In 2010, Tamara Britten decided to combine her experience working in Kenya’s tourism industry with her MA in Creative Writing and produce a guidebook for the country. Little did she know that the project would take over two years and lead her to the most remote and little-visited parts of this diverse country.

Taking off around Kenya in a borrowed land cruiser, accompanied by her trusty laptop, Tamara visited mountains, deserts, beaches, towns and game reserves searching out accommodation facilities, from boutique resorts to safari camps to budget cottages to quirky bandas.

Getting directions from locals, following rickety signs and driving down tracks little used, she found places unmapped and undocumented.

Interested not only in a hotel’s rooms, facilities and activities, Tamara spoke to locals about the place’s history, folk tales and legends. She discussed eco-policies, rating awards and staff training with the managers; inspected the rooms, the grounds and even the kitchen of each place; and checked out the activities, events and adventure sports at each.

The result of this is the Karibu Kenya Accommodation Guide. The book documents not only the essentials – each hotel’s website, email, telephone number, location, rates, number of rooms, style of restaurant, nearest airstrip and payment options – it also features a photo, a detailed description and quirky anecdotes about every place.

Here are a few of the highlights you will get from the guidebook:

  1. Nandi Bears Club, Nandi Hills: named for the legend of the Nandi Bear who stood one meter high, had a heavy mane of hair and skulked from the forest to decapitate villages, the club has a golf course, rugby pitch, lawn tennis court, snooker table and squash court.
  2. Oasis Lodge, Loyangalani: located between the bleak Chalbi Desert and the vivid Lake Turkana, the lodge – which featured in The Constant Gardener – uses fresh lake water for its two interlinked swimming pools.
  3. Samburu Sports Centre and Guest Lodges, South Horr: aiming to bring warring communities together in peace through sport, this remote lodge offers basketball, volleyball, football, hiking, rock climbing and camel rides.
  4. Kerio View, Iten: glass-fronted to maximise spectacular views over the Kerio Valley, the lodge has a Belgian chef and a mouth-watering menu. It offers paragliding from the cliffs and high-altitude training for marathon runners.
  5. Pig and Whistle, Meru: This historic hotel, which began its life as the office of the first District Commissioner of Meru, gained notoriety when George and Joy Adamson, who were fostering lions, stayed here during Joy’s first marriage, which ultimately led to her divorce.
  6. Porini Amboseli: The Maasai community manages this award-winning camp, which the Ecotourism Society of Kenya rates gold for its estimable eco-policies. It is the only camp located in the Selenkay Conservancy, providing its guests with exclusive access to this vast and game-rich area.
  7. Bateleur Camp, Maasai Mara: in the classic style of the ’20s and ’30s, the camp evokes the glamour of vintage African safaris while offering all the game-viewing opportunities of the famous Maasai Mara.
  8. Kijiji Cottages, Diani: a collection of attractive cottages on a coral outcrop overlooking the beach. These self-catering cottages are individually designed; local vendors bring fresh fish and vegetables daily, and cooks can be hired.
  9. Baytil Ajab, Lamu: this traditional Lamu house has been lovingly restored and embellished with genuine antiques; the rooftop terrace has sweeping views across the island whose history tells of besieged forts, treacherous trade routes, perfidious slave traders and mysteriously abandoned settlements.

Karibu Kenya Accommodation Guide, launched in February 2013, is the only comprehensive guidebook to Kenya. Endorsed by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association (KPSGA).

The guidebook illustrates the regions through maps and photographs. It organises them by colour codes and indexes for easy use. It has a canvas travel case to protect it while on the road.

As well as listing accommodation facilities for every budget, the guidebook covers the history, geography, climate, peoples, attractions, national parks and annual cultural festivals of Kenya. It gives information on the country’s infrastructure, banking, communications, transport and medical facilities. It promotes responsible tourism and the wildlife code, and links to Kenyan associations that regulate and certify tourist facilities.

Karibu Kenya Accommodation Guide is available in all good bookshops in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki and the Coast. You can also order a copy from the TravelShoppe in Kenya and Amazon.