Off the Grid Glamping in Kenya

Sieku Glamping in Laikapa Kenya

Glamping has grown tremendously in popularity over the last few years with glamping spots popping up all over the world.  But I magine being able to experience wildlife and nature at its finest at Kenya’s first and only glamping spot , without having to compromise too much on the little luxuries we like to gain from a holiday. At Sieku Glamping in Laikapa Kenya, Kenya’s only Glamp, owner and experience curator, Rob Wood and his partner have thought out all the finer details of what makes glamping a truly memorable experience . This, in addition to experiencing being completely off the grid, truly immersed in a world of natural rhythms, the ebb and flow of raw wilderness is what makes Sieku truly special.

Sieku Glamping in Laikapa Kenya is part of a 33 acre piece of land that boasts breathtaking panoramic scenery and views including Mount Kenya. It’s also situated next to the world heritage site Ngara Ndara forest which is well known for it’s free roaming elephants and picturesque waterfalls. Days are spent wondering this vast stretch of land, which overlooks a private conservancy that has the Big 5. The tipi and bell tents at Sieku are bespoke, hand made and luxuriously kitted out for the Sieku glamper. There are no tents to erect or sleeping bags to roll out. Double beds, feather pillows, and cotton sheets are all provided by the Sieku team.

And if this not glorious enough, organic soaps are at the glampers disposal, and fresh cut indigenous flowers adorn each tent. Even their open air showers and loos offer spectacular views. What more could we want from a unique African glamping adventure?

We chatted to Rob about the Sieku story and what makes it truly unique travel desintation:

Q: Where are you from and how did you come to be in Kenya?

A: I’m Rob Wood, the owner of Kenya’s first and proper glamping experience, Sieku Glamping. Im originally from the UK but have been lucky enough to call Kenya my home since 2005. My girlfriend and I came to Kenya for a short stint of work but never managed to leave this incredible country. People and landscapes got under our skin quite quickly. We got married here, our kids were born here and we’ve lived in Kenya longer than anywhere else (since I was a child) ,and so its more home than anywhere else I know.

We’re keen travellers and have spent a lot of time roaming around various parts of the world, Africa and across Kenya. We spend a lot of time camping in the bush, and over the years like many people do, we reckon we’ve got camping in true comfort and style down to a good practical art. There s no fuss and frills, just doing camping well, and much of this is part of the honest ethos behind sieku glamping.

Sieku Glamping in Laikapa Kenya outdoor explorer
Q: How did Sieku Glamping come about?

A: We were lucky enough a few years ago to stumble across a piece of land with views that literally made me stop in my tracks. It was early one clear morning in late 2013, and Mount Kenya behind was out in all its glory, and on all sides were more hills, but due north were incredible views over some conservancies towards northern Kenya where I could see mountain ranges I know well in Samburu county 100kms away. Six months later I became the proud owner of this little piece of land.

This little piece of land became a bolt holt to escape from Nairobi with family and friends at weekends. Over time we added a mess tent, toilets, showers and the like, and kept a bell tent in the store all with the idea that we could jump in the Land Cruiser on a Friday afternoon without having to pack anything and in a few hours we’d be camping in real comfort.

Sieku Glamping essentially created itself from this simple notion only 7 months ago. Friends of friends went to stay, and their feedback was great, so I thought I’d see if others might be interested in visiting. Within a week, we had more guests and more great feedback and it’s all grown at great speed from here and we’ve been hectic finalising many things at the camp while being fairly inundated with guests.

Our concept is pretty simple: we offer a unique, bespoke and exclusive experience (Kenya’s first and only glamp) to small groups of guests that is completely different to other options in Kenya. We provide an experience that is affordable to many but which offers a wholesome touch of rustic luxury that most people would only ever associate with an expensive lodge. If you can afford it, Kenya has some incredible places to stay and visit. We have world-beating lodges and safari camps. But if you don’t have the money, then you can either go camping in a bad tent and no experience (not everyone’s favourite) orstay in a dreary, low-end hotel (not everyone’s number one choice either). We offer a real middle ground of higher-end, special accommodation with a unique experience that’s affordable, and I think this is why we have been so popular.

