This is a camp with a lot of history and character! It is owned by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton and run by their daughter Saba. The Douglas-Hamilton family are elephant researchers well known for their conservation endeavours, including Save the Elephants. If you love elephants, this is the place to be!
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The camp is approached via a wide open road through savanna, leading to the riverine forest that makes up the camp’s site.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The main building is a joy to behold – a very distinctive thatched roof is supported by numerous wooden beams and on one side an entire tree! All materials are available locally, hence the camp’s status as an eco-property. Inside, both lounge and dining areas have a really authentic vibe. The lounge contains chunky wooden-framed seating with plenty of colourful cushions – this is positioned around coffee tables for guests to sit and chat or read from one of the books shelved close to the sitting area. The dining area consists of director’s chairs around separate tables. Guests can also take a seat – or day bed! – just outside the main lodge, while there are further director’s chairs around tables down by the River.
The guest accommodation at Elephant Watch Camp comprises six spacious and netted tents, all with the same delightful thatched roofing as the main building. With their cotton drapes and gnarled beams, these are quite unlike anything else in Samburu! At the front of each tent, there is a veranda, perfect for sitting and admiring the view. Inside, there is a king-size bed, bedside tables and lamps, a flashlight, and a special bush cupboard with ample room for storing clothes and other items. All en-suite facilities are housed in a separate area, built around its own acacia for shade and privacy! They consist of flush toilet, washbasin and classic bucket shower – and each bucket has been painted by hand. We love this attention to detail, which is in evidence throughout the accommodation. It creates a really homely feel!
Elephant Watch has become famous for its cuisine, a fusion of African and Italian influences to create an enticing bush gourmet. All food is prepared on site and sourced from the camp’s garden as well as farther afield – for example, the foothills of Mount Kenya! There is no set schedule for meals here – staff discuss with guests what will suit guests best, based on the activities for the day ahead.
The main activity at Elephant Watch Camp is, of course, elephant watching, in both game drives and guided walks. The Douglas-Hamiltons are passionate in their admiration for these beautiful creatures, so the focus is observing the 900 or so elephants in their natural habitat – and the guides are able to recognise each and every one! The guides also know how to approach all wildlife respectfully, which means that animals have come to trust humans and, therefore, not to pay us any attention as we watch them eat, fight, play. The Samburu is home to its own Big Five – Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich – as well as four of the original Big Five, lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant. Birding is also brilliant, with over 350 species for fans of feathery friends to spot!
Opportunities to view wildlife also abound via camel walks and helicopter rides. Guests who like to take a hike will relish scaling the heights of Mount Ololokwe, while those with an interest in local culture will appreciate visiting a Samburu village – this trip includes milking goats, throwing spears, making jewellery, taking part in a mock cattle raid, and even seeing a wise man for guidance in all things! And no stay at Elephant Watch Camp would be complete without an excursion to the Save the Elephants visitor centre, where you can learn all about endeavours to conserve the gentle giants.