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After spending time in Tsavo West National Park, my husband and I took a Safarilink plane to Mahali Mzuri, where we were greeted immediately with champagne - certainly not a bad way to start our adventure!
We arrived at Mahali Mzuri after a short ride through the bush and it’s safe to say I know why Richard Branson chose this particular area for his camp. It sits high on a cliff, so you can see all the animals as they come over the hills and wander (or run) into the valley below. There is truly nothing quite like sitting on your balcony and seeing zebras, wildebeest and even a leopard hanging out. Fun fact: a leopard gave birth to cubs in the area below the spa a few months back!
We were in tent 1 and we loved it, because it was furthest from the reception area and restaurant, so it was very quiet and more animals congregated nearby, because it was on the outer perimeter of the resort. It’s a bit of a hike back to the main hotel area, but well worth it.
Our driver for the duration of our stay was Jackson and we knew after the first game drive (and spotting 2 different prides) that he was going to be an amazing guide. We also learned that he plans to test for his Gold-level guide certification in Spring 2019. It’s the highest level of achievement and is a thorough and rigorous process, so his ambition and knowledge are top notch!
It’s safe to say that if seeing animals easily is on your bucket list, then the Maasai Mara is the place to go. It’s where we saw the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo), several beautiful prides of lions (including babies!), leopards eating warthogs, baby elephants, a cheetah sprinting toward antelope, beautiful birds, hippos and more. Mahali Mzuri structures their drives so that you have one in the morning from 6:30AM to 9:30AM (with a delicious breakfast after) and then an evening drive that begins at 4:30PM and runs until around 7PM when it is pretty dark.
Highlights from our stay at Mahali Mzuri include:
-The Bush Dinner on our very first night, where we finished our game drive out near a local Maassai village and the staff had set up an elaborate bar, kitchen, dining table and campfire for us all to huddle around, eat and share stories of what we saw. It was a great way to start our stay at Mahali Mzuri and meet some of the other people staying there! It’s also important to note that the food is outstanding. I took little-to-no food photos, because I was always engrossed in chatting with my husband or fellow guests. Mahali Mzuri really emphasizes the community aspect and I loved it.
-Seeing the baby lions was a big, big highlight for me. There were 3 different sets of lion cubs and I think we saw them all, despite the lioness mama doing her best to keep them hidden from predators.
-I had been telling Jackson that I would be sad to be leaving Kenya without seeing a rhino, but understood since they are so endangered. The next thing I knew, he was on his radio talking to another guide telling me that we were going to see a white rhinoceros! It was, without a doubt, a highlight of the entire trip. You can see the guard whose entire job is to walk with the rhino and track his every movement – he doesn’t leave his side unless he is being relieved by another guard.
-I wasn’t sure how I would feel about seeing a kill during our time in Africa, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was just the circle of life. We witnessed 5 lioness hunting 2 warthogs, 2 lions actually eating a warthog and a leopard in a tree eating a warthog.
Mahali Mzuri was everything we envisioned and more; it was a true testament to the level of service at Virgin Limited Edition properties. The staff, property and location went above and beyond our expectations and we are already counting down until we can visit again!
Kait Hanson is a Hawaii-based freelance writer and photographer, and the creative stylist behind CommuniKait, a lifestyle website and brand designed to inspire others to live their best lives. A serial jet-setter and cocktail connoisseur, she is an expert in designing trips with equal parts adventure and tranquility. Hanson’s work has been featured by Frommer’s, Coastal Living, Trivago, Jetstar, AP, People, and more.
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