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“Very Special” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Galdessa Camp

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Galdessa Camp
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Tsavo National Park East 454, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Nairobi, Kenya
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Very Special”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2013

We enjoyed an idyllic couple of days at Galdessa in December. We stayed in the private camp using all three tents, including the honeymoon suite, which were all comfortable and well equipped with large beds. It is difficult to describe the magic of sleeping safely under the stars and feeing so close to the animals. At night the camp is buzzing with a cacophony of animal noises.

The location is fantastic with views over the Galana River where we were able to watch beautiful birds, hippos, monkeys and even crocodile.

The food was fairly basic but good – portions were more than adequate. The staff were excellent and we felt in very safe hands. Dido was especially helpful and attentive to our needs.

From Galdessa we enjoyed some amazing game drives and were able to see a huge variety of animals including three separate lion sightings in one day.

We would highly recommend Galdessa as a good base to explore Tsavo East.

Room Tip: Honeymoon suite is very special with a viewing balcony
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 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.
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172 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    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 (28)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

We can absolutely see why there are slightly mixed reviews of this camp. What is beyond debate is that the location is unbeatable - the camp boasts a magical position on the banks of the Galana River framed by the Yatta Plateau in the background. We stayed for two nights in the main camp before moving to the private side for 3 nights. Main camp highlights apart from the setting were were the staff - fabulous. Lowlights - the somewhat "institutional" welcome on arrival (somewhat akin to arriving at boarding school and being instructed in the School rules) and the position of the family tent. Max occupancy in the standard tents is three so if you are travelling with two children you have the option of booking the two bedroom family tent. Totally impractical if you have young children (under fives) as it is the tent furthest from the dining room. No walking alone (for understandable reasons) allowed to the dining room but also no driving so you are at the mercy of coordinating your every move with your room boy. If you have predictable routines and totally compliant children all well and good. If not, it will totally detract from your stay. We would suggest either booking two tents next to the dining room (request at the time of booking) or upgrading to the private side. If you stay for one night, expect to have no say over the menu. - it is planned first thing in the morning or even the night before. If you are staying longer, Silvia, the Manager, is open to discussion about menu choices if you initiate it - particularly if the camp is quiet and even more so if you are on the private side (within reason you can agree the menu for the day with her which will then be applied to everyone staying). The problem arises if there large groups staying (usually Italian) and, if you don't want to run this gauntlet (or that of a free upgrade) and have the budget, there is a lot to be said for upgrading to the private side. We had some great food during our stay and we thoroughly enjoyed our three nights on the private side. Staff were great again (apart from the waiter on duty during our stay who was awful :-( a total chauvinist). The tents are gorgeous and the dining/sitting area really lovely. The decor on both sides is attractive and in keeping with the location but as others have remarked, the driftwood furniture is a little too omnipresent and totally impractical especially for the elderly. The staff, however, are very adept at rushing with extra cushions and moving it for older guests. It really could do with being complemented by some lighter and more comfortable options. Young children are welcomed and beautifully cared for on a practical level. We arranged for our children to eat earlier but be warned that the staff are not trained to invite you to be seated when the food is ready - you have to take the initiative or they will simply wait (indefinitely) for you to sit down - not something that those from Down Under or the US will appreciate as predominately early eaters. Would we recommend Galdessa - probably...would we return - possibly.

Room Tip: Be careful if you are travelling with more than one young child. They will encourage you to book th...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
USA/UK
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2012

What a fantastic experience.
We (a couple & 5-year old son) only stayed one night due to a very short visit to Kenya. And our only regret is not having longer to stay at Galdessa.
We opted for the extra expense of Private Camp (just 3 'tents') & thus had it entirely to ourselves (I didn't expect to, but it seems that they don't take any more bookings after the first, so you are guaranteed to have it to yourself!). Whether this was luck or not, it was great. Our attendant Dido, guide Thomas, waiter & barman Peter, & Maasai guard (apologies but I have no idea how to spell his name) were all there whenever we needed them - their service could not have been better. They were all especially attentive to our son, showing him things, asking questions, etc.
We were perfectly happy with the food - seemingly the one source of complaint for some other reviewers.
We were a little unsure about the 'game walk' along the river from Lugard Falls, but it was easy, interesting, scenic & exciting - how many 5-year olds can tell their classmates they were just a few feet from a live croc? And when my son tired the guide offered to carry him to give me a break.
The game drive was not the most successful I've been on in terms of the number & range of wildlife seen, but it's worth remembering that Tsavo is a wilderness park plus this was not the ideal season. Unlike in the Maasai Mara or elsewhere, although we didn't see a huge amount of game, we also didn't see a single other tourist in our 24 hours in the park! Having said that though we did see elephant, hippo, crocodiles, a large monitor lizard, kudu, giraffe, zebra, impala, dik-dik, baboons, etc.
We had banda 'A', the largest & the one with a larger front 'porch' with a day bed & an upstairs deck (as seen on the website & some reviewers photos. It was perfect for us with plenty of room for the extra bed.
Although this was a personal visit, I am a professional tour leader & have been very fortunate to stay a many safari camps & lodges in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc. Galdessa is without doubt my favorite to date. It's expensive but was worth every penny.

Room Tip: Private Camp banda 'A' is the largest, with a large front porch & upstairs deck. Fantas...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 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.
Vienna, Austria
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2012

We stayed for one night at Galdessa at their Honeymoon Suite. It was an exceptional stay. Everything was perfect. Super attentive staff, great food, amazing views over the river and close encounters with elephants and monkeys.
The huge and super comfortable bed allowed for a good nights sleep. The platform next to our tent with the sofa on top was a wonderful spot for relaxing, watching the elephants and stargazing at night. We loved Galdessa so much that we asked our driver to skip one game drive and simply enjoy the perfect setting at the camp.
Absolutely worth every dollar spent on this spot of paradise in Tsavo!

