Saruni Samburu Lodge is one of the most luxurious lodges in the country and draws increasing numbers of discerning visitors who are looking for something beyond the often crowded Big Five sightings of Kenya’s southern safari hotspots. They come north for the spectacularly arid landscapes and for the so called ‘Samburu Special Five’ – rare reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, Grévy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, and gerenuk, the most elegant of all gazelles. Saruni’s expert trackers had shown me all of these in the last few days, along with unforgettable sightings of countless lion, three leopards and a pack of a dozen wild dogs.
"Not only does it have immense family 'villas' with two bedrooms, and two pools at the camp, but the expertly trained guides are all Samburu warriors - a big thrill for the kids. Aside from the game drives and bush walks, the guides teach basic warrior skills (how to throw a spear, track an animal, build a fire), and they take you to nearby villages and schools."
On a rocky mountain above Samburu’s arid plains is this intimate six-tent camp, the only lodge in the 200,000-acre Kalama Conservancy. Saruni’s villas are arranged in a line, with two pools and the main lodge where communal meals are served. Food skews Italian (think fresh pasta with zucchini and capers) because the lodge’s owners are from the country.
That first morning, I saw a pride of lions stalk their Grevy’s zebra prey. As we watched in morbid fascination, binoculars glued to our expectant faces, the practiced pride split up, inching forward on empty belly with purposeful paw, concealing the approach in the assortment of shallow gullies, patchy grass and sparse undergrowth that stood between it and lunch.
The luxury ecolodge Saruni Camp (www.sarunimara.com) just outside the Masai Mara Game Park employs a mainly Masai staff and contributes to local community projects. The small Masai Wellbeing Space here offers massages and facials using local African plants and seeds, from a Masai therapist trained in Italy.
There was a real indoor/outdoor feel with open-air tents, outdoor bathrooms and huge terraces. The camp is owned by an Italian-Kenyan and run by Masai warriors. The food was amazing and the vibe was totally chilled out. We took a short flight to the Masai Mara – the largest reserve in Kenya.
Six cottages will make up the Saruni ‘design’ lodge when it opens in June, courtesy of the people behind the award winning Joy’s Camp. Book now and be among the first to enjoy the elegant, colonial-style interiors and hospitality of the local Samburu tribesmen who staff the lodge
15 March 2008
The jeep came to a sudden stop. The only sound was that of the metal keyring gently tapping the steering column. “Shhh”, said my driver. Phillip, my guide, gestured to the left. There, making their way out of the trees towards the dirt road, was a heard of elephants.
“Vorig jaar, om deze tijd, vlogen we soms met honderden passagiers verdeeld over vijf warmelunchtballonnen over de Masai Mara. Vandaag zijn we blij als we met twee ballonnen kunnen opstijgen.” Het is de nuchtere constatering van een van de piloten van Governors’ Balloon Safaris, terwijl hij zijn ballon lag over de uitgestrekte Mara navigeert.
Expert staff combine health and beauty treatments developed at Italy’s Centro Benessere Stresa with ancient Samburu wisdom and knowledge. Olsinoni leaves, for example, are used for their detoxifying and purifying properties, while pure gel from Usuguru (a type of aloe) is just the thing for removing skin impurities.
In Africa ‘luxury’ can be defined in terms of an oversized four-poster bed, a private butler, an in-lodge spa treatment or, more simply, uninterrupted views that stretch beyond deserts and distant mountains.
Safari lovers may want to check out a new safari camp in Northern Kenya called Saruni Samburu. Asia Africa Safaris, a Hong Kong – based company specializing in safaris, is offering a three-night package there at prices which are up to 50 per cent off regular rates.
Already, by limiting visitors, the new conservancy camps – Saruni, Porini, Mara Plains, Elephant Pepper and the rest – are offering their guests a better wildlife experience. "We now have 51 lions in three separate prides around Porini Lion Camp," Grieves-Cook says.
Learn how to grind up acacia bark to make a soup to aid digestion on a botanical trail through the bush. The lodge cuisine has a strong Italian flavor mixed with Kenyan fish and vegetables. Melanzane alla Parmigiana, and chilled carrot and ginger soup are on its favorites’ list
At Saruni safari lodge you can swap Samburu’s busy game trails for the total seclusion of a wilderness even bigger than the reserve itself. Saruni, the dream-come-true of Riccardo Orizio, opened last June in the midst of the Kalama Wildlife Conservancy, and although it lies only seven kilometres outside the reserve boundary it could not feel more remote.
Below us, we could see hundreds of zebras, elephants, giraffes and buffalos, and couldn’t wait to witness them first-hand. Luckily, our Masai guide, John, was incredible. What the guides don’t know about the big five (lion, leopard, Rhino, elephant and buffalo) isn’t worth knowing, and you’re almost guaranteed to spot the full spectrum in just one safari drive.
John Ole Nchoe, il masai che parla un fuente inglese, diplomato alla scuola di turismo, guida e autista del lodge, veste la tradizionale tunica rossa dei guerrieri (sotto la quale ha un cellulare Nokia ultimo modello), si ripara dal freddo del mattino con la shuka, la colorata coperta masai. Scorta i turisti, attraverso i sentieri del Saruni, verso la Land Rover “passo lungo” che attende per il safari.
Of u nu naar luipaarden speurt of in uw hangmat naar de overdrijvende wolken staart: Kenia inspireert. U vindt er dan ook niet alleen sporen van groot wild, maar ook van grote schrijvers. “Het land heeft zo veelgeweldige literatuur voortgebracht. Wat kanik daar nog aan toevoegen?