If you’re heading to Kenya and are wondering where you can hang out with wild animals without actually roughing it out, we recommend checking out these three places.
Keekorok Lodge – Masai Mara
The luxury lodge, one of the oldest in Southwest Kenya is strategically located within the reserve. One of the highlights of the property is the Hippo Bar from where you can watch some of the 50 resident hippos wallow around all day only to get out of the pool at 6.45 pm to start their nightly grazing. This vantage point also allows you to spot buffalo, impala, warthog, waterbuck, crocodile, elephants, hyrax, giraffe and sometimes lion and leopard from this. The Elephant Deck just beyond the bar overlooks a rolling expanse of the reserve and is a good spot to watch the sun go down.
The restaurant offers a multi-cuisine vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffet that includes Indian, Continental and local cuisine specialities in addition to a live counter, salad bar and desserts. Every evening, a group of Masai warriors burst into the restaurant and lead people onto the terrace where they dance and sing to traditional music. Keekorok Lodge offers guests the best of old-world charm complete with new world luxuries and all of them with impeccable service.
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Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, Lake Nakuru National Park
This resort overlooks Nakuru Lake from almost every room, the bar, the restaurant and even the swimming pool. This is great especially when the flamingos settle and create a carpet of pink in the distance. While the feel of the entire property is very plush and stylish, space isn’t a big luxury here. The staff, though, is efficient and attend promptly to any issues, if you face any. Each room named after a flowering tree has free Wi-Fi and a portable table fan. The rooms do not have any intercom facility so if you need to contact reception for anything (room key locked inside the room; no hot water and no toiletry supply) you will need to trek right back to the reception.
The hotel is also where several international schools in and around Nairobi send their students for field trips. The reception area, which invariably has to be accessed to get to the restaurant, can get really crowded when a big group is checking in or out, so be forewarned. The restaurant serves a multi-cuisine buffet that includes a special Indian counter; a salad and cheese bar; a non-vegetarian section with continental and local dishes as well as a live counter for pasta and stir-fries and a plated dessert counter. Live music is the entertainment every evening; first at an amphitheatre created outside the bar where a very talented troupe entertains the guests. A guitarist then takes over at the restaurant singing requests as he walks around.
Sweetwaters Serena Camp, Ol Pejeta Conservancy
This camp has luxury tents in the middle of a conservancy overlooking a watering hole. If you’re a nature buff, there are few more rewarding ways to unwind than watching wild animals from the luxury of your private sit out or even from the tented bar. Frequented by warthogs, giraffes, zebras, waterbucks, antelope and all kinds, it’s just right to head back to after a hectic safari.
Besides the new tents, which are more permanent structures with glass doors, every other area is tented from the reception, bar and the restaurant. The buffet spread at the restaurant includes a fair mix of continental, local and Indian cuisine along with a salad bar, cheese platter, live counter for barbecued meats, and desserts.
The pastry chef at this place deserves special mention. Everything we tried was delicious. The cakes were moist and light; the mousse was silky, light and smooth; the mini Pavlova unbeatable and the strawberry tarts scrumptious. This conservancy is not on the main tourist trail, and you won’t see the regular throng of jeeps and vans that you usually encounter at most other resorts.
While it’s true that Nairobi gets a bad rap for corruption and crime, this part of Kenya is totally worth the trip.