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“outstanding lodge but little wildlife” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Joy's Camp

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Joy's Camp
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Samburu Ecosystem, Shaba National Reserve, Kenya   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Johannesburg, South Africa
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“outstanding lodge but little wildlife”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2014

Joy’s Camp is located in an extremely pretty area of the Shaba National Park. Green marshes, Umbrella Acacias and the mountain ranges all around make it a stunning location. We were met by Peter and Daniella, the management couple, very friendly and very professional, they made us feel at home immediately. The tented units are magnificent. Although the walls and roof are tented, it feels much more like a suite. With Northern African decoration, a lot of attention to detail and vibrant colours, the tents are simply stunning.

After a swim in the pool we went on our first game drive. As Peter mentioned already during the introduction, Shaba cannot compete with Amboseli or Meru when it comes to wildlife. There is a low density of general game in Shaba, due to heavy poaching during a draught in 2009. We saw some gazelle, a Grevy Zebra quite fare away, and some birds. The scenery is very pretty, but people who want to see a lot of game when out on safari would be disappointed.
Therefore we decided to go on a walking safari the next morning: we started with a 90 minute drive, during which we saw no game at all, then started walking and soon saw a buffalo bull not too far away. This certainly raised the adrenalin. We were very happy to have an armed ranger from the national park with us, which is obligatory when people walk in the reserve.
After just short of 2 hours walking we arrived at the river, where a beautiful bush breakfast had been set up for us. On our drive back to the lodge we finally had a closer sighting of the Grevy Zebra, as well as some Oryx antelope.
The next morning we had another early wake up call, so that we would make our flight from the Buffalo Hills airstrip in Samburu, to North Mara. The drive was quite an adventure as the heavy rains the day before have made some of the roads un-drivable. It took us a good 2 hours to get to the airstrip, and again – we did not see any game on the drive through the Shaba reserve.

Joy’s is a stunning camp, the accommodation is outstanding and the food first class, but the wildlife experience or rather the lack of it is a problem. Also, it is not easily accessible, as the drive from the airstrip (Buffalo Springs) to the camp takes a good two hours.
There is an airstrip much closer to Joy’s, but it is not used by any of the scheduled airlines.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, June 17, 2014
Thank you so much for taking the time to write your detailed review. We’re delighted you enjoyed our little camp so much.
So sorry that you were disappointed with the wildlife. As you’ll see from other reviews, wildlife viewing is very much the luck of the draw but we do have quite a spectacular array of unusual species, many of which can be enjoyed on night game drives (aardwolf, striped hyena, civet, leopard...the list goes on!). We also often have elephant, buffalo and lion in camp so hopefully they'll be about on your next visit!
Thank you again, Pieter & Danielle (Relief Managers)
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74 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Seattle, WA
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2014

After driving a long way through Samburu and then into Shaba, we found Joy's Camp in an oasis atmosphere and were greeted most warmly. We were there over St. Patrick's Day and we all celebrated heartily along with the staff. The tents were so comfortable and had great vistas right from the front patios. The community gathering spots were beautiful and open air, looking out at the serene landscape, hoping to see the many critters who regularly wander through. Food was so good and simple, staff so accommodating, and the game drives lead us to fantastic game sites and even a few Eagle Owls, which are very rare. Our hosts were marvelous and very friends, even joining in with our St. Patrick's Day shenanigans!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
Thank you for your kind review. We’re so pleased you enjoyed your stay at Joy’s Camp.

We really enjoyed St Patrick’s Day too and will never forget the green moustaches and the green beer!

We hope to see you again.
Pelham and Iris
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Winchester
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2014 via mobile


“A Peaceful Haven”

A gorgeous and tranquil location guaranteed to help you unwind and relax away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Fabulous tents with amazing bathrooms and every comfort imaginable; great food and peace and quiet in abundance. Not a prolific number of animals, they are rather skittish, but magnificent reticulated giraffe, cheetah, zebra, lion all viewed. The scenery is stunning and nothing beats a sundowner by the river. Knowledgeable guides, exciting game drives in robust jeeps and comfortable beds, I will return.

