Kenya Safari Page 4 - Ol Pejeta Conservancy - Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Africa Kenya Sweetwaters Tented Camp Tents

Africa – Kenya – Ol Pejeta Conservancy • The Sweetwaters tents are typical of “tented camps” in many areas of Africa

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a truly unusual mix of various enterprises.  It is a private game reserve dedicated to the preservation of the Black Rhino; it is the home of the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary; and it is also a working cattle ranch.  Its role as a Kenya safari destination is made possible by the land itself, which provides a perfect balance between the wide open spaces of the plains and the dark forest of the mountains.  The Acacia trees create a beautiful wooded setting, but are not so dense that they seriously impair the wildlife watching.

Sweetwaters Tented Camp is one of five overnight accommodations within the conservancy. This was our first experience with the “Five Star” tent concept, and some special mention is in order. Contrary to the usual expectation of a “tent” the phrase “tented camp” generally describes the high end of African safari accommodations, in part because the tented camps house far fewer people than a lodge.

Consistent with the African standard, a Sweetwaters tent has a concrete foundation, a comfortable bathroom, and a permanent roof over the canvas walls.  Yes, these are tents because they do have canvas sides, and that feature puts you much more in touch with your surroundings.  However, this version of “camping out” comes complete with world class cuisine and lots of personal service.  However odd the idea might seem – too comfortable to be a real safari experience, but too rustic for anyone opposed to camping – the actual experience makes it obvious why this blend of features is so popular and so often repeated.

The sounds, the movement of the air around you, the sense of being as much outside as in, these qualities are preserved with the permanent tent setup.  Many camps have an elevated wood frame foundation and floor, but in either case any sense of “roughing it” is completely eliminated by the comfortable beds, good showers, and reliable plumbing.  It is quite likely that the expense of a tented camp may convince you to stay in a more conventional facility, but don’t avoid the experience just because it is unfamiliar – try it, you’ll like it.

Africa Kenya Sweetwaters Tented Camp Sunrise-Sunset

Africa – Kenya – Sweetwaters Tented Camp • Left: Sunrise • Right: Sunset • The view from the tents at Sweetwaters includes a waterhole and wide open African spaces

Africa Kenya Sweetwaters Tented Camp Marabou Stork

Africa – Kenya – Sweetwaters Tented Camp • The Marabou Stork is a very large bird, and it has a unique personality

Also typical of many luxury tented camps, there is an electrified fence separating the guests from the wildlife, and game drives can be alternated with guided walks when you are ready to leave the manicured grounds.  There is also a waterhole at Sweetwaters Camp, and although larger animals were not in evidence during our visit, the bird life provided one of the more memorable evenings of the trip.

The elevation of the Central Highlands of Kenya keeps the temperatures in a range from cool to mild despite their location right on the equator. On an unusually cool night during our stay a full orchestra of different bird species commented on the weather in a range of voices from chatters to tweets, and according to inner clocks as reliable as metronomes.  I have long been a fan of African music, with its multiple layers of rhythms and tones and textures, and on that night at Sweetwaters, listening to the polyphony of the birds, the source of African music seemed indisputable.

We also visited the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, co-founded by Jane Goodall, a rescue mission for threatened chimps from other areas in Africa – none are found in the wild in Kenya.  The area available to the chimpanzees is quite large, so there is no guarantee that any will be close to the viewing area during your visit. However, certain individuals either enjoy the attention or are hoping that someone will break the no feeding rule, so your chances are good and a viewing platform is provided.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy has continued to grow in size and concept since our trip, so a visit to their website is recommended for the latest information, but the underlying quality of the location and the basic philosophy for its management makes this destination – and Sweetwaters Camp – a very solid choice.

Regardless of your accommodations it is the land and the wildlife that make a great safari, and because we have used Sweetwaters for a discussion of living conditions in the “wild”, Ol Pejeta needs another page devoted just to the sights to be seen on a game drive in this truly exceptional place.


Kenya Travel – Page 1

Page 2 – Kenya Safari – Amboseli National Park

Page 3 – Aberdare National Park – The Ark

Page 4 – You Are Here

Page 5 – Kenya Safari – Ol Pejeta Wildlife and Scenery

Page 6 – Nanyuki – Mount Kenya Safari Club

Page 7 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara National Reserve

Page 8 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara Wildlife

Page 9 – Masai Mara – People and Trees


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