Reviews of Sarara
Wildlife sightings and reviews
16 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Sarara and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
Driving to Sarara is a game drive in itself and in my opinion, all the game you're going to see on a game drive, you'll see driving to and from camp. What a game drive offers you is the opportunity to really slow down, process what you're seeing, learn from your guide, and maybe even get out of the vehicle and walk around. We tried to track down a cicada so I could see where all the noise was coming from! I also noticed, for the first time in 6 safaris, that giraffes both swallow down their cud and pull it back up to keep chewing...and you can see it moving up and down via their neck muscles. I was fascinated...how did I not notice this before? And one highlight of a game drive for me was sundowners in a dry river bed, it was like a beach with no water, just really very cool.
Lions and leopards are around, though not often seen. On a walk, we saw fresh tracks of at least two lions and two leopards right behind camp. Boris the resident bull elephant gets up close and personal, as I found out one afternoon as I sat and watched him from the bench in my tent and he was not 6 feet away, happily munching away on branches!
The cultural activities I did were memorable: a visit to Singing Wells (impossible to describe, just go!), a visit to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a beading session with two local women, a village visit, and an early morning hike behind camp up into the hills with my Samburu guide. I could have also gone to a local school and done some blacksmith work with a local man. I wish I had time to! Everything I did was so worthwhile, and I learned so much. It was worth every minute of my time!
The "tents" are unlike any I've had anywhere else. More like a cottage with screened walls. They are huge and have flaps opening to the front, which overlooked the valley and the sunrise each morning. The balcony had a daybed and small table and chairs and I'd have my coffee and biscuits there to watch the sun rise. The bed was comfortable and it was nice to sleep with the front flaps open to let cooler air in; it is so hot here in February! There is an indoor toilet, but the shower is outside via a rocky path to a separate area (fenced in so no human or creature can see you). It was glorious! This is a type of luxury I'm not used to on safari, but well worth it. I'd return in a heartbeat.
Robert the camp manager is a gem. He prevails over dinner and is the ultimate host. He made me (solo traveler) feel part of any group and made sure every whim was catered to. The food here is amazing, as a vegetarian I ate extremely well.
My most important takeaway though was learning from a fellow guest about the Sarara Foundation and all the work they do to support the Samburu in the area and the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. It is amazing, and very important, work, and now part of my charitable giving. I so enjoyed my time here, and that was due to the very significant efforts of my guide Daniel, manager Robert, Rashida and all of the other staff here, all local Samburu. I can't thank them enough." See all these reviews: 12n in Kenya
The lodge is very comfortable and has a fantastic view across to the Mathews Range. It also has a waterhole which attracts the local wildlife.
The wildlife is understandably more sparse in this area but there were large numbers of elephants, reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, lesser kudu, gerenuk, and dik-diks.
The Singing Wells were the highlight of the stay and a visit to the Reteti elephant sanctuary is also a must." See all these reviews: 13n in Kenya
"Sarara, a hidden gem"
Newly appointed camp managers Emma and Darren create a homely atmosphere and are very approachable. The rooms are spacious and especially the terraces with spectacular views out into the valley, we could sit there for hours just gazing into the distance. We were lucky enough to have spotted a leopard while driving back to camp after sundowners on the first night, otherwise the wildlife is not overwhelming. Lots of giraffes for sure and elephants visting the camps’s waterhole, gerenuks and an interesting hyena family with 4 pups.
But wildlife is not the reason to travel all the way to Sarara. Samburu culture and their way of life in this harsh environment is what it’s about. Our guide James gave us a real insight into his culture, we had lovely conversations about many things and the Samburu view on it. Visting the singing wells and a local settlement were humbling and moving experiences. Also the visit to Reteti Elephant Rescue was very special and worth the bumpy ride. Very touching to see how the community committed themselves to this cause and how everyone places a role in it.
Sarara is not a cheap camp by any means but a large proportion of the rate flows directly back into the community supporting people and wildlife and their coexistence. If your are not looking for glitzy 5 star service and broadband wifi, but want to experience a real connection with people and their land, we highly recommend Sarara Camp." See all these reviews: 14n in Kenya
"A pool with a view"
So we approached on foot, finding ourselves wandering up past the camp waterhole, avoiding the elephants but finding some surprisingly (to us) relaxed giraffe. (Not surprising to Peter, who explained some of them were raised at the lodge).
That waterhole is positioned just below Sarara's rather magnificent pool, hewn out of the natural rock, and a heavenly place to wallow in the hot dry heat of the day. From the pool, you can watch giraffe, elephants, antelope and more at the waterhole. If there's nobody in the pool, the local wildlife moves in there - you might see electric-blue vulturine guinea fowl or a family of baboons ranged along the brim.
Sarara, like its Treehouses cousin, is beautifully designed and located, with excellent and plentiful food, charming staff and a focus on making sure the local population benefit from conservation and tourism. Similarly, however, this is not the place to go to see spectacular number of game (with the exception of the elephants and the very nonchalent giraffe). You may well see more animals over lunch at the watering hole than on your activities; this is more a place for those who want to have a more rounded safari/African experience than just ticking off the animals.
