Joy’s Camp is a stunning tented safari camp in northern Kenya’s Shaba National Reserve, at the eastern corner of the Samburu. The camp has seven double and three twin tented rooms set on raised platforms. Each has an uninterrupted view over the bush to the surrounding hills. The 80 sq metre, insect-proofed, cream-coloured tents have an abundance of netted “windows” to take advantage of the breezes, the views and the opportunities for private game viewing. Rooms are equipped with large and comfortable beds, bedside tables, flexible and imaginative lighting and ample clothes storage. Zanzibari brass lanterns (with halogen bulbs) hang each side of the bed, which is covered with a spread of Boran design. A three-quarter height white wall separates the bathroom from the bedroom and, with its varied arches, reinforces the Swahili style. The bathroom is decorated with hand-made glass and provides twin basins, a walk-in shower, and natural toiletries. A wide verandah, furnished with day-bed, chairs and table, stretches the width of the tent and provides magnificent long views to the mountains.
The reception area displays an interesting small collection of Joy Adamson’s personal items – including her easel – and memorabilia. The boutique stocks a selection of jewellery, bags, kikois, souvenirs and a range of essentials. The main area provides a comfortable, shaded lounge area and bar and the open-air dining tent, both overlooking a spring - elephant and buffalo were drinking there on our last visit. The good-size swimming pool has been designed to look like a water hole and, with its tented shaded area, is most attractive.
Fresh fruit, cereals and a full cooked breakfast are on offer in the morning. Lunch is a three-course affair. Tea and coffee are always available and afternoon tea is served before the evening game activity. On your return, there are drinks around the camp fire, followed by a four-course dinner (e.g. cauliflower soup, stuffed aubergine, beef with garlic mash and vegetables, date & lime pudding.). Meals are imaginative and tasty.
Bordered by volcanic outcrops and the Ewaso Nyiro River, Shaba is a semi-arid 223sq km reserve marked by rocky lava flows, acacia trees, thorny scrub, springs and marshes. There are only one other camp in Shaba, and Joy’s Camp is almost as far away from it as possible. Game drives are in open Landcruisers and you are unlikely to encounter another vehicle. Most of the guides have achieved Kenya’s Silver qualification. Buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion are found in Shaba, as well as a variety of buck, the lovely gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, Reticulated giraffe and the Beisa oryx. However, Shaba is not fully fenced and the wildlife is free to migrate in and out of the reserve, so sightings may be few and far between – wildlife is most plentiful from September through December. In our opinion, Joy’s offers a fantastic wilderness experience, and plays a key role in conservation, as well as enabling you to walk in the footsteps of one of the great figures in wildlife conservation.
Tents are powered by a solar inverter system. Each tent has its own solar water heater. A generator is run for 3 hours in the morning and evening, enabling you to charge electronic items in your room – and to power the pool filter, fridges, freezers and water pump. The camp uses energy-efficient light bulbs. Joy’s Camp was built from local materials and all the furniture was locally made. Over 60% of the staff come from the locality and are being trained by the camp.
Shaba National Reserve, in the eastern corner of the Samburu, is a semi-arid landscape punctuated by deep springs and river gorges. Joy’s Camp was built on the site of Joy Adamson’s own camp and overlooks a natural spring where lion, elephant and herds of buffalo come to water in the company of rare desert species of Reticulated giraffe, Beisa oryx and the endangered Grevy’s zebra. Shaba Reserve is 340km north-northeast of Nairobi. Flights from Nairobi to Shaba take one hour. The camp is about 10 minutes’ drive through the reserve from Shaba airstrip.