Accomodation and driving in Meru NP

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Jan 11th, 2006, 08:46 PM
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Accomodation and driving in Meru NP

I've seen one post about Elsa's Kopje in Meru (thanks Patty for the link and SusanLynne for the report if you are still reading this forum) but nothing much else. Anyone have the lowdown on Meru NP's accomodation options (I know what they are but have no idea of what they are like)and how easy/difficult it is to drive there (we'd be taking our own transport and driver)? Was a little worried to read about roads being washed away on another post, but I guess that is not unusual in Kenya and the weather should be fairly dry by mid-December?

All and any info much appreciated.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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I'll be going to Kenya in 6 days and have three nights booked at Elsa's Kjope. I'll let you know when I get back.

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Jan 12th, 2006, 05:22 PM
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Hi Cheryl,
Thanks; I think Elsa's looks pretty fantastic and a wonderful place for cats (see screen name if puzzled) but other accomodation is a bit of a mystery. Leopard Rock Lodge may well be a nice place but the the pictures at the bottom of this page on its Web site raised the fur on MY back a bit...
http://www.leopardmico.com/accomodation.html
.. looks like a place for dog lovers to me ; )

If Elsa's is booked up is that our only choice?

A favour .. would really appreciate it if you could ask the staff at Elsa's about the roads within the park in mid-December. They are the people who will know best and I doubt they post here.

Really look forward to hearing from you and hope you have a fantastic trip - your plans sound great.
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Jan 13th, 2006, 08:46 AM
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Apologies but will keep this near the top for a few days and revive it later - I know it's not a regular stop but am hopeful someone who is a "fan" will stop by - in the meantime if I find anything revelatory nyself I will post here. In any case, it took a lot of effort from a lot of people to get Meru going again and my feeling is it deserves a thread to encourage people like me to drop their money there.
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Jan 15th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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Aside from campsites and KWS bandas, I believe Leopard Rock and Elsa's are the only accomodations at Meru. I know the clients that Jamal drove stayed at Leopard Rock, so perhaps you can email Serah and see if you can get in touch with them directly.

I'd be interested in what else you find too. Northern Kenya is high on my list for a visit next time. I was thinking of including Samburu, Matthews Range, Shaba, and Meru if logistically feasible. Are you still considering Samburu, Meru, as well as both Tsavos?
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Jan 15th, 2006, 04:40 PM
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Hi Patty
No, it's not going to work doing both Tsavo East and West plus the north - too rushed for our tastes; so we're currently thinking Tsavo East, Meru and Samburu, with a couple of one night stops along the way. Then save Tsavo West for next time, along with Amboseli and a first foray into Tanzania... but these are early days and I'm not wholly sure I can wait that long to go to Tsavo West!

For waht it's worth, from what I've come across so far in my research so far I think your planned itinerary should be perfectly feasible (obviously I've been looking at Lewa and the Matthews Range as places to visit while we are up there).. although I've noticed a lot of the places from Lewa up into the Matthews Range don't seem to allow outside vehicles on their properties.. part of the attraction for sure, but makes things a little more difficult if you are not flying.
While you are here, did you see the Leopard Rock Web site... what do you think the lobster and the guys at the bar in suits and gowns is all about? If you stayed there three nights would you be expected to pack three evening gowns!?! (couldn't wear the sameone every night!) Do they do dry cleaning in case your train is dragged through elephant dung?

My understanding was always that "dressing for dinner" on safari meant wearing a nice clean shirt and trousers - preferably pressed - and making sure the elephant dung was properly scraped and rinsed off your boots .... am I naive or is this place a mite pretentious?
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Jan 15th, 2006, 09:39 PM
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I did notice the suits/dresses and the 'formal dress recommended for dinner' comment on their website and thought that was funny. I wonder how many of their guests actually dress up? I have to say that we did see a few ladies in cocktail dresses and heels while dining at Finch Hattons (but no gentlemen in suits, much too hot there), though there were an equal number (myself included) in safari attire.

