It’s 5.30am and the cheery morning greeting of my Maasai butler Lawrence rouses me from a deep sleep. Outside my tent, Lawrence is balancing a tray with a pot of steaming hot tea and a plate of freshly baked scones, something to nibble on before my morning game drive. This is the standard morning wakeup call at Olonana, a small luxury safari camp named after a Maasai chief who ruled during the early 1900s when the Maasai were a force in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
As dawn breaks, I step onto my veranda facing the Mara River. Hippos grunt, birds chirp and a lion roars in the distance. My accommodation is hardly a tent.
One of 14, my tent is beautifully furnished with polished floorboards and designer throw rugs. There’s a writing desk, two comfy double beds swathed in mosquito nets and luxuries like bathrobes, toiletries and bottled water.
After bouncing around all day in the back of a safari vehicle there’s nothing better than a hot shower in my ensuite bathroom. The hot water is switched on in the late afternoons. There are no in-room telephones but who needs them? My tent has most of the comforts a luxury traveller would require in a remote destination.
The electricity is on most of the time but is shut off in the evenings when everyone is fast asleep and exhausted from a day out in the wilderness. Lawrence is always on hand to make up my tent, turn down my bed and replenish my toiletries.
Dining at Olonana
Meals are served in the main lodge. The Maasai influence is evident from the outside. The entrance is built to resemble a traditional Masai house but inside, living areas are stylishly decked out with plush lounges and timber coffee tables. The library is stocked with reference books and glossy photography books.
I could get used to sipping gin and tonic each evening while watching the animals wander around grazing across the river.
The menu in the main dining room changes daily and there’s a choice of wine.
Each night, a different Masai warrior armed with a bow and arrow accompanies me back to my tent, for protection. After all, we’re in the middle of the bush and lions are known to wander through camp.
One morning, I take a walk to Olonana Engang, the local Masai village. One of the ways Olonana encourages the local community to protect Kenya’s wildlife is by providing a cultural programme for guests.
The village has mud and cow-dung huts surrounded by a thornbush fence. Inside, the huts are basic and furnished with animal skins and dry grass. I’m certain I wouldn’t give up my luxurious tent to stay in a mud hut and it makes me realise how lucky I am.
Visiting Kenya during the annual migration is a bucket list opportunity. But it requires advanced planning as camps are usually booked out.
Around two million wildebeests migrate year-round from Tanzania to Kenya. From July to September, the grasslands of the Masai Mara in Kenya are covered by a ocean of wildebeest. It’s incredible to see.
Watch our video of a flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi here:
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Abercrombie & Kent