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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Dr B & Mr S from London

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

3

Excursions taken

0

Kenya with a toddler

Kenya between 28 Oct 2013 and 8 Nov 2013

Trip rating: Good
"Our trip was amazing. We have wonderful memories and have learnt alot about a new country, culture and peoples. We enjoyed the different destinations that we selected and the variety in activities that they provided. Our concerns about traveling with a young child to Kenya were managable and we are pleased that we undertook this adventure despite many people telling us not to. We'd love to go back one day.

It was nice to feel like we had a common 'acquaintance' in Richard, when talking to the owners of the various lodges. They all seemed to respect his work and knowledge of Kenya.

However, we also feel a bit sad that parts of the holiday were not as perfect as we'd hoped despite careful planning and a significant budget (see issues mentioned about El Karama and Driftwood)."

Arranged By Richard Trillo


The Emakoko

The Emakoko

"Emakoko - A Beautiful 'Welcome to Kenya'"

2 nights Arrived 29 Oct 2013
"We landed in Nairobi early in the morning and were surprised how congested the roads were already. But short after we turned off the main roads into the National Park we soon started to see the animals roaming the fields - and we even spotted a pride of lions on this first drive through the park. It made us feel like this is how it will be on all game drives, but it turned out to be the only time we saw a big cat.

The lodge was beautiful and we received a warm welcome and attentive service. There was a tame(-ish) Impala on the grounds which liked to come close. Having an animal to touch was a beautiful experience for our 2.5-year-old daughter. Buffaloes grazed under our balcony and we were made aware that they were the most dangerous animals around. I enjoyed this respectful co-habitation with the animals who live there. Even a hippo came up to the swimming pool at night.

Our daughter was able to go and play with the owner's daughter of the same age while we went on a game drive by ourselves, which was a very welcome luxury. And every evening someone came to babysit her while we went for dinner.

Only one other party of two was staying at The Emakoko when we were there and we usually had dinner all together at one table with Anton the owner of the Lodge. The food was very good.

This was our first experience of a safari lodge so we didn't have much to compare it to. Two little details that we found uncomfortable were:
- the mosquito nets had holes in them. Given that this is a higher end lodge, we didn't expect such a detail to be overlooked. Coming from the UK, our main fear of Kenya was of the malaria mosquitoes. In retrospect, we know that the number of insects was nothing compared to the coastal mosquitoes, but fixing the holes should still be possible and a priority. (I mentioned it to Anton as we left)
- the shower was leaking hot water a bit at the tap. We're used to that kind of wobbly plumbing in the UK, but in Switzerland, where I grew up, showers work smoothly. (I didn't mention that to Anton)

My personal highlight was a walk with Sylvester, our driver, and Sunde, a local Maasai, over the ridge behind the lodge and into the ancestral lands of the local communities. It was a short walk, but I learned a lot about Kenyan life and customs and got to see some very modest homesteads.

Our daughter's highlight was probably feeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre. And splashing around in the swimming pool with the impala stalking around us."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
El Karama Eco-Lodge

El Karama Eco-Lodge

"Into the Wild"

3 nights Arrived 31 Oct 2013
"Again, we saw some amazing animals on the drive to the lodge. We received a warm welcome as all members of staff came out to greet us as we arrived at the ranch. We immediately warmed to the kind and genuine staff. We liked the emphasis on environmental conservation and the principles of the lodge. We enjoyed the food with our favourite dinner being a kenyan meal (which we requested on our last night). There were, however, various drawbacks to our stay.

We were the only guests, so we had all the staff to ourselves. We were looking forward to meeting the artistic owners and to lounging around the swimming pool, but the owners were away and only came back on our last day and the swimming pool wasn't ready yet (but it looks beautiful - which made it even more painful). The swimming pool (or expectation of one being available) was a key reason for choosing this lodge over other similar lodges in the area (e.g. Laikipia Wilderness). We were therefore highly disappointed to find that it wasn't available to use. We also made a conscious decision to choose a lodge where the owners had young children in the hope that our daughter would have someone to play with (again Laikipia Wilderness was the other option). We were therefore disappointed that the owners were not around for the duration of our stay (and had not been informed of this beforehand. Perhaps if we had been, we would have changed our travel dates).

