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“Great Place to see wildlife”
Review of Joy's Camp

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Joy's Camp
Reviewed July 27, 2011

Let's get the "bad" out of the way: the front "driveway" is a 45 minute drive over some of the worst trails in the world and electricity is via a generator, which is turned off for part of the day and overnight. Everything else about Joy's Camp is worth accepting the drive and electrical inconvenience. The accommodations are excellent. The tents are first class with most of the conveniences of home. There is a nice pool to relax in. The food is 5 star - plus. My wife would have stolen the chef and brought him home if she could have. We enjoyed viewing cape buffalo and elephants from our deck and dining area while eating meals and relaxing. Our host, Willem, and hostess, Franchine, couldn't do enough for us. All their employees were exceptional.

The safaris were great. Their guides know the area very well and we enjoyed viewing many major animals while there.

Room Tip: All tents are great.
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  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Lrothfl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 25, 2011

We stayed for 4 nights at Joy's Camp and had a great time. All the staff were really happy, friendly and eager to please. We went on a wonderful walk along the rocks next to the river one morning with John our guide and then topped the whole thing off with a super bush breakfast on the bank. The landscape is so varied; from lava rocks to the spring running through Shaba, to the huge river and waterfall. As for game, we were spoiled. Buffalo regularly gathered outside the camp and you could hear the sounds of the bush all around you when tucked up in bed. One afternoon on a game drive we not only saw a leopard and its baby giraffe kill in a tree but the same leopard came down from the tree and was then chased by a striped hyena (super rare) which was lurking nearby hoping for a go at the giraffe! This was the real highlight of the whole trip. Shaba is a really great place to go, steeped in the history of Joy Adamson and Penny, the leopard. Joy's Camp has a great collection of her possessions as well as photographs which are all worth a look. The Cheli and Peacock hospitality is second to none and I would recommend visiting all or any of the camps without hesitation, you won't be disappointed!!!

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CeciliaW2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2011

For a long time now I’ve wanted to visit Shaba National Reserve. Not especially for its wildlife, for that is relatively limited compared to other parks and reserves in Kenya, but for its vastness; this is big sky country. Big rocks as well.

It is about a six-hour all-in drive from Nairobi, on roads that beggar belief. They, the roads that is, are mostly good to excellent, with very few potholes, most of which are found on the escarpment down to the Sagana River from Makutano. Stress-free Kenyan motoring; still a novelty, I know, but there you are.

We left Nairobi at around 6.00 a.m. and reached Barney’s Café at the Nanyuki Airstrip close to nine – now here is a modern day oasis well worth a visit. The breakfasts are to die for, the cappuccinos just right, the muffins fresh and the loo’s spotless. Plus you get the added advantage of watching all types of small aircraft including helicopters taking off and landing – which helps keep the kids entertained.

We stayed too long at Barney’s in both directions – with absolutely no regrets.
The journey onwards through Nanyuki, Timau and Isiolo on the new Chinese built road was a delight, devoid of traffic, straight and as fast as you like. The urban sprawl in these three towns, I have to add, is not a happy sight. The turn off for Shaba is just before Archer’s Post. If you know the area, you turn left for Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves and right for Shaba. Signposting is obvious. The three parks honour each other’s entry fees, which allow you to visit all three without additional charge; an arrangement that is relatively unique in Kenya.

It is approximately eight kilometres to the Natorbe Gate on a good lumpy road – 4X4 is the sensible option, where the friendly and helpful game wardens of the Isiolo County Council await you. Entry fees are in line with most other parks and reserves, and are expected to increase in July 2011. Presently, adult non-residents pay US$ 60, residents Kshs. 1,000/-, citizens Kshs. 500/-, and vehicles Kshs. 500/- per day. Children (3-18) non-resident US$ 30, residents/citizens Kshs. 100/- per day.

You can also fly directly from Nairobi on a scheduled Safarilink flight - the airstrip is a very short drive from camp.

We stayed at Cheli & Peacock’s Joy’s Camp, which is easy to find — just follow the signposts. Game is not as plentiful as, say, the Masai Mara; here you have to work at it, and a sharp eye and a good guide will usually bring results.

The vistas are truly magnificent and unique. Shaba is situated in the northern part of Kenya’s Rift Valley and covers an area of 223 square kilometres. It is classified as a semi-arid area, however numerous year-round springs are to be found throughout the reserve, while the Ewaso Nyiro River forms the reserve’s northern boundary. With water comes game.

One such spring sits in front of Joy’s Camp, which is situated on the former site of Joy Adamson’s camp. Here Joy successfully re-introduced Penny the leopard to the wild, and where she was sadly murdered in January 1980. The late Mike Lawrence operated a camp in the 80s and 90s before he partnered with Cheli & Peacock to open Joy’s Camp in 2006.

‘Cheli & Peacock rightfully have a well-earned reputation as purveyors of classic safari experiences in Kenya. It is well rounded - attention to detail, unobtrusive attentiveness, high, wide and handsome accommodation, cuisine that ticks all the right boxes and of course location, location, location. Joy’s has all this in spades. However, what put the cherry on top for us was the on-site management team. The jewels in the crown, if you will, are the managers, Francien van de Vijver and Willem Dolman. Dutch by descent, but both born locally – they know the country, know the people, know the language and they know what they are doing and they do it well. The entire Joy’s team is a credit to Kenya’s tourism industry.

Plaudits dished out and well deserved. But let’s get back to our safari at Joy’s and Shaba. The view from the bar, the dining room, the swimming pool and any one of the ten tents is that of verdant Africa. The spring in front draws the wildlife to the camp and there is always something going on, be it elephant or warthog – never a dull moment.

