The name Sarova scares a lot of domestic travelers. There is a belief among them that the Sarova brand is for the rich-luxurious holiday makers. Some would like to try one of the Sarova facilities, but shy away from the next step of enquiring. I agree that some of the facilities under Sarova brand are high end and probably a traveler on budget cannot consider them. This might be true for Sarova Mara and Sarova Stanley. However, there is some good news. Sarova Shaba Game lodge in Samburu, Sarova Salt Lick game lodge and Sarova Taita Hills game lodge are an example of facilities a budget traveler can afford. These are lodges you can afford to take your family during holidays or getaway with your significant other on a weekend. In this article, I would like you to TravelWithEliud and discover Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge.
We left Nairobi with the morning SGR inter-county train from Syokimau. This is the most convenient way of getting to Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge from Nairobi. It is an exciting 3.5 hours journey where you get to see different vegetations, settlements, wildlife at Tsavo East, Yatta Plateau and Mt. Kilimanjaro on a clear day. On arrival at Voi station, we were met by a chauffeur from the lodge. He had come with a minibus.
In my mind, I thought he was picking a crowd, but he wasn’t. This only means even if you are a group, you can get transferred to the hotel without hustle. The drive from Voi to the lodge is scenic. The landscape is impressive. It is a 42km stretch of tarmac with less or no vehicles.
A saloon car will access this lodge with a lot of ease. The people who do bike racing or those notorious Subaru drivers would love this road. Before we know it, we were branching from the main highway to enter the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.
For those who like driving or are road trip enthusiasts, the lodge is 400 km from Nairobi and 200 km from Mombasa. It should be roughly a 3-hour drive from Mombasa and a 6-hour drive from Nairobi on tarmac roads.
From highway entrance, I was able to catch a glimpse of Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge. However, it is not easy to tell if there is a lodge because it resembles a bush from the highway.
On arrival, we got VIP reception- hot towels, a glass of Juice, a welcoming brief and an easy check in process. And just like that, I was in for a 3 nights stay at the Sanctuary.
The Lodge is an inviting stone building of 60 spacious rooms and two suites, all with their own private viewing balcony. The structure of the lodge borrows from a German fortress, which links to the area’s World war one history.
It sits in the Taita Hills Widlife Sanctuary, which covers a protected area of twenty eight thousands acres. This sanctuary has an airstrip. Yes, you can choose not to arrive and instead LAND. I was allocated a room at the top most floor and at a corner on the Western side. This blessed me with a magical sunset, which I enjoyed at the comfort of my bed.
My room featured a private bathroom with a bath tub, shower and toilet. It had tea/coffee making facilities, safety deposit box, balcony, a study table and chair, two couch seats, bedside lamps and a wardrobe.
What caught my eye is the re-usable glass bottles used to serve water in the room. This is the way to go as far as sustainability; ban for plastic and environmental conservation is concerned.
From the balcony, I had a view of the extensive garden and the sanctuary.
After familiarizing with the room, it was time to explore this piece of heaven. I walked down the stairs to the lounge. From here, you are able to access the reception, the bar, the gift shop and the restaurant. The lounge has a fireplace and dim/mood lighting.
On one side of the lounge, there is a museum that displays some of the World War one memorabilia as part of Taita Taveta County’s history.
I walked through the backdoor and to my surprise; this was actually the front of the hotel according to me. There is a swimming pool with sun beds, outdoor sitting and a view of the hotel block.
Beyond the swimming pool, there is a water hole separated by a live fence. The water hole provides wildlife with water during the dry season. Guests enjoy game viewing right from the swimming pool or rooftop.
Unfortunately, I visited the lodge during the rains and only impalas came visiting during my stay.
Taita Hills Game Lodge has a restaurant called Chala. It is named after a small area in Taveta that hosts Lake Chala at the Kenya-Tanzania border.
Chala restaurant serves both international and local cuisine and I was lucky to enjoy both. It has enough sitting space to serve both lodging and conferencing guests.
According to Janet-Digital Marketing manager at Sarova hotels, the hotel offers alternative dining bush breakfast, barbecue lunch, “Out of Africa” dinners all set up in the wild, and Sundowner cocktails at Kudu View Point. The lodge has two conference rooms, which when combined can host up to 150 delegates. This comes with high speed Wi-Fi, printing and photocopy, LCD, audio visual equipment and full secretariat services.
While at the lodge, you can choose to swim, do a day or night game drive, enjoy a nature walk, get wildlife talks on request, participate in excursions at Mzima springs, Ngulia Rhino sanctuary, Lake Jipe or visit the World War one battlefield.
The roof top of this lodge is where you want to spend your early mornings and late evenings. The sunrise from this vantage point is nothing short of magic. One is able to see the sun coming up from hills with a scenic view of the swimming pool and water hole. This will take your breath away.
In the evenings, the sun goes down on the opposite side. The sun strikes the lodge with golden rays that wishes you a peaceful night. The cloud patterns keep changing making the sundowner an emotional affair.
The lighting at the lodge during night time is picturesque and gives you a homely feel. The lodge occupies a small area making it easy to walk round and enjoy views from all corners.
My stay at this lodge flew in lightening speed. I wasn’t ready to leave after my third night. The friendly staff from reception, to the restaurant, to the housekeeper made my stay comfortable and memorable. I couldn’t get enough and this is more reason to go back in 2020.
Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge can go for as low as ksh. 5000 per person sharing per night on full board. You see, like I said at the beginning, it is affordable even when travelling on budget. It is accessible with a saloon car, Sgr, public means or with a charter :).
For public means, you can board a matatu to Voi, from Voi, connect with a Mwatate Matatu and from mwatate, you can take a cab and arrive like a Boss that you are. Plan for a visit to this lodge, get pampered, enjoy every moment as I have described with the pictures and share your experience afterwards. Feel free to tag me after the experience with your feedback.
Until next time, keep travelling…….
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