Tranquil nature in Samburu
By Harold Ayodo
Panoramic views and rare wild animals are fast attracting honeymooners to the dramatic Samburu National Reserve.
Chartered planes with newly weds on board touch down at the Samburu Oryx Airstrip, before a waiting Land Cruiser drives them to the nearby Samburu Sopa Lodge.
Samburu dancers clad in traditional regalia sing and dance passionately at the reception as the guests are ushered in. Our tour of Samburu National Reserve offered answers as to why an increasing number of newly weds embrace it as an exclusive destination.
We checked into the Samburu Sopa Lodge shortly after 3pm after a six-hour road trip from Nairobi.
The roads are relatively good through Isiolo to Archers Post where we branched into the reserve through a murram road.
We got into the conservation area using the main Archer’s Post gate and drove about 18 kilometres to the lodge.
Set like a traditional Samburu homestead with cottages on the left and right wing, the restaurant bar and lobby are open for scenic views of nature.
Wild animals troop to quench their thirst at a water point less than 200 metres away from where guests marvel as they enjoy sumptuous meals at the restaurant.
The Mathew Ranges and the peak of Mount Kenya are among the natural attractions here.
No television sets are available adding to the tranquillity of the premises. The only entertainment is live performances by traditional Samburu dancers, shortly after dinner.
Sopa Lodges Sales and Marketing Manager Alfred Kaire says domestic and foreign guests prefer the secluded environment.
"Many do not want the usual music they are accustomed to in most urban areas … we try to be as natural as possible," Kaire says.
According to Kaire, the construction, set up and services offered at the premise is a cocktail of the Samburu tradition and modernity.
"We serve international cuisines and also have Samburu traditional dishes — mainly meat and milk — prepared on request," says Fred Suiyanka, Samburu Sopa Lodge manager.
There are also opportunities to visit and spend time with the Samburu in their traditional homesteads, less than 100 metres from the national reserve.
"It is encouraging that newly weds are coming to Samburu thanks to the construction of the main road," Suiyanka says.
To this effect, the lodge has now designed a special package to cater for the newly weds.
"We give chocolates, cookies, fresh flowers, a bottle of wine and king size cosy beds to the couples who prefer kicking off their union in the wild," he says.
A honeymoon is an adventure here. A game drive at dawn will be a special treat from nature and so will be the bush dinners.
The morning drives are a date with the rare 50 wild animals that include gerenuk, gravy zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, besia oryx, grater and the lesser Kudu. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, buffalos, waterbucks, impalas and assorted species of birds are also found here.
Suiyanka says honeymooners are pampered to ensure they start off their union on a right footing.
"We are flexible and we can even offer the lodge as a wedding venue on request … our aim is to ensure the occasions can be set in the wild or however the couple likes," Suiyanka says.
According to professionals in the hospitality sub sector, Kenya is marketed as the honeymoon destination of choice in Europe, especially in Spain.
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