Big cats like lion can be seen near Elephant Pepper Camp.

Kenya | Safari Sanctuary, Masai Mara & Beach | 10 Nights Laikipia Plateau, The Masai Mara & Kenya South Coast

Diverse landscapes and wildlife mean that a luxury Kenya safari can easily include time spent amid a sea of migrating wildebeest and beneath the waves diving on coral reefs. While Kenya is best known for game viewing in the Masai Mara and Laikipia, the richness of the Kenya beaches makes a wonderful counterpoint.

Three nights at The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

From the moment we first read about The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, it was a must-see for us. Of course ‘must-see’ is something of a misnomer for Laikipia, a place to be experienced with all the senses. Our first day was one of ups and downs, but all of them positive: the descent onto the airstrip, then the drive up to the lodge before the short walk up to our villa, the Eyrie, with its commanding views out towards Mount Kenya. Then down again for our final ascent: clambering onto the saddles of the two beasts that took us on our first camel safari.We’d been told that we could start our morning game drive at any time we wanted to, and we took our guide at his word. Waiting for us to finish a leisurely breakfast did nothing to diminish his enthusiasm. He was quick to point out that many of the antelope we saw seemed nervous – a sure sign of a predator in the area. Despite a thorough search (‘No stone left unturned,’ he joked as he expertly guided the 4×4 vehicle down a rocky slope) we didn’t unearth a big cat this time around, but that took nothing away from the experience.With the inevitable puns about horsepower, we chose a horseback safari over a second game drive the next day. We both loved the slower pace, and observing the reactions of the game to seeing us. Sudden, excited twittering and quick flashes of patchwork fur meant that we were being overtaken by a pack of wild dog, who ran past us in pursuit of panicking impala. The superbly well-trained horses did not shy once, and brought us safely home. After the gentle motion of the horse, I indulged in a massage (and why not) while my partner read up on the history of Mount Kenya.

From the moment we first read about The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, it was a must-see for us. Of course ‘must-see’ is something of a misnomer for Laikipia, a place to be experienced with all the senses. Our first day was one of ups and downs, but all of them positive: the descent onto the airstrip, then the drive up to the lodge before the short walk up to our villa, the Eyrie, with its commanding views out towards Mount Kenya. Then down again for our final ascent: clambering onto the saddles of the two beasts that took us on our first camel safari.

We’d been told that we could start our morning game drive at any time we wanted to, and we took our guide at his word. Waiting for us to finish a leisurely breakfast did nothing to diminish his enthusiasm. He was quick to point out that many of the antelope we saw seemed nervous – a sure sign of a predator in the area. Despite a thorough search (‘No stone left unturned,’ he joked as he expertly guided the 4×4 vehicle down a rocky slope) we didn’t unearth a big cat this time around, but that took nothing away from the experience.

With the inevitable puns about horsepower, we chose a horseback safari over a second game drive the next day. We both loved the slower pace, and observing the reactions of the game to seeing us. Sudden, excited twittering and quick flashes of patchwork fur meant that we were being overtaken by a pack of wild dog, who ran past us in pursuit of panicking impala. The superbly well-trained horses did not shy once, and brought us safely home. After the gentle motion of the horse, I indulged in a massage (and why not) while my partner read up on the history of Mount Kenya.

Three nights at Elephant Pepper Camp

While my partner found time for a short birding walk with our guide, I discovered the most relaxing pre-flight ritual: a head-and-neck massage. Then it was time to ascend again, to fly to the Masai Mara.Elephant Pepper Camp takes its name from the trees under which its canvas tents nestle, and we soon saw that the number of elephant around the lodge was not to be sneezed at. We learned that the nearby natural springs make the grass irresistible to them, and there was barely a moment when at least one or two were not within sight. Our arrival had coincided with that of the Great Wildebeest Migration, and we took our afternoon tea to go to spend more time with the herds. As the sun set, they were beginning to mass above a river crossing.Early the next morning, we returned to the same spot, only to find that the wildebeest had chosen discretion over valour and withdrawn from the riverbank for the moment. The crocodile slowly cruising the muddy brown water would have to wait a while longer. As big fans of the BBC show Big Cat Diaries we were thrilled that Leopard Gorge was so close … but we hadn’t anticipated a bush breakfast halfway up a stone kopje. From there we could see the wildebeest gathering further along the river, and that gave us a great pointer for the afternoon game drive.While our fellow guests were prepared for a hot-air balloon flight over the herds, we laced up our boots for a more intimate look at the Mara North Conservancy. Our guide took us on a fascinating walking safari that led us ultimately to one of the local villages for an intriguing Maasai cultural experience. It was a morning of making tracks and friends, and gaining an understanding of how conservation benefits communities. At the elegantly set dinner table that night, knowing we were contributing to upliftment in the area meant that the luxury we were enjoying did not seem inappropriate.

