Lewa Safari Camp is one of only two tented camps in the whole of the Lewa Conservancy.
Lewa Safari Camp: Our full report
Lewa Safari Camp is one of only four permanent places to stay on the 250km2 Lewa Conservancy, and though it is run by a well-known safari outfit, it is the only one that is owned by the conservancy itself. Profits are all ploughed back into conservation and the surrounding communities. High-quality tented rooms add to the overall feel-good factor.
Lewa was once a private family ranch owned by the Craigs, who – in response to the ever-reducing numbers of rhino in Kenya, which had become perilously low by the 1970s – had set aside a small area for breeding rhino. Success in this venture led them to dedicate the entire ranch to conservation, and in 1995 the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was designated.
Lewa Safari Camp itself is located in the far west of the conservancy and is a great base from which to explore. Originally built in the 1980s as a home for the rhino manager, the entire property is fenced and its main areas have the appearance of a simple but comfortable colonial farmhouse, with earthy red walls on the outside, and cool cream walls and exposed wooden beams on the inside. Open fireplaces, wooden floors and comfortable sofas make for a cosy, homely atmosphere which is enhanced by relaxed and friendly staff. Guests tend to gather for drinks at the bar here, before settling at their individual tables for dinner.
In front of Lewa Safari Camp, a veranda looks out across lush green lawns to a birdbath and waterhole. Breakfast is usually set up here, to be enjoyed before or after your morning activity, depending on what you choose to do that day. A sparkling pool is set with sun loungers and is the focus of an outdoor lounge area, while the table-tennis table appeals to those who want some afternoon entertainment between activities.
The 15 tented rooms at Lewa Safari Camp are widely spread through the bush, and very private. Four of them form two family units, each sleeping four. Relatively simple in style, with white, beige and natural colours in the design, the rooms are unfussy but also quite stylish. Each is raised on a wooden platform with canvas walls that can open right out, and a thatched roof that offers additional shade and helps to keep the room cool. Huge beds and rugs on the floor create a homely feel, whilst 24-hour lighting and a writing desk are useful practicalities. Two rooms are slightly bigger than the others: one with three single beds and a second with a double and a single.
In each room, the bathroom is located to one side, through a curtain, and has white-washed stone rather than canvas walls. Rough wood makes up the sink area and there is a good shower with toiletries provided.
Activities at Lewa Safari Camp include game drives in comfortable 4WD Toyotas – each with three rows so that all guests have an unobstructed view to one side. The game viewing is good here, with rhino being the real highlight, though the views of Mount Kenya are pretty impressive too. Guests who wish to head out on longer drives to explore further afield in the conservancy can opt to take a packed breakfast or lunch. Walks are also offered here, led by a guide and an armed ranger who take you out across the plains. These are best done in the cool mornings, when the light and views are stunning.
A further range of activities at Lewa Safari Camp can be arranged at extra cost. With advance notice, horse and camel safaris, run by the neighbouring Lewa Wilderness, can be organized at US$50 per person. Visits to Il Ngwesi village, which can give real insight into the local Maasai culture, cost US$45 per person. Finally, there is the option of a day trip, at US$35 per person, into the Ngare Ndare Forest. These walks, accompanied by a guide and an armed ranger, offer a real contrast to the plains of rest of the conservancy. Though we didn’t get a chance to go here when we last visited Lewa we were told that the canopy walkway, and swimming in the waterfall and pools, is great fun.
Our viewLewa Safari Camp is a seamlessly run property, which is comfortable, well kept and professional. Dining at separate tables rather than guests all eating together creates a slightly more formal atmosphere than at the other properties on the Lewa Conservancy, but the activities are great and service very friendly. We think this is an excellent place from which to base yourself to explore Lewa.
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights
Directions: There are daily flights from Nairobi to Lewa airstrip, which take about 60-90 minutes, depending on the route taken. It is then a further 45-minute drive to Lewa Safari Camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited Lewa Safari Camp we thought the food was very good, with fresh ingredients most of which we were told are sourced locally
Breakfast is usually served on the veranda between 7.00 and 9.30am. A buffet of fresh fruits and cereals is laid out, whilst a waiter will bring fresh tea and coffee, and take your order for a cooked breakfast. Those making an early start may prefer to take a cooked breakfast out on safari with them, which will include fruit and cooked items such as hard boiled eggs and cold sausages. Tea or coffee kept hot in a flask will help take the chill off the morning.
Most people head back to Lewa Safari Camp for a buffet lunch, also served on the veranda whenever possible. Expect tasty salads, meat dishes, fresh bread and cold dishes such as pasta or potato salad. Bush meals and packed, picnic lunches can also be provided if you're going for an all-day game drive.
Afternoon tea is served before your afternoon activity, with tea, herbal teas or coffee along with homemade cakes and biscuits.
Dinner starts with canapés and drinks at Lewa Safari Camp’s bar, or by the fire pit in the garden, before guests move off to their own tables. A three-set course meal is then served to the table. The starter is often a soup, then we had a tasty main course of chicken and vegetables finished off with a pudding and tea or coffee.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Beer, soft drinks, house wines and local spirits are included. Champagne, premium wines and spirits are at additional cost.
Further dining info: On request.
Wildlife safaris: Lewa Conservancy stands out for having 10% of Kenya’s black rhino population, plus a healthy number of white rhinos, and a very high population of the finely marked Grevy’s zebra – and a scattering of other big game.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Kenya
Attitude towards children: Lewa Safari Camp doesn’t particularly recommend the camp to anyone younger than seven years old, but is really quite child-friendly. Meeting the tracker dogs that are used to protect the rhinos is a popular experience.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no specific minimum age.
Special activities & services: Lewa Safari Camp can arrange early meals and child-friendly walks around the camp and within the fence. For added entertainment, there are a swimming pool, table tennis and board games.
Equipment: Highchairs and cots are available. Lewa Safari Camp can offer babysitting and child care at extra charge, though note that this will be by one of the housekeeping staff and not someone specially trained in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: Lewa Safari Camp is fenced and so comparatively good for children, though parents must supervise them at all times. That said, the evening atmosphere is quite adult and so might not suit younger or more boisterous children.
Communications: There is free WiFi in Lewa Safari Camp’s central areas, but there is no computer for guests’ use so you will need your own device. There is also intermittent cellphone reception around the lodge, mostly near the central, reception area.
TV & radio: There is no TV for guests' use, but for big sporting occasions a plan can be made with staff TV.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The borehole water supply is double-filtered. Drinking water is provided in flasks in the rooms rather than in branded plastic bottles.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit in the lodge and one in each vehicle; guides are first-aid trained. Lewa clinic is close by for emergencies, and the camp has links to the flying doctor service. Nanyuki is a 90-minute drive away and has a good hospital.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are guards on site and guests are escorted to their tents after dinner. The camp also has an electric fence which reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, the chance of big game passing through camp.
Fire safety: Lewa Safari Camp has designated fire assembly points, and a fire plan in each of the rooms. Extinguishers are also by every room and central areas, and the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included and takes 24 hours. Items are hand washed, and for cultural reasons ladies’ underwear cannot be included.
Money: There is a safe in reception for valuables.
Accepted payment on location: You can settle any extras at Lewa Safari Camp in cash using US dollars, British pounds or euros. They also accept Visa and Mastercard without a surcharge.