Built into Mughwango Hill, Elsa’s Kopje overlooks the site where George Adamson raised orphaned lion cubs. The boutique safari lodge is named for the first of these, the famous Elsa. (A “kopje” or “koppie” is an isolated hill.)
While the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) revived the fortunes of Meru’s animals, Elsa’s Kopje re-established Meru as a top tourist destination. Guests still feel they have the wilderness to themselves as Elsa’s Kopje is one of only two lodges situated within the vast park. Atop its granite hill, the lodge enjoys 360° views.
Elsa’s Kopje was opened in 1999 by Dr Richard Leakey, then chairman of the KWS, and Virginia McKenna. McKenna starred as Joy Adamson in the film Born Free, and founded the Born Free Foundation in 1984 with her co-star Bill Travers and his son Will. The foundation works to preserve endangered animals through conservation and education.
Elsa’s Kopje is designed to have a low environmental footprint. In recognition of its contribution to sustainable tourism and support of and integration with the local Tharaka community, the lodge received the first eco-tourism rating in Africa in 2003 when Ecotourism Kenya launched its eco-rating certification. It has been awarded the gold-level Eco-rating Certificate every year since 2011 and consistently wins awards for best hotel, lodge and safari destination.
The lodge has earned its environmental laurels without compromising on ease and elegance. The cottages are furnished in understated but luxurious safari style. Built into the rock, they flow with the natural contours of the hill and their open decks allow unimpeded views of the splendid plains below. The Italian-inspired food is fresh and delectable, with vegetables grown in camp or sourced from the local community. The warm and welcoming staff pamper visitors.
All Elsa’s Kopje guides are certified by the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association. Their deep knowledge of the park ensures that guests enjoy close encounters with its many game species. Game drives are conducted in comfortable open-sided Landcruisers with stands for photographic equipment. Early evening game drives reveal Meru’s night life – big cats on the prowl, owls and bushbabies.
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