Each nuance of this wondrous camp exudes high style and safari romance. A design masterpiece artfully sculpted into Mughwango Hill, 360-degree views pierce the plains of Meru National Park to the 17,000ft peak of Mt Kenya and beyond. The stunning hobbit-haven cottages of Elsa’s Kopje inhabit a location as spectacular as it is recognizable, for who doesn’t remember Elsa in the film “Born Free”?
The lodge is perched above the site of the original camp where George Adamson raised and released orphan lions, and the beloved lioness Elsa and her family loped amongst the same stunning, soul-stirring surroundings we will explore. Setting out on morning and afternoon game drives – or perhaps on a walking tour, or to try our luck at a fishing hole – Meru’s remarkable residents are revealed in all their glory – among them, hippo, lion and large elephant herds, as well as a sanctuary protecting some 60 black and white rhino, as well as a birder’s paradise of more than 450 species. With the enormous diversity of habitat and wildlife in Meru National Park (and Elsa’s Kopje has access to the entire National Park, almost exclusively), you may also encounter great forests, majestic giant baobab trees, and many rare species including caracal, the beautiful Lesser Kudu and the aardwolf. Returning from each expedition to such an elegant boutique lodge is another joy in itself, suggesting a world of relaxing possibilities from a languorous afternoon by the infinity pool perched on the hillside; a delicious lunch en plein air; maybe a massage or book on your private balcony visited by curious, sweet (and harmless) hyrax.
Each of the unique fantasy-rich cottages is crafted into and around the stunning red rocks (kopje is the Afrikans word for hill), with a large airy bedroom, sitting room, spacious bathroom and open-fronted veranda overlooking the vast plains of Meru National Park. Some feature romantic outdoor baths for an extra frisson. A new larger cottage provides a spacious two-bedroom arrangement with a lovely living room and private deck that’s beautifully suited to families on safari. There is also Elsa’s Private House, a rather sumptuous affair with large dining and sitting room, a private garden and its own infinity swimming pool. A bijou yet faultless spa offers massage and mani-pedi treatments to keep tanned limbs looking and feeling wonderful. Dinner, too, at Elsa’s Kopje manages to achieve that perfect pitch of regal relaxation: delicious courses are almost always enjoyed outside in the garden, where candlelit tables are elegantly laid under the starry African sky.
In addition to the Family Cottage, the Private House can be fitted with two extra beds, suitable for children under 16 years.
Night-time excursions here constitute an unusual treat: with red-light spotlights, game driving at dusk and early evening opens up a whole new world of bush babies, owls and the excitement of hunting predators. The National Park incorporates an 84 square km rhino sanctuary, home to over 70 rhino, both black and white. There’s much beauty in the small things, too – animal tracks, dung beetles, naked mole rats and fascinating micro-ecosystems are revealed on guided walks to the top of Mughwango Hill. Fishing rods are at the ready; soothing massage hands on deck. And ultimately, the truly A-1 safari experiences — the congenial bush breakfast and the sensual sundowner — provide the ne-plus-ultra bookends to a perfect day at a most heavenly locale.