With so many diverse landscapes and incredible national parks and private conservancies brimming with wildlife, it’s difficult to narrow down Kenya’s amazing selection of safari lodges. Canvas tents, gauzy netted beds, candlelit bush dinners, and rock-hewn infinity pools are the stuff of East Africa travel fantasy. How do you begin to choose? Through decades of collective experience based on Extraordinary Journeys staff visits and client feedback, we’ve curated a shortlist of Kenyan safari lodges that stand above all others.

The best luxury safari lodges in the Maasai Mara

Mara Nyika

mara nyika lodge in kenya
Mara Nyika’s tents are situated on raised platforms, constructed for the lightest possible impact to the landscape.

Set in a valley, straddled by a stream and hugged by flat-topped acacia trees, Mara Nyika is an intimate, five tent camp situated on the western edge of Naboisho Conservancy. In an effort to construct Mara Nyika with the lightest possible impact to the landscape, the outfit sits perched upon stilts and raised platforms, lending to its unique, treehouse-under-canvas vibe. If guests don’t spot the big cat wandering directly beneath their tent, they will certainly hear him lapping water out of the stream.

Luxurious touches like copper clawfoot tubs, Swarovski binoculars, Canon DSLRs on loan and gourmet picnic lunches on the savannah remind guests they’re staying at a Relais & Châteaux-associated property. But travelers don’t come to the Mara for bathtubs. Nyika means “large” or “great plains” and it’s on the private, 50,000-acre game-rich Naboisho Conservancy—and during trips further afield into the Maasai Mara—where guests encounter elephants, leopards, zebras and lions on twice-daily game drives.

Lodgings and lions aside, Mara Nyika ranks among our top choices purely on the grounds of it being one of five camps designed and operated by Great Plains Conservation, an organization stewarded by award-winning National Geographic filmmakers and photographers Dereck and Beverly Joubert. As a result, each Mara Nyika guest stay supports more than 500 Maasai families pursuing sustainable livelihoods and helps ensure the conservation of this vital pocket of the Maasai Mara ecosystem.

Richard’s River Camp

two people looks at richards river in kenya
Built as a private family home before its tenure as a safari camp, Richard’s River Camp feels cozy on arrival.

Snug up against the Njageteck River in the private Mara North Conservancy, Richard’s River Camp was originally built as Richard Roberts and Liz Fusco’s family retreat before its tenure as a safari camp. It’s the reason this lavishly appointed camp feels cozy on arrival. Kenyan-born Roberts was raised in the Maasai Mara and passed in 2019. While he will be remembered as a third-generation camp owner and safari operator, his legacy as a front-line conservationist lives on through the Foundation he and Liz founded in 2011: Mara Elephant Project (MEP). A visit to MEP headquarters offers guests a deep dive into anti-poaching measures, elephant collaring and tracking, and the complexities of reducing human-wildlife conflict in the Mara due to encroachment.

Otherwise, guests can spot wildlife right at camp. Hippos ply the waters of the Njageteck River and a resident pride of lions are often seen stalking about the property. Enjoy sundowners before a bush dinner served beneath a starry sky and backlit by lanterns. Then, if you choose, set out on a nocturnal guided bush walk or for a night game drive. Richard’s River Camp boasts just seven generously sized tents—complete with hot water outdoor showers—stretched out across the property for total privacy. Daily game drives, birding, hot air balloon rides and a visit to a nearby Maasai village rounds out your stay.

Kicheche Mara

a man and two children with a bow in kenya
Kicheche Mara is an EJ top pick for families traveling to The Mara.

Enveloped by dotted plains and the fertile Acacia Valley, Kicheche Mara is a classic tented bush camp located within the private Mara North Conservancy. A collection of nine tents overlooks the seasonally flowing Olare Orok Stream and share a comfortable lounge complete with a library and board games.

