Severin Safari Camp, Kenya Review - A Polished Haven In The Jungle

Severin Safari Camp is located in the heart of Tsavo West, which, together with its sister park Tsavo East, comprise the biggest national park in Kenya, and one of the largest in all of Africa.

Flourishing nature - What a beautiful sight

Though I have been to Kenya a few times, I had never stayed in this area before. The drive in is framed in places by overhanging palms and verdant plants, like you are entering a new kingdom.

 

Entrance to the jungle kingdom of Tsavo West!

Before the first trip to Kenya, I imagined it to be jungle-like and lush. Instead I discovered it tends to be arid and dry and dusty - especially in the peak tourist season, the summer.

 

A hungry giraffe too long to hide completely in the bush

Well, now I have found the mecca of beauty in Tsavo West!  Lush green trees, shrubs and grass extend as far as the eye can see, dotted with rich, red dirt. The brush is so thick it keeps the animals fat and quenched. This is the scenery you meet when you enter from the main gateway near the town of Voi, off the Mombasa road. 

Sensuous green hills abound

 

In the distance are green hills of beauty, called the Five Sisters, which are wonderful to see, looking like breasts rising out of the ground. In the background you see through the clouds the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, second largest mountain in Africa. 

The majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro rises from the clouds

There are lava fields from the Kilimanjaro eruption of two hundred thousand years ago. There are rivers and creeks.  

Green hills, black lava, red roads are part of Tsavo West

 

Having just been driven down from Tsavo East - where it is still somewhat dry even though we are at the end of the rainy season - it has been a pleasure to experience expansive lushness and the green.

Gorgeous streams nearby

I am told that even in the dry season, Tsavo West keeps most of its flourishing greenery.

 

A rare sighting of a klipspringer playing on the lava

Like a beautiful jewel in the jungle, Severin Safari Camp welcomes you. Here the ancient Kilimanjaro lava is used artistically to line the roadways to the entrance. It is also used decoratively throughout the camp.

 

Lava dotted pathways around Severin Camp

When you enter the main lobby and restaurant of Severin Camp, you are greeted with a wet towel to wipe off the dirt from the road, along with some lovely passion-fruit juice.  Just past reception is a lounge area and a bar, as well as a small waterfall filled with gorgeous yellow weaver birds busy building nests on the large palm fronds. 

 

The brush is thick and green

These pretty little birds are not in a cage and are free to fly out to the trees outside the patio, and they sometimes do. But they seem to love their beautiful little niche near the bar. In the weaver bird world, it is the males who make nests to attract females. The female can choose from among them the one she likes best. These tiny males labor night and day to attract their mates.

 

Back-headed weaver birds play in the lobby trees and make nests

 

Keep going straight and you enter the large open-air dining area, with tall thatched ceilings, where every table looks out onto the greenery and nature outside. You are told you are entitled to a four-course meal, And, oh yes, there is a vegetarian menu, too. Swahili gourmet dishes are a favorite on the menu. I found them to be scrumptious.

 

Entranceway/lobby of Severin

Watering holes have been placed strategically near trees outside the dining room, and also outside each tent cottage, for maximum viewing of animals.

 

Open dining room for viewing wildlife

To add to the luxury and relaxation of your stay, there is an inviting swimming pool and also a lovely young masseuse waiting to give you a special treatment - a Balinese relaxing massage. There is also gym equipment set up in a thatched hut just meters away.

 

Pool and massage with Balinese flavor

The amazing array of birds that make their home on the Severin grounds will astound even the most casual observer. They sing to you in the morning, calling you back to nature with dozens of vibrant sounds. This is a chorus you love to hear! Surely, it is the most wonderful way to wake up. I wish I could identify them all. Birders who come here are in heaven. 

 

Manja the manager shows me all the types and sizes of lodging available - something for everybody

Though all the staff are local, Severin Camp is owned and managed by German hosts - and the German style is known for being thorough and conscientious. When I met one of the managers, Manja, the first things she asked were, Is everything good? Is the room clean?  Well, yes and yes! There are dozens of workers all day long cleaning both inside and out. They also make up and turn down the beds.

Tents look more like little cottages

 

After dark, someone from the camp will always accompany you to the dining area since there is no fence to keep out wild animals. All animals are welcome here. There is even have a security button in your room and a whistle - just in case one wants to visit!

 

Beds made up daily

It is wonderful to see so much grass, plants and trees - food and water for the wild ones. But I’m wondering if the dense brush makes the animals a bit harder for a human to find. Since this area is so lush and has rivers and streams, and since it is not yet the dry season, the animals have little need to visit the water holes at this time of year (late May).

 

Outdoor shower with the sky and the flowers

On our drives around the camp, we have spotted monkeys, buffalo, waterbuck, gnu, impalas, gazelle, baboons, giraffes, and lots of zebras. I am told there are elephants nearby. Perhaps we will spot them tomorrow.

 

A curious vervet monkey checks us out

You can go on safari drives, or you can just relax on the grounds and soak in the beauty, living safely among the wild ones. Severin Safari Camp is a luxury vacation destination, and yet it is also dedicated to having something for everyone. Besides the lovely first-class tents which actually look and feel more like cottages, there are also other options. 

Safari truck and driver available to pick you up at air strip and/or take you on a safari drive

Just a bit down the road, some smaller bandas, called Kitani cabins, are part of the grounds. There can be self-catering for those, mostly for locals who want to spend a weekend in nature and cook their own food. If those guests choose, they can buy food or have food prepared in their cabins by staff members. They could even choose to buy dinner in the main dining hall, as well as having access to the pool, gym, masseuse and conference tent. 

 

Stay in shape at the gym

Severin Camp is a tradition in Tsavo West. The history here is amazing. I’m told that on Queen Elizabeth’s last trip to Kenya before she became queen, she stayed in one of the bandas at Severin Camp. It was here that she learned her father died and she would ascend the throne!

 

Cabins nearby where Queen Elizabeth stayed

To accommodate the huge staff at the camp, a separate little village “monjitta” has been created with rooms, bar and TV room for hanging out, as well as lots of workshops for tailoring, auto mechanics and vast storage - everything to keep the camp self sustaining and the staff happy too.

 

Off duty staff relax in their own tv bar

And yet the rates at the camp and for park usage are a bit lower than in some of other more famous parks.

I was thrilled to discover this gem. This is definitely a vacation spot worth exploring as a relaxing and gorgeous haven in nature.

These water buffalo actually look happy

 

Georja Umano is an journaiist, actor and animal advocate.  All photos are by Georja Umano.

 

go to:

 

Severin Safari Camp
P.O. Box 82169
Mombasa 80100
Kenia

Tel.: +254 41 2111 000, + 254 41 2004153/4,
+254 722284682
Fax +254 41 2111 624

Email: sales[at]severinsafaricamp.com

Severin Safari Camp  is part of the The Out Of Africa Collection. A collection of chic eco luxury camps covering most Kenyan National Parks. 

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