Our favourite afternoon activity here is to sit on the deck with a cocktail and watch the pods of hippos that make the Mara River their home. These fascinating creatures chortle and splash in the water, interacting with each other while keeping a respectable distance between them and the families of crocodiles lining the banks. Curled up in your chair, you easily become engrossed in their behaviours, and a whole afternoon can be whiled away observing these strangely lovely creatures.
An Eden of stunning vistas and fruitful game viewing awaits in the Maasai Mara. Game drives set out in the cool of the mornings before the dew is dry on the grass, and again late in the afternoons while the sun drops low on the horizon. The plains seem to quiver with the expectation of exciting encounters. We might hunt alongside big cats on the prowl, admire a stately parade of magnificent elephant families led by old matriarchs with young calves trailing behind, or gaze upon ladylike giraffes, long-legged and long-lashed, as they nibble the crown of acacia trees. Grin as cheetah cubs frolic joyfully around our vehicle, and laugh aloud at lumbering hippos as they chortle and snort in the winding rivers. Yes, this is Africa’s wildlife wonderland.
The Mara Safari Club—situated in the northwest of the Maasai Mara at the foot of the Aitong Hills—is your base for adventure in this reserve. Built on an ox-bow of the Mara River, all en-suite tents have their own private game viewing verandas with a view of the hippo-filled river. The gentle chortling of the hippo pods in the water will soothe you to sleep each night in your four-poster bed, with pillow-top mattresses and fine linens. You awake to coffee or tea in bed and a gentle breeze buffeting the canvas walls of your tent, in which you are snug and well-situated, with oriental rugs, wooden floors, and antique furniture.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club is happy to host children of all ages. Baby-sitting services are also available, as are baby cots to enable very young children to sleep directly in their parents’ tent.
Ah, the Mara! With wildlife everywhere you look, you’ll no doubt wish to be out and about all day, whether on an invigorating nature walk or an exciting game drive. Or visit the people who know this land the best: the local Maasai people. The village is full of life—children laughing and playing games, warriors and women pulling you into their dances, the village chief sharing stories, and perhaps even a lesson in beading from the Maasai women, who are masterful artists of spectacular beaded jewellery.
There are also many activities that tap into the serenity of this place. Sitting quietly by the Mara River, listening to the birds singing nearby. Sharing stories of the day around the campfire and under a canopy of stars. And of course, a hot-air balloon safari, where a stunning panorama unfolds below: the grazing herds, skittish gazelles, dancing shadows, elephants and giraffes casting curious glances overhead. Touch down for a champagne breakfast on the savannah and then blissfully realise that our day has only just begun!