One of the great irony in fly camping is that is the most luxurious and among the most expensive outdoor activities. The irony is that camping is supposed to be cheap yet those with fat pockets amongst us end up paying more for the experience. Fly camping in Kenya is no exception to this rule and will leave you with an amazing memory of a lifetime.
What is fly camping?
Fly camping is a form of lightweight camping where you use light and portable gear to camp on the go. It involves packing your essential items in backpacks or duffel bags, then hiking to remote locations where you camp out under the stars (or in tents!). Fly camping has become popular with travelers looking for an adventurous way to explore the outdoors and experience the beauty of nature.
In the past hunters would go for days or weeks into the bush with only a few simple supplies and shelter in order to hunt down their prey. They would live off the land, hunting and fishing for food while sleeping in makeshift shelters like tree leaves or under the stars.
Aside from the Samburu hunters, Wikipedia’s history of fly camping indicates that it was a military formation employed by the Continental Army in the second half of 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. Essentially, the soldiers would move to a new location ever day, carrying only the supplies they needed and sleeping in shelters made of branches.
Fly camping in Kenya is no different; you’ll be transported by car, jeep or truck to the designated campsite where you’ll be given tents and other necessary gear. Your guide will then lead you on an exploration of the area, during which time you’ll set up your own camp and explore the local wildlife and scenery.
Woody Guthri, an American author wrote that “The most luxurious way to camp is fly camping. It’s like a luxury hotel on wheels, only better, because you get to explore the world while you go.”
Indeed fly camping in Kenya is an amazing experience that will bring you closer to nature and let you enjoy the beautiful African wilderness.
What makes fly camping in Kenya different?
The beauty of fly camping in Kenya is that you can explore some of the country’s wildest places, away from civilization and tourists. There are dozens of remote national parks to choose from, each with its own unique landscapes and wildlife.
Fly camping in Kenya provides travelers with the ultimate luxury safari experience, allowing them to enjoy close encounters with some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife while sleeping under canvas and tasting delicious cuisine cooked over a campfire.
As this blog explains, your comfortable tent will be set up and waiting for you, complete with overhead lighting, windows on three sides, and a veranda out front with an awning. You’ll also have access to camping chairs and a table, as well as headlamps. And when you’re ready to shower, we’ve got you covered with a hot bucket shower hung in a tree—with a view! Plus, we have safari toilets available for your use.
Check out the tent setup below that I got from the Asili site linked above. Take note of the canvas pouch holding the shower water hanging on an acacia tree – can’t get more real and natural than that!
Another great thing about fly camping in Kenya is the rustic charm and simplicity of it all; you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of nature without any distractions or gadgets, while still having access to basic amenities like hot showers and comfortable sleeping arrangements.
How Fly Camping Works:
- Get your gear and supplies including tents, sleeping bags, food and water, cookware and other basic amenities.
- Pack your backpacks and head to your destination. You’ll have to do some bit of bush walking which may involve some stream crossings or bush bashing.
- While you walk, your hotel will organize to deliver your gear and set up camp.
- Once you arrive, your guide will help you set up camp and teach you the basics of fly camping. You can explore the area during the day, watching wildlife and taking photos. In the evening, settle in for a feast cooked over an open fire before retiring to your tent or shelter for
- Explore the area, going on hikes and game drives to observe wildlife in its natural habitat.
- Cook meals over an open fire or barbecue grill and enjoy fresh local food.
- Sleep in tents or under the stars, listening to the sounds of nature.
- Take part in activities such as bushwalks and bird watching. Break camp in the morning and journey back to your accommodation or fly camping site.
How Fly Camping Differs from regular camping:
You don’t have to worry about sleeping on the ground like a traditional camping trip! You will be provided with a comfortable mattress and either warm blankets or sheets and duvet. This is the perfect opportunity to sleep under the stars and spot constellations as you drift off to sleep.
Food is usually cooked over an open fire, so you can expect some of the freshest and most delicious meals – from traditional African cuisine to homemade pizzas. You’ll be able to enjoy food that has been sourced locally, like fresh fruit and vegetables.
