I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend with great friends and good food. The difference was that we were all in the Mara; as close to the centre of the Mara, more precisely, and at a stunning new (old, but under new management) camp: Nalepo.
Nalepo is small and intimate with only six tents, sleeping a maximum of 12. All the tents are fully fitted with all the modern comforts you’d like, making it an easy breeze to stay somewhere so remote. The camp itself is nestled on the inside of a tight meander, giving each room its own uninterrupted view of the RiverTalek, while still being less than a minute’s walk from the camp centre, and is constantly filled with birdsong during the day, and leopards at night.
This place ticks all those major boxes, and more: no matter how much you’re paying, one doesn’t expect gourmet standard food at a tiny camp in the middle of nowhere (often because it’s actually impossible), but our chef was always on the ball, and definitely earned his keep for our stay (think of high quality chicken curry followed by a delectable bread-and-butter pudding). Its location means you don’t have to go far to see the game that brought you here in the first place. On our three short game drives we bumped into a remarkable nine Cheetahs, four Lions, a couple of Servals, among other things. Predators are territorial, so even though the major migration has passed (along with the throngs of cars), they still stick around.
One evening we even saw a full, successful Cheetah chase and kill: a desperate cat running down an Impala fawn in the late evening from over a kilometre away ranks as one of the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen. And we were only 15 minutes away from “home” and a cold celebratory beer around the campfire! Of all the places I’ve laid my head in the Masaai Mara, Nalepo is the only one where you’re guaranteed to make it back to; it sticks in your head like a terrible 90s pop tune.