For many, the words ‘Kenya safari’ conjure up images of the Masai Mara. These vast savannah plains have a well-earned reputation for excellent game viewing, along with all the thrills and drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration. But while there’s no doubt that the Masai Mara is an incredible reserve, it’s also just one of the classic big game destinations that you can explore on a Kenya safari.
Recently Giltedge Co-Owner Murray Gardiner and his wife Bridget Gardiner, set off to experience Kenya’s wild and beautifully arid north. Their safari began at Sasaab Lodge in the game-rich Samburu National Reserve. They then stayed at three lodges on the Laikipia Plateau, a conservation success story where private reserves sit comfortably amongst community land and cattle ranches.
Here’s what they had to say:
Sasaab Lodge, Samburu National Park
“Sasaab Lodge lies about 45 minutes from Samburu National Park. The lodge has a strong Moroccan feel with 9 spacious tents, each opening onto a plunge pool looking out over the Ewaso Nyiro River. Elephant are often seen down in the riverbed, and Samburu herdsmen bring their cattle down to the water to drink.
“Because of the longer drive to get into Samburu, we had a cooked breakfast in the park – which was fantastic! The game viewing in Samburu was very good, and included arid-adapted species that are unique to northern Kenya. These are known as the Samburu Special Five: the Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and the gerenuk antelope with its unusually long neck.”
Relax poolside while watching elephant in the riverbed
The Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra & reticulated giraffe
Why We Love It:
* Great general game viewing
* Fun to see different species: Samburu Special Five
* Beautifully barren & dramatic scenery
* Watch elephants while taking a dip in your pool
* The vibrant & colourful culture of the Samburu people
* Wide choice of activities including camel safaris, village visits & fly-camping
Sirikoi Lodge, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Laikipia)
“Sirikoi Lodge lies on a private estate in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a vital wildlife corridor connecting Kenya’s arid north with the lush Mount Kenya ecosystem. The setting is beautiful, up on the escarpment surrounded by green lawns and acacia tress, overlooking a spring-fed waterhole. Lewa is known for its rhino (both black and white), and has the largest resident population of Grevy’s zebra in the world.
“We stayed in one of 4 tented rooms, which we preferred to the more colonial style of the 2-bedroom cottage. Sirikoi also has a 3-bedroom safari house with its own chef and guide. Most meals are communal and the food was very good – a real farm-to-table dining experience with ingredients freshly picked from the lodge’s organic gardens.”
Game viewing at Lewa with our fantastic safari guide
Our tent at Sirikoi & the view from the lodge deck
Why We Love It:
* Small, family-run lodge on beautiful grounds
* Lewa is famous for rhino conservation
* Our ranger at Sirikoi was excellent!
* The lodge has a gold level eco-rating
* Fresh farm-to-table dining
Segera Retreat, Laikipia Plateau
“Segera Retreat is a really lovely property, an oasis of green with 6 luxurious timber-and-thatch villas. Each villa is raised up on a platform, and opens onto a private sundeck with a daybed and outdoor bath. After all those early-morning safari starts, we’d highly recommend a stay at Segera: an exclusive, luxurious and wonderfully relaxing retreat.
“Food is outstanding, and we dined in a different venue each night. We loved our dinner-for-two in the beautifully renovated stables, the walls lined with contemporary African art from the Zeitz Collection. Another highlight was our night in the NAY PALAD Bird Nest – falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the sunrise and views of Mount Kenya. A fantastic experience!”
The art collection in the stable & an al fresco lunch
A night in Segera’s Bird Nest is a magical experience
Why We Love It:
* The feeling of complete privacy & luxury
* Great for honeymooners!
* The staff at Segera are exceptional
* Personalised dining & outstanding cuisine
* A night under the stars in the Bird Nest
Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, Laikipia Plateau
Ol Jogi is a remarkable private wildlife conservancy. Family-owned for over 40 years, the property was recently opened up on an exclusive-use basis. Accommodation is lavish, particularly the 2 massive master suites with their his-and-hers bathrooms and dressing rooms. There’s an ornate swimming pool, hidden wine cellar and a tunnel leading to a hide overlooking the waterhole.
Since Ol Jogi is an exclusive-use property, you and your friends or family have 58,000 acres of wilderness to yourselves. We had good game sightings, and also visited Ol Jogi’s Wildlife Rescue Centre. The conservancy protects 50 black rhino, including a 2-year-old orphaned rhino who will be released back into the wild once he turns 4.
Around Ol Jogi. The amethyst above the fireplace comes from Brazil
The Wildlife Rescue Centre & a bush dinner with fantastic dancing
Why We Love It:
* Exclusive use of the entire property & conservancy
* Amazing conservation work & Wildlife Rescue Centre
* Armchair game viewing in the Ol Jogi hide
* Interesting artifacts & private art collection
* French chef & impressive wine cellar
Experience This for Yourself:
The safari experience in Northern Kenya is completely different from the Masai Mara, so the two regions work well together. For example, this 2-week itinerary combines 3 nights at Sasaab Lodge with the award-winning Angama Mara Lodge in the Masai Mara, before hopping across the border to Tanzania’s Serengeti Reserve.
To find out more or to create your own incredible East Africa safari, simply get in touch.