In 1919, together with his sons, Mike, Bud and Ted, Charles established ‘Cottar’s Safari Service’, one of the very first registered safari companies offering superior big game hunting and film safaris outfitting throughout Africa, India and Indochina. 

Charles Cottar survived elephant, buffalo, and three leopard attacks in his life, finally succumbing in 1939, at age 66, to a deadly rhino charge in the Mara region. Mike and Bud carried on the safari business guiding for the Duke and Duchess of York, Woolworth Donahue and Martin and Osa Johnson, amongst others. Mike Cottar was friends with many of the famous characters from ‘Out of Africa’ and was Beryl Markham’s first flying passenger.

Charles Cottar came to Africa in 1909 from the USA after reading President Theodore Roosevelt’s exhilarating accounts of his big game hunting expedition of 1906. Charles quickly established himself amongst the first professional hunters and safari guides in East Africa, and in 1915, brought his entire family back to Kenya to settle for good.

The family was renown amongst the British administration for being rebellious and antiestablishment, preferring long stints with African tribes in wildest Africa. The Cottars’ were the first to import American vehicles for safaris, the first to reach new areas such as Lake Paradise, the first to obtain never before seen wildlife footage.

Calvin Cottar

has been guiding in the African bush since he was fifteen years old, whether it be in vehicle or on foot travelling around the Maasai Mara with him is as similar as walking through a child hood home and pointing out locations that hold never ending stories of memories. He has been voted on several separate occasions as the Best Guide in Africa and has been interviewed, by countless international reporters, travel writers, published authors, and conservationist enthusiasts.

Safari experience

Cottar’s Safari Service is a family business that has, over the last 90 years, guided safaris with understated elegance and in the timeless style of our forefathers, descriptions of which are in many classic and contemporary Africana and safari history books. We are in the business of making lifelong memories for our guests, providing just the right mix of adventure and adrenaline and comfort. We are both proud and honoured to have taken generations of families on safari.


Best Tented Camp in the World

Tatler Magazine

Best Safari Camp

Harpers & Queen

The 50 Best Camp Sites

The Independent

Top Guides of Africa

Condé Nast Traveller

Best Guides

Harpers Bazaar


Ecotourism Society of Kenya

No. 1 in the Mara

Trip Advisor

101 Best Hotels

Tatler Travel Guide

World Travel Market

Green Globe Award bv


The Zeitz Foundation

Launched in 2009, the Long Run Initiative is the Zeitz Foundation’s flagship programme, built around Long Run Supporters; Long Run Alliance Members; and Long Run Destinations, but reaching out, into every aspect of our day to day life by putting the Long Run philosophy of acting today for a better tomorrow into practice.

Classic Safari Africa

Classic Safari Africa (previously Classic Safari Camps of Africa) is an association of independent, privately owned camps and lodges in some of the most beautiful wildlife areas in Eastern and Southern Africa.


We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and bring supplies for area schools or medical clinics in need, you'll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families.

EcoTourism Kenya

Ecotourism Kenya is a membership organization and is one of seven private-sector associations that make up the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF). EK is an executive board member of the newly formed Federation of Community Tourism Organisations (FECTO) and the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) Kenya.