Travelers choose Kicheche Mara for top-notch game viewing—it’s ideal for glimpsing the Great Wildebeest Migration, though game spotting is abundant year-round—and high-caliber guides who have a knack for photography. What’s more, a newer Family Suite is a compelling choice for families who safari with their littles in tow. (Two separate bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms connected by a private lounge, mean parents don’t have to room with their kids.) Meals are shared with other guests at a communal table in the open-sided dining tent or in the cool shade of a euclea tree where valley views are served complimentary.

Sustainability and social responsibility are at the heart of Kechiche’s ethos. For carbon-neutral game drives, book EV1, the first electric vehicle to whisper across the plains of the Mara North Conservancy. The property is affiliated with The Long Run movement and guest stays support Kicheche Community Trust’s mission of environmental preservation whilst improving Conservancy communities’ welfare through improved health and education.

Kicheche Mara is one of Extraordinary Journeys’ top picks but it’s important to emphasize it might not be right for everyone. Expert guiding and game viewing is prioritized above luxury fixtures and amenities. Although tents are spacious, well appointed and have running hot and cold water, and flush toilets, guests can expect to take bucket showers.

Ngare Serian

two people sitting on a rock in front of a plain in ngare serain, kenya
When staying at Ngare Serian, the property’s 1,500 exclusive acres of Mara North Conservancy are yours to explore.

With its four intimate tents overlooking the Mara River and the dramatic Olooloo Escarpment, Ngare Serian (which translates to “by the river” in Maasai language) is a darling offshoot of its sister camp Serian ‘The Original.’ Cozy and boutique, it can only be accessed via a narrow rope foot bridge, offering total privacy ideal for groups and families. Checking into Ngare means checking out—this is a Wi-Fi-free property. Each suite features a Zanzibar four-poster bed and bathtubs sunken into the veranda decking, backdropped by hippo-inhabited river views. Guests enjoy game drives in total privacy; each party is outfitted with their own exclusive 4WD vehicle, private spotter and guide. This means only you dictate how you spend the day. Trace the property’s 1,500 exclusive acres of Mara North Conservancy; follow a whim; stay out late or venture out after nightfall. Over a communal supper table, dissect and digest the delights of the day, raking over the joyous details to commit the moments to memory. For a whimsical picnic or to sleep out on a limb, book into The Nest, a tree house built 12 feet into a Warburgia tree overlooking the river. Once you’ve extinguished the candles and kerosene lamps, reach for the infra-red spotlight and night-vision cameras to spy on the wildlife that goes bump in the night.

Serian ‘The Original’ and Serian Ngare are owned and operated by fourth-generation Kenyan Alex Walker, a highly respected guide.

The best luxury safari lodge in Meru National Park

Elsa’s Kopje

a candlie lit dinner at elewana elsa's kopje in meru
Sumptuous dinners are served al fresco at Elsa’s Kopje and are something of a moveable feast, changing locations each evening.

Not only is Elsa’s Kopje a swoon-worthy vision of romantic luxury travel, this award-winning, boutique eco-lodge played an outsized role in saving the national park it is located within. In the 1960s, Meru National Park gained popularity thanks to the Born Free book series and the film chronicling George and Joy Adamson’s experience raising a lioness named Elsa—who was eventually released into Meru’s wilderness. International visitors flowed into the park until the 1980s when unrest ripped through much of Kenya. The wildlife in Meru National Park was poached mercilessly. Tourism ceased, and the park fell into disrepair. Two decades later, a concerted rehabilitation and repopulation effort paved the road for Meru’s revitalization—and included the debut of Elsa’s Kopje.

Snug in the heart of the park and sculpted into Mughwango Hill, guests staying in the open-front luxury cottages drink in panoramic views from their beds and bathtubs. An infinity pool overlooking the Meru Plains beacons like a siren. Sumptuous dinners are served al fresco and are something of a moveable feast, changing locations each evening. While Elsa’s Kopje accommodates more guests than some of the other lodgings on our list (there are six cottages, a family cottage, three honeymoon suites and a private house), Meru National Park remains one of the lesser-touristed Kenyan parks. Along these quieter plains, game drives spot cheetahs, leopards, elephants, some 400 species of birds, and within the enclosed, protected Sanctuary, white and black rhino.

