A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights





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    Default A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    As promised, below is a recommended circular route covering some of the best of Kenya.


    Nairobi-the Mara-Kericho-Kakamega Forest-Lake Baringo-Laikipia Plateau-Nanyuki-Samburu National Reserve-Meru National Park-Nairobi

    A lovely circular route which covers some of the best of Kenya – the famous Mara, the tea-growing highlands, the last remnant of the equatorial rainforest, the Rift Valley escarpment, the Rift Valley Lake Baringo, the off-the-beaten-track up out of the Rift Valley and on to the Laikipia Plateau, the private game conservancies of the Laikipia, Nanyuki and Mt Kenya, the semi-desert of Samburu National Reserve, Meru National Park where Elsa of Born Free was released, and then round the eastern side of Mt Kenya back to Nairobi.


    • Nairobi to the Mara:

    Time: Approx 7 hours drive.
    Route: Nairobi-Maai Mahiu-Narok-the Mara
    Where to camp:
    I always recommend taking a private campsite in the Mara Conservancy, but they can be expensive due to the booking fee, particularly for small parties. http://maratriangle.org/visit/conser...-fees/camping/ Otherwise, camp at the Eluai public campsite near the Serena Lodge in the Mara Conservancy (no facilities, though).


    • Mara to Kericho:
      Distance: approx 160 kms, but will take most of the day
      Route: Mara-Sotik-Kericho

    Where to stay/camp: Kericho is a slightly odd place to recommend to overnight, but this is because you can’t make it from the Mara to Kakamega Forest within daylight hours. Kericho is the heart of the Kenyan tea-growing area and I don’t know anywhere to camp there. However, the nowadays rather rundown old colonial Tea Hotel will be a safe place to overnight. They might even allow you to camp in their gardens.

    • Kericho to Kakamega Forest:
      Time: About 3-4 hours
      Route: Kericho-Awasi-Chemilil-Nandi Hills-Kapsabet-Kakamega Forest National Park
      Where to stay/camp: Camping and bandas at the Kenya Wildlife Services’ campsite. Otherwise, for a treat, we highly recommend Rondo Retreat – lovely extremely clean Baptist retreat with accommodation in old colonial cottages in lovely gardens with good unpretentious food. Take your own alcohol (although religion is not on the menu). Colobus monkeys and beautiful birds. Take a walk with a bird guide in the forest.



    • Kakamega Forest to Lake Baringo:
      Route: Kakamega-Kapsabet-Eldoret-Iten-down the Kerio escarpment of the Rift Valley-Kabarnet-Marigat-Lake Baringo
      Time: Give yourselves the whole day or at least 7 hours.
      Where to camp: Roberts Camp, Baringo. A well-known Kenyan campsite on this freshwater lake. In recent years, the lake has risen enormously and most of Roberts’ land is now under water – including most of their cottages and houses. But there is enough space for camping and they have a bar and restaurant. Excellent birding, and do go on a boat trip out on the lake and/or go for a day trip to the fabulous Island Camp.


    ** THE NEXT SECTION IS OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK AND CAN BE A BIT INTREPID** Alternative route posted at the end of the next section.


    • Lake Baringo to Nanyuki via the Laikipia Plateau:

    This is a rather intrepid route to recommend, but we last did it in 2014. At times the road hadn’t seen four wheel traffic for a long time, but it was perfectly do-able. Give yourself the whole day and leave Baringo at dawn. The route ought to be on T4A as we put it on. Google maps doesn’t show the section Mugie to Nanyuki, but it is on T4A.
    Distance: 224 kms (approx 10 hours)
    Route:
    Roberts Camp, Baringo-Loruk-Tangulbei-Mugie-Kinamba-Naibor-Jua Kali-Nanyuki
    From Loruk the road goes up the eastern side of the Rift Valley – that part of the road was reasonable in 2014. It was the section from Churo to Sukuta Mugie that was bad in 2014.


