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“The exeption is the ruel” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cottar's 1920's Camp

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Cottar's 1920's Camp
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5.0 of 5 Cabin/Campground   |   Olderkesi Private Reserve | P.O. Box 44191 Nairobi Kenya, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00100, Kenya   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Switzerland
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“The exeption is the ruel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2012

We've seen various Lodges in more than one African Country. Cottar's Camp 1920's is the top destination of them. Everything is fitting togeter, so that just don't realise, how time is passing. From the very first moment in the morning to the last blink bevore falling happy asleep, you will be pamered by an exeptional well educated, knowable and friendly staff. Nothing is overdone, everthing is just as it should be. And all this in an exological model way.
The location in the Masai Mara grants wonderful gamedrives, where you will see all the animals you want to see, from the Big to the Small and your Guide will explain everything and answering whatever you want to know about the animals. Combine your safari with an bush-breakfast, sundowner and if you like Lunch and Diner, and you will dream of it also after getting back home.

Room Tip: All the rooms are equivalent. The family tent are in one area, and the double/single in an other to...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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220 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
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English first
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
102 reviews 102 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2012

Cottars, in my opinion, "began" the trend of tented camp accomodations and they do it with spectacular flair. The entire experience from the 1920s trended camp design to the truly humble service of the local Massai will blow you away.

My wife and I recently wrapped up our 7th African safari. Being married for only a couple of years so far, we're normally the youngest of couples in camp and occasionally this makes us uncomfortable. On one hand can I count the number of tented camps that we felt this level of comfort and Cottars is one of them.

The guides rank as some of the most informative I have come across. If you're thinking about a trek to the Mara, I could only force one fact upon you: Choose a private concession. Without a doubt, any other experience will send you home from the magnificent continent of Africa disappointed and with the wrong impression. The Cottar concession hosts an amazing array of wildlife which you get to enjoy in true, peaceful solitude wihout the horrific interruption of dozens of safari goers gawking at a lone leopard. The experience of enjoying a lion pride alone with your wife is second to none and Cottars brought that lovely experience to us.

So, the experience: The wildlife is astounding. For any first time Africa visitor, Cottars is the place. This being my 7th journey, having journeyed through Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa; I have only seen 2 full male lions in all their beauty. You truly do not realize how small you are in nature until you are a few meters away from one of these magical creatures. One amazing fact, the second male lion in my7 adventures was at Cottars. After several safaris, you begin to focus on the smaller things and the "Big 5" become so irrelevant: The birds, the smell of the air in the morning and the horticulture enrapture you yet you suddenly get thrust away at the sight of a beautiful elephant or, in my case, a rare sighting of a beautiful lion.

The rooms are wonderful. I'm not a fan of staying at camps that make me feel like I'm at a Four Seasons. Anyone whom expects or demands a Four Seasons hundreds of miles from civilization should have their head examined. Why does a person need a private plunge pool or an atmosphere free from smoke in nature? Why do people expect a Paris or New York City quality 5 star meal when on safari? Individuals need to keep in mind that the high cost of safari is simply the result of the incredible cost of operating a safari business. As the CEO of a Park Avenue banking corporation, I can not even begin to fathom the logistics behind operating one of these camps, let alone to pull it off with the flair and grace that Cottars has. So, please come on safari with an open mind, an open heart and enjoy the simple measures of life without the trappings of home.

One highlight of the journey is the legacy that one feels and lives while at Cottars. There might be some that I'm not aware of, however the Cottar family legacy adds so much more to your experience. The photos, the memoribilia and the stories add to the magic of staying here.

And one last experience to share: There is nothing more surreal than the roar of a lion in the middle of the dark night...to me, that simple sound to what must be normal for a local is such an awe inspiring experience it has me coming back for more.

Overall, Cottars should be your first and only choice in the Mara. I see no need to land my jet at Governors (you can however at Cottars, they have a strip) when you can have a true, heartful and meaningful African experience at Cottars. You will leave wanting more, and in my case, dreaming of my 8th safari to the most beautiful continent on the planet: Africa.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, Maryland
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2012

I've been going to Kenya since the 1970's and it's impossible to articulate the change in this country, and the rest of Africa, over the last 30 years. Most of the change has not been wonderful, for humans or wildlife; but once in a while you find a place that can literally take you back to a better place in history. Cottar's is that place.

My husband and I just returned from a recent trip to Kenya for our 25th wedding anniversary to experience the great migration and Cottar's was one of the unexpected wonders of our vacation. Starting with Calvin an Lou as host and hostess, and their charming children, this place exudes warmth. The physical setting is remote and private, but open for animals to roam freely through the land. The style of the camp is entirely unique in it's tented magnificence. From the public space to the private tents, every area is adorned with colonial antiques and African artifacts. The staff is exceptional, the safari guides some of the very best in all of Kenya, and your likelihood of having a wildlife-rich experience is virtually guaranteed. You feel good about the animals in this private corner of the world being protected by the entire Cottar team.

