Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Four Generations Have Led to Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp

Cottar’s_1920s_Safari_Camp in the Masai Mara is known for recreating the traditional safari, with a modern luxury twist. After all, the camp is part of a Cottar family legacy that created Africa’s first safari outfitters and has been passed down the Cottar family for four generations – starting with an American from Iowa.

For 93 years, the Cottar name has been in the safari business, from hunting and guiding to running safari camps, always staying true to the era when Charles Cottar started it all.

The general plot: It’s 1909. An American from Iowa reads about Roosevelt’s hunting exploits in East Africa. The man decides to experience the wild himself and arrives in Kenya in 1910. After visiting year after year, Charles Cottar brought his family to Kenya and registered a company in 1919 to guide safaris. Charles recognized that sportsmen from all over the world would come to Africa to hunt for the best trophy they could get, and needed the expertise of people who live in the country and understand the animals.

Charles gained inspiration from Roosevelt’s stories, but quickly began sharing stories of his own – articles and movies that were shared in the states. He had more than his fair share of scuffles with the Big Five, his life ending with a rhino charge. So much was Africa a part of him that when his son tried to give him shade for his last moments, he refused – wanting to see the African sky.

As the first established safari outfitters in Africa, the Cottars seem to have always been ahead of the game. They were among the first to import safari cars to Kenya, and the father of the current owner established the first fixed camps in the country.

Today, Calvin Cottar, Charles’ great grandson, runs Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, a veteran luxury property in the Masai Mara with some of the best guides in Kenya. (Three of the guides are now Gold Level KPGSA qualified, which is the highest concentrations of Gold level guides out of any property in East Africa – 15 total in Kenya.)

Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp transports a traveler to the original spirit and essence of the safari. Tents are authentic white canvas, spacious and luxuriously furnished. And, perhaps more significantly, the tents incorporate many of the Cottar family pieces from the 1920s. To top it all off, dinner is a candlelight affair with silver service and waiters dressed in cotton kanzus – regalia from Kenya’s colonial era.

There are 10 tents, four of which are family tented suites, and the option to stay in Cottar’s Private House that can accommodate 10 guests in five large en suite bedrooms. The house is given for exclusive use with its own living areas, staff and vehicles – completely separate from the rest of the camp.

Rates start at $490 per person sharing, depending on the season, and include guided bush walks, bush meals, sundowners, day and night drives, ½ hour complimentary massage, transfers to cultural visits a range of drinks and laundry. Game drives can be taken in either state of the art Land Cruisers or authentic vintage wooden cars (for fun and atmosphere). The camp is one of the 14 prestigious eco-tourism lodges in the C&P Portfolio.

For more information, visit www.thecpportfolio.com.

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