A Night at the Kiboko Luxury Camp

Having spent the last few weekends roughing it somewhat in Amboseli and the Mau Eburu Forest, my girlfriend and I decided to treat ourselves. We left the tent at home and headed to Naivasha for a night at the Kiboko Luxury Camp.

This is the relatively new development on the grounds of the Lake Naivasha Country Club, obscured by the scrub and acacias that line the lakeshore. A narrow track winds across the Country Club’s sweeping lawns, and leads to an elevated walkway at the camp’s entrance. Here we were received by a rather unusual welcome party – a couple of giraffes and an old camel. The camel, we later found out, had retired from his duties, and now spends his days happily trimming the club’s exquisite lawns.

We made our way along the walkway towards the reception, where we were handed a refreshing towel and a glass of fresh watermelon juice. The reception leads to a long terrace with a view out towards the lake on one side, and the fine dining restaurant and lounge on the other. Beyond the mess tent, the walkway snakes between the acacias towards the rooms – eight luxury tents on stilts, each facing the lake.

The camp is owned by Sun Africa Hotels – a chain with a collection of hotels across East Africa, including the Keekorok Lodge in the Mara, Lake Baringo Club, Sun Africa Beach Resort in Mombasa, and Sovereign Suites along Limuru Road in Nairobi. Constructed in 2013, the Kiboko Luxury Camp was the first luxury tented camp opened on the shores of Lake Naivasha. Sun Africa Hotels also run the adjoining Lake Naivasha Country Club, which in the late 1930s was the only hotel on the lake.

Once we’d settled in, we sat down for lunch in the restaurant with the camp’s Food and Beverage Manager, Kamal Kant. Kamal took us through the brief history of the camp, which was surprisingly eventful given that it has only been open for a few years. When it was first built, all eight rooms were set out in a single row near the water’s edge. But over the years the rise in the water level weakened the structures of four of the tents, which were then rebuilt in a second row behind the other four. The camp now seems to have struck the right balance between staying dry and being as close to the water’s edge as possible.

The proximity to the water allows for a great view of the lake’s abundant animal and birdlife. As we buttered our bread rolls in the restaurant, a couple of fish eagles sat atop the skeletal trunk of a drowned acacia, and a goliath heron waded in the shallows. By the jetty in the distance, a large hippo lay half submerged, exposing his pink belly as he sunned himself.

Our bread rolls, by the way, were warm and fresh from the bakery at the Country Club. They complemented very well my creamy tomato soup, which preceded a hearty grilled tilapia in a garlic butter sauce, with sides of roast potatoes and buttered vegetables. Chef Carol prepared a special vegetarian meal for Gabie: a yellow lentil curry with rice and masala paneer.

Feeling the size of that hippo, we waddled across the walkway to our room. Our en-suite tent was smartly furnished, with a large four-poster bed in the centre, surrounded by splashes of browns, blues and burnt orange in the carpet and furniture. At the base of the bed were a couple of easy chairs, and a widescreen TV.

We relaxed on our private terrace, but as so often happens on the lake, the weather quickly turned and it started to rain. I was secretly happy about this, as it gave me an excuse to head over to the Country Club to watch the Arsenal vs Bournemouth game. It also gave me the chance to explore the club a little bit. I was glad to see that Sun Africa had spruced the place up since I last visited in 2013. I watched the game in the Tavern lounge, with its huge mural of Lake Naivasha and Mount Longonot opposite the bar. Satisfied with the result, I made my way across the lawn to the camp for dinner – which, like lunch, was superb.

After a night listening to hippos splashing in the water beneath the tent, and zebras doing their best donkey impressions, we spent the morning on a boat exploring the lake. We chugged past my old yacht club, large flocks of cormorants and pelicans, and pods of hippos along the shore of Crescent Island.

For rates, bookings and more information about the Kiboko Luxury Camp, and the other camps, lodges and hotels in the Sun African Hotels collection, visit their website, www.sunafricahotels.com, call +254 (0)703048000, or pop into their office off School Lane, Westlands.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation