Sirikoi's four luxury tented rooms are substantial canvas and timber constructions.
Sirikoi: Our full report
Sirikoi is a luxury safari camp and lodge, located by a game-rich watering hole in a private area of the 250km² Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in south-eastern Laikipia. With only a small number of tents it aims to offer a high-quality, personal experience.
Sirikoi was conceived and designed by Willie and Sue Roberts, well-known East African safari operators. It first opened its doors back in 2000, and on visiting in August 2012 we found a luxurious, unpretentious and very well-run camp in a lovely location.
It has just four well-appointed tented rooms, plus a two-bedroom cottage and a three-bedroom house used by families or groups of friends. Set on manicured lawns shaded by acacia trees, it’s an intimate and high-quality operation, with a great number of activities on offer.
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Sirikoi looks onto a large natural watering hole with a small salt lick, which is frequented by animals – you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your tent to enjoy the wildlife here. Our pre-dinner drinks were accompanied by the sound of two white rhinos grazing on the lawns just a few metres away. Although Sirikoi is cleverly fenced to keep giraffe and elephant from destroying their trees, animals such as buffalo, rhino and plains game wander freely in the grounds.
Despite feeling very luxurious, Sirikoi enjoys an exceptionally homely feel. Its spacious central area is a large, solid, thatched building which houses a main lounge and small bar. It’s been designed with a real eye for style, and the family photos, plush sofas, and numerous coffee-table books scattered around make it an inviting place to while away a few hours between activities. A very well stocked bar is always open, with some skilled bartenders to whip up a cocktail of your choice. In front of the lounge area, a large shaded decking provides the perfect breakfast and lunch location, while dinner takes place next to a roaring campfire. A large infinity pool with plenty of comfortable loungers faces the watering hole.
Conspicuously placed around the lodge and gardens are sculptures by Murray Grant, a renowned Scottish-Kenyan artist, which guests can purchase if they like.
Accommodation at Sirikoi consists of four luxury tents, a two-bedroom private cottage, and a three-bedroom private house. Neither the house nor the cottage have their own pool, but guests are welcome to use the pool at the main lodge.
- The four tented rooms are identical in design and angled to face the waterhole and plains beyond. Arguably, the two tents closer to the main areas lack a little privacy, as the path runs along the front, but as they’re set slightly back, it’s not a real negative. Each tent is well designed with great attention to detail. The bowl chairs on the veranda are hard to resist during siesta time, whilst a small fireplace in the ‘living’ area makes for a very cosy room on cool evenings. There’s a large double bed, or twin beds, flanked by bedside tables, with beautiful Kitengela Glass water decanters. Behind the bed is space to store your luggage and clothes out of sight.
- At the rear of the tents, the impressive bathrooms feature stand-alone Victorian baths, with uninterrupted views through the gauze windows to the bush beyond. There’s also a separate shower, flush loo and twin wash basins.
- The two-bedroom cottage, with both bedrooms en suite, is set slightly away from the main areas, and is quite self-contained. Made from wood, stone and thatch, it feels much more established than Sirikoi’s tents. It has its own separate living and dining areas (with TV) and a large deck, meaning that guests here can be quite independent from the main camp. Like the tents and main areas, it’s really well designed, combining good quality with a relaxed and homely feel. This would be a great choice for families or two couples who want the luxury of setting their own schedule, and the option of privacy.
- Much like the cottage, the new three-bedroom house is entirely independent of the main lodge, with spacious communal areas and decking. Two of the bedrooms here are in one unit, while the other is slightly separate. All three bedrooms are en suite.
The service at Sirikoi was brilliant – with more than 70 staff it’s no great surprise that things run like clockwork. The managers, brothers Amory and Jay, are family of the owners Willie and Sue. They run the camp in a very professional but relaxed way, and you feel immediately at home as soon as you enter. Behind the scenes, an enormous vegetable patch contributes fresh produce to delicious meals, and thanks to some very ingenious technology, the whole camp runs entirely on solar power.
