In 1993 Peter Frank and the Gehlot family, passionate lovers of Africa, decided to build a camp in a part of East Africa especially beloved by Denys Finch Hatton, a charismatically jaunty British aristocrat. A pioneer of modern safari, Finch Hatton had an appreciation not only for life’s finest things, but also for the unrefined and heart-sparking life of the East African bush (nothing less would do, not only for us, but for the likes of the guests he led on safari, notable among them the future King Edward VIII and Finch Hatton’s lover Baroness Christenze von Blixen-Finecke, otherwise known as Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa). Finch Hatton would be proud of the sterling camp that bears his name; its luxuries meld exquisitely with the wildness that surrounds it.
Each of Finch Hattons Camp’s 17 luxury suites are tucked away in Tsavo’s forest for refreshing privacy, but elevated for views of its superb setting. To the west: glorious Mount Kilimanjaro, and northward, the cloudforested Chyulu Hills, Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa. And, from the suites’ multi-level decks, we gaze down at the camp’s churning hippo pools and eye-magnet water hole.
Among those exquisitely decorated and full-amenitied luxury suites are two double-bedroom family suites and the Finch Hatton Suite, which Edward VIII would have found in keeping with his status. And Finch Hatton, who loved the fruits of modernity much as he loved the timeless joys of Africa, would have revelled in those amenities, the Wi-Fi, the plush bedding, the modern bathrooms, the infinity pool, the camp’s thoughtfully curated library, and its politely pampering spa, not to mention its helipad and airstrip. (Perhaps you recall the scene in Out of Africa: Finch Hatton, played by a golden-hazed Robert Redford, lands his Gipsy Moth near Karen Blixen’s— Meryl Streep’s—coffee farm. She rushes out to the spiffy little biplane, and Finch Hatton doesn’t take off his flying goggles, he barely throttles back his engine, he just says, “Get in,” but before she does, Blixen asks him when he learned to fly. “Yesterday,” grins Finch Hatton.)
To our mind, Finch Hattons Camp’s greatest attraction is its pure Africaness, its engagement with “whole landscapes alert with life,” as Elspeth Huxley wrote, landscapes presided over by “the high bright Kenya sky,” in John Gunter’s remembrance, “foaming with enormous pink, cream-colored and slate-blue clouds so incandescent they look as if they have fires inside.”
Our game drives with our Micato Safari Director take us into the heart of Tsavo West National Park, Kenya’s largest, and one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. Exceptionally large herds of elephants “pace along,” Baroness Blixen wrote, “as if they had an appointment at the end of the world.” Leopards, buffalos, hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, oryx, bushbuck, waterbuck and lesser kudu (unique to Tsavo) abound. And of course, lions, many of them. Another Huxley quote, if you don’t mind: “No sleep is so perfect as that stirred but not broken by the thrilling vibrance of a lions’ roar.” And from our suite’s decks, sipping morning coffee or an afternoon cocktail, we hear the symphonic chirps of Tsavo’s 500 hundred bird species, and watch hippos lumber gracefully, baboons rush about, crocodiles laze.
In addition to those game drives, we’re happy to arrange superb Hattonesque bush picnics, night game drives, bush walks, full-day hikes, and outings to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, Mzima Springs, Chyulu Hills, Amboseli National Park, and Lake Jipe. The Maasai people are very much part of a full African experience, of course, and we enjoy visits to the Maasai village of Iltilal, where our Safari Director is greeted as an old friend.