A highlight for us was taking an evening safari walk with Moses, Cottar's private guide since the 1960's, and our Masai guide, Enok. We had a thrill spotting elephants (at a safe distance), zebra, impala, giraffe, duiker and hyena. As we ended the walk, we came to a large clearing in the bush where the staff had built a small bonfire and assembled seating, hors d'oeuvres and champagne to toast our anniversary. Watching the sun fall from this exquisite vantage point will stay with us for years to come.

If you go to Kenya, do not miss the Cottar's experience!

Room Tip: All I can say is, I can't imagine any of these tented suites not being a superior experience.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Orange, New Jersey
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

The camp is nestled into a hillside overlooking a stretch of the Mara to the east of the Park, just north of the Tanzania border. The camp itself is the perfect balance between luxury accommodation and a true outdoor wildlife experience. Best of all is having Calvin Cottar's dedicated attention as a guide. His dedication to local conservation efforts over the years give him a passionate perspective on how to keep this portion of Africa wild. Whether or not you agree with his views, it's sure to be a fascinating conversation that gives pause to the blind acceptance of more publicized approaches.
Combined with the keen eyes of Masaii guide Palmilia, Calvin guided us through an outstanding set of game drives over our 3 days, and was very willing to customize the experience we wanted - even when it meant extending through the entire day. Patience was a virtue, and we found ourselves in the middle of tense action more than a few times - with both Lions and Cheetah.
When you combine this with private dinners in Calvin's newly built home above the camp (a magnificent 5-bedroom lodge with stunning views), the premium we spent to secure Calvin as our guide was the best decision of our trip.
We're strongly considering a return visit in a few years, with an eye toward renting the Lodge for our friends and children!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

For an extraordinary experience in Africa, this camp excels in loaction, service, food, and especially in the wildlife experience. The staff is very affable and responsive to the guest's needs. Besides the excellent guides, spending a day with Calvin Cottar in the bush is an experience not to be missed (you must arrange this advance and be willing to pay extra for this). Plan to stay at least 3 days or more to get the full experience of the Maasai Mara. I would certainly return here without hesitation.

Room Tip: All the the tents are similar, however, a new lodge is now available for parties of six or more. Th...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

We had a wonderful stay at Cottar: genuine hospitality, top-notch tent, out-of-this-world cuisine.
The vast and awesome countryside, the incomparable sunsets, and add to all that the wildlife! We had an exceptionally good guide named Ngila to observe the wild game and we highly appreciated the attentive service from all the Cottar Staff.
Unforgettable – Can’t wait to go back!

Francine - Montreal/Canada

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stirling, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2012

I had some business in Laikipia so took the opportunity to go out to Kenya early and make a three day long weekend trip to the Masai Mara . My travel agents recommended Cottars and I have always trusted their judgement ! In case you are holding your breath waiting for this reviewer to say that on this occasion my agent got it wrong , forget it . I found Cottar's Camp to be all that the agent said it would be . In fact I loved it with my tongue hanging out .

So what were the positives ? Well let's start with Jennifer the camp manager . She is brilliant in her attentiveness and is a delightful dinner companion . She is a wonderful lady and a credit to the owners whom she positively referenced many , many times . They are lucky to have her and if this review results in her being awarded a bonus then I'm certain it's merited . Bottom line is that she loves her job and it shows . GG a gold star guide at the camp is another who deserves lots of superlatives . He wasn't my guide but he joined us round the communal dining table every night and he too has a tremendous way with people and is a natural storyteller .

Accommodation ? All you need and would want in super luxury tented accommodation . The bed was very comfy . Not that I slept much the first night with animals moving around my tent in the pitch blackness ! Second and third nights ? Deep , deep sleeps as my brain finally worked out that I was safe and there was nothing to fear from an impala or two snorting in the vicinity of my tent .

Animal viewing ? Very good thanks to Enoch and Hawkeye , the guides . I have some great photos of lion and cheetah all down to their talents in locating elusive creatures . We went out very early every day and it paid off .

Criticisms ? Hey , this is a camp in the Kenyan bush not a swish hotel in Mayfair , London and some reviewers I've read on this site need to get real . No criticisms . Cottars is a top notch bush camp - one of the very best I've stayed in - in an iconic African location .The owners are to be congratulated on their high operational and service standards and for what they do for the Masai community .

Will I be back ? Do ducks fly south in the Winter ?

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cottar's 1920's Camp

Address: Olderkesi Private Reserve | P.O. Box 44191 Nairobi Kenya, Maasai Mara National Reserve 00100, Kenya
Phone Number:
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 127 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Cottar's 1920's Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Cottar Safari tradition began in 1919. Nearly 90 years on, we continue to provide an unparalleled safari experience to discerning clients in Africa. Extending an era of luxury and quality, we return to the original spirit and essence of "safari", reminiscent of a golden era; an era of romance, professional guiding, adventure and elegance. Situated in the Masai Mara, in an untouched exclusive concession bordering the Serengeti and Loliondo reserves, the area guarantees privacy and an abundance of wildlife. The camp accommodates up to 28 guests in authentic white canvas tents, which are spacious and luxuriously furnished. The Cottar's Homestead is a private villa with 5 en suite bedrooms, amazing views and private chef and guides. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cottar`s Camp 1920`s Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Cottar's 1920's Camp Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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