It was about 11am when Rae (Capital in the Morning presenter) and I checked into the lodge. I was grateful to see that the reception was not intimidating. Instead of a semi-circular marble booth – we were received by John, the front office supervisor, who was standing in front of a simple wooden desk with a computer and some files on it.
He called us by name, sat us down on stools covered in black and white cow skin, and after we had filled in our forms, proceeded to show us to our rooms.
Tent number 12 and even 12A where Rae spent Saturday night read Karibu-Welcome. Walking in, I dropped my bag without knowing, and made a mental note that since I had about two hours before lunch, I would sample that gorgeous looking bed!
The Safarilink flight to the lodge had given me an army of butterflies – enough to last an hour.
I was determined that this lovely four-poster structure facing the mouth of the tent would convert the scary creatures into dreamy bliss. It did. And while I was busy wallowing in the cotton silkiness, Rae was exploring the pool and massage tent.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club has 50 tented rooms, some single and some double. They cost anywhere between $350-$500 per night. Apart from the fantastic rooms, they go out of their way to make you feel at home. It was an interesting concept I felt, where home in this case referred to the décor and the familiarity with those waiting on you.
Peter was always there to wait on us, Eric expertly catered to our taste-buds and Joseph made sure that we saw at least four of the animals known as the Big Five during the game drives. The leopard, however, was, as usual, ever so elusive.
The Maasai Mara Game Reserve sits on about 1,000 square kilometres. The savannah is greening due to weeks of rain. The wet weather on our first afternoon had all the impalas, wildebeest (also known as silly beasts), and elands standing still. We were told that is what they do until the rain passes.
We drove on and got to one of the many large hills in the vicinity. It was a rocky mountain. I was a bit perturbed when Joseph turned off the engine and told us we would be walking up on foot. I hadn’t carried my walking shoes, and Rae was in some cute little sandals. We had only walked for about 50 metres when we stumbled on three massive white rhinos. Grazing. Comfortably.
When the warder who was with us, walked up and petted it, I expressed desire to do the same. I touched it. Have you ever touched a rhino? It feels like a hard orange. A very hard orange.
Shortly after that we saw a lone cheetah, minding its own business, and even more intent on their business was a lion couple. The male looked like it had been through a war, but was content to trudge along behind the lioness. I don’t think they were going to hunt. They must have opted for a walk in the park instead.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club has an air of quiet comfort about it. Something you would like to share with someone that means a great deal to you. The fire-place in the lounge, next to the dining hall makes for perfect story-telling, the cosy bar, and the fact that the generator goes out at midnight, makes you keen to account for every single minute.
I have hours worth of music in my phone but decided to listen to the noises the hippos were making. The occasional hyena laughing and the gecko that I had spotted outside (thankfully) my tent, made me feel oddly content. I could breathe easy, think straight and feel love for this thing called earth.
The decor is fantastic. Fairmont has employed an interior decorator from South Africa and used the skilful hands of metal artist Kioko Mwitiki into capturing a raw compilation of beauty.
Fairmont’s chandeliers are made from milk gourds with patterns on them, there was colourful beaded artwork on the lampstands and mix-and-match sofas; all making it feel like home. Not perfect, but perfectly close? You need to see it to understand.