‘Tap, tap, tap’ on my tent. It’s happening again. Am I dreaming or is something trying to get in? My sheltered, western brain automatically assumes I’m about to be eaten by a lion, but the Askari (Maasai warriors) standing guard outside our tents are there to protect us from such things.

No, it’s not something scary sizing me up for its next meal, this furry little critter, known as a Hyrax - the closest living relative to the elephant - regularly tries to seek refuge from the multitude of predators looking for a quick snack. And they’re not the only ones trying to get inside.

Longstanding camp manager Mariana Kathini playfully warns us to lock up our belongings as the pesky baboons have figured out how to get in. But who can blame them! With a rolltop bath perfectly placed to watch a dazzle of zebra cross the rolling landscape, a cloud-like bed framed by Maasai-made tapestries, and a complimentary mini bar – it really is the stuff of ‘glamping’ dreams.

Great British Life: Inside one of the 12 luxury tents Inside one of the 12 luxury tents (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)Great British Life: A bathtub with the best views A bathtub with the best views (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)

Boasting a prime position in the heart of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Sir Richard Branson opened his 12-tent luxury Kenyan safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, 10 years ago after learning of the threat to the Great Wildebeest Migration route. Fences constructed by Maasai farmers were starting to inhibit the 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of other animals that pass through the Maasai Mara as they travel from Tanzania to Kenya between July to September each year. Sitting on this route, Mahali is one of only five exclusive camps within the conservancy that leases land from local farmers, providing an intimate experience for guests while also financially assisting the Maasai communities as they work side-by-side to help the wildlife prosper and flourish.

Cut into a ledge, overlooking a wide-open valley divided by the Ntiakitiak River, it’s clear to see where Mahali Mzuri gets its namesake which translates to ‘beautiful place’ in Swahili. Its unique structures blend into the landscape, and its position behind a watering hole means the animals literally come to you. Every aspect of camp is literally designed to place guests as close to nature as possible.

Great British Life: Deck views over the valley Deck views over the valley (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)

A returning guest recalls the time he saw a pride of lion hunt down and kill its breakfast, all while tucking into his own on the restaurant terrace. Another, idly doing laps of the 12-metre infinity pool, caught sight of a herd of elephant traversing the valley floor, babies following clumsily behind. While I was treated to the sound of a hippo taking a mud bath as I enjoyed my own treatment in the open-air spa tent.

It’s tempting to want to stay within the luxury confines of camp, especially when Mother Nature puts on a such spectacular show, and your every whim is catered to by the wonderful staff, but the magic of Mahali Mzuri extends far beyond the boundaries of camp.

Great British Life: Animals enjoying the watering hole Animals enjoying the watering hole (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)

Two daily game drives ensure guests get up close and personal to the wildlife, of which there’s an abundance, and the exclusivity of the conservancy means you’ll rarely have to tussle with other vehicles to get the best view. Giraffes graze under a rainbow, warthog piglets chase after their mums, and zebras dash around the plains.

There’s the unexpected too - breakfasts by the hippo pond, sundowners to the sounds of hyenas, and dinner under a canopy of stars in the middle of the Maasai Mara. It’s these special touches that make the whole experience truly spectacular.

Great British Life: Lions on night safari Lions on night safari (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)Great British Life: Finish a night safari with sundowners Finish a night safari with sundowners (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)

Lions thrive within the conservancy which boasts five prides, so you’re sure to see lionesses stalking their prey while the cubs playfully hunt the elder males. Leopards and cheetahs are harder to come by, but our guide manages to seek them out. It’s an amazing skill, but when you’ve grown up in this landscape, you become part of it.

More than 80 per cent of the staff come from the local area and many have been here from the start. Head waiter Bob, the man with the most infectious smile, was involved in laying the very first foundations, while Betty is one of the Mara’s very few female guides.

It’s organisations such as the MAA Trust which Mahali supports, that have found ways for women to earn income for their families through selling beadwork, as well as educating local communities about the importance of conservation. Take a walking safari to one of the traditional Maasai villages and fully immerse yourself into their way of life as you get hands on making fire and playing a game of elephant dung cricket.

Great British Life: Camp at sunset Camp at sunset (Image: Virgin Limited Edition)

As with all Virgin Limited Edition properties, their aim is to make a positive and lasting impact to the surrounding area which is why Mahali Mzuri built a school here. Thanks to many of the guests’ generous donations from buildings to books, the school welcomes more than 300 children that would usually have to walk for miles to receive schooling. To honour the 10th anniversary, Mahali have set up a volunteer programme where guests can ‘give back’ by planting trees, painting buildings, or teaching lessons.

However you choose to spend your time here, one thing is for certain, you’ll leave being touched by the magic of Mahali Mzuri.

Rates start at (US) $1,100 per person per night based on double occupancy during low season. Rates include luxury accommodation, twice daily game drives, all meals and drinks, unlimited access to the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, transfers, Wi-Fi and taxes.

Low season is between January 7 to June 14 and November 1 to December 19