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!
- 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