Sammy made sure to check in with us on potential stops on the drive that may be of interest. When it was offered, we were certainly interested in seeing a Kenyan coffee farm!
Even prior to arriving at the national park, we were regularly surprised with the beautiful and unique terrain of this part of Kenya, including some unique wildlife!
For lunch, we stopped at Trout Tree restaurant near Mt. Kenya. Why is it called Trout Tree? Well, it’s literally a treehouse restaurant built onto a giant fig tree, and it’s surrounded by pools of the restaurant’s farmed fish.
Trout wasn’t in season, so we had tilapia for our lunch while the boys ate pasta. The fish was seasoned to perfection, and the pomodoro pasta for the boys was simple and tasty.
While eating delicious food in a tree restaurant was awesome in itself, the stop at Trout Tree ended up reaching epic status before we left. In the surrounding trees live families of very social colobus monkeys. As an incentive to the boys finishing their meals, our server at Trout Tree offered us the ability to see the monkeys up close after lunch. After the amazing experience interacting with elephants and giraffes in Nairobi the day before (where G said it was the best day of his life), of course we were up for this!
A guide at the restaurant took us for a short walk, and led us to another big tree, where we could see adorable black and white monkeys swinging at the top. He gathered some leaves and branches along the way, which he shook for the monkeys to prompt them to come closer. Without hesitation, the monkeys grabbed the leaves from our hands!
After lunch, we resumed our route to Samburu. We were not far at this point, so we had plenty of time for a game drive before the sun would set, and we would need to check into our camp, the Ashnil Samburu.
Samburu National Reserve is a vast park, so we had a lot to see after entering the park and before even arriving to our camp! I will cover our game drive experiences shortly, but first, here’s more about our accommodations at Ashnil Samburu.
After our first game drive, and just after sunset, we entered the camp. As I said in my overview post of our entire safari experience, anyone who may have hesitation over the idea of “tents” or “camps” needn’t worry when considering a safari. As you can see in the photos below with our “tent” at Ashnil Samburu, these are closer to cabins or yurts… more glamping than camping. We had electricity, fans, toilets, and showers. All the creature comforts you would want.
The service at Ashnil Samburu was attentive, friendly, and welcoming. Everyone seeked to engage our kids specifically, having conversations with them, and being very sweet and loving with them. Our sweet server for our meals even helped S prepare and cut his pancakes in the mornings (crepes with honey were all he would eat for breakfast for some reason). And S loves being babied, so naturally she quickly became his favorite person!
The monkeys weren’t the only wild animals we got to see at the camp… but more on that later in the post!
Now the game drives… oh the game drives!
As I said earlier, we actually had our first game drive in the national reserve before even checking into the camp. The schedule roughly during our time at Samburu:
- Afternoon game drive upon first entering the national reserve, and continuing through sunset
- Check-in at the camp, dinner, and sleep
- Early morning breakfast, followed by a game drive just around sunrise
- Back to camp for mid-day break of lunch and lounging
- Afternoon game drive continuing through sunset
- Back to camp for dinner and sleep
- Early morning breakfast, check-out, then one last game drive for a few hours as you leave the national reserve
When we first entered the park, we had to stop to check-in at the gate. At that time, our guide, Sammy, raised the roof (what what!) on our safari van so that you could stand up to observe and photograph the wildlife. Then it was as if we were transported into a National Geographic documentary! We were in the middle of 64 square miles of park, flanked by two mountains, following the winding Ewaso Ng’iro river that provides the ability for the park’s wildlife to live. We saw the park’s famous Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe almost immediately… and that was just the beginning!
At night back at the camp, the park was serene and quiet, with the exception of the wildlife sounds. The stars were absolutely breathtaking. If it weren’t for the recommendation to stay to the floodlit path after dark, I would have gone farther away from the camp’s lights to see the stars even better, but alas, “wild animals are dangerous” and all.
On our second night at Ashnil Samburu camp, laying around the room, I heard a loud rustling in the palm trees next to our tent. My first thought was that it was the monkeys. But it was too loud and forceful… not like the softer sounds of the monkeys chomping on fruit like we were familiar with from the night before. It was more like a loud gust of wind shaking the tree. But it wasn’t windy.
I sometimes feel spontaneous while traveling, so my instinct told me that I needed to see what was going on, myself. Our tent came equipped with a flashlight, so I pointed it out the screened window towards our back porch. I was shocked to see a giant bull elephant a mere ten yards from our tent! As I knew we were protected by an electric fence between us, I decided I needed a closer look. Quietly, I asked the boys and the hubs if they wanted to go on a “secret safari.” They agreed, and we all put on our shoes, grabbed our flashlight and a camera, and snuck quietly out the door of our tent towards the back patio and the electric fence.
With the boys close to us, and still at a safe distance, we slowly inched closer to the elephant. We saw him shaking the tree, and even got a few photos of him before he decided he was done posing for us, and walked away. We were all thrilled, and had such a cool memory to take with us to dreamland that night.
We departed on Thursday morning to head onto our next destination, with a few new adventures on the way. Stay tuned for our next safari post, covering days four and five en route to and at Lake Nakuru.