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“Luxury camping in a birder's paradise”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Joy's Camp

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Joy's Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Luxury camping in a birder's paradise”
Reviewed July 4, 2013

Joys's camp has to be every bird-loving,star-gazing and luxury camper's must-see place in Northern Kenya.When night falls, the sky rolls out what feels like a magical blanket of stars over Shaba, enough to inspire romance and adventure! When some colleagues and I had visited earlier this year, we were greeted with these awsomely refreshing cold fruit cocktails that had fresh mint in them. After a hot long drive, we were more than grateful for the getsure.

The camp itself has this charming northern African feel to it - think Somali, Moroccan and Swahili culture...bright beading, white and bright fabrics, beautiful and ornate lamps and furniture. Visually, the decor and tent settings are highly appealing and very relaxing. The tents are spaciaously set up and you find the normal hotel room-type amenities and won't feel completely cut off from civilisation. The place does have a great bush feel and you definitely experience a closeness to nature. Shaba is hot and dry so the pathways at Joy's Camp between the tents and the main area are somewhat beach-like and have lizards of different kinds hopping about or dashing madly accross to avoid you. If you're queamish about them, do watch out! I quite liked the use of stone in different places and loved my hot showers!

Dining was great here! The chefs had a nice assortment of veggies alongside different roasts and the ususal starches. I'm one for a well done steak so I made a special request for the chefs to turn it over a bit more. Sure enough they obliged me and served me a perfectly done steak in good time - tender but definitely cooked the way I like it. The table arrangemets were quite ineteresting allowing for large groups and smaller ones while the whole area overlooked the large bush/garden space, partly open air and partly under a roof.

Since we only stayed a night, we didn't do too much but we definitely went on exciting game drives and a walk. The drives were scenic - kopjes standing regally in unxpected places, the rushing River Ewaso Nyiro in its chocolate glory lined by fresh green Doum Palms, surrounding mountain ranges in the distance, and of course...birds, birds, birds! Little ones, large ones, bright ones, dull ones, noisy ones and quiet ones, birds in flight, birds that seem to be taking a stroll - Shaba is truly a birder's paradise! The area is not particularly game rich but you will get to see some wild animals - mostly herbivores that can survive in these dry parts. We were pleased to be surprised with a sundowner on a little hill overlooking the river after an evening game drive and even got back to camp a little late. The uncommon night drive back was spectacular! The whole bush seemed to come alive with little creatures scuttling from bush to bush, night birds calling, crickets and all sorts of insects abuzz with life, and the beautiful night sky and cool winds breaking the through the heat and stillness of the hot day. I loved it! Our driver guide was perfect for the job too because he knew a lot and was more than happy to stop at places that fascinated us a great deal before moving on.

In the morning we went on the walk that turned out to be the hike of my lifetime so far! A colleague of mine also had a little trouble climbing over rock but the guide and ranger were available to help us once they actually understood we were somewhat terrified. What was terrifying? You climb up and down rough rock, smooth rock, jagged rock and pass thorns and hop onto little temporary islands on the river. The views are amazing but do remember to carry a good pair shoes with great grip so you can enjoy them on steady feet! Fortunately, I had those but I did slide on my bottom a lot to avoid falling. There were places where we stood on jutting out peices of rock and could see way down the river. In the near distance on a separate mini island, we spotted the odd crocodile sunning itself in the early morning sun, and caught sight of a hippo blowing bubbles at cave-like corner on the opposite side of the river. Interestingly, this was quite near where Survivor was filmed some years ago! We were lucky to see all this and I was glad I put my fear behind me. At the end of the walk, we stepped right into a ready set bush breakfast with sandwiches, tea, coffee, fruit, sausages and bacon...it was a sumptuous breakfast and hard-earned too! We devoured it with gusto and afterward drove back to camp and headed for a quick dip in the pool before leaving - absolutely relaxing.

Now, I will tell you straight away - don't expect the entire Big 5 if you visit Shaba, it's not very game rich but in certain seasons you will catch some great wildife. Generally, you'll see bucks, birds, perhaps giraffe at the right time, little turtles in puddles, bush rats and other nocturnal creatures in the same family. It's better to visit when you're winding down your safari experience or you'd like to start slow before you go to game rich places like the Maasai Mara or Lewa. A visit to the river is great for if you'd like to see hippos and crocodiles.

