Sasaab: Our full report
Sasaab is a splendid, luxury lodge located on the 35,000-hectare (135sq mile) Westgate Community Conservancy, ...... west of Samburu National Reserve. The lodge is set high on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River and has fine views over the river and surrounding landscape, and as far south as Mount Kenya.
Sasaab is a high quality camp – and this is evident as soon as you pull up at the front drive, and enter the communal areas. Whitewashed stone floors under the large thatched roof, walls with Arabic arches, and colourful rugs, low coffee tables and big comfy cushions all lend a distinctly Moroccan feel.
The views from the U-shaped communal areas are spectacular – and you could easily sit in one of the comfortable chairs in the lounge area for a few hours, enjoying the breeze. The main bar and dining area are also up here, near the office and shop.
Down a cement pathway the large swimming pool has some nice shaded areas where sunloungers are laid out – very welcome in the drier months, when the temperatures can get really quite hot in this area. The pool has wonderful views over the river, and it is a popular spot for elephants to frequent.
The nine tented rooms are well spaced out along the hillside – all with slightly different views of the river and surrounding hills – and each one is exceptionally private. At more than 100 square metres, the rooms are huge – some of the largest we've seen on safari. They're constructed in a similar way to the main areas, with whitewashed stone floors and thatched roofs. Room 4 has a wheelchair ramp if required, but there are no other disabled adaptations and it's tricky terrain for anyone with mobility issues.
In your room, canvas walls with mosquito net windows fully enclose the inner bedroom area. The four-poster Zanzibari bed stands in the middle, with useful shelving for clothes storage, a safe, and a cool-box so you don't have to return to the main areas to get drinks. All the rooms have UK-style, three-pin sockets for charging batteries. Down a few steps, through the canvas door, the fully plumbed bathroom is just as spacious, with twin basins, a shower and toilet. The stand-out feature of these suites is the large free-form plunge pool in every one, with spectacular views over the river. A baraza-style built-in bench, with soft cushions, looks out to the views – we could have sat here quite happily for hours, enjoying the peace of the river and having the occasional quick dip. If you're feeling creative, you'll be happy to find a sketch pad and watercolours in every room.
For families, rooms 8 and 9 are the best option as they're interconnecting, so you have privacy and space while still being close. Meals can be arranged in the central area here too. For those wanting twin rooms, there are two rooms that are configured as such, but if these are fully booked then an extra bed can be placed in a standard double room. We stayed in such a room in November 2018 and were disappointed that the two beds were of very different standards, and left the room quite crowded. Our recommendation is if travelling as a twin, to ensure a proper twin room has been booked.
There's a spa and gym equipment, and massage and other beauty treatments are available – in the spa, by the plunge pool, or in the privacy of your room. These are an additional cost: on our last visit, a massage cost around US$65 dollars for an hour.
Sasaab offers a variety of stimulating activities. Game-drives usually take place in Samburu National Reserve and the adjoining Buffalo Springs National Reserve. They usually go out in the morning with a picnic breakfast, and return to the camp for lunch. The national reserve is about an hour's drive away, but the conservancy itself, while you're not likely to see the same numbers of animals, has plains grazers, elephants, and even the occasional leopard (and it's a stronghold for the Grevy's zebra), so it can be worthwhile for a more gentle safari. It can get very hot in the afternoon in Samburu, and mornings are generally the best time for wildlife viewing. Walking with an experienced guide is also possible – these walks will vary depending on how energetic you're feeling. They can range from a short morning's bird walk, or an afternoon walk to stop for sundowners, to a half-day walk towards the hills if you want to go further afield.
Aside from safari activities – you can also do camel riding (Sasaab has five riding dromedaries), visit a local village, or if your visit coincides with a market day (a smaller one on Wednesdays or a larger one, a 2-hour drive away, on Thursdays) then you can go and see the locals selling their livestock. Bush dinners and organised dance performances by members of the local Samburu community, can also be arranged, and work well for groups. These takes place a little distance from camp and are best arranged in advance.
Fly-camping from Sasaab involves a very simple mosquito mesh tent set up at a site a little away from camp, to which you either walk or ride by camel. Ask your Expert Africa consultant about this as it needs to be booked in advance.
Sasaab is associated with the Ewaso Lions Project which aims to promote co-existence between people and the wildlife. It's possible to arrange a talk on the project if you're interested – and again this is best booked in advance.
