This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines open now

User menu
Acacia Camp
Acacia Camp

Acacia Camp: Our full report

Delightfully set in a grove of yellow fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea), Acacia Camp, often known as Acacia ...

... Camp Swara Plains, Swara Plains Acacia Camp or Swara Acacia Lodge, lies within the 80km2 Swara Plains Conservancy, 24km from Nairobi International Airport and just 2km from the Mombasa highway. The camp was sold in 2017 and the new owners have since made many improvements, which are not yet reflected in our write-up here. We hope to rectify that soon by re-visiting the camp. Meanwhile, please ask Expert Africa for the latest information.

After the busy and narrow Nairobi–Mombasa highway and the less than encouraging ranch boundary fence, Acacia Camp is a very pleasant surprise with lawns and planted borders, and tables and chairs scattered around. Three friendly dogs usually greet guests on arrival, followed closely by a warm welcome from long-time receptionist and barman Michael Kimani.

The central areas at Acacia Camp consist of a bar, terrace dining room/restaurant (where casual visitors often come for meals at weekends), and a lounge with TV and bookshelves. The whole set up feels like a well-worn family home, but it’s welcoming and the basics such as cold drinks and table service are handled professionally. Giraffe, impala and eland are often to be seen in camp and the lawns – which otherwise have something of the feel of an English country pub garden – swarm with birds.

The 13 en-suite bandas cluster in a crescent around the main lawn, gazebo and pond, close to the dining terrace. They are closely spaced – Acacia Camp is not a honeymooners’ dream in terms of privacy! They are also simple and rustic, but clean, and not completely basic. You just need to be prepared for a bit of debris from the thatched roofs. The reasonably comfy beds have floor-to-ceiling mosquito nets and there are rugs on the floors and small armchairs in the front porch areas. 12 of the bandas have two beds and one, the family unit, has four, and can hold one or two more if required.

The bathrooms are a little bare but adequate enough, with walk-in showers and shower curtains. Toiletries are strictly the essentials – mini-bars of soap in packets. Each banda has its own kuni-booster (a wood-burning water heater), but our hot-water supplies were variable: while banda 3 had great hot water, banda 2 had warmish water only. The water in the bandas is safe to drink or brush teeth in, but a bit salty, so filtered drinking water is supplied to guests.

Acacia Camp was built in 1982 for visiting American field studies students and has kept going as a popular weekend retreat for Nairobians and tourists in the know. Swara Plains Conservancy was transformed from the former Hopcraft Ranch in 2004, when the ranch’s raison d’être was lost after game meat was banned in Kenya. What is surprising is how far out in the bush it can feel, despite being only a few minutes’ drive from the busiest highway in the country. The conservancy (open to casual visitors for Ksh500) is open from dawn to dusk, but is largely empty during the week; most visitors come from Nairobi at weekends, and during school holidays. Within 50km or so of fencing, it sustains a large and viable community of some 3,000 savanna animals which you can see on game drives and walks. Mammals include more than 1,000 wildebeest and around a hundred giraffe, zebra, eland, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, hartebeest, aardvark, oryx, striped as well as spotted hyena, caracal, serval, and even cheetah. There are no elephants, buffalo or lions – so nothing on the ‘very dangerous’ list. They had a good wildebeest calving season in 2012, with hundreds of calves appearing on the plains.

Around the lodge itself, they get bushbabies and tree hyraxes at night, and vervet monkeys during the day. The vervets have become a serious pest, making it impossible to serve lunch buffets.

Some 275 bird species have been recorded at Swara Plains, including nesting martial eagles, European red-billed stork, bee-eaters, ostriches, steppe eagles, and pelicans around the dams.

Whether you choose to sit in a vehicle or do a game walk, Swara Plains’ 100km of tracks are available to explore. Game drives (or night drives with a spotlight) currently cost Ksh3,000/hour (US$35) and game walks Ksh500/hour (US$6). The camp also organises sundowners at a spot where, on a clear day, you can see the peaks of Mount Kenya to the north and the snows of Kilimanjaro to the south.

Our view

We’ve driven past Acacia Camp so many times that staying there for the first time in 2012 was a revelation. It’s quite possibly the quickest way to get truly into the bush after arrival in Nairobi and it’s just as easy to get back to the airport from the camp. We enjoyed everything about it – the garden setting, the good food, the simplicity of the cabins just a stone’s throw from the dining terrace and the plentiful evidence of flourishing plains wildlife so close to the city.

Richard Trillo

Richard Trillo

Kenya expert


Nairobi, Kenya
Ideal length of stay
2 nights
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is 24km from Acacia Camp. Wilson Airport is a distance of 35km.
Accessible by

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board
Food quality
Manager Rainie Samuels gets high praise for her food. We ate only dinner and breakfast, but we were surprised how good the food was in a camp that is quite basic in many respects.

For dinner we were served a pumpkin soup with homemade rolls, followed by thinly cut steak, well tenderised and fried, with sautéed potatoes, deep-fried aubergines, carrots, string beans and gravy. It was nicely presented, too, with individual side dishes of vegetables and a central dish of steak. Dessert was a homemade apple and sultana pie with vanilla ice cream.

