Back to the wild, back to camping! Though Easter was a really busy time for us, there was no better excuse for a 3 night escape than exploring a new space, camping and luxury lodging..what else could be better!
I have been stalking the El Karama Facebook and Instagram pages for a while so really jumped at the opportunity of being able to finally go there! About an hour past Nanyuki, the conservancy is fairly easy to find. Alas, we had woken up later in the day than we should have so were a little delayed in our journey – which meant that we ended up at the turning to the conservancy just as the Safari Classic Rally was getting cars over a new leg of the competition – RIGHT ON THE VERY ROAD WE NEEDED TO TAKE! But all good, with being stuck for a while came the opportunity to see all the action! Really cool vintage cars speeding it up and flying off bumps – quite the excitement!
After 2 hours when we were finally allowed back on the road, we saw the lovely manager, Della, waiting for us, concerned about why we hadn’t reached yet. She led us up to the conservancy, and immediately I was in love! We started off with two nights camping , and had our friends joining us for the second night from Nakuru. We set up at the campsite next to a river and rapids, and had one of the lovely rangers stay with us all night. Everyone knows my love for elephants so I went to work quickly setting up our tent, ‘ Elephant bedroom camp the second’!
Sam and I quickly set up camp and got to cooking dinner after a quick coffee. As the sun set and the moon came up, our ranger told us to follow his torch light – less than 200m away were a family of ellies just enjoying their dinner! We would never have seen them (and I probably would have run straight into them!).
Day 2 – joined by our friends, we weathered a crazy storm by putting two cars together, and using awnings and tarp to shelter us. Again, the ellies came, and in the distance we heard the lions roar and the leopards growl.
Day 3 – we woke up early to the sounds of all sorts of amazing wildlife, and yet again, we knew the ellies were around! We moved to the Lodge for our final night in the conservancy. I have been to many lodges in my life, but this definitely stands on the top of my list. Apart from the AMAZING hosts, Della and Rich, who made us feel so welcome and so much like family, this lodge is built to be as sustainable as possible.
The building material across the lodge and in the rooms reflects the use of everything local. I was very excited by the pool – one of the only pools in Kenya that uses de-ionizing for cleaning rather than chlorine! And it didn’t feel weird to be in it! This is based on Eco-Smarte technology that makes it safe for even children and birds to drink the water and be totally safe! While we were dipping in, I saw lots of weavers come and have little bath parties in the pool too!
The lodge makes all its meals and ingredients from scratch where possible, as fresh as can be. This includes everything from home-made butter to ravioli! And it all looks so good! Old glass bottles are recycled into glasses and water bottles.
How do they get so much fresh food, one may wonder. Well, what’s really special about this particular lodge is that the owners also have their own farm where they have both dairy and beef cattle, as well as a huge organic veggie patch! All sorts of fruits and vegetables, and tonnes of different kinds of lettuce (anyone who knows me knows that’s my vice!) We went on an afternoon visit of the farm and got about half way, after which the skies opened and the rain started to come in sheets.
On our drive back to the lodge for our evening, we saw some movement in the grass. Any guesses? AARDWOLVES! First time we have ever seen these insectivores!!!!! Unfortunately we couldn’t get a photo, but it’s etched in my mind! This is such a rare sighting, I felt blessed. When we were back at the lodge, Rich joined us after dinner and we heard all about the young male leopard who has taken to walking around the lodge at night, chewing on cushions and sofa covers, and just generally enjoying himself.
There is just so much to see at El Karama, and so much to do – all sorts of animals, such wild spaces, the opportunity to do art, look at the farm, camp in a tensile tent, and so much more. I have a feeling I will be back really soon!
Get your group together and go over. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to ask if Della and Rich are around – nicest people ever!
Now, to find a long weekend to go back….