International travel can be life-changing. I began traveling outside of my country before I could walk and each experience has been uniquely memorable, but it was my first visit to Africa last year that left an extraordinary impression. The Masai Mara – home of the Great Migration – quickly became one of my favorite places in the world, and I’m sure the three camps I visited had a lot to do with it.
Mara Toto Camp is one of three Great Plains camps in Kenya. The baby sister of the Mara Plains Camp – Toto means baby in Swahili – is located on the Ntiakitiak River only a few miles from Mara Plains. The five-tent camp offers a smaller, more rustic camping experience than its big sister, but still delivers the convenience and comfort associated with glamping.
What Works For Families
- All inclusive accommodations with meals and laundry service (except undergarments).
- In-tent bathrooms. Running water, flushable toilets.
- 24-hour power in tents via solar power.
- Ideal for adults and families with older children – mature teenagers and up.
- Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available in tents.
- No set meal times. Special diets and allergy accommodations.
- Comfortable beds.
What Doesn’t Work For Families
- Children under 15 must share a room with an adult.
- No childcare service.
- Not ideal for small children or young teenagers.
- No hairdryer or straightener usage allowed in the tents.
- Running cold water in tents, while hot water is heated by a wood burning stove and is available when requested.
- The hot water for a shower lasts approximately four minutes.
- It’s an unfenced property.
- Guards must accompany guests when outside of their tents at night.
- Animals can be loud at night and also walk through the camp. While I was there an elephant took a noisy night stroll right by my tent.
Price: $$$. With off season prices starting at $595 per person and $298 per child, this camp is appropriately priced for the outstanding service, accommodations and experience it delivers. It’s fully inclusive including conservation/park fees, meals, laundry airstrip road transfers, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages (except champagne).
Mara Toto is an Eco-friendly camp running on solar power and uses locally bottled, naturally filtered drinking water. It’s perfect for people looking for a more authentic camping experience but still desire a certain level of accommodations and convenience. Its small, friendly staff made me feel welcomed and safe, and provided excellent service on site and during our game drives. Because of the small size of the camp, mealtime was especially delightful with great conversation and an intimate, family dinner table feel.
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The tents have a charming, old-expedition style to them and are spacious and comfortable. The in-tent bathroom has a divider for privacy; and there is plenty of storage space for luggage and personal belongings. The tents are built on the ground and feature decks with chairs. They are all equipped with outlets and Wi-Fi is available but understandably spotty. While it’s not as “fancy” as its sister camp, Mara Plains, the rooms are still reminiscent of an upscale hotel.
The camp includes scheduled activities on the Mara North Conservancy and the Masai Mara Reserve. In addition to game drives visits to local villages, schools and community projects can be arranged. Balloon safaris are also available for an additional cost. The camp’s awesome location is in leopard territory and provides a front row seat – from your tent – to the annual wildebeest and zebra migration. Mara Toto uses open 4×4 vehicles for game drives and has two Canon D50 available for guest use.
Mara Toto is extremely accommodating with their meal times and selections. Lunch and dinner times are scheduled around game drives. Picnic baskets for meals on the Mara are available along with private dining on your tent’s deck. Fresh, flavorful and delicious, the food was a highlight of the experience.
For more information, visit www.greatplainsconservation.com