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Built by the Taita community using sustainable timber, its fourteen rehabilitated rooms
hang as eagles' nests from the edge of the bluff, tipping you into a vista that sprawls:
savannah below, the Pare Mountains and Kilimanjaro beyond.
The camp’s strap-line, a view with a lodge, isn’t wrong: you can see for miles and
miles, a shifting panorama that changes with sunlight and clouds, dawn and dusk, dry
weather and wet. And its design, with the eye on the eco, means the lodge blurs nicely
with the bush. It’s incidental to the view which is how it ought to be; not the other way
around. You’re reminded who got here first, and that’s a good thing.
Tired and dirty (grease on hands that had been inside an engine despite not having the
faintest idea what to do when they got there), we tipped from our (Bloody) Car, Daughter,
Husband and I and into a the warm embrace of lodge staff who pressed drinks on us
and ferried us and our not inconsiderable amount of clobber to our rooms, a double
storey rondavel with walls of canvas and balconies suspended above that precipitous
Our evening was exactly what the doctor ordered. Hot, hot showers, lathering soap and
shampoo cleverly decanted into reusable bottles, a much greener though admittedly
less nickable alternative than dozens of tiny throwaways (who doesn’t steal all the hotel
toiletries? Husband packs them before I’ve unpacked). I was particularly enamoured of
the jugs in lieu of plastic water bottles. God, I hate plastic water bottles, strewn all over
the country... The space was huge, the bed vast, the reading lamps precisely arranged
so that the light was bright and accessible, none of that ‘bags me not get out of bed to
turn the lights off’ malarkey.
Over a pre-supper beer I asked Iain what his vision for the place was. Value for money
and family affordability. A father himself, he knows how jolly expensive it is to take the
team on holiday. Lions Bluff mostly markets to smaller tour operators and residents of
East Africa whose overseas friends also get resident rates. He’s big on staff training
and keen to promote them as ‘knowledgeable and friendly’, and it showed. Dinner was
a simple affair under the stars but it was flavoursome, plentiful and hot, just what Iain’s
aiming for, ‘fresh and consistent’. A lot of produce is sourced locally. The soup was
accompanied by warm homemade rolls, the lamb succulent, the chocolate mousse
sinfully delicious. Wine by the glass was fairly priced and drinkable. Wine by the glass
isn’t always either of those things.
We admired the stars. We watched the campfire. We congratulated ourselves on getting
there and, especially, on Fate’s hand in our arrival time and the encounter with the
leopard, and we went to bed content.
As I was about to clamber into my own bed, Daughter came scrambling up the stairs
from her room. ‘Mum’, she said, eyes bright and wide so that I imagined there had been
another extraordinary wildlife sighting, ‘there’s a HOT WATER bottle in my bed’. And
sure enough, when I peeled back my covers to inspect, there, neatly tucked between
pure cotton sheets and cocooned in the knitted sleeves of my youth, was a hottie of my
own. I slept like a baby – mercifully no nightmarish breakdowns, but disappointingly not
even the grunt of a lion to rouse me; the rocky outcrops around the bluff are breeding
grounds for Tsavo’s famous lions.
We breakfasted with that startling view and the best cup of coffee I’d had in months.
And then we packed up and piled back into the (Bloody) Car.
And broke down 45 minutes later ...
What to Do
Lions Bluff offers masses to do, if you can tear yourself away from the view.
Because it’s outside national park boundaries, you can enjoy day and night
drives. It offers unrivalled birdwatching and, as it’s close to the cloud forests of
the Taita Hills, superb hiking. You can join a World War I battlefield tour. Lake
Jipe and Challa are on your doorstep as well as unique Grogan’s Castle and
its attendant history. Proximity to Tsavo means easy access to the Shetani
Lava Flows, Mzima Springs, the Chyulus and Ngulia’s Rhino Sanctuary.
How to get there
From Voi, head down the new tarmac road towards Taveta. After Mwatate
village, 22 kms from Voi, drive a further 25 kms on reasonable dirt. On your
left, signposted is LUMO Sanctuary. From Moshi, from the Taveta border drive
70 kms to Makatau, 10 kms further the sanctuary is on your right. This is just
about to be tarred. For upcountry residents a scenic alternative is to enter
Tsavo West at Mtito and exit at Maktau just 10 kms from LUMO Sanctuary.
Detailed directions are on the Web Site.
Best Times to Go: Year round, as it’s easily accessible and the view changes
as does water, grazing and the wildlife. From 1st May until the end of June,
Lions Bluff is joining forces with Sand Island Beach on the South Coast to
offer a great 4/5/6 package. See details on page 26.
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