“We have been on various safaris over the years but I am struggling to remember one as delightful as this! The ranch is beautiful and as soon as we turned into the gate we began to see wildlife. We enjoyed morning game walks, a night drive and sundowners overlooking the Lolldaiga Hills. We saw lots of elephant, lion and the resident hippo. The staff were all great company – so knowledgeable and approachable. We will definitely return.”

Vicky, UK, January 2017

With a name meaning ‘treasured possession’ or ‘answered prayer’ in Arabic, El Karama is a 14,000-acre working cattle ranch and wildlife sanctuary on the banks of Laikipia’s Ewaso Nyiro River.

El Karama Lodge – the only accommodation on the ranch – comprises just six comfortable and private cottages – together with a spacious central living and dining ‘mess’, a beautiful ‘eco’ swimming pool, two poolside pavilions and an active salt lick with visiting wildlife. It is the perfect option for families and small groups looking for an affordable and authentic lodge with a genuine ‘bush home’ feel.

There is outstanding game viewing and bird watching on foot, by vehicle – or even from your veranda. Guests can see over 80 mammal species including four of the ‘Big Five’ and over 424 identified bird species. This stunning and picturesque habitat boasts unusual mammals such as the Grevy Zebra, Gerenuk, Laikipia Hartebeeste and African Hunting Dogs – as well as Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo and the Reticulated Giraffe.  Experienced and knowledgeable guides are always on hand to ensure that guests make the most of their stay.

‘Plains Game’ abounds and guided bush walks take guests close to herds of Burchill’s Zebra and Grant’s Gazelle and through gorgeous landscapes with views of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. With six dams and waterholes on the property, guests can sit quietly bird-watching, wait patiently for predators or photograph elephant families at play. Night drives, bush meals, sundowners and other safari activities are also available.

“If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in the Kenyan wilderness then El Karama is for you. This delightful and relaxing home in the bush lets you sample all the simple pleasures of an actual home rather than a hotel. Sophie, Murray and team are friendly, helpful and unobtrusive. The food is excellent; the rooms are rustic, charming and spotlessly clean. The bush walks with Joseph are wonderful as are the game drives and there is plenty to see – lion, leopard and cheetah were spotted over the 5 days we were there  – plus elephant, buffalo and all the usual plains antelopes. The bird life also is spectacular.”  

Mel, Australia, February 2017

El Karama is owned and run by the Grant family who have lived and farmed on the ranch for several generations. Sophie and Murray Grant and their warm and friendly team of staff – some of whom have been at the lodge for over twenty years – encourage guests to engage as much as possible in all areas of life at the lodge and ranch. Guests can fish in the river and dams or visit the cattle and herdsmen and experience milking, calving and other farm activities.

The lodge also aims to be as family-friendly as possible, with all kinds of fun activities available for children – from game tracking to fishing to sculpting with termite clay – and there is even a special arts and crafts gallery just for kids.

The lodge has a strong commitment to eco-friendly practises, conservation and sustainable tourism, with the aim of preserving its unique habitat for the wildlife and people of Laikipia. You can stay at El Karama safe in the knowledge that the lodge has been designed holistically to balance the comfort of guests with a minimal footprint on the natural environment.

“We had a fantastic stay and the whole El Karama team, led by Sophie, were so friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable! As well as game drives and walking safaris, we enjoyed breakfast in the bush and finished the day with G&Ts as we watched the sun go down. 14,000 acres of private land meant we saw no other safari vehicles at all. The head guide, Joseph, was simply excellent – his knowledge of animals and birds seemed endless. We also enjoyed a tour of the farm where he pointed out the exciting projects coming to fruition –  El Karama is certainly a model of how sustainable land management, conservation and tourism can be combined to great effect!”  

Jessie, Nairobi, August 2016

Accommodation at El Karama is in six airy and rustic cottages made of stone, wood, thatch and canvas – all lovingly built by hand using locally-sourced materials. Furniture was made by the ranch carpenter and soft furnishings from handcrafted and recycled materials. There is solar-powered electricity for lighting and hot water, flushing lavatories and baths/showers.

Each of the four Banda Cottages has a spacious central double or twin-bedded room, a seating area with a small writing table and an ensuite bathroom with a large stone bath and overhead shower.  Each has its own river-view veranda for reading, relaxing and stargazing.

