anybody could tell me about cottars 1920's

Aug 7th, 2005, 04:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 13
anybody could tell me about cottars 1920's

Hello everybody here, I'm sorry if may be I can't use correctly this forum, it is my first time, and my english is not very good as you will see.
I'm planning my first safari and I've choose KENYA (but have add. ngorongoro crater and lake manyara in tanzania)
I found a web page of cottars 1920's and fell inlove with it, but would like to know if here there is anybody that has been there and could tell me how it is for safari guides, services, facilities, location, etc. etc. Another possibility to choose is BALETEUR camp at Kichwa tembo, as I have also asked for a quotation with CC AFRICA.

Another thing, and after to read lot of posts here and seen there is some people really very experienced in the area, I have some doubts for my time of the year traveling there.

I'm going in JANUARY after christmas, and it seems that serengeti is much better for animal viewing than masai mara at this time of the year, however, I feel a very special interest to see the MASAI MARA and have not quite time to visit both reserves.... then this is my question, is it really worth to visit masai mara, even off the season as I think?, or I'm making a great mistake if going in january I don't go to serengeti?
Any way I'm going too to the ngorongoro crater, and untill I can read there is a good number of animals all year around and it is always GREEN... but, is it right?

I'm sorry for so many questions, but any advise you could tell me all above, it will be a great help for me.

voramar is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 04:11 AM
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You can read my trip report "Finally, My Trip Report....." (I can't provide the link... don't know how), but if you'll scroll down it's on the next page of threads. It's either Part VIII or IX which included our time at Cottar's. You can find our photos at

It's a large album of 600+ pics, and those of Cottar's are towards the end.

The property is lovely as are the tents, only 6. Calvin Cottar is almost always in residence and an outstanding host. Every tent, even if only one guest (versus a couple or partners) you have your own safari vehicle/guide/tracker. Food was outstanding as was service; you also have your own butler.

Admittedly, the Southeast/Central Serengeti is ideal for January... but I've never made a trip to East Africa without stopping at the Mara regardless the season. I find the Mara is always good. You won't see the large wildebeest/zebra/tommy herds, but there is other game to peek your interests.

Bateleur Camp, I don't believe, will offer you any better/different game viewing (at that time) then Cottars during that time, so if it's Cottar's that's of interest - go for it. Remember, both are on private conservation lands outside the immediate Mara, so night drives are allowed. Go for the one that interest you.
Aug 8th, 2005, 02:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 13
HI SANDI!!! NICE SORPRISE TO READ YOU!! someone in another forum told me about your post, but I didn't hope to be so lucky!!!
Thank you very much for your explanation and now I'm going quickly to search for your trip report!!!!
voramar is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Here is sandi's trip report -
Patty is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 04:49 AM
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Patty - You're a gem, as usual, tracking down important threads for others here on Fodors. I guess to include "a link" even my own, is to highlight it and then copy and paste. Should be a no brainer. It just seems whenever I've tried to do so it doesn't always work. I'll keep working on getting it done properly. Thanks.

voramar - Hope you find the info re: Cottar's in my report to be helpful in making a decision.
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Sandi, highlighting the URL in the address bar and copying it won't always work, especially for sites like Fodors Talk where frames have been used for page layout (uuugh!).

To find out the direct URL for an individual thread, display the thread as normal, then right click on the thread title and choose COPY SHORTCUT.

