Flying into Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy is an experience in and of itself. The dramatic craggy mountains of the Mathews Range encircle wide forested valleys, giving the impression that you’re entering a secret world as you descend from the sky to the airstrip below. As you step out of the Cessna, a herd of camels greets you, milling about in the scrub as their young herder tends to them. Though protected for wildlife conservation, this reserve still acts as the ancestral home to the Samburu people. For generations, people throughout Africa existed in harmony with the natural world and the wildlife they shared it with. This relationship continues to this day in the reserve, with the humans helping to protect the wildlife and the wildlife helping to generate revenue, jobs and other benefits for the community.
An impressive 850,000 acres of untouched wilderness have been set aside for the reserve. Though supported through ecotourism, there are only two camps in the entire area, creating an extraordinarily exclusive experience for guests. When you visit Sarara or Sarara Tree Camp, you get so much more than just a typical wildlife safari. The culture and heritage of the region are at the forefront of experience, giving a genuine taste of what life is like out of the gaze of mass tourism.
A visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary promises plenty of adorable baby elephant antics, chances to learn more about the daily lives and duties of an elephant keeper and wonderful photo opportunities. During the keeper talk, you tour the facilities, learn about the finely tuned diet the baby elephants eat and hear the stories of the orphans currently living there, including the circumstances that landed them at the sanctuary. An incredible amount of time and effort goes into raising the babies to be successful adults in the wild. Every day the keepers go on long walks with them through the bush so they can learn essential skills like foraging and wallowing in the mud. With the visits scheduled to coincide with the afternoon feeding, you will get to watch the babies as they stampede in from the bush, ears flapping and trunks reaching eagerly for their oversized baby bottles filled with formula. There’s nothing cuter than watching the babies as they are bottle-fed either by themselves or by their keeper. The ones that finish first will often try to steal away others’ bottles, earning them a scolding by the vigilant keepers. It’s a touching and incredibly wonderful experience that is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip.
Back in camp, life is just a good. Sarara Camp is a perfect blend of grand and organic. Towering tented rooms with panoramic windows take full advantage of what just might be the best views in Kenya. Details with natural materials bring the beauty of the bush into every moment and outdoor showers let you enjoy the setting during even the most mundane of tasks. The main area opens up to sweeping views of the valley and mountains. Right from the pool that’s built into the rock, you can watch the waterhole below, enjoying the creatures that stop by for a drink. Giraffes, elephants, kudu and even the resident wild dogs on occasion will wander by.