Umani Springs Camp
is located at the foot of the Chyulu Hills
in Southeast Kenya
The northeastern slopes of the Chyulu Hills are much more heavily forested than the more commonly visited southern side, whilst the broad valley that lies between here and the Yatta Escarpment in Tsavo East is heavily farmed, with human habitations running right up to the border of the national park.
The Kibwezi Forest sector of the conservation area is an ancient groundwater forest renowned for its wealth of beautiful butterflies, many of which are endemic and also for its wide range of bird life. Mammals include elephants, leopards, hyenas, serval cats, civets, mongooses, buffaloes, bushbucks, duikers and klipspringers.
Set around a pretty spring inside the forest, just 5km off the main Nairobi to Mombasa highway, Umani Springs Camp is a lovely place, related to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who operate the famous baby elephant orphanage in the capital and who use this place as a staging post for their release project at the fabulous Ithumba Hill
in Tsavo East. The trust is heavily involved in the conservation of these critically important forests.
The camp itself is an extremely comfortable 'bush home', which can only be rented in its entirety by private groups of up to ten guests. It it centred a lovely main building, leading out to a large swimming pool. Guest accommodation is in three lavish bungalows.
It is really unusual, in that it has been constructed to the very highest standards and yet is only offered as a self-catering facility. So we provide you with a vehicle and driver-guide in order to get you there and help you shop for supplies on the way in, the substantial costs of which are additional to the guide price shown here. The camp provides a cook and other staff.
Activities are centred upon the orphaned elephants, which are available early morning, for a late morning mudbath and again in the evening. It is also possible to do modest vehicle safari in the Kibwezi Forest and further afield into the Chyulu Hills, guiding walks into the forest, hiking up to the Umani Hill Lookout and birding around the spring.
The main potential downsides are the proximity to human habitation, the fact that the lodge can only be booked out in its entirety, which makes it pricey for smaller groups and it would be much better if the lodge were fully catered and guests did not have to go through the palaver of buying supplies every time. Other wildlife in the area other than the elephants can be very sparse and some of the activities around the reserve may be rather too subtle for some people.