Into The Northern Frontier
06 Jan – 31 Mar*
5 Days, 4 Nights
Start & End Points
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp to Kalama Airstrip, Samburu
About This Asilia Adventure:
Explore the rugged Sera Conservancy, in Kenya’s wild and truly unspoilt Northern Frontier landscapes on this adventure that combines walking, wild sleepouts, rhino tracking and authentic cultural encounters. Wildlife exists alongside people here; it’s not uncommon to see a gerenuk or giraffe browsing and turn the corner moments later to meet a herdsman with his goats or camels. Each adds pressure on the other for grazing, water and space, offering visitors a real-life insight into the challenges in balancing wildlife and habitat conservation with human needs – a balance that the Sera Conservancy and Northern Rangeland Trust are working tirelessly to find, to enable both to thrive. Your guide, Alex Hunter, was one of the founders of Sera and his history here offers a unique insight into this land and its people.
On this adventure, you will learn first-hand about wildlife conservation at the community-run Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and the Sera rhino sanctuary. You’ll also get to sleep out on a bedroll on a rock, explore this wild landscape on walking safaris, and watch an age-old tradition as Samburu and Rendille herdsmen bring their cattle to water at ancient wells. Witness a congregation of tens of thousands of sandgrouse collecting water in their feathers before flying up to 40 kilometres back to their nests. Seasoned travellers looking for an authentic adventure, digital detox, and the chance to witness sights that few travellers have had the privilege to see will not be disappointed here.
What Is Included In This Adventure?
Professional guiding by Alex Hunter, one of Kenya’s most experienced safari and walking guides, a full camp crew who will set up tents, cook meals etc. All meals and house drinks (selected soft drinks, beer and house wine) throughout, from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 5, transfer from Nanyuki Airstrip to Ol Pejeta Bush Camp at the start, all logistics as described, travelling in a 4×4 vehicle throughout the adventure until drop-off at Kalama Airstrip on Day 5, all conservancy and camping fees for Ol Pejeta and Sera, rhino tracking experience in Sera, and visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.
Temperatures can reach 40°C so a sun hat for shade, light layers to cover up, and high-factor sunscreen are essential items to pack for this adventure. There will be plentiful water to keep you hydrated. As with all true adventures, the exact itinerary may need to be adapted to a different order at the time due to weather, wildlife or other conditions, but we would still ensure all of the highlights are included, simply in a different order.
Snapshot of This Asilia Adventure
Arrive at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp today and enjoy an afternoon game drive in this wildlife-rich conservancy, home to Kenya’s largest population of black rhino, as well as southern white rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and much more. Visits to the last two remaining northern white rhino in the world, who live in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, can also be arranged (at additional cost) and is highly recommended. This evening, meet your guide, Alex, to discuss the adventure ahead over dinner.
Overnight: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp
Depart in the early morning with a packed breakfast, leaving Ol Pejeta Bush Camp at first light and driving north in a 4×4 vehicle, with Alex as your guide. A logistics team will depart ahead of you to set up tonight’s fly camp. You’ll have a packed breakfast with you and will drive as the sun comes up behind the jagged peak of Mt Kenya. Your journey takes you north on tarmac roads, passing alongside the dramatic granitic monolith of Mt Ololokwe on the way.
After the small town of Sereolipi you’ll head off-road to visit the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary for the 12 o’clock feeding time. This remote sanctuary is owned and staffed by the local community who work night and day to rehabilitate injured and orphaned young elephants, eventually returning them to their home territories. Watch from a raised platform as the youngsters arrive for their midday milk bottles and a splash in the muddy waterhole to cool off. Join a ranger behind the scenes to understand more about how the elephants are fed and monitored. Enjoy a packed lunch in the shade before you drive northwards towards the Sera Conservancy.
After approximately an hour, you will reach one of the wide, sandy, dry rivers which are typical of this arid region, fringed with doum palm trees. The next stage of your adventure begins as you are driven along the sandy riverbed in your 4×4 vehicle, passing cattle herders and camels along the way. Drive for a couple of hours up the river until you reach tonight’s fly camp spot on the river bank. Enjoy a well-earned bucket shower behind the trees, and a cool drink as the sun goes down before enjoying a hearty dinner around the campfire. Tonight, you’ll sleep in mosquito net cube tents, with the sights and sounds of the wild coming alive around you.
