Marsabit Lodge

Marsabit Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
18 functional rooms
Children
Not ideal for children
Open
All year

One of Kenya’s older game lodges, dating back to 1974, Marsabit Lodge is a simple tourist lodge on the lush shores of a forest-fringed crater lake in the remote Marsabit National Park, roughly mid-way between Mount Kenya and the Ethiopian border.Marsabit National Park is an extinct shield volcano, an area of old volcanic activity, where successive eruptions have built up a huge rounded hill of lava in the desert, rising nearly 1,000m from the surrounding arid lands. The whole mountain is about 40km in diameter, but the forested national park itself occupies the higher ground that is often shrouded in cloud, and measures around 10–15km across.

Marsabit Lodge is on the north side of the national park, just a few kilometres from Marsabit town and airstrip. Even the short drive up to the park gate and through the forest transports you to a different world, where mists drift through the giant trees and hanging lianas.

The lodge is a functional structure, laid out in two wings of three cedar-tiled, wood-framed blocks, each containing four rooms, overlooking the lake. The room blocks extend north and south from a corrugated-iron-roofed central building that contains the reception area, bar-lounge and dining room-restaurant.

  • There are 24 rooms, of which 18 have been refurbished and are functional. They have rather institutional-looking red-tiled floors, with a minimum of floor-covering – just the odd mat or basic rug. Furnishings consist of simple beds (twins or double) with cone-shaped mosquito nets, a luggage bench, a wall-mounted writing desk, mirror and padded stool, and a cheap wardrobe. The only lighting is a ceiling-mounted bulb. The bedside table is provided with a candle and matches – an indication that the electricity supply from their two generators can't always be relied upon. There are two, UK-style, three-pin power sockets in each room.

  • The tile-floored bathrooms have basic, wall-mounted washbasins, clean, flush toilets and electric showers with plastic shower curtains, set over a recessed drainage area in the floor. The electric showers are typical of the kind found in Kenya’s cheap hotels and lodging houses and are quite safe when properly installed. They only provide hot water while the generator is on.

  • At the front of each room, a small veranda with easy chairs looks out across the lake and the forest beyond.
The principal activity at Marsabit Lodge is visiting the dramatic and other-worldly Marsabit National Park itself. The lodge has one 4x4 vehicle for game drives. Denizens include some big elephants (the iconic tuskers Ahmed and Abdul lived here), buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, reticulated giraffe and magnificent greater kudu. In many parts of the park, the earth roads pitch through impressive stands of montane rainforest, where clouds of mist sweep through buttress-rooted trees, draped with luxuriant growths of old man’s beard lichen. The extinct volcanic craters are a particular feature of safaris in Marsabit National Park: Paradise Lake, 8km south of the lodge, is set in a crater, Gof Sokorte Guda, that measures more than 1km across.

Our view

Outstanding views and the exquisite peace and beauty of its location, with wildlife converging at the lake and eagles swooping through the trees, compensate for Marsabit Lodge’s rudimentary comforts and slightly spooky emptiness. The lodge was semi-closed for years but has had a facelift and provides all the essentials, including friendly and helpful staff. Just don’t expect any luxury or style.

Geographics

Location: Northern Kenya, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: Two or three nights

Directions: From Marsabit airstrip, it’s a 20-minute transfer to the lodge.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The lodge provides adequate, filling meals – full, cooked breakfast and three-course lunch and dinner – but nothing the least bit fancy or stylish. Our grilled steaks were very tough, but at least the beers were cold.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Not included. Beer Ksh170 ($2, £1.20, €1.50), soda Ksh50 ($0.60, £0.35, €0.40), house wine Ksh170 ($2, £1.20, €1.50) per glass.

Further dining info: Yes; Ksh100 extra per tray ($1.15, £0.75, €0.85)

Children

Attitude towards children: ‘Marsabit accepts children of all ages, but supervision is necessary as we are unfenced’.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: Two highchairs

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: Safaricom and Airtel mobile networks are accessible. An Orange modem is available in the office for internet access.

TV & radio: TV lounge

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: First-aid kit in office; the manager has first-aid training.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There’s a Kenya police reservist posted to the lodge who is up all night, but no other security.

Fire safety: Fire blankets are in place

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge

Money: There’s a safe in the office, but no currency-exchange facility.

Accepted payment on location: Cash payments may be made in US dollars, euros, pounds sterling or Kenyan shillings. No credit cards.