Sirikoi, set in the incredible Lewa Downs Conservancy in Northern Kenya, is the top luxury lodge in the country for 2021. An absolute stunning example of architecture, art, service and nature fused into one incredible experience – Sirikoi is truly unique and will impress even the most discerning guest. The family who owns the lodge have been in the country for over four generations and know the land and its people well. Upon arrival, you instantly feel that you’ve stumbled into paradise where you can truly relax, indulge in luxurious surroundings and take-in the wildlife that has become synonymous with Kenya’s image around the world.
I was a guest recently, traveling to Kenya specifically for Sirikoi during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenya opened its borders to Americans early, requiring a negative PCR test for entry. But, made it relatively easy for travelers to come back and experience its magic. I connected in Nairobi and took a domestic flight to the Lewa Downs airstrip, located just 20 minutes from Sirikoi’s front entrance. I arrived in the later afternoon as dinner was being prepared, the sun was setting and cocktail hour was getting underway. I knew immediately I was somewhere that would be hard to leave.
As a guest at Sirikoi, what you learn quickly is that it is pretty much an entirely self-sufficient operation. Most everything is either made or grown on property. Furniture dotting the main lodge as well as the guest tents, cottage and house is made by local craftsmen in the workshop on-site, and the food you eat is grown and cared-for meticulously – led by George, the head gardener, and his team. Not much is brought-in here from the outside unless absolutely needed. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the main lodge at individual tables and the service is flawless, offered by some of the nicest staff in the country.
From the lodge’s main deck, where most meals are served, you can sit and watch as wildlife literally roams through camp. There are no fences keeping them out, so you might have a herd of elephants drinking from the watering hole while you’re sipping your morning coffee, or a group of Waterbuck congregating outside your tent as the sun begins to set. The Maasai blankets draped across the chairs can be used when temperatures dip down during the evening and stunning tableware elevate the entire experience.
4 en-suite “tents” (more like the most amazing suites) are equipped with private decks, wardrobes, desks, fireplaces, the coziest of beds and huge bathrooms with both a shower and soaking tub. Bronze status decorate the spaces as well as a melange of blankets, fabrics and photography. Each evening, during turn-down service, fireplaces will be lit to warm your tent and hot water bottles placed under your sheets to make your bed as cozy as can be.
Sirikoi also offers both a private cottage on-property as well as the owner’s house, which can accommodate groups and families looking for more privacy and dedicated service where most all of your meals and activities are centered around that particular space. As a guest, whether you stay in the the luxury tents or take the entire home or cottage, your experience is fabulous – including safari vehicles and guides that assist you in having phenomenal encounters with the area’s wildlife.
Each morning, you’ll start your day with a game drive and breakfast composed of top quality ingredients right on site, and every evening you’ll have late afternoon tea and cake, yet another game drive and then come back for cocktails, a fire and dinner.
Sirikoi’s location in Lewa Downs Conservancy is unmatched. Lewa serves as a safe refuge for the critically endangered black rhino and the endangered Grevy’s zebra, as well as the elephant, lion, giraffe, wild dog and other iconic wildlife species in Kenya. The Conservancy is also home to more than 400 species of birds.
Over the course of my two-night stay, I encountered the most incredible wildlife and was able to sit for what felt like hours watching every move of the resident rhino, zebra, lion and elephants.
Your Maasai guide assigned to you upon your arrival with fast become your friend and do everything in their power to take you to their favorite spots to view the creatures who live here. Their wisdom and knowledge of the land and species is truly astounding.
My four game drives at Sirikoi all came with opportunities to stop for pictures, information sessions and evening sundowner cocktails on the mountain.
The magnificent herds of elephant were one of my favorite sites within Lewa and at Sirikoi. They seemed to be wherever I was and, I could swear, I was able to spot the same family members each day they appeared, allowing for a personal connection to occur between myself and nature.
Sirikoi is not your typical safari camp. In fact, there’s nothing average or regular about it. It is an invitation to come-into a well-established operation and witness magic in both the wildlife and the harmony in which the place operates. There is a vibe and rhythm here that is hard to describe, but it’s addicting.
After two days at Sirikoi, I was already planning my trip back. There wasn’t a moment that I didn’t enjoy, even perusing the well-curated gift shop filled with locally-made crafts, art and jewelry. I truly cannot wait to return and I believe 2021 is the year to visit Kenya, and you mustn’t miss Sirikoi. Doing so would be like missing the opportunity to see a side that only a few are lucky enough to encounter.