Kenya : Samburu National Reserve
With a rich cultural heritage and breathtaking scenery, Samburu and Shaba National Reserves are well worth including in a Kenya itinerary. North of Mount Kenya, the reserves and surrounding conservancies are a bit wilder, with rugged mountainous backdrops, undulating plains and a mix of riverine forest and grassland set along the Ewaso Nyiro river. The area is home to some more unusual wildlife species including gerenuk and Grevy zebra. A particularly special aspect here is the colourful Samburu people and their culture.
Sasaab is luxurious lodge with breathtaking views towards Mount Kenya. It has seven en-suite villas decorated in lavish Moroccan-style, with open-air bathrooms, wonderful views and their own private plunge pool. There is also a family villa with two adjoining rooms. There is a lovely spa offering a range of treatments. Other activities include game drives, night drives, guided game walks along the river, camel rides, star gazing, bird watching and fly-camping.
Kitich Camp is a lovely, remote camp in the stunning Matthew's Mountain Range. There are just six traditional safari-style tents, each with an en-suite al-fresco stone bathroom and a private veranda. The cosy lounge has an open fire and sheepskin-covered safari chairs overlooking the floodlit river glade. Everything at the camp has been left as natural as possible, and the activities also make you feel at one with the bush from walking along forest paths guided by the Samburu people to swimming in natural rock pools created by the mountain streams. Rather than the traditional game drives, you will enjoy walks in the forest, accompanied by the expert guides. Elephant, lion, leopard, greater kudu, waterbuck, giant forest hog, buffalo and wild dogs are among the many species found here, together with more than 200 birds' species. It is a wonderful, remote forest wilderness experience.
Saruni Samburu is a new design-led lodge on the private Kalama Conservancy, adjoining Samburu National Reserve. Perched on the top of a hill with breathtaking views of the wild Northern Kenyan plains, it offers a luxury stay close to the wildlife and in a totally unspoilt environment. There are six villas (two of which are family villas), with elegant wrought-iron beds draped in mosquito netting, and huge decks looking out over the wilderness. The swimming pool also overlooks the waterholes where the famous Samburu elephant, leopard, reticulated giraffe and Grevy zebra gather to drink. Samburu is a popular reserve to visit so staying on the conservancy is an ideal way of visiting this beautiful area away from other tourists.
Joy's Camp is an elegant oasis in the dry, arid lands of Shaba, one of Kenya's most exclusive reserves. The beautiful luxury camp is built on the site of Born Free's Joy Adamson's original tented home in the reserve, and the site was also home to Penny the leopard, the heroine of Joy's last book. Overlooking a large natural spring where the local wildlife including elephant, lion, buffalo and the rare desert species of Beisa Oryx come to drink, there are 10 stylish canvas bedrooms set on raised platforms with breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. Each tent has its only private deck and is uniquely decorated with the vibrant fabrics of the local nomadic tribes and handmade glass. There is also a swimming pool. This is a beautiful wilderness area, where you can enjoy day and evening game drives and guided bush walks as well as local cultural visits.
Just 2 hours north of Saruni Samburu in the nearby Kalama Conservancy in the wild undiscovered northern frontier of Kenya is Saruni Rhino. An exciting new lodge offering a unique black rhino tracking experience. It is an amazing walking safari that provides a uniquely thrilling adventure, but also allows guests to actively contribute to the protection of this iconic species. It is the first community conservancy in Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino. Here you can have the incredible experience of tracking a black rhino on foot. Each rhino has been fitted with a transmitter so you can game drive to a comfortable distance of the rhino before pursuing it on foot with a guide from Saruni and a Sera Community Conservancy ranger. There are just two open bandas which sleep up to 6 guests. Apart from tracking rhinos the area is fantastic for wildlife and has a rich and interesting culture where you can take part in a variety of activities.