The Rondavel Cottage has a large double bed, two single beds and sofa and is ideal for families or small groups. The bathroom, a few steps away, has a large stone bath and shower with an open window looking directly onto the river – if you are quiet you may see African Finfoot or Hippo moving down river.

The Hobbit House is the largest cottage with 2 bedrooms and an internal bathroom. The master bedroom has a huge double bed, two upper floors have single beds for older children, and there is a living area with sofa and armchairs. The second bedroom has two twin beds and a round glass window for game viewing. There is plenty of outside space here for children to run around and explore.  Look out for genet cats – they love this area of the lodge grounds!

All the food at El Karama is homemade – 90% is home-grown in the organic garden and most of the meat is locally sourced. All meals are hearty and clean, full of herbs, fresh vegetables and salads and lots of flavour. Guests can expect a full cooked breakfast, buffet lunches, afternoon tea and a three course meal in the evening – nobody ever goes hungry at El Karama!

Using charcoal ovens, the chef produces freshly-baked rosemary breads, shortbread cookies and cakes for tea. Guests are welcome to visit the kitchen and to learn about bush cooking styles. There is a fully-stocked bar with beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks. Ask for a ‘dawa’ or two to keep you warm on the cooler evenings. There is also a choice of fresh juices and tisanes straight from the organic herb garden.

Summary

  • A small, welcoming, authentic and eco-friendly lodge
  • Superb game viewing and bird watching
  • Swimming pool and children’s activities
  • Delicious, healthy and affordable full-board accommodation
  • Just six ​private and comfortable ‘bush home’ cottages
  • From Ksh 12,500 per resident adult per night
  • Exclusive ‘self-catering’ rental of the whole lodge – ksh 65,000 per night

Detailed information

Accommodation

  • Four spacious double/twin-bedded Bandas – each with ensuite bathroom
  • Each banda can accommodate an additional child’s bed
  • Each banda has an external veranda
  • One Rondavel Cottage (sleeps up to four) with adjacent bathroom
  • One large Family Cottage (sleeps up to six) with ensuite bathroom
  • Hot water powered by solar or by burning harvested fallen wood
  • Solar generated electricity in all bandas and cottages
  • Mosquito nets
  • Clean drinking water provided

Lodge Amenities

  • 14,000 acres to explore
  • Spacious living & dining ‘mess’ overlooking river & salt lick
  • Eco swimming pool (14 x 7 metres)
  • Adjacent children’s pool
  • Thatched poolside living & dining rooms
  • Fully-stocked bar
  • Gift shop and art gallery
  • Driver and ayah accommodation and meal plans available
  • Laundry services (done by hand – no delicate items)
  • Electrical items can be charged in cottages and gallery
  • No mobile phone signal at the lodge – but available nearby
  • Wifi internet available in the lodge office by special request
  • No credit card facilities

Activities

  • Guided bush walks
  • Guided game drives
  • Open game viewing vehicle available
  • Bird watching
  • El Karama has received ‘Important Bird Area’ status
  • Night Drives
  • Sundowners
  • Children’s activities
  • Farm and shamba visits
  • Fishing
  • Fly camping
  • Day trips available to nearby ranches, conservancies & other attractions

Location

Laikipia

Mount-Kenya

Laikipia

Situated to the North West of Mount Kenya, the Laikipia plateau is one of Africa’s most exciting and exclusive wilderness safari destinations – combining abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery, extraordinary cultural and bio-diversity, some of East Africa’s most successful nature and game conservancies – and a complete absence of package tourism.

The ‘Laikipia experience’ comes largely free of the constraints that often apply in Kenya’s national parks and reserves. Activities such as night game drives, nature walks, bike tours, horse-riding and camel treks – prohibited in most parks – are just some the exhilarating pursuits on hand in the extensive private reserves and game conservancies that make up much of the region.

Game drive, Lolldaiga Hills

Lolldaiga Hills

Laikipia hosts a wealth and diversity of wildlife – second only to the Masai Mara in Kenya. It has significant populations of predators and also the “Big Five”, with over 50% of Kenya’s black and white rhinos, thousands of elephants, about 25% of the world’s Grevy Zebras, and an increasing population of rare Wild Dogs. The region is home to more endangered species than anywhere else in East Africa.

