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Visit Great Plains Conservation

March 16, 2018 Hotel News No Comments Email Email

The difference between adventure and disaster is serious injury and loss of life. During the early hours of Sunday March 4th we had a small adventure at our Maasai Mara camps. No-one was injured and I am incredibly proud of our managers and staff. 

At 3am a Mara Expedition Camp askari (night watchman) woke everyone in camp to warn them about the rising river. A few hours later the camp had been washed downstream 4 km and when I say that I am not joking. The camp has been destroyed.

At the same time, waters were rising around Mara Plains Camp. It too has been knocked around and we have lost a few “teeth”, with the most significant damage to the back of house and bridges. Engineers are in camp now.

As a result, both camps will be closed for weeks at least. So we have blocked off both until July 1st.

Like our precious handmade cutlery that is now in the mud near Talek, when you lose something you need to replace it with something better. As a result, we will be using this great opportunity to upgrade both camps. Having been tested, we know the tweaks we would like to make going forward.

Expect a new improved Suite for example at Mara Plains Camp – designed along the lines of our Dhow Suite at Zarafa. To give a nod to that ethic we will call this the Jahazi Suite (after another great East African, Arabian influenced, vessel).

We have always wanted a top of the line Mobile camp. Mara Expedition Camp is in a way, already a mobile-styled camp, but we will formalise that with a true 1920s styled mobile safari camp that will be based out of the same site but move for some months of the year.

While we view it as an incredible privilege of being able to live and work in places so wild that the rivers flood and baby hippos wash into camp, or crocodiles leave their footprints in the mud in the curio store, others are less fortunate and our thoughts are with those who also lost camps and in at least one case were stranded in a tree for seven hours.

Our camps are material things that can be fixed. We will work like demons to make sure that we soon open two redesigned, brand new and improved Great Plains Conservation camps so we can continue to the provide experience to be remembered, by July.

Authenticity comes from journeys like these, having camps in wild places and occasionally taking the hits, that makes us better. It is why people come stay with us, why travellers want to see what we have to offer and listen to the stories rather than sit back and watch it on TV. This is why I love Africa and its wildness.

These are really exciting times for us but I am far more concerned about why this massive flood happened. Heavy overgrazing of livestock on the escarpment and throughout East Africa are causing grass seed banks to fail, erosion is spreading and annual floods are much angrier than ever.

Going forward our efforts in conservation will focus more intensely on controlling the livestock issue. This flood is just a symptom of something we will all need to work together on, and you will hear more about this initiative as we develop it further to scale.

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