Sarara Tented Camp
Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mathews Mountains, Kenya
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SARARA TENTED CAMP -
MATHEWS MOUNTAINS, KENYA
Sarara is located within the lands of the Namunyak (meaning 'a place of peace') Wildlife Conservation Trust, an area of approximately
75,000 hectares folded around the southern corner of the fabled Mathews Mountain range of
northern Kenya. This is home to the proud Samburu people, a group of semi-nomadic pastoralists who
have long shown tolerance for the wildlife that co-exists alongside their cattle. Sarara sits on community-owned land, outside the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
The Trust was set
up in 1995 specifically to promote wildlife conservation and to assist the local community to benefit
from tourism, in return for protecting the wildlife species living on their land.
The conservation work carried out by the Namunyak Trust to date has been hugely successful. Today, several thousand elephant are recorded as living and breeding peacefully in the southern Mathews Range area, together with a variety of other wildlife species such as buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, greater and lesser kudu, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, impala and dik dik.
Sarara is hosted by Piers
and Hilary Bastard, Tishie Littlewood, and their dedicated and friendly team.
images of Sarara Tented Camp, click Sarara Tented Camp
Sarara tented camp has five luxury sleeping tents, each with its own flush loo and open-air bush shower. All tents can be adjusted for single, twin, double or triples. Comfortable beds, plus quality bed linen, bathrobes, towels and other essentials are provided. The camp can accommodate a total of 10 people in the five double tents. Gas lamps provide lighting in each tent and mMineral water is provided in the tents.
There is a beautiful lounge / dining banda which overlooks a natural rock swimming pool and waterhole and has unrivalled views of the Mathews Mountains beyond.
Electrical items can be charged from a central point – no power sockets in tents.
There is office internet access via VSAT.
No mobile phone network at Sarara.
No credit card facilities.
Full board accommodation, house wines, beers & soft drinks.
Namunyak is a truly un-spoiled wilderness conservation area with few roads. In addition to the usual viewing of big game, the main focus of activities on Namunyak are:
Escorted bush walks with local Namunyak community game scouts as guides
Shared game drives in custom built 4-wheel-drive vehicles
Hiking into the Mathews forest
Climbing to the top of Lolokwe with donkeys
Fly camping safaris with camels along the wide sand ‘luggas’
Visits to the Samburu Singing wells (only in the dry season)
Sarara is a dry season refuge for several hundred elephant and numbers increase dramatically during the rainy seasons. Lion and leopard are resident and there are two separate groups of the endangered African Wild Dog, with one pack numbering at least thirty individuals. Other wildlife species of particular interest include kudu, Grevy's zebra, striped hyena and gerenuk. There are black and white colobus monkeys in the forest.
A Typical Day at Sarara
For many, Sarara Camp is considered the most beautiful and spectacular of all the community based lodges in northern Kenya. Nestled amongst the southern foothills of the fabled Mathews mountain range, directly beneath Warges peak (8,500’), Sarara Camp was the brainchild of Piers Bastard (a third generation Kenyan of farming stock) who built this stunning camp in 1997 specifically to help the Namunyak community to benefit from wildlife conservation. Piers and his Kenyan born wife Hilary are your hosts.
Early mornings at Sarara can only be described as truly spectacular! Tea or coffee and home baked cookies will be served on your veranda deck by staff from the local community as the sun rises … incredible hues of pink and crimson red pouring over the eastern horizon. This will be followed by a fascinating stroll along the wide, sandy Sarara ‘lugga’. Accompanied by armed local field scouts who were born and raised in the area, guests may hope to find elephant, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, the elegant lesser kudu plus an enormous variety of birds before breakfast. A very special treat would be to encounter our resident pack of up to 70 African wild dogs who frequently den and hunt close to camp. A traditional safari breakfast cooked out in the middle of the bush sets the tone for the remainder of the morning.
At around 10.00 a.m. guests may be interested in visiting the famous ‘Sarara Singing Wells’. Here, Samburu tribes people bring their cattle and goats to water on a daily basis. Stripped naked, the muscular warriors chant traditional Samburu songs as they pass water up in a human chain. All are welcome to mix and mingle but we respectfully ask that guests do not take any photographs as this changes these proud nomads uncomplicated lifestyle forever.
