Our Most Beautiful Safari


African parks are usually all about the animals but in the arid lands of Samburu, Kenya, the landscape makes your jaw drop just as often.  Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba are three parks connected by rivers, volcanic mountains, and golden waves of grass … and with Joy’s Camp as our guide, we got to explore all three. This is the land where Joy Adamson, naturalist and author of Born Free, raised and released Penny the leopard and wrote her novel about the experience…and we had the privilege of staying at the site of her former home where she captured it all, the gorgeous and inspiring Joy’s Camp.

Without wasting a moment, the Joy’s Camp team picked us up in the town of Archer’s Post and we set out on safari. Heading into the reserve we passed through a fascinating Samburu village. This tribe is similar to the Maasai in that they are nomadic herders but their vibrant dress and unique homes of mud and cloth were perhaps even more striking. (I’ll never forget the little boy who came running to the roadside to wave to us, not minding one bit that he was stark naked).

Arid woodland dominates the landscape but lush rivers like these cut through giving an instantly tropical effect. Doum palms grow like weeds along the shore and reticulated giraffes, elephants, and baboons can almost always be seen having a drink.

This is one of the amazing things about safari. We passed this very spot before lunch but an hour later we return to find a large lion relaxing in the shade of the toothbrush tree (the bristle-like branches are used by locals for teeth cleaning). It reminded me of the constant dance between animals and safari-goers and that just because you didn’t see an animal doesn’t mean he’s not there.

Crossing into Shaba National Reserve to reach Joy’s Camp the grasses move like threads of gold, the mountains grow taller, and the Sparrow Weavers nests dangle like ornaments from the acacias. (Fun Facts:These clever birds always build on the tips of the thorny branches to keep predators away and in the west to keep their nests warm long after sunset. Locals always look for these to tell which way their headed.)

We arrive at the ten tents that comprise Joy’s Camp. Tucked into the trees, the canvas structures blend with nature making it ideal for immersion with the wild…just as Joy would have had lived.

Walking into the reception area, the mood is set to capture Joy’s creativity. Her typewriter sits out on the desk, her paintings and sketches hang on the wall, and her antiques decorate the space.

Though our canvas tent may have appeared a demure canvas from the outside, inside was as luxurious as safari can be. A silk-trimmed mosquito net draped over our canopy bed, handmade glass lanterns illuminated the space, and graphic African accents gave it a sense of place.

This is the view from our queen-size bed, looking out to the forest of acacia trees, Mount Shaba, and a watering hole that was constantly graced with the presence of animals.

After settling into our room, we took a dip in their gorgeous pool. I love that the edges naturally flow like the shores of a pond rather than usual cookie-cutter rectangle.

Before our delicious African-European fusion dinners, we would gather for cocktails in the lounge. Each space in the hotel felt relaxed and sophisticated all at once. And when it comes to life outside the comforts of camp, surprise and adventure were at every turn. For our encounters with impala battles, swaths of vultures, and the endangered Grevy’s zebra check out our next blogs.

Much love from Samburu,
Anne & Mike

Joy’s Camp invited us to be their guest; however, all opinions are our own.

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