***For context I urge you to read Part 1 of this trip first. It’ll make more sense.***
In the previous article I endeavored to illustrate how such a small conservation area like Kimana Sanctuary can play such a vital role in the larger scheme of things. I hope I got my point across. It should therefore come as no surprise that in addition to everything I experienced while camping out with Peter there was a lot more in store in the coming days. This is that story.
After packing up our camping gear we took the trip from the sanctuary to the Emali SGR train station to drop off Peter for his return to Nairobi and pick up The Muse & Our Intern who had taken the train from Emali to come join me for the rest of my days at the sanctuary. My cousin and his wife would also be driving down for the weekend.
The 2hr round trip to get this done didn’t phase me too much, it’s all tarmac with zero traffic anyway.
Kimana House is a self-catering property on the Kimana Sanctuary, which is within the Amboseli Eco-system, found in Southern Kenya and conveniently located on the continent of Africa (it’s the one in the middle).
I shared all timings, distances and directions in my previous post.
We are met by Joshua the houses caretaker to take us on a tour of of this stunning newly-refurbished property. Right in the parking lot we are once again met by the same family of elephants that interrupted setting up camp a few days earlier. Another auspicious welcome.
At this I’m almost starting to suspect this has to be somehow planned, what brilliant luck.
An overview of the house and it’s grounds.
I love camping but I can’t say I’m unhappy with these surroundings as well.
Unlike much of Kenya where we lean towards the smallest windows and heaviest sheers we can find (bonus points for metal grills only a mouse could squeeze through) this house lets in masses of light throughout the day.
The house is 4 bedrooms (with one slightly separate) and sleeps 8 at it’s maximum capacity.
Two of the rooms are massive which is a good thing for those of us who deal with partners whose unpacking always looks for like a bomb went off. The other two are a fair size as well.
All the bedrooms are en-suite which is also such a treat if you’re sharing a house with a group. One even has a bath but with the hot water coming from a kuni-booster and considering the amount of water baths waste I hope it never gets used!
But really the real prize is the outdoor area. You don’t come to a place like this to stay indoors do you?
A few meters away there is a sundowner area right up against the river and looking out onto the sanctuary. This ticks my boxes as far as properties like this are concerned, even in a group there’s enough spots for everyone to have their private time. You want to be close to your friends or family but not too close right?
I feel that this house really epitomizes what I indicated in Part 1 of my story; just like the sanctuary there is so much packaged in what is essentially a relatively small area and similarly there’s a whole load of work that goes into the creation and management that we never get to see. This house is literally a phoenix that rose from the ashes, to truly appreciate it get a behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into it here.
Up & About
Okay, that’s enough about the house, it’s beautiful, it’s comfortable, you’ll love it. One morning I get the chance to hook with the crew of the Big Life dog tracking unit to get an idea of the work they do. No one else is willing to else is willing to join me so I head out alone – Mount Kilimanjaro has snowed the night before so that’s looking mighty fine.
Can you spot the unicorn?
You’re probably aware of anti-poaching units, what you might not know is that they, together with their tracker dogs, also do a lot of work within the the community such as tracking down thieves and even finding lost children.
Over the course of an hour I get to go through an entire tracking exercise with one of the rangers posing as a ‘poacher’. If I’m to be honest it’s much more fascinating that I thought it would be. If you’d like to see how it all well down, check out my Instagram highlights under ‘Anti poaching’.
Some of the Kimana and Dog Unit rangers below – it always seems I never have enough space on this blog to properly tell the story of all these rangers I meet and interact with. I need to remedy that.
On my way back I bump into elephants…again. I know it’s a bit much but don’t blame me, I’m just sharing everything that went down. I ‘waste’ an hour here with this herd of 15 individuals, totally unbothered by my presence with only a few metres between us.
After a hot morning out it’s such a treat to cool off in the little rock pool by the house. Fair warning; Kimana is fed by melt water all the way from Mount Kilimanjaro so it gives the term ‘brisk’ a whole new meaning.
And what’s a trip to the great outdoors without finding a hill to enjoy a sundowner? We’ve really lucked out on this trip, people come to the Amboseli area from all over the world and some never get a chance to see the mountain clear of cloud cover.
Creatively we named this ‘Sundowner Hill’.
Elerai Campsite to Kimana House – 1km
Kimana Sanctuary to Emali SGR train station – 71km or 1 hr drive.
Need to know
- Kimana house is is available on a self-catering basis and sleeps 8 people.
- House is run on solar power which is available throughout.
- Kitchen is fully equipped and has a gas cooker/oven and solar powered fridge for perishables and drinks. Just bring your food.
- It can get quite chilly at night so pack accordingly.
- Note the house is not fenced and open to wildlife, please exercise caution and common sense.
Entry Fees & Contact
Sanctuary Entry Fees (per day): Citizen/Res Ksh1000, Non Resident $25. Children under 10 years go free and ages 10-18 pay 50%.
House fees 18,000 Ksh // USD $180 per night for 4 guests or less. 24,000 Ksh // USD $240 per night for more than 4 guests.
Contact and booking info: www.kimanasanctuary.com.There are loads more photos and details on their website.
I cannot help but be excited when a new affordable self-catering option pops up giving travellers a chance to explore some of Kenya’s wild spaces at rates that makes sense. Let’s put this is perspective, if you fill the house with 8 adults, that’s KSh3000 ($30) per day per person. Ksh 3-0-0-0. Luxury accommodation in a wildlife sanctuary, 3 hours from Nairobi on tarmac roads, elephants in the parking lot, close enough for a quick visit to Amboseli National Park, kicking it with friends and family, it’s almost impossible to fault the value proposition of Kimana House.
Considering the sanctuary’s turbulent past your visit contributes to it’s new beginning – any amount you spend either on a day trip, camping or at Kimana House goes towards either paying those rangers you previously met and on the operations and management of the sanctuary making this a win-win for both visitors and the Kimana community.
With that my short stay in this tiny slice of paradise comes to end. So when it comes to conservation does size really matter? Not always…its what you do with it that counts.
A trip like this sometimes has many moving parts that you guys never get to see – here’s a peek behind the curtain:
- Big Life Foundation and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – thank you for securing this vital corridor and for your support in enabling me to tell this story.
- Craig – asante for our initial meeting and selling me on the sanctuary. I await my promised flight.
- Annie – thank you for all your organizational help and for weathering the deluge of countless emails back and forth.
- Jeremy – for allowing me to use your super images in this article. (Instagram @jeremygoss)
- The Big Life Foundation dog tracking unit – Asante sana for taking the time to meet and share your stories and the work you do.
- Ranger Saidimu and Kimana Sanctuary rangers – for showing me around the wildlife corridor and the surrounding area and explaining the importance of Kimana Sanctuary in the greater eco-system.
- Joshua – for taking care of us at Kimana House and making sure everything went smoothly.
- Eric – thanks for the chats and all your help in assisting my mapping project of the sanctuary. Your passion for what you do was infectious.
- Peter – great to travel with an accomplished photographer such as yourself and thanks for all the photography tips. Please buy a camping mat. (Instagram @petersize10)
- Dan & Lauren – great you could join the last few days of my trip here. Thanks for keeping us fed.
- The Muse and Our Intern – what I have to say you already know.
If you made it this far here is some further reading: