Kipalo Hills, Mbulia Conservancy
The slog to and from the coast can be just that … a long slog. Particularly with children. Nevertheless, I prefer to drive over taking the plane – it’s much cheaper, for one, but it can also be an incredible road trip. We usually add one or two nights to and from Nairobi – ideally at a half-way point.
A year ago, we stayed at Kipalo Hills on our return to Nairobi. Its location close to Voi means that it isn’t quite halfway back to Nairobi, but it was surely one of the more memorable places at which we’ve stayed.
From our starting point in Kilifi, we drove north to Malindi, and then took the fast, empty and newly-tarmacked road to Sala Gate on the edge of Tsavo East. From there, it’s a beautiful drive along the Galana River to the Manyani gate on the Mombasa Road. Kipalo Hills is an approximately 40-minute drive from the gate back towards Voi.
It’s a beautiful, rugged drive to the lodge itself, which is situated on the slopes of a hill with commanding views towards the Ngulia Hills and Mbulia Conservancy. As a place to stay after a relaxed week at the coast, it was ideal. The lodge was luxurious enough to feel like we were still very much on holiday – the family tent was exceptionally spacious – and a welcoming group staying at the lodge added to the experience.
Very much part of the appeal is the swimming pool with a view, and we enjoyed our sundowner nibbles on the rockery nearby. Sadly, we didn’t take part in any activities for time was short and we wanted to hotfoot it back to Nairobi the following morning. But guests have access to both Tsavo East and West, and can also go fly camping along the Galana or Tsavo rivers.
Its rack rates are now at the higher end, but they do sometimes make special holiday season offers. Until the end of this year, full-board is Ksh 16,000 pp (low season price), sharing, or Ksh 18,000 per single. Children under six go free. From 2022, FB starts at Ksh 18,500 pp sharing, or Ksh 20,700 for a single.
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About the Author
I'm a former travel magazine editor, focused on Kenya, before which I covered news in Africa and beyond. These days, I travel with my kids.