For the soft core adventure traveler, i.e. me, Sabuk was the most daring place I’ve slept yet in Kenya. The view from my room was unbelievable, partly because it was missing the entire wall overlooking the river. I had my malarone (malaria meds) induced moments of panic as I was drifting to sleep thinking that any species of predator or bug could jump right into bed with me– despite the reassurances of the staff and the ranger patrolling the guest tents at night. Once I got over the missing wall, I rather enjoyed the star-gazing bed on my porch where I could aimlessly stare at the uninterrupted Kenyan night sky. You’ll be happy to know that the only creature sneaking into my room at night was the mouse that kept stealing my soap. I learned that this is in fact why they give you a soap cover which I had opted not to use.
The other lodges and tented camps I’ve visited thus far could be categorized as bare foot luxury, I’d say Sabuk was rugged luxury. Outdoor showers and electricity don’t exactly qualify as “camping”. However, I was quite proud that I survived a third night in a tent out on the river banks (“fly camping”). And I am happy to report the bucket showers are actually quite refreshing and plenty of warm water for a 5-6 minute shower.
Sabuk offers game drives, bush breakfasts/lunches/dinners, fishing, hiking, horse back riding, camel safaris and fly camping. They also happen to have a gifted resident masseuse, who I highly suggest visiting post several days bouncing in a safari vehicle.
I’ve come to find that most of the lodges and camps in Kenya lease their land from the resident community, 80%+ of the camp staff is comprised of locals, the lodges also support the surrounding villages through tourism visits and donations to schools. Sabuk really goes the extra mile. In addition to making improvements to the primary school, which miraculously fits over 450 students daily, Sabuk also currently sponsor 14 women for secondary school (high school), in exchange, the young women return to the village to teach for a year. As with most of Kenya, the children have to walk for up to a couple hours in each direction to get to school. Sabuk is in the process of building a dormitory for up to 45 girls, so that the older girls won’t encounter all the risks on the walks home from school in the evening. The dorm will hopefully be completed in July. The goal is to eventually build a second dorm once funds are raised next year. As you can see below, even Drew Barrymore was moved to help this local educational facility.
Verity Williams, one of the owners of Sabuk and one of the first female safari guides in Kenya, works very closely with the local Samburu women to help create revenue generating business beyond the traditional cattle herding practiced by the male Samburu:
- elephant dung paper enhanced with beautiful hand-stitched beadwork, (to order: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- both donating aloe plants and teaching the women how to make aloe soap
- sharing more modern takes of the traditional beadwork for sale to tourists
The local women can sell the crafts back to Sabuk, other lodges in the area or to tourists. 100% of the proceeds go back to the village.