Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Sarara camp was set up to incentivise local people to put aside land for wildlife – for their own benefit. Today, their reserve has 850,000 acres, across which elephant and leopard roam, alongside Samburu and their cattle. It’s a proper community camp: owned and staffed by spear-wielding Samburu.
Six spacious, classic tents overlook this ancient scene. The views are terrific, 10/10, with the Matthews Range shimmering in the distance. The rooms have outdoor showers, with views to the horizon, and indoor WCs and basins. Tea is delivered to the bedside, for watching the sun rise from bed. The camp also offers Loimugi House, a two-bedroom tented family unit that includes a beautiful plunge pool, private dining, and its own sitting room.
The scenery, the lamplight, the willingness of the people to make it work all warm the heart. As does bush dinner set by the fire, under the stars.
Game & game viewing
Leopards are regularly seen, as are reticulated giraffes and elephants (once poached out). There are wild dog here too.
Because the camp is owned by local people, who benefit from conservation, animals are not killed – there are now about 4,000 elephants in the Matthews area alone. Sarara is one of the rare spots where both the lesser and greater kudu are spotted, too.
Guests participate in guided walks, drives, mountain climbs, game drives, fly camping safaris, moonlit bush dinners, horseback riding, scenic flights and, best of all, trips to the Singing Wells, where Samburu call their cattle to water by singing to them.
Guides & guiding
The Samburu are extraordinarily fit, and strong – and make inspirational guides who can explain cultural uses for plants as well as medicinal ones. They’re keen to explain their culture, so will take guests to sacred mountains, their singing wells and villages – as well as on traditional safari drives and walks. Guides are Samburu, trained locally, taught English and given experience on-site.
Local community & conservation
Sarara was given to the community by former owners Piers and Hilary Bastard, who now manage it. Fourteen Kenyan communities have now given land to the project, following Sarara’s success.
Taking the kids
They welcome children of all ages, though advise its best for children 5 and over. The Samburu take great pleasure in showing kids how to use spears, trap animals, use plants as medicine, and track creatures in the sand. Kids love it too. There is no boundary between camp and wild bush, so children have to be supervised.
Please note - we hope to one day have live prices for you, but for now, here are some useful links for you to compare prices...
Food & drink
Round-ups that include this placetostay