My previous articles on Kenya traced my Micato Safari adventure which began with a layover in Nairobi followed by a bush plane transfer to Maasai Mara. Next on the itinerary – a bush plane flight northeast to Nanyuki in central Kenya. Known as the gateway to three-million-year-old, Mount Kenya, and the wilderness of Mount Kenya National Park, Nanyuki is also home to the famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club — Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway stayed here.
With magnificent views of Mount Kenya, the Fairmont offers 110 luxuriously appointed rooms set in over 100 acres of landscaped gardens. This more traditional, and historical inspired property is a nice compliment to the more rustic/luxury tented camps or boutique lodge experiences found in other parts of the country. The Safari Club, with its central low rise main building, is ringed by individual quaint cottages that offer more privacy. There are a variety of dining options including private al fresco dining experiences; open-kitchen restaurant, Colobus; or cozy wood paneled bar, Zebar. A wide range of services and amenities are offered from rigorous to relaxing – golf, trout fishing, spa, horseback riding, and mountain ascents, which can be combined with visits to local game reserves to continue that Kenya safari experience.
Nestled in the lush foothills of Mount Kenya, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is uniquely located right on the Equator, stretching into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. We were welcomed on property with an Equator Ceremony, accompanied by local Kikuyu songs and dance (and an equatorial demonstration that proves water does indeed run down the drain clockwise in the Northern side, and counterclockwise on the Southern side).
Plan to stay a few days at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club because there are plenty of excursions within a short driving distance to keep you busy. Safaris can be exhausting with early morning game drives and bush flights therefore you might want to also put a visit to the pool or the spa on your itinerary if you need a little down time or pampering.
Here are a few other day trips and experiences to enjoy in the Mount Kenya area:
Visit the animal orphanage, just a short walk from the hotel, for an opportunity to learn more about endangered wildlife including the Mountain Bongo, one of the largest forest antelopes known for its striking reddish-brown coat, distinctive white and yellow stripe markings, and spiraling antlers. The orphanage, located within the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, is also home to injured, neglected, abused, or frightened wild animals that are tended to with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. Rare white zebras are safe from extinction due to the orphanage’s active breeding and release program. Motivating local youth to become future conservationists is another goal of the organization, hosting over 10,000 students annually giving them one to one contact with wildlife. A stroll through the orphanage will put you up close and personal with a variety of species roaming free including friendly warthogs, tortoises, and llamas.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy:
A safari drive through this 90,000-acre ranch will give you the chance to gaze upon the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. The conservancy’s goal is to ensure the protection of existing rhino, elephant, and other wildlife that call this landscape home. And, it is the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy also supports the people living around its borders to ensure that wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare, and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary:
This sanctuary was established as an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the Jane Goodall Institute to provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from Western and Central Africa. Many were confiscated from cramped and unnatural living conditions and arrive with injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. Some arrive with broken bones or bullet wounds and others are psychologically traumatized after witnessing the slaughter of their family members. At Sweetwaters, they are nursed back to health and coached to relearn the many skills necessary to survive in the wild like hunting, eating leaves off a tree, or building a sleeping nest. Some must learn to shed human behaviors such as walking upright. During your visit you will have the chance to watch the chimps as they explore, climb, socialize, and learn to be chimpanzees all over again.
I can’t forget to mention these adorable “domesticated” animals which call the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club their home. Tusker and Grammy, Canine Ambassadors, who come from a local guide dog association, don’t actually live at the hotel day and night. They are cared for by a staff member who brings them home in the evening and handles all their vet care. These precious pups take their role of welcoming guests very seriously and are available for a leisurely walk around the property.
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