While relaxation is an absolute priority at El Karama Lodge, you will also find no end of activities to inspire and energise you. Whether you're on foot, horseback, wheels or lying down by the pool, we've a long list of things to do that will make your memories of this safari that much richer and more colourful. If you have any questions or would like to know more about exactly what's on offer, please do get in touch.
What is a Typical Day on Safari
The answer to that is: there is no typical day here at El Karama Lodge. Your guide will build the experience with you day to day depending on wildlife reports, weather, your personal interests and also your levels of energy. Most of our clients like to go out near dawn until breakfast time, head back into camp during the heat of the day for pool, massage, ping pong and reading. A quick peak at the rock hide on the dam to see if the Ellies are swimming or hippos grunting then back to camp for a lazy lunch. The afternoons are usually time to catch up on a book or a nap, then out again from 430 pm until dark to explore on foot, on horseback or in the cars.
Have a read below to find out more about all the ways we can make your day work for you...
El Karama is known as being one of the most picturesque private conservancies in Kenya. It is a haven for photographers and in addition to the wider variety of mammals and birds here, El Karama has a stunning landscape to offer. With direct views of Mount Kenya, the Aberdares and the Lolldaiga Hills the light and colour changes over the seasons are mesmerising. The lodge has a hidden rock hide for photographers at the central Murera Dam and a salt lick. Other photographic opportunities exist from view points, other dams and riverine areas, salt licks in front of the main parts of the lodge that attract wildlife. Our guides understand photographers and have been trained in working with them including for getting shots, positioning of vehicles and flexible hours and tailor-made outings. For serious photographers on a mission, we recommend our exclusive use charge for a vehicle. Please ask for this at the primary reservation point to avoid disappointment. In high season our vehicles get busy. All our game drive vehicles are open on the sides and are covered with canvas overhead for sun protection. The hiluxes have closed cabs with back windows or roof hatches and the two land cruisers have open cabs and collapsible windscreens.
Walking safaris are one of the most interactive and engaging ways to see El Karama Wildlife Conservancy. We love to get out on foot exploring, nothing quite compares to this for connecting with the bush and understanding this unique eco system. All our experienced guides are KPSGA rated, but more importantly they know the landscape like the back of their hand and their passion is infectious! They will show you all creatures small and large, focusing on tracks, insects and flowers as well as scanning and incorporating crucial wildlife monitoring exercises for the more interactive guests. Whether you like to walk for a few hours or half a day, just let us know.
This is a surefire way to see wildlife on El Karama. Our vehicles offer the best possible game viewing; they have open sides and a canvas top for sun protection. If you’re a photographer this is the only way to go. We like to strip things down to the bare essentials so that you can smell, hear and see the wildlife you’re watching. The hiluxes have closed cabs with back windows or roof hatches and the two brand new converted land cruiser game viewers used with Nilotica Private have open cabs and collapsible windscreens. Best times? Early starts and afternoon/evening outings are usually most productive, but check with your guides as each season brings its own surprises. Our inclusive package offers two main outings per day, whether walking, driving or on horseback. Should you wish to have more vehicle use including for day trips, we have separate charges in place.
Because this is a private property night drives are always possible (weather permitting) and can yield really exciting sightings of Aardvark, White-tailed mongoose, Bush babies and predators like Leopard and Serval.
Enjoy the freedom to walk and to camp under the stars. Nothing quite compares to falling asleep by an open fire listening to the sounds of elephant browsing in the distance or hyena calling to one another over the water.
Our fly camping set up is simple and designed for minimal impact on our environment. We offer a combination of fly camping options: Our amazing Tentsile Tree tents, which give you the feeling you are sleeping on air, albeit with a bit of rolling around! Our Canvas Bell Tents for cooler seasons and our North Kenya see through mozzie dome tents perfect for the hot dry seasons.
Fly camping meals are cooked on an open fire and are designed for cosiness and comfort. Think hot cinnamon rolls cooked on charcoal when you wake up and fire grilled steak and roast sweet potatoes from the shamba, softening in the embers at night! A simple and authentic experience. Our opinion: 'less is more'.
All fly camps are hosted by a guide and manned by an armed ranger/s at night while guests are sleeping for additional safety. Children must be accompanied by an adult in their party in order to fly camp, we cannot accept children under 18 without parental supervision.
A brand new offering and led by our working partners and neighbouring equine experts. Now experienced riders over the age of 12 years can ride in this exceptional terrain over 14,000 acres choosing from 3 hour rides to full day rides and over night bivouac experiences with the team. Designed for small groups of riders, 2-6 pax (80kg weight limit), this is one of the most incredible ways to experience El Karama Wildlife Conservancy. This activity must be booked in advance at with the primary reservation and carries a separate charge. Guests will be asked to adhere to the rules of the ride for their own safety and to fill out a questionnaire and indemnity before riding. Helmets are a must: these and chaps are provided unless experienced riders prefer to bring their own.
The horses are medium-sized bush horses, savvy to the eco system and animals. They are strong and hardy and led by two equine guides from a partner stables and company located on the conservancy boundary, just a 25 minute game drive away!
