Gorilla Walking Safaris

Sarara Camp & Namunyak Conservancy

If there is any well-articulated and success conservation story, Then Sarara Camp’s initiatives amidst the 850,000 square kilometers Namunyak conservancy is one to behold. “Having thought and researched about conservation and sustainability in kenya, The works of Sarara camp and its sister eco camps in namunyak conservancy blew me off the ground” narrates our Founding Director Alex Guma Tibanyendera.

Located about 2 hours drive north of Samburu game reserve Kenya, namunyak conservancy hosts a number of wildlife species and is also home to the Reteti Elephant orphanage that is also a success story to the growing number of elephants in the namunyak kenya Conservancy.

Sarara a name inherited from the only source of possible waters in the drought struck area where finding drinking water for both human and wildlife is a nightmare. How do they all survive? At the mercy of God and the great initiatives of the Namunyak conservancy has made this heaven to all.

Namunyak Conservancy is enveloped by the Mathews ranges and the Endless savannah plains dotted with forested canopies harboring a growing number of wildlife roaming the Dry River beds and little green vegetation is a special place to behold for both the wildlife and people.

The Samburu People call Namunyak conservancy home while for many years. The Samburu are pastoral warriors who live in small homesteads called the manyattas and have lived all the years grazing cows, feeding on meat, milk and Blood drained from their own cows. They have kept their culture and customs unique and exceptional while staying so conservantive of what makes them unique. While the world has changed to modern living with changing dress codes and eating behaviors, It is a rare occasion or never to find a Samburu person in the line of change especially with their eating and traditional culture.

The Eco camps & Safari Lodges

Sarara camp namunyak

There are 3 community owned camps in the Namunyak conservancy that came up due to the connection of the Bastard family. In 1997 when conservation kicked off in Kenya, The 3rd generation British couple Piers and Hillary Barstard partnered with the Samburu people to collectively bring tourism to the Namunyak conservancy. More than 25 years down the road with the close connection with the Samburu community and seeing the initial Sarara camp take off, Namunyak conservancy in Northern Kenya has seen the growth of 3 Beautiful camps owned by the Samburu community and The two brothers who are the second generation taking over the sarara and Namunyak to further develop it into one of the most success conservation stories. Jeremy and Katie (Jeremys wife) further took off the stage with the help of the community and formed the Reteti elephant orphanage that has seen the saving of orphaned baby elephants stranded in the Namunyak conservancy and beyond in samburu Land.

The Sarara Camp is the first camp that was constructed from scratch and the mother of all the 3 beautiful camps. There has been The Sarara treehouses and the newest Reteti house for exclusive use. Sarara Camp has 7 Beautiful well-furnished African crafted safari tents enveloped with African thatch roofs. Each of the cottages has a different touch with ensuite bathroom and samburu type of Outside showers. Each of the cottages has an array of uninterrupted views. Built and perched on rock outcrops, The swimming pool is a magical setting that reminds you the beauty of the world. The waterhole beneath is a constant and daily host of wildlife that frequent the waterhole to quench their thirst. The camp is run by Samburu dressed Ladies and Gentlemen donned in beautiful Samburu Attires.

The Sarara treehouse has 7 well build and crafted above risen metal support with natural wood decorated floor walk way winding into firm standing safari tents that hang above the ground with views into the forest canopy enveloped in Mathews ranges. The wildlife roam freely beneath the raised platforms and walkways towards the waterhole just below the small cozy restaurant and swimming pool. The Cozy ensuite treehouse safari tents are well spaced with a reading table, and a couch to catch up some reading and a relaxed time. The outside “Samburu type” of bathrooms hang outside the treehouses with an open African crafted shower. The main area with lounge and eating area is African and natural crafted with all major materials sourced from within the Namunyak conservancy.

The Reteti House in Namunyak Conservancy is an all-exclusive House lodge built next door to the Reteti elephant orphanage sanctuary started by Jeremy and katie, A lodge with marvelous and jaw dropping scenic views of the plains and the Mathews Ranges.  The Walkable distance from the Reteti elephant orphanage is a class apart with 6 spacious African built, designed and decorated semi tented Cottages,  main area with a swimming pool over looking the plains in the Namunyak Conservancy. This has been built by beautiful stone works sourced from the same location, while the dry wood which is the newtonia and locally called the Loimugi in native Samburu language was sourced from around the valley of Namunyak Conservancy. The Reteti House as an exclusive use property is meant to cater for up to 12 persons on the property provided it is booked for exclusive use.

