Holiday review by Mr. Lewis Brown
Name: Mr. Lewis Brown
Date of trip: 08/03/2014
Number of people: 2
On the drive from Kicheche Valley Camp to Bateleur Camp, seeing two young male giraffes fighting - just like on David Attenborough's Africa.
Taking the vehicle ferry from Mombasa to Likoni and seeing literally thousands of people pouring on to the pedestrian ferry alongside, and the incredible chaos when everyone got off at the other side.
I had never visited Africa before and this was a fantastic introduction to the continent - from the amazing wildlife and landscapes to the humbling attitude of the ordinary people there. I have already booked another trip and I expect I will return many times.
Everything was handled with consummate professionalism, including a mid-trip itinerary change I made at the last minute.
All the guides in the Masai Mara area were extremely knowledgeable and competent and displayed an amazing ability to spot wildlife miles away that I could only just see with my camera on maximum zoom!
The guide who took me round Mombasa and Fort Jesus was less inspiring and I felt he had learnt a lot of what he said by rote, but he still did a good job and was quite informative.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
I felt that all the camps and hotels I stayed at were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their staff and the environment. One of the staff at Afro Chic was involved in local community work and was keen to show me what he was doing - I now regret not having taken him up on the offer.
The places you stayed
Eka Hotel is a good, clean, if fairly basic hotel (I would say equivalent in standard to a good 3-star European hotel). It's a good place to stay near Jomo Kenyatta airport if you don't want to travel straight on when arriving late. Reception was a little chaotic both on arrival and departure but I understand this was due to a marathon taking place outside which meant that people had to leave early to avoid road closures.
Sunbird Lodge is very peaceful and was an ideal gentle introduction to Kenya, being a half-way house to safari accomodation (individual cottages laid out very much like luxury safari tents). I greatly enjoyed the views of Lake Elementaita, and also watching the colourful birds at the bird-tables on the terrace while I was having breakfast.
For me, Kicheche Valley Camp was the highlight of my safari. Brendan and Val, the camp managers are wonderfully welcoming, and full of interesting stories about Kenya and the other places they have visited and lived in. The guides and camp staff are absolutely top-notch, and the overall atmosphere is more like staying with friends in their country house than being a guest in a hotel. The Naboisho Conservancy is an excellent area for game viewing and is quieter than the main reserve while still having all the wildlife.
Bateleur Camp is a very good luxury safari camp. The staff are very welcoming and professional, and the guides knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. This is a matter of taste but I found the experience a little more like staying at a hotel than a camp - I felt slightly distant from the landscape and wildlife while in the camp itself, but the game drives were very good.
Two members of staff deserve an extra-special mention. Milka Kerubo, the camp manager, was kind enough to have dinner with me a couple of times (as I was travelling alone) and told me fascinating stories about growing up in the Maasai culture. Wilson Naitoi was my guide for all the game drives and a guided walk, and was extremely knowledgeable and interesting to talk to.
Kenya Coast & Lamu
Hemingways is not my kind of place - too much of an insulated, Western-style resort, and rather expensive for what it is. However, to be fair to them, they were very good about my wanting to cancel the rest of my stay there and move on early. I had heard very good reports of it from other people earlier in my trip so was very disappointed by the standard of the accommodation and the general atmosphere of the place - though this is probably a matter of taste and I'm sure many people have a great time there.
The Wifi didn't work at all, although the resort IT manager did come to try and fix it and told me he is planning to upgrade the system soon.
I had almost run out of malaria pills, having left some behind in my luggage in Nairobi, and although I was able to make an appointment with the on-site doctor, I was very surprised to find he didn't have any in stock.
The resort manager was very professional in dealing with my dismay at finding myself in a place I didn't like and I think generally they did everything they could for me.
Kenya Coast & Lamu
Afro Chic is possibly the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Richard Johnson and his team have a real ethos of personal but unobtrusive service which just doesn't exist any more in Europe. As well as Richard, I'd particularly like to mention Donald and Fiah who really brightened my stay by talking at length about ordinary life in the Diani area. The food, setting and service are amazing and I have never enjoyed a hotel stay so much. The only slight issue is that you are certain to be surrounded by beach boys trying to sell you stuff as soon as you step of the hotel grounds on to the beach, but this is not a problem as long as you're firm with them, and is something you are likely to experience anywhere in this area.
When my transfer to the next hotel didn't turn up, Richard personally drove me over to Msambweni - how's that for service!?
Kenya Coast & Lamu
Msambweni Beach House is in a spectacular setting on the cliffs above a quiet beach area, so you\'re unlikely to be troubled by the beach boys who hang around in so many other places on the southern coast. Having drinks before dinner on the viewing platform under the incredibly bright stars and Milky Way was quite an experience.
My room was very spacious and had a large loggia which was occasionally visited by small inquisitive monkeys who seemed harmless but quite used to humans and therefore a bit on the cheeky side. I made sure I didn\'t leave anything out that they could make off with!
Generally I thought the accomodation was of a good standard and the service acceptable if a little apathetic.
MBH was very peaceful and made for a good final place to unwind at before returning to the UK.