Unlike regular camping trips where you could be near a lake or in an isolated forest, fly camping usually takes place either in remote areas of national parks or in the heart of the African bush. This means you will have a much better chance of spotting wildlife than if you were to stay at a regular campsite.
Fly camping provides more opportunities for adventure! You’ll be able to go on hikes, spot wildlife, stargaze and learn about the local culture. Many campsites also offer activities such as kayaking, horse riding and fishing so you can make the most of your experience.
Safety is paramount when fly camping. It’s important that you follow all safety instructions given by your guides and stay on well-defined trails. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing and bring all the necessary supplies. You should also be aware of the potential risks associated with wild animals, as well as snakes and insects.
Fly camping is generally more expensive than regular camping trips. This is due to the extra costs associated with setup, gear and food. However, despite the higher price tag, this type of safari experience can provide you with an unforgettable adventure that you’ll never forget.
Pros and cons of fly camping:
• Enjoy close encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat
• Experience the thrill of sleeping under canvas and tasting delicious cuisine cooked over a campfire
• Get back to nature while still having access to basic amenities like hot showers and comfortable sleeping arrangements
• Can be more expensive than regular camping trips
• Potentially dangerous due to wild animals, snakes and insects
• May require more preparation and planning than regular camping trips.
What’s the cost of Fly Camping in Kenya?
The cost of fly camping in Kenya depends on the type of experience you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for a basic camping trip, it can be relatively inexpensive. However, if you’re looking for more luxury and comfort, then it can be quite expensive. Prices will also depend on the number of people in your group, the duration and the activities you plan to do.
Fly Camping Destinations in Kenya
My favorite fly camping location is the Sarara camp within The Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust, which is situated in the remote northern Laikipia area and Matthews Range, and is spread over 85000 acres.
Below is a quick video showcasing this camp by NatGeo Expedition.
The region houses Samburu people who are semi-nomadic pastoralists as well as cousins of Maasai community. It has been successful in maintaining the land and wildlife for several years now , all thanks to efforts by local communities like Sarara.
Ol Malo has a rich history and connection to the local Samburu community, situated in a beautiful location in Laikipia. Colin and Rocky Francombes, a multi-generational Kenyan family, own and operate Ol Malo which makes it an even more authentic experience for visitors. Francombes trace their presence in Kenya to 1914 when Olga Watkins immigrated to Kenya from England. Olga is Rocky’s grandmother.
Below is a 1:32-mins video showcasing this camp;
Get to know a bit about the family through the photo below and can read more about them on Ol Malo’s website here.
Below are some activities you can do in this camp;
- Fly Camp
- Horseback ride
- Camelback ride
- Game drive
- Game walk
- Visit local Samburu communities.
- Get extraordinary views of the Mukogodo
If you are into bio conservation, you’ll even like this camp more. Ol Malo has a partnership with the Samburu Trust, which was founded by Julia Francombe in 2000. The ranch’s guests are invited to visit neighboring villages and manyattas so they can have personal experiences that outsiders don’t often get to have. The goal of this deep relationship is to protect the Samburu people, their land, and their way of life through education, conservation, healthcare, water supply, women’s opportunities, and eco-tourism.
You’ll need to book this fly camp on its website by filling out a form on this page.
Kicheche fly camps are located in Maasai Mara Conservancy and in Laikipia.
Kicheche Mara Camp is a secluded, high-end tented camp located in a stunning valley within an excellent wildlife area of the Mara North Conservancy. The luxurious tents are placed near a seasonal stream providing opportunities to view local birdlife and plains game beyond. Read more about Kicheche Mara on its website here.
Below is a quick video (less than 1 min) showing this amazing destination in the Mara;
I really appreciate that Kicheche has an active Youtube account where they upload great wildlife videos.
Award-winning and luxurious Kicheche Laikipia camp is located near Mount Kenya, next to an indigenous forest. With 90,000 acres of wilderness area including a waterhole, the Conservancy is home to Kenya’s largest population of Black Rhino as well as large numbers of elephant, cheetah, lion, leopard, African wild dog and plentiful plains game. You can also find rarer Northern species such as Grevys Zebra , Jackson’s Hartebeest and Beisa Oryx. Read more about Kicheche Laikipia here.