We were really pleased that we had the same guide at both lodges; we had got to know him very well & he was also able to advise us on, for instance, which activity worked best at which camp." See all these reviews: 11n in Kenya
The singing wells were fabulous. It was difficult to imagine what staff were talking about before I visited the wells and seeing all the warriors and the animals. What is heartwarming is that the pastoral community leave the area by early evening so that the wild animals can also use the water in the dry riverbed. Respect for others is a mainstay of this community.
I also visited with the ladies who bead and learned they use all left over bags for their stitching. If you travel to Sarara, you might wish to bring small beads for them to use. In addition, I visited with the blacksmith. He takes scrapes and makes beautiful bracelets, rings and other items. He uses skins to force air into the fire to melt the metal. His services are needed everywhere in the community.
The people dress so beautifully everyday and it just makes me smile while remembering the beautiful colors and wonderfully welcoming smiles I encountered every day.
I am already planning a return trip to this wonderful camp: who supports the surrounding community and the tasks needed to be addressed.
I appreciated the good lighting, the robes provided, the massages provided, the outside shower was definitely one of my favorites - thank you.." See all these reviews: 11n in Kenya
On the down side, this is not a a place I would go outside the dry season. Because the rains had come, some activities we had really looked forward to like the Singing Wells and sleeping in a star tent were not available. We had actually booked Sarara Treehouse but because of the rains the road getting there was so bad supplies couldn't be delivered so they shut it down. Wildlife had fanned put across the great expanse rather than gathering at watering holes so we saw very little. Worse, the bugs were intense-so intense that most guests ate in their tent instead of at in the lovely open air dining area. Beetles were literally flying into our faces, her and water. At night you couldn't read because the light from a kindle would attract them. There were no mosquito nets!
But even with all that, we could see Sarara is an extraordinary place and only wish we could have been there at the right time of year." See all these reviews: 7n in Kenya; 5n in Tanzania; 4n in Zanzibar
"Stunning location at Sarara Camp"
The location is absolutely stunning and even without all the excitement of the game drives, bush walks and local visits, this would be a fabulous place simply to chill out and enjoy the views and the facilities of the camp. The staff were all incredibly attentive and friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. Our guide, Robert, was particularly impressive, sharing with us his enormous knowledge of the wildlife, the flora and his Samburu cultural heritage in a most engaging, articulate and good humoured way.
Our visit coincided with the rare event of a local Samburu gathering for the ceremony of circumcision of the young men about to become warriors. In the evening we were honoured to be invited to witness the celebrations and dancing that followed the ceremony, during which Robert just seamlessly morphed from safari guide to Samburu warrior and joined in the dancing, with impressive expertise!" See all these reviews: 9n in Kenya
The 'singing wells' hugely interesting- a unique experience - we only hope it will not be affected by too many tourists.... (A ban on photography such a good thing..). The new Namunyuk Elephant Sanctuary - about an hour away - is beautifully run, with excellent facilities - in a natural setting.
A visit to a local Samburu nomad's village was fascinating- how nice of them to allow us to pay a visit... Andrew amazed them by being able to milk a goat. (They were obviously ready to have a good laugh!)
We loved this place- the resident echidna under the main house, semi-tame Grevys zebras visiting the swimming pool, a friendly, rescued giraffe, beautiful birds, magnificently dressed Samburu men- all adding to its unique charm." See all these reviews: 13n in Kenya
Holiday styles & special interests in Kenya
From birdwatching breaks to walking holidays, find great ideas for your trip in Kenya.
Other lodges in Northern Kenya
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Sarara Treehouses is a luxurious camp with tents raised up in the forest canopy. Come here for the wildlife, walking and cultural activities, accompanied by excellent local guides.
Oasis Lodge is a basic hotel for adventurous travellers near the east shore of Lake Turkana.
Saruni Rhino is the only camp in the Sera Conservancy in northern Kenya, where guests are based when tracking black rhino on foot.
Ngari Hill Ecolodge
The 6-room Ngari Hill Ecolodge is the only full-service lodge in Maralal and makes a convenient overnight stay en route from Nairobi to Lake Turkana.
This small, unique mountain lodge – Kenya’s northernmost luxury accommodation – is set amid the towering landscapes of Mount Nyiru, and is a superb place for rest and relaxation.
Marsabit Lodge is the only safari lodge in the fascinating Marsabit National Park, and the only decent accommodation anywhere between the Mathews Range and the Ethiopian border.
Wild Frontiers Camel treks are based in the Milgis River area and run in various parts of northern Kenya between Lake Turkana and Laikipia.
Kitich Forest Camp
Kitich Forest Camp is one of Kenya's most established, remote highland forest camps, offering exciting bush walks and close encounters with big game as well as insects and birdlife.
Palm Shade Camp
Palm Shade Camp is a simple camp for adventurous travellers near the east shore of Lake Turkana.