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Rustic Retreats


President Obama’s “homecoming” weekend in Nairobi meant a long weekend for some of us who were trying to avoid the chaos and traffic which would have meant a weekend sat on the couch watching re-runs on the comedy channel. Driving 6 hours into the bush with no phone service seemed like the best alternative plan!

I have always wanted to go to Loisaba – especially to experience the “Kiboko star beds” which means you literally get to sleep under the stars. My husband booked this weekend when we found out Obama was coming to Kenya and coincidentally my brother and his girlfriend booked to go the same weekend! We left Nairobi at 8am and the 3 hour drive up to Nanyuki was smooth and scenic. Driving through Kenya always takes my breath away and I wonder how many people in the world would to do anything to experience the same feeling. Once we got into the conservancy it took us another 2.5 hours to get to the lodge. 100km on a rough road means you need a four-wheel drive, a tolerance for dust and the option of a massage after the trip!

Once we got to the lodge we were taken to the cottages (not the star beds) for the first two nights. The main Loisaba lodge burnt down a couple of years ago so the family cottage area is where one would stay if not in the star bed. Luckily it was just the four of us because I wouldn’t have been too thrilled about sharing a living and dining area with other people. We opted for a room on stilts which is pretty much like a semi-tented lodge room with a fantastic view, the ultimate “luxury-bush” setting but a nightmare if you’re squeamish about locusts, spiders and bush beetles.

With our own team of waiters and a chef, we took the liberty of asking the chef to make us something special on the first night. His initial plan was to make chicken breast with veggies but my husband was in bush-mode and not Sunday-dinner mode. So we asked him to cook us a traditional “goat choma” (barbequed goat) with ugali (staple maize-flour cake) and kachumbari (chopped tomatoes, onions, fresh coriander and lemon). He did a fantastic job, giving us some sautéed goat liver to begin with before the “choma” spread which was delicious and nothing like the goat you would get in a Nairobi butchery. The next night, he served us a goat head soup, which went down extremely well in the cold, crisp air.

My favourite part of the entire trip was the range of activities on offer. This time, unlike the last glamping trip, we were quite keen on being adventurous and doing things out of our comfort zone. Quad biking in the conservancy on the first morning was great fun and considering I had never done it before, I was quite proud of my skills. We did this for about an hour before driving back to the cottage where we spotted two lionesses and their adorable cubs. As we watched them laze around on some rocks we tried a prickly-pear fruit (tasted like a cross between a guava and dragon fruit but red as a beetroot)– another first for us. That afternoon we went horse riding in the conservancy. I had a race-horse who was a little too eager to overtake the rest but once I got the hang of handling him, I loved it; it was such a therapeutic experience! The next morning we went on a 2-hour hike in the conservancy with an armed guide and our maasai driver and buddy, Solomon. We stopped to see a hippo in a dam and we often came across elephant, lion and leopard footprints – scary at first but then it just got exciting! When we got back to the cottage we found a massive elephant grazing just by the pool, totally unaffected by our presence.

On the last day we were all ready and packed to go to the Kiboko star beds when the clouds starting greying and within no time a storm hit the conservancy. We drove about five minutes out of the cottage and had to turn back as sleeping under the rain wasn’t really an option. So, we missed the whole star bed experience but that just means we will have to go back when the main lodge is up and running again.

There are two Safarilink flights a day that land right outside the Loisaba lodge so if you’re not up for the long drive, definitely fly. I would recommend the drive if you haven’t done it before purely because up until the conservancy it’s really smooth and beautiful and a pitstop for lunch in Nanyuki at the Trout Tree is always worth it. Plus we saw some beautiful wildlife, including the Grevy’s Zebra, the most endangered species of Zebra with the thinnest stripes.

All in all, if you’re up for no make-up, wild hair and a bit of dust between your nails, I would definitely give this lodge a CF stamp of approval for its beauty, amazing service and fun activity list.

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