Staying here made us realize how valuable it was to have the owners around as a link between us wazungu and the Kenyan staff. We felt a bit left to our own devices. As this was our first safari experience, we did not know what to expect or how best to plan our days. As Karen and our daughter did not go on a game drive in the morning, they basically had the whole day to fill around the camp without any concrete activities or people to engage with. It felt a bit like we were killing time rather than making the most of the wonderful surroundings. In hindsight, we feel that the owners could have helped us to better plan and make the most of our time. Moreover, there were other small details that undermined our confidence in the lodge: e.g. being served soured milk to go in our tea, continuing to use a table cloth that a bird had poo-ed on (!), letting the fire burn out on a cold night, threadbare towels. Whilst these are minor points, they did highlight some lack of attention to detail which would not be expected when one is paying a significant amount of money to stay.

It was a bit scary, but enjoyable to paddle in the hippo river that runs past the lodge. It was also a bit scary to go to the toilet at night, as our hut had its toilet in a separate hut 4m away. Four scary meters of potential leopard or hippo attacks... We only heard the hippo wheezing past at 5am, we didn't see it.

I enjoyed the walking safari with Joseph very much. Walking where our earliest human ancestors first started to walk and talk filled me with awe. Feeling exposed to the hidden eyes of deadly creatures made me feel more sympathetic with the ubiquitous gazelles.

We also enjoyed our visit to the ranch. Our daughter loved touching the cows and the calves - and we witnessed the birth of a calf. The lush vegetable garden was a revelation too. Coming from the UK where the seasons dictate what can be grown, we were impressed with the equatorial possibility of growing anything at any time of the year.

On the last day we got to meet Sophie and her daughter and Lavinia, the mother-in-law and artist whose paintings and drawings were all around the lodge. It was lovely to meet them and we felt the experience would have been very different if they had been around from the start.

With the swimming pool in operation and the owners around this would have been an amazing lodge."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Driftwood Beach Club

Driftwood Beach Club

"Drifting through Malindi"

4 nights Arrived 3 Nov 2013
"We were aware that this is not the same kind of accommodation as the previous two lodges, but the rooms were good. We had asked for a 'sea view', but the view from our first room (29) was partially covered with other huts in front of us. We managed to change hut for the second night (25) and we were then in the front row, hearing the waves crash on the sand and able to walk straight out into the sand to watch the sun rise from the Indian Ocean in the morning. It was nice that the staff were able to accommodate our wishes. The staff were generally helpful (with different levels of friendliness) and attentive in their service. The pool was clean and the club seemed appropriately managed. We were happy that the manager, Roger, made an effort to introduce himself and make us feel welcome. The Driftwood helpfully supplied a babysitter (who charged a reasonable rate) during the evening. The food and selection at breakfast was good.

Our expectations of a 'beach holiday' were quickly revised when we got to experience the persistent beach boys we had been warned about. As soon as you lay close to the beach within the Driftwood compound or just step outside of it onto the sand of the beach, the beach boys want to sell you something, or take you to the reef. They are the reason I wouldn't recommend this holiday destination or Driftwood to friends. The staff from the hotel didn't really react to this situation or help us to deal with the beach boys.

We ended up walking up to the reef with one of them at low tide. several other guys were around us, picking up amazing looking starfish to show us. By the time we got to the actual corals we started to feel uncomfortable with the lack of respect for the habitat - and we felt our daughter's patience was coming to an end, so we turned back. The experience left a bitter taste in our mouths: we felt like we took part in the destruction of a marine reserve and encouraged the beach boys to continue hassling tourists. We also felt threatened by the group of boys when the amount of Ksh we gave to them was not considered enough for their troubles (an amount which we had previously sought advice on from the reception staff).

Going into town was a much more satisfying experience. The Driftwood offers a tuktuk ride around the town. The driver, Said, took us through the narrow streets of the Old Town and to some very specific shops - we assumed that he must be paid a commission if we had bought something there. There was none of the hassling that we experienced on the beach and we felt quite safe walking back home from where Said dropped us off.

We asked the reception about prices and arrangements for a trip to Gedi. We were not convinced that the staff member we talked to provided impartial advice- He quoted Ksh 5000 and suggested that we may have to pay more if we would want the driver to wait for us. When we asked Roger, however, he suggested a lower price (Ksh4000). As the receptions were the gate-keepers, we felt at their mercy to quote any figure. Further, when we asked reception about the Marine safari and the glass bottomed boats, they offered a package from Said. Again the receptionist seemed to suggest that we'd have to pay a high figure to compensate for the fact that there were only 2 adults (when the boat could take more) so we were not sure what we should or shouldn't pay. Basically, we expected to be able to trust the advice of the staff at Driftwood but these situations made us doubt the impartiality of some of the staff members (not all). Again, the actual boat trip involved the guide picking up star fish to show us and throwing bread into the water to attract the pretty fish. All things that seem to be inapproriate behaviour in a marine nature reserve."
Good
Location
Average
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

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