The beautiful camp, Sarara, is nestled into the folds of the Matthews range north of Mt Kenya miles away from everyone else – a real wilderness experience. Just getting there sets the scene – a 40 minute light aircraft flight out of Nanyuki with view of Mt Kenya, Samburu and Laikipia on the way. The huge tents under thatch have been beautifully created and the magnificent main public area is a vast structure of indigineous woods and thatch all overlooking the inspiration for the site – a natural rock pool overlooking the plains and woodland below. Elephant are frequent visitors to the strategically placed watering holes and one evening we watched giraffe drinking, elephant and to our delight a leopard joined the throng – pure magic.
Sarara has been developed over the past 10 years by an eminent Kenyan conservationist with the aim to allow the threatened wildlife (elephants in particular) to return and share the land with the local community and their livestock. The community now own the lodge but have left the management to the original owners – it works superbly with great food, wonderful service and guiding and, in this day and age what is so special, the true feeling of staying in a really special place a long, long way from the hustle and bustle of everyday life! Treat yourself….
Offbeat Meru camp is about 40 minutes from the nearest landing strip which is serviced by scheduled daily flights from Nairobi/Nanyuki. It is also a fairly painless drive from Nanyuki. The camp, situated close to a river bank, has just 6 traditional style tents complete with bucket showers! The airy, main mess tent which serves as sitting room and dining area is the central focus of the camp along with an attractive pool for a welcoming after safari dip. This is a hosted camp with an English house party feel: the scene set with drinks round the camp fire before your evening meal with an exchange of stories of the wildlife seen that day. There are very few camps in Meru so you will practically have the park to yourself: a visit to the Rhino reserve is a must.
After 5 days on safari and a night in Nairobi we took a 2 hour flight by light aircraft to Kiwayu Safari Lodge. This was our second visit and we were warmly greeted by the owner, George Moorhead and many of their loyal staff, including Waite their barman. This is a stunning remote coastal resort north of Lamu. There are just 18 enormous thatched makuti bandas, with large beds, hammocks, Lamu day beds and comfortable chairs, liberally sprinkled with gaily coloured cushions. With no windows or doors, this is romantic informality at its best, with matting laid over the sandy ground, solar energy to provide warm water for the shower and a vast open verandah looking out over the bay.
The resort is situated on a beautiful crescent bay looking out towards the nearby reef and the Indian Ocean beyond, and totally open to the gentle warm sea breezes that provide a natural cooling system even in the hottest months.
Excellent food is provided either under the main thatched living area, outside on the beach under the swaying palms or at various private locations with individual bandas for private and romantic dining. This is a very special holiday destination, which defies adequate description and which can only be appreciated by seeing it yourself.
From here we travelled down the coast to Explorer Kipungani with the last stage of the journey by boat along the creek past the mangrove forests. This is another very special and romantic hideaway. This was our 4th visit! This lovely resort holds a special place in our hearts, as you can imagine with our return again and again to enjoy it’s laid back and simple charms. The twelve thatched makuti bandas are all open to the breeze and facing due west enjoy spectacular sunsets. They are spread out either side of the main thatched reception area with a selection of hammocks and lamu beds for relaxation, bar and restaurant area and lovely small swimming pool.
Familiar faces welcomed us back with their natural welcome and gentle ways; this is the special charm that places Kipungani at the top of our S Factor list, the smiling and gentle service that never intrudes but always cares. The food is quite superb, with local fare, always a choice or fish or meat and all served with style and grace. Yes, we will be going back again…
A new domestic airline carried us to our next stop down the coast in Malindi and a few nights on the coast at Driftwood. Over 40 years old, and very definitely part of the establishment with popular Friday night curry night events, and Sunday Brunches well frequented by many ex Pat locals and even more Italians that live in the Malindi area. This is a friendly property with small rondavel rooms along the front facing the sea, various family rooms and villas in the gardens, and some self catering cottages nearby. A lovely open bar area with comfortable seating areas adorned with bright cushions, facing the sea and the coral reef beyond is the focal point with an attractive restaurant and snack bar providing high quality food throughout the day.
Don’t miss out on some time in Nairobi as even a few hours can be enough to take a gentle game drive in the National Park: visit The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage or the Karen Blixen Museum, and even spend the day at Giraffe Manor, which is attached to the Giraffe Centre on the edge of the National Park. Giraffe Manor is also a lovely place to spend the night, experience breakfast with the Giraffes, who come in for feeding and photo sessions. Now managed by Giles and Jess Pattison this old manor house is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing day at the beginning or end of your Kenyan itinerary, with great food and service and a convenient base for a bit of City sightseeing.
If you want somewhere even more convenient for either the domestic or international airport, the newly converted Ole Sirene