Borana-SimonJMorris (38 of 59)
Classic | Kenya

Classic adventure in Kenya

Professional guide and exploration specialist Squack Evans shares insights into three Kenya accommodations he has recently visited: the newly revamped Koros, the charming Cardamom House, and the Borana Conservancy stalwart Laragai House. Squack has been away guiding trips for a couple of months. Now that he’s finally back home, he goes into some detail on these properties, so find yourself a comfy seat and prepare for a good read.         

Koros Camp

Located in the small village of South Horr, in northern Kenya, just in reach of extinct volcanoes, desert plains, and the enigmatic Lake Turkana, Koros Camp is a small and authentic exclusive-use bush camp, offering ample comfort in an environment of extremes.

‘Koros is definitely off the usual tourist circuit. It works as a really good base, particularly for helicopter adventures. After a beautiful scenic helicopter flight, you land in camp, which is nice and shady with some decent trees. The camp is designed to catch the breeze and there’s a nice little plunge pool. It is simple, and exceptionally comfortable. The recent refurb is particularly classy.’

The shower is a traditional bucket shower with ample water at the perfect temperature and there are always full jugs of water at the basin. It is simple, it works, and is in keeping with the ethos of not leaving a massive footprint. They have a limited amount of water from a borehole with a solar pump, it is all treated on-site with reverse osmosis and, as such, the water here is treated as the precious resource it is.

With Amory and Karina running camp, you have the owner-run touch and feel that is so amazing — with the place exclusively yours, you are personally welcomed and hosted by them, with every detail taken care of. Almost all of the staff come from the local community and they do a superb job. The food is up there with the best lodges and camps in Kenya. It’s a great story of employing and training local members of the community and providing extraordinary service.

Instead of just going from one wildlife place to another, visiting Koros exposes you to a completely different experience. The scenic flying in this particular landscape is absolutely stunning. Then you’ve got quad bikes – cruising the dry river beds is really fun, particularly for families and young adults who want to get out and do something a little bit more adventurous. 

You could also camp out under the stars for a night. Drive up to Lake Turkana and take the boat out, do some catch-and-release fishing of Nile perch, and then pop across to set up camp on South Island for the night. 

You may also choose to visit the local Samburu community or the fishing community on the lake shore. With more time, Koros is a good base for visiting the Chalbi Desert, which almost nobody ever goes to, it is wild and very remote. You can also drive into the cloud forest of Mount Kulal.

Overall, Koros is simple but classy, practical, and just a beautiful camp. I love it.’

Cardamom House

Tucked into a secluded bay, Cardamom House is a restored and expanded luxury boutique hotel located in Kuruwitu, near Vipingo, an hour north of Mombasa.

‘Small, exclusive, homely, and owner-run, it epitomises everything that we should be trying to support. The owners Mario and Gill Enzesberger go out of their way to make sure that everybody is comfortable. The place is also home to their son and a pair of gorgeous dogs, giving it a real family feeling without losing the professional edge that makes it exceptional.’

Mario is a foodie and this is reflected in the meals. The kitchen staff operate an open kitchen so you can watch your food being prepared and even get involved. They’ve got multiple cooking facilities and you can dine in a different little nook or on the rooftops every evening.

You can choose to have a private villa for your exclusive use, which is very convenient when travelling with kids. There’s a beautiful beach out front, an equally beautiful coral reef, you can take the boat out from nearby Kilifi Creek, and there’s yoga, pilates and massage on offer. This particular beach has a couple of big rocky promontories, which means it is relatively private. The passing fishermen and local residents who live on the same stretch of beach are all very friendly and have a good relationship with the owners. 

Cardamom House has been doing its part in getting the community conservancy up and running that protects the coral reef, working hand in hand with the community and the not-for-profit Oceans Alive Trust. Take a look at this write-up or better yet, choose Cardamom House for your next beach sojourn on the Kenya coast.’

Laragai House

Borana Conservancy, at the foot of Mount Kenya in the Laikipia Highlands, is wild and beautiful, and Laragai House, one of the oldest private houses on Borana, makes for a fantastic base. Being exclusive use you have the whole house to yourself, ideal for families and groups of friends looking to spend quality time together.

‘Borana is pretty low-key and quiet with not too many other vehicles. Laragai House is sprawling and spacious and suits a group of six or more really well. It is a little more affordable compared with other private house options on Borana.

Laragai House is a great place to take the family. There’s a swimming pool and the view is immense. Rainwater permitting, guests can paddle board in the dam. Management is extremely personable, and the whole place is beautifully run. The level of service is probably amongst the highest of any place I’ve been in the last couple of years with great attention to detail. The staff are very aware of what’s going on and keep you well looked after. The food is excellent and can be enjoyed in different locations around the property. 

Activities are numerous at the conservancy. The wildlife drives are excellent. Big cats include lion, leopard and cheetah — leopards are quite difficult to see but lion and cheetah are generally relatively straightforward viewing. There are lots of elephant, black and white rhino, and the usual Laikipia specials, like reticulated giraffe and oryx. The whole wildlife viewing operation is well done, and vehicles keep track of each other to ensure guests stay out of each other’s hair.’ 

Other activities include horse riding, mountain biking, and getting involved in some of the behind-the-scenes conservation work that happens on the conservancy. Check out the ops room, and go on a rhino monitoring walk with the anti-poaching team. And there’s the rock that inspired Pride Rock in The Lion King. Kids love the backstory and everyone loves the view.  

Again, I could say so much more about Laragai House and the conservancy. It obviously links up very well with northern Kenya trips, particularly if you travel by helicopter. Meaning, it’s relatively easy to combine the savannah of Laragai with the desert of Koros and experience two very different habitats.

If you would like to know more about travel to any of the above camps and Kenya in general, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Squack

To find out more about travel in Kenya, please contact us

Contact us
Subscribe to our newsletter

Travel ideas, conservation stories and the latest from our exploration team