Offbeat Mara sits in the Mara North Conservancy in an area which is devoid of people and full of game. On a recent trip there with my family we were put in tent five, a tent set off from the main camp with views of the valley stretching up before you. The small stream behind camp provides cool shade and you know when you’re here you’re probably only a few trees down from a sleepy leopard. Our first afternoon here was one of the most exciting I have had in any camp. We were relaxing happily in the tent when thundering hooves signalled a small stampede of wildebeest. Next thing we know we’re watching a full blown lion hunt in front of our tent, with plains game shooting in every direction and the lionesses eventually settling down just in front of camp after missing their attempted kill. This is exceptionally unusual to see anywhere, let alone the front of a camp.
The camp itself is run by Kenyan couple Kyle and Lara whose passion for the bush is infectious – their knowledge is also exceptional with tiny details of dung beetles and other interesting creatures being presented at random, no matter what the guests particular interest these two will either be experts themselves, or will find one of the staff who is. This is a true bush camp for wilderness and wildlife lovers alike. The camp is unpretentious and informal and you really do feel at home as soon as you arrive. Here they want you to experience the bush and the freedom it has to offer so one can night drive, walk with Kyle, visit local schools and villages and generally just explore, anyway you like.
The guides here are all local to the area with three brothers Joseph, David and Wilson being the main guides along with the infamous Kapen whose stories are quite hard to understand, but told with such flair and passion that you cannot help but feel you were there with him. All of the staff are wonderfully relaxed but exceptionally efficient, with big smiles and plenty of laughter in everything they do.
The area surrounding Offbeat Mara is a hotspot for wildlife and the Offbeat pride of lions provides almost daily sightings – with six lionesses, 14 cubs and two big males this pride is really worth seeing and they roared us to sleep every night, a noise which is so magical you cannot really believe your ears even if you hear it every night. The giraffe, elephant and plains game around the camp is viewable from your tent and game drives always provide some kind of unusual sighting. The area is simply pumping with game, and as mentioned very few other vehicles.
Kyle and Lara are both foodies and this also means that the food is exquisite. Lunches of light salads for those being healthy and perfect Bolognese or curry for the boys are perfectly produced with fresh ingredients, and dinners involve everything from roast lamb to hot chocolate fondant. This camp is truly relaxing and they really get it right. We couldn’t fault one thing about it which is saying a lot when you visit over 50 luxury safari camps every year. What a wonderful place.