‘Trekking Into Africa’

"Over the years, Cottars has guided royalty, sports figures, assorted tycoons, and scores of more down-to-earth types on safaris completely tailored to meet their needs and desires."



10th April 2015

Inadaba And We Are Africa Trade Shows

This is a quick alert to advise you that Louise Cottar, representing Cottar’s 1920’s Camp and Mara homestead will be attending INDABA and We Are Africa trade shows in South Africa.
Please do get in contact through the respective meeting request system or let us know directly by email if you would like a meeting with Cottars.
We Are Africa: 4-7 May, Cape Town - Stand No: J21
INDABA: May 9-11 May, Durban – Hall DEC2, Stand No: B26

6th April 2015
The Safari Awards

We are proud to be nominees of 2016's Safari Awards in the categories:
- Best Safari House.
- Best Value Safari Property.
- Best Walking Safari.
- Best Guiding Team.
- Best Family Safari Experience.
- Best Ecologically Responsible.
- Best Mobile Safari.
- Best Community Focused.
Kindly show you're support by voting for us on the link below . Thank you!



Driving To Marsabit in 1920


Cottars Private HomesteadThese are edited excerpts from Charles own writings: He calls this “A lamentable tale of things done not too well and long ago.”
Charles describes the location of  Marsabit as ‘away up in the north country, 400 miles from Nairobi, is an oasis mountain in the desert, Marsabit, and the road to it leads over the most diversified country perhaps in all of Africa.   The first 100 miles is veldt, plains and scrub, with settlers (both white and black),  farms of coffee, sisal and stock, etc.     Then there are the [Mt.] Kenya foothills where the road winds over hills and streams.    There is one continuous serpentine trail for nearly 200 miles until the north slope of the great mountain is reached …. From here the road drives through a tunnel of jungle for five miles. To the edge of the plain that reached down to the Great Guaso Nyiro River at the end of the desert.  And it is some desert – believe me.
Irresistible. Even to a paralyzed man. I have been up here three times in the past two years and I am going to talk about one of the trips on which Mike, my 16-year-old son (accompanied me). I used to go to this Dead Sea bottom on foot or by ox-wagon but when my legs went bad I fixed up a safari wagon automobile – not a Tin Lizzie but a real wagon – a 110 Ford truck that I named Jerry. No, it would never stand still for a picture, it was a real goer and I will tell you about it.’
Charles first attempted the trip in 1920 but did not take enough fuel, ‘800 miles of travel requires some gas, and there was no filling station on the way. We loaded up with 80 gallons of coal oil (could not get gasoline at the time except for one case of 8 Imperial gallons). We left Nairobi loaded down until the springs bumped together, to go 400 miles out into the desert. The final 150 miles was over a road that no car had as yet traveled. But that is what made it interesting.   Who cares to do what everyone else does? Not I’ But 75 miles from their goal they realized they had not enough fuel so had to turn back.

Ghoulish Night

Charles Cottar tells this story about a “Ghoulish Night” he had in 1918, on one of his safaris when he contracted malaria, which turned to blackwater fever – as you can imagine, there was no known remedy for malaria in those days!    When he was recovering from this feverish bout Juma, his headman, reported that their provisions were running out so Charles decided to go on a mule to shoot for the pot.      Suddenly two rhinos charged them from behind a rock, and while Charles managed to dispense with one the other was busy savaging the mule, which succumbed to its wounds and fell, pinning Charles’ right leg  underneath it.   
This happened in the late evening, so now night fell and Charles waited, unable to move from the weight of the dead mule.     Then the hyaenas arrived to eat the mule, and what worried Charles was would they care about the difference between mule meat and human meat.     His cartridges were underneath the mule too, but he managed to get his knife out of his belt and the only way he could keep the hyaenas at a distance was to throw bits of meat as far as he could. He survived the night and his staff found him the next morning.

Maasai Warroir School

KENYA (September 2013) – Jump! Throw! Dance! Learn the ways of a warrior with the African bush as your classroom… Beginning August 1, children visiting Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in the Maasai Mara are invited to join in a Maasai Warrior session. Under the tutelage of Kinyaika, one of the oldest trackers in the business, and the Maasai team, learn skills Maasai Warriors have mastered.
These skills, depending on age and ability, include fire making; spear throwing; bow and arrow practice; Maasai jumping, dancing and singing and stone throwing. Look forward to taking part in the traditions passed down for generations: participate in a blessing ceremony (involves Maasai clothing, Maasai jewelry and possibly henna). A certificate is given at the end of the experience; and, for those skilled enough to hit the targets, a wooden bow and (nonlethal) arrow is provided as a prize.
Proud parents can cheer from the sidelines, join in on the fun or leave the traditions to student and teacher and go on safari during this time. Sessions last between two and three hours.
“As a multi-generational family safari business, Cottar’s Safari Service, has always put emphasis on the family experience. The Maasai Warrior School particularly is something our younger guests will never forget,” explains Doug Nagi, Guest Experience Manager and Gold Guide at Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp.
The white canvas tented property emits the original safari tradition thanks to its roots with Charles Cottar, an American from Iowa who came to Kenya in the 1900s with his entire family. Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp is located on an untouched exclusive concession bordering the Serengeti, Masai Mara and Loliondo reserves, guaranteeing privacy and an abundance of wildlife. Families can choose from four family tented suites, which each consist of two ensuite bedrooms with a shared sitting/dining room, and a private house, which can accommodate up to 10 guests in five large ensuite bedrooms.
Rates start at $530 per person sharing with the Maasai Warrior School included in the experience. A time can be arranged on arrival. Also included are: bush meals and sundowners; bush walks; day and night game drives; ½ hour complimentary massage; transfers to cultural visits; soft drinks, beer, house wine and non-luxury spirits; transfers to Cottars Airstrip and limited laundry.