The Sarara Foundation

Sarara Camp Foundation

There is nothing that melts us thinking that The Sarara Camp and ecolodges are a major force in the conservation and sustainability of the native Samburu people. Unbelievably unlike other conservancies, The sarara camp and Ecolodges are behind the Sarara Foundation that includes health care, Singing Mamas, the saving scheme with society and the Montessori education program within the wildlife conservancy. It is also unbelievably true that 60% of the revenues collected from the 3 eco lodges goes back into the community and running one of the best success stories of elephant conservation in Kenya

This shows that for every visit by guests to Namunyak Conservancy is a direct benefit and support of the natives in the Conservancy. Either a kid will go to school, A teacher will be paid, a sick Samburu native gets quick treatment or a rescued orphaned elephant has gotten milk to feed for the day among many other benefits.

Top Things To Do In Namunyak Conservancy

There is nothing that melts us thinking that The Sarara Camp and ecolodges are a major force in the conservation and sustainability of the native Samburu people. Unbelievably unlike other conservancies, The sarara camp and Ecolodges are behind the Sarara Foundation that includes health care, Singing Mamas, the saving scheme with society and the Montessori education program within the wildlife conservancy. It is also unbelievably true that 60% of the revenues collected from the 3 eco lodges goes back into the community and running one of the best success stories of elephant conservation in Kenya

This shows that for every visit by guests to Namunyak Conservancy is a direct benefit and support of the natives in the Conservancy. Either a kid will go to school, A teacher will be paid, a sick Samburu native gets quick treatment or a rescued orphaned elephant has gotten milk to feed for the day among many other benefits.

Staying in Namunyak Conservancy at either Sarara camp, Sarara treehouses or Reteti Treehouse present a wide range of activities that would keep you busy within the conservancy. For wildlife lovers and enthusiastic travelers, Namunyak conservancy has it all but not as much as it would be for the nearby Samburu National Reserve. Day activities can be arranged to the Samburu National Reserve by plane or by some of the 4×4 comfortable Vehicles. But one thing for sure, The namunyak community is heaven to stay with all the community based visits and activities to engage with.

The singing Wells as it sounds is an exciting activity by the Samburu natives of the Namunyak Conservancy. The Samburu natives are full time cattle keepers who effortlessly graze and protect their cattle in very dry arid areas of namunyak conservancy northern kenya where they have few or no rains throughout the year. In a love effort to protect their cattle or find water for their thirsty cattle, The Samburu Morans/Warriors dig up – deeply the dry riverbeds with elevated platforms to stand inside until they find underground water in an effort to scoop the water from underground deep “wells” to the top Surface and into troughs, The warriors have trained to sing for their cattle notifying them to come drink water, The cattle will abide by the songs and have been trained time over time not to make a move before the water is ready.

Six (6) “Adam” dressed/Naked warriors deep within the ground with Buckets in an ascending order compose a special song for their cattle and sing along in base – like Tone while the echos from them within the water well move far distances. The sounds originating from the “holes” and heard from a distance look like just empty wells producing the sound hence the singing wells. A close approach towards them is a magical setting  and experience finding the Samburu Worriors tirelessly moral boosting themselves to get water for their dear livestock. It is a phenomenal experience when you come closer and see the great tireless work of the worriors in saving their livestock.

The Samburu Village Tour  is another 1 – 2 hours visit to one of the Samburu homes or villages learning about their daily work and life within the villages  they proudly call Manyattas. Built with 100% material they would come across from the namunyak conservancy, The Samburu village tour gives you an insight of the Samburu life, before, today and future perspective. Allowed is to enter into their manyattas, see their daily setup, bedroom and cooking environments which are typical in one main manyatta. With One of Sarara Camp’s or any of the safari lodge Local Samburu Guides, You will be invited into the homes of the Samburu community for a look into. The village tour also involves see the ladies build the Manyattas, Milk the cows, goats and camels and how they would take care of their homes.

The Male old husband in the family is entitled to marry more than 2 wives and surprisingly would marry a whooping 15 wives. What is a little disturbing is the fact that a man can book and marry any young gal as young as 10 years and counts as number 15th wife or more. Arriving within the manyatta village, the one manyatta that has gotten a spear on the entrance of the manyatta is one where the man will stay Overnight and that is a signal of no entry or no disturbance.