While my partner found time for a short birding walk with our guide, I discovered the most relaxing pre-flight ritual: a head-and-neck massage. Then it was time to ascend again, to fly to the Masai Mara.

Elephant Pepper Camp takes its name from the trees under which its canvas tents nestle, and we soon saw that the number of elephant around the lodge was not to be sneezed at. We learned that the nearby natural springs make the grass irresistible to them, and there was barely a moment when at least one or two were not within sight. Our arrival had coincided with that of the Great Wildebeest Migration, and we took our afternoon tea to go to spend more time with the herds. As the sun set, they were beginning to mass above a river crossing.

Early the next morning, we returned to the same spot, only to find that the wildebeest had chosen discretion over valour and withdrawn from the riverbank for the moment. The crocodile slowly cruising the muddy brown water would have to wait a while longer. As big fans of the BBC show Big Cat Diaries we were thrilled that Leopard Gorge was so close … but we hadn’t anticipated a bush breakfast halfway up a stone kopje. From there we could see the wildebeest gathering further along the river, and that gave us a great pointer for the afternoon game drive.

While our fellow guests were prepared for a hot-air balloon flight over the herds, we laced up our boots for a more intimate look at the Mara North Conservancy. Our guide took us on a fascinating walking safari that led us ultimately to one of the local villages for an intriguing Maasai cultural experience. It was a morning of making tracks and friends, and gaining an understanding of how conservation benefits communities. At the elegantly set dinner table that night, knowing we were contributing to upliftment in the area meant that the luxury we were enjoying did not seem inappropriate.

Four nights at The Ocean Spa Lodge

We found that within Kenya, it only took a relatively short flight for us to be transported to a completely different world, and this flight took us from a tsunami of migrating wildebeest to the calm, warm waters of the Kenya beaches.I’m not going to strain your credulity and claim that being on safari is work; but the opportunity to truly relax and unwind towards the end of our luxury Kenya safari was very welcome. At The Ocean Spa Lodge we could do as much, or as little, as we liked – the choice (as always) was ours. Our first priority was a stroll across the beach to dip our feet in the ocean. With traditional fishing boats drawn up on the sand, we felt as though we had gone back in time; a dinner of impossibly fresh fish brought us wonderfully back to the present.We were intrigued by The Ocean Spa Lodge’s holistic wellness philosophy (based on the three pillars of sea, life and balance) and by our second day we’d decided to loosely structure our time around it. The combination of teasing sea breezes, light, delicious meals served whenever and wherever we wanted, and being barefoot most of the time, saw any lingering stresses fall away – and that’s before we even entered the wellbeing space. Massage treatments dealt with any aches and pains from the more strenuous days on safari (a handy excuse) and yoga poses to greet the rising sun helped us ease into our day.Our scuba safari combined breathtaking underwater views, numerous species at close quarters, and local history courtesy of our mode of transport to the reef. We glided across the waves in a dhow, a traditional trading vessel with a sharply angled sail. The divemaster told us he had somewhere special in mind, and when we rolled into the ocean we found we were over a coral reef, with thousands of brightly coloured fish darting back and forth. Larger fish lingered at a ‘cleaning station’ where they could have their parasites picked off, and they were soon joined by a magnificent manta ray.For our last full day at The Ocean Spa Lodge we considered a game drive into the nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve, to see Kenya’s only population of sable, but the ocean views from our suite persuaded us to limit our travels to a day-long meander that took in the wellbeing centre, lunch at the blissful infinity pool and later, a cocktail-in-hand stroll along the beach. As the sun set, we met one of the chefs, carrying a tuna on his shoulder that he had just bought from the local Digo fishermen. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll meet again’ he said, referring to the fish. We did – and it was delicious.

We found that within Kenya, it only took a relatively short flight for us to be transported to a completely different world, and this flight took us from a tsunami of migrating wildebeest to the calm, warm waters of the Kenya beaches.

I’m not going to strain your credulity and claim that being on safari is work; but the opportunity to truly relax and unwind towards the end of our luxury Kenya safari was very welcome. At The Ocean Spa Lodge we could do as much, or as little, as we liked – the choice (as always) was ours. Our first priority was a stroll across the beach to dip our feet in the ocean. With traditional fishing boats drawn up on the sand, we felt as though we had gone back in time; a dinner of impossibly fresh fish brought us wonderfully back to the present.