In addition to not allowing outside vehicles to conduct game drives, Lewa is only open seasonally (they were closed when we were there) but should be re-opened by mid-December, I think. If Lewa doesn't work out for you, and you're interested in some place nearby on your way to/from Samburu/Meru, you could consider El Karama Ranch. It's a private ranch with 5 cottages (the new ones should be finished by now) bordering the Uaso Nyiro, same river that runs through Samburu. The set up when we were there was basically self catered, but they do provide a cook and a ranch guide who accompanies all game drives and walks. You bring your own vehicle and provisions. It's a very low-key kind of place. If interested, you can read more about it on my trip report - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34719569
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Jan 16th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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Hello Fodorites,

I have been browsing through this site with fascination for some time now - this is great! As it appears is the case with many of you, I am an Africaholic. Several times I have thought to myself, "Oh, I'll just spend a couple of minutes looking at the Fodor's site," and literally two hours later, I'm still at it!

I have traveled to Africa seven times now since 2002 (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia) and have my next trip planned for April 2006 so that I can do the chimpanzee habituation program at Kibale.

Anyway, I did stay at Elsa's Kopje in October 2004 and wanted to share a portion of my journal with kimburu:

Our first stop was Loisaba; a private reserve of 61,000 acres in the Laikipia Plateau. We arrived to a lunch served by their swimming pool, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens. We were very fortunate to be joined by two greater kudu (antelope), who enjoyed grazing peacefully around us as we had lunch - which was delicious! I had another best sighting - a klipspringer, which is a relatively small antelope that spends most of its time in rocky areas. It had the most beautiful ears (black and white striped ears, while its body is brown) - none of the pictures I've ever seen have done the klipspringer justice! They also have shock absorber hooves (their hooves are softer than other antelope) that help them to navigate the rocks without slipping.

One overnight at Loisaba was in their Starbeds. We enjoyed a bush walk on our way to them from the main lodge. The Starbeds are the most incredible thing and are hosted by the local Samburu - who are so friendly! - and are rooms (more like freestanding cottages) that are "open" yet have a roof. They roll the beds out onto the open platform portion of the cottage, so that you sleep under the open sky. The beds are completely surrounded by mosquito netting and you're able to see the incredible sky of Kenya - so many stars you wouldn't believe it! The beds are incredibly comfortable - from the mattress to the thick duvet to the perfect pillows. I felt like I was sleeping in a cloud while watching the stars!

Our next stop was Elsa's Kopje, which is located in Meru National Park on a kopje (small hills with large exposed rocks - usually the habitat of hyrax, baboons, and leopards). Yet another five star location! They have nine (rooms) cottages, which are all very different - every single one of them has a very distinctive and amazing feel to it. I had the best shower there - the shower with a view! I swear there's nothing like showering with a view of the plains down below to the southeast - with giraffe, jackals, buffalo, gerenuk, impala, oryx and many other animals - the plains land there actually stretch 230 miles all the way to the Indian Ocean!

We had wonderful sundowners at Elsa's Kopje at the end of one of our game drives. They surprised us in the perfect spot with a beautiful view of the kopje itself with the Nyambene Hills behind it. Our special guests were a pride of ten lions. Yet another perfect sunset while enjoying the perfect bottle of red wine.

Our last stop was Lewa Downs Sanctuary at their safari camp (in the Laikipia region). Two more best sightings! Yesterday afternoon we spent watching a flock of about 50 crested cranes - absolutely beautiful birds. We enjoyed watching them display to their future mates - it was fascinating watching them extend their wings and making calls to impress - and we were certainly impressed!

On one early morning game drive, we were lucky to sight a female black rhino, who they have named Mawingo (Swahili for cloud). Black rhinos are browsers, which means that most of their diet consists of shrubs and trees, rather than the grasses that white rhinos (grazers) eat. We were close enough to her to see how she used her upper lip to grab at the acacia limbs - it was amazing! It was really special being that close to her knowing that there are so few black rhinos left in the wild.

