El Karama is a charming, authentic and welcoming small wildlife lodge set beside the Ewaso Nyiro river in the heart of Laikipia. Guests have access to 14,000 acres of private bush and ranch land with a huge variety and quantity of birds, mammals, trees and plants. The latest attraction at El Karama is The Little River Camp which comprises two luxurious new riverside cottages along with private living and dining accommodation.
Ideal for two couples travelling together, a family with older children or honeymooners looking to have a complete retreat in peace and comfort, the Little River Camp is just a short walk from the main lodge. Guests have access to all the facilities of the lodge including swimming pool, and can choose to be entirely private and independent or as involved in camp life as they wish. For larger parties, some guests may choose to stay at the new camp and others in the six other cottages and bandas at the main lodge.
Tranquil, secluded and stylish, the new cottages have large windows stretching the length of the walls and high ceilings for extra space and light. Each has the option of a double or twin beds, both have a large writing desk and plenty of atmospheric lighting. Bathrooms are spacious and beautifully-finished, with “his” and “hers” basins and a choice of bath or shower. One cottage also has a stunning outdoor bathtub made from river stones and cool grey cement. Outside are roomy verandas looking out onto the river and the surrounding bush.
Between the two cottages there is a private dining room and living room with bar which is perfect for quiet evenings away from the heart of the main lodge. A private kitchen here means meals can be prepared, cooked and served on-site. The cottages, like the rest of the lodge, have been designed with real love and attention – decorative details include hand-painted soft furnishings in recycled cotton, linen and velvet. The wooden fireplace at one end of the dining room is made from a fallen fever tree found on the property – here there are large candle lanterns, cosy sofas and views out onto the salt lick.
El Karama is owner–operated and was built and created by Murray and Sophie Grant, who live nearby with their two children and other animals. Guests are hosted and guided by a charming, competent and experienced team, many of whom were involved in building the lodge, and a management couple who share a history and strong connection to the region of Laikipia.
At the lodge there is outstanding game viewing and bird watching on foot, by vehicle – or even from your veranda. Guests can see over 80 mammal species including four of the ‘Big Five’ and over 424 identified bird species. This stunning and picturesque habitat boasts unusual mammals such as the Grevy Zebra, Gerenuk, Laikipia Hartebeest and African Wild Dogs – as well as Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo and Reticulated Giraffe. Knowledgeable guides are always on hand to ensure that guests make the most of their stay.
‘Plains Game’ abounds and guided bush walks take guests close to herds of Burchill’s Zebra and Grant’s Gazelle and through gorgeous landscapes with views of Mount Kenya, the Aberdares and the Lolldaigas. With six dams and waterholes on the property, guests can sit quietly bird-watching, wait patiently for predators or photograph elephant families at play. Night drives, bush meals, sundowners and other safari activities are all available.
The lodge has a strong commitment to eco-friendly practices, conservation and sustainable tourism, with the aim of preserving its unique habitat for the wildlife and people of Laikipia. Guests can stay at El Karama safe in the knowledge that the lodge has been designed holistically to balance the comfort of guests with a minimal footprint on the natural environment.
The lodge also aims to be as family-friendly as possible, with all kinds of fun activities available for children – from game tracking to fishing to sculpting with termite clay – and there is even a special arts and crafts gallery just for kids.
All the food at El Karama is homemade – 90% is home-grown in the organic garden and most of the meat is locally sourced. All meals are hearty and clean, prepared with fresh herbs, fresh vegetables and salads and lots of flavour. Guests can expect a full cooked breakfast, buffet lunches, afternoon tea and a three-course meal in the evening – nobody ever goes hungry at El Karama!
Using charcoal ovens, the chef produces freshly-baked rosemary breads, shortbread cookies and cakes for tea. Guests are welcome to visit the kitchen and to learn about bush cooking styles. There is a fully-stocked bar with beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks. Ask for a ‘dawa’ or two to keep you warm on the cooler evenings. There is also a choice of fresh juices and tisanes straight from the organic herb garden.