Bloomberg

'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."
 
Driving To Marsabit in 1920
These 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.
 
 
For the 1921 trip ‘this time we got gas – petrol as it was called here – or at least half petrol and half coal oil.    In this light atmosphere a mixture does quite well and saves money when gas is costly.’       They loaded up with 15 gallons of lubricating oil, one ton of fuel oil, food for two months plus bedding, guns, cameras, prospecting tools, tents, five natives to help do the necessary work of cooking, pushing, working the roads, skinning game etc  ‘To start with the load weighed around 3,000 pounds, but we dropped off a case of fuel every 100 miles and foodstuffs lightened up as we proceeded.        We made 100 miles a day to the Guaso.’
 
Charles says that the Guaso is normally about 100 feet wide and only knee-deep in the dry weather ‘but we found it deeper.’      They tested the water, which they thought would not reach up to the carburetor ‘but we failed to take into consideration the quick sand.’    Having off-loaded everything ‘Old Jerry took a nose-dive off the bank and went in up to the top of the cylinder block, and it died dead in the water well up to the platform.     Then there was some strong pushing and stronger language, which helped the natives to push to an appreciable extent.  But manpower could not pull a truck through a river of quicksand and up a steep bank as we had hoped.     So we took some empty petrol cases, lifted one wheel at a time and put the cases underneath, thus getting the engine above water line.   Then after draining the water from all the compartments, we cranked it up and out we went.’      One of the Africans was hurt in this process, but the only damage to the car was ‘less oil in the crankcase.’ Find the continuation here next week.
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.
NEWS

22nd July 2013,
2014 Good Safari Guide Awards

Cottar's 1920's Camp has been nominated for the 2014 Good Safari Guide Awards. Please vote for us at http://www.safariawards.com/kenya/cottars1920safaricamp/
 


 

24th April 2013,

Travel+Style Magazine

We loved the adventure of a genuine safari in tented accommodation. Cottar’s 1920′s has been in the same family for generations and it is the oldest safari camp in Africa. The proud heritage shapes the experience in this luxury outpost.
Cottar’s is in the right spot for following the migrating wildebeest. Fantastic game viewing is almost guaranteed and the guests are accompanied by some of the best guides in Kenya.
It’s the real thing: the authentic safari camp experience, and Calvin Cottars is the “genuine article”, having lived in the bush most of his life.

http://www.travelplusstyle.com/in-our-lens/cottars-1920s-safari-camp-maasai-mara


5th April 2013,
Africa's 10 Best Safari Guides-Telegraph

Read this interesting article on the best guides in Africa by Brian Jackman who ahd the pleasure of being guided by our very own Gold guide, Calvin Cottar.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ultratravel/9886746/Africas-10-best-safari-guides.html


6th February 2013,

Valentine's Day

February is the month of love, come and experience the Mara like never before and create new fond memories with your loved ones.
View our special offers for this wonderful occassion and contact your travel agent to find out more.....

'Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination' ~Voltaire~


2nd January 2013,
Bridging The Gap Africa project at Sand River

We are proud to be associated with this new bridge which was  completed just in time before the floods arrived late December 2012. Harmon Parker of 'Bridging The Gap Africa' foundation did an excellent job, with engineering design done by a specialist from the USA and the steel components manufactured in Nairobi. We are proud to say that Cottars have been instrumental in funding It's construction and it is expected to save at least 5 lives this year, historically the average loss of life to drowning every year on this stretch of the river. We will be doing an opening ceremony with Harmon  sometime in January; will post this date when it is finalized.
Many thanks Harmon for pulling this off with such little time before the floods!

Website: bridgingthegapafrica.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bridgingthegapafrica?fref=ts

Maasai Warrior School
ENROLL YOUR CHILD IN MAASAI WARRIOR 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.