Our World | On 24, Nov 2010
Here’s a question for you… where in the world will it take you upwards of 1.5 hours to drive 17km’s?
Answer… Nairobi. From the airport to the oasis that is the Fairmont Norfolk hotel.
That folks is a great reason for missing that part of the trip out, if considering Kenya as a destination for an incentive!
Just recently, I was spoilt rotten on a whirlwind tour of the Fairmont hotels in Kenya – I had 3 nights, at 3 destinations, with a fair bit of travel in between… that travel involved two inter-continental flights, mini-busses, two domestic flights on tiny little baby planes and jeeps!
Kenya is a stunningly beautiful country that straddles the equator in East Africa. Sometimes called the cradle of humanity (certainly a LOT of humanity in Nairobi… more later), a place with incredible natural beauty (tropical beaches, mountains, giant lakes, volcanoes and open savannah), a country that see’s the start of one of the world’s greatest ‘natural wonders’… the annual migration of the Wildebeests and Zebras over river, plain and grasslands. In short, an outstanding place to visit, just give yourself four nights on the ground, not three!
We stayed a night at each of the Fairmont Norfolk, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and Fairmont Mara Safari Lodge, each unique and rather pleasant.
The Norfolk – an institution; Nairobi’s grand dame hotel – oodles of history, comfortable and the place in town to unwind after experiencing the onslaught of Nairobi’s crazy road system! Nairobi is very much what one would expect of an African capital; it is noisy, polluted, fast-paced (except the traffic that is), chaotic and a teeny bit unpleasant! The Norfolk however is an oasis in the ‘din’ that is Nairobi – it is the perfect place to have day rooms held for you before your intercontinental flight home. From the hotel, you are able to visit the Elephant and Giraffe orphanage that is located in a corner of the Nairobi National Park. Both places are a real must if you spend any time in the city. Other than that, the hotel offers a great place to unwind, take a swim, have a work out or just indulge in the yummy food and drink served at the hotel.
Mount Kenya Safari Club is just a short 35 minute flight from the capital and is a dream of a place. It really is a ‘club’ and is pure escapism. The rooms are extremely comfortable and the grounds are exquisite. You can sit with a G&T on the terrace staring at a snow covered Mount Kenya in the distance (yes, snow on the equator – sounds wrong, but is so very right!). You can indulge in an interesting game of golf (9 holes… just go around the course twice!). You can horse-ride in the ‘bush’, and get close up and personal to buffalo, antelope, zebra and so on from the back of a horse (apparently, human’s smell like the horse when on horse-back – nice, but at least you are not seen as a threat to the poor 1 ton buffalo!). You can indulge in walks, a bit of pampering or go see an authentic Masai village for a very useful insight in to local life. You can also have a bit of fun watching water go in two directions down the plug-hole (yes, it straddles the equator – part of the hotel in the Northern Hemisphere, the other half in the Southern. Google that one, I have no idea why water goes down the plug-hole in two directions if poured in the North or South). Honestly, two nights are required here, just to kick back and let Kenya take a hold of you.
Mara Safari Lodge is delicious! Luxury tented ‘rooms’ set along the Mara River – every tent with a stunning view. Hippos are your wake up call, and everything is perfect. There is a wonderful reception and club house, sundowners overlooking the river, sunbathing by the pool, have a massage with a view and enjoy a really awesome game drive to catch a glimpse of the Big 5 (and a lot more) in the truly breathtaking environs of the Mara. Honestly, this is a great place to see game; but I would say that for the very adventurous safari ‘addict’ there are better game drives to be had in the Mara.
One thing that really struck me, were the people – they were charming, polite (not a hint of falseness), helpful and hard-working. Their smiles illuminate their faces and I have to say that even with my extensive African adventures… they were without a doubt the nicest people I’ve ever met on the continent.
Check it out for yourselves; Kenya Airways, Virgin and BA all fly in and out of Nairobi – the destination is still very affordable when compared with other countries in Africa, and the Fairmont hotel are luxurious without being pretentious and nowhere in Africa has such a perfect climate in our summer months.