Set on the edge of Africa’s great rift valley, there is little that is conventional about the creation of Angama Mara, with views that stretch for miles across the Maasai Mara 300 meters below. “Arguably the Best Seat in the House”
Angama Mara: translated from Swahili to be suspended in mid-air, it is the only luxury lodge to be set high up on the Great Rift Valley Escarpment, the property overlooks what many safari travellers deem the loveliest game reserve on the continent, Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Sitting snugly across the three kopje’s (small hill) of the escarpment, the third kopje is perhaps most well known as the site of many of the scenes from the film Out of Africa.
Angama Mara, is where many of the romantic scenes and the sweeping views of the plains were from the film Out of Africa. Filmed 30 years ago guests can add romance and nostalgia to their stay. The picnic spot from Out of Africa’s main poster with the view of the kopje (small hill) was taken right where Angama Mara is located and the picnic has been left untouched for guests to explore or have a romantic picnic-for-two on the crest of this lovely hill – it’s the perfect place to fall in love all over again.
Angama Mara is the brainchild of Steve & Nicky Fitzgerald, and draws on their considerable experience from developing and operating safari lodges whilst at the helm of &Beyond. More than anything, Angama is founded on the underlying belief in guest delight, and brings together a fresh approach to both the safari experience and lodge design.Angama Mara welcomed its first guests on the 14th June 2015.
From the moment you set foot on the premise, the rare beauty of the lodge has an emotional effect on you – an almost dreamlike quality of being somewhere ‘between heaven and earth’
“Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.” ― Karen Blixen, Out of Africa
The main area of the lodge is inspired by Nairobi’s Muthaiga Club, built in 1917 and famously featured in the movie Out of Africa. Typical of early colonial design in Africa, the inside of the guest areas become the outside and vice versa. There is no defined sitting room, dining room or bar – just a charming mix of everything – it’s that kind of place.
The dramatic views of the plains can be seen from the extensive deck and baraza hanging off the edge of the Rift Valley. On lovely Mara days, all the action will be on the deck and during those dramatic but brief afternoon thunderstorms, guests are safely tucked behind the floor to ceiling glass doors watching the spectacle unfold.
By night, the softly-lit architecture of the Maasai brick walls and the cone-shaped buildings that float on a lily pond around the back of the building holds guests’ attention. Especially the library, a lovely quiet place and handsome brick-clad oval room, which is perfect for private dining, and complete with WiFi, guest computers, and a thoughtfully chosen collection of books and films on Africa.
Tented Suites – Window to the World
Each tent has the same breathtaking view – no one is better than the last – and every day, the sunrise provides guests with early morning theatre as the hot air balloons float gently by.
The glass frontage offers views from the bed, the bath, the sitting area, and the bathroom. The roof and other three sides are canvas – classic safari olive on the outside and cream on the inside for romance. Each tented suite has spacious wooden decks and can have in-room dining on the deck. You can sleep with the sliding doors open, for the fresh air and sounds of the wild, with meshed doors latched for safety
The 30 tented suites, split between two totally separate camps, have been crafted by Nairobi’s finest tent maker, using the world’s largest custom built cutter/plotter and a further 42,000 man hours to complete.
Highly polished parquet floors, distinctive splashes of Maasai red, a handsome drinks cabinet (with personal bar and safe tactfully tucked away), vanity with double basins, separate w/c, writing desk with ample charging points and tablet with guest information, WiFi, Africology guest amenities, a collection of East African books, a beautiful John Vogel woven screen, and a butler’s lobby allowing for the discreet delivery of early morning tea and coffee, all add to the comfort and delight of the stay.
Angama Mara welcomes children of all ages, the lodge has four sets of interconnecting tents, which allow children to move freely between their tent and their parents’ in complete safety and privacy.
A great safari is also about great food – guests want to be assured that what they eat is not only delicious, but also reflects and celebrates a sense of place. Almost more important than the food itself is where it is served, and Angama Mara offers a dazzling choice of dining venues.
Inspired by what Denys Finch-Hatton’s camp chef might have cooked way back in the early days of being on safari, Angama Mara’s chefs prepare classic safari food, focusing on it being perfectly cooked and freshly made, yet beautifully and simply presented. The chefs use only the best and freshest ingredients, celebrating the finest local produce for which Kenya is renowned: grass-fed beef, green beans, seafood from the coast – amongst many others.
Angama Mara completely tailor-makes every single guests stay as to what they want to do when they want to do it. There is very little structure, and our incredible staff effortlessly create environments as intimate or busy as our guests would like. At the fore-front of every single thought at Angama Mara is: How would the guest feel about this – from the tooth pick holder, to the tailor-made safari experience and everything in between.
Without wanting to turn the traditional game drive completely on its head, the Angama Mara guiding team felt it might be time to shake things up a little: the team struck on the idea of crafting game drives around the guest. Guests are asked where they have been; what they have seen; what their great passions are; what they would like to do and when they would like to do it; and for how long they would like to be on a game drive at any one time – and game drives are structured accordingly.
“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions” – Karen Blixen, Out of Africa
The pace is a little slower here because all of Angama Mara’s guests come to East Africa to see game, and game there is a-plenty. They might start their safari in the Mara and want to do many game drives; they might come here in the middle of their journey and do a little less game viewing; or they might end their adventure at Angama Mara and only go down into the Reserve to find something they might not have seen. One fact for certain is that the Mara Triangle consistently delivers twelve months of the year – so one can afford to take things a little slower, and enjoy a much more flexible day on safari no matter what time of year.
“The Picnic” – Something for the Romantics
As a nod to the romantic tale that was filmed on the site of Angama Mara, the lodge offers intimate picnics for two on the crest of the Out of Africa kopje that is featured on the movie’s poster.
A Maasai naturalist escorts you up the hill, to discover an old-world private picnic scene: checked blankets, comfy cushions, canvas safari chairs, a wicker picnic basket, sparkling wine on ice, coffee in a Stanley flask, elegant picnic food and of course, that view. Picnics can be enjoyed anytime of day: for breakfast soon after sunrise, or with evening sunset drinks as the sun sets behind. This experience is unique, and only to be found at Angama Mara. For those who love the movie or are hopeless romantics, this is surely the highlight of any stay.
It is not usual to see those with 30 years of experience in the luxury safari industry having a hands-on approach in the day to day running of the business. Both at the lodge and in the market place, owners Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald’s active involvement will assure the sole and full focus of the management in ensuring their guests’ safari is as unforgettable as Angama Mara itself.
For further information: www.angama.com