Activities to do in this camp:
- Stunning view down the valley
- Game drives
- Guided walks
- Fly Camp
- Get out to meet the community and you will see a mixture of tourist locations, wildlife conservation initiatives, environmental education centers, and small local businesses.
This Kicheche camp only has nine tents so you’re guaranteed an intimate and relaxed stay. In any of the tents you book, you’ll have a view of the Olare Orok stream and the western escarpment of the valley. If you’re traveling with family, they also provide triple and quad tents (1 double & 2 single beds).
I really like that they provide WIFI in their camps.
Ol Malo camp has more activities than Kicheche such as fishing and camelback ride.
To book this camp, you can find the booking form on their website.
When I checked the availability of the camp, I found that it cost $300 to rent their fly camp tents for a single night as shown in the snapshot below. They also rent their vehicles for $300.
You can also get in touch with them using the contacts below;
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Landlines:+254202493512/ 69
- Duty Mobile/ WhatsApp: +254736888055
You can also get another great fly camping experience is Serian Camp, situated in the Naboisho Conservancy, which is home to some of Kenya’s most unique and magnificent wildlife. From here you can enjoy game drives, night game drives and nature walks.
- Kicheche and Serian Camp in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
Fly camping vs wild camping: 4 Key Differences
Fly camping is typically offered in certain areas, usually national parks or wildlife reserves where there are exclusive access rights to camp. This can be a great choice if you’d like to experience remote locations full of untouched nature and wildlife. On the other hand, wild camping is more about finding your own spot for setting up your campsite – it can be anywhere.
Fly camping is usually a more structured and organized experience, with specific locations for setting up your camp, as well as pre-arranged meals and activities. Wild camping offers more flexibility in terms of where to set up your campsite, what you eat, and how you spend your time.
Fly camping can often be quite expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of transportation and other activities that may be included in the package. However, wild camping is usually a much cheaper option as there are no pre-arranged packages to pay for and all you really need is your tent and a spot to set it up.
Both fly camping and wild camping offer plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural habitat, but you may have a better chance with fly camping due to the fact that there are often more animals in areas where the campsites are located.
Is fly camping worth it?
Yes! Fly camping gives you the opportunity to experience nature in its purest form, while still having access to basic amenities like hot showers and comfortable sleeping arrangements. It can also be more exciting than regular camping trips, with activities such as kayaking, horse riding and fishing available at some campsites.
Is fly camping safe?
Fly camping can be safe if you take the necessary precautions and follow all safety instructions given by your guides. It’s also important to stay on well-defined trails and be aware of the potential risks associated with wild animals, as well as snakes and insects.
What type of clothing should I wear while fly camping?
It’s best to wear layers of lightweight clothing when fly camping, as the temperature can vary throughout the day. You should also bring a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent to protect yourself from the elements. Lastly, it’s important to wear sturdy shoes that can handle walking on uneven terrain.
Do you actually fly with fly camping?
No, the name “fly camping” doesn’t refer to actual flying. It simply refers to a style of camping that involves sleeping in tents and other portable shelters at remote locations. The term comes from the fact that these campsites are often only accessible by light aircraft or helicopter. In some cases, you may even need to hike to get to your destination.
How do I book a fly camping trip?
You’ll need to click on the websites of the listed destinations offering fly camping as I tried searching for bookings on sites such as Tripadvisor but you can’t book it there. Tripadvisor requires you to book on their websites.
What is the cost associated with Fly Camping?
Expect to pay at least $800 per night for fly camping experiences in Kenya which come with a whole host of ‘upgraded’ camping experiences. This cost includes a guide, transport and food for the duration of your stay. Cost may vary depending on the size of your group and number of days you plan to spend fly camping.
Should I do fly camping during my safari in Kenya?
If your safari route passes through the destinations above and have the budget to spend upwards of $800, you should definitely try it. Some people don’t like for being away from civilization, but fly camping allows you to experience nature in its purest form. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life! So if you’re looking for an adventure, fly camping is definitely worth considering.