Cottars 1920s Camp

Cottars 1920s Camp: Our full report

Rooms
5 standard tents, 4 family tents, 1 honeymoon suit
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 1 review
Children
Fine for all ages.
Open
All year

Located on its own private conservancy of 6,000 acres (24 km²), Cottar’s 1920s Camp is owned and run by Calvin and Louise Cottar who established this luxurious camp in the 1990s. Designed in an authentic 1920s style, the camp follows the iconic ‘Out of Africa’ style – expect campaign furniture, pith helmets and antiques.The main central area is a very large, open fronted mess and lounge tent. The comfortable lounge area is densely furnished with armchairs, coffee tables and sofas. Old sepia photos hang from the walls and brass lanterns from the ceiling - it really does feel like stepping back in time. At the other end is a large dining table, set with silver tableware – indicative of the high quality on which Cottar’s prides itself.

Other shared areas include a sparkling blue swimming pool with plenty of sun loungers to relax on. This is at the far northwestern end of the camp, relatively close to the four family tents. There's another mess tent near the pool too, where meals can be served on special occasions.

There is also a large shop tent – the "Dapper Flapper" – stocking interesting but costly curios from all over East Africa, including some really beautiful hand made jewellery.

Cottar's has an organic herb and vegetable garden that supplies the kitchen and it uses solar- and wind-generated electricity as well as a generator. These initiatives have helped it achieve a Gold eco rating from Ecotourism Kenya - one of only a dozen similarly rated camps and lodges in Kenya.

Cottar's roomy guest tents are very widely spaced apart, and thus extremely private, and all have lovely tranquil views out over the bush. However distances in the camp are relatively great, meaning it can take a good five minutes to walk to your tent from the mess or vice versa. Although the camp is completely unfenced, and does occasionally have large mammalian visitors, you can usually walk around camp during the day unaccompanied. At night, however, askaris escort guests at all times. Each tent has a two-way radio for calling for an askari or asking for room service.

The tents comprise six twin- or double-bedded tents and four double-sized family tents in a separate area. They all follow the same 1920s theme. Each is furnished with a large double four-poster bed or twin four-poster beds draped in mosquito netting, with dark wood furniture. Old pictures, campaign furniture and brass gramophones set the scene.

At the back of each tent the bathroom is a solid structure accessed directly from the bedroom, with a walk-in, plumbed-in shower and a separate flush toilet. The bathrooms are slightly dark, and bathrooms are one area where the overall level of furnishings and fittings isn't of the same high standard as the main tents and the rest of the camp.

Activities at Cottar’s 1920s Camp include day and night game drives, safari walks, village visits and bush meals. River swimming and fishing can also be arranged and there's a spa offering various treatments at additional cost, though a complimentary massage is offered to every tent during the course of your stay.

Our view

Cottar’s is certainly one of the best camps in the Mara. With three gold guides (the most at any property in Kenya) and its own private concession, the Ol Derikesi Conservancy, to explore, the activities here will not disappoint. Thus, although no longer the most stylish and luxurious option in the Maasai Mara region (having been overtaken by one or two newer camps in recent years), for the guiding and wilderness safari experience, as well as for its general atmosphere and facilities, we still think Cottar's is worth the relatively high price tag.

Geographics

Location: Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: 3 nights-plus

Directions: Cottar's 1920s Camp is a 10-minute drive from Cottar's airstrip, or around 2 hours from the busier Keekorok airstrip. One local airline flies to Cottar's airstrip, the rest to Keekorok.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Louise and Calvin Cottar

Staff: Cottar's 1920s Camp and Cottar's Private House share three gold-level KPSGA guides, the highest number (out of Kenya's total of around 15) at any camp or lodge in Kenya. Calvin Cottar is a gold guide, as are Gigi Davids and Douglas Nagi.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Excellent-quality meals are usually served at a communal table with the Cottars and/or camp managers hosting.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Depending on your accommodation option, drinks are either mostly included (with the exception of Champagne, fine wines and premium spirits) or paid for separately and settled at the end of your stay.

Further dining info: Breakfast can be served between 6.30 and 10am, lunch from 1pm onwards and dinner from around 7pm. In practice, all meal times are flexible. With an hour or two's notice, meals can be served by the pool or in front of your tent.

Special interests

Honeymoons: For outstanding guiding, and a very ‘Out of Africa’ feel, Cottars 1920s Camp is a great choice for a honeymoon to Kenya. It’s a beautiful camp, in a remote and romantic setting and its 1920s-style tents have lovely four-poster beds. The tents are well spaced out and private.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Kenya

Children

Attitude towards children: Cottar's attitude to children is very positive. Calvin and Louise Cottar have their own children, who have partly grown up in camp.

Property’s age restrictions: None.

Special activities & services: Nannies are available for babysitting services from the main camp's housekeeping staff. In terms of activities angled towards kids, children often do a sort of "Maasai Warrior School" (and mums and dads often like to join in!), involving tracking footprints and scat, learning dances and songs in Maa, and practising skills such as spear-throwing, bow-shooting and fire-making. Depending on the flexibility of the family, even quite young children can often be accommodated in these activities, which typically take place after lunch before the second game drive, or if it's too hot for that as an alternative to the second game drive. They sometimes incorporate a nature walk not far from camp, with an armed escort and suitably equipped guides/s, with a radio to call a vehicle at the end. There is also the possibility of doing some coarse fishing for catfish and barbel - with river swimming and rock-climbing and jumping seasonal extra attractions.

Equipment: Cottar's have one baby cot with mosquito net, one high chair and one baby bath.

Infrastructure

Communications: There is WiFi at the mess tent. Mobile phone coverage around the camp is limited.

TV & radio: In the case of major sporting events a plan can always be made - either using the TV in the private house, or at the staff quarters.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is sourced from a spring, which gives very pure, slightly warm water. A South African filtration system purifies it further and produces hot and cold, still or carbonated drinking water. The water, which is regularly tested for purity, fills the jugs in the rooms and is used for drinking water on game drives, in Cottar's own, branded aluminium water bottles. These can be filled from your tent or from the dispenser in the mess tent.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: First aid kits, a trauma bag and a number of first-aid trained guides area available. In a serious emergency, their own airstrip is a few minutes drive away, and a helicopter can land right in the camp.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are day and night askaris around the camp.

Fire safety: There is a guests' health and safety manual, good numbers of fire extinguishers, frequent fire training and firebreaks around the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the rate. It's hand-washed, line-dried and returned ironed. Underwear can (unusually) be included).

Money: Foreign exchange isn't offered as very little cash is kept on site. There are safes in the bathroom areas at the back of each tent.

Accepted payment on location: Most currencies can be accepted, including US Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling and Kenyan Shillings. Credit cards are also accepted (MasterCard and Visa, not Amex) with no surcharge. Tips can be paid by credit card and will be paid to the staff in cash.