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Experiencing the wild in the ‘Born Free’ country

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Updated Thursday, March 4th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Maseme Machuka

After a five-hour drive from Nairobi, we arrived at the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge in Samburu.

This is the "born free" country, where the glories of nature are concentrated in this semi-desert oasis of Shaba National Reserve. We were quickly ushered into the lodge with a glass of fresh juice and sweet smelling cool face towels.

This is the same lodge that in 1998 hosted the cast and crew of the film, Born Free, a true life-story of George and Joy Adamson. I could feel the excitement run down my spine, just being at the same location. We were shown our rooms, all chalet style, tastefully furnished with private balconies opening to a view of the Ewaso Nyiro River.

After a shower, we were back to the Boma (a separate set in the wild scenic area) where we had dinner. I’m told this is the area set aside for VIPs and those on honeymoon. Although I was not in any of the categories above, I was determined to enjoy to the maximum.

Sarova Shaba Lodge

As we walked in a single file to the Boma, I was reminded of the nature walks we had as teenagers. A sense of vulnerability that only comes with being in the wild.

The place is decorated with traditional Samburu fabrics, beads and handicrafts. On the menu are buffets of African, Asian and European dishes. On hand are Samburu traditional dancers to help while away the evening.

Back in the rooms, the fountain cutting through the lodge lulled us to easy slumber. Come next morning, unlike the hullabaloo of the city life, we were woken up to the chirps of crickets, blended with the endless rod of the waters cascading down the well-manicured and traditionally maintained lawns. As if in a competition, the high-pitched chattering of monkeys filled the air.

The lodge is a mix of modernity and tradition. Its roof is uniquely thatched with Samburu grass, exhibiting the native’s house making skills. The wood, the stone and the grass all bespeak tradition.

The lodge is set in the middle of a desert of volcanic earth in an area punctuated by rocks, characterising Kenya’s best holiday destination. Described by many as Kenya's best kept secret, Sarova Shaba Game Lodge is, in the words of some, a jewel in the North.

Arid region

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