In the Mara North Conservancy is a safari lodge hidden in the forest. It is so sustainable (awarded the Gold level eco rating for 2012/2013) the entire thing could be torn down in a week’s time and leave barely a trace.
While next to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the conservation model is quite different. Conservancies support the communities through renting the land from the Maasai people and committing to higher standards of eco-tourism. Game drives include the National Reserve, and the conservancy allows for night drives and hosts less vehicles with stricter standards.
Old school safari meets the super-luxe, with green canvas tents, private verandas and wash-basins (you must tell the staff when you take your shower as they will boil the water in advance). Named for the elephant pepper tree that, surprise, elephants love to eat, there are no fences in camp.
Late at night I was woken up by the sounds of an elephant. The only thing separating us was a sliver of canvas. Me lying in bed reaching for my iPhone to record, and the enormous pachyderm on a binge eat-a-thon on the other side of my head. Five straight minutes of recording what I thought were the sounds of grass munching only yielded the replay of one prolonged elephant fart. Ah well, I tried.