In southwestern Kenya, Richard Branson has created an African property that feels inspired more by, well, outer space than by Out of Africa. Opened in August, Mahali Mzuri, Branson’s seventh Virgin Limited Edition property, lies in the heart of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, an hour from the Masai Mara National Reserve. The dozen private pavilions—each a sweeping canopy of high-tensile fabric supporting a steel arch—are dotted along the escarpment above the Motorogi gorge, a verdant corridor for the area’s star attractions (lions, elephants, leopards, hippos) as well as bit players (baboons, warthogs).
While the design—let’s call it Masai Modernism—might be radical, the camp philosophy is to immerse guests in traditional Masai culture, from tents named after local clans to spears used as privacy signs. (Among the mutually polygamous Masai, a spear at the front door means a wife is “entertaining.”) The interiors blend colonial-era comforts such as four-poster beds, claw-foot tubs and hot-water bottles with swaths of chaotically colored local fabric and whimsical fixtures, like spiky chandeliers reminiscent of sea urchins.
The dining tent, which features a showstopping 26-foot-long table hewn from a fallen cedar tree, is the setting for casual feasts emphasizing farm-to-table simplicity, with feta-topped Kenyan salads picked fresh from the garden and traditional lamb and goat stews sourced straight from the camp. Also on the menu: a deck-side fire pit, a clifftop infinity pool and a spa tent next to the valley, offering increasingly intimate levels from which to view passing pachyderms.
As with most safari camps, the vibe here is distinctly back-to-nature, designed for reflection and introspection. But in case you forget, this is still Branson-land—the lounge houses a reflector telescope, no doubt to remind guests of Sir Richard’s next frontier: the galaxy beyond. Rooms start at $590 a person per night; Olare Motorogi Conservancy; 877-577-8777; mahalimzuri.virgin.com.