    • Alternative route from Lake Baringo to Nanyuki:

    Route: Lake Baringo-Marigat-Mogotio-Nakuru-Nyahururu-Mweiga-Nyeri-Nanyuki
    Where to stay/camp: Difficult to say as most of the ranches on the Laikipia Plateau are private game conservancies with many lovely, expensive lodges and tented camps.
    Ol Pejeta Conservancy has private campsites, but I have never been to them although I have heard very good reports. It is a well respected and known conservancy and is on the outskirts of Nanyuki. http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/
    El Karama Ranch (near Naibor) has more affordable bandas than most private conservancies on the Laikipia, but I don’t think they allow camping any more.
    Nanyuki River Camp: On the outskirts of Nanyuki.

    • Laikipia Plateau:

    Lots of lovely places to stay, but little camping as mentioned above as they are all private game conservancies and cattle ranches. Fabulous exclusive lodges for a little luxury.
    Laikipia Wildlife Forum tourism: http://www.laikipiatourism.com/
    Laikipia Wildlife Forum: http://www.laikipia.org/
    Borana Ranch and Game Conservancy: http://www.borana.co.ke/
    Ol Pejeta Game Conservancy: http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/
    Probably what I would recommend is that you spend a few nights at Ol Pejeta camping at one of their private campsites. Book beforehand. That will then give you a flavour of what is on offer on the Laikipia with the “Big Five” on the conservancy and wonderful views of Mt Kenya.


    • Nanyuki to Samburu National Reserve:
      Route: Nanyuki-Timau-Isiolo-Archer's Post-Samburu NR.

    An easy journey on reasonable tarmac.
    Where to camp: Public campsite on the river in Samburu NR.


    • Samburu National Reserve to Meru National Park:
      Route: Samburu-Archer’s Post-Isiolo-Meru town-Meru National Park
      An easy journey on reasonable roads. Meru town has supermarkets, banks, fuel etc etc.
      Where to camp: There is a very nice public campsite (very rarely used and big) at Bwathongeri in Meru NP.



    • Meru National Park to Nairobi:
      Route: Meru NP, Meru town, Embu, Makuyu, Thika, Nairobi.

    It will take you longer than you think due to heavy traffic once you join the main A2 road and, particularly, on the “superhighway” from Thika to Nairobi, but perfectly possible in about 7-8 hours. It is particularly important to follow the Northern Bypass around Nairobi (if going to Jungle Junction and/or the Karen/Langata side of town) otherwise one will get stuck in very heavy traffic in the centre of the city.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2016/09/28 at 07:00 PM.

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    Thumbs up Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Thanks so much for these recommendations! Hope to see the wonders that Kenya has to offer some day not too far in the future.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne_W View Post
    Thanks so much for these recommendations! Hope to see the wonders that Kenya has to offer some day not too far in the future.
    Karibuni Kenya!

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    I have absolutely to agree with WW that her recommended places are highlights of Kenya. We took our chance and visit most of them in September. Thanks for this post.

    A few additions

    Mara Conservancy (Triangle): Eluai public campsite near the Serena Lodge has an fantastic view but be aware that there is no shadow and with strong wind it could be cold. There is a second Public Campsite - Iseiya Public Campsite. It is next to Serena Lodge too but it is in a little forest without a view. My decision would be a privat campsite again. It is very expensiv but for us it was worth to stay at Ndovu - a very nice place.

    Lake Baringo: Roberts Camp looks very sad in the moment from the lake. We took finally the decision against camping there. The new Tumbili Cliff Lodge is like a little paradise especially if you come from the dusty north. For a bird guide ask for Joseph as long as he is around. He is an excellent Bird Guide for Kenya.

    Samburu/ Buffalo Springs: The Public Campsite on the river in Samburu is a very nice campsite except the problem with the baboons. We only had a lunch break there and they were immediately around. The Special Campsite at the Springs in Buffalo Springs is a nice place too. It is only a short drive to the privat swimming pool in the middle of the park. We used the pool every day before going back to the camp.
    Last edited by botswanadreams; 2016/10/11 at 09:27 PM.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Very pleased you had a great time in Kenya, botswanadreams. It would be lovely if you could write a trip report as this forum needs more on Kenya.

