Kifaru House

Kifaru House: Our full report

Rooms
5 cottages
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 1 review
Children
Best for 8+
Open
All year

Located on a small hill in the heart of the 62,000-acre (250km2) Lewa Conservancy, Kifaru House is a small, high-quality safari lodge in a scenic location. The Lewa Conservancy is world renowned for its conservation work and particularly for its successful rhino breeding programme. In tribute to this the lodge takes its name Kifaru from the Swahili word for rhino and visitors are almost guaranteed to see both species during their stay.

Kifaru House is owned and managed by a well-known safari operation in East Africa, who also manage Lewa Safari Camp. Each of these properties has their own charms although they are quite different in style, with Lewa Safari Camp providing simple but good quality accommodation in the form of 12 rustic safari tents, whilst Kifaru House is a smaller, more exclusive lodge delivering a much higher level of luxury.

The elegant lounge and dining area are housed in a large oval building with stone fireplaces to either end. On one side there are several cream sofas and a low coffee table where guests gather for pre-dinner drinks and to chat about the day, on the other a chunky wooden table laid out for communal dining. There is a bar along the back wall with a good selection of drinks and a coffee machine. At the front there’s a verandah with a number of sofas where you can relax with coffee and take in the views. A separate structure houses a second lounge and a library with a small curio cabinet with locally produced beaded jewellery for sale.

The five colonial style cottages were originally built for private donors to the conservancy. These are spacious structures, with high thatched roofs, dark wood floors and white walls with exposed wooden beams. Three cottages are arranged with fixed frame fourposter double beds and a separate single bed, while one so-called honeymoon cottage has a double bed, cosy sofa, bathtub and outside shower. These feel stylish and are furnished with a couple of plush armchairs, a writing desk and a built-in storage cupboard. The well-proportioned bathrooms have single or double basins, showers and complimentary toiletries by Cinnabar & Green. While there is no dedicated spa, in-room massages can be arranged with a trained masseuse who is based at Kifaru House.

There is also a family cottage with two separate en-suite bedrooms – a double and a twin. The rooms are next to each other but not interconnected.

Kifaru House sits in pretty gardens, with lush green lawns dotted with small acacia trees and views over Lewa Conservancy. The lodge is fenced, keeping large animals at bay, however wildlife is regularly seen on the open plains below. A stepped path leads up to the swimming pool which is surrounded by a flagstone patio with loungers and thatched sunshades. On a clear day you can see Mount Kenya from here. There are showers and a changing area here and a shady seating area where lunch is often served.

The main attraction of Kifaru House is excellent, accessible game drives in search of rhinos and the other inhabitants of the Lewa Conservancy. As this is a privately run conservancy, not a national park, there are large areas where you can drive off road and night drives are also possible.

Other activities include walking safaris accompanied by an armed ranger, and visits to Il Ngwesi cultural village, which can be booked at an additional cost of $50 per person. Kifaru House also arranges full day excursions to the nearby Ngare Ndare Forest where you can explore the canopy on raised walkways and swim in forest streams. It is also possible to go horse riding or camel riding at nearby Lewa Wilderness. These are usually afternoon activities and can be dependent on availability. To discover more about the conservation work done in Lewa you can take a visit to the conservancy headquarters. The team have high-tech monitoring equipment in place and the extent of the security measures here is impressive.

Our view

As a very comfortable, quite luxurious place to stay we think Kifaru House is an excellent base for a visit to the Lewa Conservancy. There’s an fantastic range of activities here – or nearby – and the wildlife is all around.

Geographics

Location: Laikipia, Kenya

Ideal length of stay: Stay at least three or four nights to explore the conservancy and try the activities.

Directions: Lewa Downs airstrip is around an hour's flight from Wilson Airport Nairobi. It is then a further 20 minutes’ drive to Kifaru House, or longer if you stop for wildlife.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We didn't have the chance to eat here when we saw the lodge in 2019, however we understand it has an excellent organic vegetable garden which supplies much of the food for the kitchen. Based on the food served at Kifaru House’s sister camps we expect meals to be fresh, tasty and plentiful. Most meals are eaten communally, however private dining can easily be arranged on request.

Talking with the team we understand that lunch typically consists of two courses, which may consist of a selection of salads accompanied by a main such as a savoury tart, and this might be followed by tropical fruit or a sticky cake. Dinner is then a more formal affair with three courses served around a communal table. As with many safari lodges, breakfast is a selection of fruits, cereals and bread, followed by hot breakfast if you want, with eggs cooked to order.

We hope to have the chance to stay here on our next visit to Lewa and we’ll provide a more detailed update.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Most drinks are included at Kifaru House, including four red and four white house wines. Premium spirits and wines and Champagne are at extra cost.

Further dining info: There are no phones in the cottages and room service needs to be arranged in advance.

Children

Attitude towards children: Kifaru House accepts children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: Children are provided with a safari activity book for them to take on game drives, complete with colouring pens. The guides are very accommodating and will happily show children how to use bows and arrows and look for tracks and signs around the camp. Kifaru House can also arrange seasonal activities such as Easter egg hunts.

Equipment: There are no cots and highchairs at Kifaru House, however with advance notice the lodge may be able to make arrangements.

Notes: Despite the electric fence there is still lots of wildlife in the area and children should be supervised at all times, particularly around the swimming pool.

Infrastructure

Power supply notes: The camp predominantly runs off solar power, however there is also a generator which typically runs between 18 – 30 hours per week. There are plans to improve the solar output in the near future.

Communications: Wi-Fi is available throughout the lodge.

TV & radio: There is a large flat screen TV in the library which is occasionally used for major sporting events.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Drinking water is brought in from Nairobi or Nanyuki.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff are first aid-trained and the lodge and vehicles are equipped with first aid kits. It is a 20-minute drive to the nearest clinic and the lodge has links with a flying doctors service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There is discreet security in place 24 hours a day, including armed rangers. Guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted throughout the property.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included at Kifaru House, and unusually for East Africa this includes all underwear. This is machine-washed and line-dried.

Money: There are electronic safes in all cottages.

Accepted payment on location: Kifaru House accepts all major currencies, including USD dollars, Kenyan shillings, GB pounds and Euros. MasterCard and Visa are accepted without surcharge, however not American Express.

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