Out of Africa, Chapter Two, The Lodges – Cottars Safari Lodge

The advantage of flying over Kenya with a private charter, is the joy of landing on an airstrip for an impromptu brekkie or lunch! Our amazing Scenic Air pilot, Kim, prepared a superb soundtrack for each route! Swooping low over volcanic landscapes, miles of untouched sand dunes, small village bomas, and of course, all the wildlife! It’s the only way to fly, Scenic Air lives up to its name! Contour Flying – literally soaring and following the contour of the landscape.

Strafe the runway to alert stray animals to make a smooth landing at Cottars Safari Camp. Nothing more delightful than a Maasai greeting on landing! VIP Red Carpet, mimosas, and snacks. Heading off to the lodge, the exhilaration begins as we spot a family of eight lions barely visible under the brush, each taking turns gnawing on the rib cage of a luckless animal, lion lunch! We are in the bush!

Cottars Safari’s is family owned since 1919 and is situated in the untouched exclusive Olderkesi Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Loliondo reserves; the area guarantees privacy and an abundance of wildlife.

The 1920s Camp provides the romance of safari under nine cream canvas tents, spacious and luxuriously furnished in the style of the bygone era of the twenties. The private Bush Villa boasts 5 en-suite bedrooms, amazing views over the Masai Mara, a 25m private pool, a private chef, and guides.

Luxurious Tents

I love sleeping in safari tents, although I am always a teeny bit apprehensive – my safari sleep mantra is from FDR – The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Cottars Tents are glorious, enormous screens with outside rollup if you prefer darkness, I wake with the light. Private expansive bathroom with a real hot water shower, no Maasai outside with a bucket on a rope! Big comfy bed, encased in white mosquito netting, or in my case beetle netting! Museum quality beetles in Africa!

Cottars feels like a step back in time, the tents are very comfortable and spacious, with room to sit and nap. Each tent is a different size, accommodating families as well. All are private, mine had a pleasant deck for morning coffee or a cocktail and my portable bubble bath! An open-air bath was the ultimate in luxury, a pop-up tub overflowing with steamy bubbles accompanied by a bottle of chilled bubbles. Bush Bath, with uninterrupted view of flowering acacia trees and the setting sun – what could be more extravagant?

Two game drives each day – the exquisite dawn sunrise makes it worth getting up from my cozy warm bed with two hot water bottles tucked under the sheets. Coffee delivered to my tent at 5am.  Unzipping the screen and canvas door, I ask the guard what was that astonishingly loud grunting – a lion?  No, Ms. Gwen, a male antelope was saying good morning to a female antelope… ohh, an encounter.

Still dark, the guard returns to walk me to the drive vehicle. Gazelles and springbok literally prance in joy from surviving a night in the wild. Morning drive under a stunning sky. Cape buffalo, my favorite little wart hogs or pumba, tiny 6 foot tall, giraffe babies, days old… Zebra sighting followed by an elegant Bush Brekkie! And one extraordinary luxury, a portable tent loo! No squatting while looking for a predator!

Dining at Cottars is not confined to regular mealtimes.  Bush breakfasts, al fresco lunch in the pavilion by the pool, take a dip before dipping into a sumptuous lunch. A safari is not good for a diet. Afternoon drive always includes an elaborate sundowner around a bonfire, appetizers roasting on grills and served with a full bar!

The Dining Tent is a glamorous throwback to the golden age of safaris. Set up as a sumptuous salon. In between drives, curl up on a comfy plush sofa, leather wing back chairs, while the most attentive staff hover with snacks, chilled drinks and never forget how you like your Rye Manhattan – up with a brandy-soaked cherry! Honestly, I had to beg William, no more bread! An elegant bar separates the dining area and the salon. In the evening, a bonfire surrounded by camp chairs is the perfect after dinner resting spot.

Staff: If you need an immediate family, Cottars is the place for you! Warm engaging, funny, and always smiling – Peris manages guest experiences with quiet elegance. Grace does everything else, with grace, they are Gems, always there for every little need, I’m sure they must never sleep! Crack of dawn, wandering the dining tent, tucking you into the game drives with blankets and coffee, and wishing you sweet dreams at midnight!

Oh William, Please no more bread! Ms. Gwen, your Rye Manhattan is ready!

When you’re too tired or a little too scared to take a walking safari to Sundowner Cocktails, your Maasai tracker drives you and just like that, a lion encounter! Eight lions, mom was out hunting!

Amazing sunset, even more marvelous cocktails, and roasted appetizers around a bonfire!

Village Visit! Nothing better than a visit to a local Maasai village… the kids are forever enthusiastic and enthralling, we were greeted by the beautiful radiant women in vibrant shukas, eagerly wrapping us in colorful Shukas, held our hands and serenaded us with song and dance. The kids are curious, never tire of looking at their images on your camera or shouting JAMBO in unison.

A half circle of village women displayed their beautiful collections of handmade beaded boxes, bracelets, leather and wood items, the creativity and talent are amazing! Remember there aren’t any supply shops in the bush, these talented women create jewelry by hand. The chief of the village has three wives who each have their own manyatta, home … kids are shared with each wife and the community… it takes a village! Delightful morning! Asante Cottars for sharing local life, one of my best-loved events on safari.

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Serene Soaking at Cottars Lodge, exceptional staff, glorious meals …Highly Recommend!

Double Bubbles! Champers and Bush Bath with a view… died and gone to heaven