The best luxury safari camps in Kenya include Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp, Ol Sekis Hemingways, Finch Hattons Luxury Camp, Karen Blixen Camp, Il Moran Masai Mara National Reserve, Bateleur Camp, Governors’ Camp, Kicheche Laikipia and Mahali Mzuri.
Kenya is ideal for a first safari but it is also an equally good destination for seasoned travelers. As Africa’s longest established safari destination, your expedition in Kenya will have British colonial roots. This means that the camps you stay at will often reflect their historic past. Another major advantage of Kenya is that everyone speaks good English.
Different landscapes and wildlife species are often located near each other in Kenya, so you can enjoy the grassy savannah wilderness of the Masai Mara (home to the Big Five and to Great Migration) in addition to more arid areas of Meru National Park and the Laikipia Plateau, where you might spot species like beisa oryx and Somali ostriches.
Kenya also has a large range of camps but for our luxury travelers, we focus on luxury camps with every comfort you can imagine along with stunning scenery overlooking the plains or perhaps busy waterholes.
1. Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp
The stunning, multi-award-winning Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp lies right next to the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya in an unspoiled setting of its own 7,000-acre private Olderkesi Conservancy. Here, sunset views stretch to distant horizons of the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti plains.
Cottar’s was one of the first permanent luxury tented camps to take guests out on safaris in Kenya and little has changed since the glory days of the 1920s. It extends an era of luxury and quality, returning to the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’, reminiscent of a golden era; an era of romance, professional guiding, adventure, and elegance. It remains a magnificent place to spot cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, and the annual Migration in truly refined luxury.
Spot the big five and choose your season carefully, as the camp is in the path to the great migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. Camp guides are highly qualified and knowledgeable of the area. They share an amazing insight into the Masai culture and the flora and fauna in the reserve.
In the evening, bathe in your outdoor bathtub, have an amazing dinner under the stars (greens from the camp’s own vegetable garden), and give Bambi a hug before bedtime. She is the camp’s resident baby gazelle. There is also a lovely swimming pool to cool off in. The camp also offers massages at their spa and there is internet access available.
Accommodation consists of 4 Luxury Safari Tents, 1 Honeymoon Tent, 4 Family Tents which are spacious and luxuriously furnished and incorporate original safari antiques from the ’20s. All are ensuite, with dressing rooms and large private verandahs. There is also Cottar’s Bush Villa with 5 ensuite bedrooms, private living and dining area, staff, vehicles, guide and a 25m swimming pool.
A special feature of this camp is that you can experience riding through the bush in a replica 20s car. Step back to a bygone era or romance You are unlikely to find this level of authenticity at any other Safari camp.
Our exclusive free benefits at Cottars 1920’s Safari Camp are:
- Room upgrade subject to availability
- Exclusive use of vehicle subject to availability
2. Ol Sekis Hemingways
Ol Sekis Hemingways sits on top of a rocky hill in the Naboisho Conservancy, part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and a small number of luxurious and spacious safari tents make the most of the views.
This is the kind of place where you share drinks and stories with fellow guests around a campfire, or if you want to escape, the camp will deliver food to eat in your lodge while taking in views over the tree-scattered savannah below. Romantic candlelit meals can also be arranged hidden away within the camp.
The tents are round and bright with plenty of privacy. Two are designed for families or groups of friends, featuring two en suite bedrooms and a shared kitchen and living area. At the hottest time of the day, the early afternoon, you will probably want to relax on your patio or cool off in the infinity pool or try a massage in the spa.
To see the animals, you can join game drives with experienced guides who boast an encyclopedic knowledge of the area’s vegetation and fauna. Known for its lion prides, the conservancy sees far fewer vehicles than the main reserve and only a small number can be present at a wildlife sighting. Other activities include walking safaris, Maasai village visits, dawn hot air balloon rides, and horse-riding safaris.
3. Karen Blixen Camp
Karen Blixen Camp in the Mara’s North Conservancy offering tents and boma lounge on the banks of the Mara River, where you will probably hear the snorts and splashes of the resident hippo pod.
Situated in the community-owned Mara North Conservancy, this camp is set right beside the Mara River. This means that this camp is perfect for lazing while watching the resident hippo pod grazing or you can watch zebra coming to drink and the birds in the trees.
In this exclusive camp, there are 22 canvas tents with spacious decks overlooking the river, a large en suite bathroom, and an outdoor shower. 22 canvas tents might sound like a lot but this camp still offers a great deal of privacy and peace.
While you are staying here, you can take drives through the conservancy or do a walking safari, take a dawn hot air balloon ride or visit a Maasai village. Within the camp, you can learn skills at the on-site cooking school, plant a tree, and partake in other environmental initiatives.
Meals are served on individual tables in the dining area, in front of the river, or out in the bush. In the evening, a campfire is lit and you can share stories of your day with fellow guests.
4. Il Moran, Masai Mara National Reserve
Il Moran is located on the Mara River, near the grunting hippos and noisy baboons. Vultures eye you up from the top of the trees around this camp and lion are also present in the area.
