I had sworn that I will never get into the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Train again unless they improve their seats and have better customer service. But, I guess the wise men were right when they said “never say never. For my trip to Voi Safari Lodge, I had no better or faster option than using the SGR.
Early Friday morning, I checked in at the train station to meet my fellow travellers for the five day trip. We had booked the morning inter-county train as it is the only one that makes a stop at Voi. The train left Nairobi at 8:00am and by 12 noon we had arrived at Voi railway station ready to start out journey to our home at Voi Safari Lodge.
Voi safari lodge is one of the three properties under Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels (KSLH) which is a brand that boasts of a heritage of hospitality. The other two properties are Mombasa Beach hotel in North Coast and Ngulia Safari Lodge in Tsavo West.
The lodge is located inside Tsavo East National park and is just 20 minutes from the Voi Railway station. Those 20 minutes from the railway station were practically a ride in the dessert. The white-murram, bumpy and dusty road doesn’t make the journey any smoother but it is manageable.
We finally arrived at our destination and got a warm welcome with a glass of cold passion juice which we highly needed. We spent a few minutes to check in, freshen up and head to the restaurant to grab some lunch.
All rooms in the lodge have unhindered views of the park. From my bed, I would spot the red-dusted elephants, buffaloes and zebras roaming freely in the wild. The rooms are very spacious and each is fitted with a queen size bed, coffee maker, a working area, a wardrobe and bathrooms.
The restaurant is strategically located to give a raised unobstructed view of the wild and the watering hole where wild animals frequent to quench their thirst. The food was very sumptuous and they set a good precedence from day one. The service crew was friendly, polite and quick on their feet. My all-time favourite appetizer throughout our stay was the vegetable soup which never missed during lunch and dinner.
After lunch, it was time to relax and explore the lodge. My first stop was to the magnificent swimming pool right next to the Tembo Bar. I have seen stunning swimming pools but this one was just exquisite. It is literally at the edge of the lodge with an aerial view of the National park.
Another unique feature was the photo hide. This is an underground tunnel specifically built for guests to have a close but safe access to the wild animal coming to the watering hole. The animals are literally two feet from you. Calmness and silence has to be maintained at all times to avoid alarming the animals.
The next morning, we were up and ready by 6:00am for a game drive in Tsavo East National park which is the largest and oldest national park in Kenya covering about 13, 747square kilometers. Entry fee is Kshs. 500 per adult and Kshs. 200 per child.
The National Park is known for a variety of wildlife which are easy to spot especially the red-dusted elephants. All the big five are found here. The rangers in the park are tasked to ensure the safety of all the animals and most importantly the rhinos.
The park is also known as the “Theatre of the wild” due the diverse attractions it offers. Apart from the wildlife, the park is also home to the longest lava flow (Yatta Plateau) in the world covering over 300km and the famous Galana river which is made up of Tsavo River and Athi River.
Over 500 bird species are found in this park. We were lucky enough to spot a few such as the secretary bird, ostriches, buzzards, guinea fowls, weaver birds and starlings among others I can’t remember their names.
Another highlight of the game drive was the stop at Mudanda Rock which is a 1.6 km inselberg of stratified rock that acts as a water catchment area and an excellent vantage point to view the animals from a safe spot. Tourists can alight from their vehicles and have a picnic or lunch here. It is like the one at Amboseli National Park.
Read more: Amboseli National Park
On the third day, we had a shoot with the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to get an in-depth understanding of their duties in regards to protection and preservation of the park and its wildlife. KWS Senior Warden Wilson Njue, informed us that business has been slow for quite sometime since the drought started. The circuit areas have also reduced from eight to about four. This has been largely contributed to by movement of the wildlife to areas where water is readily available.
In regards to their duties, the rangers are tasked with ensuring that all animals are safe but with the on-set of Covid-19, bush meat poaching began to rise. Local communities members started hunting and poaching small animals such as dik diks, antelopes, gazelles for domestic use. The rangers have increased their presence in the park and in the community to educate members on the importance of preserving wildlife and also on collaboration to make the park better. For more details check out the video at TV47. We also had an opportunity to have a look at where they live, what they eat in a day and how their daily routine is.
On the forth day, we spent most of our time relaxing at the swimming pool and catching up on the previous day’s activity. In the evening there was an outdoor candle lit dinner by the bonfire to wind up our trip. The glowing shining orange full moon and the stars majestically adding natural light to our setup.
What stood out for me about Voi Safari Lodge all through my stay was how their staff were dedicated to their work. From the House keepers who kept our rooms neat every morning, the Waiters with their pleasant smiles and quality service, the Chefs who catered for everybody’s dietary needs and made sure all our meals were cooked to standard.
I would recommend the lodge for anyone looking for an quiet, serene environment for a getaway. It is a home away from home which is close to nature with the comfort of a lodge. For bookings, contact Beatrice on +254722331865.