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Saruni Samburu Camp

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Saruni Samburu Camp


... is located just north of Samburu National Park in the Central Region of Kenya.

On the upside ...

+ one of the best camps in the region
+ enormous community conservancy
+ extremely scenic landscapes
+ extremely low visitor density
+ very stylish and innovative small lodge
+ access to Samburu National Park
+ full range of wildlife
+ interesting animal sightings
+ private vehicles
+ access usually by air
+ minimum child age of 5 years

Saruni Samburu Lodge is definitely one of the very best options in this area and one of the top four or five camps in the whole north-central region.

The Kalama Conservancy lies immediately to the north of Samburu National Park and covers an enormous 950 square kilometres. The land is owned by the local community and is mixed use, with some areas reserved for wildlife, others for running domestic stock. A large sector of the conservancy is rented to Saruni and reserved for wildlife only. The cost of staying at the camp includes a considerable fee which is paid directly to the landowners in order to ensure that this space is guaranteed for wildlife. A fine example of how direct is the connection between tourism and conservation.

The conservancy is very arid for much of the year, but remains extremely scenic landscapes, with some very impressive dome-topped granite mountains. The greatest joy of the place is the extremely low visitor density, the whole area being for the exclusive use of around a dozen guests.

Saruni Samburu Camp is a very stylish and innovative small lodge, dramatically perched on top of one of these mountains, one of the most architecturally impressive in East Africa. Italian owner, Riccardo Orizio, who is a bit of a cool customer, really came up trumps here. The camp is full of very clever little design details, not least the way it has been arranged to protect itself from the prevailing wind.

The lodge is approached by a long and occasionally tedious track, which bumps its way up the lower slopes of the mountain. As it reaches the top, the road disappears and vehicles are obliged to drive across the naked domes of rock to dramatically reach the summit and the vehicle turnaround. It would be hard to overstate the majesty of this hilltop location. Entering the very chic open-plan public areas, the views to the west are superb. The main building has lounge areas to the left, dining to the right and a campfire out front, from where a path leads down to a small pool. Pathways lead across the granite domes to a small giftshop and on to the rooms. Guest accommodation is in a total of six lavish and truly wonderful rooms, two of which can be used as two-roomed units or subdivided into two separate rooms, another two of which are two bedroomed family units. On the very top of the farthest rock dome is the main swimming pool, with more fabulous views all round.

Most of the activities take place in the blissful isolation of the conservancy itself, notably some excellent walking and mountain hiking.

The camp is located around 5km north of the main Samburu National Park and operates game-drives into the reserve in order that guests can experience the unique landscapes of the Ewaso Ngiro River. Down here there is a full range of wildlife, with much more reliable sightings of lions and leopards in particular. There are also interesting animal sightings which are unique to this region, such as imperial zebras, gerenuks, reticulated giraffes and Somali ostriches.

It is also worth noting that the camp tries to provide private safari vehicles to every group of guests. This is not always possible, especially during high season, but they will do the best they can. Which is a really big plus in our book.

The camp is usually accessed by scheduled light aircraft flights into the main airstrip in Samburu National Park, from where it is a leisurely half hour game-drive north into the mountains. It is also possible to charter directly into an airstrip on the Kalama Conservancy itself, which is a more exclusive experience. We always include these connecting flights and transfers as part of your trip unless you specific ask us not to. The camp can also form part of an overland safari, as noted below.

The minimum age at this camp is five years old. The camp is not specifically geared up for children, is unfenced and could be potentially very dangerous, especially due to the precipitous drops. Adult supervision is essential at all times. On the upside, it is a real playground for older children, who can run around without fear of larger animals and there are very few insects up here either. Care needs to be taken for snakes of course. Although the staff and guides will naturally try to tailor the experience to suit all guests, there are no special facilities for children, who are obliged to behave with due consideration for other guests. The Maasai guides are always very keen to teach kids various bushcraft skills and have competitions with bows-and-arrows and spears. Early meals are not a problem and the housekeeping staff are also often happy to earn a little bit of extra pocket-money by doing child-minding.

On the downside ...

- low animal densities in conservancy
- very heavy visitor traffic in Samburu
- relatively expensive

The main negative here is that there can be relatively low animal densities on the conservancy itself, especially during the dry season.

This is offset by visiting the nearby national park, but there can be very heavy visitor traffic in Samburu, so this has to be done with great care. In our experience the guides are extremely good at this, we have enjoyed blissful game-drives into the park from this camp, in great contrast to the usual shockingly poor Samburu experience.

The other downside is that the lodge is relatively expensive. This is completely understandable given the levels of quality and exclusivity, but it is still quite a large sum to swallow.

A few words about prices ...

We are specialists in helping our guests to build the very best and most suitable safaris for the lowest possible prices. A safari can be a very expensive undertaking and we always do everything we can to meet your target budget.

Further up this page you will see our guide price for this place. This is the high season rate per person per night sharing a double room. For most people this should represent a worst case scenario, since various discounts usually apply at other times of year.

We guarantee that the prices we charge will be the same or, more often than not, considerably less than if you were to book directly with the owner. We also guarantee to match or beat any legitimate competitive quotations. Additionally, all our itineraries have fully itemised pricing, so that you can see exactly how much each element costs, which should provide you with great reassurance and help you to make decisions when fine-tuning your trip.

Check the detailed prices and availability for this camp ...

How we like to include this lodge in trips ...

We absolutely love the atmosphere of this particular part of the world, the desert landscapes contrasting with the rich riverine flora. And the vast empty spaces ... it is what really safari should be like.

Saruni Samburu Lodge is most commonly used in a flying safari, usually for three nights, in combination with other top camps in locations such as Meru and Maasai Mara.

But we particularly like to connect the lodge by road with others camps in this region, as we feel it can give a greater sense of a journey and a deeper understanding of the place. For us the ultimate journey through this part of Laikipia starts at Lewa in the south and stays at Tassia Lodge, then here and finally further north at Sarara Camp. The great shame is that there's not many people out there who are willing to dedicate the 10 or more nights necessary to undertake that kind of journey.

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