During my weeklong Kenya safari, I stayed in a hotel, two different tented camps and a resort. If you want to experience all that Kenya has to offer, you won’t stay in one place very long. Depending on the length of your safari, you might switch to another camp or hotel every other night as I did.
No two camps, hotels or resorts in Kenya are the same, and their accessibility varies too. Some camps are much more accessible than others, so you’ll need to carefully select accommodation based on your individual needs. GoAfrica Safaris, who organized my accessible safari, took me to see a number of accessible camps. Below, you’ll find descriptions and photographs of camps I stayed at, plus a few others I toured.
Recounting my safari was too much for one blog post, so I’ve broken it up into multiple articles. Here’s the table of contents and links to other articles in my Kenya Safari series:
Introduction: Planning A Wheelchair Accessible Kenya Safari
Tipping Etiquette: Guide to Tipping on an African Safari
Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Nairobi, Kenya
Wheelchair Accessible Places to Stay on a Kenya Safari
Exploring Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park in a Wheelchair
Spotting the Big 5 on a Wheelchair Accessible Tour of Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve
Lake Naivasha: The Perfect Pit-stop on a Kenya Safari
Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi Hotel
The Southern Sun Mayfair Hotel is located North of downtown Nairobi and about 45 minutes to one hour from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The hotel complex sits on 5 acres in the midst of a beautiful garden and is a fantastic place to relax upon arriving in Kenya.
My accessible guest room was located on the first floor, only a short distance from the lobby.
The full size bed was comfortable and there was plenty of space to roll around in my power wheelchair. Power outlets alongside the bed allowed me to charge my wheelchair and other electronics. Note that electricity in Kenya is delivered at 240 volts. Travelers from the U.S. and North America may need to use a step-down power transformer to charge wheelchairs that use the 120V standard. Please see the guide to charging a power wheelchair abroad for more information and tips. My new wheelchair has a dual-voltage charger, so I plugged right into the wall (with a plug adapter) and charged without issue.
The bathroom was compact, with a toilet, sink, roll-in shower and bathtub. I utilized the roll-in shower, which had a handheld shower head and water controls within reach of the portable seat. I was initially concerned about water escaping into the room due to its close proximity, but the shower drained well. A curtain could be drawn around the entire space.
Although it wasn’t the most accessible shower I saw on my Kenya trip, I was able to make it work.
My stay at the Southern Sun Nairobi was enjoyable. If you fid that its accessibility will meet your needs, I encourage you to give it a try.
Flamingo Hill Camp in Lake Nakuru National Park
My first-ever stay at a tented camp was at the Flamingo Hill Camp, nestled just inside Lake Nakuru National Park.
The accessible tent at Flamingo Hill was located down a stone pathway, just a short walk/roll from the lobby and restaurant pavilion. The tent was slightly elevated on a cement platform and accessible via a ramp.
The tent featured two beds, one large and one small. The beds were 22 inches tall, with 13 inches of clear space underneath. There was room to maneuver my wheelchair between the two beds and I was able to charge using a nearby power outlet on the floor.
Bathroom accessibility was mediocre. There were no grab bars in the shower, and the shower head was fixed high on the ceiling. There was no shower chair provided, but GoAfrica Safaris had loaded one in the safari vehicle for me to use throughout the trip. It is pictured above, in the shower, and I used it at a number of other camps as well.
The toilet had a grab bar, but there was no space to park my wheelchair directly alongside. I found this to be a common shortcoming with accessibility in the tented camps.
Flamingo Hill provides guests three meals a day, typically in a buffet. Because occupancy was low during my stay in the shoulder season, we ordered off a menu and the food was great. Drinks are not provided in the meal packages at safari camps, so you’ll need to budget extra for water, juice, soda pop and alcoholic beverages.
I enjoyed my stay at Flamingo Hill and would go back again – the staff were friendly, the service was excellent and the game drives at Lake Nakuru were a great way to experience safari for the first time!
Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort
I had the pleasure of staying at the Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort, which is part of the Sopa Lodges chain of resorts and lodges in Kenya and Tanzania. This resort is not located on a safari reserve or in the bush, but on Lake Naivasha, a freshwater lake outside the town of Naivasha.