Activities at Sirikoi are numerous and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy boasts some excellent game-viewing opportunities, with a high chance of seeing rhino and Grevy’s zebra amongst the more common game. Sirikoi always try to give everyone their own vehicle and guide for drives in Lewa, although this can’t be guaranteed in peak season.
Bush walks can be arranged, too, albeit with advance notice, since an armed ranger is needed. When we visited, Sirikoi’s managers were both hoping to get a gun licence soon so they could conduct walks themselves.
Other activities can be arranged at extra cost.
- Horseriding for both beginners and experienced riders with the nearby Lewa Wilderness (US$35 per person), or with Borana (US$50pp).
- Forest walks (US$30pp, plus a tip for the ranger) to the nearby Ngare Ndare forest, where there is a beautiful waterfall pool to swim in.
- Massages by a local lady are available at $80 for an hour.
- A guided trip to the local village of Il Ngwesi, about one hour away from Sirikoi, can be arranged for $35
- Flights in a new, 1930s style bi-plane can be arrange at a cost of $600 per half hour.
- Helicopter flights are increasingly popular at Sirikoi. Although expensive (around $2000 per hour) they’re a fantastic way to appreciate the beauty and sheer size of the local environment and nearby Mount Kenya.
- Fishing, fly camping and other adventurous excursions can be arranged, either just for a day or for a few nights through Willie Robert’s sister company, Roberts Safaris. Prices vary depending on whether you take plane, road or helicopter transfers.
Our viewSirikoi succeeds very well. It combines a very high degree of attention to detail with an unpretentious set-up, excellent food and friendly staff. The private cottages and house would be perfect for families or groups, while the tents would suit couples looking for a stylish retreat.
Ideal length of stay: At least 3–4 nights to enable you to try a range of the activities.
Directions: Sirikoi is 15 minutes’ drive from Lewa Downs airstrip for scheduled flights and charters, but will soon have its own airstrip for charters. Helicopters land on the lawn.
Owner: Sue and Willy Roberts
Staff: 4 resident guides – 2 silver and 2 bronze.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Sirikoi on our visit in August 2012 was excellent – no doubt due in part to their exceptional vegetable garden. Almost all the ingredients are produced on site, with only dried goods and some meat bought in. Everything is very fresh and healthy, and beautifully presented.
Breakfast was a buffet selection of breads, cereals and fruit, with a hot cooked breakfast available to order along with plenty of hot fresh tea and coffee. We sat outside on the shaded decking to eat, which was lovely.
Lunch is generally light and fresh. We enjoyed boerewors, a tasty spinach flan, a green salad, fresh avocado and tomato salad and a calamari and nut salad. This was finished by a rich chocolate mousse and a cheese board.
Dinner was a communal affair, and we all gathered around the fire for a pre-dinner drink and bitings (canapés) before moving to one long table. The Thai chicken soup and garlic bread was followed by roast beef, with plenty of sides from the garden to accompany it, followed by flavoursome grilled mango and vanilla ice cream.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included, except for premium wines and premium spirits.
Attitude towards children: Sirikoi suggest that children should be around age 10 and upwards so that they can make the most of the camp.
Property’s age restrictions: No under-5s in the tents. No age restrictions in the house or cottage.
Special activities & services: Activities such as the forest walk, which ends at a waterfall you can swim in, are very popular with children. Sirikoi can offer a babysitting service, but note that this will be a member of the housekeeping staff, and not someone trained in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: The cottage and house make a good option for families with older children, but because the camp is wild, and big game does pass through, it is imperative that children are under constant parental supervision.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: Free WiFi is usually available in all the tents and central areas. There are no phones in the rooms, but there is generally good cellphone
TV & radio: There are TVs in the cottage and the house, but not in the tents.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There are first-aid kits in the lodge and office. In August 2012, staff members were about to take part in a first-aid course.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Night watchmen patrol the camp and guests are always escorted to their tents in the hours of darkness.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the rooms and central areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There are digital safes in each room. Sirikoi can exchange small amounts of money, or they can swipe your card and give you money back.
Accepted payment on location: Visa & MasterCard, with a surcharge (typically 5%). The preferred currency is US dollars, but payments may also be made in GB pounds, Kenyan shillings and euros.