CHECK IT OUT ANGAMA MARA LODGE, KENYA

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Europe -

One of Africa’s most ex­pe­ri­enced sa­fari teams has opened a lux­ury lodge on Kenya’s Great Rift Val­ley Es­carp­ment, where some of the most fa­mous scenes in Syd­ney Pollack’s 1985 hit movie Out of Africa, based on Karen Blixen’s best­seller, were filmed.

Perched above the north­ern tip of the qui­eter Mara Tri­an­gle, a hop from the cap­i­tal Nairobi, Angama Mara is the brain­child of Steve and Nicky Fitzger­ald, who worked with &Be­yond (for­merly CC Africa), he as chief ex­ec­u­tive, she as mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, for 15 years, ex­pand­ing the op­er­a­tion from three to more than 60 lodges in Africa and In­dia.

The Fitzger­alds have come out of re­tire­ment to bring ev­ery­thing they’ve learned to this dream lo­ca­tion. A con­tem­po­rary spin on the 1920s sa­faris en­joyed by Blixen, the lodge has two sep­a­rate camps of 15 tents, each with its own kitchen, staff and guest area, as well as two sets of in­ter­con­nect­ing tents for fam­i­lies.

Fash­ioned by one of Nairobi’s best tent- mak­ers, each suite fea­tures can­vas sides with 11m-wide floor-to-ceil­ing glass doors open­ing to a plat­form sus­pended above the val­ley, af­ford­ing sen­sa­tional 180-de­gree views of the Ma­sai Mara.

The al­most loft-like di­men­sions of these lux­ury tents are de­tailed with par­quet floor­ing, su­per-king bed, con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture from South African de­signer John Vo­gel, in­clud­ing a hand­some drinks cab­i­net, mod­ern Ma­sai craft­works and deck fur­ni­ture by French firm Fer­mob. There’s even Wi-Fi.

The strik­ing pav­il­ion shared by both camps fea­tures an in­fin­ity pool, fit­ness cen­tre and fan­tas­tic sa­fari shop and stu­dio where Ma­sai women bead be­spoke items for sale.

DON’T MISS: A dawn walk along the Great Rift Val­ley with a Ma­sai nat­u­ral­ist guide.

DIN­ING IN: Head chef Collins Randiga and his team pro­duce fresh, lively fare us­ing qual­ity lo­cal pro­duce. A typ­i­cal lun­cheon menu may in­clude tuna ke­babs, pulled pork sand­wich, the “best burger in the Mara”, and tamarind and toasted sesame ice cream. Din­ing ar­range­ments are flex­i­ble; you can join other guests or have a pri­vate din­ner on your deck. And there is no buf­fet. Ever.

DIN­ING OUT: Ask the kitchen to pack an Out of Africa pic­nic and a nat­u­ral­ist will es­cort you to the fa­mous kopje (small hill) fea­tured in the movie (and on the poster), where a ro­man­tic sa­fari set-up awaits.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Look out for the lodge’s sub­tle nods to Pollack’s movie, in­clud­ing cane plan­ta­tion chairs de­signed es­pe­cially for the di­rec­tor.

CHECK­ING IN: From $US750 ($1042) a per­son a night, in­clud­ing all meals, bev­er­ages, sa­fari ac­tiv­i­ties, laun­dry and child­mind­ing. More: angama.com.

ALSO TRY: Taj Sa­faris’ Ban­jaar Tola, In­dia; Great Fish River Lodge, Kwandwe Pri­vate Game Re­serve, South Africa.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE

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