Elephant Watch Camp

Samburu National Reserve, Kenya - Classic 4

Elephant Watch Camp - Samburu National Reserve - Kenya Safari Camp

The elegant and luxurious Elephant Watch Camp lies seductively by the Usao Nyiro river in the semi-arid Samburu Game Reserve, famous not only for its elephants, crocodiles and hippo but also for its spectacular birdlife and its unusual wildlife including reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, long-necked gerenuk, Somali blue-legged ostrich and oryx.

The beautifully appointed camp is 7km upriver from Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton's Save The Elephants Research Centre and is the work of Oria Douglas Hamilton who together with her husband Iain have extensively researched the elephants of Lake Manyara and Samburu. The Elephant Watch Camp is a direct result of their intimate understanding and knowledge of the elephants and aims to provide guests with meaningful encounters with and interpretations of some of the 66 elephant families in Samburu. Their experience, and that of their staff, enables them to take you to the right places and to explain the complex behavior of these magnificent beasts. These wonderfully insightful safaris will take you right into the heart of the world of elephants - a privilege indeed.

Depending on the season, you may watch the great musth bulls fighting for dominance, the birth of a baby, matriarchs defending the family circle and many other secrets of elephant life. Close observation allows you to see the minutiae of their daily life: the elephants rubbing themselves on their special trees; the way they use the red earth as talcum powder; the fascinating interaction between family members. The longer you watch them the easier it is to identify and understand them.

The unique camp boasts only 5 individually styled tented rooms under intricately shaped thatched roofs. Each room contains a large double bed hand-carved out of olive/acacia wood, an ensuite bathroom built around the native Kigelia and Acacia Elatior trees and a verandah facing the great river. Gourmet meals are taken outdoors or in that fabulous mess tent that is stylishly decorated in huge swathes of colorful cotton fabrics and large cushions made from local fabrics. Meals include fresh fruit and vegetable flown in from the Hamilton's farm in Naivasha and are accompanied by a good selection of wine. At night, flame torches and lanterns light up the camp along the river, while the camp fire provides a perfect meeting point for after-dinner drinks and discussions.

Besides elephant watching in 4x4 vehicles with experts, the camp also offers nature walks along well traveled elephant paths, led by the Samburu-tribe warriors, and access to Samburu tribal rituals and ceremonies. Books, films and information on elephants are provided to the guests as additional aids to their journey of discovery.

"The idea of Elephant Watch Safaris came to me as I was sitting on the roof of my Landrover, watching elephants. A young female walked towards me and lifted her trunk. I held out my hand to the tip of her long nose and murmured a low rumble-call while her warm breath flowed over my fingers. For a while she remained by the car, flapping her ears, ripping grass and twirling her trunk. As I looked at her closely I felt a silent new friendship was developing."

"The rationale behind 'Elephant Watch Safaris' is borrowed from whale watching; that there is more value in the live animal from people watching it, than there is from killing it for its products of meat, skin and ivory. Elephant Watch Safaris is a first in Africa and I am delighted to be able to offer visitors this new and wonderful experience in the Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya. While venturing into the secret world of elephants, our guests are also looked after in great style." ~ Oria Douglas Hamilton