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Wondering where to find the best campsites in Kenya? Our ultimate guide lists these must-see Kenyan campsites for the adventurous traveller.
Also read: How to book campsites in Botswana’s national parks
Tourists tend to visit Kenya for a package safari tour. They’re scooped up at the airport and whizzed off to a game camp where they join a long line of safari trucks, all edging toward the same site to catch a glimpse of a leopard or watch elephants bathing in the heat of the day. Still relatively unknown and hugely under-utilised by tourists, however, are the amazing range of camping spots across the country. Camping in Kenya offers adventurous travellers the chance to escape the crowds and see some of the country’s most beautiful sites from the rugged comfort of their own tent.

 

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

 

Camping in northern Kenya

1. Mount Ololokwe, near Isiolo

Dominating the skyline on the drive up from Nairobi to Moyale and the Ethiopian border is Mount Ololokwe, an impressive 2000-metre flat-topped mountain with sheer cliffs, offering views for hundreds of miles across the Samburu region of Kenya. It’s a steep two to three hour hike to the top, for the most part using trails carved out by elephants, but once you reach the plateau this is a truly mesmerising place to spend the night.

 

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Getting there: You’ll need your own vehicle. From Nairobi, take the A2 north until you read Archers Post. From here, it’s a further 27km along the A2 until you turn left for Sabache Camp at a concrete marker. 1km of dirt track later you’ll reach the base of the mountain.

Facilities: Sabache Camp, at the foot of the mountain, has great facilities including toilets and a restaurant (advanced booking necessary for both food and accommodation). On top of the mountain there are no facilities, so bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: Mark Lenanyankerra will be your guide. 0726991597 – info@sabachecamp.com

Price: Camping KSH500 (R77) per tent; conservancy fee KSH1500 (R231) per person; guide KSH1000 (R154) per group. All prices are per day.

Top tip: Start your hike early or the heat will become overwhelming. Spend the night at Sabache Camp at the bottom of the mountain the night before you hike.

 

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Mt Ololokwe. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

 

2. Tree Platform, Ngare Ndare Forest

Set in the middle of the indigenous Ngare Ndare Forest is a seven-metre high tree platform that you can camp on. It leads on to a tree canopy walk: a rickety wire bridge leading several hundred metres through the trees. Underneath, a fire pit is dug out under a giant tree – ideal for campfire stories as darkness sets in. Ngare Ndare is famed for its icy blue rock pools that you can leap into from great heights, so be sure to leave some time to explore.

 

Ngare Ndare. Image by Eric Engdhal.

Ngare Ndare. Image by Eric Engdhal.

Getting there: The only real option is to drive so again you’ll need your own vehicle. Take the A2 north from Nairobi toward Nanuki. 500m past Timau, on the Meru road, turn left. There are lots of signposts at the turn, including one for the Ngare Ndare Forest gate, which is 12km further on along a dirt track.

Facilities: No facilities, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: Calling in advance to book is recommended: Tel +254722886456 or +254700412532. For more info visit ngarendare.org.

Price: Entry to the forest is KSH500 (R77) per person for the day, camping is KSH1000 (R154) per tent and it’s KSH1000 per night for a guard who keeps watch from a nearby deck (there are wild animals in the forest).

Top tip: Wait until dark (when day visitors to the park have gone home) to use the tree canopy walk. It’s a little spooky, but about 20 metres along the trees give way to a million stars overhead. It doesn’t get much better than standing suspended in midair, staring at the universe.

 

Ngare Ndare. Image by Eric Engdhal.

Ngare Ndare. Image by Eric Engdhal.

 

3. Lake Paradise Special Campsite, Marsabit National Park

One of the most spectacular wild camping spots in Kenya, and virtually deserted at all times of year, Lake Paradise Special Campsite is a must visit for the adventurous camper. The lake sits in the middle of a forest-covered crater filled with wild animals from elephant to buffalo and even a few lions. Spellbinding encounters with wildlife are a regular occurrence – when we visited it was just us, our tent and a great herd of elephants who had come to the water to drink and socialise at sunset. Rangers are on hand to keep an eye on you and make sure you’re safe.

 

Lake Paradise. Image by Harriet Constable.

Lake Paradise. Image by Harriet Constable.

Getting there: As with most campsites in Kenya, you’ll need to drive. It’s a hefty journey at 560kms north of Nairobi, but the road is good until you get about 30kms south of Marsabit when it turns to dirt track. Enter via the Ahmed Gate – it’s a small town so just ask if you get lost.

Facilities: No facilities, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: Try the local Tel number +254722857233 (although signal can be poor in the region) or the Nairobi reservations line on Tel +254202502005.

Price: Entry to the National Park is $25 (R398) per person per day; Camping costs $35 (R556) per person and there’s a vehicle charge of KSH300 (R47) for entry.

Top tip: If you can’t get through using one of the phone numbers, it shouldn’t be a problem to just turn up. Be sure to arrive before the gate closes at 5pm.

 

Marsabit National Park. Image by Harriet Constable.

