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“The Ultimate Safari Experience” 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 | Olderkesi Private Reserve, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“The Ultimate Safari Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

Prior to arriving at Cottar’s Camp 1920’s, we thought we had experienced perfection during our almost two week safari through Tanzania and Kenya, staying at 4 other camps and lodges. Every camp and lodge did not disappoint us and in fact surpassed expectations.

But Cottar’s Camp 1920’s proved to be the ultimate and authentic experience, a wondrous place to celebrate our final days on safari.

Its history alone makes it unique; owner Calvin Cottar’s great grandfather was a pioneer, an American big-game hinter who escorted fellow hunters around Africa in search of the big 5 (lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants, and rhinoceros). Now the fourth generation Cottar is running the family business, offering gracious hospitality with a warm dedicated staff, luxurious tents, delicious meals, and expert guides all in an impressive setting.

We were fortunate enough to have Calvin Cottar, himself, as our own private guide (worth the extra expense) for 3 days. His experience in sighting animals and safari management, coupled with his knowledge of animal behavior were invaluable. His expertise in conservation/preservation debates provided exceptional insight to current problems facing Africa’s political and economic approaches to its natural resources.

Our daily game drives, which could have become somewhat repetitive, were always singular adventures remote from safari vehicles from other camps. Each day, we embarked on a game drive as the sun rose and returned long after darkness fell with thrilling memories and great photos of very close encounters with lions, elephants, leopards and cheetahs.

The camp itself, while providing all modern amenities, was reminiscent of a setting for a Hemingway novel or an “Out of Africa” experience. The knowledgeable staff made us feel at home as a welcomed guest rather than a paying customer. One minor suggestion is to request an accommodation tent close to the main tent to take advantage of easy viewing of the animals that graze on the front lawn during the night. Sweeping a flashlight across the lawn and seeing the pinpoint reflections from the eyes of dozens of animals is truly amazing.

Although not inexpensive, we found Cottar’s Camp to be a true value. We highly recommend Cottar’s Camp for people seeking a safari experience evoking the golden age of travel, albeit with all the up to date comforts. If you contemplate staying at multiple camps we recommend saving Cottar’s Camp for last so as not to experience your highpoint early on your trip. If you are choosing only one location to experience your safari, choose Cottar’s Camp 1920’s - you won’t be disappointed. We look forward to returning.

Room Tip: One minor suggestion is to request an accommodation tent close to the main tent to take advantage of...
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  • Stayed January 2013, 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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211 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 (46)
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English first
Europe
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

After many and varied experience with East and S. African safari camps, in Cottars we have found the most complete, satisfying and exciting of all. They have well earned their many accolades. We spent a week there in the privately rentable house above the tented camp...9 of us. We were there in January....the Mara is well known for its migration period and rightly but there are crowds of 'vanebeests' to view the wildebeests. In the early part of the year the Mara is green and beautiful and empty...as we viewed as much wildlife as anyone could wish for, we saw not a single other vehicle on many days...we had the great park to ourselves.
We were guided every day by Enoch and his other Masai guides, whose knowledge of their craft is impressive, as is their understanding of all of our needs. Often he would join us for dinner with one or more of his colleagues, including Calvin Cottar, the 4th generation of the (originally American) family that have been advising and running safari camps in East Africa for longer than any.
There is no pressure to do anything other than relax and enjoy the extraordinary views across the Mara.....and then go exploring when when one wants.
Cottars is an East African houseparty in the bush with a wonderful team to look after one.
the big news is that they have now secured in negotiation with the local Masai their own private concession of 4000 acres around the camp.... so the wild life will be even more plentiful and private.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Windsor
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

