During the trip as a tour leader, I crossed out 3 things off my bucket list. One of them was visiting Aberdare. I have always wanted to go, mainly because every member of my family has been and I have heard stories of how beautiful it is. Yes, I come from a family of wanderlusts. Aberdare is situated in Nyeri County. It is picturesque and beautiful. The distance from Nairobi is 180 kms.
Arriving in Nyeri, we had lunch at the Aberdare Country Club. A serene place where you can golf and rent bicycles to hike and explore, unfortunately we were only there for lunch so did not have time to explore. We checked in, at the reception got labels to indicate which bags and which rooms our over night bags would go to. As the place we were going to had smaller rooms, our luggage would be locked up and we would take out essentials with us for the night at the Ark lodge. This is usual in these parts. If you intend to go to Aberdare, pack an overnight bag before you head out there.
The service and staff at the country club were very kind, helpful and attentive. The lunch menu was a delicious buffet, which my guests were pleased by. Mainly because of the substantial portions they received earlier, it was a welcome change for them to have options. We sat at the veranda as there was a gorgeous view of the greens and scenery. The chef on duty was very kind in explaining the buffet of the day. The food was excellent and the wine selection was great. I got my big (normal) wine glass (finally). They had an array of salad’s, meats and desserts. For those of you that have dairy & egg allergies like me, the fruit selection was excellent. My guests tried a local delicacy mukimo, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The meal is made of mashed potatoes, peas, maize and I can’t recall the last ingredient.
When you are having a good time; time passes by quickly. Aberdares Country Club provides transport to their sister lodge. Our driver informed us that it was time to head to the Ark Lodge. As we hadn’t had dessert yet, he had to wait for us a little bit longer. On entering the bus, we realised our bags had been transported to the lodge by the first bus. We drove to Aberdares National Park.
Ark Lodge was originally built by a Kiwi couple. It’s a wooden structure shaped like a boat/ark. It has a capacity of about 100-120 guests if I remember correctly. On arriving at the Ark Lodge our guide explained to us what happens in the Lodge. The xylophone melody would be our wake-up call in the morning. Also the bell rings for alerting us on the animals. Do’s and Dont’s. Where to smoke, where there is WiFi, where you can view the animals and where you can dine and have tea/ coffee. The major don’t was to be quiet when viewing the animals and not using flash at night when taking pictures. They have flood lights that make viewing the animals at night easier.
The floors were divided in decks, deck A- D. I stayed on Deck A (A23). My bag was waiting for me in my room. The room doesn’t have a safe and a lock. You can only lock the doors from inside. The bathroom was spacious.
WiFi worked perfectly and this was mainly in Deck C. You can definitely bring your laptop with you here and some clothes to change for dinner.
We had tea/ coffee at Deck C and were watching the elephants drink at the watering hole. Some other animals came to lick the salt from the ground. It was a serene and relaxing environment.
Dinner was a buffet and excellent. Despite everything, I was quite disappointed by our server that day. In certain places you go, you can tell that the staff aren’t putting their best foot forward for certain clientele. So they assume that when they see you based on your colour, you are a tag a long or not worth being a guest. This assumption puts me off. I was quite put off that night by our server’s behaviour. He took my guest’s drink orders but skipped me. On coming back with their orders, I confronted him about it discreetly about forgetting me. Luckily, I do speak Kiswahili so my guests had no idea what happened. He apologised and offered to bring me water. I was taken aback, mainly because he had committed a faux pas and on top of that decided what I wanted to drink? I told him that a bottle of water and a glass of white would be good for me. He brought red ?!!! I had to send it back. Usually when servers make mistakes on my drink order, I over look it unless I am allergic. I believe in actions and not words. I will let you be the judge of that incident. I did take up the issue with management though.
After dinner we moved to the deck to view serval cats and enjoy some tea/coffee. I was hoping to catch some action in the wild, when nothing happened we went to bed. Between 2-4 am, we were woken up by the alarm. In my PJ’s, morning slippers and windbreaker I headed over to Deck B. Hyenas were trying to hunt a buffalo and it’s little one. It’s amazing to see how nature works and how telepathically they send SOS’s and all of a sudden from nowhere the patriarch of the family comes to save the day. The timid hyenas scurry off to the bush waiting to pounce on their next pray.
After the action was over, went to bed for a few hours and woke up to the melody of the xylophone. Breakfast was buffet. What I like about the hotels we stayed at was you could get your eggs made by the chef at the buffet station, whether it’s an omelette, sunny side up or so you come up with a recipe.
Despite the mini incident, I still recommend Ark Lodge. Although I feel two nights instead of one may be enough to view the animals at the lodge. On the other hand don’t have too high expectations on a safari.
The best part was waking up to see Mt Kenya in the horizon as the sun was rising.
I would definitely love to visit Aberdare again in the near future.
Have a serene day won’t you?