I and my wife stayed at the Gamewatchers Adventure Camp in Selenkay Conservancy between Aug. 02 and Aug. 05, 2013 as a part of their Selenkay - Ol Kinyei Conservancies package and had the time of our lives. Before all we should thank Steve Sturton-Davies, who responded to our booking request, answered all our questions and addressed all our requests. We exchanged countless emails and had several conversations over the phone. Every detail was worked out in advance and nothing was left to chance (airport - hotel – airport transfers, local flights, even a transfer from Gamewatchers Adventure Camp in Ol Kinyei to another safari operator’s camp in Masai Mara was worked our). Thank you Steve, you went a way beyond just a good customer service!
The idea about the private conservancies is a great thing, having visited three major national reserves in Kenya, we were able to see the differences. Gamewatchers Safaris are leasing the land from the local Masai sharing the profits with the community and also employing Masai in their camps (staff is 100% Masai, including camp managers). The major differences between the private conservancies and the national reserves is that in the conservancies there are a lot less visitors (in the cases of Selenkay and Ol Kinyei just the Gamewatchers Safaris guests), off the road and night drives are permitted as well as walking safaris. In the adventure camps we were able to enjoy the same quality of food, safari vehicles and guides as in the luxury Porini camps at a lot cheaper prices, the only difference was that we camped in a very basic tents, sleeping on mattresses on the ground. To us this was absolutely fine, even added to the sense of adventure and there wasn’t a single moment of discomfort. It is important to notice that Gamewatchers are including in the package all local flights to and from the conservancies which were very comfortable and also a great attraction – you could see all the actions of the pilot, as well as take areal photos of beautiful African landscapes. There is no time wasted on the road, you leave Nairobi and 30 minutes later you are on a game drive in the conservancy. The last day you have a morning game drive in Selenkay and then an afternoon drive in Ol Kinyei.
The Staff at the Selenkay Gamewatchers Adventure Camp was nothing short of fabulous, I can not name personally everyone, but would like to underline the great work of the camp manager Wilson, our guide Jonah, our great driver Julius and our chef Solomon.
Food was of a great quality and quantity (although not our priority, but we should mention it). Game drives were great, guides very knowledgeable. Safari vehicles were very good - top open-sided (some with an open roof) 4X4 Land Cruisers and Land Rovers, thus offering great photo opportunities and close wildlife encounters. Game in the conservancy is plentiful – all sorts of antelopes and gazelles (elands, impalas, the rare long necked gerunuk, lesser kudus, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, dik-diks), giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, ostriches and tons of smaller birds, warthogs etc.
We also had a fabulous full day game drive in Amboseli National Park included in the price of the package. Beautiful views and lots of game (hundreds of elephants).
Tents were very comfortable, we were able to stand at the center of the tents, private sitting toilets with proper plumbing and private bush showers were available just behind each tent. I had the best night sleep of my life. Sleeping bags and towels are available for rent for $10 a day.
We would also like to note the visit to a traditional Masai village – I was a bit sceptical about this at first (having visited similar venues in other parts of the world where everything is set up just for the amusement of tourists), but the Masai village that we visited in Selenkay was 100% genuine, we were able to witness the lifestyle of the Masai, hear them singing, interact with them and take as many photos as we wish.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Gamewatchers Adventure Camp, Selenkay, is sited in the Selenkay Wildife Conservancy in the Amboseli eco-system. For those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation, and who are prepared to sleep in small tents in sleeping bags with an element of “roughing it”, this gives an opportunity for an exceptional and exclusive wildlife experience with high quality guiding but at a much lower price than expensive up-market safari lodges. ... more less