Camp Carnelley’s was the place that I stayed at for my weekend in Naivasha, and came at the recommendation of several friends. Having stayed there, I can understand why so many people recommended it, and thought it was worthy of a short review here in my blog.
Right on the lake front, Carnelley’s is reasonably priced and has a range of options for all budgets, from a private banda that sleeps 6, to single and twin rooms, to dormitories and camping, the accommodation goes from 12,000 Kenyan shillings per night to 800 for a camping spot.
The bandas have en-suite bathrooms, while the twin rooms, dorms and campsite have communal facilities. They may look somewhat rough and ready, as the bathrooms and showers are made of simple corrugated plastic, but the toilets all flush, and the showers have hot running water, and they were spotlessly clean. In fact the showers here were both hotter and had better water pressure than in my hotel in Nairobi, so I really enjoyed the showers!
The twin rooms are basic but clean, with 2 beds, mosquito nets, and a table outside. Don’t expect luxury – it is a little rough and ready, but for something that is clean, simple, and set in the most stunning of locations it is very affordable!
Here’s a picture of the twin rooms
The campsite itself is right down by the lake – a lush green grassy patch under the shade of some lovely big trees. You really feel right in the middle of all the nature and wildlife down here, and it is so leafy and peaceful – it made me wish I had my tent with me!
Speaking of wildlife, here’s a rather blurry shot of a black and white Colobus monkey I spotted on my first stroll down to the lake – they are quite shy, so this is as close as I got to seeing one in the trees above the campsite.
Along the bottom of the campsite, between the campgrounds and the lake itself is a wire fence which is an electric fence at night. They close the gate and turn on the power to the fence around 6.30pm to protect campers from hippos. There are a number of hippos in the lake, and one big female in particular who had claimed this patch of shoreline. The hippos mostly sleep and loll around in the water/mud for most of the day, but they come out onto land at night to eat the grass. Hippos are notoriously territorial and quite aggressive, and can kill people if you get too close, although they won’t actually eat you…
Campers will often hear the noises of hippos stomping about, chewing loudly and occasionally grunting and roaring in the night. I’m informed that occasionally they have broken down the fence, and once or twice, the staff have woken up to find a hippo standing outside the restaurant eating grass!
Here’s the rather fabulous hippo I spotted from Carnelley’s campsite
In addition to the hippos, there are tons of fantastic birds to see here too – at this bird table outside the restaurant, there were tons of these rainbow-coloured birds (I’m told they are called Superb Starlings – what an apt name!)
Also lots of these Ibis-type birds, with gorgeous green iridescent wings
This enormous stork strolled casually among the tents on Saturday afternoon – it was HUGE!
And of course there are plenty of wading birds too
Then there is the Lazybones Restaurant, which in addition to good food has a fantastic, laid-back ambience and funky decor that makes you want to stay there all day! The great big benches with huge cushions to recline on may have been one of my favourite things, although the open fireplace in the middle for warmth, the outdoor fire pit and tyre swing for the kids were also pretty awesome.
Carnelley’s can also arrange lots of activities, so you can do a boat ride around the lake to find hippos, or a trip to Crescent Island by boat, as well as hiring bicycles to visit Hell’s Gate National Park (the Elsa Gate is only 5km from Carnelley’s).
All in all, a fantastic place well worth a visit!
One final note, is that on Friday when I arrived it was relatively quiet, as it is now the off-season and the short rains. However on Saturday and Sunday the campsite slowly filled with families who were clearly just up from Nairobi for a weekend/day trip of nature and camping to get away from the city. The fact that it seemed to be mostly local people who live in Nairobi, as opposed to tourists in general, spoke volumes – any place that is that popular with the locals must be a great choice!