The best luxury safari lodges in Samburu

Saruni Samburu

the view from a suite in samburu saruni kenya
Saruni Samburu heralds spectacular views that look upon Kalama Conservancy and Mount Kenya.

Perched on the arid hem of Kenya’s vast northern region and bathed in equatorial sunlight, guests staying at Saruni Samburu often find themselves transfixed by the panoramic view that unfurls over the horizon. Nary a neighbor within 200,000 acres of the lodge and boasting just six luxurious villas, the experience is private and intimate. Textured accents, creamy whites and minimalist, spa-inspired bathrooms calm mind and body. (We recommend Villa 5 for its two-directional views that look upon Mount Kenya and the Samburu bush.) To cool off, pick from either infinity pool and don’t miss sipping a sundowner on a rocky outcropping.

Saruni Samburu is located within the privately-owned Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy, a crucial migratory corridor for large herds of elephants, which borders Samburu National Reserve. Guests enjoy game drives into both reserves, in addition to accessing Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Safaris are guided by Samburu warriors, the ancient custodians of this place, who are passionate about their land and culture. After dark, beneath a sky littered with stars, set out for a nighttime game drive. By day, take a seat in the sunken “Photographic Hide,” a blind situated next to the lodge’s well-frequented waterhole to spy on thirsty wildlife and birds. Swap memorable safari moments with the other guests at communal bush dinners and picnic breakfasts—or take your meals privately in your villa. Bush walks, spa treatments and cultural visits with the local Samburu community round out a stay at this very special place.

Elephant Camp Watch

a heard of elephants with mud on them
Elephant Watch Camp is closely connected to Save The Elephants, a conservation charity downstream from the property which guests can visit.

After a good rain, the acacia tortilis trees that umbrella the elegant tents of Elephant Watch Camp burst into fruit, dropping seed pods onto the roofs. Laying in bed, guests will certainly hear wildlife go bump in the night, but in this case, it’s likely a bull elephant greedily scooping up the nutritious seed pods with his trunk. Welcome to Elephant Camp, an eco-enterprise that aspires to be “green to the core.” Here, the sun powers anything with a plug, water is hand pumped from a well and the structures are built from fallen trees, solar-hardened earth plaster, and topped with palm thatch. Featuring just six rustic tent suites, privacy is paramount, though inquisitive monkeys may look in—so keep the mirror covered! The menu, described as Afro-Italian bush gourmet, relies on produce sourced from a Rift Valley organic farm or the farmers’ market on nearby Mt Kenya. The homegrown and handmade vibe can be traced to the fact that Camp is owned and managed by the Douglas-Hamilton family. If you’re lucky, the flamboyant Mrs. Douglas-Hamilton may be on-site to host you.

In 1993, patriarch Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton founded Save the Elephants, one of Africa’s pioneering conservation charities, and a visit to the project’s nearby visitor center is often described as a guest highlight. Otherwise, days at Elephant Camp Watch pass with game drives, visits to a Samburu village and warrior-guided bush walks. Intrepid travelers can arrange to hike Ol Donyo Sapache (Ololokwe), a flat-topped mountain sacred to the local people. It can be scaled in a day but the option to set up a primitive bush camp and stay the night is an intriguing option. Additionally, guests can embark on a three-day camel overland camel walk, sleeping out beneath the inky black Samburu sky.

PS: It’s worth noting that while comfortable and equipped, Elephant Camp Watch has some rustic amenities that will not resonate with all travelers. There is no running water, showers are bucket-style, toilets are long-drop and service runs closer to casual than white glove.

The best luxury safari lodges in the Matthews Range

Sarara Camp

A man with a pole by a pool with a mountain in the background
From game drives to fly camping to village visits, Samburu guides share their deep knowledge and love of their ancestral homelands with Sarara guests.

