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“Great Experience”
Review of Campi ya Kanzi

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Campi ya Kanzi
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 August 2008

We just returned from five days at Campi Ya Kanzi. We had heard very good things about this camp, but the reality exceeded our high expectations. The staff was very attentive. The smallest request was addressed immediately. We had a small problem with the zipper to the canvas door of our "tent". I mentioned it to a staffer before dinner, and when we returned to the tent after dinner a new zipper had already been installed. Another guest lost his passport, and Luca, the host and manager of the camp, took it upon himself to contact the embassy in Nairobi and arrrange for a replacement. The food was excellent; by far the best we encountered during our two weeks in Kenya and Tanzania. Ya Kanzi is the only tourist camp in a 400 square kilometer Masai reserve. This means that you never see another safari vehicle when you go out on game drives--unlike the better known and more heavily touristed Masai Mara where other vehicles are often in sight and it is not uncommon to find five or six vehicles surrounding a single lion as the visitors click away with their cameras. Unlike the Mara, where the animals are so accustomed to humans that often they don't even run away at the approach of a vehicle, the wildlife around Ya Kanzi is elusive. You can't be sure what you will find when you go out. This may be disappointing to some, but for us it added to the experience. In the Mara our guides could virtually promise us that we would see lions, or hyenas, or whatever (my thirteen-year-old son described the Mara as "not much different than a zoo except the animals have to feed themselves"), but at Ya Kanzi we actually had to go out and look for game. One morning we spent over an hour tracking a herd of elephants through the brush. During the search we flushed zebras, gazelles, giraffes, ostriches, and elan, and our excitement was all the greater when we finally caught up with the herd. Except for cats, hyenas and hippos, we saw all the animals we also saw in the Mara, only in smaller numbers. If you are interested in an alternative to the big, crowded parks, Ya Kanzi is a good choice.

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled with family
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1  Thank Casimiro1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lucakanzi, Manager at Campi ya Kanzi, responded to this reviewResponded 5 August 2009

A 13 year old boy has been able to put it better than we could have ever do
it: a National Park experience is -in most cases - a zoo safari experience.
Here in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, in 280,000 acres pristine Maasai land, one find the real African wilderness, vanishing quickly everywhere else.
Thank you for a very sightly review, glad you enjoyed staying with us.

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85 - 91 of 102 reviews

Reviewed 11 August 2008

We were there for a three night stay in July 2008. It was cold and rainy (in the dry season!). Animal viewing was limited but maybe our expectations were high because we had just left the Masai Mara and one of the best hotels in the world. The hosts at CYK were not present during the time we were there and the rest of the staff seemed to be taking some time away, too. Samson only joined us for dinner and was not a guide.

I was most disappointed by the hypocrisy regarding the ecosystem and water conservation. When we arrived, we were advised to take "sail-boat" showers (get wet, turn off water, soap up, and then turn the water back on to rinse). The next day was cloudy all day, so the host-in-residence, Stafano, told us that the showers would be cold -- and they were. The camp has ample electricity so why not use electric tankless water heaters?
The second day as we returned to camp by an upper road, we passed "the big house" -- the personal and private residence of Luca and Antoinella. This is a large compound of three houses (the largest is still under construction) and get this -- a 40 foot swimming pool! The pool was filled with water. The was not a guest pool--it was for the owners only. This was a great waste of water -- the evaporation rate has to be enough to supply showers and water for the pottys. (By the way, the potty was good for only one flush per night so you have to plan ahead.)

The food was good but not the best of the four tented-camps we visited. The meals were served "family style" with no menu choices. Everyone ate together--including the misbehaving child of the managers and the nanny who had issues with her young charge. The teenagers in our group enjoyed the hikes--but some of the adults in our group and in other groups there at the time found them difficult. One morning after a long, cold, game drive in the rain (no rain gear was provided--and the Masai guides were warming their hands over the spot light) we stopped for breakfast. This was not the ideal site that you see in the photos--it was in the "field of dung". No kidding--it was the single most unappetizing meal I have experienced--and I have lived in third-world countries.

The photos posted by other reviewers are good representations of the accommodations but we never saw the top (or even bottom) of Mt. Kilimanjaro due to the persistent cloud cover.

I would not recommend visiting this camp until they get their act together.

