“The Emakoko”:http://www.emakoko.com is situated just outside Nairobi National Park, and was designed and built four years ago by Anthony and Emma Childs who had previously managed a number of exclusive Kenyan lodges. The National Park is on the boundary of the city and is in complete contrast to many other African safari lodges which are in the middle of no where. We stayed for two nights prior to a trip around Ethiopia.
The drive from the National Park entrance took around 30 minutes with the final part of the journey on very rough tracks which as our guide, Peter told us, provided a ‘free African massage’.
A short wooden foot bridge across a dry river bed led to the main building with reception area, gift shop, loos, lounge and open sided dining area overlooking the Mbagathi river. Our room (1) was a huge, long affair with semi circles at the ends (known as a rondavel) and wooden beams. It had a large double bed and mosquito net although Nairobi is non-malarial. A stone brick chimney breast was at one end and we suspect fires are lit in the winter. The practical painted concrete floor was covered with beige rugs and there was a sofa, coffee table, desk and chair. The bathroom, at the opposite end to the fire, was absolutely huge with shower, double sinks and lots of space for toiletries. A free standing oval bath at the window allowed you to get clean and admire the views. A covered wooden balcony and two directors’ chairs overlooked the river. A good stone path led down to a small swimming pool with loungers, BBQ and open fire, although this wasn’t lit during our stay. The wardrobe contained safe, torch, mosquito repellant, white cotton robes, slippers and hairdryer. Wi-fi was available all over the place.
We were so pleased we’d been allocated lodge 1 which was a short, easy walk from the main building Of the remaining nine lodges four were further along a path on the same level as ours, but five were accessed via a steep set of uneven steps which must be a nightmare to navigate in the dark. If you ever decide to stay at Emakoko make a point of asking for lodge 1.
We were on an all inclusive package and although there was no choice at mealtimes (unless you had dietary restrictions), we enjoyed every single dish. Breakfast, available from 9am after morning game drives, consisted of serve yourself fruit, yoghurts and cereals with hot breakfasts being cooked to order. Lunch at 1pm was a light, but three-course, affair: one day we enjoyed a starter of a cucumber and yoghurt shot with lots of garlic accompanied by onion focaccia bread followed by mozzarella stuffed chicken with salad and grilled pineapple for pudding. Dinner at 8pm was also a three course affair: our favourite being smoked salmon on a pastry base, fillet of beef in a mushroom sauce with snow peas and mashed potato and a pudding of crème caramel. We liked the way meals were served, a relatively modest portion to start with, with additional food offered part way through. Bearing in mind how many meals and courses we were eating each day, we never needed seconds.
Drinks were also included and generously supplied and we loved their signature cocktail – a Dawa made by ‘Dr Lawrence’ the barman: it was similar to the Brazilian Caipirinha but with honey instead of sugar and the addition of a red chilli for an additional kick.
The first game drive of the day started at 6.30am, after being brought coffee and biscuits at 6am. The second was at 4.30pm following afternoon tea – we were there on Boxing Day and a traditional English Christmas cake was available. On our three drives we managed to see lion, impala, hartebeest, African hare, Cory bustard, ostrich and a couple of hippo ears as they kept dipping into and out of the water. And after a long search, and albeit at distance, 10 black rhino. The lodge wasn’t full and so we didn’t have to share game drives with other guests. What we found very strange, was being in a game park, yet being able to see the tall Nairobi buildings on the skyline.
If you’re flying in or out of Nairobi, I’d highly recommend Emakoko for a couple of nights.