We like driving to the coast – driving back, not so much. Leaving Nairobi, we’re filled with anticipation, our car is fairly clean, and the kids haven’t yet broken out into World War Three. The return journey is a different story – a sand-filled car, food that’s starting to smell, and some seriously disgruntled kids.
While we did hit it straight in our childless days, experience has taught us that a well-timed break makes the journey a little easier to endure, and we have taken some interesting detours off road that make it an adventure in its own right.
Time, on this occasion, was short, however, and we decided to take the journey as directly as possible. There are a few options for overnighting on the route (Kamboyo in Tsavo West – lovely, but self-catering; Nyika Bird Sanctuary – inexpensive with rustic charm, and again self-catering; Voi Wildlife Lodge – big, lacking in soul; Hunters Lodge – a bit too close to Nairobi on the route down with unimpressive food).
This time, we settled on Ngutuni Lodge. It’s a big, rambling lodge, built in the old double-decker style overlooking a watering hole in a private conservancy. In dry season, you might see herds of elephant – but in the wet season, the pickings are slimmer.
Since our last visit, the hotel has been much improved with the addition of a swimming pool, for it was blisteringly hot as we clambered hot and dusty out of car. The rooms are fine and have their own private verandahs, facing, too, towards the watering hole. What it lacks is a central living room area, with the large dining room and platform over the watering hole doubling up as an area for relaxation.
The hotel has been built with tour groups in mind, one suspects, and in pre-Covid times would have played host to safari-goers from overseas. But this time it was quiet, probably for the best when in a moment of desperation we allowed our three children to huddle behind their devices over an early (and quite tasty) dinner.
Non-stop, it takes around between five to six hours to reach the lodge from Nairobi, and is a handy stop-off for both the north and south coast. Cost-wise, it doesn’t break the bank – for a family of five, we paid 22,000 Ksh for B&B.
Tel: 0733 311 141 (for the main office in Mombasa)
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.