By mid-morning the sun is getting hot. A return to camp and a dive into the clear natural rock swimming pool to cool off. Then relax and enjoy a buffet lunch. With luck a number of elephant will come to mud bath in the waterhole just a few metres in front of your tents. While away the afternoon by taking a nap or writing up a memory-filled safari journal.
As the heat dissipates, it is time to venture out once more. This could be either a fascinating game drive in specially prepared 4x4 vehicles or a camel ride. Leopard abound in the area and frequently seen. As the sun sets, it is time for cocktails and an incredible bush dinner under the twinkling stars.
Optional activities include an overnight fly camping outing with camels, or an amazing walk high up into the indigenous rain forest of the Mathews range.
Namunyak means ‘The Place of Peace’ in the local Samburu dialect. Sarara Camp and the entire Namunyak community warmly welcome all visitors to come in peace to this unique and special place.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa was once a cattle ranch; it then became a heavily guarded black rhino sanctuary, and it is now the headquarters for a non-profit wildlife conservancy, which has gained a world-wide reputation for extending the benefits of conservation beyond its borders..
The Craig/Douglas family first came to Lewa Downs in 1922, and managed it as a cattle ranch for over 50 years. Unlike many other ranchers in the area, they had always valued the wildlife that shared the land with the cattle, and developed wildlife tourism as an additional activity.
By the early 1980s it was uncertain whether any black rhinos would survive in Kenya. Poaching for horn had reduced Kenya's rhinos from some 20,000 in the mid-1970s to a few hundred by 1986. It was clear that the only way to prevent their complete extinction was to create high-security sanctuaries
In 1983 the Craigs and Mrs. Anna Merz - who funded the programme - decided to establish the fenced and guarded Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary at the western end of Lewa Downs. The rhino sanctuary was stocked partly with animals from other reserves and partly from isolated individuals from northern Kenya, whose likely survival in the wild was a matter of months at most. The black rhino that were caught settled down and bred, and white rhino were added.
After ten years, it was clear that the rhinos needed more space, and the sanctuary was expanded to cover the rest of the ranch, and the adjoining Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve .
The perimeter was almost entirely fenced, for security and to ensure that elephants did not raid crops in neighbouring farms, but the ecological connections between Lewa and neighbouring wildlife areas were maintained by leaving gaps in the fence for animal movements. At the same time the entire property was converted to a wildlife sanctuary, as the Craig family handed over the management of the ranch to a non-profit organization - the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Read more about Lewa on their website: http://www.lewa.org/
Kinanjui Lesenteria was the Head of Security at LWC at its inception in 1995 but he has worked for the Craigs since 1966. His first job was to protect domestic and wild animals from poachers. Later, when Ian Craig left school, Kinanjui was given the responsibility of teaching him about hunting and wildlife. In the ten years that the two spent out together in the bush an enduring friendship developed.
A born hunter, Kinanjui had an unparalleled knowledge, respect and understanding of wildlife. So, when hunting was banned in 1977, there was nobody better equipped to protect and care for the rhino and other endangered species at Lewa. In 1997 Kinanjui, an Ndorobo Maasai, persuaded the Ndrorobo Maasai communities of Il Ngwesi and Namunyak of Ian’s integrity and to accept his help in building a lodge as a tourist attraction. Kinanjui retired in 2001, but he is still visiting Lewa on a regular basis.
Sarara Camp is closed for April, May and November.
By schedule flights to Nanyuki departing daily from Wilson Airport and connecting air transfer to Sarara.
By Private Charter to Namunyak airstrip.
By Road via Archer’s Post – a days drive from Nairobi.
It is approximately five hours’ driving time from Nanyuki to Sarara and it is recommended to go by air. Air Kenya has daily scheduled flights to Nanyuki, Lewa Downs or Samburu National Reserve. Boskovic Air Charters (Nairobi) or Tropic Air (Nanyuki) will be delighted to fly guests by private air charter directly to Namunyak airstrip.
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