I visited Kenya during October and November 2013 and had the most wonderful journey through Nairobi, the Aberdares, Samburu, and Masai Mara (extension to Amboseli and Chyulu Hills – story to come later). Highlights of my trip included a visit to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi and listening to the life stories of these orphans, where they came from and how they came to be there, seeing the Rothschild Giraffe up close at Giraffe Manor, to exploring the Aberdares and surrounding area with magnificent views of Mt Kenya, to the drier and more arid region of the Samburu where we had the opportunity of visiting a local village, game drives in Samburu National Park and doing an energetic walk to kopjes nearby with the most fantastic sundowners. My trip with The Safari Collection ended off with Sala’s Camp in the Masai Mara, perfectly located on the southeastern side of the Mara!
My travels began with a night at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, a perfect place to begin your travels and journey through Kenya. An old world style, you will feel right at home here where they look after you so well that you may not want to leave! The resident herd of Rothschild giraffe often visit morning and evening poking their long necks through windows in the hope of a treat!
There is a total of 10 rooms, and I stayed in Betty’s room which is upstairs on the corner with wonderful views towards the Giraffe Centre and a balcony where you can enjoy sundowners! The food was absolutely wonderful and the staff are all fantastic. The advantage of staying for 2 nights is that you begin your safari slowly and also have the opportunity of learning more about Nairobi, the conservation efforts in Kenya as well as visiting various shopping venues.
The Giraffe Manor is located on a large piece of private land and they have their own vehicles and drivers who take you around the suburb of Karen to all the interesting sights there – including Kazuri beads (locally made jewelry), Karen Blixen Museum dedicated to the Danish writer and explorer (made famous by the Out of Africa movie), the Sheldrick elephant orphanage (where you can meet, feed and adopt baby elephants), and many other places. Utamaduni Market has a collection of shops all under one roof and Marula studios where everything is made from flip flops.
Solio Lodge and the conservancy was a wonderful surprise. Location is on a private wildlife sanctuary in a valley between Mt Kenya and the Aberdares Mountains, directly north of Nairobi.
Six large thatched cottages, with glassed front doors and vista’s towards Mt Kenya. Each one is decorated differently and they all have a lounge area, fireplace, bath and rain shower. The family suite has a water hide outside the shower, but you can see game mostly from all the rooms (waterbuck, birdlife etc).
The main guest area is also a very open plan with large glass doors and a lovely deck and patio for meals with views to Mt Kenya.
We had some fantastic game viewing – their vehicles have a roof that opens up and you can sit up there, so a great vantage point. Great sightings of lion, rhino, buffalo herds, zebra. The Aberdares (Scotland of Africa) can be done on a day trip with picnic lunch, walking and trout fishing! Mountains, trees and forest, good sightings of elephant, monkeys and buffalo. End off the day with a horse-ride on the conservancy (saw zebra, eland & gazelle)! Other activities include walking and mountain bike rides, a helicopter ride to nearby Mt Kenya with a picnic.
Solio Lodge also had some of the best food on the trip and again a wonderful team.
Our flight into the northern territory of Kenya was an interesting one, lots of low flying where we could examine the area that we were flying over. In October it is very dry and hot – just before the rains come.
Sasaab Lodge is located on the side of a rocky hill with the family suite right at the bottom. Each of the 9 beautiful and spacious Moroccan styled rooms has a large shower (mostly open-air) and private pool with fantastic views out over the Laikipia plateau towards Mt Kenya. Watch elephants bathing in the river as well as local Samburu bringing their goats to drink.
The main guest area is open and spacious with a pizza oven dining area as well as a large pool. Sasaab offers you the opportunity of really relaxing if you want to at their beautiful Spa and to take in the magnificent surroundings of the northern territory of Kenya.
Or you can be more adventurous at Sasaab and enjoy game drives to see the “Samburu Special Five”: Grevy’s zebra, Gerenuk antelope, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich. Other animals include lion, leopard, cheetah etc.
Also experience Samburu culture by visiting a colourful village and local market, enjoy sundowners with panoramic views on nearby sundowner rock, get involved with the Ewaso lion team and learn about the Warrior watch project, rejuvenate at Spasaab overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro River. Fly camp and sleep beneath the stars or go on a camel ride. A wonderful area for guided walks and enjoying the magnificent surroundings!
Sala’s Camp is located at the confluence of the Sand and Keekerok Rivers in the southern corner of the Masai Mara. With only 7 tents Sala’s provides a friendly yet intimate safari tented experience. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink around the campfire and to catch up on the days events!
They also have one larger more luxury style tent that serves as either their honeymoon or family tent (also has a bath). The main guest area is tented and has views across the river to an open plain where we saw a lot of wildebeest. Generally, a good area to be throughout the migration period.
Enjoy game drives with good game viewing all year round, as well as hot air balloon rides. Dinner is usually served under the stars on the river bank, and they also have a special programme for children where they can learn all about the secrets of the bush!
All the Safari Collection camps provide something different – their food, service and overall experience! I couldn’t say one is better than the other and my trip would have felt incomplete had I missed staying in one of the locations. So each destination forms part of the experience and they complement each other perfectly!