On my latest trip to Kenya we flew on South African Airways from JFK to Johannesburg then connected to Nairobi. The flights were smooth, the aircraft great and the connections short and sweet. Business class has full lay flat seats and great entertainment choices.
In Nairobi we stayed at Sankara, a newer 7-story 5-star hotel in the Westlands area. Rooms are large and well-appointed with comfy beds, large televisions, desk and both a bathtub and a shower. On the top floor there is a small gym, sauna and steam room, and rooftop pool and bar. The restaurant on the second floor has a delicious buffet breakfast. The hotel is walking distance to the Sarit Center which offers good shopping (walking only recommended during the daytime). The hotel is great for visitors who want all the amenities of a western-style 4-5 star city hotel and who like to be close to good restaurants and shopping and businesses. The only downside is heavy traffic in the area and between it and the airport make it inconvenient for those arriving late and leaving the next morning.
A quick flight took us from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Sabuk, a camp in the Laikipia area in Central Kenya, northwest of Mt Kenya. Rocky, hilly and dry, this area is ruggedly beautiful. The game here is sparse but regular sightings of elephant, impala, giraffe, zebra and more occur. In the previous two weeks, Sobuk guides reported sightings of lion, leopard, and wild dog. Really, though, this is a place to visit to enjoy walking, riding camels, line fishing and swimming in the Ewaso Nyiro River (water levels permitting). A highlight for us was a visit to a local Samburu village where locals were celebrating the marriage of a young warrior and his bride. We were told they had been dancing for a couple days, but they still looked to have plenty of gas in their tanks. The warriors’ jumps would turn many NBA players green with envy.
Sabuk is an 8-bedroom lodge built into a steep, rocky hill overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro river. When flowing well, the river provides a soundtrack not unlike crashing waves at a beach. The chalets are made of local stones with thatch roofing and much of the furniture is made from local wood, mostly gnarled and twisted. Verity Williams and her little dog Flicka are the owners and hosts and the staff is made up mostly of local Samburu. The food – from pasta carbonara and chocolate roulade to chicken masala and broccoli salad to quiche and banana ice cream – was some of the best I have ever had on safari. Sabuk is good for couples and small groups and they have a couple of special family units and a pool, which combined with all the activities, make it a great place for families as long as parents are ok with open rooms (the front side opens to the bush). The only other caution is there are a number of stone floors which are uneven and there are lots of stairs and steep walkways along with a few sharp drop-offs.
Next: Off to the Masai Mara