7 x Saruni Love by The Meade Family
(L-R: KATHERINE MEADE, ROY MEADE, SHEILA MEADE)
“Having lived in Africa for many years and visited all the main reserves in southern Africa and Tanzania, we decided to consider Kenya as a destination. We were attracted to the concept of Conservancies adjacent to the National Reserve and came across Saruni in our research. An email to Riccardo attracted a response within 2 days and started our great relationship with Saruni.
On our first visit we travelled to Saruni Samburu which is a beautiful camp in the Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy just north of Mount Kenya. It takes a while to reach the koppie on which the camp was built but it is definitely worth the effort. The view is magnificent, the family tent enormous, the infinity pool breath taking and the hospitality from the staff fantastic. We remember well the Samburu warriors, Emmanuel and James, who were our guides and experiencing a lioness attack an Oryx and the patient successful search for a beautiful leopard. Samburu has a few special animals (Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, long-necked gerenuk) not found elsewhere in Kenya. We are always pleased to see photos and stories of the people we met who are still at Samburu.
We then flew to Saruni Mara where we have visited for seven successive years. We love the opportunity to share the Mara North Conservancy, a private wilderness, with the Masai community and very few vehicles. The game viewing is magnificent with sightings of 4 of the big five, huge herds of wildebeest, cheetahs, some of the rarer small cats, hyenas, jackal, and all the main herbivores (zebra, giraffe, antelopes), hippos and crocodiles. We have always seen the big cats including leopard during our annual visits. What is so special is the opportunity to see these animals in different situations and behaviours and every year we encounter something new. As the vehicles are able to approach close to all the animals, it is possible to take great photos. Saruni’s guides are highly trained Masai whose understanding of animal behaviour enables them to position vehicles to maximise enjoyment and photography opportunities. By waiting patiently guides have been able to anticipate animal behaviour and allow us to see the grand spectacle of wildlife in their natural habitat.
The camp is small with a limited number of guests which enable the staff to provide personal service of a high standard. The majority of the staff are local Masai whom we have known now for 7 years. It is always special to arrive and be greeted as members of the Saruni family. We love the Italian food which is prepared by well trained staff. Every year there is something new on the menu and somehow the quality seems to be higher every year. Lunch and dinner is served at one large dining table and provides an opportunity to socialise with other guests and share experiences. On a cool evening guests congregate around the open fireplace and enjoy “biting’s” with pre-dinner drinks. The lodge is happy to provide private dining in your cottage on request which can be enjoyable after a long day out on the plains. Bush breakfasts are the norm as we love leaving early morning to enjoy the sun rise. Breakfast is a great opportunity to spend time discussing social and community issues with the guides and thereby understanding the Masai culture.
We have always enjoyed staying in the family cottage (villa really) with two separate bedrooms, with en-suites, on either side of the lounge/dining room. On a cold evening the hot water bottle is always welcome when climbing into bed. It is a special experience to shower whilst watching buffalo, baboons and zebra that wonder though the camp.
In summary we love the Saruni commitment to community participation to maintain the wildlife for future generations, the excellent accommodation and the staff who provide an amazing game viewing experience. Our grateful thanks to our guides Lemeria Nchoe, Jackson Tinka, William Tinka, Dixon Yaile and Saruni Kisimei who have all given us so many wonderful memories over the last seven years.”