Soysambu Medical Clinic

Kendall Smith recently spent several weeks volunteering in one of the medical clinics on the Conservancy.

As I look back, I am continually blown away by the rich culture and amazing people that I encountered On Soysambu. While working in the clinic, I experienced first-hand the health care standards of rural Kenya. Although a major medical facility is located nearby in the town of Nakuru, most Kenyans who live on the ranch visit the clinic for general concerns. With only one nurse in the clinic, we stayed busy giving vaccinations, prenatal check-ups, administering medication and performing minor surgery.

The Clinic

Although we did not have advanced medical equipment, we were able to treat most ailments or, if necessary, refer patients to the larger hospital. Because the clinic and medications are supported by donations, patients typically paid a small fee for service. Residents were so thankful to have access to medical treatment at Soysambu, even if they had to walk quite a distance or wait for care. On several occasions, the nurse and I walked to local village communities to administer vitamins and de-worming medications.

Delivering medicine

From this experience I learned how thankful people were to know that others cared about their health. I am so grateful for all the amazing people I met at Soysambu and am continually impressed by their commitment to their neighbors, the
animals and the land.

Kendall Smith, 2010 degree candidate, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Oregon State University, USA

Clinic nurses and Kendall

An artist’s experience on Soysambu

I am Carolyn German (McDonald), an American wildlife artist who has just returned, with my husband, Clint, from an unforgetable visit to Soysambu, a gorgeous conservancy, complete with a volcanic crater and increditible views in every direction. I was priviledged to be graciously invited by Kat Combes to come experience, visit, sketch and photo.

Imagine – the majestic Rothschild giraffe nibbling on the top of an acacia tree, a big male cape buffalo barely visible in the thick bush, flamingo in flight on the soda lake, and zebra from every angle. All the wildlife have a healthy curiousity.

Along with Kat, the conservancy staff share a desire to benefit the community while preserving the area. We were pleased to take Safaricare bags to help the two schools on the conservancy.

Like the pelicans that rise on the thermals, my heart smiles when I return in my thoughts to Soysambu Conservancy – it must be protected – a rare jewel in this hectic world.

Crowned Crane

Carolyn is an artist and above is an image of a Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) which she painted whilst at Soysambu.

Sunbird Lodge on Lake Elmenteita

If you feel city – jaded, work –stressed and in need of revitalisation, there is a quick – fix solution; you will find it just two hours (134 kms, 84miles) from Nairobi and barely two minutes up off the Nairobi/Nakuru Highway at Sunbird Lodge, which opened in 2008. It is situated high enough up for you to get a panoramic view of Lake Elmentaita and the surrounding, varied landscape. Sitting under a large shady umbrella, on the spacious verandah, you can relax watching the view, which constantly changes, depending on the time of day.

Sunbird Lodge 2

As the sun slowly disappears try a gentle walk down the winding path that leads you past the ten luxuriously appointed cottages and the swimming pool. Then make your way to the scenic ‘Sundowner Viewpoint’, which is a small group of rocks situated just above the shoreline. Once there, you will be served with your drink of choice, as you see yet another facet of nature in this amazing, changing landscape – this time a stunning, blazing sunset!

Sunbird Lodge

If you would like to experience the indigenous wildlife, Lake Nakuru National Park is only 20 minutes away and The Soysambu Conservancy is right on the doorstep. The Conservancy includes most of Lake Elmentaita, which, due to its alkaline content, is home to thousands of the spectacularly pink flamingoes and the lovably ugly pelicans. These two species both need to be seen ‘up close and personal’. I recommend this as an antidote for ‘Workitis’.

Sunbird lodge 3

If you still need something more, I suggest getting a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the area, from a balloon, as Gunter and Othmar, the owners of Sunbird Lodge, who also happen to be balloonists, can also arrange this with Go Ballooning Kenya. This would be the perfect end to your, relaxing, away-from-it-all break.

Go Ballooning over Soysambu

“The land of the graceful Giraffe…”

My name is Jenny and I recently had the privilege of spending two weeks at Soysambu Conservancy in Kenya. Soysambu, geographically nestled in the Great Rift Valley, is home to a teeming abundance of beautiful wildlife. While I was there I came to realize just how special this place was. It’s not often that people get to experience these animals in their natural habitat. Most of these animals are only viewed in Zoo’s or National Parks.

Cape Buffalo on Soysambu

In Soysambu, animals are free to come and go as they please. It is a credit to the Conservancy that even with their freedom these animals choose to make their homes on Conservancy land. While I was there I saw Cape Buffalo, Impala, Thomson’s Gazelles, Grant’s Gazelles, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Waterbuck, Dik Dik, Burchell’s Zebra, Eland, Flamingos, Pelicans, and numerous African birds. I also was fortunate to be able to participate in a bi-annual Wildlife Census for the Conservancy. After gathering the data is it clear that wildlife is prospering there. Great things are in store for Soysambu in the future. Kat Combes, of Soysambu Conservancy told me her dreams of bringing the once present Black Rhino back onto Conservancy land. To see this dream come to fruition will be a wondrous site. It might take many years of fundraising and planning but I have no doubt that she will reach her dream. She certainly gives her whole heart to this Conservancy. After observing her over the two weeks it is clear that Soysambu is her heaven on earth.

Kirk’s Dikdik on Soysambu

I feel fortunate to have been able to experience everything that Soysambu has to offer. I have come home feeling well rested and knowing that these majestic animals are being well cared for. I know that in the future if I am having a bad day I will be able to close my eyes and be transported back to a land where the graceful Giraffe are “dining” with their family, and the Gazelles are swishing their tails while frolicking with their friends. All the while the beautiful sound of the African Dove can be heard boasting of what a special place in the world this is.

Eland on Soysambu

For all you artists out there…

Soysambu is in a great location for access to Nakuru, Aberdares & Baringo and only 2 hours from Nairobi on good road. We’ve got 2 operational lodges: and and balloon safaris available:

And there are another 2 lodges/tented camps being planned. One of them is a luxury Serena tented camp.

Simon Combes gave amateur artists some tuition at a bush studio set up as part of a fly camp for an artists safari on Soysambu (see Facebook photo album: “Art at Soysambu”).

Any artists that comes to Soysambu can, with prior arrangement, come and see where Simon Combes used to work and learn about what inspired him. Also we’re planning to build another studio, and if artists want to come and work with researchers, we’re developing a field study centre that will have accomodation, called CREATE (Centre for Research, Environment and Arts Teaching on Elmenteita)

There are and will be many more activities available at Soysambu, including camel trekking and a proposed Cheetah Sanctuary.


If you have any ideas about how to achieve this, or are able to include Soysambu in any fundraising efforts you’re involved in, let us know! Our appreciation will be considerable.

I plan to be based on Soysambu for the second half of 2010 and in the future am planning to balance out my time between the US and Kenya. While I’m there I will be available as a guide/driver for professional artists to come and get reference on a one to one basis. Experience has revealed that putting professional artists together on GROUP safaris has its pitfalls: everyone having the same reference; coordinating a group so that all involved are available at the same time; logistics of coordinating a group of artists who want to paint different things; having enough room in vehicles for camera equipment etc; being landed with a driver who doesn’t understand how to position the vehicle with an understanding of light and composition…..the list goes on.

Also it’s much easier to hire one vehicle and accomodate individuals at short notice.

You’re a wildlife artist, you have one or less opportunity a year to get reference in the field and you’re on a limited budget. Do you need: A tent with a chandelier in it? To pay another professional artist to give you tuition when all you want to do is get as many photos/sketches as possible?

Get in touch if this makes sense to you


Guy Combes