Our first five nights on Safari in Kenya, we spent in three properties of the Elewana Collection: Loisaba Star Beds, Loisaba Lodo Springs, and Elsa’s Kopje. Each property had its own unique elements. With each new day came new amazing experiences. Even the flights between camps became a fun experience when one of the charter pilots invited the girls to take turns being the small aircraft’s copilot.
For our first stop on Safari, we tired to experience all that we could on the Loisaba Conservancy. Our first night we spent in the Loisaba Star Beds. After being picked up at the airstrip by Festus, our driver guide for the following three days, we enjoyed a short game drive on the way to camp and a very tasty lunch.
Just after lunch, as we were preparing to return to our room, Festus came calling and asked us to get back in the truck. On his way to refueling, he had found a resting lion he wanted to show us. Later that evening we had our first African Sundowner in the bush, a tasty dinner, and then drifted off to sleep watching the moon drift in and out of the clouds with our mosquito nets being the only thing between us and the night sky. When the rains came later that night, we barely noticed the staff rolling us back under the roof. We all slept a lot sounder than we thought we would.
On our second day in the Loisaba Conservancy, we moved over to Elwana’s newest camp, Lodo Springs, where we spent two nights. While visiting the Loisaba Conservancy, we tried to do as many of the offered activities as we could – we did our daily game drives where we searched for the animals from the 4-wheel drive, we went on safari on horseback, on camel back, enjoyed a tasty breakfast in the bush, and introduced the girls to the tradition of nightly sundowners in amazing settings.
On our last afternoon, we visited a local Samburu village where the villagers were excited to show us their village and share some of their culture and way of life. It is hard to believe how much we were able to see and do in only three days time.
On our final afternoon, in Lodo Springs, Festus again came to get us as we were finishing lunch. This time he had found a small pride of five young lions with their mom. Festus was excited for us to see the group of lions. None of us had could have imagined that the old cape buffalo we spotted way off in the distance would happen to aimlessly wander right into the resting lions. An exciting battle followed where the animals took turns chasing each other. The young lions, still learning to hunt, were no match for the tough old buffalo. Eventually the bufffalo backed away, and the lions let him go. They would need to find something else to eat that day.
When our three days in Loisaba had come to an end, we sadly said good-bye to Festus and boarded the charter flight to Meru National Park. Our third camp, Elsa’s Kopje is also a member of the Elwana Collection. Elsa’s Kopje, set on the rocks in Meru National Park, is the place where the story “Born Free” took place.
It was in Elsa’s Kopje that we learned a much better understanding of the differences between the National Parks and the Conservancies.
A conservancy is managed by an individual landowner, a body or corporate, group of owners or a community for purposes of wildlife conservation and other compatible land uses to better livelihoods. National Parks are areas managed and protected by the government and are open to the public. On a conservancy, access is controlled. The number of camps are limited, as a result the number of safari trucks on patrol are also limited.
Conservancies have their own sets of rules, often they are more lenient than those of a National Park. The National Parks, for instance, often don’t allow night game drives or off road driving. They are worried that if everyone who visited the parks started driving off road, it would ruin the environment they are trying to preserve. On a conservancy though, the number of people visiting is already limited, so off-roading and driving at night are often allowed. The parks and conservancies often border each other to provide an even larger area for the wildlife to roam.
While we missed the ability to drive off-road in Meru National Park, we loved the amazing scenery in the park and it was the only place we visited where we were able to spot the rhinos. We also loved the service and facilities within the Elsa’s Kopje camp. The food we feasted on daily was the best we had throughout our two weeks in Africa. The camp also had the best pool for cooling down in the afternoons.
In the blink of an eye, another two nights had flown by, and we were again loaded up our belongings onto the small plane – our next stop would be the Masai Mara.
On our first day on Safari, we stayed at a killer camp and saw a huge lion. She was huge, dirty and she liked the shade a lot. Oh and before that, we went on a game drive to camp.
We saw these little creachurs called Dickdicks. Dickdicks are little, and have cute little noses that are always twitching. We also saw many impala. Impala’s have an “M” shape on their butts that stand for McDonald’s. We also saw a pretty bird called the superb. It is blue with rust color on the bottom. after this we went to the first sun downer ever. We tried to skip rocks, but mine never skipped. Next we jumped while Tim took a picture. Then Angela and I made up courses to jump from rock to rock. This giraffe stared at us the entire time! He must have thought we were crazy. At bedtime, we slept in a star bed. A star bed is when you sleep on a balcony on a bed. It was amazing. You could stare at the moon and stars all night long. It was a great first day and first night.
The next day, we went on a game drive at 6:30 AM. We say a baby elephant that was practicing his sassyness. We even saw two male lions. One was injured and started to limp. We went on a horseback ride. My horse’s name was Usuusu, which means Half-half. The ride was super fun. We then had our sundowners in a place where a leopard lives, but we didn’t see the leopard. We did see a spotted hyena that was common, and a striped hyena that is the rarer kind. It was another awesome day.
On Monday, we had breakfast in the bush! There was even a chef there waiting for us. After breakfast, we rode camels. It was scary when they stood up or laid down.After the ride, we had lunch. I was in the shower when Festus told us to come quick for a surprise. The surprise was six lions he had found. Five of them started to hunt a cape buffalo. Now this is when the action began. One of the lions got kicked up in the air. Another left a big ol bloody scratch on the poor things butt.
For sundowners that day, we went into the bush again. The sundowner bar was set up in a place with a small waterfall. Tim taught us how to throw a hat and catch it on our head. It was another great day!
On Tuesday, we got to assist the airplane captain by being the copilot. We even sat in the seat and wore the headphones. We got to ask him lots of questions. After we unloaded and were in the jeep, he flew right above our heads to say good bye.
At our next camp, I got to sleep in on our first day. That afternoon, we got to swim in an amazing pool that was the perfect temperachur. One side of the pool was rock. Later that day, we saw rhinos. There were rangers there so no hunters could get in. Yayyy! Next we had a surprise sun downers on our last night in the camp.
On Friday, we went to our first Safari stop. On the drive to the camp, we saw many animals, such as a Dic-dic which is a mix between a deer, a rabbit and an anteater. We also saw impalas (a type of deer) and a few birds. Later that day, Festus, came and was like, “Get in the car, there’s a lion” So we hopped in and drove away to find a huge lioness that was walking around a bit. That night, went on our first sundowner game drive. We saw tons of animals – elephants, giraffes, zebra, dic-dics, and impalas. When we got back, Tim had dinner with us before we went to sleep in the amazing starbeds!
On Sunday, we saw hippos, two lions, giraffes, and a sassy baby elephant. That was all before lunch! After lunch, we drove to horse stables and rode. My horse was Zawadi, “present” in Swahili. While we were riding, an elephant came and walked along side us. Even though Emily’s hands started to hurt, it was a great ride. That night after sundowners, mommy spotted the striped and spotted hyena – boy does she have great eyes!
On Monday, we had breakfast in the bush. Festus told us it was a mobile camp, then we got close and saw it was for us. The chef even met us there to tell us about the food. After breki, we went on this amazing camel ride where I was able to ride my own. After lunch, Emily was in the shower when Tim knocked on our door. He asked us to follow him for another surprise. He and Festus took us to the six lions and not long after we got there, the huge buffalo walked up so the lions attacked it!
The lions aimed for the hind legs, and one got kicked – poor him! That night’s sundowner was the best yet. There was a fire, and an entire bar set us for us in the bush! It was a great goodbye. The next morning, we saw three of the lions again, one was a little sore. We then sadly had to say goodbye to Festus when he brought us to the air strip.
On the plane ride to the next stop, the captain let Emily and I take turns being co-pilot. He told us all about his plane. We even got to wear the fancy head sets! It was so cool!
Our next stop was Elsa’s Kopje. The famous book and movie, “Born Free” was based on the story from there. The main character in the story is Elsa. Our new driver, Stanley took us on a game drive the hotel, but here in the National Park, we couldn’t drive off-road.
The next day, I went on the morning game drive with Mommy while Emily slept in. That afternoon we swam in the amazing pool that overlooked elephants, giraffes, and a few wart hogs. That night, a rock hyrax decided to bunk with us in our tent. There was pee and poo everywhere in the morning!
While a few of our cruise partners visit Kenya, the best way to truly experience the country is to also spend time in some of the camps, parks & concessions.
A cruise may provide you with an opportunity to touch the outer edge of the country of Kenya, but in order to experience all the country has to offer, one needs to get in and explore the interior of the country. We were very fortunate to spend our two weeks in Kenya under the guidance of Micato Safaris.