Hotel Review: El Karama, Laikipia
A family-run camp popular with weekenders and those looking for an all-inclusive safari at a more affordable price. Hosted by the Grant family, it has established a reputation as a favourite for weekenders and big groups.
Ksh 14,500 pp, full board (excluding sodas and alcohol) with guided game drives / walks; Ksh 12,500 if using your own car. Ksh 65,000 per night for exclusive booking of the whole property, self-catering (sleeps 18). Children under 4 go free. Conservation fee of 1,800 per adult.
El Karama’s price point has been one of its biggest strengths when compared to other lodges in Laikipia, which has emerged as an increasingly exclusive safari destination. The lodge is particularly family-friendly, offering many different activities as well as tours of the Grant family farm.
Wildlife viewing at El Karama can be seasonal and inconsistent. After the rains, it is easier to spot big game such as elephants, but big game sightings can be unreliable during the dry season. Nearby Ol Pejeta is a better bet for those seeking more of a big game safari experience.
Style and character
El Karama is a very peaceful, family-oriented camp situated in acres of wildlife rangelands, and has both a safari and homestead feel, retaining a low-key charm that appeals to the many repeat guests.
El Karama is a four-hour drive from Nairobi, reached by part dirt / tarmac road from Nanyuki. Bandas are all river-facing, and the camp is situated a short distance away from a working farm.
Service & Facilities
Service is efficient, and in-house guides exude endless patience when dealing with small children.
- Self-catering facilities, if desired
- Gift shop
- Wifi (available in office)
Accommodation is a mix of bandas, tented rooms, and a larger so-called Hobbit House, all furnished tastefully and to a high standard. The Hobbit House, set back a little distance from the mess area, is a cosy, quirky option for families. With the exception of one banda which has an outside bathroom, the facilities are all ensuite.
Food & Drink
Food is generally good, and for those self-catering, the camp provides cooks to whip up your meals.
It can be hard to entertain small children in the bush, but El Karama gets it just right. Activities range from filling in lion paw prints with putty (to take home later), modelling animals out of mud, not to mention the swimming pool with a variety of noodles, rubber rings and armbands for kids to use.
Value for Money?
When compared to other lodges in Laikipia, El Karama is still very good value. Increasingly, however, other similar camps around the country are becoming more competitive on price.
Reviewed November 2017 by Catrina Stewart – visited both as a self-catering guest, and and as a full-board guest.