Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Samburu Sopa Lodge, Kenya: A Review

The Sopa (‘Hello’ in Maa – Maasai language) group is one of the older and more well known hotel chains in Kenya. They have properties in Kenya and Tanzania. During my recent trip to Kenya, I got to spend 2 nights at their Samburu property called the ‘Samburu Sopa Lodge’.

The pathway inside Samburu Sopa Lodge

Following points make up my review of this wildlife resort:

1) They probably have the biggest rooms (keeping standard rooms as a benchmark and assuming that the price points are more or less same or lesser) when compared to their other hotel chains. Their bathrooms are bigger than rooms in other lodges/hotels/tented camps.

2) Their food is good and pretty decent. But, nothing extraordinary like some of the other hotel chains.

3) The Samburu Sopa Lodge is tucked away deep inside the Samburu National Reserve. For some, this is slightly irritating as it means longer game drives to reach the key wildlife spots, like for example the Ewaso Nyiro river. But, I kind of prefer such remoteness.

4) This property is fantastic for birding. A lot of hornbills, barbets,starlings, sunbirds and more can be regularly seen here in huge numbers. Some even come real close to the common dining area.

5) Even small mammals like the Kirk’s Dik Dik, Impala, banded mongoose, etc. can be seen next to the dining area.

6) For those who like a swimming pool in their resorts, this place offers both shallow and deep waters in its pool.

7) May be, it is the semi-arid landscape, but the Samburu Sopa Lodge offers great views of the sunrise and the sunset.

8) The service is pretty decent and I especially liked the friendliness of most of the Samburu people.

9) Since this is the drier part of Kenya, the lodge has very close to zero mosquito menace in spite of being surrounded by forests. Hence, even in the night, one can comfortably sit in the verandah and either listen to the sounds of the forest or indulge in some star-gazing.

10) Samburu gets pretty hot during the day, but the lodge does not have any fan or electricity supply during certain day hours. I kind  of prefer this since it is not at all forest friendly to run a generator in the middle of a wildlife reserve. The best way to avoid this situation is to go on both your morning and evening game drives.

11) Like most of the wildlife lodges in Kenya, this place is also built in traditional style. The rooms in Samburu Sopa Lodge mirror the construction of Samburu huts.

Overall, I would recommend the Samburu Sopa Lodge for the traveller who is looking at value for money. For those who are looking at new age facilities and real fine dining, the Sarova, Serena or Ashnil properties would be a better bet.

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