Kenya’s newest and most ambitious lodge will open in June 2015. Taken from the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid air’, Angama Mara rests on the rim of the Oloololo Escarpment, which forms part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, with magnificent views expanding over the Maasai Mara’s acclaimed Mara Triangle Game Reserve.
A dream come true for Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald who first visited the site nearly 15 years ago, the lodge is also situated where the romantic ‘Ngong Hills’ scenes were filmed in Out of Africa. Inspiration for Angama Mara has continued to be drawn from this classic safari era – one of romance, canvas and elegant simplicity – with modern influences bringing in a high design to the tented suites and an architectural drama to the guests areas.
The two totally separate and intimate camps, each of just 15 tented guest suites, have been designed by architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens of Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, North Island and Mombo fame. Floating 300 meters above the Mara, each tented suite hangs onto the edge of the escarpment offering 180-degree views from the 11m glass-fronted floor-to-celling windows. A new and beautifully proportioned version of the classic safari tent, they each have a light footprint and a detailing that has been kept purposefully minimal allowing for the uninterrupted views to play the dominant role. With every touch-point of the guest experience lovingly considered throughout the design process, even the decks have been dropped down so as not to obstruct the views.
Annemarie Meintjes, the peerless African stylista, has tackled the lodge’s interiors with a fresh, uncluttered and often humourous approach focusing on quality and design. Demonstrating this, she describes the lodge’s Egyptian cotton bed sheets: “We took them home, felt what it was like to sleep in them, changed the colours, and changed the seams to ensure they were perfect”. Lead-skirted baths have been purposefully made, outdoor furniture sourced from France, bedroom furniture from Cape Town’s renowned designer John Vogel, light fittings from England and the rest handcrafted by the furniture makers of Nairobi. Pioneer furniture found throughout the lodge has been designed in a modern idiom for its ability to be stacked and packed up, as Denys Finch Hatton might have done all those years ago.
The game viewing in the Mara Triangle is considered among the most outstanding in Africa. Indeed, guests will descend a private track directly from the lodge and 10 minutes later find themselves surrounded by great herds of Africa’s mammals. Every day will be tailored around what they dream to experience. They may choose game drives that last a morning or the whole day, follow animal trails on foot along the escarpment with a Maasai guide, look back at the lodge early one morning from a hot air balloon or visit a manyatta in a neighbouring community.
Guests who long for a day to just be may quietly observe animals roam from high above and raptors ride the thermals right from their tent’s deck. They will be able to go for a run in the fitness room, cool off in the pool and relax with a massage in their tent. They may choose breakfast on their private deck, a picnic lunch in the far reaches of the Reserve, a romantic sundowner on a blanket on the ‘Out of Africa’ kopje and a barbeque dinner around the fire pit. With a no-set-schedule rule Angama Mara’s guests will be discretely taken care of by 140 staff, all of whom are Kenyan, from the lodge manager down.
This article was written by LUCINDA LACON.