Il Moran has 10 tents with a spacious stone veranda that all face the river. Inside, there are king-sized beds, hand-carved wardrobes, luggage chests, and wicker chairs. The en suite bathroom is spacious and offers a shower, a claw-footed bath, twin basins, and a flush toilet (hurrah!).
The main dining room and living room offers comfortable sofas and rugs on the floor. Meals are delivered here by lanterns and candlelight as there is no electricity in the camp. you can really appreciate the wilderness here and yet the tents keep you in the luxury that you are accustomed to.
5. Bateleur Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve
Bateleur Camp is located just outside the Olololo gate to the park, in a Maasai concession area. This small, luxury camp is hidden within dense vegetation connected by windy paths between tall trees that house blue monkeys. The plains by the camp attract warthog, zebra and wildebeest
This camp is actually split into two camps, Bateleur North and Bateleur South, each with their own lounge and dining areas, and an electric fence that runs around the boundary of the whole camp. A shady pool area joins the two camps which is perfect for cooling off.
Each tent is raised with a wooden deck and has a four-poster bed and a large en-suite bathroom. The lounges have leather sofas, rugs, and an open fireplace. Ostrich feather lampshades, leather-bound books and cut glass decanters (full) all help to create a glamorous atmosphere, although the most atmospheric of all is the evening drinks around the campfire.
While at the camp, you must take advantage of the morning and afternoon 4WD game drives, nature walks, and night drives.
6. Elephant Bedroom Camp
Elephant Bedroom Camp is a relaxed camp with a rustic feel that uses dark wood, burnt-orange decor mixed with authentic African ornaments.
This Elephant Bedroom Camp is located next to the seasonal Ewaso Nyiro River. It has 14 spacious canvas tents, each with a private deck and a gorgeous plunge pool. You will love the Vervet monkeys that scamper past in the trees, plus elephants quite regularly pass right through the camp.
The main tent is made of canvas with open sides and a lovely deck where á la carte lunches and dinners are served. There is also a campfire every night for when the stars come out.
The game drives here are excellent and use local guides. Expect to see herds of elephant and you can look out for any of the Northern Five which includes the gerenuk or giraffe antelope, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, besia oryx, and Somali ostriches which is a rare subspecies that are only found in northern Kenya.
Bush walks are a great alternative to a game drive, plus you can visit a nearby Samburu village to see their way of life in this remote region.
7. Governors’ Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve
Governors’ Camp was the first tented camp to be established in the Masai Mara National Reserve. It first opened in 1972 on the site of Teddy Roosevelt’s Mara Camp.
Although Governors’ is one of the larger camps in the Mara, it feels tranquil as the 38 tents are hidden away in the bush. Your tent will be located on the high banks of the looping Mara River, with views of the river or the vast plains of the Mara. Larger animals sometimes wander into camp and it is quite normal to enjoy hippos feeding on the grass outside your tent.
The bar lounge is open on three sides and is truly inviting with its bar built of logs. Nearby there is a spacious decking area that overlooks the river. An ideal spot for breakfast and lunch. The camp also offers a range of massage and spa treatments.
8. Kicheche Laikipia
Kicheche Laikipia offers luxury tents nestled beside a waterhole that’s popular with birdlife, buffalo and plains game.
Each tent hides among bushes and trees and offers outdoor seating and a hammock. Inside you’ll find a lovely ensuite bathroom and dressing area, a small sitting area, and twin or double beds.
An open-plan library, lounge, and dining space has a canvas roof and is decorated with African artwork and textiles. Sofas laze around a large open fireplace or you can relax on the deck underneath the trees. Lunches and dinners are served communally around a big table before you gather around the campfire under a canopy of stars.
During your stay, take a day and night game drive, go on a bush walks or try your hand at lion tracking.
9. Mahali Mzuri
Designed almost entirely for the views, the situation of the 12 luxurious tents at Mahali Mzuri means you have a large viewing deck perfectly appointed for an exceptional front-row seat of the annual Great Wildebeest Migration.
Mahali Mzuri is Sir Richard Branson’s East African ultra-exclusive property located in Kenya’s Maasai Mara ecosystem. Cool down in the beautiful 12-metre long infinity pool between game drives and then stargaze until late into the night at this gorgeous property.
10. Finch Hattons Luxury Camp
Finch Hattons Luxury Camp can be found in the middle of Tsavo West, one of Kenya’s largest and oldest (1948) national parks. This was the favorite spot of famed aviator Finch Hatton.
This luxurious camp was Completely rebuilt in 2013. The camp’s best tents include the presidential suite which is perched on the edge of a natural spring inhabited by hippos, crocodiles, and copious birdlife.
There’s also a full-service spa with a Turkish bath and an open-air yoga platform, a lagoon-like infinity pool, an air-conditioned gym, a small museum with natural history curiosities, and a bar full of antiquities.
There’s a good restaurant, or guests can take a romantic roof-top meal under the stars with wonderful views of the sky. This camp is a great place for romance.
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