t half past 10pm, no one is in a hurry to retire to bed. And when the bar closes, the reality sinks in: spending the rest of the night in a tent deep in a section of the Maasai Mara, whose lock is a mere zip.
Tales abound at Olare Mara Kempiski, the camp operated by Villa Rosa Kempinski, of hippos that roam the camp’s grass fields at night and of lions feasting on prey right outside a tent. “You don’t walk alone here at night,” says Philip Muchaba, the head guide at Olare Mara Kempinski. “You can easily pump into a hippo or a leopard.”
The camp provides escorts for guests between 6:30am and 6:30pm to ensure they are safe from nocturnal animals.
These escorts, mostly local native Maasai men, were busy this night of June 11th with a group of journalists from Nairobi some of whom admitted the following morning to spending more time listening out to movements outside than sleeping. A falling branch easily touches off an adrenaline run.
That’s just a tip of the adventure that Olare Mara Kempinski offers, among other attractions such as watching a lion or elephant at the closest range ever or, as you will be told over and over here, sleeping in the tent under which a lion gave birth.
Olare Mara Kempinski is located in the 33,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and one of the 17 conservancies in the larger Maasai Mara National Reserve billed as Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve.
Olare Mara Kempinski adds the authentic Africa wild touch to the exquisite five-star hospitality. The camp was established in 2011 and in 2013 Simba Colt, which manages Kempinski hotels came on board.
Now it has 12 high-end tents for premium tourists looking for Europen luxury blended with local experiences. From here tourists can sample the Maasai culture at the Maa Trust, just 20 minutes drive, catch the wildebeest migration or access the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
“We focus on ‘my moments’ for guests,” says Mr Geoffrey Bob Ouma, the Olare Mara Kempinski camp manager. “These are very authentic engagements and personalized experiences that create stories and memories.”
The guides can be a delight, weaving narratives around animals and anecdotes that easily turn the wilderness into a nature walk. “The lion is always alone to avoid fatherly duties of hunting and taking care of the cabs,” Muchaba said during one of the game drives. “The browsers like wildebeests and zebras have organized themselves to sleep in turns to watch out for predators. The group awake during the day will sleep at night.”
Olare Mara Kempinski hosts about 500 guests per month, driven by referrals and good service that inspires loyalty. In fact, Mr Ouma says, “there are three guests who have come here 10 times.”
During the media familiarisation tour, organized by Kempisnki marketing and PR manager Mwingirwa Kithure, the camp had 75% occupancy and management expects that to rise to 85% in July and up to 95% from August.
Olare Mara Kempinski luxury canvas tents have comfortable beds made from local wood. The deluxe tents are furnished in the classic style of the grand African Safaris, with large four poster beds, offset by modern amenities. The honeymoon suite, tagged at the far end, has its own plunge pool.
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Guests from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, fly direct to Olare Motorogi Conservancy to the newly refurbished Olare Orok airstrip, just 20 minutes to Olare Mara Kempinski. There are daily flights to the conservancy operated by Air Kenya and Safarilink airlines.
The other camps in the conservancy include Porini Lion Camp, Kicheche Bush Camp, Mara Plains Camp and Mahali Mzuri.
Olare Mara Kempinski camp prides itself as an eco-friendly resort. It has the largest organic garden in the conservancy and meals are prepared using home grown ingredients, with energy saving measures in place. The resort sources 70 % of its energy from huge solar power panels installed in the compound.
Olare Mara Kempinski adds the authentic Africa wild touch to the exquisite five-star hospitality.
Even after two days of staying at Olare Mara Kempinski camp, the escorts were still at hand to walk journalists to and from the dinner venue at a bush nearby and eventually to their tents.
For a camp that accommodates 24 guests when full, filling Olare Mara Kempiski is not so hard for Ouma, who works with agents and hosts repeat guests attracted also by the camp’s unique loyalty programme Discovery, which can be redeemed at any of the hotels under the Global Hotels Association.
“Once you stay at the camp or Villa Rosa Hotel, you are automatically enrolled into the programme,” Mr Ouma said on a cold evening just before the bush dinner. “From there, depending on your frequency, you develop into gold, platinum or bronze.”