If you’ve come to Kenya’s southern coast and have one or two days to spare, consider going on a traditional African safari in Tsavo East National Park, just a two-hour drive from Watamu. The ride is quite bumpy; don’t say I didn’t warn you.
On advice of my friend and local expert Melinda Rees of Best of Kenya, we booked Kulalu Camp, a small permanent tented camp located on the Galana River. It’s a fantastic location on the river, where animals come often for a drink. Be warned there is no wifi available and the camp is solar-powered. Plan to unplug and conserve while you are here. No shopping. No entertainment. Only the merriment you make.
Kulalu is located next to the Galana Conservancy, next to Tsavo East. The animals roam freely throughout the entire area, which is huge. Tsavo is a semi-arid thornbush with rocky barren-looking terrain; don’t expect the broad sweeping savannahs or lush vegetation you may have seen in Kenyan tourism brochures. One of the largest national parks in East Africa, Tsavo is Kenya’s largest, 11,000 square kilometers. It’s more wild and far more remote here. The animals are less accustomed to visitors therefore more skittish and we didn’t see them in large numbers.
Still, the fun is in the search on any safari and we savored the thrill of every hard won sighting. Elephant, giraffe, warthog, zebra, leopard, lion, cheetah…and the list goes on. Whether your first safari or your final, there is much more than seeing the animals to appreciate about this place.
Game drives are typically in the early morning before breakfast and in the late afternoon, when the animals are most active. Enjoy midday hours scanning the river for wildlife, reading or journaling, playing games, listening to music, napping and practicing the all-but-lost art of chatting with friends. Remember face to face conversation without distraction?
The guest to staff ratio during our stay at Kulalu was one to two, so we were thoroughly spoiled. The chef, Justice, is accomplished to say the least and he prepares wonderful meals, served at whatever time you want them. The tents have ensuite bathrooms, lamps, fans and comfortable beds and verandas with tables and chairs should you decide to view the river from a private perch.
Leave your electronics behind, spend two nights at Kulalu. When you leave, the batteries that will be fully charged again will be your own.