Set in the Taita Hills just within the park is this uniquely designed lodge. Honey-color rondavels with dark brown thatch roofs sit high above the ground on stilts and overlook a chain of small floodlighted water holes. You may feel you're in the middle of a fantasy, but this is real Africa—there is a lot of big game just outside your door. The entire lodge is on raised stilts, offering 24-hour game-viewing opportunity. After dark, when everyone is safely inside the resort, a wooden drawbridge is ceremoniously drawn up—suddenly it's no longer hobbits but Lord of the Rings. The en-suite round rooms are comfortably if basically furnished, but it's the experience you're here for, not the room decor, although the public areas are sumptuously decorated with rugs, batiks, and a number of authentic African artifacts. Request a top room or one over a water hole for a close-up encounter with elephants, buffalos, and lots of other game. Be sure to visit the underground viewing room at night, because you've a better chance of spotting nocturnal animals like civets, porcupine, and maybe even a leopard. The food is excellent with lots of fresh homegrown vegetables.
Tsavo West, Kenya