Here is a non-exhaustive list of parks and properties that we recommend in Kenya. The properties have been selected for their authenticity and originality; they are relatively lowly frequented tucked away from mass tourism and have excellent price versus quality ratio of services.
KENYA'S CENTRE NORTH
SAMBURU ET BUFFALO SPRINGS GAME RESERVES
To the north of Mount Kenya (330 km from Nairobi, about 6 hours' drive) are Samburu and Buffalo Springs Games Reserves which are found together on almost 600 km². The reserves owe their existence to the Ewaso Nyiro River that attracts a concentrated and unique fauna such as Grevy zebra, reticulated giraffe, Beisa Oryx, gazelle giraffe or gerenouk antelope, hunting dog etc
The reserve extends beyond the river on volcanic hills covered with vegetation that is resistant to the extreme conditions of drought prone in the area. During the rainy season, the brown waters of the Ewaso Nyiro River become torrential, bringing an almost paradisiacal freshness to a persistent semi-arid environment.
We recommend Elephant Bedroom Camp, a small charming structure for its excellent location in the park on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River. It is also relatively less visited and tucked away from mass tourism.
Samburu Elephant Bedroom Camp
Meru National Park
Meru National Park is wilder and less accessible than its neighbouring parks of Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Meru, recently rehabilitated following the intensive poaching of the 90s, remains a less visited park. Located 300 km from Nairobi (5 and a half hours’ drive), the park extends over 870 km², from the semi-arid south and covered with thorns to the more luxuriant north including marshy savannah's where lions hide.
Meru National Park is very complete offering beautiful scenery and a rare variety with Mount Kenya and the Nyambeni mountains featured in the background. The south-east area of the park is bordered by the Tana River, the centre and the north are drained by numerous small streams intersecting the secondary tracks running through the park. Some trails remain moist for much of the year and several look-outs are impassable during the rainy season.
Vegetation, in general, is rather dense, making the observation of animals less easy than in Samburu. . In addition to the classic species, the park has the same endemic animal species as Samburu: reticulated giraffe, Grevy zebra, Gerenouk, hunting Dog ... plus a sanctuary where some 60 black rhinoceroses have been reintroduced.
Apart from the few very stylish luxury camps we recommend that are in Meru (Off beat Meru Camp and Rhino Camp), we prefer Murera Springs Eco Lodge at the park entrance and park-managed guest houses inside the park.
CENTRAL WEST KENYA
LAKE BOGORIA AND LAKE BARINGO
Lake Bogoria is located 240 km north-west of Nairobi (4 hours’ drive) and extends over a hundred km². The lake bears witness to the great volcanic activity of the Kenyan Great Rift Valley with its geysers of boiling water continuously rising on its banks. Bogoria is an alkaline lake on the surface of which developed microscopic algae attracting thousands of flamingos.
On the western shore of the lake a kind of antelope that has become rare: the Greater Kudu, can be seen.
Currently Lake Bogoria is less accessible from the flooding of its banks following a rise of the underground water table.
Lac Baringo Tumbili Cliff Camp
At an hour's drive north of Bogoria (40 km) is another lake that points to the volcanic activity of the Great Rift Valley: Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake that has become the refuge of more than 400 different species of birds. A large population of hippos and crocodiles also lives in the waters of the lake and cohabit peacefully with local fishermen. The waters have huge quantities of fish and attract a lot of fish eagles.
We recommend Tumbili Cliff Camp in Baringo, a small charming Lodge and the Robert's Camp Cottages that are more rustic and are ideally located on the shores of the lake.
LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL
Lake Nakuru Park covers an area of 188 km² at an altitude of 2000 meters and is situated 160 km north-west of Nairobi (2.5 hours’ drive). Lake Nakuru is the crater of an ancient volcano in the heart of the Great Rift Valley.
The alkalinity of this lake that is of volcanic origin has led the development of microscopic algae which has become the essential nutrition for the survival of hundreds of thousands of flamingos gathering on the lake (at times up to 1.5 million individuals). Lesser and Greater flamingos are undoubtedly the living vestige of the volcanic phenomena of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa... The shores of the lake host no less than 400 different species of birds, many of which are migratory.
A visit to Nakuru is an opportunity to observe closely and in the wild black and white rhinoceros that were introduced with lots of success into the park. The Rothschild giraffe, also an endangered species, lives on the shores of the lake. Some pride of lions, many buffalo herds, Thomson gazelles, Grant gazelles, Impalas and antelope can be observed at Lake Nakuru.
