Living in Nairobi, the first thing that astonished me about the drive to Samburu was that I might as well have been driving in the English countryside on smooth well-built roads. The drive was picturesque and trouble free.
Reaching Sasaab after an eight hour drive (which I would strongly recommend for anyone who wants to really see this part of the country) was like an oasis. We were greeted by the very friendly and accommodating managers Ron and Margaret Gratzinger with a refreshing drink and cold face towels.
Sasaab Lodge is located right next to the EwasiNyiro River (which didn’t stop gushing and lulled me to sleep on both nights of my stay) on a rocky ridge in the heart of Samburu land. Being the only lodge in the area heightened the remoteness of the place and the magnificence of the surrounding landscape. As the sunset behind the river one evening I may have been the only person in the world.
The lodge is cleverly designed to be open planned blending with the nature which is literally your backdrop from any angle within the lodge. The white washed and cement interiors with Moroccan inspired finishing is cooling and tranquil. The solar heated infinity pool overlooking the river means a swim is always possible even when the temperature plummets in the evenings. For the real enthusiast there is also a gym.
The bedrooms are huge tented bandas (mine overlooked the the river which was visible from my bed) with a private plunge pool. The age of the of the lodge and the harsh climate have contributed some slight wear and tear, though the comfort and functionality of the bedrooms is not at all compromised.
Samburu National Reserve
Within five minutes of entering the national park we spotted a leopard (no pun intended). Giraffes and elephants were in abundance and on leaving the park as a farewell gift we saw a rather shy lion and lioness. The novelty of this park is definitely the joy of knowing that you are not going to be surrounded by twenty other “combis” (tourist vans) desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the wildlife. In the three game drives I took I did not spot another tourist vehicle.
The food was tasty and fresh with ingredients picked from their own green patch. For this reason some ingredients were not easily available and the meals lacked variety somewhat. However the staff were most obliging and conscientious. Most drinks are included in the room rate, though if you are a discerning whiskey or gin drinker be sure to inform the staff well in advance of your choice of drink as it will be under lock and key and may not be available when needed.
The trump card of this lodge and what you ultimately pay for is the location of it. If you are looking to experience raw and wild Africa in isolation without teams of tourists in the park, Sasaab’s jaw dropping location will not disappoint in the slightest.