For Short Lets - Luxury Camp
“The Mathews Range… rises from the arid brown plains of northern Kenya like a green tropical island” – BBC
By day, guests can explore forest trails and crystal clear mountain streams by foot. The local Samburu guides share their extensive knowledge of the abundant hardwood trees, cycads, orchids, birds and butterflies. The guides know how to gently follow the trails cut through the bush by elephant, bushbuck and buffalo that call the forest home. Unlike most of Africa, guests can swim and relax in the springs and rivers around Kitich camp making this a truly unique experience.
Kitich Forest Camp is a truly remote and private location in a stunning forest glade on the upper slopes of the Mathews Mountains (also known as the Lenkiyio Hills). The mountain range extends for 150kms, surrounded by lowlands and is known ecologically as a “sky island”. The forest of the Mathews Mountains covers about 900 km², or 222,000 acres, and the astounding peaks rise 6000 ft. from the surrounding lowlands.
At night, the atmosphere is magical, and the glade is lit for guests to observe the cautious trail of nocturnal visitors, including Melanistic (black-coated) leopard, elephant, bushbuck, and buffalo – all of which come to drink and hunt by the river.
With just six tents situated under a dense tree canopy, overlooking the stunning Ngeng River, this camp is a low-key classic. At Kitich, we provide old fashioned safari comforts, including soft & fresh linen, comfortable double beds, iced drinks, and gracious dining – all in a wonderfully peaceful setting.
Liz & Stefano Cheli – Owners
Stefano and Liz have been visiting Kitich, and have loved its sacred valley since the early 1980′s. They are professional safari guides, over the past 30 years have built award winning safari lodges and created the best bespoke safari company in East Africa.
They took over Kitich Forest Camp from Giulio Bertolli of olive oil fame, in 2008, revamped it (just a bit), and it remains their favourite camp in East Africa.
Stephen & Tania Hitchins – Owners
Long time converts to the joys and romance of Kenya and its wildlife; and natives of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. Stephen and Tania have been participants in the creation of a few outstanding safari lodges and camps, and are founders of the Desert Springs Resort & Golf Club in Almeria, South East Spain.
With an Italian heritage and gentle personality, Tiziano grew up in the Kenya bush; his parents are safari guides, and created camps in Tsavo. After finishing school, Tiziano went to South Africa for 12 years, and became a leading Wildlife Guide assessor within FGASA, including camp and conservation management, as well as a Senior Trainer mentoring aspiring young guides.
Tiziano says “The pleasure of being a safari guide is the role of interpreting nature’s wonders and complex mechanisms”.
Tiziano came back home to Kenya because he is passionate about the beauty and wildlife biodiversity that Kenya offers, and to be part of the conservation success of northern Kenya.
The guides at Kitich Camp are Ndorobo / Samburu, a semi-nomadic pastoralist community closely related to the Masai. Originally hunters, and sought after for their tracking and bush skills, some joined the Kenya Wildlife Service as trackers, before returning to Kitich. The guides at Kitich are the masters of the forest, they know the trails intimately, and can almost sense wildlife before any of the most proficient guides are aware of an animal presence. A gentle, happy and colourful people, who love their “work” of sharing the secrets of the forests with guests.
A unique forest hideaway, Kitich Forest Camp offers exclusive accommodation for a limited number of guests:
6 en-suite tents, three with double beds, and three with twin beds.
Each tent has a verandah overlooking the lush valley of the Ngeng River, and consists of a main bedroom with en suite bathroom.
We have kept the safari style showers, just because we are purists! The toilets are normal flushing loos.
The bathrooms have a large changing area, normal flushing toilet, and comfortable hot “safari” showers.
Night Game Viewing
Being a forest camp, and in the style of “Tree Tops”, the cosy lounge overlooks the floodlit open river glade, and at night guests can watch elephant, buffalo, bushbuck and occasionally leopard emerge from the forest at night to drink from the river, or dig for natural salts.
Taking advantage of the pristine wilderness, Kitich Camp avoids traditional game drives, instead encouraging guests to explore these wild environs on foot, guided by the “masters of the forest”, the Ndorobo Samburu guides.
Dubbed a ‘biological bonanza’ by the BBC, this mountain forest is a stronghold for a wide range of species. Wild animals such as Melanistic leopard, also known as the “black panther”, forest elephant, lion, buffalo, Colobus monkey, greater kudu, waterbuck, giant forest hogs and Africa’s endangered wild dog as well as Grevy’s zebra have found refuge in the lush forests and fertile valleys of the Mathews Range.
Mathews’ indigenous forest is one of the very few areas where you can see the rare De Brazza Monkey outside the Ruwenzori Mountains. They are large monkeys, similar to a Sykes in size and build, but more striking with a red forehead, they are shy and hard to find.
Birds and butterflies
Over 350 bird species have been counted in the area, including the spectacular Hartlaub’s turaco; together with more than 150 species of butterflies, representing more than twice the amount of butterfly species found in the UK.