Located on the 850,000-acre Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust, Sarara Camp is an Extraordinary Journeys’ staff favorite—and not just because of its reputation for elephant visitors. While the area is rife with biodiversity, the programming on offer is a welcome diversion from intensive all-day game drives. (We don’t mean to diminish Sarara Camp’s unrestricted game drives with expert Samburu guides through unspoiled habitat—we’re just encouraging you to think outside the 4WD.) Imagine: saddling up for a morning ride on a bush pony, guided by a Samburu cowboy; fly camping beneath a starry sky on a dry riverbed; and the experience best etched into our memory: watching Samburu warriors as they chant each morning at the Singing Wells. To acquaint with the local community, spend a morning beading with the Sarara Sabache Women’s Group. Guests will also enjoy a visit to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary where keepers bottle-feed energetic calves by hand.

With just six sumptuous ensuite tents, service is personalized and attentive. Private outdoor showers are solar-heated, and a butler-box affixed to each tent allows for the discreet delivery of early morning tea, coffee and morsels. Families will want to book into the two-bedroom Sarara House, featuring a plunge pool, private dining and sitting room. Each suite affords sweeping views of the Matthews Range, but we think the views are best appreciated from the rock-hewn infinity pool.

Kitich Forest Camp

a butterfly on a leaf
A diversion to the forested Lenkiyio Hills (Mathews Range) is a leafy departure from Kenya’a wide-open savannah and semi-arid Rift Valley.

Travelers looking to park the 4WD game drives for a few days and get their hiking boots dusty should check into Kitich Forest Camp, a Mathews Range eco-lodging tucked neatly beneath the leafy canopy. With a capacity of 12 guests staying in six ensuite canvas tents, it’s an intimate setting where meals are shared convivially at a long table overlooking a lush river glade or taken privately on al fresco picnics laid out by the kitchen team. The tents are simple but comfortable and each boasts a private veranda overlooking the Ngeng River Valley. Bonus: there are flush toilets and hot showers, too.

The simple pleasure of being ensconced by forest is enduring, but the magic of Kitich Forest Camp really starts at the trailhead. On day hikes, amble through environs both unfamiliar and wild. Here, giant cycads—seed plants that look as if they belong to the age of dinosaurs—and wild orchids burst into bloom; 150 species of butterflies dazzle with a kaleidoscope of colors; reclusive leopards take cover, and elephants wander through virgin forest. Guests set off accompanied by Samburu trackers (and an armed ranger) whose knowledge of the area is long and deep. The trackers will wayfind, identify animal tracks and calls, and have a knack for spotting wildlife. Don’t miss a Kitich highlight: swinging from a rope to land in a crystal clear, spring-fed forest pool. Back at camp, rest strained muscles in lazy hammocks or atop a yoga mat. Hiking enthusiasts can opt for a three-day walking safari supported by a mobile camp (fly camping) which includes an optional camel ride.

The best luxury safari lodges in Laikipia

Segera Retreat

a micro plane in segera retreat, kenya
If you’ve seen the film Out of Africa, you’ll recognize Segera’s 1930s-era bright yellow Super Cub biplane—available for scenic flyovers.

On the sun-bleached Laikipia Plateau, swathed by 50,000 private acres and nestled into a botanical oasis of bougainvillea, euphorbia trees and cacti sit Segera Retreat. Consistently esteemed as one of Africa’s best safari lodges, this five-home and five-villa property looks as if it was peeled from the pages of an Anthroplogie catalog. Completing the Out of Africa vibe: a bright yellow, two-seater Super Cub acquired from the Oscar-winning film—perfect for a flyover of majestic Mount Kenya, the Rift Valley, Great Lakes and Aberdare Mountain Range. At ground level, bush walks and safari drives across the private reserve yield glimpses of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants and endangered species like the reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Lelwel’s hartebeest and African wild dogs. Stunning aesthetics and Big 5 aside, Segera’s collection of on-offer experiences “wow” in moments big and small. Spend an evening under the starry sky and draped in a gauzy net in the award-winning Nay Palad Bird Nest; visit the SATUBO Beading Collective; learn about Kenyan traditions of beekeeping; take an onsite art tour for a look inside one of the world’s greatest collections of contemporary African Art; and certainly drop by one (or a few of) Segera’s local communities: The Samburu, Maasai, Turkana and Borana.

