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mountain hideaway

After our brief but fantastic visit to Samburu National Park, we headed further north to spend a couple of days in the Matthews Mountains. So few tourists make it to the Matthews Range that this scraggly sierra does not even appear on Google’s otherwise reasonably detailed map of the country, making this area one of Kenya’s many hidden treasures.

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Tucked away at the base of a scrub-covered hill, Sarara Camp offers a remarkable vista across the densely-covered plains spread out around the Matthews Mountains. An infinity pool juts out along the natural rock formation, overlooking a small watering hole that was frequented by elephants, baboons, and impalas during our stay. The elegantly designed accommodations are also built into the rock, blending into the natural surroundings and offering equally arresting views of the mountains that make one forget that Sarara is a tented camp.

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Our first morning, we went for a bush walk, fighting our way through the dense foliage for forty minutes before emerging at a stunning lookout point above the camp. We then hiked down to a spot where a small stream had smoothed the rocks on which it flowed, creating a natural water slide that emptied out into a small pool of cold mountain water.

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Sarara’s splendor and picturesque setting tempted one not to leave the camp at all. Why jounce in a safari vehicle when one could spend a few hours with the camp’s resident kudu, take in the scenery while feeding birds from one’s veranda, or bathe in the rock pool while elephants drank from the watering hole below?

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We did go out on a couple of game drives though, seeing many interesting birds and a few of the animals that make safari in Kenya’s northern semiarid lands unique. Coming back after sundowner drinks one night, our guide turned on a search light and spotted a pair of giant white-tailed mongooses, a genet cat, and a caracal – Africa’s version of the pointy-eared lynx.

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We had tried to stay at Sarara when D’s parents visited us last September, but were forced to change our plans when angry villagers blocked the main road north, preventing us from reaching the Matthews Mountains. After two luxurious days, we were glad that our friends’ visit gave us an excuse to give Sarara another try.

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