Sarara: The Lowdown

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There are a few places in Africa that strike a note with your soul and leave you utterly awestruck by the beauty of its landscape, nature, and people. Sarara is one of these. Staying here feel as if by chance you’ve been utterly privileged to see Africa at its most raw and authentic.

What’s Sarara really like?

Sarara’s all about the ravishing 850,000 acre Namunyak Conservancy, its wildlife, and the people who live there. Staff are local Samburu and views are endless, sweeping out over elephants wallowing in the waterhole towards the distant Matthews Mountains. The rough stone on the walls is from the conservancy, fallen trees have been repurposed as pillars, and the swimming pool was carved into the rocks.

Winding pathways lead up and down the hillside to the six desperately romantic tented rooms, all with outdoor bathrooms (ideal for keeping an eye on the monkeys as you wash) and verandahs to take in the scenery. There’s also Loimugi House which has two bedrooms and a shared sitting room- perfect for a family safari. And if your tent doesn’t appeal? Well if you’re staying long enough we can arrange fly camping or a walk to spend the night in Sarara’s remote star camp- just let us know so we can give Sarara advance warning.

What can I do at Sarara?

We’d really describe Sarara as a wilderness lodge rather than a safari camp- yes, there’s some wildlife, if not the volumes you’d find elsewhere, and a hide beside the waterhole, but a stay here is really more about total immersion in the environment and culture. There are morning and night game drives, but we’d heartily recommend heading into the areas where vehicles can’t reach, heading out on guided walks or a ride on one of Sarara’s bush ponies (just as an aside, due to the small size of the ponies this is limited to guests weighing 80kgs or less).
The Samburu people are a huge part of the Sarara community (most of the guides are local Samburu) and an integral part of understanding this wild land is in visiting the nearby villages. Head down at sunset as the goats are milked and the cows are corralled for the night, make beads with the local ladies or see how the traditional blacksmiths work. Most magical of all, visit the traditional singing wells for the timeless scene as the Samburu herders pass water up from the deep for their herds to drink. Meeting the Samburu at Sarara is quite emphatically not a tourist-produced experience, it’s just life as it’s lived, so photographs are not allowed.

Giving back at Sarara…

Sarara is a stunning example of community tourism and the lodge is run for the benefit of the surrounding people. As well as bringing income to the local community, the conservation work of the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust means that elephants, once poached out, roam the Matthews Mountains once again. Much is also done to ensure that the day-to-day running of the camp has a limited impact on the area: water is gravity-fed, electricity is solar, waste is recycled and the fridge is replaced by natural charcoal cooling.

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