  • Stayed: July 2008, travelled with family
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7  Thank WvDizzyDaisy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2008

This was the second-to-last stop on my three week trip to Tanzania and Kenya with my mother. There is nothing negative I could report about Campi ya Kanzi. We only had the opportunity to stay for 3 nights, but it was absolutely the best three nights of our entire trip.

After a nice flight to the property in the camp's plane (one of the smallest planes I've ever flown in...) we were greeted warmly by the camp's staff, including Luca and Samson.

The food at the camp is to die for! Antonella oversees the camp's kitchen, and it was quite possibly the best I've eaten on any vacation. - true Italian pastas, salads, meats... it was wonderful!

At each meal Luca would discuss what we wanted to do the following day. There are so many options. We went on a sunrise safari, hikes, and visits to the local school. Everything we did was wonderful. The highlight was visiting the school. You should definitely see that when you are there!

Overall, I would highly recommend Campi ya Kanzi to anyone in Kenya. I hope to go back one day.

  • Stayed: June 2006
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1  Thank jla1381
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lucakanzi, Owner at Campi ya Kanzi, responded to this reviewResponded 24 February 2016

Thank you :) We hope to see you again too!

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Reviewed 13 January 2008

We just returned from a 3 night stay at Campi Ya Kanzi and have nothing but positive reviews. This was our first visit to Africa and our first safari experience so we did not really know what to expect. Both Luca and Antonella who host the camp are wonderful hosts, the food was fabulous, the tented camps are beautiful, comfortable and very romantic, all the staff is very knowledgable and there to ensure you have a wonderful experience. Experience is the key to this camp.

Unlike the camps located in national parkland, Campi Ya Kanzi is not restricted by park rules so you are able to walk the hills and go on night drives. This part of Kenya had received a lot of rain so we had to seek out many of the animals, so a different experience than in the Masai Mara where the game was more accessible. We spent 3 nights at CYK and 3 nights at another camp just north of the Mara so we had 2 different types of safari experiences which I would recommend. CYK has a plane that can fly you to other parts of Kenya (for a fee) and this worked very well for us.

It was well worth the cost and one of the best experiences we have had travelling. I am happy to answer questions - this was a really special place.

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank travelbugAustin_TX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lucakanzi, Owner at Campi ya Kanzi, responded to this reviewResponded 24 February 2016

Thanks so much! We think it's special as well :) We hope to see you again soon.

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Reviewed 2 September 2006

Campi ya Kanzi (CYK) means "Camp of the Hidden Treasure" in swahili.

It’s a luxury tented safari camp situated in a 400-square mile area of Maasai-owned land in the Chyulu Hills, in Southern Kenya, close to the border with Tanzania, and overlooking Mt Kilimanjairo. The camp altitude is around 3700 feet, rising to nearly 7000 feet at the top of the Chyulus, and thus there are hugely diverse ecosystems, ranging from grassland to lava forests to the cloud-forests at the top, with stunning views out over the plains to Kilimanjairo. It’s not in a malaria area either.
Whilst the Maasai are the landlords, the camp is operated as a joint venture with them by Luca and Antonella, who live at the camp, and operate it with the help of some 45 Maasai staff. It took 2 years to build the camp, which sits in genuine wilderness, and there are only 8 tented bedrooms, so you’ll enjoy hospitality more akin to being a guest in a friend or family house. Food and wines are Italian, cuisine and service are superb and you eat all together, with all the guests round one large table in the Tembo House. The whole experience is one of the most memorable vacations you are ever likely to have.

We took our family (2 adults, 3 children, aged 8, 9 and 11) to CYK for a five night stay in early August 2006. We chose the camp for our first family safari because we liked the sound of the Maasai-owned site and the way it supports the local community, its unspoiled wilderness location, the fact that it sounded like a very personalized experience, and the eco-friendly credentials the camp has earned. Sounds selfish but we wanted to see wildlife but not in the company of hordes of others!
The camp is massive – 400 square miles – 2/3 the size of the Masai Mara reserve. The difference is you have no more than 16 people at the Camp, and the Masai Mara has beds for more than 5000. If you go out for the day with your Maasai tracker and perhaps a driver, you’re very unlikely to meet or see any other human beings, apart from Maasai shepherds with their flocks of goats or cows. A further difference between this and a National Park – in the NPs, it’s against rules to get out of your trucks, and you have to stay in the vehicle at all times, in CYK you can get out and walk at any time, safety permitting.

