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Photos: The Traveldote

Tucked away at the bottom of the Rift Valley is Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake renowned for its array of bird life, breathtaking sunsets and spectacular surroundings. Lake Baringo is also a Ramsar site, having been recognized internationally as an important wetland. Lake Baringo is home to several small islands but we set out to explore one in particular, Samatian.

We left Nairobi at dawn; 275 km and 4.5 hours later, we were at the shores of the lake at Robert’s Camp. This is where we would park our cars for the next three days (charges are Ksh 500 per vehicle per day). We eagerly waited for the Island manager, Richard, to come and collect all 12 of us, our food, drinks and luggage on his two Sesse Canoes. Samatian Island is another 20 minute boat ride from the camp.

OVERVIEW

Samatian Island is a small and exclusive private island on Lake Baringo. It boasts panoramic views across the water with the Laikipian Escarpment as a backdrop. The island offers self-catered accommodation comprising of five open-plan, thatched rooms. Two of the rooms are family units with a partitioned bedroom, verandah, sitting room and bathroom. The other three rooms are en suite with sitting areas. One of the family rooms also has a rooftop deck, and the other has the best view from the bathrooms as well as a tub for added luxury. All bedding, mosquito nets, towels, loo paper, soap, firewood and charcoal are provided on the island.

The island can comfortably fit 12 adults and 3 children, and there is an option to book full board catering for 6 pax or more. There is a communal bar area which had until recently been submerged due to the dramatic rise in water levels but has now been refurbished and is good to use. There was also a pool but that’s still underwater and is now a plunge pool. Yes, there are hippos and crocodiles in the lake but according to the staff, they’re not usually on that side of the island…just don’t swim after dark. Your booking also comes with two kayaks so if you’re not up for the risk then you can still have some fun paddling out into the lake. There is a separate dining area on the island under a mess tent with views of the lake. The staff usually set the table then take your food up there for breakfast and dinner. For lunch, they set up the grill for us down by the lake as per our request. There are harmless snakes on the island and two species of scorpions so be mindful of that. Sunrise and sunsets here are absolutely magical, as is the starry night sky. If you can, book close to a full moon because we witnessed the most magnificent moon rise during our stay.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

While you can just relax and do nothing, there are plenty of activities to keep you (and the kids) busy. Go on scenic boat trips with Richard on the Sesse Canoes where you can bait fish eagles with small fish from the Njemps fishermen (a boat can fit seven and costs an extra Ksh 2,000). Kayak around the island and for added fun, take a fishing rod with you and try your luck. Go on nature and bird walks or visit the local Njemps tribe. Take a walk around Giraffe Island, home to six endangered Rothschild’s, ostrich, warthogs, impalas and hyrax (conservation fee is Ksh 500 per person). You can also enjoy sundowners on the beach, which Richard can arrange for you.

PROS

• Remote and exclusive getaway

• Ideal for large groups

• Unique, one-of-a-kind location with striking views

• Chefs and daily cleaning available

• An entire island just for you!

CONS

Dramatic rise in water levels means no chlorinated pool (it’s now a plunge pool)

HOW TO BOOK & COSTS

A night on Samatian Island is Ksh 6,000 per person on a self-catering basis. To book the island you can email them on infosamatian@gmail.com or call 0700 888 646.

www.samatianisland.com

Overall: 10/10

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