We recommend in the park the "Naishi" Guesthouse Cottage and the "Naishi special wild camping site".
Two private Camps / Lodges tucked away from mass tourism that we recommend are outside the park: Mbweha Camp and Sleeping Warrior Camp.
Facing Mount Kenya, The Aberdares are a chain of mountains culminating between 1800 and 4000 m of altitude, and offer views of the Mount Kenya at times. It has a surface area of 177 km² and is covered with dense equatorial forests.
Karuru Cascade in the forest of Aberdares
The park is 3 hours' drive from Nairobi (200 Km). Several spectacular waterfalls are visible in the forest amongst them the Karuru Falls with a height of is 273 metres. The forests are the habitat of many animals: not only the endangered black rhinoceros which is nonetheless present, elephants and buffaloes, but also large numbers of antelopes including Bongo species which has become very rare, many leopards although difficult to observe, Black and White colobus monkeys and Sykes monkey.
Properties that we recommend in Aberdares National Park :
- The Ark is a Tree Observation lodge built with wood only on several levels, on the edge of the equatorial forest of the Aberdares and facing a saline frequented at all hours of the day and night by the animals of the forest, offering various Points of view on the water points that it overlooks. An alert ringing sound connected to the rooms alerts you in the middle of the night when water points are visited by wild animals, from the most common to the rarest: one ring for the buffalo, two rings for the elephant, three rings for the black rhinoceros, four rings for the leopard, five rings for the Bongo.
- Fishing Lodge is a bungalow guest house lost in the forest in the heights of the Aberdares.
Lake Naivasha is a volcanic freshwater lake in the Great Rift Valley which sits at an altitude of 2000 meters over a surface area of 170km² and is located 90 Km north-west of Nairobi (1 and a half hours’ drive). Its waters are the habitat of hippopotamuses and birds.
The surrounding land is exceptionally fertile and the climate is of an unparalleled freshness throughout the year. The shores of the lake have become since the colonial white settlers pioneer era a coveted holiday destination... The Crescent Island Peninsula is a privileged place where you can walk among animals such as wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, giraffes and a lot of birds.
We recommend Sanctuary Farm in a very relaxing nature made up of large yellow bark acacias not far from the shores of Lake Naivasha where many species of birds nestle ... You have a choice between comfortable cottages and camping spaces where wild antelopes and the zebras may approach.
South West Kenya
The Masai Mara plains covering 1,800 km² of reserve is t be found 250 km (6 and a half hours drive) south west of Nairobi along the Tanzanian border. The reserve is a jewel of wild life, biodiversity where all species and all environments are represented (forests, savannah, rivers, hills, escarpments ...).
The Masai Mara receives the largest migration of herbivores in the world each year between July and August (not less than one and a half million head). Thousands of wildebeest, zebra and antelope followed by their predators come to concentrate each year on the other side of the Mara River to find the rich pasture fortified in essential nutrients and water essential for their survival.
Just before the short rains season in November the new cycle of migration back to Tanzania takes place.
Hammerkop migration camp
Safari kenya, rivère Mara
We recommend, among the many accommodation facilities present at the Masai Mara, 2 charming camps for their tranquillity, their great location and their excellent price ration versus quality of services :
- Kilima Camp, is a permanent canvas camp overlooking the Mara River and the plains of the Masai Mara from the top of the Siria Escarpment. The Camp is reminiscent of the pioneering era of safaris and offers unexpected comfort and luxury in middle of Masai Mara. The camp is a small structure of 12 double tents arranged in a very coquettish style. Kilima Camp is truly a privileged place to savour, tucked away from mass tourism, in an enchanting and virgin wild nature.
- Hammerkop Migration Camp, is a semi-permanent canvas camp nestled on the banks of the Mara River in the Musiara area and offers comfort and charm to live a safari close to the wild nature of Masai Mara.
- Wild Camping Sites on several "special" sites along the meandering Mara River, tucked away from mass trails and mass tourist frequented areas, guarantee a unique experience in the heart of the Masai Mara.
- Salt Springs Mara Camp, a small, very comfortable camp, overlooks the Mara river bed, at the tip of the Musiara area and the Mara triangle, at the northern zone of the park which is the most protected and least visited part.
