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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Think a Safari Can’t Be Romantic? Kenya’s Tented Camp Resorts Add Splendor to a Honeymoon Adventure

By Mary Ann Anderson
From Tribune News Service

The moment was dreamlike and mesmerizing. An enormous pride of golden lions slumbered, snored and groaned in the afternoon sun, their long tails thumping against one another and then on the ground in a series of nonstop feline movements. A couple from Sweden sat next to me in the Land Rover on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara, and the husband started counting them off one by one until he announced a total of 16 of the cats, just a big pile of lion love.

The simple idea of safari is a romantic notion, and with summer upcoming and June brides galore, the idea of an unhurried honeymoon in Kenya, with its magnificent lion prides, starlit nights and endless, windswept savannas is the perfect, if not adventurous way to begin a marriage.

With a nod to romance and love, take your pick of the following camps and lodges that range from thatched roofs to tented luxury and will leave you with starry-eyed memories of your new life together.

Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp, Tsavo West National Park

The tented suites of Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp in Kenya's Tsavo West National Park
The tented suites of Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park are plush and comfortable, making them perfect for a honeymoon, or a second one. (Mary Ann Anderson/TNS)

Finch Hattons, named for the British-born aristocrat Denys Finch-Hatton, a big-game hunter and adventurer who lived in Kenya, is in uncrowded Tsavo West National Park, a place of absolute quiet and where it’s possible on a game drive to not see another human. Each of the 17 luxury tented suites has a private deck, a sumptuous bedroom and ensuite bathroom with oversized showers. On a clear day, Mount Kilimanjaro is visible over the camp’s natural springs. The animals are fewer here than in the Masai Mara or Amboseli but no less exciting to see, especially with wonderful birding. The food is simply outstanding, with seasonal fruit and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and fresh seafood flown in from Kenya’s coast. Eating under the stars is an option. At the end of the day, opt for a treatment at the small spa. On game drives, expect to see elephants, giraffes, or Tsavo’s most famous residents, lions. Visit www.finchhattons.com or Cheli & Peacock Safaris at www.chelipeacock.com

Fairmount Mount Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki

Mount Kenya Safari Club
Mount Kenya Safari Club near Nanyuki is divided at the equator, with some rooms in the northern hemisphere and their other halves in the southern hemisphere. The luxurious suites are ideal for honeymoons and other romantic vacations. (Mary Ann Anderson/TNS)

Three things stand out in the storied Mount Kenya Safari Club. First, the equator runs directly through it. It’s fun and offbeat to stand in the northern hemisphere one second, and then step into the southern the next. Plus, the views of snowcapped Mount Kenya are unrivaled. I never once tire of seeing Kenya’s second highest mountain in all its rugged, mountainous glory. And finally, the service is impeccable, and the staff is ready to assist at a moment’s notice. Add in its history—actor William Holden was instrumental in founding the resort—rich Colonial architecture, plush accommodations, and 100 acres of lushly landscaped gardens, and it all wraps up neatly for a honeymoon escape for June brides and grooms. Second time to the altar and have little ones tagging along? Families are welcome, too. Visit https://www.fairmont.com/mount-kenya-safari/accommodations/

Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp and Starbeds, Loisaba Conservancy

Kenya's Loisaba Conservancy
At Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy, honeymooners can choose between luxury tented camps or a romantic starbed, a bed that rolls out on to an open deck. (Loisaba Conservancy/TNS)

When darkness falls, only the constellations and moon light up the unpolluted skies of Loisaba Conservancy. With Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp’s location perched right on the edge of an escarpment, the panoramic views, both day and night, seemingly traipse on into eternity. If not for the game drives where you’re likely to see elephant, lion, and leopard, you might not want to leave your spacious tent built with custom floor-to-ceiling doors and windows and African-themed décor. If you would rather sleep outdoors, Loisaba also offers handcrafted four-poster Starbeds that are rolled out onto wooden platforms so that you can snooze underneath the wide-open African sky as you listen to the lullaby of elephants trumpet from afar. Visit www.loisaba.com or www.elewanacollection.com

A dik-dik, among Kenya’s smallest antelopes
A dik-dik, among Kenya’s smallest antelopes, weighing in at only 6 to 13 pounds, checks out the company at Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy. (Mary Ann Anderson/TNS)

