Where do I even begin about our amazing trip to Kenya? We flew United from Honolulu to Denver to Baltimore, stayed for 3 day for my best friend’s wedding, then flew from Baltimore to Chicago, to Frankfurt and then finally to Nairobi. Did I mention we did all of this with only two backpacks? Because we did! We landed around 11PM at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya. We stayed the night in Nairobi at Hemingways Nairobi and it was such a beautiful property. We had a full day in Nairobi on the back end of our stay, so I’ll be recapping both Hemingways and Nairobi in that post – stay tuned! Today I’m recapping our time staying at the absolutely breathtaking Finch Hattons Luxury Camp in Tsavo West National Park. If you’re interested in seeing the tent camp, beautiful park and animals who call it home, today’s post is for you 🙂
Our Stay At Finch Hattons Luxury Camp In Tsavo National Park, Kenya
The next morning we got up early and a driver took us to Wilson airport where we flew Safarilink from Nairobi to the airstrip in Tsavo West National Park. And when I say airstrip – I mean dirt path. It was the smallest plane I’ve ever been on and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was TERRIFIED. I mean, I could reach out and touch our pilots, but they were fabulous. And honestly – when I saw that our female pilot was wiping down the cockpit with a Clorox wipe, I knew she was my spirit outside my body and we were going to be juuuust fine on that pocket-sized plane.
Arriving to Finch Hattons, we saw giraffe running on the airstrip and I felt like we were in a movie. I kept pinching myself that we were finally here as we watched Kilimanjaro appear out of nowhere in the clouds shortly before we landed.
Our guide for the week Julius picked us up from the airstrip to take us to the camp and I could tell right away he was the most genuine soul – so friendly, kind and knowledgeable. We arrived and the camp manager, Jonathan, told us that we were the only ones at Finch Hattons that week! I was kind of in shock – we had the entire property to ourselves and it was a DREAM. More than a dream honestly…just above and beyond what I imagined my first African safari experience to be like.
We were booked in the Finch Hattons Suite and had our own deck overlooking a pond, plunge pool, dining room, private bedroom and bathroom and then outdoor shower. I took a shower outside multiple times per day – I loved it so much!
With the package we booked, two game drives per day as well as all meals and alcohol were included with our stay. But since we had the camp to ourselves we were able to sort of make our own schedule based on what we wanted to see and do. Of course, we wanted to capitalize on seeing the animals (our #1 priority) and we truly did. During our time we saw so many animals that call Tsavo National Park home.
A highlight amongst the animals was seeing the oldest elephant in Tsavo West, whose tusks nearly touch the ground. We also got to see wild dogs (a rarity since they are so endangered), elephants playing and giraffes necking. When I posted the video of them necking on Instagram, so many asked about it, but honestly – it’s quite sad. The giraffes do this dance of sorts to establish dominance. In many cases, one giraffe will be critically wounded and likely die. The photo directly below this is one of my favorites of the entire trip – this giraffe eating lunch with an insane view of Kilimanjaro in the back!
Julius was such an amazing guide and driver – you could tell he was just so passionate about the park and the animals. Plus, he knew a ton of “fun facts” about nearly every species we encountered! He definitely became like a part of our family, because we spent so much time together (around 6 or so hours per day out driving!). I love the birds and their vibrant colors in the shots below!
One of the things I was really concerned about during our trip to Kenya was the food and let me just say that everything we ate for two weeks was out of this world. At Finch Hattons, we let them know ahead of time I only ate fish and was gluten free. The chef (HI SAMMY!) prepared fresh gluten free bread and pastries for me every single morning and had a meat-free choice for every meal. My favorites were the gluten free waffles and delicious toasted bread he prepared for each meal. It always came out hot and with the yummiest spread of jams to put on it! Each meal could be served in the dining room or delivered to our room for breakfast in bed or in our dining room. We always ate in the dining room for breakfast, because we liked to overlook the main pond and see the hippos and crocodiles, and asked for the star-viewing table for dinner. If you can’t tell – the dining options at Finch Hattons are second to none!
Finch Hattons Highlights:
One night we watched “Out Of Africa” on bean bags around a fire pit for happy hour before our dinner was served and it was one of my favorite moments of the whole entire trip!
Having a picnic in Rhino Valley with Julius. We trekked up a ton of stairs, had amazing views, and enjoyed a delicious lunch that Chef Sammy had packed especially for us. Gluten and dairy free grilled cheese, rosé and terrific company!
Sundowners (where you stop at sunset and have a drink) high up near the Chyulu Hills where we could see out over the land, enjoyed delicious snacks and drinks and learned some traditional Kenyan games (I hit a bullseye with the bow and arrow – OH YEAH!). We quite literally drove up and the staff had already been there, set up a tent, cooking stations, a full bar and a private table for two in the middle of nowhere. They had even sent a staff photographer (HI STEVE!) along with us for the night to take photos of our adventure. Like I said – they go ABOVE AND BEYOND!
Laying in bed one morning and watching a hippo lazily walk past our room and plop himself into the pond!
The staff at Finch Hattons works exceptionally hard to make sure every single guest has the best experience possible when they visit and it shows. The camp is family owned, not part of a chain, so every touch has been hand selected (from decor to design and everything in between) to reflect the true spirit of Kenya. If you can’t tell, we completely fell in love. Here are a few shots from around the camp I took when we were walking around one day. Not a single detail is missed!
And some game drive favorites…! To note: lots of questions about the scarf…I wore it every single day of the trip to avoid dust in my face. The game drives are typically hot, dusty and sweaty. I wore a wicking scarf that I could wrap around my neck and pull up over my head as necessary. It worked amazingly well!
When the time came for us to leave, Dane and I both cried. We had come to love every single person on the staff at Finch Hattons and never wanted to leave. We felt so fortunate to have met each and every one of them and the thought of not sharing our days together felt painful. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s the only place I’ve ever been where I felt such an attachment to the people and the land. When we hugged Julius he could tell we were upset and said he was really sad, too! We promised we would come back to see him and frankly – I’m already trying to make good on that promise by searching flights to Nairobi! That said – we boarded another Safarilink plane to the Maasai Mara for the second half of our adventure at Mahali Mzuri and it absolutely did not disappoint 🙂