South East Kenya
Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National Park located 250 km south of Nairobi (5 hours' drive) and extends just under 400 km² in the form of immense marshy plains constantly fed by underground seepage from the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are vast herds of wildebeest, zebras, buffalo and elephants that can be approached act close range as well as many gazelles and antelopes.
The animals are visible from a distance because the vegetation is considerably reduced. In the evening and in the morning, the swamps that border the south of the reserve become the scene of wild life theatre. Many predators such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas follow herds of herbivores that go there to quench their thirst...
The accommodations we recommend that are tucked away from the mass tourism in Amboseli:
- Elerai Satao Camp, a charming camp located outside the park, and which faces Mount Kilimanjaro. Each tent built on a raised wooden deck offers spectacular views of the Great mountain and the surrounding savannah or elephants. Giraffes and zebras have the habit of passing nonchalantly in front of the camp.
- Our wild camp in collaboration with the local Masai community is located 30 minutes from the Amboseli National Park in an authentic place, near a water point frequented by wild animals (elephants, zebras, giraffes ...) with a close-up view of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Safari in Kenya, Satao camp
Tsavo National Park
Located 240 km south-east of Nairobi (4 hours’ drive) is Tsavo National Park on 20,812 km², the largest park in Kenya and certainly one of the wildest. Numerous trails lead to the volcanic hills and the semi-arid plains of Tsavo, whose black lava rocks contrast with the soil coloured in deep red hue.
You can follow the course of its rivers bordered by acacias, doum palm trees baobabs and tropical greenery or winding the course of its water points that offers a true haven of freshness to the animal tracker. The animals which roll in the mud bath of the water points take on the red colour of the soil giving them the impression of emerging from earth. Just after the rains, the park revives with green exuberance and offers unique contrasts of colours. The park is set in a web of thorny vegetation, punctured with red termite hill mounds. It has an almost impenetrable bush where many animals hide: elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, Waterbuck antelopes, Kudu, Oryx, gazelles Impalas, dik-dik, and klipspringers ... lions, cheetahs and leopards are also present.
Thanks to an underground and permanent water supply from Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu Hills, Tsavo has for thousands of years been a formidable wildlife sanctuary with remarkable biodiversity: more than 100 species of mammals with the largest population of elephants in Kenya (about 10,000) and nearly 500 species of birds reside in the park.
Observation au parc Tsavo Ouest
Camp de toile
The park is split in two : Tsavo West, a plateau plied in volcanic hills at an altitude of about 1000 meters and Tsavo East, lower at 700 meters above sea level, which consists of vast semi-arid plains.
In Tsavo West we recommend the following accommodations :
- Severin Safari Camp, is beautifully set up in the middle of the Tsavo bush. The spacious tents, numbering sixteen, are mounted on raised wooden decks and under a bungalow hut. The camp opens up on a savannah lined with acacia and doum palm trees and offers views of the Kilimanjaro.
- Wild tent camping sites along the meandering Tsavo River "Kudu" and "Kenge" special camping sites guarantee an intense experience in the heart of Tsavo East National Park.
- Komboyo Guest House, is a former colonial dwelling for the authorities of the park, rehabilitated as a guest house. Komboyo is on a site overlooking Tsavo West National and the chain of Chyulu hills. A water point is just in front of the guest house and it is not uncommon to see the elephants approaching to quench their thirst at night fall.
- The Lake Jipe Bandas, is a wonderful place for those wishing to immerse themselves in a virgin and soothing nature. The Bandas are bungalows simply and directly built on the shore of the lake. They are equipped with beds, mosquito nets, a kitchen, running water supply and sanitary facilities. It is a comfortable alternative to camping.
In Tsavo East, we recommend :
- Tent Camping on the "Ndololo" public site which features sanitary facilities under alarge fig tree not far from the banks of the Voi seasonal river, and opens on a surrounding savannah often frequented by animals.
- Galdessa camp is a charming tented camp on the Galana River, located at the foot of the Yatta Escarpment. The furniture and all the accessories of the banda tents were made from natural materials collected on the site: rocks, trunks, branches, bones, fossils ... each detail belongs to the decorative art.
- The fauna as well as the vegetation are luxuriant. Crocodiles, hippos and elephants are sometimes the hosts at the camp. Galdessa is a true oasis in the middle of a surrounding environment of semi-arid bush. The site is flooded with light and bathed in an atmosphere of torpor, refreshed as if by magic thanks to the shade of large doum palm trees. Galdessa is a wonderful success story of integration with the natural environment.