Overnight: Riverbed fly camp
Wake as the sun’s first rays creep across the horizon, and after a coffee, head out on a morning walking safari before the heat of the day sets in. As with all safaris on foot, what you see depends on luck and timing, but your guide, Alex, will be looking out for trails in the sandy floor, listening for alarm calls, and pointing out fascinating birdlife and plants along the way. Sera is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the elegant longnecked gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich, as well as leopard. Return to camp for breakfast at around 8 o’clock when the heat of the day starts to pick up and pack up your bags before setting off on an exploratory game drive.
Stop during the heat of the day for a rest in the shade and some lunch, before driving onward to Kisima Hamsini where you will stop for the night. The name translates as “fifty wells”, which have over time formed and been dug by local herdsmen along the riverbed, and each day they bring large herds of cattle to water at the wells. This cultural tradition has not changed in decades and has been witnessed by very few tourists, making it as genuine and unspoilt as you can get. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of keeping the integrity and unobtrusive nature of this visit, so photographs of the herdsmen and cattle are not permitted under any circumstance. It is a rare opportunity to put your camera or phone away and simply observe and be part of the scene. (N.B. The timings/ presence of the cattle herders cannot be guaranteed, although they visit the wells most days in the afternoon. If they are not present, you can enjoy walks around nearby kopjes, to take in the spectacular scenery stretching across the whole of Kenya’s Northern Frontier). Tonight’s fly camp will be on simple bedrolls on top of a rock nearby, or in fly camp tents if you prefer, with the chance for a bucket shower before the light fades.
Overnight: Kisima Hamsini bedrolls or fly camp
Another spectacular sunrise will awaken you, followed by a campfire-cooked breakfast. This morning, the fifty wells take on an entirely new purpose and you are perfectly positioned to enjoy the magic. Each day, up to 40,000 sandgrouse flock to the wells as their first source of water in up to 40 kilometres, collecting in large squadrons to protect themselves from the raptors. Clouds of birds form and swoop down to collect water in their feathers, before flying up and away in the flash of an eye, transporting the precious water to their partners and chicks many kilometres away. Whether or not you consider yourself a birder, this is a thrilling experience, sitting quietly and soaking up the surround-sound-and-sight of this sandgrouse gathering. Look out for predators such as tawny eagles who soar in wait of this influx of birdlife, much the same way lions await the large herds of migrant wildebeest in the Masai Mara.
Depart in the mid-morning on an exploratory game drive, reaching Saruni Rhino, a small permanent camp in the heart of the Sera Conservancy in time for lunch. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool this afternoon before setting off to the rhino sanctuary within the conservancy, accompanied by Alex and the rhino rangers, where you can track black rhino on foot – the only place to do this in East Africa. The distance and visibility of the rhinos very much depend on the day, but it is a heart racing and exhilarating experience however it unfolds. Return to Saruni Rhino and enjoy a delicious dinner in the riverbed surrounded by lanterns and a good night’s sleep in the comfort of this charming camp.
Overnight: Saruni Rhino
Enjoy breakfast in camp before departing by road out of the Sera Conservancy, heading to the Kalama Airstrip near Samburu National Park, where you can catch your onward flight at lunchtime. (Flight and onward travel not included).
Here, you will bid Alex farewell and either fly back to Nairobi or elsewhere to continue your safari.
Good to know
Fly Camp Facilities
Riverbed fly camp: mosquito net cube tents with two single bedroll mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows. The camp has a central toilet tent as well as central bucket shower. Towels and bedding provided. Meals are eaten alfresco (rain is very rare during the time this adventure operates) but there is a back-up mess tent in the logistics vehicle in case it’s needed.
Kisima Hamsini camp: for the brave spirited, enjoy sleeping alfresco on bedrolls on the top of a rock. Or if you prefer, the fly camp tents from the previous night can also be used and set up easily here. The choice is yours.