Saruni Samburu safari lodge

Saruni Samburu safari lodge

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Surrounded by pure wilderness, the Saruni Samburu Safari lodge is an ecological marvel sitting at the heart of Kalama Wildlife Conservancy, on the hot rock of the Kalama mountain top in Samburu County. Bordering the Samburu National Reserve, Ngutuk Ongiron to the west, Namunyak Community Conservation Trust to the north and Sera Community Wildlife Conservation to the north east, Saruni samburu lodge is the only lodge in Kenya that occupies over 200,000 acres of wilderness land. The lodge is accessible through the Kalama airstrip and the Oryx Samburu Airstrip.

Saruni samburu sitting on Kalama mountain.
Saruni samburu sitting on Kalama mountain.

The location is particularly interesting and strategic in position, arresting 360 degrees captivating views of the dramatic red landscape dominated by acacia-grassland in Northern Kenya. The spot is also historically known for the white caves with cultural value to the Samburu people, which have been in existence for 100 to 150 years. Kalama is one of the destinations with high potential in Northern Kenya today.

Breath taking views are a major attraction for this lodge.
Breath taking views are a major attraction for this lodge.

The client wanted to combine safari experience with his passion for Africa’s wildlife & nature in this project. He sought to represent the African bush environment in the design of Saruni samburu lodge through conservation of all the natural features on site, including the rock formation on which the foundation of the lodge is built.

The magnificent project that complements the habitat of the Samburu people in the semi-arid region of Northern Kenya is built using the locally available materials. Use of concrete on the roof structure allows a seamless blend with the landscape and the Ferro cement used helps to cool the spaces by keeping the intense heat away.

Design

The primary goal was to add a spotlight to the landscape without interfering with its set up. “I wanted to give the area a new identity; a balance between traditional safari style and the modern user needs and I think we achieved that,” notes Mr. Riccardo Orizio, the Saruni Lodges MD.

The postmodern design is not a typical lodge with Makuti. The thin and light roof shells are built using ferro cement with integral gutters and the down pipes fed through the centre of the columns. They are supported at the back by the service spine and at the front by two hollow steel columns clad in leather.

The design concept sketches for the lodge
The design concept sketches for the lodge

For a close blend with the surrounding as the main concept, the architect went for a risqué colour combining white and bold colours…The dense construction of these roofs make them excellent thermal dampers, which combined with the free flow of air below ensure that the rooms are very comfortable.

The gaps in between the roofs, where we have decks and terraces are shaded in net and canvas blinds over, making for a wonderful collection of interlinked sunny and shaded areas, especially when all the rooms are open.

For the living and bed areas, tent ‘walling’ has been routed to the corners and the back with cords for easy and fast pulling up. They can be folded up like a Roman blind or zipped up together. The ferro roof would have a moulded cornice dropping down to hide the connections and the blinds when folded up.

The masonry back wall and turrets are intended to function as a sort of ‘service’ spine allowing access all rooms when closed, hide solar panels, tanks etc. in addition, it also helps accelerate the natural ventilation on still days.

Aesthetically, they also act as an architectural ‘anchor’ to the light floating structures. With the big open spaces and amazing views, it was also important to provide a frame for contrast, making the big views all the more stunning.
Designed in appropriation to the various locations; each of the turrets varybetween flat and steep-backed-into-hill room sites.

At a distance, the naked eye cannot pick any built structure in the area. Elements of rock have been used to express the tough survival spirit of the Samburu people in the desert, a place that many people cannot survive.

The native Samburu people are an integral part of the lodge and complete the experience
The native Samburu people are an integral part of the lodge and complete the experience

Inspired by a collection of Moroccan products that had been gathered over the years, cabinets, tables, doors and ramps have been made using metal plates. Strong Moroccan oriental feel has also been incorporated in other interior accessories including floor mats and bath tubs.

One of the rooms with the Moroccan items
One of the rooms with the Moroccan items

The two swimming pools and six eco-chic open and spacious villas of Saruni  samburu lodge offers an intimate experience with a private beachfront for relaxation and spectacular views over Kalama Conservancy and Mount Kenya.

The Pools blend seamlessly with the environment
The Pools blend seamlessly with the environment

Challenges

Building materials had to be transported to site by hand for a distance of about 500M. Water scarcity was another challenge given the semi desert climate of Samburu land. Successful implementation of the facility in terms of conservation and commerce for the local people was not easy.

The 220,000 acre land that the Saruni lodge occupies is owned by the Kalama people. The Saruni lodges management has entered an agreement with the Kalama community authorities to preserve wildlife and share revenues with Kalama people.

Visitors at the lodge get to see the  wildlife in the saruni samburu lodge conservancy
Visitors at the lodge get to see the wildlife in the conservancy

With a population of only 2,000 people, the main livelihood in the area is livestock, mostly camels and goats. Centered on a core conservation area of 3,150 hectares, Kalama represents a crucial migratory corridor between northern and southern conservation areas of this spectacular region of Kenya.

Saruni Samburu lodge took 10 months to build with a team of 100 workers, half the number consisting of local people. The entire project cost approximately 1.4 million dollars including the interior outfits. The lodge was officially opened in June 2008.

A hide away photography and wildlife viewing bunker
A hide away photography and wildlife viewing bunker

You also get to experience outdooor showering in this paradise.

Outdoor shower saruni samburu
Outdoor shower

 

 

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