The wildlife is very varied – and you can read about the wildlife in more detail on the excellent CYK website. We saw elephants, zebra, giraffe, hippo, crocs, monkeys and apes, lots of different gazelle and antelope species, buffalo, warthogs, amazing birds, wildebeest, and loads more. We didn’t see cats – of any kind – although we saw footprints around the camp, and the kill of a leopard taken up to a tree. If it’s important for you just to tick off the Big 5, this probably isn’t the camp for you. But if you want a superb wildlife and scenery viewing experience, with your own personal highly knowledgeable Maasai tracker and driver, beautiful wilderness viewing, superb food, drink and service from friendly, knowledgeable staff, CYK has got to be worth a visit.

In addition, the camp levies a $30 per person per day fee which goes straight to the charitable trust to support the local Maasai people. You’ll get to visit at least one of the local Maasai camps, and the challenging, dusty environments with no running water will touch the hardiest of souls. To see the work of the trust, visit the dispensary with its nurses provided, its borehole dug and the support given for local secondary school fees, and to chat to the Maasai staff about the positive difference the camp and its visitors have made to the local people, makes this a highly rewarding experience too.

This is tourism that genuinely benefits the local people – to maintain their culture and traditional ways of life, yet to provide visitors with a way to experience that tradition, and some of the most beautiful areas on this Earth, and to contribute to local well-being.

We were concerned (a little) that our kids might be bored between game drives – but they truly loved the simple pleasures of swinging on a hammock, exploring the camp, chasing the local lizards and talking to the Maasai. Luca and Antonella have a daughter, Lulu, who is 4 years old and truly loves meeting new children.

The camp is very eco-friendly - all the electricity comes from its own solar panels, and the hot water is heated via the sun. It recycles its waste and has won several international awards for its very low impact on the environment in which it sits.

The camp has its own plane so can collect you from Nairobi or Mombassa or Malindi.

Overall, I cannot speak more highly about the very personal way that Luca, Antonella, chief tracker Stefano and all the Maasai staff ensure you have the most wonderful vacation. We stayed for 5 nights, and I would recommend a minimum of 3 nights to get the most out of the visit.

My 9 year old daughter comments: “it had really nice views when we went up to the top of the Chyulus, and although we didn’t see big cats, we saw what we thought was a genet and we saw lots of giraffes and zebras. Think it was really nice that everyone ate together at the same time in the Tembo House around one big table, and everyone was really friendly. The food was very nice and they made me hot chocolate whenever I asked for it! At night, we heard buffalo and warthogs and early in the morning, around 4am we saw a giraffe right by our tent. I enjoyed all the picnics we went on and really want to go back. I cried on the plane as we left.”

  • Stayed: August 2006, travelled with family
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16  Thank deehell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lucakanzi, Owner at Campi ya Kanzi, responded to this reviewResponded 24 February 2016

We are so very thankful for your wonderful words.. we are happy you feel the magic of this place as much as we do! We hope to see you again soon :)

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Reviewed 15 September 2016
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  • Stayed: September 2016, travelled as a couple
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Thank cecidada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2016 via mobile
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Stayed: March 2016, travelled with friends
Thank Simoneanco86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Campi ya Kanzi

Address: Mtito Andei, Kenya
Phone Number:
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Amboseli Eco-system
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 20 Speciality Lodging in Amboseli Eco-system
Price Range: £451 - £634 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Campi ya Kanzi 3.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Campi ya Kanzi is widely recognized as one of the most unique and inspiring safari experiences in Africa. Situated at the foot of the legendary Chyulu Hills, Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, it is a luxury camp offering an incomparable combination of 5-star luxury, first class wilderness adventure, amazing wildlife, and authentic immersion in Maasai culture. This is truly the ultimate African safari.This luxury lodge has been built in partnership with the Maasai community of the 280,000-acre Kuku Group Ranch.Campi ya Kanzi has a unique commitment to community development and environmental sustainability: we are leaders in real ecotourism, engaging the local Maasai in benefiting from wilderness with thriving wildlife. Built from local materials, it uses solar technology to supply hot water and electricity to the six luxury cottages and two suites. In front of Kilimanjaro, with a Maasai warrior taking you on safari, among elephants and lions, you will experience your dream African adventure. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Campi Ya Kanzi Hotel Amboseli Eco-System

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