Many, many years ago, the favourite weekend getaway for many a Nairobean was a unpretentious little riverside camp called by most Nuttar’s in reference to its then charismatic manager; but more correctly called Tsavo Safari Camp.
The decay of Kenya’s road infrastructure, plus more attractive and competitive camps nearer to the capital saw its gentle decline and then closure. We all hoped it would make a comeback but over the years hope waned. I recall five years or so ago looking at the camp from across the Athi River and a sorry sight it looked and thinking that, that was that.
I had heard through the grapevine that Tsavo Safari Camp had re-opened on a pole-pole (slowly-slowly) basis; some friends stayed and said it was coming together but was not quite ready for prime-time.
Planning a trip to the coast, I happened upon an e-shot from the camp. Now that road travel in Kenya is no longer an adventure but much more a chore, a stopover on the way is to my way of thinking a good idea. Tsavo Safari Camp came on the radar and happily invited us to stop on our way down to the coast.
A four-hour drive from Nairobi to Mtito Andei is pretty straightforward; the turn-off to the camp is 3 kms further on, to the left, then 32 kms of good sandy roads to the Athi River. I think a car could traverse the two or three luggas on the way – but if in doubt contact the camp before you leave home.
The camp and most of the road to it is in Tsavo East National Park, so you will have to check in to the park at the Mtito Andei gate – either with your pre-loaded KWS card (you can recharge them here as well) or pay in cash. For residents, a day in the park is a mighty Kshs. 500, citizens a mere Kshs. 200. The entry gate to the camp is not equipped with Smart Card technology.
Arriving at the river, a small rubber dinghy with a boatman, Gideon Nyagah, who has moved everything across the river to camp for the past 40 years, greets you with a huge smile. A glide over to the far bank, to be met with cold towels and welcome drinks is just the beginning.
The 15 tents are situated along the riverbank, above the high-water mark, I’ll add - ten to the front and five to the back. Ensuite with hot and cold running water, the beds comfortable, the setting serene.
The swimming pool overlooks the social area which in turn looks over the river, a bar with so much more character than any other safari bar I’ve been in for sometime with ice-cold beers, the company cordial – the ambience perfect No better place to be if you are into bars!
Meals are served, well here is the thing, outside under the stars, a bush breakfast or dinner or wherever the imagination leads the camp’s team. No meal appears to be served in the more than adequate dining room. Fun it was! The food always hot, tasty and always with a touch of something or other, such as class.
We liked, and would go again…
What to do is an interesting question.
The camp has its own safari vehicles for drives along the Athi River towards Lugard Falls for game viewing.
Guided game walks with armed rangers along the river or up the Yatta Plateau. I’d be remiss in not mentioning the Yatta – at 290 kms long, it is the world’s longest lava flow, and it rears up behind the camp.
From here sundowners are a must – with wide sweeping views across Tsavo to the Chyulu Hills and far away in the distance Kilimanjaro. There are two ways of getting to the sundowner spot marked by twin baobabs on top of the plateau. More sensibly by 4X4 or if are feeling really really energetic and like many before you, a run to the top – records are still kept at the bar and are mighty. Of course you could also walk up with the aforementioned armed rangers. We drove…
Fishing in the river at the rapids above the camp is fun, but not really challenging for serious anglers – mudfish abound, so do crocodiles, so be careful.
Guided canoe trips are planned in the near future.
A great place for weddings and birthdays – take over the whole camp and have a ball. Painters have recently discovered the rich colours of the area to portray on their canvasses.
The best way to get to the camp if you have the means is flying in by charter into the camp's own airstrip situated right behind it.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.