Samburu, A Kenyan Sanctuary Where Tourist Bedroom with Elephants
People love taking holidays and especially during the winter months in Europe, there is no better survival than enjoying a cool summer holiday on tropical climate in Africa. Thou the tour companies don’t mention it. It is not every day you are told you will be sharing your bedroom with an elephant, but then Kenya is a place to experience nature at very close quarters.
On my first trip to the country, it was not hard to see why old Hollywood fell in love with its cinematic landscape as our 12-seater plane touched down on a dusty airstrip in the blazing sunshine. A spectacular landing as I embarked on my journey through Samburu National Park to the Elephant Bedroom Camp. Well, no-one could say the name didn’t give the game away it just an hour’s flight from the city under the sun at dawn after a whistle-stop overnight stay at Sarova Stanley hotel, a colonial-era haunt of Ernest Hemingway.
But the adventure really got going several hundred miles north. Twelve luxury tents set deep inside the lush plains more than fulfilled its promise of a safari without getting out of bed, while offering everything you could want from a top-end hotel – comfy beds, bathrooms, plunge pool and a lounge bar. Each with a private porch overlooking herds of elephants quenching their thirst from crystal blue streams, monkeys leaping from branch to branch of the acacia trees, lions roaring in the distance and crocodiles lurking menacing by the river bank, a sight for the brave at heart only.
On my first game drive I saw elephants practically surrounding the jeep, playful lion cubs jostling in the sunshine, and a trio of cheetahs eying us with suspicion. The Savannah plains the real juggle where survival for the fittest determined your future, the only mavericks are the African elephants, no one can dare predate them, even the African lions don’t dare on them.
After just a few hours’ searching, we glimpsed a lone leopard, only a few yards away, scoping out the prospects for lunch from the top of small hill as everything in its midst ran desperately for cover. With the whole camp almost invisible from just a short distance away, it felt gloriously far from anywhere as we wound down with a sundowner, cicadas squawking and the stirrings of the rest of the park’s inhabitants not far away.
However we did have to be reminded to padlock our tents to avoid a welcome party from the camp’s colony of baboons, waiting patiently outside for a chance to ransack our luggage. Monkeys are no funny in African, especially as Samburu, establishing itself as a tourist destination. Until independence in 1961 and for some years afterwards this park known as the Northern Frontier District and only government officials – no civilians either African or European – were permitted to enter. No wonder it still retains the feel of an untouched wilderness with just a handful of safari lodges dotted around the 8,000 square mile area. The reserve also boasts more than 300 species of bird and is one of the best watching spots in the country.
Leaving between the tall trees and winding streams, the holiday was one of its kinds, one the most luxurious camping secret in the world open for the rich few who wants sometime of the media screens and paparazzi, British royal family is known to frequent country during holidays. The sanctuary looks as arid as the Sahara, but is punctuated by a few permanent rivers which is just what its inhabitants like as it is a sanctuary for the increasingly rare black and white rhinos, as well as elephants, buffalo, reticulated giraffes and around 500 species of birds, many of them rarely seen anywhere else.
Although I jetted in through the airstrip nearby, I decided to head back to the capital on a jeep the winding four-hour drive was well worth it for the scenery, with breath-taking parkland occasionally dotted with the bright shop fronts of a remote village. It is from these villages that the hospitality industry hunts its work force, train them for world class service and after which they deliver it with outmost passions and smile on their faces. For sure Kenya has mapped itself on the international tourism destinations maps and it getting more exposure as it opens up its deeper wildlife beauty to outside world.