Breakfast was a standard Kenyan presentation of cereals, fruit and toast, and cooked breakfast to order – choice of eggs, bacon, beans, sausage.

We didn’t have lunch, but it normally includes soup, salads, cold pasta and sometimes a quiche, with a pud to follow.


Attitude towards children
Acacia Camp considers itself to be ‘safe and child-friendly’, and there are no age restrictions.
Property’s age restrictions
Special activities & services
Housekeeping staff could babysit, but there’s nobody with a professional qualification.
Cots and highchairs are available. There are TV and board games in the lounge area for wet days.
Generally recommended for children
Acacia Camp is great for children; it’s not the sort of place where guests will be surprised if children are letting off steam in the garden.
The Twiga creek – a small stream – flows through camp, but it’s only full for a few days a year in April and October; the rest of the year it’s just a little ditch. Overall, not too much supervision is required.


Acacia Camp offers free WiFi, and there’s cellphone coverage for all three major operators.
TV & radio
Yes, in the lounge (DSTV)

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Medical care
There’s a resident, fully trained nurse on the ranch, very nearby, and first-aid kits at the camp. The Daystar Hospital is 5km away.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
Camp staff stay alert by day, and there are two night-time askaris with VHF radios. Three armed security men patrol the ranch.
Fire safety
Half-a-dozen fire extinguishers are positioned around the camp.


  • Birdwatching



Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
There’s a central lock-box. No currency exchange is possible.
Accepted payment on location
Cash payments for extras are preferred in Kenyan shillings, but the lodge could take US dollars, euros or pounds sterling. Credit cards are not accepted.

Other lodges in Nairobi

Alternative places to stay in this same area.

The Emakoko

The Emakoko

The Emakoko is a luxurious, owner-managed safari lodge in a beautiful gorge on the edge of Nairobi National Park.

96% (77 reviews)
Eka Hotel

Eka Hotel

The Eka is an affordably priced business-class hotel in a relatively convenient location between Nairobi International Airport and Wilson Airport.

86% (61 reviews)


The Ole-Sereni is a modern, stylish hotel neighbouring Nairobi National Park and located 6km from Wilson domestic airport.

79% (56 reviews)
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport

Crowne Plaza Nbi Apt

The Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport (formerly known as the Lazizi Premiere and now part of the InterContinental Hotels Group) is the oldest hotel at Nairobi International Airport.

88% (52 reviews)
Macushla House

Macushla House

Macushla House is a very pleasant, small, owner-managed bed and breakfast hotel in a leafy part of southwest Nairobi, very convenient for visiting the Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage.

90% (48 reviews)
Aero Club of East Africa

Aero Club of East Africa

The Aero Club of East Africa is a private members' club in the grounds of Wilson Airport, Nairobi, offering offering comfortable rooms and a good restaurant, bar and swimming pool to non-members.

79% (27 reviews)
Four Points by Sheraton

Four Points Nairobi Apt

The Four Points by Sheraton (part of the Marriot group) is one of the newest additions to the hotels within Kenya International Airport’s security perimeter.

91% (26 reviews)
Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor is a unique, perennially popular lodge on the outskirts of Nairobi, offering up-close-and-personal encounters with the rare Rothschild giraffes that roam its extensive grounds.

97% (23 reviews)
Nairobi Tented Camp

Nairobi Tented Camp

Nairobi Tented Camp is the only tented camp located inside Nairobi National Park, making it a great option for a true safari stay close to the city and airports.

90% (6 reviews)
The Norfolk Hotel

The Norfolk Hotel

The Norfolk Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Nairobi and has a reputation for its colourful history dating back to 1904.

100% (4 reviews)


The Palacina is a complex of accommodation options in a quieter part of central Nairobi.

80% (4 reviews)
Hemingways Nairobi

Hemingways Nairobi

Hemingways Nairobi is a luxury country-house style hotel, with a spa and gym, in the wealthy suburb of Karen.

100% (3 reviews)


Hogmead is a stylish, luxury boutique hotel/homestay in a secluded part of Langata in south-west Nairobi, very close to Nairobi National Park and the elephant orphanage.

80% (2 reviews)


Sankara is a strikingly built hotel in the bustling central Nairobi suburb of Westlands, primarily used as a business stay, with very good dining and leisure facilities.

90% (2 reviews)
One Forty Eight

One Forty Eight

One Forty Eight is a very stylish boutique hotel in one of the leafiest corners of the southwest Nairobi suburb of Karen-Langata. The Giraffe Centre at Giraffe Manor is just a 10-minute walk away.

100% (1 review)
The Stanley

The Stanley

The Stanley is a large, traditional hotel – the oldest in Nairobi – offering a range of facilities.

No reviews yet


Design-led, contemporary hotel in the Village Market area of Gigiri, a largely diplomatic and luxury residential suburb 10km north of Nairobi’s central business district.

No reviews yet

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link

New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Order a brochure
  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team