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“Review of Joy's Camp, Shaba National Reserve, Kenya”
Review of Joy's Camp

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Joy's Camp
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Review of Joy's Camp, Shaba National Reserve, Kenya”
Reviewed May 25, 2012

This is a beautiful, restful and luxurious "camp" rather off-the-beaten track in central Kenya, located inside Shaba National Reserve, and close to two other national parks: Samburu and Buffalo Springs. The accommodation is first-rate and done in the Moorish style. There are ten rooms spread out across the property, with tent doors and concrete walls. Everything inside is tastefully appointed and very clean. The staff are pleasant and professional. We took full board and the food is excellent. In the evenings, we dined outside under the stars. Only caution: wear slacks and long-sleeved tops if possible as there are plenty of mosquitoes, though not the malaria-carrying kind. The tents are raised up off the ground so as to avoid animals, snakes, and insects from entering. We took several game drives mornings and late afternoon. Joy's Camp has their own guides but you can also hire them from Shaba Reserve at the park gate. The dining room, reception area and lounge are also very tastefully appointed and there is Wi-Fi available in the reception area.

The only drawback to this camp is that it is quite a distance off the beaten track, i.e., off the main highway, and the roads -- mostly dirt tracks -- are very bumpy and pot-holed. If it rains, there are huge puddles and mud-holes, so one needs a 4-wheel drive or jeep to get there. We rented a Toyota Land-Cruiser, which was fine. However, one cannot go fast on these "roads", and to do about 27 kms, it took over 1-1/2 hrs to get there, and a little more to reach Samburu or Buffalo Springs National Reserves.

All in all, worth the effort and we had a great visit.

Room Tip: All rooms are in separate tents and private, so no bad rooms/tents.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
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1 Thank Gretaj220
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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97 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (29)
Date | Rating
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English first
uk
Level 5 Contributor
55 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed April 25, 2012

My family and I (two adult children) spent three nights at Joy’s Camp. Unfortunately Francine was not there due to an illness so Willem was holding the fort and I think was clearly worried about her. He also had a trainee manager there to learn the ropes who we found very irritating.
It was completely different from our previous lodge (Loisaba, which is simply wonderful) as they were in the middle of a drought, which was quite amazing to see. How on earth animals survive there is beyond belief but they do and it was fascinating to learn about.
The “tents” were very comfortable but the bathroom floors very slippy and quite dangerous for someone like me with osteoporosis. I did slip in the shower and had a moment of panic in case I had broken anything. We told the manager but no one asked how I was which was very disappointing. We were told that dinner was to be served and were taken to our table but had to wait until Willem sat down before we were served, which one night was about 15mins. They didn’t automatically ask us about wine and usually had to ask for it. The food was good and the lounge/dining area was very pleasant overlooking a waterhole, which was also lit at night so one could see animals coming over for a drink.
The swimming pool was a little disappointing and not particularly clean but quite refreshing.
Our guide made the trip, he was fantastic and nothing too much trouble. We saw so much and he had an excellent sense of humour. Our landrover had a puncture whilst on way to Samburu which was quite entertaining. The guide had to run to a nearby guard room to get help as the jack got stuck! Three huge men with guns came and we were off again. We were pleased we had taken some money with us to give them a tip! We had breakfast by the river, which was lovely and although I wouldn’t particularly want to stay in Samburu it was great to visit it and we definitely saw a lot of animals and birds. The drive there was very interesting too going through a local town and seeing different countryside.
On returning from a game drive Willem and the trainee manager would be there to greet us but we almost started to dread it. I think Wilelm is a little shy and was somewhat overpowered by the trainee!!
It was supposed to be our relaxing time in the middle of a fortnight on safari but we didn’t find it at all relaxing. It is clearly a high class camp and they tried hard but to my mind they tried a little too hard and think they missed the female touch!
The British army have a camp not too far away and one could hear the guns going off which was a little alarming.
I wouldn’t go back. I think they rely very heavily on it being Joy Adamson’s camp but there is nothing there really. A few pictures of her but otherwise one wouldn’t know she had ever been there and the monument to her doesn’t even have her name on it! However, we enjoyed it and we certainly know the meaning of a drought now, which was a real eye opener, but were very happy to move on.

