Located on the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy – a community-owned area of more than 850,000 acres, which employs wildlife tourism as a means of both providing income to the local people and protecting these animals – Sarara has a long-established relationship with the Samburu tribe who call this land home. In fact, this partnership goes back even further than the conservancy, with the word ‘Sarara’ itself meaning ‘meeting place’, as it is in this location that hundreds of the Samburu people have converged for many years for one unique reason – the presence of underground water.
A trip to this part of the world would not be complete without going to what have become known as the Singing Wells, led by a Samburu guide. This experience was described to me as being “biblical”, which I later found out to be a rather apt description. Much of the life of traditional tribespeople across Kenya is determined by the rains, as this will decide where they will herd their cattle for the best grazing, where water and grass are plentiful. In this area, during dryer times, the Samburu men will go down to a network of dried riverbeds and dig deep holes in the ground – or wells – from which they will be able to draw water for their cattle, goats and donkeys, thereby ensuring their survival. Throughout the process, they will sing and chant age-old family songs and rhythms, which their livestock learn to recognise and follow, navigating their way through to their owner’s well. It is a sight to behold, and something very few people are privileged enough to experience in their lifetimes.
The following morning, we took a short drive out to the latest addition to the camp – the spectacular Sarara Treehouses. Built on raised wooden walkways among the canopy, these tents have been designed to fulfil every childhood fantasy of sleeping out in a treehouse, complete with the option to lie out in a star-bed and admire the vastness of the universe above. The game-viewing in this area was also absolutely superb, and I saw more giraffe in one sighting than I had ever seen before – more than thirty! These beautiful, if slightly ungainly, creatures are of the reticulated variety, and you will only find them in the northern parts of Kenya. Together with the Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, Somali ostrich and beisa oryx, these are known as ‘the Northern Five’ and should all be high on your ‘must-see’ list.