Taking a Kenya luxury safari wasn’t at the top of my bucket list. But, surprisingly, the chance to explore the bush and savanna with the Elewana Collection turned out to be the most memorable trip I’ve ever taken. Having traveled extensively through six continents, that’s saying a lot.
Kenya is one of the best places to experience an African safari. We split our ten-day stay in the country across three different areas: Meru National Park, Lewa Conservancy and Loisaba Conservancy. Elewana planned our entire itinerary and transported us to and each camp by either a small commuter plane or private transportation vehicle.
We stayed at three different camps/lodges spread over the center of Kenya. Each one was different from the others in the style and vibe of the accommodations and surroundings. All three camps provided two game drives a day as well as their own unique activities.
In addition to adventure and tourism, the Elewana camps each play an important role in the wilderness landscape. They work hand-in-hand with the local community, conservancies and privately managed lands to provide economic stability, conservation of wildlife, and educational programs to help develop schools.
Here is a glimpse into each of the three experiences on my Kenya luxury safari:
Elsa’s Kopje Meru
Elsa’s Kopje Meru is named for Elsa, the lioness hand-raised by conservationists Joy and George Adamson and made famous by the book and movie Born Free. The 5-star lodge is nothing short of spectacular. Our two-story treehouse featured a hand-made four-poster bed draped in mosquito netting. The views over the savanna were only surpassed by the sounds of lions chuffing (non-threatening vocalizations) that lulled us to sleep each night.
The lodge is located in Meru National Park, which includes a vast stretch of savanna, grassy open plains, rivers and swamps, dense bush, acacia and baobab trees. Our first sighting was two female lions, just yards from our jeep. We also had some fantastic wildlife encounters with friendly, curious giraffes. Other animals included zebras, rhinos, antelope, cape buffalo, and other wildlife.
On our last day at Meru, Aiba, our guide at Elsa’s took us on a special hike up a small, nearby mountain to see a magnificent sunrise over the bush. What a way to end our sojourn in Meru!
Lewa Safari Camp
Covering 65,000 acres, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, is best known for its efforts to protect the endangered rhino from poaching. The rhino population has grown from 15 in 1984 to 100 black and 94 white rhinos today. We did have opportunities to see quite a few rhinos, including one that walked so close to our jeep that we could nearly touch it (not that we tried!). also on our adventurous safari on camel back.
Lewa Safari Camp is a special place that attracts celebrities as well as tourists. It is here that Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in October 2010. While referred to as a “tented camp,” Lewa represents glamping at its finest. Oversized tents are fitted out with comfortable beds and tastefully rustic décor. Rooms open onto a veranda with expansive views of the gorgeous Laikipia plains.
The Lewa camp has a special place called “the Hide” where visitors can take a short hike to an area overlooking the plains and a watering hole where wildlife can be spotted.
Loisaba Tented Camp
Our swanky tent at Loisaba Tented Camp was undoubtedly the most upscale of our three camps. The inside of the spacious tent could have been part of any high-end hotel, outfitted with modern African-chic furnishings. The entire back of the tent opened to a terrace overlooking the savanna. It had a mesh screen that could be zipped up at night to keep out any unwanted critters. We also enjoyed our private infinity pool, with the same stunning panoramic views.
We also stayed at Starbeds, another Loisaba property, which was hands-down the most memorable accommodation in Kenya. At night, staff come and roll your mosquito net-draped bed onto the open-air deck so you can slumber under the stars of the African sky! Truly magical!
The 56,000-acre Loisaba Conservancy was originally a cattle ranch. While the conservancy is now a haven for more than 260 bird and 50 mammal species, at Loisaba, it’s all about the elephants. Loisaba lies within the “elephant corridor,” a man-made pathway for the large population of elephants who need to safely move between Samburu and Mt. Kenya to find food.
All of the camps include optional adventures like bushwalks, night drives, and visits to local tribal villages.
My African safari was a life-changing experience.
It completely changed my view of Africa as “the Dark Continent,” tainted, in part, by a horrific, near-death car crash I experienced in South Africa in 2014. This time, I fell in love with Africa and highly recommend the Elewana safari. It’s the perfect combination of adventure and luxury for the over-50 traveler.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- This experience was the epitome of luxury. The lodges cater to your every need, whether it be comfort or (delicious) food preferences. The friendly staff just can’t do enough to please!
- Kenya luxury safari guides are extremely well-trained and knowledgeable about the habits of the animal and flora of the region.
- Getting so up-close and personal with exotic animals in the wild is a mind-blowing experience.
- We almost never saw another safari vehicle during our entire time on game drives on the three reserves – a very rare treat, but part of Elewana’s personal experience.
- Every late afternoon includes a traditional “sundowner,” when your guide goes off-road to a pretty place where you can watch the sun go down with your favorite cocktail in hand.
- There are opportunities to have a custom-cooked breakfast out in the savanna.
- You do spend a considerable amount of time in a jeep riding on bumpy roads, so if you have back problems, it might be an issue.
IF YOU GO
Be sure to get the whole scoop of Patti Morrow’s Kenya luxury safari on Luggage and Lipstick.
All photo credits: Patti Morrow
Disclosure: The author’s safari was hosted by The Elewana Collection
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