Cottars 1920 Camp is unique it has history, real history spanning 100 years and sits in its original site surveying the Masi Mara and on the horizon of Tanzania and the Serengeti. The vista you view from the owners beautiful home is the natural migration route of the game and whilst we were not in residence for the migration that did not detract from the pure magic that Cottars manages to weave around you. To say we were spoilt by a small army of staff would be to understate the experience, we were cooked delicious meals by our extremely talented Chef and team, poured fine wines, pampered by beauty thearpists for aching bones after game rides and treated to 'Yes' for every whim.
We were on Safari and after a brief consultation with our incredible Masi guides we were whisked into our Land Cruisers with two guides, one to drive, one to spot and then the adventure unfolded. A safari of this quality is not scripted, animals do not pop up at request, but our guides seemed to have an uncanny ability to locate a mind boggling array of beasts from lion to wielderbeast, exotic birds, insects, flora and forna - making us smile with their wonderful expressions such as 'A Dazzle of Zebra', 'A Journey of Giraffs', 'A Tail of Crocodiles', A Charger of Elephant' and so on. We saw the sun rise over the Mara and the pure majesty of it made me cry, we ate a bush breakfast served by our splendid Masi, we crossed the border to Tanzania and tracked a Rhinocorous all day finally seeing him, albeit by binocular, at the end of a long day - he was magnificent.
I could, as you can tell, go on and on, I hope I have managed to give you a flavour of our experience and the many more that are too long to go into. Giving Cottars a recommendation is easy, Calvin Cottar and his team simply make the dream a reality, that is a trick very few can actually do.

Room Tip: The Master Suite
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  • Stayed January 2013, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stafford, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

Utterly beautiful, mind blowing, unique. If I could only have one last holiday, this would be it, I fell in love instantly, all you could wish for from Africa. I am an atheist but I could almost understand an agnostic person changing to being a theist, so breath taking is the scenery, the sunsets, the colours. It is so beautiful you are almost afraid to take a breath in case you change something.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 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.
Aachen, Germany
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

we stayed at Cottars for three days over christmas 2012. Everyone in the family, young, teen, parent, or grandparent was made to feel welcome and special. The staff is friendly, attentive, accommodating. The guides are quite simply the best - knowledgeable, personable, and fun to be around. The tents are super - vintage feel in the best of taste and quality without having to forsake modern comforts. One truly feels the place is run by people who love and know the area and want to share it with visitors in a very special way. A once in a lifetime experience.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 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.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2012

We stayed at the owners house for a week. It was my first time in Africa. couples shared a 10,00square foot house. We had a staff of 5 or 6, including our own chef. The accommodations and food were over the top but one does not go to Kenya for the food. We went to see animals and animals we did see. Our house had two guides, Ken and Keith and their spotters, Superstar and Sambi. These 4 individuals really made our vacation a life changing experience. We became very close in just 7 days. They are all as good as it gets, The owner, Calvin Cottar,(5th generation) was very generous with his time and made our trip even more special. It does not get any better than this. The game park was spectacular and we saw animals about as close as you can. Expensive but worth every penny.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 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
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San Francisco Bay Area
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

We have been on safari several other times in other countries, and this camp was our favorite for many reasons. Because of their long- standing relationship in this area, the Cottar family is able to provide something truly unique. The vintage feel of the accommodations and common areas is magical. The feel of the land is unsurpassed---we called it "Big Sky Country" and while we were there for four nights we only saw a handful of other vehicles on game drives. (Frankly I had been dreading going on safari in Kenya because I'd heard about the crowds. NOT here! ) There just isn't anything like this that we have found and we are experienced safari-ists. We had gone hoping to finally catch the great migration, but missed most of it this year because of fires in the area. Luckily there are so many animals in this part of the Mara that we weren't "deprived." There are never enough CATS to suit my taste, (anywhere.) Within half an hour of our flight landing our guide found a large family of sleeping lionesses and their cubs.

We especially loved the down to earth staff. Unpretentious, professional, and FUN. Loved our guide Ken (he has a standing invitation to visit us at home) and Jennifer the manager was warm, kind and gracious. Our Masai tracker "Superstar" was brilliant and approachable. Everyone felt like family, and there was an inclusiveness that we didn't find elsewhere.

Quality of the food was excellent, and almost all the produce is home grown. I appreciated the efforts they made for my food allergies, especially in this remote location. As for the rooms, I feel there could be some updating as our tent and bathroom seemed just a little "worn". (But I am being VERY picky to find fault.) The tented room was gorgeous, and well equipped. NOTHING like it to sit on the porch of your own tent enjoying that view. Magnificent open space.

My husband returned home anxiously recruiting friends so we can return again soon, with our own group. Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Cottar's 1920's Camp

Address: Olderkesi Private Reserve | Olderkesi Private Reserve, Maasai Mara National Reserve, 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 #11 of 117 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: 10
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 22 guests in authentic white canvas tents, which are spacious and luxuriously furnished. ... 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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