I wasn’t planning to do a review so soon, but given that so many people have shown interest in what this heavenly place is, we can just get into it when the memories are still fresh.
I grew up around Tsavo, and my dad had this habit of taking us out to those lodges inside the park for an outing. By then we couldn’t really afford to sleep in there or sometimes pay for meals for all of us, but the ambience in there was heavenly. Like they would have this interior design that was so detailed and African, and given that those lodges were made mostly for white people, everything, from the design of the buildings to the way their staff talked to visitors to their location overseeing the wild animals, would be top notch.
But out of all those hotels, 2 really stood out for me. I won’t name one, but part of the reason I liked it is because it isn’t fenced, meaning the likelihood of animals coming into your luxury tent are high.
And this one was the second one. A hotel made of the really beautiful huts. But that wasn’t the catch for me or for the thousands others that have passed through its doors. This safari lodge for years held the title of being the most photographed lodge in the entire world. That’s how picturesque it is. That people would specifically choose it because of its design. And from any angle, any side, any height, you are guaranteed of an awesome picture.
But there was only one problem, the price. Safari lodges, especially in Tsavo, can be among the highest, not just in Kenya but Africa. One of the safari lodges in Tsavo West, was for over a decade the best safari lodge in Africa, again, those titles compensate themselves in the price they offer their services at. And given that they were made primarily for whites or elite rich Africans, there was no hope that their prices would ever be affordable for the average Kenyan like me.
But then a mix of things happened. Kenyans, average Kenyans that is started traveling. At the same time other African countries really upped their tourism activities and now Kenya was not really the only country a visitor would think of first if they wanted to come to Africa. Plus our high prices mixed with the fact that average millennials in other countries are starting to travel too and thus want budget friendly accomodations such as Airbnb, meant that the safari lodges had to rethink their models. And of course there is Covid 19 and how it affected tourism in the country. For the first time Kenyans visited Maasai Mara in droves, and the lodges halved their prices.
And so I started seeing the once unaffordable places for Kenyans, having pocket friendly prices. Though that isn’t what led us there.
A lovely person’s birthday was coming up. I needed to come up with a lovely getaway that would be tranquil, have some activity going on, and still be relaxing. And coast wasn’t an option.
Unfortunately, Kenya started experiencing some weird unexpected cold in September. And suddenly all options I had that were around Nairobi, didn’t make sense. I mean who would want a relaxing holiday in the Cold?
And that’s how I had no option but to consider a far away location that’s hot. All along I had been consulting Eliud from Safirinasi. Eliud has been my plug for travel related things so far. From taking me to Chalbi, to the beautiful lake Chala and Jipe, to suggesting the place I went to celebrate with my Friends for my birthday, Eliud has been that go to person for any travel questions I have.
And this time it was no different. I figured that I could search endlessly from the thousands of options in booking.com and Facebook travel agencies, or I could take the lazy way out, reach out to him with a description of what I want and leave him to narrow down for me what options I have with my budget.
So you can imagine my shock when he suggested Sarova Saltlick or Taita Lodge. Like in my head those two couldn’t really be in my budget. Until he showed me a package that was well within what I had been planning to spend. Furthermore, if one paid for 3 nights, they were adding one more night for free and a trip to World War 1 sites. Of course I took the deal. I mean, would this opportunity ever show up again?
And that’s how I found myself in one of the most beautiful relaxing places I’ve ever been to.
To get there, we left at around 8am and around 6 or so hours later we arrived. The road from Nairobi to Voi is busy, but once we branched onto the Voi-Taveta road, one gets onto a really smooth road with very few vehicles and a scenary to die for. Like it can be so tempting to hit speeds of over 160 km per hour, but then again there as road regulations plus part of the way is inside a park.
From Voi it’s about 40 kilometers or so if I’m not wrong. And at first we got lost. We branched off into the old road they used to use. Which was more of a cattle way than a vehicle way. I called Eliud and he was very insistent that from the road one can actually see Taita Hills Lodge, yet from where we were, we couldn’t see anything. So we went back to the main, drove a few kilometers, maybe 1 or 2 and sure enough there was really large sign on the roadside showing the way to the two lodges and one could clearly see Taita Hills Lodge right from the roadside. Furthermore, they had made the murram roads inside passable even for small cars.
Turns out that both Taita Hills Lodge and Saltlick Safari Lodge are inside the Taita Sanctuary, and are managed by the same management. Or rather recently, Saltlick was under Sarova but their contract ran out and it reverted back to Pollman or something like that. But for now they are under the same management. To the extent that lunch is served at Taita Hills Lodge for both hotels, and one can use their swimming pool for free.
So we checked in at Taita Hills, ate lunch and headed 7 kilometers into Saltlick. I’m tempted to stop here and make several other posts of how our stay was there so as not to make this too long. But for now enjoy the pictures, and incase you would want to get the same package or also plan your trip anywhere in the country, kindly contact Eliud at +254 729 823087