Overall service at the camp was good and the manager was friendly. I'd recommend the place for couples and friends, families if mature. If you do have young ones, it may not be as exciting for them but you're sure to have a merry old time if everyone can generally take care of themselves!

Room Tip: The tents are a fair distance from the main dining area making them nice and private, if you don'...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
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5 Thank Tyzar I
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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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Hermanus
Level Contributor
134 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2013

Joy's Camp is a beautifully laid out tented camp near to one of the many springs. The tented accommodation is excellent, spacious with 2 separate seating areas front and back. Lots of space, very comfortable and well appointed. We were the only guests for 2 days as it is the quiet season. Pieter and Danielle (relief managers) looked after us well. Food was very good and staff are attentive. Our guide, Peter, was excellent. This is a bird watchers park. Wildlife is not plentiful but they do have animals like Gerenuk, Gravy's Zebra, Striped Hyena and Reticulated Giraffe. Superb scenery and Sundowners on a hill on the last of our 4 days gives you a great appreciation of the park landscape. Well recommended but don't expect to see BIG 5. Just enjoy the area for what it is.

Room Tip: All rooms have similar outlook.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank MikeGrahamHermanus
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, July 3, 2013
So glad you enjoyed your stay. We're very lucky to have so many rare species around us!
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Nanyuki Town, Kenya
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed May 31, 2013

I was here for just one night with some friends and I cannot speak highly enough of this place. The location is stunning - tents scattered under beautiful tall acacia's, dining and bar area with a pool looking out over a marsh and onto the hills behind. Food was perfect: they know this as I think we cleaned out their kitchens! And our hosts Peter and Daniella went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. Thank you to Cheli and Peacock and the great wild Shaba park for this fabulous weekend!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank katwebbz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Doha, Qatar
Level Contributor
145 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2013

This is the 4th Cheli Peacock property we have stayed at, and the standards remain consistently high. We did go in the rainy season so game was hard to find, and we had an interesting afternoon getting stuck in glutinous mud (but freed ourselves without having to ask for back up). Finding the game is a long job, but along with Oryx, Impala, Grevy's Zebra, Reticulated giraffe, waterbuck, silver backed jackal, we did see a big herd of buffalo, and THE crocodile! Being wet, the eastern end of the park was practically inaccessible, even with a Landrover 4xwheel drive, so activities were reduced to the rest of the park, but we did get down to the river in several places which was in full flood and an amazing sight.
The tents are very well appointed, and I share a fellow reviewer's concern about the slippery bathroom floors, but if you're prepared when you get out of the shower it's fine. The whole front of the tent opening out to the view near the spring/waterhole is magical, especially first thing in the morning, lying in bed, drinking tea, and listening to the amazing bird noise. If you are a bird lover this must be a paradise, they are multitudinous and everywhere.
The camp's manager Sally is new there, having only arrived a month ago, but definitely getting to grips with running the place. Food was always good, the staff always friendly, and willing to help at all times. Shame about some of the other guests, but you can't choose that part!
Scenery is spectacular, and the view from the top of Turkana Hill not to be missed, even in the middle of a torrential rainstorm!
It was indeed a pleasure to come here, and get out of Nairobi for 4 days. Hopefully we will be back, thankyou Joys!

Room Tip: they are all good - just depending how close or far you like to be from the main lodge.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank gmn23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CheliPeacockKenya, Public Relations Manager at Joy's Camp, responded to this review, May 23, 2013
Thank you so much for your review. Our unusually heavy rains this year have made game viewing quite challenging at times but on the plus side everywhere is looking lush! Thanks also for your comment on the bathroom floor - we're looking into a solution which should be implemented within the next month.
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Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
14 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed February 9, 2013

My wife and I had the pleasure of staying at Joys Camp for two nights in late January and were absolutely delighted. The camp is located in a remote area with incredibly scenic views. In the three days we were there we did not see another vehicle. The solitude and somewhat stark beauty of Shaba cannot be put into words. This is truly a birder’s paradise (I’ve never seen so many superb starlings!). Additionally, we had good sightings of the northern five. (Note: cats are few and far between in Shaba.) A day trip to Samburu can also be arranged if you want to visit more than one reserve).