Paste it into the message.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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Kavey -
Another gem here on Fodor's. Thanks. Will do this in future.
Aug 29th, 2005, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 55
Voramar: I just got back from Cottars 1920's Camp last week - spent 8 days there. I had a different experience than Sandi - much different. It was very crowded - with some tents having families with up to 5 people per tent. There are now eight tents on the property with plans to install 4 more. In my opinion, the camp is not ready for this. In addition, I was a solo traveler and ended up sharing my guide and vehicle every day with at least one other party, but on three separate days, I had to share with two other parties - which makes scheduling and planning a bit difficult as everyone has their own idea of what they would like to do. The guides and staff were stressed to the limit trying to accomodate such a large number of guests. Dinner was often late as the preparations for such a large number of people is difficult. On three evenings, the bar area was turned into a second dining room to sit all the guests...They did try very hard, but the "personalized" service was not there at all during my stay and conversations with other guests all yielded a sense of disappointment. The guides are wonderful, but again there are not enough of them or enough vehicles either. Also, I never met any of the Cottars, they were all in Nairobi - Calvin Cottar I was told very rarely makes an appearance at the camp, so if you get a chance to meet him it is an honor. He was coming in the day after I left to escort a "special party", and then would be going back to live in Nairobi with his family. The guides and guests basically stay in his house on the hill at the 1920's camp. The tent I had was lovely, and the views are spectacular, but the amenities and staff levels are not what has been previously described. I have to say in general I was pretty disappointed considering the amount ($695 per night) it cost to stay there.
Canechick is offline  
Aug 29th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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Canechick -

I'm sorry to read about your disappoint during your stay at Cottar's. And, have to agree that it will be sad to see them add additional tents at this camp.

I do hope that you conveyed your feelings to management here - Calvin Cottar, specifically. I truly believe he'd be interested in hearing your comments - about meals, shared camp vehicles (though not unusual at camps one flies into/out of without their own guide/driver), stress on guides and other staff. At the prices charged here (or at any price for that matter) you should make your feelings known.

However, when time allows, do post a trip report about your overall safari.
Sep 2nd, 2005, 01:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
Since I've planned to visit Kenya in August 2006 the report by Canechick made me really worried! I email Cottar's about the problems that Canechick mentioned and I got the following email back. I thought that you guys might want to know.

Many thanks for your e mail regarding the comments by the single lady traveler to my camp, Cottars 1920's camp in the Mara.

The complaint that the lady brings up most is overcrowding and this came about because of a particularly large family that did share a family room during her stay.However, occupancy at the camp averages 35% to 40 % throughout the year which means that overcrowding very rarely happens. When I compare other big name camps charging twice as much as we do (Mombo etc) and who by law can only have 3 cars out at a time - our average of 5 guides and cars for 8 rooms is a much better average. Also, we do offer exclusive vehicle use (if the lady had wanted one for herself) for an extra $175 per day.

The extra four tents we plan to put in are a completely separate development which are not involved in the existing camp in any way - it will be an exclusive unit with its own dining facilities, vehicles and guides, and will be aimimg at the villa and yacht market. You will not even know of its presence if you are in the main camp.

I am at the the camp at least 50 % of the time through out the year and so I meet most guests that come to the camp. However in the busy season (July, Aug, Sept) it is just impossible to be with everyone which is why I employ excellent guides. If guests want me to be with them exclusively then there is an additional fee of $450 per day charged - it is the only way for me to have the other guests understand why I am with another group.

Sir, we are not perfect and can always improve - but we are a family run camp that has great people - so good that I do not feel the camp is any less a place when I am not there - and of which I am very proud.

We always ask guests to write their true feelings on guest forms in the rooms and in the guest book, and I will see what the good lady wrote and let you know. But her observations are valuable whether they are different from what she wrote in camp or not and we will see what we can really do about her complaints

Thank you for bringing this blog to our attention and I hope that you will be reassured that your stay will be what you would expect when you come on your safari.

Kindest regards,

Calvin Cottar

Hanuman is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 05:42 AM
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Hanuman -

Thanks for following-up as regards your own upcoming safari and posting Calvin Cottar's response. I'm certain that all properties are interested in guest feedback, so it's important to convey such - positive or negative. This is expecially so with the owner/hosted camps - as is Cottar's - who take pride in their camps, guides, staff, food, services and reputations.
Sep 2nd, 2005, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
I would second Sandi's post -- this is very true, even with 'larger' companies like Wilderness and CCA. I have travelled with CCA multiple times, and each time I could see that my comments from previous trips have been taken on board.

jasher is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 06:59 AM
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I find it interesting that Mr. Cottar lessens this overcrowding problem in his camp with the average camp occupancy, in my opinion an absurd argument. I also find it a little disturbing that he doesn't speak of an unfortunate one-time event but of rare events, which implies that this overcrowding could happen again at any time in the future.

