I have always desired to visit the Amboseli National Park and earlier this year my dream came true.
I could easily have camped out in the wild without a care but I was fortunate enough to stay at Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge.
Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge is situated within Amboseli National Park, which lies approximately 250 kilometers from Nairobi and close to the Tanzanian border. The lodge is set against the magnificent backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain, the glittering Mount Kilimanjaro. Located in the acacia filled Karawane Forest, it is one of the only 2 lodges inside the park.
It had been quite the journey to the lodge but the warm welcome by the staff really lifted my spirits. We were each handed a cold towel and a glass of fresh juice which unfortunately happened to be on the sour side, so it was not as refreshing.
Once you walk in to the reception it is hard to ignore the effort that has been put into decorating the lodge. The décor borrows heavily from the local Maasai culture. The lodge is very colorful, exuding warmth and charm.
The hanging beaded Maasai necklaces are a nice touch.
The hanging gourds really stood out
There are beautiful murals throughout the lodge mostly depicting wildlife.
Without a doubt my favorite area was the work space. The laptops provided however are ancient and you’re better off carrying your own if you want to get some work done. However, if you are interested in holding a corporate event they have a well-equipped conference room.
Located right opposite the reception desk is a charming gift shop. They stock a variety of locally made goods which would make the perfect souvenir.
After a short briefing we were handed our room keys and shown to the rooms. To my dismay mine was at the end of the lodge. It was quite a walk from the reception and restaurant and I would advise against taking a room that far away.
There is a fan which comes in handy as it does get a bit warm at night. My room did not have much of a view, the back of it faced some trees and all I ever saw were monkeys. I did love the decor though; I was particularly taken by the beaded lampshades and the mirror in the bathroom.
There’s a hot water kettle and provisions for preparing tea or coffee if they tickle your fancy.
I had trouble plugging in my phone and camera to charge. Only 1 socket, inside the closet worked.
Overall I loved my room; the decor really won me over. The other thing I loved was the master switch located by the bedside and by the door. It controlled all the lights in the room and saved me the trouble of getting out of bed to switch off the lights.
I was not able to take any proper photos of my room. I’ll share some taken by Maneno, my room was pretty similar except for its size as it was a single.
It was almost lunch time and after the long journey I was eager to fill my stomach. I dropped by the restaurant for a buffet lunch. There is a set menu daily and the options are varied. The menu has lots of options for vegetarians too. The waiters were attentive and helpful.
My favourites were the desserts
After lunch and a short dip in the pool we were off for an evening game drive – I’ll write about it in another post.
When we got back we had a sun downer by the pool with a variety of drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) plus some hors d’oeuvres. The pool area faces a natural spring right outside the lodge and provides a relaxing location for game viewing.
Soon it was time for the bush dinner. We were advised to dress warmly and cover up. The night was pretty warm so no need to layer up, what you do need to do though is apply insect repellent liberally.
Were it not for being so exhausted I would have thoroughly enjoyed the bush dinner. We were served 7 courses and at some point I had to decline any more courses as I felt like I was drowning in food. I have to say there was nothing special about the food, nothing really stood out to me. The overall experience was amazing though.
The highlight of the dinner was the Maasai dance. They invited us all to join in and I was able to learn a few moves.
After the dinner I just hang around for a bit talking with my companions. There is a beautiful lounge area facing the back of the lodge and if you’re lucky you can catch some animals quenching their thirst at the water hole.
My plan for the next day was to catch the sunrise. I knew I would have trouble getting up as I had had a long day so I arranged for a wakeup call. Promptly at 5:45am I got a call from the reception and then they sent someone to come to my room to make sure I was awake. I found this to be rather thoughtful seeing as I had only been expecting a phone call.
Our driver Nadhifo who we’d arranged the drive with the previous day was right on time. The sunrise was glorious and well worth the early morning. If you’re hoping to catch the sunrise you need to drive away from the lodge as the trees in the compound will obstruct your view. Keep in mind that the mornings are quite chilly so if you plan on going for an early game drive dress warmly.
Having taken in the beautiful sight we then went on another game drive as we had some time to kill before the breakfast that the hotel had arranged for us at Observation Hill.
It is a short walk up the hill and the path is paved all the way. Once we got to the top we were welcomed with a glass of champagne and the most amazing views of Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. This was without a doubt one the highlights of my short stay.
There was a wide array of options in terms of food and I had more than enough. After the meal I walked around taking photos and then sat down to enjoy the view. Once the sun is up its rays will hit you hard so if you plan on having breakfast at Observation Hill do carry a hat.
There is a swampy area right beneath the hill that is a favorite haunt for the elephant herds and you’re sure to spot them feeding there .
After the wonderful breakfast the lodge had arranged for us to receive 30 minute upper body massages. I have never had a proper massage therefore I have nothing to compare my experience to but it was amazing. The massage therapist untangled all the knots in my muscles and by the end of the session I was so relaxed that I fell asleep.
Soon it was time to depart but we had time for one more activity. All the trees surrounding the lodge have been planted by either staff of guests from 1990. The lodge offers all their guests a chance to do their part in conserving the environment. Once upon a time Amboseli was forested (hard to picture now) but the water table rose and the soil became too alkaline. Most of the trees began to die and the few that remained standing were felled by elephants. The lodge in conjunction with KWS has been working towards the reforestation of Amboseli. They fence off a particular area, plant trees then once the trees are old enough the fence is torn down.
They encourage all their guests to plant trees and for an extra ksh 800 ($8.5) you can get a plaque with your name put next to the tree you planted.
Unfortunately there is no Safaricom (Kenya’s largest mobile phone provider) network throughout the park. If you have a Safaricom line your only option is expensive roaming. I wasn’t too bothered though, the lodge is equipped with really good Wi-Fi the speeds were really fast.
All other phone providers have strong network.
How to get there:
Distance from Nairobi is approximately 270 km via Emali and 280 km via Namanga.
By road: Transfer by road from Nairobi takes approximately 4 hours.
By air: Flight time approximately 30 minutes from Wilson Airport Nairobi. Amboseli Airstrip is 11 km from the lodge, ‘meet and greet’ and transfer services can be provided
All info on how much it costs to enter the park can be found here
Cost per game drive Kshs 4500 per person per game drive
Breakfast at Observation Hill Kshs 2800 per person
Bush dinner $35-$40
Serena hotels rates
A huge thank you to Maneno for allowing me to use some of his images for this post.
This trip was facilitated by Serena hotels as part of a media tour. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions are my own
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