As a traveler, nothing excites me more than those first days in a new country or city. However, certain destinations have impressed me so much that I find myself returning to a known place to further explore or to re-live my prior travels. After multiple visits, Kenya has entered that realm. The amazing wildlife, the stunning countryside and the attentive service create a perfect atmosphere for anyone who loves to relax and connect with the outdoors. On my most recent trip to Kenya in March, I stayed with family at Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli National Park. As with prior lodgings in this country, Ol Tukai did not disappoint.
Amboseli is a 3-4 hour drive south of Nairobi through hills and occasional small towns. Once you turn off the Mombasa road, the periodic batches of restaurants and fruit stands disappear and give way to Maasai warriors in the savannah. Twenty minutes after clearing park security, we arrived at an island of trees in the grassland where accommodations are located.
The lodges at Ol Tukai are split into a few rooms apiece. Ours was very tastefully decorated with local art and was immaculately clean. The shower has a large window, which allows natural light to flood the bathroom. No need to worry about inquiring eyes, though; a wall outside the shower ensures that only monkeys and birds can peep. When we opened the door to our room, Mt. Kilimanjaro stared down at us.
After our first evening game drive with elephants dominating the landscapes, we had a sundowner in Ol Tukai’s Elephant Bar. I was in a pretty good place, with the bar’s beautiful chandelier to one side, mountains to the other and a cold Tusker in hand. The staff brought us an array of bar snacks (“tastings”) as soon as we sat down.
The grounds of Ol Tukai are filled with vervet monkeys. The lodge warns guests against feeding these animals, as they can turn aggressive when food is in play. In order to keep the monkeys away from diners, a smiling Maasai armed with a slingshot patrols the outside tables. No matter how many precautions are taken, the monkeys tend to find the odd chip or leftover.
With the animals in the shade during the warmer hours of the day, guests can hang out at the pool in between game drives. As I have trouble sitting still, I spent more time playing ping pong. When a family with children was near the pool, Ol Tukai was nice enough to lend a staff member to play with the kids.
We were exceedingly pleased with all aspects of our stay and highly recommend Ol Tukai for anyone visiting Kenya. The staff was very professional and helpful, especially when my wife tried to befriend a monkey and it bounded into our room.
We arranged the “Road Package” with Ol Tukai, which included pick-up in Nairobi, transfer to and from Ol Tukai, lodging, meals and drop-off at the Nairobi airport. Most importantly, the package included two game drives per day with a very knowledgeable guide. Our guide, John, was excellent at spotting and identifying the animals and bird life as we drove around the park. If you’re headed to Amboseli, you can book Ol Tukai’s website here (affiliate link).