Patty is correct - Lewa and Loisaba both are closed in April, May, and November.

I hope this helps.
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Jan 16th, 2006, 08:15 AM
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JustinaL
Thanks so much. That certainly does help! All of those sound like fantastic places; which is what I've previously heard about them. Elsa's (again) sounds very special. Lewa too, but unless the Thai baht goes crazy this year I'm going to have to budget my "special places" to one or two a trip - such difficult choices!!

Don't suppose you would want to dust off the rest of your journals and post some delayed trip reports? With reports of places like those you'd get some of the Afroholics here positively frothing - and probably be the indirect cause of serious damage to a few retirement funds too!
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Jan 16th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Patty
El Karama sounds really idyllic. I like the sound of it a lot. Will have to see if we can't squeeze a couple more days in ... or maybe change something ... and all those other places that El Karama is bracketed with in Laipkipia and Lewa Downs area... so NICE

Instead of helping to focus me, this thread is rapidly turning me into a an indecisive, whining little boy who wants all the desserts on the tray.. and now!!!

That said, it's great information and who knows where we'll end up with this trip... pity I will have to decide at some point (and pay for it!)
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Jan 16th, 2006, 09:07 AM
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You're welcome Kimburu. It certainly is difficult making choices when it comes to deciding where to go in Africa! You just have to go more than once.

I would love to dust off some of my old journals, but I'm afraid that I would bore everyone to tears.

What I will promise to do is post past experiences if anything specific comes up (such as in your case with Elsa's).

I will also post a trip report after my April trip as it seems that a few people have been inquiring about the chimpanzee habituation experience at Kibale.

My itinerary for this April is:
Arrive Entebbe, afternoon visit to Ngamba Island (no overnight and walk with the infants this time)...1 night Entebbe
Drive to Kibale (2 nights), chimpanzee habituation program
Drive to Queen Elizabeth (1 night), launch trip
Drive to Bwindi (3 nights), gorilla trek
Drive to Lake Mburo (1 night)
Return to Entebbe, flight to Nairobi (2 nights)
Drive to Lake Nakuru (1 night)
Drive to Mara (4 nights)
Return to Nairobi, fly home that evening

It will be interesting to see how things go with the rain; however, I can't wait!






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Jan 16th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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<Instead of helping to focus me, this thread is rapidly turning me into a an indecisive, whining little boy who wants all the desserts on the tray.. and now!!!>

Paul, that's what we're here for!

JustinaL,
Wow, 7 times since 2002! I'd be very interested to hear about your previous trip(s) to Uganda. I'll start another thread so I don't take this one too off topic.
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Jan 16th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Patty Kimburu
there's Meru Mulika lodge as well (a standard safari-group lodge)
since u've made a list of options.
Haven't been there for years...
aby
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Jan 16th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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aby,
I thought Meru Mulika was closed down?
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Jan 16th, 2006, 11:05 PM
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Patty
it could b.
i saw it still on accomodation lists on the web (maybe out of date? dinosaur era...)
like i said haven't been there for years
aby
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 05:14 PM
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kimburu,

A LOT (not just a bit, but significantly) delayed, but I've just finished organizing my photos since I've started using a digital camera.

If you are still interested in seeing any photos in Kenya (Elsa's, etc.), please keep in mind that these photos were taken prior to Fodorsville and what people really want to see!

There are just four photos in this slide show from Elsa's: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...y=-wv8x8d&Ux=0

I hope this helps in the planning of your upcoming safari.
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:51 AM
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Great pics.
Felt the same way when we were at Starbeds.
Thanks.
 
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:27 AM
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Great pics, Justina. I'm sure these will be helpful to many others.
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Mar 24th, 2006, 07:26 PM
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JustinaL ... thanks. These are great.

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