‘Toto’ means baby in Swahili, and was often used as a term of endearment in reference to young safari staff in the days of early exploration. But today, in our context, it is simply meant out of respect to its sister camp, Mara Plains, which has developed a phenomenal reputation. We are certain Mara Toto will follow suit. Just a few kilometers downstream from Mara Plains, Mara Toto resides in a small bend in the Ntiakitiak River, where thick forest meets savannah, and we’ve made a home.
A perfect blend of comfort, adventure and intimacy make this a gem in the otherwise confounding matrix of camps in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Mara Toto positions itself squarely in the heart of magnificent predator country, and the camp’s traversing rights of both Mara North Conservancy and the Masai Mara Game Reserve give guests the flexibility to explore far and wide in search of arguably the finest wildlife sightings on earth. This site was handpicked by the Jouberts and the current Mara Plains managers, Richard and Lorna. The four of them traversed tireless hours in search of the ‘perfect spot’ for this magical camp, and ended up for a sundowner on this very spot. They looked around and realized ‘this is the place’. And so Mara Toto was born.
The camp itself consists of five custom-designed tents of light-colored flowing canvas open on the horizontal side with canopied ceilings. Set at ground level, and shaded by the riverine forest, this camp is designed for those who want the particulars of a Great Plains property but are willing to forgo some of the fancier amenities. Still, you will not want for much. En-suite facilities including flush loos, bucket showers and tapped hot/cold water ensure utter comfort. 24-hour electricity, fine dining and exceptional hospitality round out what can hardly be called sparse. Each of the tents is decorated with a nod to the style of early exploration and discovery – an eclectic yet coordinated assembly of what early travelers may have carried – items such as brass chandeliers, old Indian chests, local natural materials – hand-picked by us at markets throughout Africa. The whole aura is refreshing – of romance and exploration.
Mara Toto is, despite its romantic appeal, a place for the ardent safari-goer. One does not beget the other and in fact we believe they both make for a spectacular camp. Spend your days out – all day – exploring the 70,000 acre private Mara North Conservancy, shared with just an handful of other small boutique camps, or go in deep into the famous Masai Mara Game Reserve to catch the river crossings or a foray around Paradise Plains in search of Notch & sons.
You’ll not have to look far for wildlife – the glade of trees surrounding the camp is prime leopard territory, and the camp is a superior location to witness the great wildebeest and zebra migration from your tent. To capture the action and memories professional Canon camera equipment will be available for guest rental, and new open-sided vehicles custom designed by Dereck & Beverly Joubert (National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, acclaimed filmmakers and Great Plains Conservation co-founders) allow the very best equipment for photographic opportunities.
Mara Toto, in maintaining the caliber expected of a Great Plains property, offers among the widest range of activities anywhere in the greater Masai Mara – extensive game drives, balloon safaris (at extra cost), local village visits (authentic) and unrivalled access to superior wildlife habitat as well as visits to local schools and Great Plains community projects in the surrounding area.