For a very different take on Kenya’s best safari experiences, try a camel ride through the country’s northern wilderness. Traverse the stark, arid landscape at a gentle pace to the soft tinkling of camel bells, and relax into the seductive rhythm of this unique safari.
We were bound for an exotic camel ride in the northern wastes of Kenya. After a dusty, two-hour drive through arid country we came to Laikipia, a region north of Mount Kenya known for its vast tracts of wilderness and superb wildlife. The area boasts the highest diversity of large mammals in Kenya and is home to several endangered species, notably Grévy’s zebra, African wild dog and Jackson’s hartebeest.
We reached camp in the late afternoon and had some time to relax, get to the know the team and meet the camels before supper around the fire. The four-day safari ahead of us was tailor-made to suit our group. The party comprised my family of four, our guides, 11 camels and their Samburu handlers – an exclusive safari just for us. There were no vehicles involved in the venture; the size of our camp was limited to how much the camels could carry.
The Samburu people and their camels are perfectly suited to northern Kenya. For them, a camel train through the wilderness is a way of life. Moving seasonally with their cattle herds, they know the land and the wildlife intimately.
When young Samburu boys are only five or six years old, they’re sent out to watch over the goats as they browse in the harsh terrain. This time is well spent learning the secrets of the land: discovering where barbets make their nests, how to recognise leopard tracks, and heeding the call of the honeyguide. Travelling with these ochre-painted warani – the warriors – and their camels is one of the best ways to truly get in touch with this elemental wilderness.