Kenya’s Maasai Mara ecosystem is subdivided into a number of areas; the Mara Triangle in the west which forms the edge of the grasslands where it rises up into the Oloololo escarpment, the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which has its own private camps and is where public vehicles can access too, and on the norther edge, a number of conservancies, which operate in conjunction with local communities and traditional pastoralists.
All sections are unfenced and open to each other, allowing free movement of wildlife.
Although not receiving as much press as the sectors to the south, the northern conservancies boast just as spectacular game viewing, if not more so, as well as operating with far fewer vehicles in a sighting. And it is in these areas, prolific with wildlife, that you find the Kicheche camps.
Valley Camp in the Naboisho conservancy is tucked discreetly away in acacia woodland on a hillside, and it is not uncommon to see 20 different cheetahs in a week’s stay here. In the west, Kicheche Mara Camp is in the Mara North conservancy, where world-famous Leopard Gorge is to be found and where so many iconic wildlife documentaries have been filmed.
And in the middle sits Kicheche Bush Camp, set back in the tree-line alongside an expansive grassy plain. This is the lurking ground of the leopard Fig, who featured prominently in the National Geographic Documentary “Jade Eyed Leopard”.
All three camps are small enough to retain that sense of intimacy with guests, in which you don’t feel like a number, but part of things. Valley and Bush Camp have only six tents each, while Mara Camp is only slightly bigger with eight.
Many of the guides have been with Kicheche for well over a decade, and their experience shows in their intimate knowledge of the area. This is especially true when it comes to photography, and Kicheche is ultimately a photographer’s dream. Open skylines, an abundance of wildlife, lion numbers like you wouldn’t believe… combine this with the specially adapted Kicheche photographic vehicles and guides who understand everything from backlighting to depth of field, and you couldn’t ask for anything more, except maybe a memory card or two, as yours are sure to fill up given the prolific number of photographic opportunities.
Kicheche gets it right in the “feeling”; that intangible sense that you are somewhere that you ought to be. That synergy of all the smaller details that can seem so formulaic on paper yet is so difficult to achieve in reality. It’s the staff, the accommodation, the wildlife, the setting. It’s all of them yet none of them.
It’s an ever-elusive element that very few destinations produce, yet Kicheche have, through their own secret formula, got it right…