Let’s just put this first. I loved Leleshwa.
Leleshwa is what I think of when I think of a quintessential safari camp. Small, luxurious, and welcoming.
Of course it didn’t hurt that we were the only guests there at the time. Even though it was the cusp of their high season, bookings remain way, way down. Travel advisories shmavel advisories. I think in every travel advisory, the government (all of ’em) should be required to put a map which shows the distance between “problem areas” and everywhere else.
Since people obviously can’t be bothered to look at a map themselves.
Or maybe they just have a crazy low risk tolerance. Considering we’ve had 3 shootings within five blocks of our house (yes, crime is up) in the last 2 weeks, we decided to take our chances in Kenya. You know, because we are just SO careless (rolling eyes).
Anyway, Leleshwa. The food at Leleshwa–made by a wonderful Masai chef that decided he liked to cook after being a staff member at the camp many, many, years ago–was SO good. And so much fun. Take…the hedgehog mango! Or the pineapple romanoff. Whattt??? In the bush??!!! So delicious and worthy of much excess punctuaction. I’ve never, ever, had anything like that pineapple before and it was seriously just incredible.
And I totally bet you’ve never seen an impala napkin, have you? It’s already been widely demonstrated that I’m a total sucker for towel art, but napkin art? Oh, our wonderful waiter had me with the impala. Adorable. And in a different animal every night.
Our tent–of which we certainly got the ridiculously large one with a separate lounging area–was beautiful. The bathroom was enormous. The bed was comfortable. While we were out most of the time doing game drives and such, I almost wished I had more time to laze in our tent reading a book.
Leleshwa is in a conservancy owned by the surrounding communities. There is plenty of wildlife on the conservancy, which is about an hour from the gate to the Masai Mara. We were also able to do a walk on the conservancy, which was actually really fun. We got to see an impala going nutty for a natural salt-lick on the riverbank, as well as tortoises, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, and more.
It was a lot of fun to have the company of the manager and our guide at lunch and dinner as well, they had some fantastic stories which we really enjoyed. There was always SO much food, as well as plenty of Tusker to go around (and a little Amarula, of course)!
While Leleshwa is a bit of a hike from the airstrip, and from the main gate of the Mara, being farther away also yields privacy and the opportunity to do things not allowed in the National Park (walks, and night drives). The camp is absolutely stunning, and I’m really glad we decided to stay there. Plus, to have the best of both worlds, they actually do have a mobile camp in the Masai Mara during high migration season so that you can spend a few days in both places. If we go back, I mean WHEN we go back, that is definitely an option we’d consider.