Rugged and unspoilt Meru is the historic home of Elsa the lioness, whose story was made famous by the film 'Born Free'. Opened by Virginia McKenna in 1999, the eco-friendly Elsa's Kopje is sculpted into the hill above George Adamson's campsite – the place where he raised and released orphaned lions. It's one of only a few lodges in this lovely park, which was once nearly turned into rice plantations due to its lack of visitors, and as such offers secluded wildlife viewing, with the guides knowing every corner of this diverse habitat. Game drives are in new, open-sided Land cruisers, specially fitted with charge points for cameras. Try to spot rare species including the lesser kudu and the aardwolf, as well as diverse birdlife.
Sensitively designed to blend in with the natural environment, the lodge is built into the hillside. Dining is typically outdoors at individual tables, and there’s a focus on fresh north Italian dishes, with salads and herbs straight from the lodge’s organic garden and home-made bread baked in the outdoor pizza oven. There’s also an open-air bar and an infinity pool with views over the Meru plains. Little extras include afternoon tea with home-made cake, and pre-dinner canapés served in the bar.
Stunning open-fronted stone cottages have thatched roofs and glorious views over the Meru plains. Each is named after one of the park’s rivers and has a bedroom, en-suite bathroom (some with outdoor bath) and a private deck or sitting area. For honeymooners there are three stunning honeymoon cottages, and there’s also a private house with two en-suite bedrooms and its own swimming pool, ideal for families or groups of friends travelling together.