Our first pit stop during our road trip in Kenya was the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki. From there, we were supposed to head over to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, but more on that later. Located about 200 km away from Nairobi city, the Mount Kenya Safari Club is a luxury lover’s delight! With imposing views of Mount Kenya in the backdrop and lush landscaped gardens as far as the eyes can see, this property was the perfect introduction to the beautiful Kenyan countryside.
With 120 luxurious rooms equipped with all modern amenities, the property still retains its vintage charm. Sitting at the base of Africa’s second highest mountain peak, the Mount Kenya Safari Club boasts of a golden history. Founded by Hollywood actor William Holden, this property has had the privilege of serving and hosting the likes of Winston Churchill, Ernst Hemingway and the erstwhile Maharaja of Jaipur among many other elite A-listers from across the globe.
What’s even more interesting about the club’s location is that the Equator runs right through the property. So cool, right? As a result, expect warm, glistening sunshine all morning and the evenings to be quite chilly, typical of hilly regions.
As we drove into the property, we were welcomed by mesmerizing views of the clear blue sky, freshly manicured lawns and unbarred views of Mount Kenya standing tall at the horizon. The porters swiftly took over our luggage as we proceeded to check-in for the night. Every bit of this club-turned-hotel spoke volumes of its grand origins. Rich wooden furnishings adorned the reception and the corridors, and as you walk along, you are greeted with mounts of animals reminiscent of the glorious past of this Safari Club.
While the paperwork was getting done in the background, we stepped out of the reception area to take a stroll around the property. And guess who was there to give us a royal welcome? A muster of gorgeous peacocks, prancing around the garden in all their glory!
Before getting all absorbed in the surrounding beauty, we thought it would be wise to finally get a glimpse of our room and freshen up. So we headed back to the reception, grabbed our bags and hopped onto one of their golf carts that transported us to our room.
Our Riverside Suite was an independent cottage located in a secluded area, away from the lobby. It took us a couple of minutes to drive down the winding pathways to get to the cottage, and we were blown off our feet even before we had seen our room! The cottage was located amidst a gorgeous forest, with a small river flowing by, and had an unbarred view of Mount Kenya. Serene and tranquil, this looked straight out of a picture postcard.
The suite had a lavish living room that made way to a cozy bedroom and a luxurious bathroom. The brick wall separating the living room and bedroom had a massive fireplace to combat the chilly nights. We were told by the staff that it would be lit once the sun sets, to make the room warm by bedtime.
The suite was perfectly furnished with comfortable couches, a study table and chair and of course, a bed that almost felt like a warm hug that you don’t want to let go of!
Our cottage had a beautiful private balcony too, looking straight out towards Mount Kenya. It was the perfect spot to chill at any time of the day. Even better with a book and some Kenyan tea for company.
But if you can get yourself to wake-up at the crack of dawn, the balcony makes for a beautiful spot for catching a magical glimpse of the mighty mountain range, amidst the chirping of birds and the soothing sound of the river water flowing by.
When choosing your accommodation at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, make sure you pick one that faces the mountains. It may cost you a bit more than the garden-facing rooms, but it’s totally worth it! You really don’t want to miss out on the experience of waking up to the view of the second highest mountain peak in all of Africa!
The Dining Experience
Food is an integral part of travel for us and good food always takes the travel experience several notches higher, if done right. The Mount Kenya Safari Club, being the prestigious institution that it is, left no stone unturned to floor us with their dining experience!
Since we spent a night there, we had the opportunity to enjoy 3 full meals at their restaurant. The in-house restaurant, rightly named Tusks Restaurant, is one of the poshest and most prestigious restaurants around. The tastefully furnished indoor seating area extends to an outdoor terrace overlooking the garden and Mount Kenya, so you can probably guess where we had all our 3 meals 😀
Lunch and dinner menu was an amalgamation of Indian, European and African cuisine. Elaborate and catering to everyone’s taste, the menu boasted of typical Indian Rajma curry (red kidney beans) on one hand and a variety of African-style flame-roasted meats on the other.
Breakfast was also a grand affair! And we would be lying if we said we don’t like it that way. Since we were supposed to check out of the resort post breakfast, we decided to start a little early. Fighting the chill, wrapping ourselves up in warm jackets, we headed towards the restaurant to be welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked bread, muffins, and waffles. Probably the best kind of smells to awaken your senses to! In addition to that, there were the usual culprits – eggs made to order, sausages, bacon, beans, fruits etc. I think it would be safe to claim that we slightly overdosed on the waffle toppings as can be seen below. Because, why not? 😛
We also had a chance to spend some time at Zebar, the exclusive bar and lounge at Mount Kenya Safari Club. This place serves alcohol as well as afternoon tea and snacks. Though we didn’t have a chance to grab a drink here, we enjoyed freshly brewed Kenyan tea with scones and macarons in the afternoon. Zebar has a capacity of 50-60 people and exudes a certain kind of warmth rarely found in typical bar setups. The decor is also unlike anything you would expect at a bar, and reflects the rich history of the safari club.
If you can spend more than a day at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, which we suggest you do, consider checking out some of the activities offered by the hotel.
The William Holden Foundation, named after the founder of the Safari Club, runs an animal orphanage for the conservation of the local antelope called the Bongo. The orphanage is located adjacent to the hotel and you can buy entry passes from the shop inside the hotel premises.
Another very interesting (and fun!) thing to do here is the Forest Reserve Walking Safari. This safari is unique because it involves walking, unlike any other safari you may have been to. You will be escorted by armed wildlife rangers, for obvious reasons, as well as a naturalist who will show you around and provide necessary information about your surroundings. This is a 3 hour-long activity and best done early in the morning.
It really is not enough to spend a day at the Mount Kenya Safari Club to do justice to all that it has to offer. If we did not have further plans, we would have definitely spent another day here. But we were glad we decided to make a stop here, albeit for one night. The Safari club also makes for a great spot for a weekend getaway if you are looking for a break from the chaos of Nairobi city. Just drive down in your personal vehicle or hire a car to get you here. It is a wonderful way to come in touch with the Kenyan countryside without even having to go on a safari! The gorgeous natural surroundings, the magical view of Mount Kenya and the royal ambiance of the resort, all made our stay memorable before we moved on to our final destination – the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
**Alternatively, if you’re heading to the ever popular Masai Mara for a true Kenyan safari, also consider taking a hot air balloon ride over the vast landscape of the national park! And here’s how you can plan a Kenyan Safari on a budget without compromising on any of the key activities!**