Segera Retreat, Laikipia

In the undulating plains of the Laikipia Plateau, between Mount Kenya’s magnificence and the depths of the Great Rift Valley, is Segera Retreat, a collection of villas that includes Segera Nay Palad, a place that bespeaks of romance. The only way to describe the very private Segera Nay Palad most effectively is to say that it resembles a big bird nest, albeit a luxurious five-star bird nest, suspended amid the treetops of a river teeming with wildlife. Just the two of you can watch a dazzling African sunset as you toast the evening with flutes of champagne. Experience tranquility and the drama of the plains at one time. After a night of gazing at the heavens and then snuggling and slumbering under the stars, wake the next morning as elephants, giraffes, and big cats gather at the river to begin their day anew. Visit www.segera.com

Richard’s Camp, Masai Mara

Time moves slowly in Africa, very slowly, and days are unhurried and blissfully long. That’s especially true at Richard’s Camp in the Masai Mara. With only seven posh tents, it’s small, secluded and intimate to ensure privacy. Lots of white linens and furniture make the camp bright and airy. Meals are served under the stars. Bird and bush walks with knowledgeable guides take you through the stark and incredible scenery that surrounds the camp. Sunsets on the Mara are dazzling as the magical transition of the colors merge with the wildly wonderful dusty, musky scents that signal that daylight will soon fade into nightfall. Celebrate evenings with the customary ritual of a sundowner on the acacia-speckled Mara and salute the view and your new marriage with a gin and tonic, on safari the traditional cocktail of choice. Visit www.richardscamp.com

Elewana Elephant Pepper Camp, Masai Mara, Mara North Conservancy

An elephant with a safari vehicle full of people in the background
The elephant herds of the Masai Mara are legendary for their sheer numbers, and oftentimes a curious bull will clamor close to safari vehicles for a better look. (Mary Ann Anderson/TNS)

The infinite plains of Elewana Elephant Pepper Camp are known for its extraordinary plethora of wildlife. Great herds of elephants roam the hills, some curious enough to amble straight up to your safari vehicle. For romantic adventure, at night the plains and woodlands surrounding the camp come alive with a serenade of lions roaring, hyenas whooping, and jackals barking. While the wildlife may be restless outside, you’re completely safe inside your well-appointed tent that is set amid a grove of fig, ebony, and elephant pepper trees. Have your meals picnic-style by the Mara River. On bush drives, watch carefully for the big cats, not only lion but also cheetah and leopard, as well as a dazzle of zebra or a tower of giraffe. Elephant Pepper Camp is just lovely and remote, two of the ideal ingredients for a honeymoon in the African bush. Visit www.elewanacollection.com

Borana Lodge, Borana Conservancy

From a distance, the thatched roofs of the eight cottages at Borana Lodge meld seamlessly and harmoniously into the warm, rusty fusillade of colors that are the hallmark of the Kenyan landscape. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, nights are cool enough for a crackling fire. Each cottage, built of rock and cedar, has a fireplace and wide, private verandah for game viewing, and the entire lodge overlooks a sparkling lake where wildlife wanders in to slurp water in both early morning and late evening. Borana Lodge scores bonus points with its spacious bathrooms with showers and tubs that provide fantastic views of Mount Kenya to the south and a panorama of mountains and desert to the north. Call it a loo with a view. The chorus of songbirds and whispers of wind combine for a natural orchestra that soothes the soul. The lodge is elegant and quiet, the way a safari should be. Visit www.borana.co.ke

If You Go

Visit Kenya Tourism Board at www.magicalkenya.com. Visas and passports are required. Visit www.evisa.go.ke for more information and how to apply electronically.

For the most up-to-date information on entry requirements for COVID-19, malaria, yellow fever and other vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/kenya.

Kenya Airways is the only airline that flies nonstop to Nairobi from New York. Visit www.kenya-airways.com. Other airlines offer one-stop service from several gateways in the U.S., including KLM, Air France, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Egyptair, Qatar and Emirates. Most lodges and camps require additional travel by bush plane from Wilson Airport with arrangements made by your travel agent or tour company.

Copyright 2023 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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