Calvin's Blog

30th April 2015

Well, what an adventure ride we have been on for the last month! From taking on our own bookings and reservations from C&P, to meeting dozens of local destination marketing companies that channel international agents business, to SKAL meetings (we are members now!), to speaking at the IUCN ‘beyond enforcement – resource rights, tenure, and sustainable utilization as a way to deal with illegal wildlife trade’ symposiums in Johannesburg, and finally to presenting at the Kenya ecotourism symposium, where we contributed as new gold members.
In addition to all that, we had a big american TV network crew visit camp for an entire week – the show is top secret until it’s release in a few months time of course…what I can say is that it will be extremely good for Kenya when it does come out as we captured ‘never filmed before’ wildlife footage and did an entirely new perspective on what exactly is the magic of safari, reconfirming just how amazing Kenya and the Maasai Mara is for high end discerning guests… even how a safari here can be life changing! I can’t wait for the release of the show – and I assure you, you will be surprised!
On that note, I have to say a huge thank you to Doug who was in charge of all arrangements and to all our amazing staff who took care of this huge and complicated group… the service, food and efficiency was flawless, and very much appreciated by the film crew who – I am proud to say – told me it was better service than at many a 7 star property! Wow!
Onto other things now…in the Mara it has rained heavily for a month now, it’s emerald green everywhere and the cattle that had invaded the Reserve from as far away as Rift Valley are in the process of heading out…the pressure has been intense. In regards the Olderkesi wildlife conservancy (my pet project!) this greening has also released pressure on the conservancy, and this combined with the membership register of the group ranch being finalized means there are no more hurdles to us having the conservancy fully operational by the July busy season..time will tell and it all depends on the commitment of the Maasai themselves to make it work.
I must add that the Maasai Mara Management Authorities have been much more attentive in dealing with this recent cattle invasion of the Reserve and have established a ranger camp in our area, capturing herds coming into the Reserve at night and impounding them. All of this is having the desired effect and we are starting to see the Mara the way it used to be when I was a scrappy kid hanging out the back of my fathers safari truck 40 years ago!
We have had many repeat guests during this last month, and to be honest they have been the mainstay for the camp during these difficult times brought about by the recent attacks on Kenyans in the far north of the country, and the Ebola outbreak in west Africa (yes, that is 5000 Kilometers away from Kenya but still affected people’s travel plans!). So to these good folk, all of us at Cottars say a huge thank you! For your patronage and believing that we can keep you safe and continue to provide you with those magical safari experiences!
In early May, I will be an examiner for a silver to gold exam for the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, and we will be offering a training program for 10 silver level guides with ambitions to become Gold level. We do offer the opportunity for our guests to experience this, please request your agent for information.
Louise will be representing Cottar’s at the Classic Camps of Africa AGM, and the important trade shows – Indaba and We Are Africa.
Many thanks for your time and please do contact us for any questions to do with travel to Kenya, Mara and Cottars.
Ole seri!
- Calvin Cottar

24th March 2015

This week, I took Colin and Lynn Wilson on a safari to the Mara, 4 days of gliding around the long grass plains in our custom built safari vehicles…open windscreen, an air in the hair kinda of safari for those of us that have hair!
Over the course of the 4 days, we saw 5 cheetahs, 1 rhino, dozens of lions, herds of elephant and dozens of species of other plains game (and big leopard just after the Wilson’s left!), and with the Mara being extremely dry, the clouds are building and the acacias are starting to flower – a sure sign of rain.
Indeed, the zebras have arrived in numbers and seem to be on an early migration pattern…a result of climate change and global warming?
Looking at the wildlife product at Cottar’s, I can say it is absolutely as good as any other camp in the Mara because Cottar’s guides just go the extra distance to get the action; a morning game drive is invariably much longer at Cottar’s than at other camps, and our guides are trained to not rush, not race, not follow crowds of cars, and to stop as often as possible for reasonable amounts of time to search for animals with binoculars, and then, once found, to spend quality time with the animals to observe interactions and action.
While we have plenty of game around camp, including leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and tons of other species, and with patience, on foot or by vehicle, they can be seen with ease.
I realize how Cottar’s really is a pioneering company from the extra things we do beyond the service delivery for our guests… but of course this is not at the expense of the guests experience because we provide the very best of experiences for them including surprise bush meals, sundowners, waterfall visits, Maasai warrior school for the kids, romantic canvas baths for honeymoon couples, and real spoor tracking walking safaris for the more adventurous…we even do running with the Maasai for the superfit!
No… the extra things we do include financing the operations for a school for 200 children with 10 teachers, providing educational bursaries for over 50 children, almost daily ambulance services for the community, medical clinics and provision of medicine, providing water supplies, maintaining roads and tracks inside the conservancy as well as inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, maintaining the only airstrip in the area, two security undercover teams in areas as far away as 60 Kms from camp, looking for poachers, ivory caches, and guns, and non of this includes the development of the Olderkesi Wildlife Conservancy for the last 20 years, finally coming to fruition after all these years.
So Cottar’s represents more than just a nice time for guests; we are the cutting edge of ‘tourism for conservation and rural development’.
-Calvin Cottar