Indeed, says Cox & King’s Stine, “A big part of what really makes it a nice offering is that they have all these activities like horseback riding, mountain biking and they have these bloodhounds and they do anti-poaching with these bloodhounds and you can actually go out with them and see how the bloodhounds work.… It’s one of my favorite places.”
For a luxury tented camp experience in the region, there’s the Tortilis Camp located on the southern edge of Amboseli National Park, overlooking a natural waterhole and named after the nearby acacia tortilis trees, with an emphasis here on service and comfort. Each tent leads from a bedroom with an expansive king size or generous twin beds, through a dressing area into modern bathrooms with pressurized hot showers and flush toilets. Tents are raised up on wooden decks and sheltered by a thatched roof overhanging a large verandah.
Here, guests can enjoy varied game viewing and follow the elephant herds from the luxury of open-sided Land Rovers, as well as enjoy walking game viewing with trained Maasai guides, bush breakfasts on the plains, and sundowners on top of Kitirua Hill. Here, too, guests can visit one of the Maasai manyattas, or villages, to meet the Maasai women and watch the Morans, or young warriors, dance.
“Most of our clients prefer a balance between lodges and tented camps,” explains Ker & Downey’s Jones. “Because they’re in Africa and they’ve seen the romantic movie ‘Out of Africa,’ they have the romantic notion of the luxury tented camps that Karen Blixen was in with the fine china and silver setting and things like that. So, we like to do a combination of the tented camps and the lodge experience.… You can have both of those experiences.
“And many times,” he adds, “we’ll do a private safari experience, we’ll do it exactly like Karen Blixen did. We’d have it totally outfitted; we’d set it up in a place like the private Lua wilderness area and it would just be the family in a private area with their own guide. They’re all en-suite—even though they’re mobile, the baths are all inside so you don’t have to go outside—and they get all the romance and the beauty of having their own private experience.”
In Northern Kenya in the areas of Lake Tipia, Samburo and Laikiapa, there are also a variety of luxury lodges and tented camps, all of which are accessed by bush plane. In this region, the Loisaba Lodge is also a favorite of all three tours operators and is located on a 61,000-acre private reserve that doubles as a working ranch. Constructed from stone, local timber and thatch, the lodge is perched high on the edge of a plateau looking toward Mount Kenya and each room has large French windows that open onto a private deck cantilevered off the escarpment, affording breathtaking views. All the furniture in the lodge’s seven rooms—four doubles and three twins—is handmade at Loisaba and one room has a separate sitting room that can double as a bedroom for a family group.
High-end clients should also know there’s a truly exclusive, self-contained 2-bedroom, 2-bath private cottage built on the edge of the escarpment entirely from local stone and thatch with its own staff, game-drive vehicle and a private, cliff-top swimming pool, making it the ultimate hideaway. Guests also have access to a 6-passenger Eurocopter helicopter based at Loisaba on a private charter basis. The lodge also has a swimming pool, tennis court, bocce court and croquet lawn. The small spa offers massages, a few beauty treatments and a romantic open-air bubble bath, all with a tranquil view of the Karissia Hills.
For a luxury tented camp experience in the Samburu National Park, there’s the SaSaab Camp, located on Samburu community land, on the Ngutuk Ongiron Group Ranch, known as the West Gate Conservancy. The main area sits on a high rocky ridge allowing guests to enjoy the spectacular views through the camp’s Moroccan interior and courtyard. Accommodations are in nine Moroccan-styled tents, each comprising a bedroom, sitting room and a beautiful en-suite bathroom. All tents have wireless Internet connection, cooling fans and a private plunge pool. Activities include twice-daily game drives that include night drives, walking safaris along the river or in the grasslands, day trips to Samburu Reserve, mountain biking, camel riding and cultural excursions. The camp’s swimming pool is perched on the hillside overlooking the river, while Moroccan-influenced meals highlight the menus and guests can enjoy massage and beauty treatments in the privacy of their tents.