Westgate Conservancy is the home of about 600 Samburu families, a total community of about 3,500 people. Visitors to the lodge now provide one of the main sources of income in the area. In addition to roughly three-quarters of camp staff being locals, each bed night at Sasaab contributes $50 in cash to the community. Sasaab can arrange for you to visit the Ngutuk Ongiron Primary School and Clinic, and a women's beading cooperative. Five quad-bikes are available to do this, at a cost of $35/hour. Children might also enjoy the nature trail walk with a Samburu warrior – who will show them how to make a toothbrush, a bow and arrows, and how to take a plaster cast of an animal footprint.
Sasaab is beautifully designed – and the views are wonderful. We weren't blown away by the wildlife in the Westgate Conservancy (though it's an important sanctuary for Grevy's zebra) and it is a bit of a drive to the excellent wildlife concentrations in Samburu National Reserve itself. But Sasaab is a wonderful option if you're looking for somewhere remote, luxurious and distinctive.
- Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- Three nights – two full days here. That gives a day in the national reserve and a day for cultural things or a drive through the conservancy.
- Sasaab's airstrip for private charter flights is 10 minutes away. However, most guests land with a scheduled flight at the main Oryx airstrip in Samburu National Reserve which is about a 1 ½ - 2 hour drive from the lodge. This transfer is often made into a game drive, which is worthwhile considering the national reserve entry fee has to be paid each time you use the airstrip (included in your safari costs).
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- We thought the food at Sasaab was very good when we last stayed in November 2018.
For breakfast you might take a picnic out with you – which had bread, cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit – as well as a cooking station with eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes. Breakfast at the lodge is similar. We found these bush breakfasts to be some of the best we have had in Kenya.
Lunch is usually a three-course set menu. On our last trip we started with caramelized onion and sweet potato soup. The main course was then a buffet selection of dishes with an Asian influence: crispy coconut fish balls, noodle salad with a peanut sauce, and avocado and mango salad. A dessert of banana, passion fruit and coconut sorbet followed.
Dinner is also a set three course menu. There was a light little roasted vegetable tartlet, followed by beef medallions, accompanied by a butterbean puree. We finished with an excellent sticky date pudding.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Guests often dine separately, either on the deck or by the pool. Surprise bush dinners are also sometimes arranged.
- Drinks included
- All drinks are included in the 'game package' rate, apart from cellar wines, Champagne and premium spirits.
- With its very comfortable and private rooms, each with a plunge pool, and within reach of the fantastic game viewing in Samburu National Reserve, Sasaab makes a lovely honeymoon destination.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- At this remote and exclusive camp, the ample tents with a Moroccan twist are the perfect base for a luxurious safari holiday. Arabic-styled arches, colourful rugs and whitewashed stone floors lend an opulent atmosphere. Each tent has a private plunge pool with spectacular views.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- The camp welcomes children. There are plenty of things to occupy children here – including playing soccer with the guides, and village visits.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No minimum age
- Special activities & services
- Guides or askaris are able to do a number of activities with children, such as afternoon warrior walks, making bows and arrows and toothbrushes, spoor-tracking etc.
- They have board games and painting sets, and can arrange for one of the askaris to keep an eye on the children while the parents are having dinner.
- Generally recommended for children
- Although Sasaab is one of the better suited lodges for children – it is still in a wild area, and as a result, we'd only really recommend this for children aged 7 or over.
- Children are always the responsibility of their parents.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Sasaab
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Sasaab 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 generator back-up. All the rooms have UK-style, three-pin sockets for charging batteries. Rooms are also equipped with hair dryers.
- There is limited cellphone reception. There is WiFi in the bar and lounge area.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Bathrooms are fully plumbed. Filtered drinking water is provided in the rooms.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is 45 minutes drive. They also have links to Amref which is a flying doctors service. There are first aid kits in the lodge and on the vehicles.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are watchmen who patrol the grounds both day and night. There are safes in the rooms to lock your valuables.
- Fire safety
- There are fire assembly point at the front of the lodge, and there is a fire safety card in the rooms. Extinguishers are dotted around the lodge, and the staff regularly do fire drills.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included. Laundry is machine washed and line dried. As with most camps in Africa, women's underwear is not accepted.
- There are safes in the rooms to lock your valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- Sasaab can accept Visa, Mastercard and Amex. Cash is also accepted in GBP, USD, Euro and Kenyan Shillings.
Other lodges in Samburu National Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.