Pioneering safari specialists, Governors' Camp Collection, has a collection of award-winning camps in three unique destinations in Kenya: the Maasai Mara, Laikipia and the Great Rift Valley. Although entirely different in landscape and style, each camp has one thing in common: prime settings in some of the world's most treasured wildlife reserves. Join us as we explore three of their incredible properties, go beyond their exhilarating wildlife-viewing game drives and delve a little deeper into Governors’ one-of-a-kind experiences.
Governors’ Camp has been our go-to Mara retreat for over 40 years. This pioneering safari camp, which opened in 1972, was the first to be permanently based inside this world-famous reserve. Today, it’s one of the most sought-after spots in the Mara and is the top location choice for wildlife documentary makers. If you’ve watched the BBC’s Big Cat Diary, Planet Earth Live or Dynasties, you should recognise the camp’s breathtaking surroundings.
Although game viewing is plentiful all year round, from July to October, this area is a prime site to witness the greatest wildlife show on earth: the Great Wildebeest Migration. This dramatic spectacle will leave you lost for words as you watch in awe as dozens of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra make the perilous crocodile-infested river crossing under the watchful eye of pouncing predators.
The Governors' Camp Collection in the Mara comprises of four properties: the original Governors' Camp, which is set right at the heart of the action; the intimate Little Governors' that has just 17 tents and is reached by a short boat ride across the river; and Governors' Il Moran, the smallest and most luxurious of the three. For those who want an exclusive taste of the Governor's experience, there's also a private site with eight tents that you and your group can have to yourself.
At all of the camps, you can explore the 'Out of Africa' scenery on twice-daily 4x4 game drives, accompanied by knowledgeable guides. Although you're likely to spot many safari icons – curious giraffe, elephant herds and dazzles of zebra, Governors’ game drives are all about the big cats. You may even be lucky enough to spy some of television’s wildest stars. There’s the Marsh pride, a family of lions that make frequent appearances on the small screen, Romi, the female leopard who sometimes has a couple of fluffy cubs in tow, and 'Tano Bora' (the Magnificent Five) – a coalition of five beautiful male cheetahs that are a photographer’s favourite, especially when they are in hunting mode. Back at the camp, you may meet some more of the Governors’ ‘cast of characters’ that frequent the camp. Resident warthogs chill out by the bar, hippos graze by the tents after nightfall and Blossom, the inquisitive elephant, regularly wanders through the lobby.
For a different safari perspective, nothing beats the thrill of exploring the bush on foot. You can head out on a thrilling bush walk in a private concession, where your expert guide will unlock the wonders of the wild not possible to see by vehicle. You can also visit a local Maasai village to see a tribal way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. For the ultimate wow-factor experience, the Governors' balloon safari is highly recommended. Drift upwards as the sun rises and the sky gleams with a bright pink-orange haze, keeping an eye out for prowling lions and graceful gazelles as you glide soundlessly above the plains. You'll then come back down to earth for a lavish Champagne breakfast on the wild side.
Loldia House is a beautifully converted farmhouse just steps from the shore of the Great Rift Valley’s Lake Naivasha. And, as it’s just a two-hour drive (or 25-minute flight), it’s the perfect place to spend a few laid-back days before or after your safari. Days can be spent relaxing by the infinity pool and soaking up the views as birdsong fills the air– there are over 400 species of birds in the area.
There's a gentle pace of life here. You can treat yourself to a muscle-melting treatment in the poolside spa room or live your best life as you take afternoon tea on the terrace. But there are also plenty of excursions and activities if relaxing isn’t your thing. And best of all, they are included in your stay. Warm up your wildlife-watching skills with a visit to Lake Nakuru National Park to see the abundant rhino population and colourful flamingos, or sail out on a dawn boat trip on Lake Naivasha to catch a glimpse of some of the region’s many waterbirds. Marvel at the geology of rugged Hells Gate National Park, where you'll hike through a snaking gorge, pass through the narrow sections of the devil's sitting room and hell's clinic, and learn about the park’s wildlife. Fans of Disney movies should definitely make the trip here – it was these jaw-dropping landscapes that inspired the animators of The Lion King.
Another popular but rather challenging activity is the exhilarating climb up to the peak of Mount Longonot. The ascent up this dormant volcano is rather strenuous, but once you've reached the top you’ll be rewarded with some pretty epic views. For a heart-warming rather than heart-pumping afternoon, you can visit the local school and learn about the fantastic work carried out by the Loldia School Fund, a project which helps provide life-changing education to local children.
Perched on the Great Rift Valley's edge, Governors' Mugie House is a new luxury house nestled in a 40,000-acre private conservancy. We’d head here just for the magnificent views across the Laikipia plains, but it’s the safari experiences that are the real draw. They take you beyond traditional wildlife viewing and there are lots of activities to choose from. We love the authentic behind-the-scenes look at the conservancy's innovative community and conservation projects, and spending time with the anti-poaching unit is a one-of-a-kind opportunity. You can also set out with rangers to track lions or visit the working cattle ranch; go on a Saturday to see a bustling 'Dip Day' in action. Day and night game drives are also highly rewarding, as you'll have the chance to see rarer species of wildlife you won't find in the Mara. These include Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe and the critically endangered Jacksons hartebeest.
Back at the house, there are more chances for close encounters of the wildlife kind. Put your feet up with a gin and tonic at the hide overlooking a watering hole and keep an eye out for Mugie's tallest resident, Tala, the giraffe, while wandering the grounds. This cheeky character has become somewhat of a celebrity at Mugie House. After the animal adventures end, relax by the infinity pool with a cocktail or tee off on the nine-hole golf course. Dinner is served by the roaring log fire. The focus is on local produce and farm-to-table dining - you can enjoy delicious meals prepared with ingredients that are sourced on-site, like home-produced beef and vegetables from the garden. End the day with a long bubbly soak in a luxurious bathtub and a quiet evening in front of the open fireplace in your traditional and cosy stone cottage.
Our partners at Governors' Camp Collection are extremely proud of their commitment to conservation and have run community support and sustainable projects for the last 48 years. They have built primary school classrooms, helped to fund medical clinics and run a unique 'seedballing' programme. If you’re treating yourself to a hot air balloon ride across the savannah, you can buy small bags of African wild olive tree seeds and drop them over the side of the basket. These seeds are dispersed along the course of the Mara River and help regenerate the forests which once lined the winding watercourse.
If you’d like to experience all the amazing activities and more, take a look at our Governors' Grand Safari itinerary. This nine-night adventure includes a stay at all three of these remarkable properties as well as a night in Nairobi. See our Africa brochure or talk to one of our Personal Travel Experts who can tailor-make your own Kenyan safari.
This feature was published on 22nd April 2021. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print.