Sometimes you go to a place that is just really special but it is hard to properly articulate why in words. You just have to convince someone to go and experience it for themselves. I can think of a few places that I set in this category. And one of them was Enasoit, the last safari lodge I stayed at during my travels in Kenya in October this year.
I’ve been to more than ten safari lodges now in Kenya alone and every place has been remarkable in its own way, with a special attribute or two that I have appreciated. Enasoit, a private 4,500-acre exclusive-use lodge in Laikipia at the foot of Lolldaiga Hills was one I had never heard about until it was on my most recent itinerary. All I was told was that in for something special. Well, that was an understatement.
One of the first things I found intriguing about Enasoit (which translates to ‘rock’ in English for the dramatic rock formations in the area) was its background. Enasoit was once the private home of a Scandinavian family who fell in love with this area of Kenya. The area where Enasoit currently rests was meant to be a temporary residence while the family built a larger home elsewhere on the reserve. But the family fell in love with the spot so much, they scrapped their plans and stayed put. The moment you arrive, it is understandable why they did. The dramatic scenery is just spectacular.
From the moment you arrive, you feel like you are an invited guest to someone’s home. A stylish one at that. This is not a camp staged to look like the set of the film ‘Out of Africa’ as some camps are. No, this is authentic, Old School Africa.
Stories just seep through the well-worn leather chairs, books with yellowed pages and vintage photographs once belonging to the family. Enasoit is superbly managed by the friendly hosts Peter and Karen Glover and their two children who have been living permanently at Enasoit for more than 20 years. They could not have been more welcoming during our stay.
As an exclusive-use private lodge, Enasoit is ideal for a family or group traveling together. The lodge accommodates up to 16 guests comfortably with six very spacious and beautiful semi-permanent tented cottages to make you feel at home, each complete with verandah, living area (with wood-burning fireplace and a personal library of books) and en-suite bathroom. Every night, a crackling fire awaited me in my cottage, much appreciated during the chilly evenings. Along with the thick blankets on the super comfy beds and the sounds of wildlife around me in the distance (sometimes not so distant as this is not a fenced camp), I slept amazingly well!
There are also two thatched cottages at the pool house – no, ordinary pool house, mind you – a five-minute drive away on the property. The grounds there are quite spectacular and a wonderful place to have lunch, take a dip in the pool, or walk through the gardens.
As Enasoit is set within a natural wildlife corridor, there is a plethora of game to see in this area of Kenya – elephants, leopard, lion, buffalo are all here. Of course, as with other lodges, you have game drives. But as a private lodge on a private reserve, the time is yours to do as you wish, both day and night and you are highly unlikely to ever see another jeep during your stay.
But what makes Enasoit unique is the bespoke experiences created uniquely for you (some planned, some unexpected). You can visit a local rhino sanctuary, ride horses, explore ancient rock art sites, meet with an expert on a broad range of topics (such as wildlife conservation, politics, or nature) as part of their ‘Thinking Man’s Safari’ program and much more. It’s all completely customized.
During the time I was there, we had sunset cocktails at the edge of a cliff after a game drive, a surprise evening elegant barbecue dinner in the bush surrounded by lit lanterns, including on cliffs laden with baboons (I have no idea how they did that) creating quite a magical effect. We also had visits from an orphan cheetah Aarangi with his keeper Karosiani who attends to him, both who live on the property. Each experience just in itself was memorable.
On property, Enasoit has a few areas for guests to spend time at their leisure: there is a game room for table tennis and board games, a private massage room that doubles as small boutique for local gifts when not in use and a study where most guests go once a day to get in touch with the rest of the world as wi-fi only works in here and in the game room on property. At first, I thought it was an inconvenience to not have wi-fi in the cottages. Then I realized I slept so much better without it. And, well, isn’t the point when you come here to get off your i-phone and connect to nature?
The Mess tent is the hub of the camp where our group spent most of the time together for meals (all incredibly fresh and delicious I might add thanks to Make, the head cook) or regroup before activities. Every member of the staff, many who have been at Enasoit for over 20 years, was warm, friendly and eager to please with special accolades to John, always magnificently robed in Masaii attire, who attended to our every need during our stay.
Without a doubt, the star attraction of Enasoit for me (and I have to imagine for any other guest that is fortunate to visit Enasoit) is the watering hole and salt lick that sits just 50 feet in front of the open-air Mess tent and firepit in front of it. Each early morning, a menagerie of animals appears like clock-work from all directions for their morning sip of water. This repeats in the early evening as well. Sitting at the campfire in the early hours each morning, hot coffee in hand, wrapped up in a Masai blanket (I bought two home from the gift shop) I was just mesmerized by all the beautiful giraffes, zebra, antelope and birds before me. They seemed equally curious about us as we were about them. I could have stayed there watching them all day.
As I said in the beginning, it is one of those experiences you just have to be there for to fully appreciate just how special it is.
Enasoit has undoubtedly earned a spot among my favorite places in all of Eastern Africa. It was an intimate, authentic, and restorative experience and unlike any other lodge I have been to in East Africa. Bringing your family or group of friends to this magical camp, pairing it with another camp or two in other areas of Kenya, will be one of the best pieces of advice I can give you.
Just save Enasoit as your last stop as you will want to end your journey with a prime seat in front of the hide for a lasting memory.
Photos courtesy of Inviato Travel and Enasoit.