Camping with Pigs and Hyenas at Sanctuary Farm

I zipped open my tent and was greeted by a most peculiar scene. Beyond the rickety bamboo fence that encompassed the campsite, a podgy pig nuzzled up to a pair of tall grey horses. In an adjacent field, a handful of zebras and wildebeest grunted and grazed, and on the edge of the acacia forest a motionless giraffe stood camouflaged in the dappled light. The pig, I found out, is called Henrietta, and she was doing her morning rounds on Sanctuary Farm.

It’s this bizarre blend of farm animals and habituated wildlife that distinguishes Sanctuary Farm from its neighbours along the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. Within the confines of this 400-acre property is a pasture-driven dairy farm, and a conservancy with an astonishing diversity of wildlife.

During the day, we walked alongside large herds of impalas and Thompson’s gazelles, and were watched vigilantly by a large female giraffe and her young calf. The conservancy came alive at night, too. As we waited an age for our Thai curry to cook on our ancient gas stove (not the most convenient of camping dinners in hindsight), one of the askaris told us that there was a hyena den nearby.

Torch in hand, he led us a few hundred yards from the campsite towards a small grassless mound. As we approached, a pair of glowing eyes vanished into an underground hollow. We caught another hyena in the torchlight, slinking for cover behind the trunk of an acacia. We were told that there were three other dens dotted around the property, and later that evening we drove round looking for them. We weren’t successful, but we did startle a bat-eared fox, and were constantly surrounded by bouncing springhares.

We opted to stay at the acacia public campsite, which is set on a clearing towards the back of the property. There is also a private campsite within the acacia forest, which can be booked out exclusively. The public campsite was quite busy when we stayed last weekend, but it was nice to interact with the other campers and their dogs. Unlike many of the camping spots by the lake, Sanctuary Farm is dog-friendly, which I appreciated. I was also pleased that there was a central shower block, with a basin, flushing toilets and a donkey boiler for hot showers.

Those looking for a bit more comfort can stay in the Stable Rooms, on the edge of the acacia forest. In 2012, the owners began converting the old polo stables into ten contemporary rooms, with private bathrooms and verandahs. This is obviously pricier than pitching your own tent, but there is also a self-catering option with a fully-equipped kitchen.

A few paces from the rooms is a swimming pool with a great view out towards the lake, and not far from that is the Club House. Here they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, served under parasols on the patio, on the wide terrace, or within the dining room in the evenings. We brought our own food so didn’t have the opportunity to try out the restaurant, but we did enjoy sundowners on the patio, surrounded by a herd of wildebeest grazing on the old polo field.

The following morning, our group split up to do different activities. While the majority of us headed to Hell’s Gate for a short gamedrive and a long walk through the Ol Njorowa Gorge, the rest relaxed by the Club House and took a boat ride along the shore of Crescent Island. There are plenty of other things to do, too, such as horse riding around the conservancy, and a visit to the dairy farm.

For more information, including detailed directions and prices for the various accommodation options and activities, head to, email, or call 0722761940.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation

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