Cycads and orchids
The forest is a natural home to wild forest orchids, and to a rare and endemic giant cycad, a throwback to the ancient forests of the dinosaurs.
Swimming in Rock Pools
With crystal clear cool waters, flowing out of a spring in the mountains, enjoy swimming with nature in this magical forest paradise.
Bush Picnics and Sundowners
After a morning’s walk in the forest, take a moment to sit back, enjoy the smells, the colours, and the gentle breeze.
Bush picnics are a chance to enjoy lunch, al fresco, in an open forest clearing, or by the river, surrounded by wildlife.
“Sundowners” are a safari tradition – after a day of safari; stop, watch the spectacular sunset; traditionally with a gin and tonic in hand!
Close to Kitich Camp are “singing wells” where the Samburu herdsman bring up water into traditional troughs to water their herds. The warriors sing to keep the rhythm of passing water between them flowing and the soothing voices relax the cows. A colourful, ancient tradition.
The people of Kitich and their families within the village of Ngalai are a colourful, traditional, gentle and friendly people whose only interaction with the wider world is with the guests from Kitich.
Guests are hosted by the local people when they stay at Kitich, but guests are also welcome to drive down and visit the market and school in the village. (School visits require a donation).
Weddings & Honeymoons
There is nothing more romantic than a safari! Already an unforgettable, once in a lifetime and pampered experience; safaris offer panoramic sunsets, romantic tents with spectacular views, and relaxed al fresco dinners.
The exclusive setting at Kitich is ideal for that very special romantic holiday.
In the Mathews Mountain Range, Kitich Camp is situated in the 800,000 acre Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy established in 1995 by the local communities to promote wildlife conservation and socio-economic development through sustainable utilization of natural resources. The conservancy is facilitated by the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT), who provide capacity building at grassroot level to empower elected community trustees to effectively manage their own conservancy, increase security for wildlife, protect natural resources, resolve grazing conflicts and establish sustainable enterprises.
Kitich is a key tourism partner for Namunyak Conservancy, employing 90% of its staff from the surrounding communities and paying conservation fees collected from guests on a per person per night basis. 60% of this income is used to fund community development, while 40% is used to fund annual operational costs of Namunyak Conservancy.
Kitich Camp has been awarded “Gold Level” by the internationally recognised Ecotourism Kenya in recognition of its high level of environmental responsibility. The camp achieves environmental best practice by combining old fashioned safari camp know-how with latest technology, relying entirely on solar power and using only LED lighting. Rubbish is responsibly disposed including recycling.
We also keep a small footprint by encouraging guests to take full advantage of the pristine and unexplored wilderness by opting for walks guided by Samburu warriors.
Over the years, Kitich Camp has hosted simple blessings, and renewal of vows for our guests. A blessing from a local chief is a long and colourful affair!
About the Mathews Mountain Forest & the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy
The forest of the Mathews Mountains, covers approx. 900 km sq, stretched over peaks that rise up to over 6000 ft from the surrounding lowlands of 2500 ft. A vast pristine natural forest, that has been described by the BBC as a “biological bonanza” on a “sky island”. Not your traditional gamedriving country, mass tourism has not visited the Mathews Mountain forest, and Kitich Forest Camp has this huge expanse of wonderland to itself.
A refuge for elephant, and of course natural habitat for “melanistic” forest leopard, the forest is not only home to a huge diversity of wildlife, which include rare monkeys, buffalo, lion, bushbuck, forest hog; but is also full of those magical things that are best observed on foot – over 150 species of butterfly, over 350 species of birds, wild forest orchids, and the endemic giant cycad.
In 1995, the local community, facilitated by the Northern Rangeland Trust, established the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy Trust, which encompasses the whole of the Mathews Mountain Range, and environs, covering an area of approx. 2,800 km sq. The Wildlife Conservancy is run by community rangers trained and managed by NRT, with radios, vehicles and security links into the Lewa security network. The conservancy ownership is an elected community committee of 13 trustees, with the mandate to develop local health support, administer education bursaries, resolve grazing conflicts, develop water resources, and preserve the ecosystem and wildlife with an organised network of rangers. Kitich Camp is a key tourism partner of the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, paying conservancy fees directly to the community and working with the communities at grass root level.
The days are warm, rising to maximum of 30 deg C, but comfortable with minimum humidity, and the evenings are cool. Rainfall is mostly in April and May with an average of 360mm per year.
Silver-Level Rating with Sustainable Travel International
We are so proud to announce that, after over a year of application process, we have been accredited with an International STEP certification by Sustainable Travel International. Not only have we received this prestigious recognition, but were given an unprecedented direct promotion past Bronze and straight to Silver level.
GOLD Eco-rating Certification – Ecotourism Kenya (2011/12/13/14/15/16/17/18)
Kitich Camp has been awarded the Gold-level Eco-rating Certificate by Ecotourism Kenya in recognition of its high level of environmental responsibility and its dedication to the support and integration of local communities.