Mara Plains Camp
Olare Orok Conservancy, Greater Masai Mara, Kenya
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MARA PLAINS CAMP -
OLARE OROK CONSERVANCY, GREATER MASAI MARA, KENYA
Nestled in the shade of the Ntiakatek River forest, with the Mara’s vast savannahs extending on either side, Mara Plains Camp is a wildlife haven. It is located in the 30,000-acre Olare Orok Conservancy, an innovative community conservation initiative with the local Maasai. Olare Orok is known as a hotbed of dynamic predator interaction, making for an extraordinary safari experience.
Its location -a mere 2 kilometers from the Masai Mara Game Reserve’s north-central boundary - offers the ultimate versatility for wildlife viewing. Further still, Mara Plains Camp has access to the Masai Mara North Conservancy, its neighbor of 80,000 acres. This total traversing area – 110,000 acres plus the Mara’s 375,000 acres – gives Mara Plains Camp the coveted position as the camp in the greater Mara with the lowest density of guests to acreage. Guests of Mara Plains may partake not only in traditional game drives but also walking and night drives, two sought after experiences on safari.
Great Plains Conservation, a company started by five passionate conservationists including filmmakers Dereck & Beverly Joubert and industry aficionado Colin Bell bought Mara Plains in 2009. Together, they have created a simple yet luxurious camp set in the heart of predator country. In keeping with the ambitions of Great Plains Conservation, Mara Plains Camp demonstrates innovation in green technology, community conservation and guest experience.
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After crossing the river to Mara Plains Camp via its dramatic swinging bridge, the main area consists of three octagonal tents, connected by wood decking and raised above the savannah. The small library provides resource materials and relative literature. Each of the two lounges is furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs for a bit of relaxation.
Mara Plains’ seven tents are set in the shade of the riverine forest with private verandahs looking across the savannah. Octagonal in design and with high ceilings, the tents open on three sides for a spacious and airy environment. The décor is in the spirit of traditional safari spirit with deep shades of red, brown and gold. Each tent has an expanded double bed (can be converted to two twins), roomy dressing area and en suite hot showers, flush toilets and double basins.
Everything at Mara Plains is an experience - dinners taken by candlelit near the bridge, lunches next to the wildebeest migration, and a bush breakfast in the savannah.
The following are activities offered Mara Plains Camp:
• Game viewing with experienced driver/guides in completely open-sided Landcruisers, custom-designed for photography and carrying only 4 guests at a time.
• Night drives
• Bush picnics and sundowners in the Masai Mara Game Reserve
• Optional balloon flights (additional cost)
• Visits to the local and authentic enkangs or villages.
• Walks in Olare Orok Conservancy
• Junior ranger programs (on request)
• Game viewing from your private verandah, binoculars in hand and star gazing at night.
• Private vehicles (booked in advance) come equipped with a Canon 40D camera and 100-400mm lens.
Community Support Projects - Conservancy Development
The Olare Orok & Mara North Conservancies are initiatives that address both community upliftment and wildlife conservation on Masai-owned land on Masai Mara Game Reserve’s northern border. This intriguing new conservation and land use initiative is just three years old and is set to become the blueprint for a sustainable greater Masai Mara ecosystem.
Until recently, Olare Orok’s 30,000 acres and Mara North’s 80,000 acres of prime rolling grasslands and riverine forest were filled with rural homesteads and large herds of cattle and goats. The ecosystem was being overgrazed, risking the sustenance of both wildlife and cattle, and to the detriment of both. Sustainability was at risk for both the people and the wildlife.
After lengthy consultation with the Masai, it was agreed that a new community conservation vision was needed – one which addresses sustainability. Together, all stakeholders developed the Olare Orok & Mara North Conservancies, a win-win for both the Masai landowners and the wildlife of the Masai Mara ecosystem. A lease agreement was developed to address the fickleness of the tourism industry, the culture of the Masai and the impacts of agriculture and wildlife. It was agreed that the Masai landowners would receive a steady monthly income throughout the year, regardless of how few guests have visited the area in exchange for halting grazing on the conservancy. This guaranteed income minimizes the economic risk incurred by the Masai, while also supplementing the income lost from agriculture. It is paid by the camps within each Conservancy.
Mara Plains (& Great Plains) commits US$150,000 per annum directly to the neighboring Masai communities to maintain and support both Conservancies and its wildlife – the highest paid by any camp in the region and the only camp to contribute to both.
This is conservation in action, a commitment to striving to ensure the livelihoods of both people and wildlife.
Seasons: Mara Plains Camp is open year-round.
Travel: From Nairobi's Wilson Airport, daily morning and afternoon scheduled flights to nearby Ol Kiombo airstrip take about 45 minutes. Transfer from the airstrip to camp is approximately 20 minutes.
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