Reteti Elephant Orphanage Namunyak Conservancy

The Milk to Market Mamas is an initiation by the Sarara foundation and the Sarara eco lodges in uplifting and empowering the women in the Samburu Community. Every morning the Samburu women collect milk from cows, goats and Camels brining it to the collecting point for sale. The married Samburu women are given cows and goats with camels when getting married and completely own them. They graze and milk the livestock while they bring this milk to the collecting centre at one of the villages where the Reteti Elephant orphanage vehicle is waiting with Cans. The milk is transported to the Reteti orphanage center for preparation to feed the young and Rescued elephants in the orphanage.

The eco lodges fund in the milk mamas program by paying out every two weeks or every month end an amount of milk recorded per family into their accounts which helps children go back to school, Attain education and seek health services. A morning or afternoon visit to the Milk mamas will present the mamas emerging in from all corners of the forested canopies and villages carrying small cans of milk to the Collecting center. They are recorded and an amount for each is dispatched at the end of the month for each family and amount of milk collected.

Important To Know: There is no single photography allowed either at the villages or the singing wells. The Samburu natives do not like to be photographed partly with a traditional belief that when their images are captured, it anchors apart of their soul in that moment forever and should any misfortune befall the clan, it would be attributed to the photographer or picture taken.

The Reteti Elephant orphanage Sanctuary is one of the most success stories of the elephant conservation in Kenya started by katie and Jeremy of the Sarara camps and treehouses. Located closer to the Reteti House, The orphanage is home to over 50 plus rescued baby elephants and grownups ready to be released into the world. The orphanage can be visited during any of the 3 feeding times and witness how the amazing Samburu locals take good care of the little elephants, help them wallow in water and sand while feeding them on the milk bottles. It is an amazing tour at the orphanage see how the little elephants come running for milk and they know their caretakers at the orphanage while you listen them sing traditional lyrics to the elephants.

It costs only USD 35 for a visit at the sanctuary and $550 for an exclusive visit with a group and for the experience. The sanctuary also employs 90% of the workers and elephant caretakers from the Samburu community. There are also options to adopt an elephant from the elephant orphanage which funds go to the support of the sanctuary.

The sundowners are magical. For every local visit or activity to the namunyak conservancy and for each stay at either of the Sarara camp or Reteti house eco lodges a sundowner overlooking the magical plains under the shadows of the Mathew’s Mountain ranges is always phenomenal. The camp guides with a well-stocked storage box and a well decorated Samburu shuka and with any kind of drinks of your choice and snacks will get down your throat with the most beautiful golden sunset over the Mathews ranges. The drive back to the lodge counts as a night game drive with a lot of nocturnal animals to see. There are high chances seeing Hyenas, Leopards, Bart eared fox, Porcupines and leopards roaming the conservancy.

Walking Safaris With a Samburu Guide: Sarara camp and its sister lodges presents professional Samburu walking guides within the unlimited namunyak conservancy. Early morning walking safaris avail a lot of wildlife to see within the valleys of namunyak. The Footsteps of hyenas, sand marks of last night porcupine trails, Lions paws and many more at a great disposal. Normally done during the morning hours before sun goes real up and so hot, The same insightful journey will lead you back to the lodge for a jaw dropping swimming view.

Fly Camping: Stay and camp on the major riverbeds within sarara for an exceptional experience. Staying at either of the eco lodges for more than 3 nights would get you a chance for the flying safari. The luxury samburu made and guarded tents are an awesome experience with sundowners, Bush or river bed dinners and bush breakfasts at exposure. The Fly camp is an amazing way to experience the Samburu homestay in a luxury approach.

How to get to Sarara Namunyak?

Namunyak conservancy is located in northern Kenya further north of Samburu National Park kenya. Covering an 850, ooo sq. kilometers of land, Namunyak Conservancy can be easily accessed by either road or by Major planes and aircrafts.

By Road: The major road radiating from Nairobi is 8 hours drive on asphalt road towards far northern Kenya. Past Samburu to Archers gate post, It is a 2 and half hours drive to a branch off at Sereolipi town and toward Wamba about 19kms off the main road. Being a private conservancy, The eco lodge managers will always provide you a lead car that finds you at the conservancy airstrip and will gladly lead you to either of the camps in the conservancy.

By Air: There are a number of domestic flights serving the northern route to Kalama major airstrip serving both Samburu national reserve and namunyak Conservancy. Air Kenya and safari link are the major flight companies plying this route from anywhere around Kenya.  On arrival on Kalama airstrip, you will embark on a smooth drive in some of the 4×4 safari vehicles to either of the safari camps in the Namunyak Conservancy.

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A Short Video Of Reteti Elephant Orphanage

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