operations manager Liam Breedveld. “Animals come and go as they please.”

Liam and his brother Tarn, as the general manager, camped on site for several years negotiating with the Maasai and setting up a community trust. Tarn explains: “People started fencing off the land, using it for ranching and charcoal production, potentially disrupting the entire ecosystem. Wildlife couldn’t roam, cattle couldn’t graze and the entire Maasai culture came under threat.”

Today, five safari camps lease from the Maasai two unfenced conservancies covering 13,500ha. A $5 tax per person per night goes to the trust.

Mahali Mzuri, which is “beautiful place” in Swahili, comprises 12 spacious tents accommodating 24 guests – including two catering for families –plus an open-sided tented dining room, a lounge/bar, boutique and spa which is built low in the valley beneath a cantilevered swimming pool.

At this all-inclusive camp, guests meet for pre-dinner drinks, enjoy premium wine with meals created by chef Johnny Visser, another Australian, who has worked for Gordon Ramsay in London.

Maasai guides track animals effortlessly. But who needs to go on game drives when you have a ringside seat of the prolific wildlife from the camp, the pool or even from your bath-tub?

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The writer was a guest of Virgin Limited Edition and Safarilink which operates a scheduled shuttle service from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Mara North.

The all-inclusive tariff starts from $US620 per person, per night, double-occupancy, which includes all meals, beverages (as well as alcohol), game drives and transfers from the Mara North airstrip.

www.mahalimzuri.virgin.com

Written by Tricia Welsh
April 19, 2014