“Enkishui”, the Masai term for “life” and the very appropriate title we have given to the location of the Wild Eye Mara Camp which flanks one of the greatest rivers in Africa, the Mara.
This seasonal camp is open from July through until the end of November and accommodates a maximum of just 12 guests across a 6 night and 7 day long scheduled departures.
Nestled away from the crowds in the southern parts of the Mara Triangle but right amongst some of the greatest game viewing on the continent, the Wild Eye Mara Camp's location alone is enough to tempt a visit. Why “life” you may ask as you sit on your Livingstone style canvas chairs overlooking the writhing river below with its boisterous hippos and immense crocodiles. It is right here, in the company of a Masai warrior that you will hear the answer you seek, for in its steady but strong current and its steep sided banks is where the story of “Enkishui” is born.
Historically, roughly 2.5 million zebra and wildebeest would migrate the length of the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystem. Calving in the southern regions of the Serengeti around Ndutu in February, then traveling roughly a thousand five hundred miles northwards in a winding figure of eight pattern to ensure they left no pastures un-grazed, until they hit what we know today as the Masai Mara. Here they would mate then travel south and start the whole journey again. One could say that the relentless attack from predators along the route was the herds greatest threat, or the threat of disease, maybe in numbers of fatalities yes. But today it seems the crossing of the Mara river was the great migrations most dangerous obstacle. Aside from crocodiles of prehistoric sizes inhaling one wildebeest after the next, the banks of the river, its deep waters and the strong currents were by far the cause of the most deaths at this time of year.
Today the herd sits around the estimated number of about 1.5 million animals. The pressure of human encroachment and poaching have taken its toll over the years but with conservation initiatives in place the fall was halted and now the herds numbers grow steadily with efforts from both the Tanzanian and Kenyan side to get this natural wonder of the world back to its original state.
In times without the pressure of humans drastically diminishing the herd from all fronts, it did not matter that thousands of wildebeest perished in the treacherous crossings. It was the natural cycle that the herd must go through in order to sustain balance but today systems must be put in place to effectively manage the herd so that it may one day reach the numbers it once was. Running right through the middle of our quaint canvas tented camp was such a crossing point. From August to early October each year thousands of wildebeest would attempt to cross the river here and the steep sided and rocky banks rising from the deep waters of a sharp bend in the river meant that once the first few wildebeest had passed through and wet the rocks it became very difficult for other, already panicked and exhausted, animals to scale the banks.
It was estimated that in large crossings sometimes up to 5000 animals would drown on this crossing point alone. Something had to be done and that’s when the idea of Enkishui camp was thought up. A seasonal camp placed carefully along the Mara river in an attempt to prevent such a fatal crossing from happening. “life” indeed, and once the season of great herds passes the camp is taken down to let nature completely and entirely retrieve its territory each year.
Set up in June and taken down again in November the camp accommodates for both guests who want to witness the crossings from August to October but also for guests who wish to experience the Mara as a whole and witness the abundance and variety of life that exists here in the shoulder season. Its 12 authentic, canvas style tents as well as brave and “eager to chase” Masai staff create a barrier to prevent the wildebeest crossing at this point and therefore preserve the lives of thousands of animals each year. These herds eventually break away from their choice of crossing point and end up crossing at more favorable points not far downstream or upstream from camp, putting our guest in the perfect position to witness these events. There are days where the sound of thousands of bodies hitting the water all at once can be heard from the veranda of your tent. A sound like thunder, your adrenaline spikes as you know exactly what that sound means. Usually it is followed by a shout from Dickson (Masai camp manager) or a Wild Eye host on the trot to summon everyone in time to race over and witness the surprise crossing before it ends.
Vehicles and Local Guides at the Wild Eye Mara Camp
No more than 12 guests embark into our very own 4x4 land cruisers, 3 per vehicle, to go on such expeditions and our highly experienced Kenyan guides mean that “surprise” crossings like this are rare. Their unparalleled knowledge of the Mara means that guests are to be aside the action before, and almost every time, the action begins. Whether it be crossings, lions and their cubs, leopard or cheetah on the hunt. Wild Eye jeeps are there. It's not uncommon, either, for our jeeps to be out for the whole day. Anticipating crossings, following hunting lions or simply a leopard abandoning his perch and descending the tree he sleeps in. Long days like this can be tiresome but our relentless Masai staff and their unwavering care and attention to each guests experience means that bringing lunch, extra drinks or “nyama choma” chips to the furthest corners of the Mara Triangle is never too much to ask. Your lunch order is handed through the window on days like this (Spacious Landcruiser’s mean that even at its maximum of 4 guests per cruiser there is plenty of leg, camera and lunch room if need be) before our deliverers race back towards camp to make sure it is ready for our arrival after a long and exciting day on safari.
Facilities at the Wild Eye Mara Camp
Whether you are a photographer or simply a searcher of wild things and wild places, arriving back to camp with Wild Eye is a heartwarming experience in itself. Vehement smiles from Mary, who is in charge of housekeeping and overseeing the complimentary laundry service, to Tenke who makes sure cold gin and tonics flow at and from the bar, greet you upon arrival.
The Media Tent with WIFI awaits those who can’t wait to see what they captured in the day, edit it under guidance of Wild Eye hosts and show it to the world. Powered by our own solar farm this media tent, the lounge and our guest tents are kept alit consistently and sustainably.
Flames dance from a fire where the sounds of the night await those who wish a cold beer in hand, a slight tilt back in the chair and a closing of the eyes in order to hear the never quite plains of the Mara before the bantering that always accompanies a campfire before a deliciously prepared meal is served.
Soon after, Masai cultures and stories of old and lessons of new are spoken through true Masai warriors and their experiences at the fire while your dinner settles and you enjoy a few last sips of our very own Wild Eye wine selection before heading to your tent to retire for the evening.
Accommodation at the Wild Eye Mara Camp
Our 12 tents are all equipped with their own en-suite bathroom, flushing toilet and mahogany beds, ensuring a combination of exemplary comfort and an authentic experience that safely embraces natures wonderings instead of walling it out. Bucket showers are filled upon request and hold enough water, hot or cold, to wash body and even the longest of locks. It is almost unbelievable to think such a respectively luxurious heaven, so far removed from cities and crowds, lies at such easy reach.
Getting To the Wild Eye Mara Camp
After various flights from all over the globe to reach Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi guests embark on a 45 minute charter flight (included in our packages) in and out of the Mara. Landing at the Mara Serena airstrip you are collected by our Wild Eye resident guides and driven to camp for a briefing, provided we don’t get stalled by a dramatic river crossing or lions on the way.
For those wanting to extend their time on safari one can easily connect from the Masai Mara to Amboseli National Park (either before or after your stay with us), Samburu (an easy connection after your stay with us) or even the Kenyan Coastline (we suggest this extension for after your time with us), simply voice your dream to our masterly logistics team is all you need to do and your travel plans are drawn out and arranged in a speedily and efficient manner. You can view some of the suggested itineraries and extensions here.