This is my fourth safari in Kenya, every location has its own unique style and this was no exception.

Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
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CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, March 27, 2014
Thank you very much for your lovely review! We're so glad you enjoyed your stay with us.
It's definitely a great place to unwind – the wildlife, the scenery and the lack of other vehicles.

Please come again!
Pelham & Iris
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Townsville, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2014

The road transfer from Elsa’s Kopje’s to Joy’s Camp in Shaba Reserve which is located east of the road linking Isiolo and Marsabit is a must do for anyone travelling to Africa for the very first time. It gives you an insight into the culture of the villages, road side market stalls, life of rural villagers and a sense of the distances between lodges. We came across goat and cattle herders who were traffic stoppers and a man on a scooter with a couch balanced on the back!! Perfect balance. The landscape changed from savannah to hillside agriculture to the dry arid dramatic landscape of Shaba Reserve.
Joy’s camp is situated in Shaba overlooking a natural spring where wildlife could be viewed from the whole camp. My tent was very large, comfortable and the bathroom was luxurious. A family of dik diks would wander along the paths which added a very special touch to the atmosphere.

Sundowners were enjoyed on Turkana Hill overlooking the tracks where Joy Adamson walked her leopard, Penny, daily. Watching the sun set from this vantage point was so special. The authentic Italian meals were as good as any I have had in Italy.
Games drives were amazing with viewing of an abundant supply of the rare Grevy zebras, ( we learnt there were only about 2500 left in the wild ) reticulated giraffes, giraffe necked antelopes, lions following the vast herd of buffalo on the move and I viewed 63 different birds in 2 short days. No shortage of birds or wildlife.
My bush breakfast on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River was so special with a delicious breakfast cooked just there especially for the guests. After reading the information about Joy Adamson in Camp you could just imagine her and Penny resting under the trees after walking 2 hours from Camp! A little different from our comfortable ride to get there..
This lodge is a must do for any safari experience as it is in such a different environment compared to the Masai Mara.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, March 11, 2014
Thank you very much for taking the time to write your detailed review - & for coming to visit our very special little corner of Kenya!
With best wishes
Iris & Pelham
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Ascot, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2014

Stayed 3 nights in Joys Camp.
Shaba is an absolutely beautiful part of Kenya. There is plenty of interesting game in the park, but perhaps not so easily seen as in the more famous parks. This is more than made up for, huge diversity of bird life and stunning scenery. The arid desert environment is broken up with splashes of green by various volcanic springs, streams and of course the river.
The apparent remoteness of the park also allows one to really enjoy the wilderness experience - I did not see one other vehicle on any game drive during my stay.
The camp is set around a waterhole (possibly a spring) in a really beautiful spot.
The tents are quite private, roomy, with a fair sized bathroom and wooden veranda.
The service was friendly, but perhaps not as professional as in other C & P camps we have visited. The management team were new and it was possibly a period of transition for the camp. I look forward to reading future reviews.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, February 28, 2014
Thank you very much for review.

Shaba is indeed beautiful and Joy’s Camp sits next to one of 14 natural springs in the National Reserve.

We're not sure if you stayed when we had just arrived (mid-Jan) or prior to our arrival but please rest assured that we have now settled into this lovely corner of Kenya and strive to ensure the highest standards of service are maintained at all times.

With best wishes
Iris & Pelham
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Nairobi
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2014

