Kenya : Tsavo NP and the Chyulu Hills
Tsavo East and Tsavo West constitute the oldest and largest National Park in Kenya. There is plenty of game in Tsavo but spread over a huge area and the animals are quite shy of humans due to heavy poaching in the area in the 1970s when huge numbers of game were killed. Now numbers are rising fast and it is one of the best places to see black rhino in their natural habitat. Many rhino have been relocated back to Tsavo in the past couple of years and here you can visit one of the projects sponsored by Save the Rhino International. Tsavo is most famous for its red elephants, which are not a freak of nature but due to the redness of the soil, 'The man-eaters of Tsavo' and its spectacular bio diversity.
The Chyulu Hills, north of Tsavo, are some of the world's youngest volcanoes. The hills and the plains at their feet, with their ragged craters, rolling grassland and cedar forests, are very photogenic, and there are often stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro from here. It is a beautiful unspoilt environment and in a prime game area between Tsavo and Amboseli. It also has fantastic birdlife.
Galdessa Camp is set on the banks of the Galana River, amidst a grove of doum palms, and is a great place from which to explore the wonderfully wild area of Tsavo East National Park. There are 11 comfortable and spacious thatched and semi-tented bandas on wooden platforms. Set along the riverbank, taking full advantage of the cooling breeze, they are well spread out and have teak decks, timber beds made from huge branches, private verandas and en-suite bathrooms. Galdessa also has a private camp, with just three bandas and has its own dining room and lounge, which can be booked exclusively by groups. This is great country for walking safaris. If you stay at Galdessa, Farside Africa makes a donation to Save the Rhino International which supports the Tsavo East Rhino project.
Finch Hatton's is one of the smartest lodges in Tsavo, with 35 luxurious tents, decorated in elegant country house-style and all with an en-suite bathroom with hot and cold running water, basin and slate-walled shower room. The camp surrounds a natural freshwater spring and has a swimming pool. Activities include game drives and nature walks.
Not far from Amboseli is the quieter destination of Ol Donyo Lodge, which nestles in the foothill of the Chyulu Hills. It is part of the Amboseli ecosystem but is built on 300,000 acres of communal Masai owned land. A lasting impression of Ol Donyo Lodge is the amazing feeling of space and in the distance over the open plains, home to the Masai tribesmen and abundant game, you will nearly always have clear views of Mt Kilimanjaro. There are 6 luxury cottages with en suite bathrooms each with a veranda and stunning views. Activities consist of horse riding, game walks and drives, which may end with a bush breakfast or a sundowner. The day finishes with a candlelit dinner and a sky full of stars. For the more adventurous a night out in the bush can be arranged with a day each side exploring on foot or by horse.
Campi ya Kanzi lies in a 400 square mile group ranch owned by Masai herdsmen stretching from the Chyulu Hills to the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Situated just next to Amboseli National Park and bordering Tsavo West and Chyulu National Parks, the major highlight of this camp is the opportunity to experience the real African wilderness on foot with Masai warriors. The luxury camp sleeps up to 12 people, in tents with polished wooden floors and elegant bathrooms, and it has great Italian cooking. The variation and the vastness of the area means you can enjoy most of the different environments of Kenya and the incredible biodiversity and wildlife that inhabit them while you are here. As well as early morning walks to track cheetah or leopard, there are beautiful long walks from the Chyulu forest to the savanna plains, along rivers and through lava flows. Walks can also be combined with game drives. All the vehicles are open Land Rover Defenders, and the game drive is taken with your guide and your Masai tracker. The biodiversity of this area needs four or five days to be fully appreciated.
"The ability to mix game drives with a foot safari is excellent. Stefano the guide and the tracker were superb. We were spoilt and had the most enjoyable and humorous stay. Their support of schools, medical care and conservation is very impressive."
Ian and Isobel, Perthshire