The tents are extremely well appointed and the food was great. We really enjoyed the bush breakfast by the Ewaso Nyiro river – complete with made-to-order omelets! One wallof the tents are essentially a floor to ceiling screen that allows fantastic views of the scenery. Dik-dik and other small animals are routinely found in the camp. All of the staff at Shaba were great – very friendly, engaging and knowledgeable. Our two guides and the chef (all named Peter!), the relief managers (Abby and her husband – apologies to him as I can’t recall his name at this moment) as well as the other staff seemed to genuinely enjoy their professions and meeting visitors from all over the world. Five stars for Joy’s Camp!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank PJT123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
54 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed February 1, 2013

From the moment you're picked up at the nearby airstrip, the staff at Joy's Camp make sure is done so you have a memorable stay. They may call them tents but think of it as Four Seasons under canvas. The limited number of guests means personal service and lots of surprises are in store. The location is remote and spectacular. And safari drives in Shaba National Reserve usually results in sighting a huge array of wildlife. On our safari drives, taken early in the mornings and late afternoons, we spotted a lion, ostriches, oryxes, gizelles, wart hogs, giraffes, a crocodile, various birds, Grevy zebras and much more. Eric, our driver guide, was excellent. He is knowledgeable and experienced in safari drives. Radio contact with other guides means they can share information about where animal can be sighted. Other than seeing animals, we were treated to some of the most spectacular scenery from nearby hills.

Each tent is amply sized featuring little luxuries you wouldn't expect in a remote location. There's a complimentary laundry service (excludes laundering of undergarments for cultural reasons). There's a simple but stylish bathroom. Expect to hear the sounds of birds and other wildlife throughout the night (not in a disruptive way) and you get to feel the real Africa.

The meals were excellent with a varied and high quality menu. Joy's Camp also has its own garden growing a significant portion of the produce used in the meals, from herbs to some vegetables. A cool room with charcoal walls cooled by trickling water provides an efficient, sustainable service. Local communities also benefit from community involvement activities initiated by Joy's Camp. Even the light features in the bathrooms are made from recycled bottles and LED lighting. Solar panels help heat the water.

Would I stay again? In a heartbeat. Thanks to Francien and Eric for a what we considered, the highlight of our African adventure.

Room Tip: You can't go wrong with any of the tents.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Alvin W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2013

What a beautiful camp! The drive through the reserve into camp is amazing - only and hour away to the south the landscape is lush and green - up here it is arid and the subtle colours of all the different grasses, the rocks and flat top acacia`s are incredibly beautiful. We felt that we were entering a very special place with an ancient history full of pure unspoiled beauty. The bird life is astounding: just on our way in we saw somali Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Secretary Birds, Grey Crowned Cranes and Speckled Pigeons, Red Bellied Parrots, Wattled and Golden Breasted Starling to name but a few - the place is teeming with Birds - absolutely fantastic! The camp itself is just as special and beautiful as the landscape it is set in. The tents and decoration are a work of art inspired by the nomadic ancient tribes. If it wasn`t for the bush you may think you are in a Northern African country looking at all the glass- and mosaic work is simply stunning. Out on drive we saw Grevy's Zebra, Gerenuk, Kirk's Dikdik, Silverbacked Jackals and Reticulated Griraffe - all special for us. We had the most beautiful sunset on top of one of the hills with a gin and tonic at hand - soaking in the bright reds and oranges over the vast plains of Shaba! Back in Camp after a drink by the fire we had a lovely dinner - the food was excellent and the waiters friendly and attentive! On our way back to the tent we spotted a Verreaux` Eagle Owl in an Acacia just next to our tent. We fell asleep in the most comfortable bed. At night there was a light drizzle of rain and after the that the birds seemed to be having an absolute feast at dawn - what a beautiful way to wake up! - the sounds of so many different birds. Our breakfast was feast too...
A true gem we would highly recommend to anyone who wants to get off the beaten track! Great Birding, scenery and wildlife!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank NoMad2342
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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