Segera Retreat is owned by conservationist Jochen Zeitz (patron of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town) and guest stays help support its “4C” (conservation, community, culture and commerce) mission. From reforestation to the installation of solar farms and training female anti-poaching rangers, the goal is to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that lifts the wellbeing of people, planet and wildlife. 

Ol Lentille, Kenya

ol lentille camp in kenya
Ol Lentille’s romantic Carissa Suite is an EJ top pick for a secluded getaway.

With just four handsomely appointed villas, Ol Lentille is a bespoke choice located on a private 40,000-acre conservation area in the far northern escarpment of the Laikipia Plateau. It’s also wonderfully community owned. With less than 20 guests at any given time, there are no schedules. Your days are self-directed. Go on a game drive—or don’t. Visit the world’s only habituated baboon colony—or not. Meals are served when and anywhere you request: in-villa, at the infinity pool’s edge or in a secretive spot in the bush backlit by candlelight and ambient lanterns. Ol Lentille’s villas were recently updated and we can’t get enough of the eye-catching Carissa, a villa perched on a rocky outcrop that offers views of Laikipia’s deep valleys through a curved wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. A circular bed completes the feeling of sleeping in an eyrie and the private deck with a plein air bathtub makes it an enduringly romantic selection.

In the lodge’s common spaces, soak in the infinity pool to imbibe 270-degree views overlooking two waterholes. Curl into a lounge pod on the Viewing Deck or flip through the pages of reference guides in the Gallery. When night falls, take a seat on the rotunda to contemplate the cosmos.

The fact that Ol Lentille is community owned offers guests a special opportunity to acquaint themselves with the area’s locals. Choose to spend an evening at a Maasai manyatta (traditional village of huts) where you’ll be welcomed with dancing and invited into a home. You’ll enjoy a traditional campfire dinner hosted by elders and the evening will likely culminate in a spirited game of “Bao”—an ancient African board game steeped in Kenyan culture. Should you choose, guests can even overnight at the manyatta. A trip to the nearby singing wells, local market, Maasai village (via quad, if you like) and a beading workshop all offer joyful cultural connection.

Ol Malo Lodge & House

camel riding in kenya
At Ol Malo, pick your adventure ‘vehicle’ based on your mood: helicopter, mountain bike, horse, camel, 4WD safari car—or your own capable feet.

Founded, owned and operated to this day by the Francombe family, Ol Malo has evolved from a bare plot of Laikipia dirt to a luxury ranch with a pick-your-adventure attitude. Perched on the plateau’s cliffs and decorated with panoramic valley views, the property shares a strong connection with the local Samburu community. From the staff of Samburu guides to the hands-on hosting family and their littles running around, there’s a very human heartbeat that pulses through this property. In all, there are just six rooms on offer, each constructed of natural materials with high thatched roofs. Open spaces, lofty windows, handcrafted wood furniture and stone fireplaces make for cozy lounging in a homestyle setting. By day, hang in the saltwater infinity pool; in the cover of darkness, ascend the winding staircase to stargaze from the rooftop deck. We recommend sleeping out for a night in the Ol Malo Treehouse or Leopard Hide (complimentary.)

What really earns Ol Malo a place on this list is its thrilling adventures. In the absence of scheduled game drives, the hosts turn the proverbial reins over to their guests. Simply pick your vehicle for adventure based on your mood: helicopter, mountain bike, horse, camels, 4WD safari cars or quite simply, your own capable feet. Imagine: horseback riding alongside zebra and giraffe; getting a bird’s eye view of the Suguta Valley in a doors-off helicopter; dancing in the dust with Samburu warriors; riding atop a plodding camel to take breakfast in the bush; taking a traditional cooking lesson. Hikers who want a trip-within-a-trip can request a Samburu warrior-guided, multi-night bush walk where they’ll fly camp beneath the stars. This mobile camp is fully outfitted and catered, supported by a camel train porter.

