Staying on Samatian island feels like the world has melted away around you and have somehow found the last haven of civilization. Samatian Island is the only development on its own island in the middle of Lake Baringo, so staying at the camp means you have the whole island to yourself.
Samatian Island Camp used to be one of Kenya’s top four star resorts, but unfortunately floods inundated some parts of the camp and it no longer operates with such opulence. However, fortunately, it still retains all of its four-star charm, and is now accessible to travelers who do not have a four-star budget.
Today, staff from the island meet you and help haul all your supplies out to the island. They then expertly prepare meals and keep the camp clean, which means you still get significantly pampered in such a rustic setting. You get the feeling of discovery, like staying in the ruins of Rome.
The camp is a graceful Swahili architecture that understood how to best blend the building in with the elements around it. The rooms are luxurious, founded on volcanic rocks of the Great Rift Valley with rounded white washed walls, pillowy linens, and great lacy mosquito nets, which billow in the evening breezes. The winds create percussions in the palm thatched roofs at night, and fireflies glide around the island’s protected insets.
The fourth wall of each of the individual lodges are open to the rising sun, which extends a ray of light from the mainland to the island every morning, creeping up its shores, illuminating the desert roses a glowing pink as if they each had a candle inside them.
The morning buzzes at first light as the dragonflies awaken, hovering everywhere just above the grass like little helicopters. The first task in the morning is to find Mr. Woo, the giant Verreaux’s eagle-owl, with big pink eyelids that rests all day in the trees, but bellows with the morning light making him easy to find. It is such a pleasant, wise animal to with whom to share your morning.
Then as the sun climbs higher, the plethora of birds on the island start chirping, and climbing to the top of the island yourself, you can watch the lake lap against its shore, and gaze out over the island speckled horizon, admiring the reflection of the clouds in the glassy still water. The natural symphony is broken by cormorant’s ungainly landings as they find roosts over the water to sun their wings. Kingfishers dive bomb from above, and bright yellow and green Madagascan Bee-Eaters fly interception routes amongst the treetops, snatching little insects as they fly by.
Then the heat of the day starts setting in, the crocodiles and monitor lizards come out to bask, and a silence sets in. Giant eight inch millipedes roam around and hippos find a cool place in the lake to pass the day. This is the time to relax in the pool, read or sit under a tree and watch the Pin -Tailed Whydahs chase other birds away from their favorite trees.
In the afternoon the breezes start, and sometimes rains will come over the hills extending rainbows over the islands. It’s a perfect opportunity to launch a boat and leave your private island for a while. An island guide can call the fish eagles to come swoop fish off the surface of the water right in front of you, as you make your way to the neighboring Giraffe island — the Galapagos of Lake Baringo.
On Giraffe island there is a population of impala, hyrax, warthogs, ostrich, and Rothchild’s giraffe, who all roam around without predators, and in the safety of this luxury, are very approachable. It is an experience worth leaving your private island for.
So drive north to Lake Baringo, to the cattle rustling lands of the Tugan, Njemps and Pokot tribes. Past the termite mounds that tower over the parched lands like brick chimneys, and the Euphorbia trees that stand like giant candelabras. Take a boat by the lake’s Goliath herons and through the legions of flooded acacia groves to your private oasis at the edge of the world. After a night on Samatian island, you will wonder what else in the world you could ever need.