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Tented camp at crater's edge offers perfect holiday getaway

Crater Lake Camp and Game Sanctuary in Naivasha.

The quintessential resort that gives new meaning to serenity and tranquillity has a home in Crater Lake, Naivasha.

A perfect resort to unwind and immerse yourself into the magnificent marvels of nature where everything is attuned to sequence with God’s handiwork.

Crater Lake Camp and Game Sanctuary in Naivasha, as its popularly known as a green soda lake at the bottom of an extinct volcano on the western side of Lake Naivasha and north of the village of Kongoni, with many trails including one for hikers along the steep but diminutive crater rim.

The magnificent facility is located 10 kilometres from Naivasha partly over a very dusty dirt road and about 90 kilometres from Nairobi town.

The facility is one of the many jewels under Sovereign Group that sits on 10,000 acres and houses the famous hilltop grave where Happy Valley’s tragic heroine, Lady Diana Delamere, is buried with her last two husbands, Gilbert Colvile and Thomas Delamere.

This magical lakeside camp is the perfect stopover en- route to the Nakuru and the Masai Mara game parks, and it’s a romantic getaway by itself.

“Crater Lake offers the best exotic treat for those that want to enjoy nature and the best there is in the hospitality industry,” says General Manager John Kimani.

Kimani says the hotel has been in business since 1979 with a concept to accommodate high-end guests from the world over keen on having the Kenyan experience.

A section of Crater Lake Camp, Naivasha. [Jacob Ng'etich, Standard]

With the volatility in the hospitality industry, Kimani admits that the high charges the hotel was levying were not sustainable in the long run.  Crater Lake had to be imaginative by designing a way to cast the net wider and attract clients from across all social strata. 

“The business model was not selling, and we had to tweak it to stay afloat in the cutthroat industry.  The clientele portfolio had plummeted, and we had to re-organize our packages to attract both locals and international visitors,” he says.

He says that they could hardly accommodate a high number of guests as they were charging about Sh35, 000 for a full board stay per night. 

Today, Crater Lake Camp and Game Sanctuary have grown to be the preferred premier destination for holidays, meetings, team buildings and retreats, and family get-togethers just to mention but a few.

The hotel has 15 rooms out of which seven are tented camps.  The remaining eight rooms are family-style rooms. The tents are along the lakefront and all have balconies enjoying uninterrupted views of the volcanic lake.

A customer staying at the facility pays an average fee of Sh14, 000 per night. The charges include bed and breakfast.

Stand-alone lodge at Crater Lake Camp, Naivasha. [Jacob Ng'etich, Standard]

One of the standout features of Crater Lake is that it’s home to an array of colourful birds- which makes it an ideal destination for bird watchers. The surrounding forests and plains have plenty of game both common and rare.

Crater Lake Camp and Game Sanctuary nature trails lead through breathtaking flora and fauna around the crater with plenty of wildlife including over 170 species of birds.  Besides the impressive 170 bird species recorded here, giraffes, zebras and other plains wildlife are also regular residents. The tiny jade-green Crater Lake is held in high regard by the local Masai, who even believe its water helps soothe ailing cattle. The volcanic crater is also home to Colobus monkeys and flamingos.

For the truly intrepid, there are the mysterious ‘Caves of God’ in the golden wheatfields of Ndabibi, reputed to be an inspiration for H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quartermain. Mr Kimani says that Crater Lake Camp and Game Sanctuary is great fun to explore on foot independently or with a local guide. 

While walking through the conservancy you can spot gazelle, giraffe, zebra, eland, baboon and black and white colobus monkeys – just to name a few. You can also take the short walk to the rim of the beautiful volcanic crater with views down to the emerald-green lake in the crater. 

Large populations of flamingoes on the lake are often spotted on the lake depending on the levels of water. Some of the other birds available at Crate Lake include Little Grebes, Cape Teal and Ruff’s, Great White Pelican, Whiskered Tern, Maribou, Grey and Black-headed Heron, African Fish Eagle, Yellow-billed Storks, Pied Avocets, Egyptian Geese among others.

Crater Lake, Naivasha. [Jacob Ng'etich, Standard]

Surrounding a beautiful volcanic crater lake fringed with acacias, this small sanctuary has many trails, including one for hikers along the steep but diminutive crater rim. Leopards, servals, caracals and aardvarks have also been spotted but are extremely elusive – the night drives on offer are your best bet. Sadly, the lone hippo that once lived here has moved on. 

Despite the Covid-19 economy knob-downs, the facility recorded impressive occupancy during the safari rally held in Nakuru county last year.

“We are looking forward to seeing business pick up in the hotel business with the upcoming global diadem including the world’s most gruelling motorsport dubbed Safari Rally.  We look forward to a day when the potential that exists in the tourism business in Naivasha will fully be tapped.” Observes Kimani.