The best luxury safari lodges in Amboseli & Chyulu Hills

Ol Donyo Lodge

giraffe walking on the plains of kenya
ol Donyo’s well-established stable means guests with riding experience can enjoy the thrill of a safari on horseback.

In the heart of Chyulu Hills, snug between Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks, ol Donyo Lodge sits upon 275,000 private acres of Maasai-owned reserve land. The chic property enveloped by acacia forest is just one of a few Relais & Châteaux properties in Kenya, and it is largely staffed by local Maasai who are happy to share their customs with guests. Wrapped in panoramic plains views that stretch to the horizon and frame the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s the classic portrait of East Africa that many hold in the mind’s eye. Luxurious without pretension, the Lodge blends into the landscape thanks to contemporary design balanced with Maasai influences and the incorporation of natural materials. All six suites and the two-bed family suite boast mosquito-netted, four poster “star beds’ ‘ which invite guests to sleep out beneath the cosmos, falling asleep to a duet of lions and hyenas. Views from the suites look to Mount Kilimanjaro and each features a private plunge pool.

Luxury may set ol Donyo apart, but its horseback safaris are standout. Trade 4WD for four hooves to memorably canter alongside giraffe or wildebeest. Ol Donyo’s stables are home to 18 horses, bred for temperament, endurance and versatility. Riders depart in the morning and the late afternoon. Intermediate riding proficiency is required; all riders must be age 12 and older.

Note: While the savannah that enshrouds ol Donyo is rife with wildlife—elephants, especially—it lacks the dense herds of wildlife that many Africa first-timers crave. If you’re new to safari, consider adding a visit to the Maasai Mara to your itinerary.

Tortilis Camp

tortilis camp pool and loungers in kenya
Golden hour falls like a spell over the acacia-dotted horizon, poolside at Tortili Camp.

Home to large bull tuskers ambling across undulating plains backdropped by mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, a visit to Amboseli National Park is a siren’s call for many travelers. Its four-hour proximity to Nairobi means it can be reached without a domestic flight or bush plane. This easy access is double-edged: in high season, core areas of the park can become crowded with minibus traffic from mass market vendors.

For the best Amboseli experience, we recommend Tortilis Camp, located on the western hem of the park, opposite to the overvisited eastern park gate. On this side, Tortilis guests enjoy safari drives in relative privacy. For total privacy, venture into the lodge’s exclusive 30,000-acre Kitirua Conservancy. More than half of Tortilis Camp’s guides are Maasai and all are either gold, silver or bronze-level certified by Kenya’s guiding association. Their collective depth of knowledge means guides often identify individual elephants, know where hyena dens are, can speak to tracks, local flora and migratory birds. After all, they’ve been walking this wilderness since they were young. Tortilis guests shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit a local Maasai homestead.

Tortilis Camp is named for the flat-topped umbrella thorn trees (acacia tortilis) that hug the hill the camp is built onto. The eco-lodge offers 18 units: 16 tents, one family tent and a private house. Tent suites are spacious, boasting elegant ensuites with steamy, 24-hour hot showers and covered verandahs. When you feel like mingling, post up on a lounger next to the infinity pool shaded by palms (also a haven for tropical birds) or in the lounge or bar—inviting spaces made from natural materials and handsome thatched roofs. Sundowners and meals are served al fresco, or in the dining tent.

Lewa Wilderness Lodge

a rhino in front of a safari vehicle
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is renowned for having one of the strongest populations of white and black rhinoceros in Kenya.