Room Tip: Some rooms quite a walk from the dining room and not all can see the watering hole. Otherwise all r...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
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1 Thank Faith C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
42 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed February 13, 2012

If you haven't yet seen your first lion or elephant, this is not the first place to come in Kenya. BUT.... after you have seen all of the elephants in Amboseli, the rhino in Nakuru and the cats in the Maasai Mara, come to Joy's Camp in Shaba (north of Mt. Kenya.) Joy's Camp is a lovely respite. With only 10 tents and the only camp on the Shaba reserve, you can be promised game drives of the utmost privacy. Shaba must have some of the most sensational landscape in Kenya - from dry grass-covered plains. to lava rocks to natural springs that provide oases for the animals and feed the river, you won't be disappointed. Joy's Camp is another fine example of the Cheli and Peacock group of camps in Kenya. The managers are excellent - quick to see to your every need but never really 'in your face.' The food has the unmistakable Italian touch, the fresh vegetables are grown on site and the chefs have been well-trained as have the drivers and staff. You will enjoy sundowners with amazing views and the bush breakfast by the river makes you just want to curl up and rest as the river and the world seem to float on by.

Room Tip: Choose tents 3, 4 or 5 - while all tents have a good view of the watering hole, these are the best a...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
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1 Thank IntlTeacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed December 19, 2011

We spend 3 nights at Joy's Camp in Shaba National Park, it was an experience of a life time, the staff, was great, the service fantastic, and Eric our guide was a pleasure to be with his knowledge of birds is unreal. The weekend was made by the leopard sighting. The food was great we just ate too much. The Coffee and juice in bed in the morning was such a nice touch. Overall the animal experience was so different from what we have seen so far, it is a definite must. One warning you need 4 X 4 once you off the main road.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jaapv2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
119 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed November 29, 2011

had 2 nights here last week and enjoyed ourselves immensely,
wonderful hosts Wilhelm and Francine plus great staff.
the tents are great and quite luxurious. the food is really nice with the Italian flavours.
had some beautiful game drives and they really look after everything here for you.

the area has been very dry but now some rains have come so its quite green right now and
it is a birders paradise.
would love to return! thank you for a lovely stay.
we had our arrangements made by AFRICA EXCLUSIVE in the UK and cheli & peacock.
we then flew down to Elsa's kopje by light aircraft from Tropic Air, what an experience!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Rog747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2011

My wife and I experienced an amazing time at Joy's Camp as part of her 50th birthday celebrations. Two years in the planning, Joy's camp was one of the locations that I insisted with the travel agent to include, and I could not have made a better choice.

Shaba offers some unique animal experiences and amazing vista's. Set around natural springs and the river, it offers scenery and topography both varied (starkly so at times) and captivating. There is a good selection of game to view, however not the sheer quantity that the Mara has to offer. But the experience is different. The trackers actually track, there is a potential surprise and excitement around each corner of the road, and in our three day stay there we met only one other vehicle on our drives. The Mara offered more animals but was a safari by "cell phone" phoning for locations on the animals you wanted...or look to the horizon for the grouping of 15 vehicles and you were bound to find something capturing all the traffics interest. Don't get me wrong we enjoyed the viewing but felt more peaceful and engaged in Shaba.
Location of the camp was centered on a spring, and each tent (10 of them) was situated such that you felt you were the only ones around. Accomodation and set-up was top end .. and we stayed in other similar locations such as il Moran (Govenors Camps). Food was the best on the trip, the chef has wonderful creations and needs to come out and recieve the praises he deserves.

But what really made the trip were the Camp managers Willem and Francien, our tracker Eric, bar tender Paul and all of the staff. A trip can have the best location, the best accomodations, the best food...but people make the difference. We were spoiled in that we had the camp to ourselves for almost two days. We got to know everyone that little bit more and discovered amazing people. Passionate about their jobs, passionate about Africa and their community, interesting and unique lives lived. In one way we wished we had ended the trip at Joy's camp because everywhere else seemed a little lacking...wonderful locations, camps and people,... but just a bit lacking if that is the appropriate word.

Will we be back to Africa...yes. Will we want to explore a myriad of other locations...yes. Would we make a specific trip back to Shaba just to see the people and the camp again.. a huge YES. If this is what the other camps of Cheli and Peacock are like we will definitely arrange our next trip for their locations.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank kevin F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed August 26, 2011

We visited Joy's Camp for a weekend with our family and another couple and their children. The package included flights, all food and drinks and was the best way to structure it. The camp is situated in the Shaba reserve and is the only camp so it feels like your own personal game reserve. The facilities are great and of a very high standard clearly aiming at the luxury lodge tourist. The staff are very friendly, food is excellent and their game vehicles are the nice open kind which is best for travelling through the bush. The rooms are large and they can provide two extra single beds if you have young children. The rooms are part solid structure and part tent but quality is excellent and all the facilities are in place, including hot water and electricity. They all have lovely patio's overlooking a grazing area for animals. There is a nice pool for cooling off in and a bar that is always open. The camp has some interesting history and was the site of the home of Joy Adams. I would highly reccomend this lodge if you are looking for a different experience to the Masai Mara and a more quiet and private relaxing trip.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Rakman
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

Property: 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): $
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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