Fishing here is the traditional way, with hand lines for catfish. Guests can learn this traditional method from our guides who grew up doing this. Patience is a virtue and with some time spent at the river, the luggas and dams most guests can emerge with a few catfish to catch and release. If you are an experienced fisherman and are particular about rods and equipment, we suggest you come with your own kit to avoid disappointment. We do have spinner rods and reels for children, but they are simple and basic to make it easy for the children to use. The fishing is always weather dependent, when waters are high in flood fishing is not accessible due to safety and a lack of catchable fish when the water is high and fast.
For an even more thrilling and diverse fishing experience we can offer fly fishing on Mount Kenya via Heli-Safaris or even a combo with Lake Turkana by air and land, just ask at the point of booking and we can quote for these incredible adventures! Lift off first thing in the morning from the lodge and land on one of Mount Kenya's high altitude lakes, fish for some monster trout and head back for a game drive a few hours later. For the North Kenya adventures, it's a little further afield but get in touch and we can share more about our itineraries.
Eating under the stars in the evening by a fire in the bush or under a Boscia tree while Reticulated Giraffe browse nearby, is one of the most memorable experiences. Guests who stay 3 nights or more can experience at a bush breakfast and bush dinner, weather permitting. Please note, when camp is busy these may not be private for smaller groups but combined where needed.
The property that you are visiting is also a successful working ranch supporting cattle and sheep. For over 50 years this conservancy has produced high quality breeding stock for Kenya and the wider East African region, whilst protecting wildlife and habitat through a form of holistic management. There is also a small herd producing fresh milk in a calf-friendly dairy for commercial sale to local entrepreneurs in our area. The ranch prides itself of being an innovator and has pioneered holistic grazing and moveable bomas in this area, which allows for regenerative land use. Guests may visit the ranch HQ, the cattle and herdsmen and can see some of the farming activities taking place: milking, calving and cattle inspections. This is extremely popular for families and groups interested in seeing more of the working ranch and we are delighted to be able to share it with you.
We welcome families and children here in the lodge. The design of our lodge, with two exclusive use parts and dedicated rooms built for families means we can offer full privacy and flexibility to families creating quiet spaces for those who do not have children and freedom and informality for those who do.
The best rooms for families would be Nilotica Private House and the Hobbit House. Both options offer space, flexibility and interconnecting rooms for parents and children to enjoy their stay together. River Camp with two separate cottages and a private dining room in between with wifi is ideal for parents with teens or traveling friends, giving just the right amount of distance between the rooms! All these rooming options have private wifi available for guests to use, but we can - with a the click of a switch - turn the wifi off at source for families who intend to digitally detox together. As always, our aim to be as flexible as possible in what we offer here. Of course we recommend life in the bush without connection to the outside world!
Mealtimes are flexible in our lodge for children and specialised menu choices can be offered if your children are particular or indeed have any special dietary requirements. Please make sure any important notes are shared when you book and do also mention preferences when you receive your briefing so that we can do all we can to make the menus up for those needs. All our meat is pasture fed and locally sourced. We take the more expensive, but essential route sourcing our chicken, pork and beef from local producers who put animal and landscape welfare over pure profit (just like us). Our sheep and lamb are reared here on the property and the milk is from our own cows at the little calf-friendly dairy. Should families want an early mealtime and early bed for their children, we can organise for a member of staff to sit by the room with a radio so that adults can have a meal whilst they sleep.
Vehicles in both exclusive use parts of the camp are private and for families with children over 5 pax we allocate a private vehicle.
Our lodge has baby cots/camp beds with mosquito nets and also baby high chairs too.
Activities and timings can be tailor-made for families so that children and parents get the most out of their stay. Bush School for Kids operates every day between 10am and 1230 meaning children are busy for that part of the day with our team and parents can relax. Please note our team are not qualified child carers and outside of these hours we ask that parents always accompany their children around camp.
This is a low risk zone for malaria so recommended for all family adventures! For family-friendly combos, just get in touch and we can help plan the rest of your itinerary to fit with these needs : firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Lodge owners we live on the property with our children and know how important welcoming children into nature is for every family and for the future. We do our best to make it special and with our own in-house children' books, games, welcome packs and challenges, this lodge is most definitely geared towards kids!
Activities for small children:
Bush School from 10am - 1230 pm every day
Tracking and plaster casts
Safari Passport games
Collect the Eggs from the chickens
Visit the Shamba and pick your own for lunch
Farm visits to see the dairy and calves
Kids mealtimes and flexible food
Boules/ Ping pong at the Pool
New for 2023 - The Pony Experience: the chance to meet, groom, tack up and ride our ponies inside an expanded fenced area around the Lodge on a lead rein with kind and expert Syces. Perfect for young riders who don't fit the criteria for the longer more experienced wild riding led out on the conservancy. For more information contact the team for the info sheet and pricing for this new activity.
Activities for older children:
Wildlife monitoring using camera traps
Lion and Leopard Predator profiling - be a citizen scientist and help us create ID profile photos for Lions, Leopard and Cheetah
Horse Riding on the conservancy - 12 years and above, must be experienced riders and have a weight limit of 80kg - questionnaire and indemnity required
Cooking lessons in The Bush Kitchen
Sports (volleyball, running, football)
Farm visits to see afternoon milking at the Dairy
Walking with conservancy rangers on patrol - advance booking
Fishing - Handlines and Spinners