There's more than the "Big Five" to lure safari junkies to Kenya this fall. Three new luxury resorts are opening up before the end of the year, not to mention a swish Richard Branson homestead due out in early 2013.
Good to know: Travel around opening time (August—October) and you're practically guaranteed front-row seats to the thrilling 1.5 million-animal parade that is the Rift Valley wildebeest and zebra migration.
Located in the foothills of Mount Kenya in Kenya's Laikipia region, the new solar-powered Segera Camp is a collection of two-story timber and thatched-roof villas primed for views over the plateau's grasslands (the camp's 50,000 acres include a section traversed during the east-west elephant migration). Opening in August, the luxury ranch-style camp comes with horse stables, a library, bar, pool, and sun deck. Rates start from $880/night per person and include all meals and drinks, game drives, guided walks, sleep outs, laundry service, WiFi, and local taxes.
The 45-suite boutique Hemingways Nairobi hotel, opening November 1, sits nine miles south of Nairobi overlooking the Ngong Hills. Designer suites come with pitched, wood-beamed ceilings, gauze-draped four-poster beds, sitting areas, terraces with valley views, and marble baths. The hotel is a 5-minute drive to Nairobi National Park (the only wildlife reserve next to a major city) and close to the Karen Blixen Museum and The Daphne Sheldrick Wildlife Sanctuary, home to orphaned elephants and rhinos. Rates start from $860/night and include breakfast.
In Kenya's coastal region of Kilifi, the Beach House is more like a private vacation rental (that comes with a staff) than a hotel. Located right on the Indian Ocean's sandy shorefront, the Balinese-style four-bedroom house has a state-of-the-art spa just for guests, a pretty pool, and airy shared spaces that spill out onto gardens or overlook the beach. Full-board accommodations—including airstrip transfers from Malindi, Kilifi, or Vipingo, sundowner excursions (hillside cocktails at sunset), drinks (house alcohol, included), laundry, and taxes—start from $7,000/day for a maximum of 12 adults and four kids (in the children's garden cottage).
Sir Richard Branson's Kenyan safari camp is scheduled to open early next year on the Motorogi Conservancy in the Masai Mara. Mahali Mzuri, which means "beautiful place" in Swahili, will have only 12 tented suites, accommodating just 24 guests at a time. The cool looking tents, perched on a hillside and raised on platforms to optimize views over the landscape and its residents, come with spacious bedrooms and baths, and private terraces. Rates will start from $580/night per person, including all meals, drinks, and game drives daily.
Thinking of a trip to Kenya?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Kenya Travel Guide.
Photo credits: Beach House courtesy of the Beach House; Hemingways Nairobi courtesy of Hemingways Nairobi