    I am glad you camped at Ndovu special campsite in the Mara Conservancy. A truly stunning spot. We once saw a German couple camping inside the Mara Conservancy HQ near the Serena - and thought it a strange place to camp - but you say it is a public campsite (with no view and beside the rangers' accommodation). For others either camping at the Eluai public campsite or one of the lovely special campsites, go into the Conservancy HQ to fill up with fresh water from their borehole.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    but you say it is a public campsite (with no view and beside the rangers' accommodation)
    The Iseiya Public Campsite is not connected with the HQ. Coming from Mara River to the North Site driving up the Hill to Serena it is just 500 meter before the turn off to the lodge on the right site. It is signed as public campsite. It has a little facilities but we haven't checked about water.

    I'll post a few Infos and pics step by step about our trip in a separat treat here in the Kenya section but I'm sorry my trip report will be in German on our homepage.
    Last edited by botswanadreams; 2016/10/12 at 07:22 AM.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by botswanadreams View Post
    The Iseiya Public Campsite is not connected with the HQ. Coming from Mara River to the North Site driving up the Hill to Serena it is just 500 meter before the turn off to the lodge on the right site. It is signed as public campsite.
    How very interesting. I know where you mean. It is just below the HQ. It is likely not to have water. The HQ is at the top of the hill - turn left to the Serena Lodge, right to the HQ and the water tap is very obvious - beside the large water header tank.

    That would be great to see your trip report. Google translate can be my friend.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    There are three public campsites in the Triangle AFAIK. Oloolololo (sp?) which I believe is right at the gate of that name, Eluai and Iseiya. We've only stayed in the last two. Eluai we loved but Iseiya was no fun at all. As mentioned earlier, it is a very heavily wooded area. It was tricky to get the car with roof tent in through the trees and there was very limited space to camp, certainly with a roof top tent. We felt quite vulnerable with such dense cover so close around the car and my memory is of it being dark and cold. No water/facilities.

    On the plus side its proximity to Serena is handy for water and facilities. There is, or was, a staff shop there too that we were offered the use of. We wouldn't stay there again though if Eluai was an option. I wonder if guests are sometimes directed there because the proximity to camp suits the Rangers? I don't know what Oloololo has to offer.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Nice article about Kakamega Forest in Africa Geographic: http://africageographic.com/blog/exp...rest-in-kenya/
    Last edited by ortelius; 2016/10/12 at 02:40 PM.
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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by itchyfeet View Post
    I don't know what Oloololo has to offer.
    Olololo public campsite is right beside the Olololo Gate - visible from the gate, and right beside the rangers' accommodation. I think it might have loos and a shower, but it wouldn't push my buttons. It does, however, have a view.

    I am lucky enough to have only camped in special campsites - and would highly recommend doing that despite the cost. If it is your once in a lifetime visit to the Mara, then calculate what a night in a luxury tented camp would be, and the cost of effectively camping wild on the banks of the Mara river is cheap in comparison.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Olololo public campsite is right beside the Olololo Gate - visible from the gate, and right beside the rangers' accommodation. I think it might have loos and a shower, but it wouldn't push my buttons. It does, however, have a view.

    I am lucky enough to have only camped in special campsites - and would highly recommend doing that despite the cost. If it is your once in a lifetime visit to the Mara, then calculate what a night in a luxury tented camp would be, and the cost of effectively camping wild on the banks of the Mara river is cheap in comparison.
    I completely agree that's the ideal and especially if it's a special trip and/or just for a few nights. However, if you are on a longer trip the main focus of which is game viewing you sometimes have to choose where to spend your money. So in the Serengeti I felt I could justify paying $50pppn (as it was then) for a special campsite given the public campsites were $30pppn anyway and the experience of staying in a crowded public site was so far removed from that of a special campsite but in the Mara the booking fee meant costs for a private site for two were just too high to justify especially when the public option (Eluai at least) was really good. Stunning views, good position, lots of game in camp and we usually had it to ourselves and on the couple of occasions we didn't the other occupants were out of sight and hearing.