  • Stayed September 2012, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
109 helpful votes 109 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2012

Stayed one night as we explored Tsavo East and then made our way westward…
+ Setting is amazing with the open-air pavillion set above a bend in the river where hippos, crocs and other wildlife can be seen easily. You can literally eat breakfast or lunch with a direct view of the river.
+ Having no fences adds some excitement. As we arrived, a group of elephants were moving along the near bank of the river and one of them decided to come up directly in front of the pavillion. The staff hurriedly directed everyone away from the elephant and he eventually continued on his way. During the night we heard lots of large mammals noises outside our tent, but never got a look at what they might be. They employ Masai guards to escort you from your tent whenever needed to ensure safety.
+ Very thoughtful orchestration of the meal times. It's a small place (~20 guests?), so the mealtimes are coordinated around midday arrivals and evening cocktail hours. - + Staff did a great job making us feel comfortable. They organized a nature walk from Lugard Falls to a hippo watering hole. That was nice, though the group was too big (and contained too many children) to make it worthwhile.
+ Tent was perfect: rustic and charming but still very comfortable -- exactly what we envisioned and wish we could have found this standard at other tented camps which all tended to be too faux-luxury for our tastes.

- The major shortcoming of this place was the food. It's understandable that some ingredients should be hard to get given the camp's remote location, but honestly we stayed at places that seemed to do much better with what was on hand. Italian style dominates, but it's really poorly executed and parts of our dinner were downright inedible.

Would recommend this place for a night or two, but they need to improve the food in order to really impress.

  • Stayed August 2012, 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kent
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
80 helpful votes 80 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2012

A multi generation family group, we were lucky enough to stay in the private camp at this delightful lodge. The setting of the camp is magical-- on the banks of the Galana river and facing the ancient lava flow Yatta escarpment. The design of the camp is entirely sympathetic to the environment and as other reviewers have observed, it even comes with its own resident elephant, Mugabe. Our beds were wonderfully comfortable, the bathrooms well appointed and spotless and the hot water perfect..neither too hot nor too cold. The lounge area was elegant and comfortable. All the staff were, without exception, welcoming, friendly and efficient.

From our reading in advance, we had thought that the game viewing in this area would be limited. We were mistaken. Herds of giraffe, zebra, antelope, pods of hippo, crocodiles, lion and more wonderful 'red' elephants than we could count. We particularly enjoyed the walking trips along the river that this camp offers They allow you to experience the magic of the wilderness environment in a unique way. And our sundowner and bush breakfast were both sensatiional.

A magical couple of days.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 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.
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2012

Galdessa was the perfect way to start the safari, as it was a world away from the modern luxury of our hotel room. We arrived after a long drive and were made to feel welcome immediately with hot towels and fresh juice, and a huge lunch. As we waited for lunch to be served an elephant named Mugabe (so-named as he used to be aggressive, but thankfully isn't any more) appeared just outside the lodge, so we could have our pictures taken with him from a safe distance. Porters arrange to escort you to and from your rooms to protect you should any
animals be roaming around. You're also provided with a whistle should anything stir in the night, but there were no incidents during our stay, and they're only really there for peace of mind.

As we were on our honeymoon, we were treated to the honeymoon banda, with a separate day bed on a small balcony overlooking the river. Mugabe was outside our room, maybe 40 yards or so away, so it was like having our own (gigantic) pet. At dinner, we were given a specially-made cake with the word 'congratulations' added in icing. It was too much for us to eat, so the remainder was wrapped in foil and given to us the following morning, when we were given a Bush Breakfast (arranged with Julius as part of the trip for an additional fee). Rather than eating at the camp, we were taken out into the bush where a table was set up for us, and chefs and waiters ready to serve us. We had a choice of toast and jam, cereals, fruit, bacon, eggs and sausages, which was more than enough.

The staff were extremely friendly and genuinely devoted to ensuring we had a great time. The best recommendation we can share for Galdessa is that another guest stayed for two nights (we only stayed for one) and later told us that she cried when she left as she had such a good time.

Note - We booked this camp through JT - Julius Tact Safaris, which comes highly recommended.

  • Stayed July 2012, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Galdessa Camp

Address: Tsavo National Park East 454, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Tsavo National Park East
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Tsavo National Park East
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located along the Galana river, in wildest and most secluded location of Tsavo East National park, this stunning camp's main focus is on relaxation and letting the wildlife come to you right in front of your tent. Galdessa sits beneath giant doum palms, 15 kilometres upstream from Lugard's Falls, with its elegant thatch-and-canvas tents, overlooking the meandering waters of the Galana River, Galdessa offers the ultimate 'bush style' safari experience. Game drives in open vehicles, walking safaris along the Galana River and sand rivers. Sundowners, bush breakfast. The camp's direct area is a home to over 51 black rhino. Tsavo East National Park is a Wilderness area and the game can be shy but it offers great bio-diversity. Uncommon species seen there include lesser kudu, gerenuk, fringed eared oryx, hirola and Peter's gazelle. The area is renowned for elephants particularly during the dry season. Tsavo a bird watcher paradise being particularly rich in birdlife. SUGGESTED STAY TO REALLY APPRECIATE WHAT WE CAN OFFER 3 NIGHTS. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Galdessa Camp Tsavo East National Park Hotel Tsavo National Park East
Galdessa Camp Kenya/Tsavo National Park East

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