Green Getaway: A Sustainable Safari in Kenya
For a once-in-a-lifetime African adventure, head to Kenya for the Fairmont safari experience. You fly from Nairobi to the market town of Nanyuki, at the base of Mount Kenya, where you're met by staff from Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. Don’t let the relatively sparse scenery en route fool you, though, as the club’s wrought-iron gates soon give way to a majestic, sprawling wonderland.
Safari Service Fit for the Stars
Founded by Hollywood heartthrob William Holden in 1959, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club covers more than 100 acres of lovingly landscaped gardens teeming with bird and animal life. With its enviable proximity to local game reserves and its on-site animal orphanage (a rehabilitation center that’s home to many rare mountain bongo antelopes and others), the club represents one of Kenya’s most compelling wildlife experiences.
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is built directly on the equator, and offers guests the finest accommodation and customer service. Enjoy a drink at Zebar, where waiters literally travel across hemispheres just to mix your perfect drink. Zebar is adjacent to the club’s premiere dining venue, Tusks Restaurant and Terrace. Overlooking Mount Kenya, the restaurant offers panoramic views of the hotel’s gardens and pool, as well as a menu celebrating local produce.
The club itself comprises 120 richly furnished hotel rooms and suites reflecting the history and charm of the original residence and feature stone fireplaces and ensuite marble bathrooms. Daily game tours to nearby Samburu National Reserve pair you with driver-naturalists who reveal the beauty of Kenya’s animals and ecosystems.
Where Monkeys and Mountains Beckon
Nearby Nanyuki is the popular starting point for hikers planning to tackle Mount Kenya. Active travelers should note that an ascent of Africa’s second-highest peak is usually a five-day, boisterous climb with cooking, camping and snow gear in tow. Happily, most tours team you with guides, leaving your hands free to carry cameras to capture one of the world's most photogenic landscapes.
Nanyuki is also home to a number of local restaurants, including the exceptional dining experience that is Trout Tree restaurant. Perched inside an enormous Mugumo tree, the restaurant serves fresh trout cooked to your liking, sourced directly from the open ponds on the grounds below. You’re likely to be joined for lunch by one of the restaurant’s resident black-and-white Colobus Monkeys, another great photo opportunity if they don’t swipe your camera first!
Founded by British settlers in 1907, Nanyuki is today a market center for nearby farms and game parks, as well as one of Kenya’s major locations for wool production. For one-of-a-kind local shopping, Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers offers a wide range of rugs, sweaters and wool products hand spun by a community-based women’s group focused on social and economic sustainability.
Front Row Seats in the Masai Mara
Fairmont’s second Kenyan offering is the inimitable Fairmont Mara Safari Club, a short flight from Nanyuki. Superbly located on the Masai Mara (an extension of Serengeti National Park), Fairmont Mara Safari Club is an exclusive tented camp offering a camping experience like no other. Each of its 51 luxury tents features a private viewing deck overlooking the river, a lavish four-poster bed and a three-piece, eco-friendly bathroom.
Your insider wildlife experience is as safe as it is individualized, with armed escorts to and from the main lodge a welcome reminder of just how close you are to nature. There, you'll find the concierge and beautifully decorated lounge and dining areas celebrating the rich culture and history of the region’s Masai people with ebullient color and beaded details. The lodge’s main deck overlooks the river, where the regular sight of hippos at play mesmerizes guests for hours at a time. Enjoy an exceptional daily menu of fresh Kenyan produce, or speak to hotel staff about arranging a bush breakfast or sundowner cocktails in the Aitong Hills.
Your Airborne Safari Awaits
Fondly termed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Masai Mara annual wildebeest migration is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary life experiences you could hope to chalk up. The best time to observe the migration in the Masai Mara is from August to October, and a better way still is an aerial view. Fairmont’s
- balloon safaris depart at 5:45am, and include a sparkling wine breakfast on the Mara plains. From the air, the full extent of Kenya's beauty is revealed, with herds of animals framed by shimmering rivers and vibrantly colored vegetation.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club offers short or full-day game drives, and walking safaris for the lionhearted (sorry, but the pun was irresistible). Apart from coming face to face with the Big Five (lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino), the ultimate safari experience is undoubtedly bearing witness to a "kill." Indeed, watching a big cat pick out, stalk and extinguish its prey can feel incredibly intimate. The calm and quiet of the aftermath is as intriguing as it is unsettling, a welcome catharsis to one of life’s most enduring natural phenomena.
What better way to unwind after a long day’s game drive than with a cold Tusker beer overlooking the Mara River? Watch the light fade over the idle hippos, or retire to the lounge or library to enjoy an evening lecture or a visit from Masai dancers. With eco-friendly solar power and investments in countless welfare projects, you can relax comfortably in the knowledge that the memories you make at Fairmont Mara Safari Club can live on well into the future of this beautiful country.
Laura Maitland has been a professional travel writer for luxury travel groups for many years. Her family business is one of the few Virtuoso agents in Australia. She has written about many destinations in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia in addition to articles about luxury cruises.
To book your Fairmont experience in Kenya, email firstname.lastname@example.org.