    I suppose I'm just saying if exclusivity is out of reach of the budget, Eluai is still a really good option in my view.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post

    I am lucky enough to have only camped in special campsites - and would highly recommend doing that despite the cost. If it is your once in a lifetime visit to the Mara, then calculate what a night in a luxury tented camp would be, and the cost of effectively camping wild on the banks of the Mara river is cheap in comparison.
    Last year there were private campsites available when we entered the Mara Triangle, both Dirisha and Ndovu Campsites. I was sorely tempted to take them but the fees they wanted to charge us were just too steep. Those 2 campsites are lovely and we visited them. Unfortunately price became a consideration for us and we were not sorry we chose Eluai.
    They wanted a once off booking fee of US$400 for a special campsite.
    Camping special campsite US$50pppd, Eluai US$30pppd
    Entrance fee US$70pppd
    Vehicle entrance fee US$5 pd

    We spent 3 nights there and therefore paid US$105 per person per day for Eluai = R1,470. X2 people X3 days = R8,800 in total.

    If we had stayed in a special campsite it would have totaled at R12,950. (US$925). {2 people X 3days}When it is considered that the other parks and reserves still to be visited and paid for are not much cheaper this is a considerable outlay.

    Then again I suppose it is not Kenya's fault that the value of our currency is so low.
    For us Eluai was perfect. We were happy to pay for special campsites in Serengeti where they did not have the US$400 booking fee.

    P.S. I see my post crossed with that from Itchyfeet.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2016/10/12 at 05:49 PM.
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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    If you can ever find a slim little booklet, and I mean booklet, called "Where to fish in Kenya", published in the 1970s, you will have the guide book to some of the best camp sites in Africa. Some of the fishing camps no longer exist as functioning camp sites, but they are still there as bush camp sites par excellence. The fly fishing camps up on the slopes of Mount Kenya are some of the best kept secrets in Africa. No facilities, bar a long drop, but sublime locations. A bit like Kakamega.
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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by itchyfeet View Post
    I completely agree that's the ideal and especially if it's a special trip and/or just for a few nights. However, if you are on a longer trip the main focus of which is game viewing you sometimes have to choose where to spend your money. So in the Serengeti I felt I could justify paying $50pppn (as it was then) for a special campsite given the public campsites were $30pppn anyway and the experience of staying in a crowded public site was so far removed from that of a special campsite but in the Mara the booking fee meant costs for a private site for two were just too high to justify especially when the public option (Eluai at least) was really good. Stunning views, good position, lots of game in camp and we usually had it to ourselves and on the couple of occasions we didn't the other occupants were out of sight and hearing.

    I suppose I'm just saying if exclusivity is out of reach of the budget, Eluai is still a really good option in my view.
    Sorry, my post didn't come out quite how I intended - I didn't intend to sound like a spoilt brat! It is just that the likes of Governors' Camp cost in the region of USD 450 per person per night!

    Itchyfeet: You are so correct - if it is a special trip and not part of an overland expedition - then it is worth spending the money for a special campsite. And Eluai public campsite is a very good option by anyone's standards.

    Stan: You also are correct about having to make choices when on an overland expedition (we did too through 14 African countries). From correspondence with the Mara Conservancy, the booking fee for special campsites in the Mara Conservancy for private individuals is KShs 10,000 (not KShs 40,000 as you were quoted at the gate which is the cost for tour operators). This booking fee is the same whether you are taking the special campsite for a week or a few days. However, I do agree that the overall cost does give everyone food for thought. We normally go to the Mara in a group of family and friends and share the cost of the booking fee!

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    [QUOTE=Wazungu Wawili;3371118]

    the booking fee for special campsites in the Mara Conservancy for private individuals is KShs 10,000 (not KShs 40,000 as you were quoted at the gate which is the cost for tour operators).


    Thanks W.W., I must admit that the officials at Olololo Gate were rather nonplussed when we wanted to stay in a special campsite and had no experience of how to make such a booking. They phoned one of their seniors who came up with the booking fee of KShs 40,000. At US$100 it is not so bad. Most self-drivers unfortunately are usually booking for 2 people only, splitting such a bill would make the special campsites worth the money, as you point out.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2016/10/12 at 10:32 PM.
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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Whilst I can't recall the exact figures I do remember the booking fee skewed the costs so considerably that we didn't even consider it. I suspect, therefore, that, like Stan, we were also quoted 40,000 ksh. In fact a one off payment of 10,000 ksh, or $100, isn't a ridiculous premium for a private campsite when spread over a number of days (or people).

