The bush surrounding Mara Toto is home to some great predator populations.
Mara Toto Camp: Our full report
Due to open at the beginning of July 2013, Mara Toto is a small bush camp located just inside the northern border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve boundary, very close to the edge of the Olare Orok Conservancy. It is therefore very well placed to explore both game-viewing areas.
No one from Expert Africa has yet had the chance to stay at Mara Toto, but we know its established sister camp Mara Plains very well, and would expect Mara Toto to have the same very high standards and top-quality guiding.
The camp is set on a bank of the little Ntiakatek River, under the shade of a riverine forest. This is ideal leopard territory and at the right time of the year (between August and November, though it can vary widely) the great wildebeest migration passes right through camp.
Each of the five light canvas tents, at Mara Toto has a private deck overlooking the river, so your safari does not have to finish after the game drive. The tents are furnished with old Indian chests, wooden bookcases and brass chandeliers, all sourced from local markets and lending a traditional safari feel. Beds can be configured as twins or doubles, with triples possible on request. Electricity is available 24 hours a day, so at night the tents glow from solar-powered lanterns. Each en-suite bathroom features twin brass basins, a spacious, walk-in safari shower and a flush toilet.
We’re expecting the activities at Mara Toto to focus very firmly on wildlife. The surrounding bush is prime big-cat country and guests have some flexibility on how long and how far their game drives will go. The lodge has good access to both the national reserve in which it stands, and the Olare Orok Conservancy, which is just to the north.
The camp has two open-sided Land Cruisers enabling panoramic views and great photographic opportunities – and the vehicles also have fully stocked fridges! If the game drives are of the same calibre as those at Mara Plains Camp, they’re likely to be very good. Two Canon 50D cameras (with wide-angle and 100–400mm lenses) are available for guests to rent, and you can receive the photos on a DVD at the end of your stay. The staff are also more than happy to offer photographic tuition on request. Note that the camp also has a couple of Swarovski Optik binoculars that are available for guests to use during their stay.
Other activities on offer include hot-air balloon safaris (available at an additional cost) and cultural visits to the local Maasai schools and community projects.
Our viewWe haven’t yet visit Mara Toto, but we’re expecting a very high quality and quite luxurious camp which tries hard to maintain a fairly traditional ‘safari’ feel. It is located near the boundary between the national reserve and the Olare Orok Conservancy, one of the Mara’s more central private concessions. There aren’t any major road arteries nearby – so we’d expect a game-viewing experience which is relatively exclusive by the (busy) standards of the national reserve.
Ideal length of stay: 3–4 nights
Directions: Scheduled light aircraft from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Ol Kiombo airstrip (around 1 hour, depending on route). It is then a 45-minute drive to camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: All drinks are included except premium wines, champagne and luxury spirits.
Attitude towards children: Mara Toto welcomes children aged 8 years or older.
Property’s age restrictions: Best for 12+
Special activities & services: The staff can run a program for children, to include bird watching, tracking, cooking etc.
Notes: Due to the camp’s location in a riverine forest and because it is unfenced, we would only recommend it for families with older, well-behaved children of 12+. Children should be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: There’s relatively good cellphone reception, but note that cellphones may be used only in the privacy of guests’ tents. The camp’s Wi-Fi is sporadic.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All senior staff have first-aid training. The nearest good medical facility is in Nairobi.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guards armed with traditional spears are on duty 24 hours a day.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in every tent.
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: Safes are provided in every tent.
Accepted payment on location: Tips for the staff may be paid in Kenyan shillings, US dollars or GB pounds. There are no credit-card facilities available.