Timber Tower to Rise Over Maasai Mara, One of Ten Wonders of World

More than 300,000 international tourists visit the wildlife reserve every year with timber chosen due to it's connection with traditional Kenyan construction techniques.

Mon 20 Nov 23


A 48-metre-high timber observation tower will rise over Kenya’s iconic Maasai Mara wildlife reserve, drawing inspiration from traditional Kenyan construction techniques and materials.

The timber superstructure, which will stand above the savannah landscape, will be used by tourists and rangers to watch over lions, leopards, cheetahs, and African bush elephants, with the reserve hosting the Great Migration, regarded as one of the ten Wonders of the World.

Designed by Victor Ortiz, a New York-based architect, the centrally supported tower will have seven separate observation levels, each with a diameter of 20 metres.

Mr Ortiz, who in 2021 was awarded by the Global Architect Builder Awards as “Emerging Architect of the Year,” said, “The timber structure has a wealthy historical past deeply intertwined with the continent’s various cultures and pure sources.”

Victor B. Ortiz has revealed plans for a wildlife observatory in the Masai Mara Plains. (Image Credit: Victor B. Ortiz)

The Maasai Mara is a 520 km reserve connecting Kenya to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania – where, in September, Wood Central revealed archaeologists have uncovered the first known examples of human-built timber structures.

Kenya has a proud history of timber construction, with Wood Central reporting that the government is heavily invested in reforestation to meet climate commitments.  

Under the ‘National Programme for Accelerated Forestry and Rangelands Restoration,’ Kenya has set a target of planting 15 billion trees in urban and rural areas over the next decade, which will target 30% of the country in new forest cover.

The project aims to elevate the wildlife sighting experience with a panoramic vantage across the savannah. (Image Credit: Victor B. Ortiz)

Last Monday (November 13), the Kenyan government made global headlines after announcing a surprise public holiday, urging every Kenyan to plant two seedlings (for 100 million trees).

The plan had the support of King Charles III, who, after visiting Africa for the first time since becoming King last week, said, “Having been planting trees for most of my life, I thought I was doing rather well, but your ambition for planting 15 billion trees makes me admire your efforts.”

According to Mr Ortiz, the new design revolves around creating a tower that respects the natural context of the Masai Mara Plains. 

“The centrally-supported construction provides stability while minimizing its footprint and, thus, the impact on the landscape,” he said.

“Its height allows for an unobstructed vantage point for viewing the Masai Mara Plains.”

The timber construction will honour traditional building practices and renewable resources. (Image Credit: Victor B. Ortiz)

Once built, Mr Ortiz said, “the project will connect travellers with the beauty of this natural ecosystem while promoting conservation awareness.”

Over 300,000 international tourists visit Maasai Mara every year leading up to COVID-19, making it Kenya’s most significant international attraction.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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