Bush sundowners are a must when staying at Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park.

Elsa’s Kopje Meru | Meru National Park

Take an open-air bath on your porch, overlooking the plains of Meru National Park in northern Kenya; walk in the footsteps of the lion-loving Adamsons, made famous by Born Free; or enjoy a number of other activities at Elsa’s Kopje Meru, including massages, game drives, guided walks, day excursions or fishing.

The place

It might’ve been difficult to spot Elsa’s Kopje Meru if I hadn’t known what to look for, so seamlessly does the luxury Kenyan safari lodge blend into the rocky Mughwango Hill in Meru National Park. The lodge is named after the lioness in my favourite book, Born Free, which tells the true story of how Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa before releasing her into the wild.Elsa’s Kopje Meru is located on a small hill (or kopje) just above the site of the Adamson’s original camp, where they lived with her; my love for big cats and my lifelong dream to see Elsa’s home made this historic setting my dream-holiday destination.

It might’ve been difficult to spot Elsa’s Kopje Meru if I hadn’t known what to look for, so seamlessly does the luxury Kenyan safari lodge blend into the rocky Mughwango Hill in Meru National Park. The lodge is named after the lioness in my favourite book, Born Free, which tells the true story of how Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa before releasing her into the wild.

Elsa’s Kopje Meru is located on a small hill (or kopje) just above the site of the Adamson’s original camp, where they lived with her; my love for big cats and my lifelong dream to see Elsa’s home made this historic setting my dream-holiday destination.

The room

Suffused with warmth and happiness, I sink deeper into my bubble bath, still a bit awestruck at where I am. Our chalet is perched on top of the highest point of the hill, and I’m soaking in an open-air bathtub that’s sculpted into the verandah. From here I’m contemplating the semiarid landscape, interspersed as it is with meandering rivers and lush springs that attract all kinds of animals, including rhino.My partner is relaxing on a chair near me, immersed in a book on the local flora and fauna, and there’s nothing to disturb the sights and sounds of nature in all its glory. Our stone-and-thatched chalet is one of nine here (along with a private house and family cottage) crafted around the rocks. Persian carpets contrast wonderfully with furniture made from fallen trees, and woven walls roll up to take advantage of the dramatic views.A startled exclamation from my spouse makes me sit up quickly; a pointed finger leads my eyes to a dazzle of striped zebra. It’s a small taste of what’s to come on our afternoon game drive. After dressing, we head to the lounge to meet our guide.We admire the lodge garden, the infinity rock pool and the dining area on the lawns – all with 360-degree views of Mount Kenya, the Nyambene Hills and the eastern plains – before walking inside to see the black-and-white pictures of Joy and George Adamson and the big cats they dedicated their lives to. Our guide greets us with a face-creasing smile, asking us what we want to see on our drive today. ‘Big cats, of course,’ we answer, with smiles to match.

Suffused with warmth and happiness, I sink deeper into my bubble bath, still a bit awestruck at where I am. Our chalet is perched on top of the highest point of the hill, and I’m soaking in an open-air bathtub that’s sculpted into the verandah. From here I’m contemplating the semiarid landscape, interspersed as it is with meandering rivers and lush springs that attract all kinds of animals, including rhino.

My partner is relaxing on a chair near me, immersed in a book on the local flora and fauna, and there’s nothing to disturb the sights and sounds of nature in all its glory. Our stone-and-thatched chalet is one of nine here (along with a private house and family cottage) crafted around the rocks. Persian carpets contrast wonderfully with furniture made from fallen trees, and woven walls roll up to take advantage of the dramatic views.

A startled exclamation from my spouse makes me sit up quickly; a pointed finger leads my eyes to a dazzle of striped zebra. It’s a small taste of what’s to come on our afternoon game drive. After dressing, we head to the lounge to meet our guide.

We admire the lodge garden, the infinity rock pool and the dining area on the lawns – all with 360-degree views of Mount Kenya, the Nyambene Hills and the eastern plains – before walking inside to see the black-and-white pictures of Joy and George Adamson and the big cats they dedicated their lives to. Our guide greets us with a face-creasing smile, asking us what we want to see on our drive today. ‘Big cats, of course,’ we answer, with smiles to match.

What sets it apart

I love taking our meals at varied locations: at the infinity pool, at our cottage or with the other guests on the lawns. The food is memorable, with fresh salads and herbs from the garden. But the real highlight is bathing outdoors on the porch, or simply relaxing between game drives in the infinity pool, gazing out into the vast wilderness of the Meru plains and imagining what it must have been like to live like the Adamsons did, rehabilitating big cats for reintroduction into the wild.

I love taking our meals at varied locations: at the infinity pool, at our cottage or with the other guests on the lawns. The food is memorable, with fresh salads and herbs from the garden. But the real highlight is bathing outdoors on the porch, or simply relaxing between game drives in the infinity pool, gazing out into the vast wilderness of the Meru plains and imagining what it must have been like to live like the Adamsons did, rehabilitating big cats for reintroduction into the wild.

At a glance

  • Exclusive ‘gold’ eco-rated camp in Meru National Park steeped in Born Free history. It has six cottage suites, three honeymoon cottages, a family cottage, a private house and an infinity pool.
  • Private airstrip, helipad, only six guests per safari vehicle, private vehicles available (additional cost), private dining and flexible schedules.
  • Game drives, walking safaris, fishing, bush meals, bush sundowners, spa treatments (additional cost) and cultural visits (additional cost).
  • Children welcome and children’s activities available. One family cottage, and others can take two extra beds.

  • Exclusive ‘gold’ eco-rated camp in Meru National Park steeped in Born Free history. It has six cottage suites, three honeymoon cottages, a family cottage, a private house and an infinity pool.
  • Private airstrip, helipad, only six guests per safari vehicle, private vehicles available (additional cost), private dining and flexible schedules.
  • Game drives, walking safaris, fishing, bush meals, bush sundowners, spa treatments (additional cost) and cultural visits (additional cost).
  • Children welcome and children’s activities available. One family cottage, and others can take two extra beds.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

This is prime time for a luxury safari in northern Kenya. The weather is dry and cool, making conditions perfect in this arid part of the country. It’s just after the long rains, so while the bush is initially lush it gets progressively sparser, making wildlife easier to spot. A trip to northern Kenya at this time of year is best combined with a visit to the Masai Mara, where you’ll be able to see the Great Wildebeest Migration from July to September.

In this period following the short rains, the dry season takes hold and the vegetation thins out completely. The animals congregate near water sources – particularly the Ngiro River, which makes its way from the Laikipia highlands to Samburu and beyond – so the game viewing is excellent, plus there are fewer people around to share your sightings with. To round off your safari experience, visit Tanzania now too, where you’ll catch the southern Serengeti leg of the Great Wildebeest Migration, as well as the wildebeest’s dramatic birthing season.

Kenya’s long rains, which fall steadily throughout April and May, are followed by short rains in November – generally quick afternoon bursts. While muddy roads can make getting around a bit tricky, the drier north is the best place to be in Kenya at this time of year. It’s a quiet time for tourism, so wildlife experiences are exclusive, and as the vegetation is in a growth period, game sightings are plentiful. All in all visitors get good-value holidays now, provided they pack their sense of humour (and their gum boots!).

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