Family-run and family-focused, El Karama is set in a private conservancy located in the heart of the Laikipia eco-system. Its name, which is Arabic, translates as ‘answer to prayer’ or ‘treasured possession’ and was bestowed upon the lodge by its owners, Murray and Sophie Grant, who live on the land with their children. El Karama Lodge is a superb choice for travellers hoping to see a lot of wildlife in this very scenic part of the world! The lodge can also be taken exclusively for families and small private groups.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The property is approximately 42 kilometres north-west of Nanyuki, with the lodge standing at the end of a sand-and-stone track. It is located in the foothills of Mount Kenya, inside a 14,000-acre private wildlife conservancy in Laikipia.
FACILITIES AT EL KARAMA LODGE:
Most of the communal facilities are housed within a very attractive stone, timber, and thatch structure that merges seamlessly with the landscape. There are comfy cushioned chairs and sofas, some set up next to a cosy fireplace. A long table, surrounded by upright chairs, invites guests to come together at mealtimes, and the well-stocked bar is positioned nearby. A few more chairs have been placed at the front of the structure, so you can sit and relax while enjoying views across the ranch and towards the Ewaso Nyiro River. It is not uncommon for visitors to spot big game from the lodge, including giraffes, elephants, and antelopes! El Karama also has an eco-smart swimming pool that’s kept clean by means of a deionising unit. This is the perfect place to cool off – it’s popular with birds and tortoises too!
ACCOMMODATION AT EL KARAMA LODGE:
Guest accommodation is divided between El Karama main lodge and El Karama River Camp.
The main lodge consists of four twin or double bandas, and two cottages. While the River Camp contains two cottages. Like the main building, these are built from stone, thatch, and timber, with plenty of aesthetic appeal! The bandas are slightly downstream from the central structure, while the cottages are positioned on the opposite side. The camp is located on the riverbank close to the communal lodge.
El Karama Main Lodge - most suited to families
The four bandas: All bandas have lovely views of the river from a private veranda with comfy seats. Inside, there’s a double bed or twin beds, covered in mosquito nets to keep the biters at bay. There is also ample storage space, a lounge area including a small table for writing, and en-suite facilities featuring a generously proportioned stone bath and overhead shower.
Rondavel Cottage: This cottage was built with families and small children in mind. We recommend it if you’re traveling in a group, as it has a large double bed, two single beds, a sofa, and a separate bathroom just a step away. Like the bandas, it has a large stone bath and shower overlooking the river, where you might spot an African finfoot or hippo.
The Hobbit House: Larger than the Rondavel, this cottage is also particularly well suited to families, with its master bedroom, two treehouse floors for single beds, spacious living area, and large bathroom. The upper floors are accessed via staircases made out of twisted deadwood, which lends a lot of character! One of the smaller bedrooms boasts a round glass window, wonderful for viewing game.
El Karama River Camp - most suited to couples, honeymooners and smaller groups
Finally, there are this camp’s two cottages, which can be booked on an exclusive basis and are ideal for small groups or honeymooners. Each bedroom is configured as a double, twin, or triple, and has large windows that let in a lot of light. The en-suite facilities are very well appointed, featuring twin washbasins, shower, and bathtub – one cottage has an outdoor bathtub, constructed using river stones! Also including a lounge and dining area with cosy fireplace, Little River Camp is a charming retreat for guests seeking a little extra privacy. The River Camp has a photographic hide and salt lick, making for fantastic photographic opportunities in total privacy.
Children of all ages are welcome, and the lodge is an excellent option for families. However, as noted below, big game does wander through the property at times, so supervision is essential – staff will brief parents and guardians about this. There is a nanny on site and babysitting may be arranged.
ACTIVITIES AT EL KARAMA LODGE:
El Karama Lodge offers an exciting variety of activities. We’ve listed a few below, but please contact a member of our Kenya team here, for more information.
Expertly guided game drives- El Karama offers classic safari activities including guided game drives around the wildlife conservancy. The vehicle used most often for game drives has a collapsible windscreen, fantastic for photographers! The private conservancy is home to four of the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo – as well as many other predators and herbivores. Cheetah, Grévy’s zebra, rare wild dog, aardwolf, aardvark… in all, there are over 80 mammal species here!
Night drives- As the lodge is on a private conservancy, night drives are offered as well. At night, you can spot incredible wildlife such as aardvark, white-tailed mongoose, bush babies, and predators too!
Birdwatching- The bird count here is very impressive, standing at 431 different species and achieving 3rd place in Kenya in the Global Bird Count 2020. The lodge has a high standard of guiding, with guides specialising in walking and birding safaris.
Walking safaris- Nothing compares to walking out into the bush on foot! Walking safaris enable you to get a little closer to the action, with a guide always on hand to keep you safe. All of the guides at El Karama are very experienced and can show you the wildlife in the area, from the big to the small. They’ll focus on tracks made by predators, herbivores, and insects alike, as well as scanning and incorporating crucial wildlife monitoring exercises for guests interested in wildlife interaction.
Fly camping- For a real adventure, you can enjoy 1 or 2 nights in a mobile fly camp. Here, you’ll be able to camp under the stars, falling asleep by an open fire while listening to the sounds of elephants browsing in the distance, or hyenas calling one another over the water.
Yoga and spa treatments- El Karama is in a great location for a wellness retreat! The lodge offers yoga and Pilates facilities and equipment, plus you can visit the spa tent for a beauty treatment or a full-day trip, available on request.
Farm activities- El Karama Lodge is set on a working ranch that has cattle and sheep, and it has been producing successfully for over 50 years. Guests may visit the ranch to see the farming activities taking place, such as milking, calving, and cattle inspections. This is extremely popular for families and groups interested in seeing more of a Kenyan working ranch.
Exclusive use and extended stays- The lodge can arrange a safari bubble package for adult travellers or groups, using private charter caravans including meet-and-greet pick-ups off the early morning international flights and landing 1 hour later on the conservancy airstrip. With a 7-night stay, you can go on a fully immersive experience with add-ons that include studio visits with owner Murray, heli safaris to North Kenya (Suguta Valley or Mount Kenya), heli fly fishing, and day visits by air to North Kenya’s elephant sanctuary.
Children focused-activities- This intimate eco-lodge is fabulous for young children and teenagers, as it provides things to do for all ages. Activities for small children include clay sculpting, tracking and plaster casts, fishing, playing with bunnies, collecting eggs from the farm, riding Mr B the pony, and visiting the veggie patch to pick their own lunch. The activities for older children and teenagers include wildlife monitoring, predator profiling, bush photography, cooking lessons, walking with rangers, farm visits, fishing, and bush football on the plains.
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the lodge and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.