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Campi Ya Kanzi - Chyulu Hills, Kenya

Chyulu Hills -Bordering Tsavo, Chyulu & Amboseli National Parks - Kenya

Campi ya Kanzi means "Camp of the Hidden Treasure" in Kiswahili. Located in the Chyulu Hills, overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro and bordering Tsavo West, Chyulu and Amboseli National Parks, Campi Ya Kanzi is a joint project with the Masai on a four hundred square mile stretch of land owned by them. This area of outstanding natural beauty features varying environments from savannah grasslands to riverine woodland to cool mountain forest.

The volcanic Chyulu Hills flank the property. Over and above the big game and the plains game, the area offers many rare species including wild dog, lesser kudu and cheetah, all of which thrive on the ranch. The lodge is centred around Tembo House, which is constructed of local materials such as native woods and lava rocks. A spacious open- plan living room contains comfortable cream and bush-green chairs and sofas and a vast coffee table laden with glossy books, a fired-earth pot full of porcupine quills and other interesting "objects". A games table is laid for a game of chess.

The open sides allow panoramic views across the vast plains and a large stone and teak verandah, with a hammock slung from an old gnarled tree, is the ideal spot in which to wait for the secretive Mount Kilimanjaro to peep out from behind its cloud cover.

Campi ya Kanzi means "Camp of the Hidden Treasure" in Kiswahili. The main goal of Campi ya Kanzi is to protect the land of the Maasai of Kuku Group Ranch, to enable the Maasai community to keep living according to their traditions, if they so wish.

The camp is located on Maasai land, which means that it remains as one of the last totally unspoiled areas of Africa. Connecting three national parks (Chyulu, Tsavo and Amboseli), the property is home to a vast wildlife and birdlife population. Campi ya Kanzi was created by Luca Belpietro and Antonella Bonomi, who have made it their home. Forty-five people from the local Maasai community help them with the cooking, housekeeping, guiding and maintenance. Luca Belpietro, the host and professinal guide of the camp speaks fluent Italian, English and Swahili. German is also spoken.

A magical land of black-frozen lava flows studded with blazing red-hot poker trees; of shoals of extinct volcanoes wreathed in dense forests and hung with Spanish moss, the Chyulu Hills coil like a sleeping dragon on the lion-gold plains of his treasure. To the west the pink-haloed peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rises like a Hollywood backdrop and all around stretch the mirage miles of Maasai land, dusty, dry and stalked by scarlet herders and dust-plumed cattle.

Kenya hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodge or tented camp, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

The Chyulu Hills lie 190 km south-east of Nairobi. The camp lies within a 400-square-mile Maasai private land in Southern Kenya, dominated by Mt. Kilimanjaro, just 35 miles away.

Campi ya Kanzi accommodates a maximum of 14 guests in six thatched roof tented cottages and in the Hemingway and Simba suites. The first one is named after the famous author who wrote of the nearby Chyulu Hills in his book "Green Hills of Africa", the latter one is named after the Swahili name for Lion.Each tented cottage enjoys a different view, and accommodates one or two adults. An extra bed can be added for a child.

Each tent features either twin beds or a king-size bed, made at the camp with local logs, and presented with specially-made linen imported from Italy. A table, two safari chairs, a colonial trunk, shelves and hangers, and daily fresh flowers complete the interior décor. Each tent has a dressing room. Each tented cottage has a wide veranda to provide superb views of either Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Tsavo Hills, and the Chyulu Hills. Electricity is provided by solar 220-volt (plugs and sockets are 2-pin Italian). Each tented cottage has a dedicated Maasai attendant assigned to it.

• Day and night game drives in 4x4 open vehicles
• National park excursions
• Masai cultural villages and forest walks
• Walking safaris
• Full board accommodation, some activities, picnics and sundowners, transfers to and from camp's airstrip, soft drinks, house wines and beer are all inclusive
• 6 double tents with twin beds and a honeymoon suite all with verandah, and large private bathroom with flush loo, shower and bidet

Dining and bars
Part of the open plan, high-ceiling main living area, the large dining table is surrounded by leather-cushioned safari chairs - dining is communal. Owned and run by an Italian couple, the camp specializes in Italian cuisine, local and international dishes. Meals are taken in Tembo House, where the 'fine dining' experience includes the use of crystal glasses, fine table settings and candles.

The camp's cooks are specially trained in the preparation of fine Italian cuisine (home made fresh pasta, risotto, biscuits, bread, ice-cream...), which are featured alongside International and local dishes. Fresh daily vegetables are supplied by the camp's own organic vegetable and herb garden, as well as fresh dairy produce from the organic dairy and farm.Wines are from South Africa and also from the Italian vineyards of the camp owners, which are specially bottled for Campi ya Kanzi.

Tembo ("elephant") House is the heart of the camp. The clubhouse has a thatched roof and is beautifully constructed from local materials such as lava rocks and native timbers (collected in a National Forest where there is sustainable plantation). Open to the outdoors, Tembo House enjoys spectacular views of Kilimanjaro and offers a large lounge featuring a library of books on Africa.

Children are welcome and extra beds can be provided

What to see and do
The world's youngest mountains

The narrowly arching, 80 km long, Chyulus are one of the world's newest mountain ranges, the most recent volcanic peak having been formed only 500 years ago. They offer a fascinating mix of volcanic ash cones and barren lava flows, which combine to create a landscape of almost mythical enchantment where neither dragons nor unicorns would seem out of place. The Park was established to protect not only its unique habitat, but also its vital role as a water catchment area for Kenya's coastal conurbations. The forested ridges create their own rainfall, the porous rock absorbs the water like a sponge and the water percolates down into fast-flowing subterranean rivers.

These eventually join with the melt waters of Mount Kilimanjaro and feed 250 million litres of water daily into the lush oasis of Tsavo West's most popular feature, Mzima Springs. The gently undulating grasslands, interspersed with dense patches of primeval forest and breathtaking views, make this excellent walking country.The Park and its environs offer a wide range of activities to include: horse riding, camping and caving. The Park is ideally situated for visits to the massive expanses of the neighbouring Tsavo West and East National Parks. World-renowned Amboseli National Park is also within easy reach.

Wildlife highlights:
A variety of large mammals includes; buffalo, common eland, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, steinbok, bush pig, leopard and, at times, elephant. The abundant birdlife features over 300 species.

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