Tsavo Safari Camp swept away by tsunami like flash flood


(Posted 25th April 2018)

(Picture of the camp as seen from across the river)

Once upon a time was the Tsavo Safari Camp one of my favourite weekend hangouts during the years when I lived in Nairobi and Mombasa and then General Manager Lionel Nutter was a superb host at every visit.
Beers were cold, showers were warm, the food was good home cooking with freshly baked bread at every meal and the pool water crystal clear.
It was there that I taught my son how to fish and how to spot the lurking crocs, where porcupines, as startled as we were, shot their ‘arrows‘ at us and where ground hornbills, instead of running away gave chase …
Fond memories are forever linked to this safari property, the sundowners on top of the Yatta Plateau with views across the sprawling Tsavo area as far as the Chyulu Hills and even Mt. Kilimanjaro on clear evenings, the poolside dinners, the casual lunches and the extended breakfasts.
Today, devastating news came in that a flash flood of the river apparently washed the entire camp away with the only good news that all staff of the camp are reportedly safe, but heartbroken.
In the past have floods at times rushed across the camp but with enough time for the staff to clear the camp and take furniture and fittings to higher ground, but this time the flood came too fast and was too high to do anything else but barely escape to higher grounds before the river fury swallowed the entire camp.

The news reminds me of the time when Larson’s Camp in Samburu was washed away, only to be rebuild at even higher ground before flash floods of the Uaso Nyiro River for a second time washed that camp away.
I recall the site visits with David Stogdale, then Managing Director of Block Hotels, when Samburu elders were consulted how high the river ever rose – to the best of their collective memories – before then staking out the camp at an even higher level to be at a safe elevation. In Samburu as now in Tsavo, was there no remedy however to nature’s gruesome might and the recent rains in Kenya had the Athi River burst its banks on several locations before the raging waters reached one of Kenya’s oldest camps. It started off as Cottar’s Tsavo Camp before being sold to the Desai family who have managed the renamed Tsavo Safari Camp ever since.

My sympathy goes to Meera Patel who manages the Tsavo Safari Camp and to all other camp owners and staff along the river who have suffered similar fates earlier today. As and when pictures become available will they be shared to demonstrate the level of destruction these camps suffered but a video clip has been obtained via Brownrogers Safari – fb page and is shared here: