Elewana Elsa' Kopje Meru

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Elewana Elsa' Kopje Meru, Meru National Park, Kenya

Unashamedly romantic and beautifully styled, Elsa’s Kopje is sculpted into Mughwango Hill, above the site of George Adamson’s original camp where he raised and released orphan lions, long before conservation became fashionable. Each cottage is crafted around the rocks, with a large bedroom, open sitting room, veranda and spacious bathroom, each with breathtaking views.

Guests can enjoy inimitable seclusion in the vast expanse of Elsa’s Kopje, boasting 870km² , the equivalent of 215,000 acres, of authentic African landscape. The park offers a thriving rhino sanctuary, and is famous for large elephant herds, hippo, lion, and birdlife; Meru National Park is recognised as having more diversity of animal species than any other park in East Africa.

The rugged and remote Meru National Park was rescued from oblivion thanks to Elsa’s Kopje, an environmental award-winning, boutique lodge. Winner of the Good Safari Guide’s ‘Best Safari Property in Africa’ award, Elsa’s Kopje is widely renowned as one of the most elegant lodges in Africa.

Elsa’s Kopje was designed and built by Stefano Cheli, officially opened by Dr. Richard Leakey (Director of Kenya Wildlife Service at the time), and Virginia McKenna of Born Free fame in 1999. One of the most beautiful parks in Kenya, Liz & Stefano included Meru National Park on most of their mobile tented safaris.

Elsa’s Kopje joined the Elewana Collection in 2015; a group of 16 boutique lodges and camps in the most iconic locations in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Liz & Stefano continue to participate in conservation work, guiding and lodge experience (including the food!) at Elsa’s Kopje.

Game Drives

The Elsa’s Kopje guides are based at the lodge in Meru National Park, they have the whole park to themselves, and know their backyard intimately. All the guides are Bronze or Silver level Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association certified.

Elsa’s Kopje has open gamedrive vehicles. The current fleet are new, specially fitted, 4×4 Toyota Landcruisers. The vehicles are unrivalled with feature enhancements specifically designed for comfort and photography – open sided with 3 rows of seats, photographic equipment stands, and charging sockets. Clients will share gamedrives unless “exclusive use of vehicle” has been prebooked at an extra charge.

The park has enormous diversity of habitat and wildlife, gamedrives will take you through forests, past giant baobab trees, through clear spring fed streams lined with palms. This is lion and elephant country, but also Meru has many rare species including caracal, the beautiful Lesser Kudu, aardwolf, and over 400 species of birds.

Night Game Drives

Elsa’s Kopje has the whole National Park almost exclusively, and offers pre-dinner game drives with a red-light spotlights. Gamedriving at dusk and early evening opens up a whole new world, bushbabies, hunting predators, owls.

Day Excursions to the Tana River

Take a picnic lunch, and take the whole day to explore the sandy Tana River, Kenya’s longest. Rising in the highlands of Mt Kenya and travelling 704kms before emptying into the Indian Ocean.

Rhino Sanctuary

The National Park incorporates an 84 sq km rhino sanctuary, home to over 70 rhino, both black and white. The size of the sanctuary ensures that finding the rhino is still a gamedriving challenge!

Guided Walks

Take the time to leave the car behind and enjoy the small things – tracks, dung beetles, naked mole rats and micro-ecosystems.

One of the most popular walks is a climb up to the very top of Mughwango Hill, enjoying a 360 degree view from snow-capped Mt Kenya in the west to the vast Meru plains to the east.

For some walks, Kenya Wildlife Service charge a small additional park fee.

River Fishing

Take your rod, afternoon tipple with some canapés and a good book, and settle on the palm lined banks of one of Meru’s many rivers. The fishing is fun, with plentiful catfish, tilapia and barbell. Share your prey with herons, monitor lizards and spectacular kingfishers.

Swimming Pool

Enjoy the cool waters in the heat of the day! An infinity pool perched on the side of the hill, the views are indeed infinite! The pool has bar service. The Private House has its own private swimming pool.

Bush Breakfast and Sundowners

Take a moment to sit back, enjoy the spectacular views, the smells, the colours, and the gentle breeze.

Bush breakfasts are a chance to enjoy a full breakfast, al fresco, in the middle of the plains, surrounded by wildlife.

“Sundowners” are a safari tradition – after a day of safari; stop, watch the spectacular sunset; traditionally with a gin and tonic in hand.

Cultural Visits

Elsa’s Kopje works with closely with the Tharaka community, and there are ways that you can get involved.

Traditionally known for their ornate clothing including distinctive leather skirts and long cowrie shell decorated aprons for women, while the men wore animal skin cloaks and feathered headdresses that were a sign of prestige. Their houses are round with conical shaped roofs, thatched with grass.

Massage, Manicure and Pedicure

Safari is also a holiday and a rest – a break from today’s frenetic lifestyle.

Elsa’s Kopje offers massages for wonderful way to ease the stress out of tired shoulders and backs. As well as manicure and pedicure to compliment those tanned limbs!

In the 1980′s and 90′s, poachers slaughtered many of the elephants in Meru National Park and rhinos were completely eradicated from the area. The park’s infrastructure was deadened with a horrendous blow to conservation. Tourism plummeted and rumours circulated that the government was at the point of de-proclaiming the park. Despite the park’s state of despair, with a passion for this beautiful wilderness, Stefano & Liz Cheli believed that they could build a successful lodge to secure Meru’s future existence. They entered into discussion with KWS in 1993 and after four years of negotiating, they received the approval. Since the lodge was built in 1999, Meru National Park has experienced a steady increase in tourist numbers, from 3,500 in 1999 to 15,200 in 2009 and now has a reputation as one of the best wilderness areas on the safari circuit. Elsa’s Kopje contributes to the KWS through lease payments and park fees, which amounted to US$ 76,080 and US$ 150,479 respectively in 2011 alone.

The generation of these funds has triggered restorative action by the KWS and infrastructure and security networks have been implemented, including a 24 hour rhino surveillance which was introduced in 2003 and a specialised poaching intelligence unit, with vastly effective poaching reduction results. At least 1,350 animals have been successfully translocated to Meru, including reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, impala, Bohors reedbuck, leopard and elephant. The rich diversity also includes more than 400 bird species. KWS has also installed a 20,750 acre rhino sanctuary which now protects a population of over 70 white and black rhino. All this considered, Elsa’s Kopje has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to ensuring that Meru National Park is once again a viable conservation area.

Sustainable Tourism

Elsa’s Kopje has been awarded “Silver Level” by the internationally recognised Ecotourism society in recognition of its high level of environmental responsibility; and it was the first lodge in Kenya to receive an eco-rating. The lodge consumes a minimum amount of energy through investments in LED and energy saving bulbs, solar water heaters and power to supplement the generator, limiting diesel generator use to only 6 hours per day. To limit our carbon footprint, wherever possible, our fresh produce is sourced from the farmers on the borders of the park and local traders and timber used by the camp is taken from renewable sources. Rubbish is responsibly disposed of or recycled and separated glass is sold to the recycling plant ‘Central Glass’ in Nairobi.

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