A different sort of safari: why go rhino tracking in Northern Kenya at Saruni Rhino
This is a safari that has no comparison in the whole of East Africa. A unique experience at the cutting edge of African conservation.
CEO & Founder, Saruni lodges & camps
03 Dec 2018
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This is a safari that has no comparison in the whole of East Africa. A unique experience at the cutting edge of African conservation. When Saruni was offered by Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and Sera Community Conservancy to run this project, we all felt that it was a defining moment for us as a company dedicated to the protection of land and wildlife for the future generations. A couple of years later, its success is setting a new benchmark in community and wildlife management. And guests regularly call it the highlight of their African safari.
To track and find on foot black rhinos – one of the most endangered species on the planet – with the help of Samburu rangers and Samburu warriors in one of the most isolated and most beautiful un-spoilt areas of Africa, is truly a privilege that it is impossible to forget. For many of our guests, it is a life changing moment, not just the chapter of a holiday in Africa but a transformational one in a magical, remote paradise.
Our guests stay at Saruni Rhino, a small but remarkable lodge located in the 350,000 hectares Sera Community Conservancy, in the wild, undiscovered Northern frontier of Kenya. It’s Africa as it was, the magical Africa of the dreams of pure nature with very little human presence and intervention. Saruni Rhino offers the first rhino tracking experience in East Africa: an amazing walking safari that provides a uniquely thrilling adventure, but also allows our guests to actively contribute to the protection of this iconic species. Herds of elephants populate this vast landscape, and guests can also enjoy amazing birdwatching and cultural experiences at the ‘singing wells’.
The reasons why this experience is unique are many: it is the first community conservancy in Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino; it is the first time the black rhino is back in Northern Kenya 30 years after they were poached and eradicated from this territory; it is the first time a black rhino tracking experience has been available in Kenya, and it is done with Samburu guides who share their local, authentic insight and culture; and finally it's a perfect oasis amidst the arid rangelands of the north, amongst doum palms dotted along a dry river bed.
This community-based project works. In a time and era when rhino news is often negative – loss of rhinos, loss of territory, loss of hope – the Samburu of Northern Kenya are showing that things can be different. Since the initial rhinos were relocated into Sera Conservancy, there have been four births. Following your ‘up close and personal’ encounters with ‘the supreme rhino of Sera’, the conservancy provides further plentiful wildlife opportunities and experiences, including game drives to spot the Samburu specials (oryx, gerenuk, ostrich, Grevy’s Zebra, reticulated giraffe), buffalo, elephants, antelope and a plethora of birdlife.
Sera is also home to The Fifty Wells, ‘Kisima Hamsini’, a series of (50!) springs where local pastoralists take their livestock to drink, digging up water from the wells to fill up holders and troughs. The Singing Wells represent one of the most authentic cultural experiences available today in Africa. It is a rare treat to see the local community singing proprietary songs recognisable only by their own cattle, to encourage them to come to the wells to drink. A Biblical scene, as many of our guests describe it. There is no photography, there is no interference, there is no commercial transaction: it is an ancient, nomadic Africa that is as heart-beating as the rhino tracking.
From Saruni Rhino we also visit the recently opened Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy located in the remote Mathews Range nearby. It provides protection for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining the Sanctuary. Another community-run project that allows us to be very close to baby elephants in their natural environment.
When you join us on this adventure, you become one of us, a conservationist actively involved in saving the rhinos. We look forward to have you among our ranks.