Sarara Camp is a very special place situated on 75,000 acres of Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust land. Sarara Camp and land is owned by the local community which numbers about 12,000 Samburu people. It is mostly dry plains, but the Sarara River flows through, and is flanked by the Mathews Ranges, giving it a truly stunning setting and a good range of habitats and varied wildlife including thousands of elephants, dik- dik, impala, lesser and greater kudu, gerenuk, giraffe, hyena, buffalo, civets, servals, cheetah, leopard and wild dog. The area around Sarara Camp is also good birding country.
Probably the best way to enjoy this territory is on foot, but game drives (day or night) are part of the experience, as is exploring on ponyback as you follow pathways worn by elephants. You can also go into the mountains, either for a climbing challenge or a more gentle mountain walk, and enjoy dinner in the bush by the campfire.
Samburu culture is also a strong part of your Sarara experience. You can visit a manyatta (this is not a tourist product, it is a real village) and one of the most magical things about this place is a visit to the “Singing Wells”. When the Sarara River is not flowing, but underground, the local people dig wells in the riverbed and the Samburu warriors hoist up bucketfuls of precious water for themselves and their livestock, accompanied by evocative songs which their lead cattle apparently recognise. When the song changes, it is another herd's turn for water. Very few people see this happening, and no allowances are made for visitors, but this is a part of life which the community is happy for respectful visitors to watch. It happens from about mid-January to end of March, and again from about end-June to October.
Sarara Camp itself would perhaps be best classed as a luxury eco-lodge, though the double rooms are large tents with proper beds, and a good bathroom with a shower. These are private to each tent, but not exactly en-suite -you have to walk down a short path, though there is a toilet and basin inside the tent. The views from the tents are amazing.
There is a main lounge and dining area, and a gorgeous swimming pool. The food is excellent, and some of it is grown in their organic garden. Your hosts are Jeremy and Katie, and their team of Samburu guides are very professional.
Photographs courtesy Sarara Camp
Open: Sarara Camp is open all year apart from April, May and November.
Location: The camp is in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in the Mathews mountain range in northern Kenya. The camp is best reached by plane from Nairobi to Namunyak airstrip plus a road transfer.
Rooms: There are 6 guest tents. They are roomy with high ceilings and large gauze windows, have easy chairs and a table, a dressing table and bedside tables. Drinking water is provided, there are power sockets in the rooms and solar powered lighting. There is 24 hour running hot and cold water for the bathroom, which is open to the sky. There’s a separate toilet and hand basin inside the tent. The bedroom leads out to a terrace with chairs and a table.
Activities: These are many and various. Traditional game drives, nature walks and bird watching form the mainstay with other options such as watching wildlife from the hide, and going for hikes in the mountains and forests. All wildlife activities are led by local Samburu guides. You can visit a Samburu village, learn beading skills with Samburu women, explore on ponyback, take a scenic plane ride, take a full day trip to Mount Ololokwe, visit the Samburu singing wells (dry season only), enjoy dinner in the bush and cool off the natural water slide (seasonal). Some activities are at additional cost.
Facilities: The camp has a mess tent used for dining and relaxing, and a camp fire. The natural rock rim-flow pool is located so you can watch animals at the waterhole as you swim, and there’s a sundeck. Other facilities include a gift shop and central charging point. The camp has a large vegetable garden. There is a laundry service.
Dining: Breakfast, cooked or continental, and lunch are usually eaten in the mess tent, though outdoor lunches are provided if the weather is sufficiently cool. Dinner is generally served on the deck.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome, although the camp is more suited to older children than toddlers.
Health: This is a malarial area.
Communication: There is Wi-Fi internet access, but no mobile phone coverage.
Notes: There are no facilities for accepting credit or debit card payments.
Owned by the community and backing wildlife conservation and anti-poaching, Sarara holds an important position in this region and really does make a difference. Rangers keep poaching down to almost nothing, wildlife is flourishing, and the local people get an excellent income from the lodge through bed night fees and conservation fees. Water pumps, schools and health projects have been some of the benefits from this income.
"I came to Sarara not knowing what to expect. What I found was an incredible location on community land with a backdrop and hills, and excellent wildlife. But it was the community aspect that really made it special. And the chance to see the 'singing wells' was a privilage."