We had always wanted to stay at Joy's Camp and finally had the chance- it is everything we had hoped it would be. Shaba as a game reserve offers stunning views and the chance to view game or enjoy sundowners in complete isolation, rather than the crowded minibus jostling experience that the Masai Mara is now becoming. The camp is superbly run- clean, extremely comfortable and beautifully decorated, the meals: delicious, healthy, varied and gourmet, even beautiful! (and I am a very picky food critic) The tents are situated wisely, making them very private and they completely open up at the rear to a wide view.The staff are gracious, and friendly without interfering with your privacy. The common areas are almost like an open large sitting room, with interesting books, and the presence of birds singing and eating. The camp is located on a large spring, so you can swim and have a cup of coffee while watching waterbuck come and go, impala, wart hog, and watch many heron, and storks fly in. The pool is almost a beccessity by afternoon, though we were there in a unusual rainy season: Shaba is typically rocky, hot and very dry, so the great times for game viewing drives are early mornings and late afternoons and evenings. Don't expect the huge prairie scenes of "Out of Africa" here, this is a desolate, rocky terrain with dry bush and thorn trees. Clear water springs bubble out of the ground in several places offering emerald green grass and huge amounts of varied bird life, and the shady banks of the river, or nearby hilltops, all make delightful sundowner spots. The rare antelope "geranuk"and the Grevy's Zebra, and the reticulated giraffe as well as buffalo, are commonly seen, but the carnivores are very elusive- this is more a place for relaxation, gorgeous views, and birds rather than the big 5. We got up very erly and went to the top of a nearby hill for the sunrise one morning- so rewarding! The camp will pack breakfast for you if you want to go out early and not come back for breakfast- and they will pack sundowners for you in the early evening as well. The wine list must be mentioned here- absolutely wonderful wines are offered, ranging from Italian Chianti to South African Sauvignon Blanc, to…here's a surprise! An English Rose blush "Champagne" in the classical mouthed! Absolutely stunning, and the prices are the lowest I have seen on any camp or lodge wine list in Kenya. Others have commented that it is a long drive from Nairobi but I feel the opposite! I was back in Nairobi for a late lunch, having eaten breakfast at the camp that mroning, and the road is excellent by Kenya standards, the whole way.

Room Tip: Tent 1 is excellent for a couple, a little secluded and at the far end. If you have an elederly pers...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, February 28, 2014
Thank you very much for your review. We were delighted to read that you loved Shaba and Joy’s Camp.

The landscape, the remoteness and the natural springs are what makes Shaba so special, and since the rains have passed, more and more game has been congregating around the Springs. We’ve had lion calling around camp, nearly every night for the last 3 weeks!

We look forward to welcoming you back here again soon.
Pelham & Iris

PS - We love your Trip Advisor name!
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Miami, Florida
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2014

We started off our honeymoon in Joy's Camp and were just blown away at how amazing our first stop was. Everywhere we went, it felt like we were in heaven. The tents were so perfect with a full functioning bathroom and then the tent opened up to the "bush backyard". The managers were so welcoming and we enjoyed our time getting to know them and having drinks by the campfire. It all felt like a big family almost. Our guide was amazing and the scenary in the Shaba was just out of this world. There wasn't as many animals as we had expected (not as much as in mara) but the scenary is so worth it and almost even better. We had the most memorable bush breakfasts and sundowners in a magical backdrop. The tent is by a watering hole so we wouldn't even have to travel far, we could lounge by the pool or have some lunch while watching herds of animals just pass by right by our camp. This was a tough choice for us when picking places to stay for our safari but this experience was absolutely worth it and should be a MUST for all those putting together their safari itineraries. Cheli and Peacock knows how to do safari camps!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, February 13, 2014
Thank you so much for your kind review.

It is very important for us here at Joy’s to make all our guests feel at home, to be able to wind down in these idyllic settings and also enjoy the wildlife in this unique National Reserve.

Please spread the word and come again

With warmest wishes
Pelham and Iris
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Additional Information about Joy's Camp

Address: Samburu Ecosystem, Shaba National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Eastern Province > Shaba National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Shaba National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An elegant oasis in the arid lands of Samburu; Joy’s Camp is built on the site of Joy Adamson’s tented home in Shaba. Each sumptuous tent is uniquely decorated with handmade glass and vibrant fabrics of the local nomadic tribes creating a chic, sophisticated and stylish camp. A perfect choice for those interested in a glimpse of Kenyan history, as well as an authentic wildlife experience combined with the comfort of a luxury tented camp. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Joy`s Camp Hotel Shaba National Reserve
Joy's Camp Kenya/Shaba National Reserve

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