Renowned as the place where George and Joy Adamson raised Else the Lioness and her family, Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park is one of the coolest lodges in all of Kenya.
Set amid the boulders of a huge kopje (rock outcrop), the lodge offers an ideal perch for watching wildlife roaming the plains all around. It’s not unusual to spot elephant, antelope, zebra and other creatures from the open-air guest rooms.
In addition to safari-going humans, the kopje is home to animals that seek shelter (and food) among the large rocks and shade trees that cover the outcrop. Don’t be surprised to find wild things scampering across the footpaths, sunning themselves around the swimming pool, swinging through the trees . . . and sometimes even in your room!
A troupe of vervet monkeys is very much in evidence at breakfast each morning, waiting for some unsuspecting human to leave their table unattended. They also hang out around the swimming pool and the huge trees beside the dining area.
Those furry little things that hang out in the lobby and around the boulders are hyrax. Also called dassies or rock rabbits, they resemble rodents but are more closely related (believe it or not) to elephants and manatees. Don’t be surprised if you come across one in your shower — sunning itself on the outside wall.
The colorful reptiles the dart between the vegetation and do “push-ups” on the rocks are agama lizards. Africa has 37 species of agama. The ones at Elsa’s Kopje — with their blue bodies and orange heads — are Kenya rock agamas (Agama lionotus). They mostly eat insects, so no reason to fear them.
Those bird’s pecking at the gift shop windows are red-billed horn-bills. With white and black feathers and a distinctive orange-red beak, they’re very attractive birds. And also very curious. Who knows what they want in the gift shop, but they always seemed to be stationed outside.
Plenty of other species can be found at Elsa’s Kopje on occasion. But those four are the most conspicuous, your constant companions during a stay at the awesome northern Kenya lodge.