Sarara Treehouses: Our full report
Opened in 2018, Sarara Treehouses is the sister property of Sarara, which has gained a reputation as one ...... of northern Kenya’s top camps. Located in a tropical forest and with breathtaking views of the Mathews Range, Sarara Treehouses provides a luxurious base to explore the wildlife of the Namunyak Conservancy.
While only a twenty-minute drive from its sister camp, Sarara, Sarara Treehouses feels like a world away. Rather than being on an open hillside, Sarara Treehouses is nestled in a verdant, mature forest. Colourful birds swoop through the trees and elephants explore the forest floor below. The views from the central area are spectacular and you feel surrounded by the mountains, with the dramatic profile of Warges, the highest mountain in the Mathews Range, looming above you.
The camp is deeply embedded into the local community and around 60 per cent of Sarara Treehouses’ income is invested back into the area, with funds being used to support a wide range of projects from conservation to education and healthcare. As a result Sarara and Sarara Treehouses have become vital lifelines for the local Samburu people, which make up some 1,200 families in the Namunyak community.
Sarara Treehouses is finished to the same high standards as Sarara, providing a good level of luxury with a rustic aesthetic. Large stone boulders form the back of the lounge and dining area, while exposed branches are set into the walls. The whole camp has been tastefully styled with lots of natural materials and a colour scheme of creams, fawns and forest greens. The result is a stylish, sophisticated camp which compliments its arboreal setting.
The central parts of camp are next to the small parking area and this is the highest area in the camp. The lounge and dining area are a high, thatched, open-sided structure from which you have views over the forest and the guest tents below and up to the mountains behind. A number of soft sofas and a coffee table are ranged at one end, while a large communal dining table sits at the other. There’s a well-stocked bar here with friendly staff on hand to offer you a drink. Steps lead down to a beautiful swimming pool with a couple of loungers and a daybed under a thatched roof.
From the main area of camp, a fairly steep and irregular flight of 73 steps descends the cliff to the valley below. Here, a network of raised walkways leads through the canopy to eight tree tents mounted on platforms among the trees. Four of these are closer to the central area of the camp and four are set deeper into the forest. The tents are identical in size, and each can be arranged as a double, twin or triple. Tents #1 and #2 are close together and work best for family groups. Inside the tents are are simply furnished with a king-sized double bed, bedside tables and a desk in one corner. At the back there is an en-suite bathroom which opens out to an outside shower. Toiletries by Cinnabar & Green are supplemented by a fragrant homemade body scrub. At the front of each tent is a balcony with a two sofas, perfect for watching the forest birds and butterflies or taking an afternoon nap.
For guests staying three or more nights, Sarara Treehouses can organise fly-camping in a dry riverbed. There is no additional cost for this, however it is best booked in advance.
An extensive range of activities is available from Sarara Treehouses. Game drives are a popular option, and while the big cats are not as prolific as in other regions of Kenya, you are likely to see plenty of other wildlife, including elephants, reticulated giraffes and other northern species such as gerenuks and Grevy’s zebras. While at Sarara Treehouses you have your own private vehicle and driver-guide, giving you the flexibility to explore on your own schedule. When we stayed here in October 2019 we were told that leopard sightings were relatively common, however unfortunately we were not so lucky. Nomadic lions roam the region, as do a number of bush-adapted cheetahs and caracals. Servals aren’t found here, but you may well see wild dogs, several packs of which move through Namunyak. As Namunyak is a private conservancy you can also go on night drives here, looking for the more elusive nocturnal creatures.
Sarara and Sarara Treehouses have nine open-sided long wheel base safari vehicles between them, one of which has charging power points. The camps do road transfers in these vehicles as far as Lewa and Samburu, but not down to Nairobi.
Bush walks are a great way to discover the area on foot and these can easily be combined with a visit to the Singing Wells. Sarara translates as ‘meeting place’ in the Samburu language and many different families gather at the wells to socialise while fetching water for their livestock. It is not the wells that sing but the local people, chanting to keep the rhythm as they draw pails from the well. This can be an enchanting experience, however due to cultural sensitivities photos are not allowed.
You can immerse yourself further in local culture with a visit to a local Samburu manyatta or village, accompanied by a local guide. You’ll learn something about the traditional Samburu way of life, the role livestock plays in the community and how people are adapting to the modern world. There may also be a chance to visit a local school.