We were intrigued by The Ocean Spa Lodge’s holistic wellness philosophy (based on the three pillars of sea, life and balance) and by our second day we’d decided to loosely structure our time around it. The combination of teasing sea breezes, light, delicious meals served whenever and wherever we wanted, and being barefoot most of the time, saw any lingering stresses fall away – and that’s before we even entered the wellbeing space. Massage treatments dealt with any aches and pains from the more strenuous days on safari (a handy excuse) and yoga poses to greet the rising sun helped us ease into our day.

Our scuba safari combined breathtaking underwater views, numerous species at close quarters, and local history courtesy of our mode of transport to the reef. We glided across the waves in a dhow, a traditional trading vessel with a sharply angled sail. The divemaster told us he had somewhere special in mind, and when we rolled into the ocean we found we were over a coral reef, with thousands of brightly coloured fish darting back and forth. Larger fish lingered at a ‘cleaning station’ where they could have their parasites picked off, and they were soon joined by a magnificent manta ray.

For our last full day at The Ocean Spa Lodge we considered a game drive into the nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve, to see Kenya’s only population of sable, but the ocean views from our suite persuaded us to limit our travels to a day-long meander that took in the wellbeing centre, lunch at the blissful infinity pool and later, a cocktail-in-hand stroll along the beach. As the sun set, we met one of the chefs, carrying a tuna on his shoulder that he had just bought from the local Digo fishermen. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll meet again’ he said, referring to the fish. We did – and it was delicious.

What sets it apart

This luxury Kenya safari really stood out for us for two main reasons: the sense of freedom we experienced, and the way in which each safari lodge was run with a view to ensuring that guests, local communities and wildlife all benefitted.We experienced the upliftment that we’ve always felt in pristine untrammelled wilderness; and also liberty from schedules and timetables. Each of the lodges we stayed at had their own distinct take on what true freedom meant, and each was equally wonderful.At The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, we were delighted to find that we could wake up, eat, and go on safari (or not) at whatever time best suited us. We could also have as many massage treatments as we wished. The fact that our villa was attended to by a butler, valet, askari and private guide freed us from having to lift a finger.Elephant Pepper Camp’s definition of freedom was to take us back in time to a less hurried safari era, and to experience the incredible wildlife of the Masai Mara in much the same way that the first safari-goers did. This peaked with our magnificent walking safari.Lastly, The Ocean Spa Lodge has somehow managed to bottle the scent of freedom – or perhaps it was borne into our villa by a fresh ocean breeze. Here concern for our wellbeing had been elevated into an art form, with a purpose-built wellness space and an entire philosophy based on drawing calming energy from the waves.

This luxury Kenya safari really stood out for us for two main reasons: the sense of freedom we experienced, and the way in which each safari lodge was run with a view to ensuring that guests, local communities and wildlife all benefitted.

We experienced the upliftment that we’ve always felt in pristine untrammelled wilderness; and also liberty from schedules and timetables. Each of the lodges we stayed at had their own distinct take on what true freedom meant, and each was equally wonderful.

At The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, we were delighted to find that we could wake up, eat, and go on safari (or not) at whatever time best suited us. We could also have as many massage treatments as we wished. The fact that our villa was attended to by a butler, valet, askari and private guide freed us from having to lift a finger.

Elephant Pepper Camp’s definition of freedom was to take us back in time to a less hurried safari era, and to experience the incredible wildlife of the Masai Mara in much the same way that the first safari-goers did. This peaked with our magnificent walking safari.

Lastly, The Ocean Spa Lodge has somehow managed to bottle the scent of freedom – or perhaps it was borne into our villa by a fresh ocean breeze. Here concern for our wellbeing had been elevated into an art form, with a purpose-built wellness space and an entire philosophy based on drawing calming energy from the waves.

Day 1–3

You can go on walking safaris from The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille.

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and assisted through customs and immigration. Following a private transfer to Wilson Airport, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Laikipia. You’ll then take a transfer to The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 4–6

Elephant Pepper Camp is small and exclusive, located away from other lodges in the Masai Mara. © Elewana Collection

After a transfer from The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to the Masai Mara. A transfer will take you to Elephant Pepper Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 7–10

A dhow cruise is a must when staying at Saruni Ocean. © Saruni

After a transfer from Elephant Pepper Camp to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Nairobi, and another to Diani Beach. A transfer will take you to The Ocean Spa Lodge, where you’ll spend four nights.

Day 11

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya.

After a transfer from The Ocean Spa Lodge to the airport, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. A private transfer will take you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where you’ll be assisted through check-in for your international flight.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what safari lodge style you’d prefer, and more.
  • This luxury safari trip idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click hereFor a general overview of African safari prices, you can click through to our blog.
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