Meru National Park camps - Elsa’s Kopje

Elsa’s Kopje

The fat and happy hyraxes (like African guinea pigs) that bask in the sunshine all over the huge granite boulders of Elsa's Kopje are a pretty good indication of how it feels at this remote lodge in Meru National Park. It's very comfortable, even luxurious, with great food and has a superb site on a kopje that sits like an island, rising from the park that surrounds it like a wild ocean.

Being here should please seasoned safari goers and first timers alike, as it gives access to a park that is relatively unvisited, and has become increasingly good for game as it matures.

Visitors can also feel good that they're putting their park fees into a park which is something of a conservation miracle, and was dragged back from a state of near decimation due to poaching in the early nineties.

The creation of Elsa's Kopje was a part of this renaissance, and they have made it lovely enough to tempt guests back to an area that had been all but deserted by tourists. Now visitors are back, but not as yet in such force.

Safari in Meru is still an exclusive experience, which makes it all the better. You're very unlikely to see another person or vehicle while out for your game drives. Elsa's Kopje is named after the lion made famous in the film Born Free, the lion who in real life George and Joy Adamson tried to return to the wild in Meru National Park.

The stories of George and Joy, and their lions, and indeed of the making of the film which became inextricably linked with Meru too, provides a fascinating context for the camp, and the walls are full of photographs from this time. You can even go and see the graves of Elsa and Pippa (their cheetah) in the park.

Though the kopje itself provides some relief, the landscape around Elsa's Kopje is pretty well flat and with rain, the bush can be thick. This basically means that in the dry season, when there is very little vegetation and the rivers come into their own as magnets for game, there is lots around that's easily seen - not so many lions, but plenty of elephant, big herds or buffalo, and a good healthy sprinkling of what's known as The Northern Five - Lesser Kudu, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, Oryx, Grevy's Zebra (not so many of these). Plus it's not a long drive to the Meru rhino sanctuary - home to 30 black and 21 white rhino.

In the wet season, which is becoming increasingly hard to predict, in terms of when, and how much (a seven year drought in this area was followed in November 2006 by unprecedently torrential rains), the game will be dispersed and visibility poor due to vegetation.

Incl. FB, soft drinks, beer, house wine & spirits, laundry, game & night drives, bush meals, visits to Tharaka village, line-fishing, visits to Tana River with packed lunches, airstrip transfers, laundry. Excl. cellar wine & premium spirits,

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