Cottars Private House: Our full report
Located on a wooded hillside in the Olderikesi conservancy, outside the southesast corner of the Maasai Mara ...... National Reserve, Cottar's Private House, also known as Cottar's Private Homestead, is a handsome, modern property on two floors. Only recently built, the house sweeps around the contours of the hillside, offering panoramic views from several balconies and verandas.
Cottar's Private House stands just above the main Cottar's 1920s Camp. The house was designed by its owners, Louise and Calvin Cottar, and the camp and private house share guides and vehicles. Expert Africa visited the house in March 2014, just as the new swimming pool was being completed.
If you thought this was going to be something rustic, emerging from the bush, think again: Calvin and Louise Cottar have built a beautifully proportioned family home on quite a grand scale. The house stretches over two floors, with the first floor entrance being at ground level on the hillside, and extensive living and dining areas one floor down. Although it’s built on the hillside, they have managed to include windows in the hillside-facing walls, even at the lower level, making the whole house exceptionally light and welcoming.
The house staff of eight consists of a waiter, housekeeper, chef and sous chef, two askaris, a driver-guide and a wildlife spotter.
Through the main doors, there are stunning views straight ahead from the main living room deck. From this dramatic focal point, you descend to a sitting room with a big fireplace – which is ideal for chilly evenings in the migration season. There’s a large TV at one end and a grand dining room area on the same level.
The house has five ensuite bedroooms, the biggest of which, on the first floor, is a very large space and very comfortably furnished. There are two other bedrooms up here – one of them an almost completely open-plan bedroom-bathroom, and the other the second master bedroom, leading off the main lounge, featuring the muted colours, practical design and triangular windows of the other rooms, and including a spacious bathroom and its own private balcony.
One of the two downstairs bedrooms is very large and private with a particularly nice bathroom and a private verandah, while the other downstairs room is smaller, but of striking design, with a walk-in shower and a secluded sun trap of a verandah.
Activities at the private house are effectively the same as those at Cottar’s 1920s Camp, just below, with the only difference being that you have exclusive use of Cottar’s guides and vehicles for the duration of your stay. As well the private house’s 25-metre lap pool, you can use the main Cottar's Camp’s swimming pool and other facilities. Guests at the Private house receive one complimentary massage per guest and you also have satellite TV and internet access, a computer and printer, and a library.
The owners' design touches are evident throughout, especially in bringing light and coherent design into the rooms. All the wildlife, good guiding and excellent food and service of the main camp are available, but you have the house entirely to yourself, making it ideal for mixed-age family parties or groups of friends.
- Maasai Mara Conservancies, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- Minimum 3 nights. You won't want to leave.
- Cottar's Private House is just above the eastern end of Cottar's 1920s Camp. The property is a 15-minute drive from Cottar's airstrip, or around 2 hours from the busier Keekorok airstrip.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- As in the main camp, food at Cottar's Private House is very good. As you have the exclusive run of the home, your meal times are entirely your decision.
- Private villas & houses
- There are relatively few private accommodation options in the Maasai Mara and if you're looking for an exclusive and modern, fully staffed house, providing very spacious and comfortable accommodation, you could not do better than this.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Cottars Private House is a luxurious, modern home in the bush. This fully staffed, two-storey villa has five en-suite bedrooms, stunning views of the Maasai Mara, and a 25-metre lap pool. It makes the perfect luxury base for a large family or group of friends.
- See ideas for Luxury
- 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
- 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 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.
- Cottar's have one baby cot with mosquito net, one high chair and one baby bath.
- Generally recommended for children
- Cottar's Private House is a great family option, allowing children the right to be themselves without disturbing others. The private swimming pool is a bonus - though beware, there is no lifeguard and it's quite deep at one end.
- There is patchy mobile phone signal around the camp and Wi-fi in and around the camp's main mess tent.
- TV & radio
- The house has TV.
- Water supply
- 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 tents and is used for drinking water on game drives, in Cottar's own, branded aluminium water bottles. These can be filled from your room or by the kitchen staff.
Supporting the local community
Located just outside of the Maasai Mara, the exclusive 10,000square foot villa was built from ground up with sustainability in mind, maintaining an authentic African feel. The five sleeping rooms are built from locally-sourced natural wood and stone, and are decorated with neo Afro-colonial furnishings. Moreover, the owners Calvin and Louise Cottar who also designed the private house were strict on making the entire construction blend with the surroundings, and have therefore chosen earthy tones such as browns and greys.
The team at the Cottar’s Private House is also aiming to foster a mutually beneficial partnership with the local Maasai community by providing a marketplace where locals can sell their handcrafts. The initiative is especially important for empowering women, as they are encouraged to sell their beadwork and maintain a constant source of income. Moreover, it is also a way of preserving the Maasai culture by encouraging guests to find out more about the local community and its traditions. Meanwhile, profits generated are reinvested in bursaries, building schools, providing training and offering medical care for the locals. For example, with the help of lodge’s contribution to the Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust, the group was able to build the Olpalagilagi Primary School.
Initially comprising of one classroom and 40 children, the lodge’s efforts attracted the support of people and businesses from all over the world. As a result, the school has been extended and it now comprises of 6 classrooms and 400 children part of an on-going school feeding programme which has significantly increased girl enrolment rates.
See more great sustainability projects in Kenya
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are first aid kits, a trauma bag and a number of first-aid trained guides. 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 and the house
- Fire safety
- There is a guests' health and safety manual, good numbers of fire extinguishers, frequent fire training and firebreaks around the camp.
Guided walking safari
Hot air ballooning
- 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).
- The house has small digital room safes, but any bulkier valuables can be kept in the office safe.
Foreign exchange isn't offered as very little cash is kept on site.
- 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.
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