    Incidentally looking at at the Triangle website just now it says Iseiya campsite has a long drop. We just never found it.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    If you can ever find a slim little booklet, and I mean booklet, called "Where to fish in Kenya", published in the 1970s, you will have the guide book to some of the best camp sites in Africa. Some of the fishing camps no longer exist as functioning camp sites, but they are still there as bush camp sites par excellence. The fly fishing camps up on the slopes of Mount Kenya are some of the best kept secrets in Africa. No facilities, bar a long drop, but sublime locations. A bit like Kakamega.
    Is this it Tony?

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-To-Fi.../dp/B005DWGH3Y

    Written by Sylvia Story and Alfred Banner in case anyone wants to try tracking it down. The best I could do was a copy in the US for $30 odd plus $15 postage but I have a bit of a thing for old guidebooks so I will continue to keep an eye out. Sometimes the global marketplace is a wonderful thing...
    Last edited by itchyfeet; 2016/10/13 at 10:39 AM.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    If you can ever find a slim little booklet, and I mean booklet, called "Where to fish in Kenya", published in the 1970s, you will have the guide book to some of the best camp sites in Africa. Some of the fishing camps no longer exist as functioning camp sites, but they are still there as bush camp sites par excellence. The fly fishing camps up on the slopes of Mount Kenya are some of the best kept secrets in Africa. No facilities, bar a long drop, but sublime locations. A bit like Kakamega.
    I am not so sure that many of the places mentioned in your 1970s guide will still be accessible by vehicle - or they are within the boundaries of National Parks (e.g. Mount Kenya NP or the Aberdares NP). Please see this link to the Kenya Fly Fishers Club - apparently the oldest fishing club in Africa. They will have up-to-date information on other rivers for fishing (apart from their own beats in the Aberdares). For fishing in the Cherangani Hills, contact Dick Barnley at Sirikwa Safaris, Kitale. There is also a fishing club in Kericho who will know about the rivers in the Mau Forest.

    http://www.kenyaflyfishersclub.com/

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    WW, How much time would you reasonably set our for your circular route? Thank you.
    Last edited by monstercruiser; 2016/11/21 at 01:12 AM.

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    Default Re: A recommended circular route of some of Kenya's highlights

    Quote Originally Posted by monstercruiser View Post
    WW, How much time would you reasonably set our for your circular route? Thank you.
    Jambo Monstercruiser

    It depends how long you like to stay at each place. But here is a sample:

    Day 1: Travel Nairobi to the Mara
    Day 2: Mara
    Day 3: Mara
    Day 4: Mara
    Day 5: Travel Mara to Kericho
    Day 6: Travel Kericho to Kakamega
    Day 7: Kakamega
    Day 8: Travel Kakamega to Lake Baringo
    Day 9: Lake Baringo
    Day 10: Travel Lake Baringo to Nanyuki (a long day's drive)
    Day 11: Laikipia Plateau/Nanyuki/Ol Pejeta
    Day 12: Laikipia Plateau/Nanyuki/Ol Pejeta
    Day 13: Travel Nanyuki to Samburu
    Day 14: Samburu
    Day 15: Samburu
    Day 16: Travel Samburu to Meru
    Day 17: Meru
    Day 18: Meru
    Day 19: Travel Meru to Nairobi

    But you could cut 4 days out of this - one day in the Mara, one day Laikipia Plateau/Nanyuki/Ol Pejeta, one day Samburu, and one day Meru (leaving just 3 nights in the Mara, 2 nights in Laikipia/Nanyuki, 2 nights in Samburu, and 2 nights in Meru.

    You asked how to book private campsites in the Mara Conservancy. This link is on the first post of the thread, but to confirm here is the link again http://maratriangle.org/visit/conser...-fees/camping/
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2016/11/21 at 02:06 PM.

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