Game drives are hard work; game is not plentiful and some of the roads cross vast lava fields, which are mostly devoid of game. Breakfast on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River is a must, as are lazy days spent around the pool or being pampered on your tent’s veranda by the resident masseuse.
A sundowner at Turkana Rock or Penny’s Rock – or as we called them sundrowners — big country, big glasses, is another ‘must-do’.

For the folk that absolutely positively must be in communication with the real world, there are a few sites around the reserve where you can pick up the occasional signal. Alternatively the camp has a satellite phone. One happy camper whose phone miraculously lit up during lunch, was unceremoniously escorted to a sound proof booth, never to be seen again. I jest of course, but the inference here is to switch off – everything.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank The_Real_TCB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2011

Joys Camp is a 5-6 year old camp located in Shaba. It is where the infamous Joy Adamson spent years of her life.

This was our first stop on a big 3 week safari to Kenya. This being my 3rd time to Kenya in 6 months (how I love it so). Upon arrival we were greeted by Francine the resident manager who was perfectly kind and welcomed us to camp.

The tents are basic but with a European flair. With a great view of a wildlife watering hole. We were unfortunate to not see so much game on Shaba, but the terrain is varied, unusual and worth seeing.

The food was good, the service was great and the managers Willem and Francine were warm and accomodating.

Breakfast was served in the bush in the middle of our morning game drive and it was an unexpected surprise. I would highly recommend as many meals as possible served to you this way. They are very good at it!

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank rachelnyc17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2011

The all-encompassing sensation of peace at Shaba was overwhelming … from the immense, and what seemed like ancient silence that enveloped this special crucible of nature’s wonders. I was filled with a longing to feel the earth below my bare feet and place my palms on the primordial rock faces and tree barks … to embrace this silence. This peace was a welcoming balm to my frenetic energies of city-life.

I was told that the lack of insect sounds … that seem to respectfully hold their peace in awe of this immense silence … was due to the dryness of the area. However Shaba is blessed with 17 natural springs that give life to this amazing land.

My husband, and 8-year old son were fortunate to have had a truly blissful 4-days at Joy’s Camp in Shaba. With the warm and beautiful comfort of the camp and wonderful wild-life viewing. On our arrival we were greeted by a pride of lions on a fresh buffalo kill that we visited daily. And as we departed they too bid farewell to the remains of their feast.

This land tells tales of ancient earth movements and transformations – my favourite being the lava rock fields. One feels blessed to have the opportunity to bear witness to this magnificent array of life – from the psychedelic Grevy’s Zebra, the graceful reticulated Giraffe, the proud Oryx, the balletic Gerenuk and assortment of bird life, we managed to get our fill of the big cats too. With the most amazing afternoon spent following 4 kilometers of a drag track – what looked like a leopard dragging an impala. The tracks finally lead us to a grassy outcrop by a marshy spring. We knew the grass shielded our big cat – and we were ready to wait. But we didn’t need to wait too long as our guide cautiously walked towards the grass and out bounded a lioness! Not a leopard at all! And she had a baby giraffe that she had dragged 4 kilometers to this safe haven of hers. It turned out that her extra cautious behavior perhaps was due to the fact that her entire pride had been poisoned a few years ago by villagers on the outskirts of Shaba after they had killed a cow. She escaped this terrible death. But it must have left an indelible mark on her.

My son and I went on a walk by the river bank on the ancient rocks that had the river carve out a superb cave – an ancient home and more recent hide out for poachers. The cave drawings, bones and ancient tools were all that remained of this colourful history.

Joy’s Camp was splendid … the hospitality warm and homely with just the right balance of luxury and wildness (I even managed to spoil myself with a wonderful massage on the balcony of our room looking over the spring).

My husband is a wildlife conservations in India and we were warned against visiting Shaba as chances of seeing big cats and interesting behaviour were slim. But we had a wonderful time. And I would recommend visiting Shaba to all who love the wild and the peace nature offers.

~ Sanjna Kapoor

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank Sanjna1967
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 11, 2011

After a scenic drive, to embark upon Joys Camp was sheer paradise in the African Bush. A welcome committee headed by a charming manager Barbara Napoli Sehmi, and cool water melon juice set off the joys (excuse the pun) that were in store for us! The following 2 days were spent on soaking up the sumptuous luxurious bedouin tented accomodation, although more cross ventilation or fans would be welcome. The special effect lighting was commendable, enjoying the landscape setting, pool, the game drives with the most pleasant informative driver & guides, impeccable service, delicious Italian style food and tasteful table settings. Above all the charismatic manager, Barbara, a "joy" to be with, and who saw to every detail to ensure our comfort and needs offering the ultimate service. Joys Camp was/IS, the ultimate five star safari experience.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled with friends
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Thank Matundu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2011

Obviously I havent stayed at them all but this is a magical place. There is less game here than in the Mara (where it is virtually impossible to do a game drive without encountering a pride of lions), but there are a lot less people too. Often in other parks in east Africa the landrovers are intruding onto your game experience. This however is just brilliant. We have been lucky enough to go on several safaris in South Africa & Botswana and this is right up there with the best of the camps. So quiet and feels very wild. Enough game (lions, elephants, Oryx, buffalo and special sightings of leopard made this trip a memorable trip. The camp itself is a joy. Fantastic tents all with great views of the game which comes to the watering hole. Tents are fantastically well appointed and service and food outstanding. Breakfast in the bush was a memory that will live for a long time. Would definitely come back and recommend to others

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank JohnLBath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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: $990 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Joy's Camp 5*
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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