Q: What is the best part of the day?
A: There’s loads of great parts of the day at Sieku! Sunrise is pretty spectacular as a red, equatorial sun rises up over the Ngare Ndare forest and washes warm light over the camp and the conservancy below. But my favourite time is towards the end of the day at sundowner o’clock, and being at the bottom of the camp and looking due north. The heat of the day has cooled off; you’re generally looking back on some great adventures from earlier in the day and the light over the mountains, conservancies and national parks in thedistance looks like some kind of Turner watercolour. Just beautiful, especially with family and friends and perhaps with a gin and tonic.
Q: What makes you feel alive ?
A: As naff as this sounds, being still and at peace in nature, as far away from everyday life as possible. Being deep in the bush surrounded by a large herd of elephants; enveloped within an ancient forest or big views over a range of hills and mountains. Big views really make me feel alive as does total silence.

nature waterfall Sieku Glamping Kenya outdoor explorer

Q: Kenya’s best kept secret is?
A: Ouch, tough question. There’s so many incredible places in Kenya, and many hidden away gems, but generally speaking I think the best kept secret overall is northern Kenya, which is generally remote, rugged, full of incredible people and colourful tribes, epic landscapes and beautiful wildlife.
Specifically though, the Ngare Ndare forest near to Sieku Glamping is one of Kenya’s best kept secrets. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only forest in the country with a growing tree canopy. It’s full of ancient cedar and African olive trees; an important part of Kenya’s elephant corridor which allows free movement of elephants on their migration routes, and has the best wild swimming ever – with Caribbean azure-blue pools!
Q: Most popular activity at the camp?
A: At the actual camp, I reckon the most popular activity is doing absolutely nothing except kicking back on one of our day-beds, in hammocks, or massive cushioned hanging chairs and soaking up the views. For more energetic souls, we have a lot of great bush walks all around us, forests to explore, mountain bikes to jump on, safaris to go and animals to spot or discovering some incredible spots for bush breakfasts or sundowners.
Q: Kenyan dish most have not experienced but should?
A: Traditional, roasted goat meat is a winner. Nyama choma (roast meat) is the Kenyan national dish and, when cooked well, is soft, succulent and super-tasty. Eat your goat with a bit of salt, chilli and kachumbari (tomato, onion, lemon juice and coriander salad) and wash it down with a cold beer! Unbeatable.
Q: What sounds do you hear when you close your eyes?
A: Hopefully nothing, except the sounds of the natural environment where I am. Ideally, the sound of grass or trees blowing gently in the wind or some early morning birdsong. But in reality, it’s probably some terrible song from the ‘80s that enters into my consciousness – from I have no idea where – when I can’t sleep.

Laikapa Kenya outdoor explorer Sieku Clamping camping

Q: Any other favourite African destinations?
A: There’s so many to choose from but Ethiopia is pretty high up the list as it’s unlike anywhere else on the continent, and the mountains are out of this world. Cape Town for a splurge and a little high life. The Great Lakes region because the landscape’s prehistoric and mind-blowing
Q: A book everyone should read while glamping?
A: I think it totally depends on where you are. I’ve unfortunately become a flippant reader, more by circumstance than choice, and so I often spend the time I have sifting through good travel books on the surrounding area I’m in, which I suppose enhances the experience of being away from it all and being in the moment.
Q: Where did you source your unique tipis’s and tents?
A: We’ve currently got two bell tents, a “Touareg” tent and now we’ve added Kenya’s first tipi into the mix. We’ve bought all our tents from Bell Tent UK, who are a great team of lovely people in the UK and who we bought our first own personal bell tent from a few years ago. They’ve always provided us with a great service, and we love collaborating with them.
All the other stuff in our tents, including the mess tents, are hand selected by us and hand-made by local craftspeople and artisans we know well and have been using for quite a few years. We’ve also brought things in from Bhutan, Mozambique, India and other places.
Sieku Glamping at night in Kenya

Q: One thing you cannot glamp without?

A: Hammock and a good gin and tonic, with loads of ice and limes and lemons with a big vista to get lost in. Loads of fairy lights also make glamping feel alive. Big cushions for lazy days under trees.

Q: The best time of year to visit is…

A: Definitely January to March. By this time, the rains have finished and so everything is green and lush all around. Wildflowers are out and all the other trees and plants are alive. The air is also thinner and clearer and so you have incredible views of Mount Kenya and many other mountain ranges pretty much all day, which makes the views from Sieku even more breath-taking than during other times of the year.

Q: What wildlife will I be able to see at Sieku?

A: From Sieku you’re going to see a lot of wildlife. We’re lucky to be surrounded by loads of conservancies and protected habitats that have the Big 5 in them as well as loads of other special wildlife of different shapes and sizes. I personally think it’s sometimes that smaller wildlife that’s as exciting as the bigger stuff, or even the wildlife you can’t see that’s the most exilherating. At Sieku we can often hear prides of loans groaning and grunting for much of the night which is undoubtedly one of the best sounds of all time.

For bookings or enquiries follow Sieku Glamping on Facebook, call 071 8929022 or visit airbnb.com

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