Considered one of Kenya’s original safari lodges, Lewa Wilderness Lodge’s origin story reaches back to 1972 when the privately-owned cattle ranch began hosting visitors. Since then, the land has transformed from farm into not-for-profit wildlife conservancy with an internationally recognized rhino conservation success story. Today, some 169 black and white rhinos take refuge in its 65,000 acres—in addition to endangered Grevy’s zebra, around 400 migratory elephants, 70 different animal species and 350 bird species. To this day, Lewa Wilderness Lodge serves as the Craig family home, giving it a warm, intimate feel. There are just nine accommodation options: six thatched cottages tucked into the hillside overlooking the Eastern Marania Valley and three cozy garden-set cottages well suited to families. Enjoy the company of other guests in the sitting room, where you’ll find an extensive library and where afternoon tea and coffee are served. Lounge on the open-air verandah, retire to the log fire, laze next to the saltwater infinity pool or stargaze from the expansive deck. Farm-to-table meals are served in the open air dining room (can you spot wildlife on the hillside?), atop a long table or upon request, nestled in the bush to a buzzy soundtrack of the African night. By day, venturing out on safari means a good chance of seeing the big five. Choose whether to embark on foot with a Maasai guide, on horse or camelback, or via electric vehicle. Otherwise, take to the sky to view it all from a bird’s perspective in the retro yellow WACO biplane, forever immortalized by Anthony Bourdain when he was a guest of Lewa Wilderness Lodge. 

Sirikoi

a head of elephants on the plains of kenya at sirikoi
Located on a migratory route, elephants are sometimes spotted on property.

Is Sirikoi Kenya’s most luxurious lodge in the most spectacular setting? With accolades including Kenya’s Leading Safari Lodge 2022 (2021, 2020, 2019) and TripAdvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choice Winner, some tastemakers certainly think so. Snug in a shady acacia grove and overlooking a spring-fed waterhole, this exclusive safari camp offers just four luxury tents, a two-room cottage and a three-bedroom private house. Each of the tents are outfitted with freestanding Victorian bathtubs, rain showers and a blazing fireplace. The House is available on an exclusive basis and its use comes with a chef, team of staff and its own safari vehicle. While game drives through Lewa Wilderness Conservancy will offer plentiful wildlife spotting, Sirikoi’s sumptuous main deck offers its own “armchair game-viewing.” It’s very possible to watch families of elephants linger on the property for hours thanks to the camp’s location on migratory routes. Elegant meals are served in the bush or overlooking the waterhole, where farm-to-plate dining is crafted from ingredients pulled fresh from the property’s organic garden. With some 68 staff serving a maximum of 18 guests, service at Sirikoi is impeccable. Most evenings, owners Willie and Sue Roberts join guests around the fire for a sundowner, making sure everyone feels at home.

Passing the days includes a catalog of exciting adventures. Enjoy bush walks with Maasai or Samburu warriors, fly camping, horseback riding on the Lewa Plains, fishing, camel safaris, lion tracking, hiking to the Ngare Ndare rainforest, visits to local communities, dropping by the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s headquarters to learn about anti-poaching and to meet the Tracker Dog Unit, and “flightseeing” to Mount Kenya in a helicopter or bi-plane.

Lengishu

lengishu lodge in kenya
Painstaking efforts were taken to quietly construct Lengishu into its setting, as not to interrupt the silhouette of the hillside.

Located on the Laikipia Plateau, in the foothills of Mount Kenya is Lengishu, a stunning property belonging to the McHale family—one of four shareholders of the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy. The family home doubles as a lodge, available for exclusive use (the McHales split their time between Africa and New Hampshire) while still offering the experiences you’d expect of a luxury safari lodge. (Big five game drives, hands-on conservation experiences, bush walks, helicopter sightseeing—whichever you choose, northern Kenya is your oyster.) As such, there are no signs announcing your arrival or even a lobby to check into, just a warm staff welcome to your home away from home. There are six gorgeous bedrooms spanning four cottages, adjacent to the main house, nestled into a ridge. All rooms face east, greeting the rising sun. Painstaking efforts were taken to quietly construct Lengishu into its setting, as not to break the silhouette of the hillside. Kenyan timber accents, stone floors and earthen clad walls lend to its elevated, organic aesthetic. In the kitchen, Chef Sam ascribes to a farm-to-fork dining philosophy to curate his bespoke menu. Meals are movable—take them anywhere you please. While we wouldn’t blame you for lounging a week away next to the pool, thrilling signature excursions like high-altitude fishing for lake trout in the shadow Mount Kenya’s snow-capped peaks, mountain biking among zebra, tracking black rhino or quadding down sand rivers all offer memorable vacation moments.

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