I rounded off my travels of 2020 with an energising trip to Sarara Camp. The camp is tucked away in the Matthew’s Range about 1.5 hours off-road from Sereolipi. With some of the most stunning views from the pool you’d forgive yourself for doing nothing else but lounging in the cool water for the entire day!
We invested in an agent that I’ve been watching closely for about a year: Kampur Travel Diaries. ‘Adventure with a cause’ is their motto and every trip booked through them contributes to uplifting the lives of communities who live in the north of Kenya. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of personalised communication and preparation they supported us with given that we were self-driving with a significant portion of the road requiring high-range 4WD. I would definitely recommend booking your next safari with Kampur – you will get to experience things differently.
The road to Sereolipi is easy. We left Nairobi at 5am to beat the Thika Road traffic and to get a glimpse of the sun rise over Mt Kenya if the skies were clear enough. After Archer’s Post we were briefly stopped by a multi-agency security team who were stopping every vehicle and checking for identification. This security stop has been there for some time as I’ve come across it multiple times in my trips up north. The road off the tarmac in towards the Matthews however was not easy. We were lucky it hadn’t rained heavily the day before. A lot of washouts, sharp lugga crossings and the occasional stretch of black cotton soil make this drive painfully slow at times. Some of the larger luggas were still wet from the previous day’s rains. I am awed by every large sand lugga after the flash floods I saw in 2019. The power of water is simply impressive. Luckily I had the coordinates of the camp on my GPS as mobile network soon disappears and the roads are not marked – in some areas one track becomes multiples and so the GPS becomes a life saver when you don’t know where you are going!
Our welcome into camp was a relief – we didn’t know if were heading in the right direction for so long! Cold drinks, cool breeze and a breathtaking view. A very nutritious lunch was followed by a quick swim in the pool that has been carved out of the natural rock surface. On many trips lunch is followed by a nap. The energy around this area was something else – naps were simply not necessary. Everything just gave me back energy – the definition of ‘rest and recuperation’ would be summed up by this feeling.
The rooms were extremely spacious with privacy well thought out. The showers are all outdoors which was an interesting experience – having a shower during a storm isn’t practical. And trying to shower before the storm comes is near impossible – the blustering wind blows the water in all directions except down over where you are standing. On the first night I also found a frog floating in the toilet bowl – it wasn’t a particularly pretty frog but seeing the webbed feet of a frog in water was something I’d not seen before so that was pretty cool.
Evening game drives included sundowners and then a drive back to camp in the dark using a spot light to search for the nocturnal animals that are so rare to see generally. The highlights of these night drives were a leopard and a puff adder. I was hoping to see some stunning sun sets but unfortunately the micro climate of the Matthews had its own plans of rain and storms throughout our stay. Watching the rain and the storms travel through the valleys from the swimming pool was like watching a screen saver. It was just beautiful. The mountains behind us reminded me of Mordor from The Lord of the Rings, only the snow was missing.
One morning we had the privilege of visiting Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Reteti is a community owned and run Sanctuary for elephants – read about what they do on their website. I learned so much more about elephants from this visit than I have done from anywhere else. There was no commercialised vibe from the work they are doing here. Seeing the little elephants happy and curious was joyful for us!
Would I go back to Sarara? Definitely yes. If the rates remain “resident friendly” then I would love to spend a week here. The clean air, the pool and the nutritious food – what else does one need for R&R?
Remember: there is no phone network, the off-road driving requires a good vehicle with a skilled driver and prepare for the microclimate of the Matthews, it can get brutal and roads can become impassable.