First night after 10 pm arrival in Nairobi at the Ole Sereni hotel close to the airport.
Day 2 flight at 10 am from Wilson
Day 2 to 7 at Mara Toto camp (5 nights)
Day 7 to 9 at Naboisho Camp (3 nights)
Day 10 – leave at 11 am flight to Wilson and then day room at Embakoko Lodge in Nairobi Game Park with drop off late night for flight home.
Agent: Bill Givens, the Wild Source
Trip taken with two other friends who are also occasionally on SafariTalk AAAfrica and Sharmajd. I have included some of their photographs in this report with their permission and credited them- all photos without credit are mine.
We arrived at in the Mara right on schedule at 11 am after spending the night in Nairobi at the Ole Sereni hotel. Ping was waiting for us and I immediately liked the Mara Toto vehicle that was roughly identical to the open Great Plains vehicles in Botswana except that it had two rows behind the driver rather than three. The weather was beautiful, around 75 F with bright sun and a light breeze. Shortly after leaving the airstrip we came across a group of elephants that we spent about 15 minutes with and made it to Mara Toto camp in about 35 minutes thereafter.
The camp managers, Richard and Lorna along with several staff members were on hand to greet us and we were shortly shown our tents, had lunch and were on our way. I had mentioned that we planned to be out before first light and get back after dark each day, taking with us a packed breakfast and Richard & Lorna offered to send us lunch wherever we were.
First impressions of the camp were very good. We were the second guests the camp had with the first group leaving the previous day. The location of the camp is excellent, by a beautiful small stream just inside the main park border with the Olare Orak Conservancy (OOC) a mere 500m away and Mara Plains camp that is currently under construction exactly 1 km away. The camp has a significant advantage over other camps in the Mara in its transversing rights- they presently have access to Mara North, the OOC/Motorogi conservancy and of course the main park. This is a huge area, and while access to the OOC is temporary until Mara Plains opens on June 1st, gives Mara Toto guests plenty to do for an extended period. In addition, as we found out on a few occasions, the wardens are very strict about enforcing the 7 pm curfew in the main park, meaning you need to be in your camp by then or past the park gates or risk a minimum 10k shilling fine. For Mara Toto however, if you happened to be 90 minutes away while watching developing action in the park, provided you were not very far from the Mara North or OCC border, you could always head north and cross several entry spots outside of the main gates and get into the conservancy at night (around 7 pm), make your way to the OCC/ Mara Plains location and cross the 500m into the main park to Mara Toto.
The camp itself was perfect for our needs. The brand new tents were designed personally by Dereck Joubert and I cannot imagine a more practical, yet tasteful, design. You have two tents, with the bathroom in the second tent, but fully integrated. The bathroom is large with a huge shower area with wooden slats that prevents shower water from wetting the rest of the bathroom floor. Most importantly, there are several plug sockets in the bedroom tent for charging camera batteries and other paraphernalia. The main light switches are conveniently located on the bed headboard so they can be operated from the bed. Tea and coffee self service is in a beautiful picnic chest with steaming hot water in a flask that was amazingly hot early morning several hours after it was placed there.
All tents are very close to main area, which is a simple large tent with a rustic dining table with 10/12 chairs, a bar armoire, and a small sitting area for about six people with worn leather couches and old safari related books etc. That’s it, except for a bonfire area with chairs outside. Perfect for our needs, but limited for anyone who is looking for an elaborate in-camp seating area, pool etc. Food was three courses at dinner with a vegetarian choice and consistently very good. Lunch and breakfast were sent/taken to us and were also very good, and they accommodated any requests.
At a time when the term eco-friendly is overused, my impression is that Mara Toto is the real deal and the footprint it leaves in the wilderness is minimal. No cement was used and all camp operations are closely monitored to be environmentally appropriate (I was told by Richard the same approach will be used at the new Mara Plains).
We were in the vehicle for our rest of the day drive by 1.30 pm and spent the afternoon partly in the park but mostly in the OOC.
Edited by AKR1, 09 March 2013 - 05:17 PM.