The resort sits on 150 acres and is home to giraffes, waterbuck and monkeys. Hippos graze on the resort’s lawns at night, so it is important to be careful when going outside after dark. By phoning the front desk, guests can request a security escort to walk with them at night. I never felt in danger, coming within feet of a giraffe and a waterbuck, but it’s always good to be safe.
The resort has 21 cottages, each with four rooms. Two of the resort’s 84 rooms are wheelchair accessible. The ground floor accessible rooms have two queen size beds with mosquito netting. The top of the mattress measured 24″ from the floor, with no clearance underneath the bed. There is ample space to roll around in a wheelchair and to park next to and between the beds.
Apart from my stay in Nairobi, this was the first time during my safari that I had TV in my room. I caught some highlights from the French Open, but otherwise focused on exploring the resort.
The bathroom had a toilet and bidet, with a folding grab bar separating the two. The roll-in shower was enclosed with glass. It had a handheld shower spray unit and grab bar, but no built-in seat. I used the portable shower chair that I had used for most of the safari. The sink was a bit too low to accommodate my power wheelchair, so I had to park sideways in front.
My room had a small, but accessible outdoor patio. From there, I watched giraffes in the evening. They were only a short distance away! The patio is not level with the ground, so you won’t be able to transition directly out onto the lawn – you’ll have to go out the front door and around the building.
The swimming pool was beautiful, but there was no lift for wheelchair access. You’d need to be lifted by another person into and out of the pool.
Great Rift Valley Lodge
The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort is perched atop the Ol Donyo Opurru (mountain of smoke), which looks out over Lake Naivasha at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Like the Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge, it is a great choice for a pit-stop between tours of Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara national parks.
It is the most accessible accommodation I found during my trip, with many accessible features commonly found in Europe and the USA.
Cabin #1012 is accessible with a king size bed and roll-in shower. The bed was 23″ high, with 1″ clearance underneath. It stood on 4 legs, which could be elevated to accommodate a patient lift.
The room was spacious, with a desk, sitting area and an outdoor patio with level entry. The fireplace in the photo above is decorative.
The bathroom’s roll-in shower contained a seat that folded down from the wall, folding grab bars an a handheld showerhead. The toilet featured grab bars on both sides. The sink was also accessible.
At Great Rift Valley Lodge, you’ll find a refined accommodation with some of the best accessibility in Kenya, a great staff and excellent restaurants with high-quality food.
Ashnil Mara Camp in the Masai Mara
Located about 90 minutes inside the Masai Mara National Reserve and overlooking the River Mara, Ashnil Mara Camp provides one of the best locations for game drives in all of Kenya.
I spent three nights at Ashnil Mara, and had the chance to interact with travelers from all over the world. My tent, number 22, was comfortable and looked out over a gorge, which turned out to be a favorite spot for a colony of banded mongoose.
The tent had two beds pushed together to form a larger one. It measured 26.5″ tall, with nearly a foot of clearance under the bed. The bathroom had a wall separating the toilet and roll-inn shower, both of which were enclosed spaces with a door. They opened in both directions, but I pushed them inward to utilize the grab bar for extra support. Both the shower and toilet had a grab bar on the wall as well. There was no handheld showerhead, but I was able to position my shower chair under the flow of water.
Ashnil Mara serves three meals a day at its buffet, which are included for guests with the all-inclusive package. The choices were drawn from international, oriental and African cuisines, and I found the food to be very good. I also spent time in the bar, which offers a selection of pub fare for an additional charge.
Sarova Mara Game Camp at Masai Mara
Another choice for accommodation in the Masai Mara is the Sarova Mara Game Camp, which is located just inside the entrance to the National Reserve. I toured Sarova Mara, but stayed at Ashnil, which is about 90 minutes’ ride deeper into the reserve.
Sarova Mara is a tented camp, with two wheelchair accessible tents. The tent I toured, #1, featured both a double bed and a twin bed. Entry into the tent was level, and the laminate wood-colored flooring made the space feel more welcoming.
Grab bars were affixed next to the toilet and inside the roll-in shower. There was no handheld showerhead or seat built-in to the shower. The bathroom was one of the nicest I had seen during my trip, but I hope Sarova Mara will make some accessibility improvements during its upcoming renovation.