Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Recommended place to stay:
Elewana Elsa’s Kopje
Meru National Park, Kenya|www.elewanacollection.com|
Official star rating:
On the top of a hill (or kopje), just above George Adamson’s former camp in the Meru National Park, and named after his lioness, Elsa, this place rarely disappoints.
Accommodation is rustic, but über-stylish – the perfect combination of ethnic, natural and open-plan and luxurious. The décor is ethnic but not overdone: Persian rugs mixed with local sculpture, plus deep baths with views. Luxuries are not the point here – although there is every comfort one could wish for. It’s how you’d want a bush home to be.
There are volcanoes on the horizon, bush beneath your feet, a relaxing and homely environment to relax in, including a library, a pool and big viewing decks to look out from. The pool here is set on the side of a hill, overlooking the bush, so is an ideal space to float in and watch the bushworld go by. The camp is blessed with far-reaching views.
There is plenty to do here, from bushwalks to night and day drives, cultural visits, and a day trip to a river to go fishing. The cuisine is always applauded and the guides are top-notch. It’s where safari-lovers go for a rich dose of fine life, and fine creature-watching without crowds. Elsa’s is the only operational camp in the Meru, so it feels like a reserve of your own.
Game & game viewing
Adamson came here because the game is great – the Big Five are here – with both black and white rhino, as well as cheetah, hippo, crocodile and Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Somali ostrich. Within the national park there is a 44sq km rhino sanctuary, harbouring both white and black rhino.
Guides & guiding
Cheli & Peacock guides are regularly trained, and are always local, so guiding is usually of high quality. Guides here are keen, willing and knowledgeable, with a wealth of fascinating facts at their fingertips – from species of buffalo grass to buffalo.
Local community & conservation
The camp works with the local community to promote conservation and anti-poaching. The park has more than 70 rhino, protected by local villagers who provide anti-poaching patrols. The camp also support the local school, which was financed by camp clients, and donate glass to the local women’s project, which buys shortsighted women glasses from the proceeds.
Taking the kids
Children can walk and learn bushcraft lessons with a Masai, and visit a local village, to meet and see how Masai children live. It’s also a good camp for toddlers, one of the few that will take babies, as well as young children, and offer babysitting and baby-listening services.
There are daily Air Kenya flights from Nairobi to Nanyuki airport, then charters into Kinna airstrip, five minutes’ drive from the camp.
Food & drink
Round-ups that include this placetostay