Rhinos Laikipia

Laikipia Rhinos

From Nanyuki and its environs there are numerous excursions , game drives and cultural visits that can be organised to neighbouring reserves, safari lodges and private ranches – such as Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Solio Ranch and Mount Kenya National Park. Riding, climbing, trekking, flying, white-water rafting, fly-fishing, polo, golf, mountaineering and many other sports and activities are also available close by. For more information on the flora and fauna and conservation of the region please visit the website of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum www.laikipia.org.

Nanyuki

laikipia-nanyuki

Nanyuki

The gateway to Laikipia and Kenya’s northern territories, the busy market town of Nanyuki was founded in 1907 and still retains a distinctly old-fashioned charm.  Dominated by the peaks of Mount Kenya, Nanyuki sits at 1,950 metres above sea level – making it one of the 15 highest towns in Africa – and the Equator runs across the main road just to the South of the town.

Nanyuki Equator

Nanyuki Equator

These days Nanyuki is home to the Kenyan Air Force and to the British Army in Kenya, and there are several good places to visit, shop and eat in the town – including the Lily Pond Arts Centre, Le Rustique and Cape Chestnut. At Nanyuki Airport you will find the popular Barney’s restaurant and just across the road One Stop Nanyuki has a café and excellent delicatessen. In the centre of town you will find a branch of Nakumatt , a Dormans Café and a Blue Rhino gift shop.

Barney's

Barney’s Restaurant

How to get there

By Road

Driving distance from Nairobi to Nanyuki is 120 miles (195 kilometres) on the main A2 road via Thika and Karatina – the road is good and the journey should take 3-4 hours.

El Karama is 25 miles (42km) northwest of Nanyuki by road – the drive should take around 1 hour via the main Nanyuki-Rumuruti road and we can supply guests with detailed directions to the lodge.

A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended

By Air

Nanyuki’s airport sits just to the south of town and there are daily scheduled flights to and from Nairobi on the following airlines –

Flights from Nanyuki also connect with the Masai Mara, Samburu National Park, Lewa Downs and other safari destinations in northern Kenya – please check with the airline for details.

Visitor’s Book

“If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in the Kenyan wilderness then El Karama is for you. This delightful and relaxing home in the bush lets you sample all the simple pleasures of an actual home rather than a hotel. Sophie, Murray and the team are friendly, helpful and unobtrusive. The food is excellent; the rooms are rustic, charming and spotlessly clean. Try sleeping with the canvas flaps up and just the netting between you and the stars and the African bush! The bush walks with Joseph are wonderful as are the game drives and there is plenty to see – lion, leopard and cheetah were spotted over the 5 days we were there – plus elephant, buffalo and all the usual plains antelopes. The bird life also is spectacular.”

Mel, Australia, February 2017

“We have been on various safaris over the years but I am struggling to remember one as delightful as this. The ranch is beautiful and as soon as we turned into the gate we began to see wildlife.  We enjoyed morning game walks, a night drive and sundowners overlooking the Loldaiga Hills. We saw lots of elephant, lion and the resident hippo. The staff were great company – so knowledgeable and approachable.  We will definitely return.”

Vicky, UK, January 2017

“We had a fantastic stay and the whole El Karama team, led by Sophie, were so friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable! As well as game drives and walking safaris, we enjoyed breakfast in the bush one morning and finished the day with G&Ts as we watched the sun go down. 14,000 acres of private land meant we saw no other safari vehicles at all. The head guide, Joseph, was simply excellent – his knowledge of animals and birds seemed endless. We also enjoyed a tour of the farm where he pointed out the exciting projects coming to fruition on a ranch that employs around 40 local people. El Karama is certainly a model of how sustainable land management, conservation and tourism can be combined to great effect!”  

Jessie, Nairobi, August 2016

Rates

  • Resident Adult – Ksh 12,500
  • Resident Teenager (12-17) – Ksh 9,500
  • Resident Child (4-12) – Ksh 6,250
  • Resident infant (0-3) – free

Rates are per guest per night sharing a room.  

Rates are on a self-drive, full-board basis including meals but excluding alcoholic drinks.

Exclusive ‘self-catering’ rental of the entire lodge (sleeps 16) – Ksh 65,000 per night.

Conservation Fees

  • Resident Adult – Ksh 1800
  • Resident Teenager – Ksh 1350
  • Resident Child – Ksh 900
  • Resident infant (0-3) – free

Rates are per 24-hour period

For non-resident rates – together with full details, terms and conditions and optional extra costs please contact us