Satao Elerai Camp is an African-designed luxury camp just outside the famous Amboseli National Park in Kenya. It is a lovely, quiet place where you can fit in and feel part of the magnificent landscape.
Camp bulldings are mainly constructed of natural acacia wood and stucco. You will be struck by the beautiful design, along with the natural shapes and configurations, of the acacia in these surroundings. The acacia is the principal tree found in the park. Amboseli was originally a Masai word meaning salty dust. Spewn about the arid bush land are these beautifully shaped trees.
The trees artistically create the design for the lodge, including both the outside and the interiors, on the doors, the steps, the walls, much of the furniture and the décor. It is fitting that guests are surrounded by these indigenous trees.
Situated at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro on 5,000 acres of community-owned land, the concept of Satao Elerai is to be integrated with the land and the people of the land. Doing so puts wildlife and land conservation to work for people.
And what could be more peaceful than watching a gentle giraffe:
Satao Elrerai Camp sits on a conservancy of shared ranch lands of the Masai people, perhaps the most famous of Kenya’s 41 different tribes and the one that is most integrated with the land. Driving through the area, your most common sight will be the young Masai boys tending their herds of cattle and sheep.
The local community not only has a direct ownership stake in the lodge, but also had a hand in building it. By involving local workers, Satao Elerai generated jobs, income and skills right from the start. Over time, proceeds from Satao Elerai Camp will support other wildlife and conservation projects within and around the conservancy.
Since the campsite is directly placed on Masai land, it pays rent back to the tribe, employs members of the Masai throughout, and also returns profits to the people. Unlike many tourist establishments that are owned and operated by Europeans or bigger corporations, Satao Elerai Camp keeps it connected to the real Kenyans.
The camp and conservancy are also part of the African Wildlife Foundation’s Kilimanjaro Heartland, a vast transboundary landscape near the Kenya-Tanzania border. Satao Elerai Camp, along with the Satao Elerai Community and Wildlife Trust, aim to keep wildlife habitats from fragmenting, in part by maintaining important wildlife corridors. The focus of the African Wildlife Foundation’s Heartlands is to sustain meaningful conservation development. This effort forms large economic units where tourism or other natural resources-based activities can contribute significantly to the livelihood of their human populations.
One important goal is to help reverse the recent tendency to purchase land and turn what is wild into agricultural uses, thus destroying animal habitats and food supplies. Satao Elerai Community and Wildlife Trust is hoping to raise money so they can lease additional land from surrounding communities, which will then ensure key wildlife areas in the Amboseli ecosystem are protected for the long term benefit of the Masai community in the area.
The hospitality and service at Satao Elerai Camp is five-star. The food is fantastic, and there are several choices for each meal, including vegetarian. We found it to be delicious every time. The service personnel could not be sweeter and more accommodating. It was great having the dining areas all encircled by nature, in settings that are mostly open-air.
Our luxury tented room was likewise stylish. Every room has a direct view of the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro - an inspiring way to wake up in the morning. Coffee and tea are brought to the tent with a wakeup call. There is electricity and wi-fi in the evenings. The bathroom is ultra-luxurious - a huge slate room with open shower - always a joy to use.
The managers and hosts, a young couple Eddie Arkle and his wife Tiva, were eager to please and also allow you plenty of personal space, Meals can be flexible in their timing, so the atmosphere is very relaxed. Eddie and Tiva both grew up in Kenya and are very knowledgeable about the country and conservation. One evening with cocktails in the lounge led to a spirited discussion about conservancy.
Game drives, nature walks and “sundowners” are also available and part of a complete package. Coming in the low season (we visited in early December) makes for uncrowded wildlife viewing, with the staff less busy with other guests.
A lovely swimming pool with great views sits on the edge of the main room. And a watering hole in plain view invites wildlife to come and sip while you enjoy your panoramic view at dinner. The day before we got there, Tiva told us they were treated to observing a thirsty cheetah that dropped by.
The staff is helpful and friendly and willing to talk to you about all the native wonders you might observe. Just sitting on the patio and watching the beautiful birds come for their “feedings” is fun. The staff puts bread out by the bushes whenever someone eats in the outdoor dining area, so as not to tempt the little creatures to venture in for a taste of people food.
No matter what you do, you are very much aware that you are sitting in an exotic and beautiful land that is not ours to change or destroy. The land is teeming with life and the overwhelming feeling is to become one with it all.
Satao Elerai Camp is also part of the Out Of Africa Collection of lodgings and safari trips. Your stay at the camp can be booked by itself or in conjunction with stays and activities at their other beautiful sites.
Georja Umano is and actor and animal advocate.
Satao Elerai Amboseli
Southern Cross Center, near Nyal Bridge,
PO Box 90653
Tel: +254 20 2434600/1/2/3
Fax: +254 20 2434610
email: [email protected]
For more information on the trust, please visit:
Tel: +254 735996699