The Serenity of the Mathews Ranges

A few years ago when we visited the Mathews Ranges  (also known as the Lenkiyio Hills), both Purvi and I fell in love with the landscape, serenity, birdlife, remoteness and people of the area.  That was our first trip north of Samburu, and it is where our love affair with the beautiful North started.  The trip also got us thinking on how we could explore the area more and create great travel memories for others.  The beauty about most of the remote destinations on the ‘off the beaten track’ safaris in this area is that majority of the time, you are unreachable via mobile voice chat and there is very limited access to wifi.  This makes it a perfect place to unwind, relax and get to be one with yourself and nature.

A Small Part of the Mathews Ranges

Thus, when I was approached by Kunal to give him some options of properties to stay at in Northern Kenya where he could experience a combination of walking safaris, experience great birdlife and totally unwind, I recommended the beautiful Kitich Camp in Namunyak Conservancy.  For the Samburu community “Kitich” means the land of happiness – an apt name for this hidden gem.  Kunal has explored Kenya and having travelled to various lodges in the country he wanted a place where he could totally switch off from the world and have the a full lodge to himself (if possible).  All these intentions came true as we were the only visitors in the area during the personal guided safari we undertook to the Mathews Ranges a few weeks ago.

A view of the main camp lounge/restaurant area on the way back from a walk

The Mathew’s ranges rise to a height of 7,200 feet above the arid plains that surround it.  Among its many hidden treasures, there have been sightings of the melanistic leopard as well as forest elephants, buffaloes, lions, giant forest hogs, endangered African wild dogs, the rare De Brazza monkey, colobus monkeys, and a range of antelope including the greater kudu and waterbuck.  The Matthews are covered in 150 km of dense indigenous forest that features giant cedars and a rare species of ancient cycad, one of the oldest plant types on the planet and one that’s endemic to the area.

Many years before the Samburu Community fully inhabited the area, the Ndorobos were one of the main occupants of the land and used to live off the land.  With more Samburu families growing and expanding their territories, the Ndorobos have either disappeared or intermarried with the Samburus.

It took us approximately 10 hours to reach camp on our first day, and this was with no traffic on the road as we started out early.  Once we turned left (off the Isiolo – Marsabit Road) on the way to Wamba, the wilderness and remoteness of the area unfolded.  On both of sides of the dirt road, various hills emerged to reveal the beauty of the landscape in the area.  There were a few detours we had to take since some parts of the road had been washed away from the recent rainy season in the area – this just made the dirve more interesting.
As we got closer to our home for the next few days, we saw  many birds of the area like the Hartaub’s turaco,  fish eagle, mouse bird, bee eater and Go-away bird.  There have been more than 200 bird species seen in these highlands, together with more than 150 kinds of butterfly.  After a tough 4 hours of driving on the dirt road, we finally arrived at the beautiful Kitich Camp set in a forest glade on the banks of the Ngeng River.  This would be our home for the next few days and we were warmly welcomed by the lovely camp manager, Emma Hedges, and her team.

Beautiful butterflies

We started our stay with a great vegetarian lunch and then headed out for a short walk to stretch our legs from the long drive.  During the walk, our very knowledgeable Samburu guides gave us information about the area and the plant life, especially focusing on the medicinal benefits of the various plants they use to cure a variety of ailments they face in their daily lives.

Some of the views on the walk

In addition to that, they also taught us how to identify animal tracks of lions, leopards, wild dogs and other herbivores in the area.  Last but not least, they easily identified and showed us the various bird species that are inhabitants of the mountain range.  We could feel our bodies lightening from the stresses of the city and our energy increasing during the walk.  By the evening, Nairobi was a far away thought in our minds as the night sounds slowly lulled us into a deep sleep, (the scrumptious dinner may have played a part in this too) only broken by the sound of some roars!!
After an early breakfast the next morning, we headed out on foot to explore the area and enjoy the fresh air.  During the hikes, we found more animal footprints, confirming that the ‘big cats’ had been moving around near camp the previous night.  The Mathews are a hikers paradise and various hikes can be organised which range between 5 to 12 hours depending on the distance one wants to cover during their stay.  Our hike was a round trip of 6 hours (15 km), and we got back to the camp just in time for lunch and a relaxed afternoon.  In the evening, we headed out of camp for some sundowners which provided more amazing photo opportunities, especially with it being full moon.

Our third day at camp was focused on activity with relaxation.  We did a short hike to the natural rock pools, where you can swim.  The water was crystal clear and refreshing to jump into in the heat.  I think the fun part was swinging into the pool on the rope – really makes you feel like the modern day Tarzan!!  The walk to the pool was approximately a round trip of 10 km and was more flat then the previous day.  After spending some time at the natural rock pool and enjoying the sounds of the land, we slowly headed towards camp.

A few different views of the natural rock pools

Along the way, our guides made a small detour for the picnic lunch that was waiting for us.  The food was so delicious that we had to take seconds and thirds!!!  Considering we had burnt more than a 1000 calories during our walk in the morning, I think this was allowed. We spent the afternoon resting in the comfortable lounge area of the camp and reminiscing about the amazing time we had so far.

Watching elephants while sitting at the lounge area

Some of the views of the lounge area and the view fro the balcony sitting area

In the evening, we had our last sundowner at camp before planning the return to Nairobi the following day.  Little did we know that there was one more surprise – we ended up eating dinner with the elephants nearby!!
There is something truly timeless and spiritual about this place – all the pictures and words in the world cannot do it enough justice and it must be experienced.  I promise a trip here will leave you a different person from the one you were before and is the food that your soul seeks.
For anyone who wishes to travel to Kitich camp, get in touch with us to facilitate your booking and plan your itinerary to make your travel experience memorable.  You can contact us via email at 

When you travel with us, part of the proceeds go to furthering education for children in Northern Kenya.

“People forget years and remember moments.” — Ann Beattie

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