Kipalo Hills is a beautiful and remote safari camp on the edge of Tsavo West National Park in the 12,000-acre private Mbulia Conservancy. Built on the edge of the Mbulia Hills, the views from camp are stunning. Each of the 12 tented suites have uninterrupted views overlooking the thick bush, red earth, and rocky outcrops which can be enjoyed from their private verandahs. Our favorite spot is the beanbags by the pool that overlook the land below and, on a clear day, Kilimanjaro to the west. The common area is large and open with endless places to curl up with a drink and a good book. The tents are simple and sweet with bucket showers, flush toilets, and they get a gorgeous breeze in the nighttime. Kipalo Hills has character and it’s evident through the staff. The camp was built by locals, is staffed by locals, and the guides, trackers, and rangers are all locals that take pride in their jobs that protect the local wildlife through tourism. The staff there are extremely sweet and any guest will feel right at home at Kipalo Hills.
Although Tsavo boasts the highest population of elephant in Kenya (Tsavo is huge!), game-viewing can often be challenging since the terrain can be quite bushy. The real highlight of a trip to Kipalo is walking through the conservancy with an ex-poacher who has an unmatched knowledge and a developed appreciation and commitment to the land. We recommend three days at Kipalo Hills where you can spend one day in Tsavo East National Park (which would include a visit to the Voi unit of the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage), one day in Tsavo West National Park, and one day walking in the conservancy. It’s also a great place to just relax and enjoy Kenya’s wilderness at the end of a busy safari. The drawback is that it’s very remote and our wildlife sightings haven’t been great so we either recommend it for relaxing at the end of a safari, for second time safari-goers, or for real fans of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that want to see the older elephant orphants at Voi.
Access to Kipalo Hills is via the Kilaguni Airstrip in Tsavo West followed by a 3-hour game drive through the park, a chartered flight to the Manyani Airstrip, or a scheduled daily flight from the Maasai Mara to the Manyani Airstrip which is only 20 minutes from camp.