If I read on the website of a safari camp that "the camp accommodates up to twelve clients", this might be an important decision factor for booking this camp, and I wouldn't expect more than a dozen clients. If I learn that this statement isn't true, that there are two more tents, and not enough, that these tents can be occupied by more than two clients, I would call this fraud.

Sorry, but I just dropped Cottar's from my wish list, and I will not recommend it in the future anymore.

Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
I've always wanted to visit Cottar's - mostly because I wanted to meet Calvin who does the kind of work I dream of doing!

On the web site it is claimed that he and his wife lives there. Also the web site states that they accommodate up to 12 clients only. This is clearly my kind of camp!

But the reality is seemingly different. I think they are admitting to allow more than 12 people and it turns out that Calvin is only there 50% of the time.

So from a reality-check point of view I certainly appreciate the CaneChick post. This does not stop me from wanting to visit, I now know that my visit there will need some planning to get the most out of my stay.

climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Mitch, you and I were thinking the same and posting almost at the same time! If I read yours first then I would not have posted - sorry, I did not mean to "copy" you!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:26 AM
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I haven't stayed at Cottars, but I'm not sure if the criticisms leveled against the camp are justified.

If a camp claims that they accommodate 12 guests, I wouldn't begrude them if they, on rare occasions, squeezed in a few more to make the camp affordable to a family with children.

And, no proprietor can be at their property all the time, especially when its as remote as the Masai Mara. I have more than one home, and I claim to "live" in both, but I surely don't spend all my time at either. If the Cottars wish to travel or spend time in Nairobi, while still maintaining their camp is their primary residence, I find no fault in that. As much as many of us love being on safari, I think it would be impossible to do 365 days a year -- there is more to life than watching animals. Sometimes we need something more active or intellectually satisfying.

I think you are being overly picky.

thit_cho is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:42 AM
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I just don't like people who are cheating.

In case of the guideing there is a clear statement: " drives guided by Calvin Cottar or guides of equal professional standard". So I won't expect to meet Mr. Cottar in person.

I would prefer if they make a similar clear statement regarding the camp occupancy and the family option.

Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 55
I have been watching this and found that Calvin Cottar's response very interesting. I could not get a private vehicle - there were none available - nor was one offered - so that answers that. It wasn't just the one family - who over-occupied the camp either, the camp was over the advertised 12 person capacity every day I was there. The pool was not available. I will again say that the guides were excellent - but I do not agree that Mr. Cottar should be listed as a guide who is regularly available - when he is not. Clearly as the proprieter he has the right to live anywhere, but like so many folks that do research and choose a camp for staff and "flavor" - I think it is a misrepresentation to specifically name guides not regularly available and to market the "exclusive" aspect when it is not. Camp staff told me that vehicles had not been readily available on a singular party basis for a year or so. So there are some issues. And one last thought, they were so full I had to pack the night before and move out of the tent in the early morning even though I had paid extra for a late departure. And, they never asked or gave me any forms to fill out on the service or camp experience either...
Canechick is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I am certainly not critising the camp! We don't know how often they exceed 12 clients and I don't know how often Calvin is available to regular guests!

Since I personally would love to meet him, and I would like to do it while the camp is not bursting at the seams I learned here that it will take a bit of planning!

I love to visit the Mara during the migration months. Cottar's is not in the best location for the kind of migration watching that I like to do, but as advertised, a small intimate camp with 12 guests and a legendary owner on the premises is enough reason for me to go out of my way to visit there.

Otherwise, wonderful camps such as Rekero, Gov's, Bateleur, Olonana and such are more attractive to me based on their high standards of service and locations!

Just my personal view!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2005, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 16
I am following this thread with interest as this camp was initially proposed to us by a travel agent for our anniversary.

Sandi, you give this camp high marks. Is this one of the preferred camps used by your company? As an agent, is it possible that they rolled out the red carpet during your visit?

Climbhigh, how does the game viewing at Cottars compare with the camps you mentioned in say, July/August? What is your "kind of migration watching"

janets1s is offline  

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