We don’t think a stay at Sarara or Sarara Treehouses is complete without a visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Set up in to 2016 along the lines of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Reteti takes in young elephants which have been orphaned in northern Kenya. Each elephant has a different story: some were trapped in wells, others orphaned as a result of human-wildlife conflict and others became detached from their herd. A dedicated team of keepers develop close bonds with the elephants, hand-raising them until they are ready to be introduced back to a wild herd. Guests are welcome to visit Reteti from 8.30 to 10am for the morning feed, or from 11.30am to 1pm for the lunch feed. This is not a hands-on experience but you will be close: guests watch from a viewing platform while a keeper talks about the elephants and answers your questions. Visits to Reteti cost $25 per person, which you pay on arrival. You can read about the excursion on our Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit page.
Other activities at Sarara Treehouses include horse riding from the stables at Sarara, accompanied by experienced riding guides. You can also join local Samburu ladies for a beading workshop or even a try your hand at blacksmithing to make a traditional metal bracelet. If you’re feeling particularly active Sarara Treehouses can also arrange longer hikes in the Mathews Range.
Sarara Treehouses is an adventurous alternative to the main Sarara camp. Apart from enjoying its beautiful location and blissfully relaxed atmosphere, you can take part in a wide range of activities here. We think this is one of Kenya’s most exciting and enjoyable tented camps and we recommend it to anyone who is reasonably fit (the steps are a proper climb) and active.
- Northern Kenya, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- Stay at least three or four nights to explore the area and try the different activities.
- Sarara Treehouses is a 20-minute drive from Sarara Airstrip, which can be accessed by charter flight from Nairobi. Alternatively you can take a scheduled flight to Samburu Kalama Airstrip followed by a road transfer of around two hours to reach the camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we stayed here in October 2019 we found the food at Sarara Treehouses to be excellent – fresh, tasty and full of flavour. In camp, all meals are typically eaten communally, although packed breakfasts and lunches can easily be arranged.
Breakfast was a varied selection of cereals, fruits, bread and yoghurts, all laid out on the communal dining table. Hot items were available on request with eggs cooked to order.
Lunch was a beautiful buffet of salads, homemade pesto pasta, focaccia, chutneys, and meat-based and vegetarian pizzas. Desert was a tropical fruit salad.
For dinner we started with crispy spring rolls, followed by roast chicken, potato croquettes, honey glazed carrots and red cabbage. We rounded up the meal with a decadent chocolate brownie.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is possible although there are no phones in the rooms, so this needs to be organised in advance.
- Drinks included
- All drinks are included at Sarara Treehouses with the exception of premium wines and spirits and Champagne.
- Cultural experiences
- Sarara Treehouses has strong ties with the local Samburu community. Visit a local village for an authentic cultural experience and stop by the ‘singing wells’ where people sing as they collect water for their livestock.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- With a backdrop of the Matthews Range, Sarara Treehouses offers some excellent opportunities for walking. Accompanied by an armed ranger you can take a gentle stroll through the bush or go on a longer all-day, or multi-day, hike in the mountains.
- See ideas for Walking
- Attitude towards children
- Sarara Treehouses accepts children aged 6 and above, but they feel it is better suited to those aged 8 and above.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Minimum age is 6.
- Special activities & services
- The guides can happily arrange child-friendly activities, from playing football to looking for animal tracks, making bows and arrows and creating jewellery with local Samburu ladies. There is no formal babysitting service, however the housekeeping team are happy to help. Child-friendly meals can be arranged.
- Extra beds for children can be arranged with prior notice. There are no specific family rooms, however a number of the tents are closer together.
- Generally recommended for children
- Sarara Treehouses generally has a more adult atmosphere, however older children are likely to enjoy the novelty of sleeping high up in the trees and there is a wide range of activities on offer to keep them entertained.
- The camp is unfenced and big game is regularly seen in the area. The tents are raised around five meters above the ground and children should be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Sarara Treehouses
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Sarara Treehouses have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator. The tents have plugs for charging batteries and devices, but are not suitable for hair-dryers.
- WiFi is available in the communal areas, but not in the tents.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV at Sarara Treehouses.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The showers are powered by solar water heaters. It is fairly sunny here and for the most part the solar heaters are very efficient, however it may take hot water a while to come through on a cloudy day.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Several of the staff are first aid-trained and there is a first-aid kit on site. There is a good missionary hospital at Wamba, which is around 40km or a three-hour drive away. Alternatively, the lodge has links to a flying doctors service in Nairobi.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are whistles in each tent and you are escorted to and from your tent after dark.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers dotted around the camp.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A 24-hour laundry service is included however for cultural reasons they do not accept ladies' underwear.
- Sarara Treehouses can occasionally exchange small amounts of money, however this depends on what they have in camp.
- Accepted payment on location
- Sarara Treehouses accepts payments in US dollars, Kenyan shillings, British pounds and euros. You can also pay by card, including Visa and Mastercard, but not American Express. There is no surcharge.
Other lodges in Northern Kenya
Alternative places to stay in this same area.