Maasai Mara accidental investment that turned into gold
By Vivianne Wandera
| Dec 23rd 2021 | 2 min read
“Angama was really a big mistake that turned into a huge business,” says Nicky Fitzgerald, the owner of Angama Mara Safari Camp in the Maasai Mara.
“What was supposed to be a small retirement project has turned out to be something bigger than what I expected.”
A lot of things go into investing in a business. But when the investment goes up to Sh2 billion, then the service, architecture, lighting and everything has to fall into place.
After 40 years working in the tourism industry and over 15 years of building lodges around the world, Ms Fitzgerald and her late husband Steve decided to retire and set up a place of their own.
She says they could not think of a better place to do it than in the Maasai Mara.
“In 2014, my late husband got a call from our now Maasai landlords that they would like us to come and develop the land,” she tells Real Estate. “So after a couple of meetings, he came to Kenya and signed the lease and we broke ground in August 2014, and opened the camp on June 23, 2015.”
The camp is made up of over 10,000 square metres of built space, 30 tents divided into the North and South camps, with each having its own guest area.
Each tent is about 100m2 and there is the common shared area in the middle comprising of a shop, the map room, the photography room and the swimming pool.
The camp has a staff village of 140 people.
“This kind of investment is very new for Kenya but it’s certainly not new for Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana and South Africa,” says Fitzgerald.
“When you are building on a beautiful site like this one, overlooking the most beautiful game reserve in all of Africa, and you are paying a good rent here, you have to build big, and build properly because this is the best piece of land in the Mara.
“So you have to find the best architects to build the best place for you.”
The camp’s accommodation is in spacious tented suites, which have a touch of classical African Safari, with each having a lovely view.
The details of the tented suites include end-to-end glass fr?ontage, sweeping canvas, polished parquet floors and decks overhanding the Mara.
The two guest areas where guests dine, relax and enjoy a drink were inspired by the old-word atmosphere of Nairobi’s famous Muthaiga Club.
The architecture is filled with red brickwork that was inspired by local Maasai dwelling finishes.
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