Reviews of Sarara
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Whoever you are Sarara is a magical experience. We were most warmly welcomed, although a little puzzled to be asked, at 3.0p.m., what would be our choice of sundowner!
At 4.30 we set off for our first game drive, with our assigned driver/guide and askari, and after more than an hour of watching reticulated giraffe, elephants, impala, dik dik and more, we pulled up beside a large, flat, sun-warmed stone where we sat and were served our G&Ts as we watched the African sun go down.
We loved the easy, happy relationship with the local people, and one of the (many) highlights of our stay was our visit to the singing wells, which was so beautifully done, with the opportunity to walk down for those who were able, and a complete ban on cameras, which made everyone more relaxed and able to participate fully in the experience.
We also enjoyed the relationship with some of the hand-reared animals, especially Kody, the lesser kudu who was always ready to join the party.
Comfort, culture and wildlife
The third and final camp we visited this trip was Sarara, further north in Laikipia (and listed under 'Northern Kenya' by Expert Africa) on the edge of the Matthews Range and also a community-based project which presents some interesting contrasts with Il Ngwesi and Tassia.
Sarara is the home of Jeremy and Katie (and was established originally by Jeremy's parents), who run the camp in a relaxed and welcoming style. Having been brought up there to a significant extent, Jeremy in particular is a font of insights into the region and its culture. The accommodation is genuinely high end - very comfortable, spacious tent with a fine view of the busy waterhole, excellent lounge and mess facilities etc. Meals were consistently enjoyable - nice to have fish on a couple of occasions as well as lamb (two dishes which are not that often served in safari camps in our experience). We are not surprised that there are many return visitors (including while we were there).
Throughout our stay we were guided by the excellent Mark, a Masai who has an extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of the region as well as local culture and who is engaging and humourous. We really enjoyed his company and benefitted enormously from his knowledge and willingness to share his thoughts with us on local issues.
For three of our four days we followed a pattern of early morning birding walk, a drive after breakfast and then a late afternoon drive stretching into a night drive. The wildlife in the area is excellent: we topped 120 bird species and saw around 20 mammals, including leopard, buffalo and plentiful elephant. The fourth day was taken up with a climb up the ridge behind the camp to about 6,500 feet into the cloud forest - not for the faint-hearted but well worth the effort for those prepared to make it.
We also visited the famous 'singing wells' and witnessed this cultural phenomenon for ourselves. Despite the (appropriate, in our view) ban on photography, we were left feeling that our presence and, therefore, tourist visits generally are having an impact on the conduct of the herders there and, without in any way wishing to be judgemental, we wonder how much longer the phenomenon can continue in its 'natural' state, despite efforts to preserve it.
In sum, Sarara provided us with a fitting final four-night stay to our 12-day tour through Laikipia and camps rooted in the local community.