Today’s review: Serena Hotels, Kilaguni Resort by Amakove Wala
Finally got round to doing this. I’ve been going through a tough time lately. Needed a break as well as it being a long holiday for the troop, I wanted to take them out too. I was once approached by someone from Serena Hotels to sample out their Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo West National Park.
To be honest, I never had the time. I also couldn’t completely figure out where Tsavo West was. So I shelved her card somewhere in my collections of calling cards and forgot about it.
Then I got a personal invitation from Kenya Wildlife Service to attend the #worldrangersday2022 celebrations. I said yes even before getting the details. So when the official invitation arrived on email, I found out is was in Manyani. Like where the heck is Manyani! I knew it for the “infamous” prison. I asked and was told it is near Tsavo West. Bingo! How else could the stars have aligned! The rest as they say, is this history that I am writing.
Getting to Kilaguni. You can use road (self-drive, chauffeured, public means etc) and turn off at Mtito Andei. The gate is 100M off the turn. Google maps is accurate to the Tee. Secondly, you can use the intercounty SGR and stop at either Mtito Andei or Manyani where you’ll need a separate pick up by road to the hotel. The hotel has personalised pickup services. Or if you have a lot of money to spend, you can get a chartered flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi or Moi International Airport in Mombasa straight to Kilaguni Airstrip which is right outside the hotel. I opted to drive as I love driving and I love being in control of many things including my movements. Took as a good solid 5 hours for a 257km journey. The trucks on Mombasa Road A109 slow down the journey. Kenya National Highways Authority also needs to clearly name the townships along Mombasa Road. I am a frequent user of A104 and all the towns are labelled.
Anyways, we got to the KWS Mtito Andei Gate at 2015hrs. The troop were super tired by then. Now the hotel forgot to alert the gate that we were coming since the park closes at 6pm. But a couple of calls later, we got the clear to drive in. The hotel is 32km from the main gate. A straightforward road but quite corrugated. I eventually had the throttle knob of my car give way. If you don’t have a good suspension, the road can give your car a nice beating.
Arrived hungry and tired and dusty to a very warm welcome by the hotel. They were ready for us and we were more than ready for food, a hot shower and a good sleep! When we got to the dining room, the first thing we noticed were the many elephants drinking from the watering hole right outside the dining area! The sight simply wiped out any fatigue and hunger as we marvelled at the beauty of nature. This was my most favourite part of my stay. I could gaze at animals for hours!
We got to our rooms. I had mine while Dude, my son, had his own and the Triple Zs shared one. All the rooms had balconies that faced the watering hole. No TVs anywhere in the hotel. The idea was that you commune with nature. Also reduces the noise levels since we were in a park. The hotel has strong open WiFi all over the facility. So live recording was the order of the day for me.
The meals were all buffet. We were on full board. At some point you get tired of buffet but because we had so many activities lined up, this was a small price to pay. I remember the troop getting hungry 2 hours after dinner and they would go back for second helpings of dessert. The amount of sugar they took! The food was well done. What stood out for me was how well they took care of the guides abs drivers of other tourists. We all dined in the same hall from the same buffet. Not all hotels do this.
They have this list where you check if you wanted to be woken up to see a certain animal especially the big cats. Unfortunately, none came around in the nights that I checked. The hotel has an in-house naturalist Anthony Keli who was very knowledgeable in matters conservation. They have game drives with him at an extra cost. I opted to use the KWS rangers since I was also a guest of KWS.
Other amenities that the hotel has are bikes for cycling in the open ground. The ground has a volleyball and football pitch. Just watch out for the baboons. You’ll have the marabou storks spectating too. Of course there is the swimming pool and if you want a bit of indulgence after a hard day looking for game, there is a spa treatment available. The grounds are also very well manicured and too bad I forgot to carry my book to read under rhe trees.
I noticed the bar too. A natural rock woven into the architecture of the hotel.
All the cars are washed daily. The dust in the park can be crazy. Just remember to tip the guys.
Will I be back? Oh yes! With adult company this time around and hopefully by air. Plus I need to experience the spa. I also haven’t exhausted Touring the park. We only managed to visit Mzima Springs, Shetani Lava, Chaimo hills and the Rhino Sanctuary. I have already reviewed these. We didn’t do much of a game drive because we got to see most of the animals at the watering hole. August is also a very dry month and makes it harder to view wildlife since they go far and wide seeking greener pastures.
There are a couple more lodges within the game park but for me, Kilaguni stood out for their service (at some point we were only two black families in the fully booked hotel but we were treated the same way as foreigners) and of course, the views from the watering hole!
P/S they are Eco Rated by ECOTOURISM KENYA and I can confidently report that they practice what they preach on sustainabilit.
Also an aside to the hotel: do create separate social media pages (at least on FB) for your outlets. Had to lump all my reviews on the same global page. Gets lost with the rest. Ahsante. Their contact is +254 734 699866
Amakove rating: 9/10. 1 mark lost because they forgot we were coming. 9 marks for the animals!