Arguably Kenya’s biggest tourist attraction is it’s abundance of national reserves, wildlife and consequently, beautiful safari lodges. The country’s diverse and beautiful landscapes lay home to a huge variety of animals calling the differing terrain’s home. I recently travelled to Kenya to check out a number of different national parks and reserves so here’s a couple of tips as to where to go on safari in Kenya and where to stay when you’re there!
1. Giraffe Manor
The Giraffe Manor is the best way to ease yourself into a Kenyan safari, it’s located in the beautiful, leafy outskirts of Nairobi. It’s Scottish hunting lodge-like mansion set in the heart of 12 acres of private land and 140 acres of Langata forestry. This property is a very special place, having breakfast and tea with the giraffes who will be sharing the residence with you is par for the course. The dark red earth, distant forestry and tranquil surroundings are an exquisite setting to unwind from a long-haul flight, freshen up and relax before a long drive or further hopper flights to whichever national reserve, conservancy or park you’ll be heading to. Eating your breakfast will never be the same again!
2. Solio Reserve and Conservancy
In the shadow of Mount Kenya lies the incredible Solio Reserve. This is the prime location in Africa to see both endangered white and black Rhino. The private wildlife reserve is recognised as one of the best, with specific focus on it’s efforts to conserve and protect the incredibly endangered white and black rhino. Amongst the plethora of rhino you’ll be siting, you’ll quite literally be spotting one every couple of minutes, there’s also also other wildlife key to every safari that’ll be spotted far more frequently than in most other places.
Due to the fact the conservancy is fenced off to protect the rhinos, the animals they have in the game reserve are unable to leave the 45,000 acres in which they live. This consequently makes spotting wildlife a lot easier than in most reserves. If you’re travelling to Kenya, then visiting and staying in Solio Game Reserve is a must. Within the first half an hour of driving in from the local air strip we had witnessed a pregnant lioness kill a baby waterbuck (upsetting but also kinda awesome), 4 male lions, multiple white and black rhino, monkeys amongst other more common sitings such as water buffalo!
Another benefit of it being a conservancy is that due to the increased chance of sightings you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to go out on game drives because you are still able to spot animals throughout the day. This makes visiting and staying in Solio more relaxing stay than other parks.
There is only one lodge you can stay at in the conservancy and that is Solio Lodge, which is a collection of beautiful, spacious thatched huts surrounding the main communal lodge. All of the rooms make the most of the stunning surroundings with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the reserve, on the odd occasion you can even see the wildlife passing by!
3. Samburu National Reserve
The Samburu National Reserve is located in the North of Kenya in the desert. It’s located on the banks of the stunning, dark red Ewaso Ng’iro river. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking, with rust red terrain and sparse greenery, you will be consistently in awe of your surroundings. Unlike Solio Reserve, Samburu isn’t as protected and therefore spotting animals can be a little harder but your guides are very knowledgeable and are therefore able to take you to areas where they know there will be more wildlife. You will be in with a chance to to spot leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and more here.
As aforementioned the landscape is beautiful, whilst you’d presume a desert would be complete sparse, there is considerable vegetation making it a desirable home for all the wildlife in the area. Unlike at Solio, for game drives here you will be rising with the sun to witness the best of the wildlife. This is because the heat here, as is the case for most safaris, means the animals tend to seek shelter for the peak hours of the day.
TRAVEL TIP: The heat here is something definitely worth expanding upon. Pack cool, light clothing and definitely bring a hat with you. The jeep we were being driven in had canvas roofing so that sheltered us fro the strong sun rays but make sure you’re covered in sun lotion and stay hydrated, you are in a desert after all, it’s better to take more precautions than end up with sunburn and heat stroke!
Where to stay: There is accommodation located within the park itself however if you’re after real safari-chic luxury in the midst of the Kenyan desert then Sasaab Lodge on the banks of the river about a 15 minute drive from the Samburu National Reserve is definitely for you. You’ll be waking up to the view of the river in your open air thatched hut, the sound of elephants and wildlife drinking at the riverbed will ease you into the day and the exquisite Moroccan decor will entice you into falling in love with your surroundings. I was standing in complete awe for about 15 minutes after being shown to my little lodge, featuring a private plunge pool. This is honeymoon heaven for any soon-to-be newlyweds hunting for a location to share with their other half.
4. Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara is arguably the most well known reserve and also tribe to tourists visiting Kenya. Located South of Nairobi the Masai Mara is on the border with Tanzania’s Serengeti. Not only is the Mara infamous but it’s also home to the ‘Big 5’, a key attraction bring visitors to the Masai Mara. If you haven’t heard of the Big 5 beforehand then in Africa these are regarded as; lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and white/black rhinos. If you’re interested in witnessing the annual migration then the Masai Mara is a prime location to see this occur, between the months of June and September. Of all of Kenya’s National Reserve’s this is probably up there with the most ‘touristy’ but if you want to see a great selection of wildlife and experience the Masai Mara tribe then this is definitely a must on your list of parks to visit in Kenya.
Where to stay: Due to the popularity of the reserve, there’s a number of lodges or camps you can stay at. For a taste of intimate luxury though, then Sala’s Camp is beautiful. You can also enjoy views stretching over into Tanzania’s Serengeti due it’s close proximity. Having recently undergone a refurbishment this camp is exquisite and located between the Sand and Keekerock River.
All of these lodges can be booked through The Safari Collection, they can tailor make all of your trips, flights and activities to include everything you want to see. The Safari Collection is a family owned and run safari company operating in Kenya.