Marsabit National Park. Image by Harriet Constable.

 

4. Central Island National Park, Lake Turkana

Camping on the rim of a dormant volcano in the middle of jade-blue Lake Turkana is about as close as you can get to feeling like you’re camping on another planet. Volcanic rocks cover the ground in Central Island National Park and in this arid, windy and wildly beautiful part of Kenya, life continues unchanged as it has for centuries. Nomadic Turkana tribesmen and women traipse across the Martian landscape adorned in their traditional jewellery and brightly patterned fabrics, ever seeking a place for their cattle to graze. And the surrounding waters of Lake Turkana? They’re filled with crocodiles.

 

Lake Turkana. Image by Harriet Constable.

Lake Turkana. Image by Harriet Constable.

Getting there: Getting to Kenya’s Turkana region is a spine-jangling three-day journey from Nairobi, and the roads are terrible. Flights are available from Nairobi to Lodwar on the western side of the lake with Fly540, but from here you’ll need to ask around about a transfer to the lake shore (about 3 hours away). Once at the lake your best bet is to head to Eliye Springs Resort and book a boat to the island from there.

Facilities: No facilities, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: For more information, try calling the Kenya Wildlife Service in Lodwar on Tel +2545421223 but be aware that the phone network in the region is poor. Eliyia Springs can be reached on Tel +254703891810.

Price: Entry to Central Island National Park is USD20 (R290) per person per day, camping is USD15 (R215) per person per night.

Top tip: Always check the most up-to-date travel warnings before venturing up to the Turkana region. Inter-tribal violence and banditry is sometimes a concern.

 

Camping in the Rift Valley / western Kenya

5. Robert’s Camp, Lake Baringo

Lake Baringo lies in the heart of the Great Rift Valley and on the threshold of Kenya’s northern deserts. Robert’s Camp is a lovely lakeside campsite, home to over 450 species of birds, and hippos wallowing in the waters. There’s a whole range of accommodation here, from round thatched bandas to safari tents and spots to pitch your own tent. Boat rides, walking tours and local village visits are all available to book on site. Plus, there’s a decent restaurant and bar onsite serving pizzas, cold beers and even full English breakfasts.

Getting there: You’ll need to drive. Take the A104 north from Nairobi toward Nakuru and then the B4 to Robert’s Camp.

Facilities: Restaurant and bar, showers, toilets.

Contact: For more information and to book Tel +254717176656, or visit robertscamp.com

Price: A thatched banda costs KSH6000 (R911) per night for up to 3 people, and camping is KSH800 (R121) per person per night. Non-residents are charged a parking fee of KSH500 (R77) per day, and a once-off landing fee of KSH200 (R30).

 

6. Camp Carnelly’s, Lake Naivasha

A popular haunt with city-folk looking to get out of Nairobi for the weekend, Carnelly’s is a fun and friendly campsite on the banks of prehistoric-looking Lake Naivasha. With a great restaurant and bar, ping pong table, volleyball court and picnic sites scattered throughout, this is the place to come as a group or for a laid-back weekend. There’s also lots going on in Naivasha, from a visit to Hells Gate National Park (popular with rock climbers who scale the gorge) to hiking up to the crater at Mount Longonot National Park.

 

Carnellys. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Carnelly’s. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Getting there: It’s an easy two-hour drive to Naivasha from Nairobi up the A104 (don’t take the C88, it’s terrible) and then left onto Moi South Lake Road until you reach Carnelly’s.

Facilities: Bandas (small huts with a double bed and your own bathroom) are available as well as ample spots to pitch a tent. They have toilets and showers and a great restaurant/bar.

Contact: For more info and to book visit campcarnelleys.com

Price: Camping costs KSH800 (R127) per person per night. A two-person en-suite banda starts from KSH8000 (R1276) per night, including breakfast.

Top tip: Head out onto the lake to see the huge population of hippos living in the waters here. You can book your boat trip through Carnelly’s. If boats aren’t your thing, grab a beer and head to the pier late in the afternoon to watch the sun rippling off the lake.

 

Lake Naivasha. Image by Harriet Constable.

Lake Naivasha. Image by Harriet Constable.

Lake Naivasha. Image by Harriet Constable.

Lake Naivasha. Image by Harriet Constable.

 

7. Bongo campsite, Aberdare National Park

The Aberdares is a varied region of Kenya where the landscape changes east to west from heathland and mossy waterfalls to bamboo forests, thick jungle and open moorlands. There are lots of campsites in the Aberdares, but the Bongo campsite is particularly special because of its location – right next to the elephant mud pools – a prime spot to see elephants as they cool off during the daytime. The camp is in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by trees and it has to be booked out exclusively, so you’ll have the whole place to yourself.

Getting there: Aberdare National Park is a 150km drive from Nairobi and can be reached by taking the A104 toward Naivasha and then coming into the park from the western side via the C67.

Facilities: None, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: To book, call the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Tel +254707325852 or visit www.kws.go.ke

Price: National Park fees are $60 (R972) per person per day, camping fees vary so call to confirm.

