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Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit

Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit

Overview: Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary was opened in 2016, in Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. The facility rescues young elephants, orphaned due to abandonment, drought, poaching, separation or falling into wells from which they cannot escape.

Once a young elephant has been reported as alone, the initial aim is to observe it over a period of 48 hours and attempt to reunite it with its mother and herd. If this does not occur naturally, Reteti steps in and brings the elephant to their sanctuary. Once here, the keepers provide 24-hour care until the elephant is fit to be released back into the wild – a process which takes several years to achieve depending on the age of the orphan when first rescued.

Reteti is the first community-owned and community-run elephant sanctuary in Kenya – a feat the Samburu people have achieved solely through their own initiative and drive. The local people have recognised the benefits of helping and conserving their wildlife, not least for the employment opportunities that this creates and the subsequent far-reaching improvements in livelihoods. Reteti is completely staffed by Samburu people, including a growing number of women. This represents a significant and very positive shift in attitudes and perception of women in employment; in fact, Reteti has the first female elephant keepers in Africa.

When visitors arrive at the sanctuary, there is an introduction by one of the keepers and an opportunity to witness one of the feeding sessions from a shady, elevated platform looking down into the main enclosure. The baby elephants are bottle-fed individually by the keepers, up close to the viewing platform. Witnessing the genuine love and care that the keepers have for their young charges is truly touching – and something that is clearly reciprocated by the elephants when observing their interactions with their keepers.

A back-of-house tour is also possible, which allows you the opportunity to chat to the keepers and learn more about the individual elephants and their stories. While these are still early days at Reteti and no elephants are ready yet to be re-released, it will be a momentous and emotional occasion when the first orphans are mature enough to move back into the wild.

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is an excellent example of community-based conservation and is a cause well worth supporting. It offers visitors a very different experience to other orphan sanctuaries: intimate, quiet and emotive, with a fascinating insight into the relationships between orphans and those who care for them.

Reteti is most easily visited from Sarara, about 20 minutes drive away. It can also be visited from Saruni Rhino, Sarara Treehouses or Saruni Samburu camps though the transfer time can be up to a couple of hours. There is also a private airstrip for fly-in visits. Visiting hours are 08:30-10:00 and 11:30-13:00 and while there are no formal limits on how many people can visit for any session, the remoteness of the sanctuary means it is rarely busy, which is a huge bonus.

Age restrictions: None, but children need to be under control at all times.

Availability: Visits should be arranged in advance to ensure it is logistically possible to include in an itinerary.

Costs: A standard visit, shared with other visitors in the same time slot, costs US$35 per person. An exclusive, private visit for your family or group can also be booked in the same time slots, subject to availability, at a cost of US$500 plus US$35 per person.

Please note: Expert Africa only books excursions as a part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary.
Start location
Sarara Camp, Saruni Rhino Camp or Saruni Samburu Camp
End location
Back at your safari camp
Meals included
No meals are included
One-and-a-half hours, plus transfers

Photo gallery

What to look forward to.

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Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit reviews

79 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.

12 reviews since August 2007
Ms M.fromUSA

29 Jan 2024

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"It was an absolute highlight...wonderful and amazing work being done here …" Read Ms M.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Ms D.fromCanada

10 Feb 2024

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"Wonderful interaction with the elephants and observed feeding beside us. …" Read Ms D.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent


29 Jan 2024

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"Very informative …" Read HLG’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Ms A.fromManchester

15 Feb 2023

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"Fun to see the sanctuary I've watched from afar over social media …" Read Ms A.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Dr W & Dr DfromLeeds

24 Jan 2023

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"Excellent...heartening to see how well they are being looked after. …" Read Dr W & Dr D’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mrs K.fromGravesend

10 Oct 2022

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"wow wow wow, what a truly amazing place …" Read Mrs K.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent


22 Sep 2022

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"A must to visit...wonderful to see so many women working here! …" Read Lola’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr/Mrs EfromWisconsin US

11 Jun 2022

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"This is an excellent endeavor of the Samburu community and we highly recommend i …" Read Mr/Mrs E’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Ms U.fromToronto

7 Mar 2022

"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"

"A truly special place...we had the opportunity to talk to the keepers …" Read Ms U.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs JfromHanwell

20 Feb 2022

"Elephants and more"

"If you like watching baby elephants rolling around in mud, you'll love it …" Read Mr & Mrs J’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit reviews

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