Lewa Safari Camp

LOCATION: Curving around the top of a crescent-shaped ledge, Lewa Safari Camp sits on high land above the Laikipian plain. To the south is the jagged, snow-capped silhouette of Mount Kenya, to the north, the lowlands. The huge variety of the terrain in the 65,000 acre Lewa Wilderness Trust wildlife conservancy becomes increasingly evident as you try different activities – in a jeep, we covered acres of flat grassland spotting black rhino and cheetah, but on a walking safari we clambered up and down the sides of a steep, wooded valley, spotting elephants and tree-dwelling owls.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Drawing up to Lewa in a jeep, it has an immediate air of permanence that unfenced camps don’t possess. Your first sight is of the main camp area, a solid building with a beautifully-decorated and expansive lounge area, a dining room, and a wide terrace with space for both lounging and having breakfast and lunch, which are good quality buffets. There’s a gift shop packed with souvenirs with everything from clothes and crafts to a Swahili-English dictionary – useful to thank the guides and staff for the exemplary service guests receive here.
With its own vegetable patch and water-cooled fridges, the camp has many sustainable elements, and also supports the local community with schools and healthcare.

THE FACTS: There are 12 en-suite safari tents, though the fact they’re mounted on wooden decking, have thatched roofs and solid walls around the bathrooms makes them feel more like rooms than tents. There are some lovely touches – brightly coloured bathrobes, cosy throws and wooden writing desks – that make the feel more luxe than utilitarian.
Guests are warmly welcomed by British managers Murray and Issy, a former Royal Marine and nurse respectively, so you’ll know clients are in safe hands. The guides are goldmines of information. Nissa, the head guide, took us for a walking safari and could not only identify any animal from its paw prints, but would take an educated estimate at its weigh and the speed it was travelling.

A GOOD BASE FOR: An exclusive Kenyan safari. Lewa Downs, the house within the conservancy, is where Prince William proposed to Kate. This area doesn’t get the some visitor levels as the Mara and so there’s no need to share wildlife. It’s outside the heavily regulated National Parks in a private conservancy, so guests can do everything from taking bush breakfasts and sundowners to safaris by foot, on horseback or even on camels.

WOW: There’s a swimming pool with pretty amazing views across the valley, and a shady poolhouse by its side, so make sure clients have enough time for a few hours of relaxation as well as taking part in all the activities. They’ll also enjoy spotting the lodge’s semi-domesticated ostrich, which pecks its way around the grounds.

HOW MUCH: $500 per person per night

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