Top tip: The Aberdares are at altitude and the weather can change rapidly so be sure to bring rain gear and warm clothes. Don’t stray too far from your tent if you see storm clouds closing in.

 

8. Mount Suswa crater rim, Mount Suswa

Mount Suswa is a beautiful dormant volcano in Kenya’s Rift Valley where you can camp on the rim. The ‘campsite’ is just a patch of grass on the crater edge, but the views of the crater and inner peak are spectacular, and it’s a great base if you’re keen to hike the around the edge. Suswa is also home to a network of lava tube caves that can be explored with a guide.

Mount Suswa caves. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Mount Suswa caves. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Getting there: It’s about a three-hour drive from Nairobi with the steep uphill climb to the crater edge adding another hour at the end. It’s a tough track and you’ll need a decent 4×4 to make it.

Facilities: None, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: Try Jeremiah on Tel +254712244583 who will be your guide.

Price: Conservancy fee is $30 (R486) per person per day, camping costs KSH500 (R77) per person and it’s KSH500 for the car.

 

Camping in eastern Kenya

9. Chyulu Hills, near Voi

Located about 1km from the Chyulu Hills gate is the Kiboko campsite – a grassy shaded spot set among the intensely green and picturesque Chyulu Hills. This is a popular destination for nature lovers, with large mammals including antelope, elephant and giraffe in the area, as well as bush pigs, buffalo and more. It’s also a great place to view the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, and to explore the network of lava tubes that make up the Kisula Caves. Visitors can also camp halfway up the hills next to the caves entrance, or at the top of the hills with incredible views of the surrounding landscape.

Chyulu Hills. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Chyulu Hills. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Getting there: Take the Mombasa road from Nairobi toward the coast. Turn right at Kibwezi, onto a sign-posted road for 9km that leads to Kithasyo Gate and the park headquarters.

Facilities: None, bring everything you’ll need.

Contact: To book, contact the KWS on Tel +254711574766 or +254711574766.

Price: Park entry fees are $25 (R393) per person per day, and camping costs $20 (R306) per tent per night.

Top tip: You’ll need a decent 4×4 with good ground clearance as the road to the top of the hills is very bad in places.

 

Camping in southern Kenya

10. The banks of Lake Magadi

The pink, soda covered waters of Lake Magadi attract flamingos year around and, as with visiting Lake Turkana, camping here feels like camping on another planet. During the day, this part of Kenya gets incredibly hot, but the northern side of the lake is relatively shady and it is possible to hike there. In the early evening or early morning, be sure to visit the hot spring baths for a dip – the water is said to have medicinal properties. The lakeside campsite is informal (you’ll need a guide but you can essentially pick your own spot), or if that’s too informal try Lake Magadi Tented Camp.

Getting there: Safari packages to the region are available, or you can drive from Nairobi taking the C58 south.

Facilities: None, unless you’re heading to Lake Magadi Tented Camp where they have toilets, tents, showers and a restaurant.

Contact: If you’re going to camp on the lake shore, it’s still best to book through Lake Magadi Adventures who can help you find a guide. Tel +254717999228 or +254727075986.

Price: Camping is KSH500 (R77) per person per night and rangers fee is KSH4000 (R616) per group to provide security at night.

Top tip: At certain times of the year, Lake Magadi Adventures charter trains to the banks of Lake Magadi. Check their Facebook page for updates, it’s a wonderful way to travel there!

 

11. Amboselli Bush Camp, Amboselli National Park

Located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, just a few miles from the entrance to Amboselli National Park, is Amboselli Bush Camp. It’s a rustic and charming place with everything you could need – pre-packaged tented rooms, a lounge, books, cooking equipment and even a pizza oven. You can also pitch your own camp. From here there are some lovely walks in the area, but it’s also an excellent spot from which to visit the national park or just to sit and gape at Mt Kilimanjaro.

 

Amboselli base camp. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Amboselli base camp. Image courtesy of The Kenyan Camper.

Getting there: It’s a simple three-hour drive from Nairobi. Take the Mombasa road toward the coast, turn right at Emali and right again in Kimana onto a dirt track for the last 12km. Google maps will take you right there.

Facilities: Toilets, showers, cooking facilities.

Contact: You can book and find out more through Airbnb.

Price: To rent out the whole site costs $85 (R1304) a night for six people. Prices on enquiry if you’re a smaller group.

Top tip: Be sure to leave Nairobi before 2pm if you want to avoid the traffic on the Mombasa road.

 

For more inspiration on camping in Kenya, check out www.thekenyancamper.com and have a look at www.harritravels.com for an insider’s guide to living in and travelling around Kenya.

 



3 Responses to “Escape the crowds at 11 of the wildest campsites in Kenya”

  1. Mike McCaffrey

    This is a wonderful article. Beautiful, wild spots. Thanks Kenyan Camper! I’m a big fan. Heading to those spots in Turkana in a week or so.

    Mike
    Nomadic-by-Nature.com

    Reply

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