weekend away - Satao Camp, Tsavo East National Park
Written by Mike Kirkland
Five hours’ drive from Nairobi, Satao Camp is a small oasis of green in semi-desert Tsavo East National Park, with a waterhole that is visited by large herds of wildlife.
Tsavo Eastis a large park of more than 11,000km2 that ranges from 150m to 1,200m above sea level. It is an area of little rainfall that has a large amount of wildlife such as lion, cheetah, leopard, buffalo, crocodile, hippopotamus, kudu, gerenuk (Waller’s gazelle), zebra, and many others. Also present in the vicinity of Satao Camp are the last remaining hirolas (an antelope similar to the hartebeest) in the world.
Tsavo East is also famous for the great herds of very large elephants (about 40% of the largest bull elephants in the world live in Tsavo East), who are well known for covering themselves in red dust. Guests of Satao camp can sit on the veranda of their tent and watch elephants wallow and drink at the waterhole.
Visitors can take a game drive along the Galana River to the picturesque Lugard Falls, where a bizarrely-eroded rock neck forces the whole river through a narrow gap, before it plunges into foaming rapids and pools filled with crocodiles! Overlooking Lugard Falls is the Yatta Plateau, a 300-km lava flow – the longest in the world.
Satao Camp has 20 tents, of which four are suites. All are raised on plinths to ensure the best view of the waterhole for all guests, and are complete with an en-suite and a private veranda. The camp has been recently refurbished to accommodate guests with disabilities.
The Satao waterhole is floodlit at night, and there is a raised viewing platform from which you can see the amazing procession of elephants and other wildlife playing their parts in the circle of life.
Satao Camp is a unique place where you will find yourself entranced by the wildlife as you relax in total comfort and safety, feeling at one with nature.
Southern Cross Safarishas a daily, air-conditioned bus from coastal hotels to Bachuma Gate, the entrance to Tsavo Park. From there you can travel in open 4WD vehicles in the park. Alternatively, book a private 4WD with your own guide, or charter an aircraft to take you straight to the airstrip near the camp.
Travel light when on safari, packing no more than 15 kilos into soft duffel bags, plus a reasonable amount of camera equipment. Most safari camps will launder your clothes overnight. Great binoculars are a must, as are long sleeves and long trousers. For the early mornings, take a light fleece – also take twice the number of batteries and memory cards you think you may need.