The jewel of the East Coast of Africa, Kenya boasts savannah, lakelands, mountains, the Rift Valley and white beaches. It has more wildlife than Disney animators can hope to capture in a lifetime. It’s also on the front line of the battle to stop ivory poaching and the extinction of the African Elephant and Rhino.
SAFARI IN STYLE
Kenya is where “going on safari” started. If tent’s aren’t quite your thing then this pretty much has it all. Join The Francombe family at their beautiful home in the heart of the African bush. Kick off your shoes and relax with luxury ranch living at its best. Don’t miss taking to the skies in Ol Malo’s very own little Raven R44 helicopter, with bush pilot extraordinaire Andrew. Enjoy magical sundowners on granite outcrops, breakfasts by flamingo pools or even camp out under a blanket of stars. For those who love jewellery (and we know how much you love jewellery), visit the Samburu Tribe workshop to admire the intricate beadwork, and while there pull up a cow-skin and try your hand at it.
As good as it gets. The Lewa Conservancy are making an extraordinary contribution towards wildlife protection. The Craig’s were one of the first families to focus on conservancy and invite tourists to their reserve. Lewa works extremely closely with organisations such as Tusk. Now part of the Elewana Collection, the large tented bedrooms with verandahs and full en-suite bathrooms aren’t perhaps going local but hey ho. Ultimately going to a safari camp is all about the safari, here the gamedriving is outstanding with plentiful rhino, elephant, buffalo, and rare Grevy Zebra against a backdrop of snow capped Mt. Kenya. Make sure you try their Dawa cocktail – considered the cure of all Kenya – “Maisha Marefu”, as they say in Swahili to toast.
SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT
Kenya’s hidden gem. Hippo Point is an exclusive wildlife estate sitting on an isthmus nested between Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidean. The main house, built in 1932 is classically British, but it is the 120 foot Dodo’s Folly that really stands out. Custom-built by Dodo Cunningham-Reid and still used as the family’s second home it is open to a limited number of guests who are in search of the unusual. Due to its unique microclimate, more than 350 species of bird and 1,200 resident animals roam the grounds. Forget Mr Auree’s snoring, fall asleep soothed by sounds of Hyena and Hippo calling in the night.
Hamish Grant’s family have been in Kenya for over a century. Their safaris will take you across the reserves of north and central Kenya. From Samburu in the north the Mara, they will get you into the thick of it on these very private safaris where you camp out in the bush. Whether its in their specially kitted out Land Rovers or on foot, you really will be a fly on the wall as you watch wildlife in action.
ESCAPE FROM THE CITY
When a tiny new-born elephant is orphaned, it is often because its mother and family have been killed by poaching. Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her staff have spent a lifetime ensuring that orphaned elephants have a chance. An elephant never forgets – so make sure you remember to arrive at 11am punctually as this is when they open for an hour and the nursery inmates come in for their daily mud bath and feeding. An absolute must for kids – and if they are pestering you for a pet why not foster one of these magnificent animals.
Tea, toast and a sprinkling of giraffe slobber, the latest delicacy don’t you know. Feed the resident Rothschild giraffes from the breakfast table as they poke their long necks through the windows in the hope of a tasty treat. It is wonderfully entertaining for all ages and the helpful staff know the best angles for your instagram selfies. Given our collaboration with The London Chatter who was raised in Kenya we suggest staying in the aptly named Kelly room. An unforgettable experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Word on the grapevine is that they also now take bookings for afternoon tea.
RELAX ON THE COAST
In Swahili, Watamu means ‘home of the sweet people’. Situated on one of the most picturesque stretches of Watamu beach this Gaudi-esque Treehouse, with 360 degree views, was dreamed up by Kenya’s renowned stained glass artist Nani Croze, whose coloured glass designs decorate the towers. The vibe is very much communal – so not for the shy given the openess of the rooms. Opt for the rooftop Star Bed, which, as the name suggests, has glass doors that allow you to star gaze from your pillow.
The kind of place that people in the know, know about. Three glamorous villas form this luxurious hideaway on what is widely considered the best beach in Kenya. Wind down here after the wilderness of a Kenyan safari. Feeling energetic? Try your hand at snorkeling, diving or kite surfing as the coral reef creates the perfect conditions. If you fancy exploring nearby head to Ali Barbour’s Cave, a romantic spot for a candlelit dinner – or the Tamarind Dhow, where you can watch the sun go down on board this traditional Arab sailing boat.
Malaria Pills. The one time you do want to remember to take them.
Carry change, kenya hasn’t quite got there with the cashless society.
Ask permission before snapping locals – children love seeing the photo on your screen afterwards but we aren’t all having a good hair day.
Learn your Jambo and Asante.
If you find a leopard in your bath tub, find a bucket of water for yourself, this is one battle you won’t win.
Image credits: slh.com, beyondkenyasafaris.com, chelipeacock.com, bountifulsafaris.com, angama.com, empowersafrica.org, andbeyond.com, afktravel.com, naturalhighsafaris.com, Grant Cameron Safaris.