“ Address: Taita Hills Sanctuary / 00000 Tsavo / Kenya / Africa „
I visited this lodge on my wonderful honeymoon as well, and i have to agree with the previous reviewer about its quality and uniqueness.
On arrival we were taken to our rather quirky round room on stilts, and amazed at how cleverly designed they are to fit things in.
The bed was beautifully set out with fruit, wine etc, and you could perch on the edge of the bed and watch from the window with a perfect view of the watering hole.
The restaurant served lovely food, i think for me probably my best meal during the safari - and everything was fresh and hot and like always in Kenya, served with a smile! As you ate your meal you were also facing the watering hole, so were able to watch the elephants as they drank and fought - quite an amazing sight at only around 10 feet away!
One feature that all lodges in Kenya seemed to have was very nice bar areas - and this was without doubt my favorite. It was very high up and sat just above the elephants drinking - and there were many! In fact it would as the previous reviewer said be no exageration to say there were hundreds over the course of the night. This lovely bar you could sit out in the evening breeze watching the animals, with your drinks, cigarettes and matches, bought to your table, by a barman with the biggest smile! Also like the previous reviewer we had a wonderful experience where he woke us up in the night to let us know specific animals were in the area - you just dont get service like this anywhere else!
Overall this was the most stunning and unique location i have ever had the pleasure to spend the night - and all the heart of a little known but amazing park of Taita Hills - this place really is worth going out of your way to visit!
Salt Lick Lodge was to be our final overnight location for our 8 night safari. We were supposed to have been here a day earlier (vehicle trouble - see Amboseli Sopa Lodge review!), but this was never an issue with the lodge themselves.
Salt Lick Lodge is part of a two hotel complex with Hotel Sarova. The other hotel is outside the Taita Hills Sanctuary and we had to stop there briefly on our way in to sign ourselves in (along with receiving a very welcome cold drink.). We then jumped back in our vehicle (not before seeing a family of about 15 elephants cross the road near us and make their way to a small watering hole adjacent to the hotel for a drink - how little did we know that this was only the start!) and headed into the Sanctuary and to Salt Lick Lodge itself.
Salt Lick Lodge is unique! At it's centure is a large building which houses reception, the restaurant and bar. Leading off from this building in two directions are walkways (two storeys above the ground!) which take you to a series of circular huts - also suspended above the ground on stilt like legs - which contain your rooms.
Each room is one of 4 in a single 'turret. The room itself is not overly spacious, but is perfectly circular! Our room was clean, comfortable, and from the (double glazed) window we could see the 'salt lick' watering hole that the lodge is named after. Form this view we could also see that the main building and its two 'arms' of walkway linked rooms were creating a cresent shape around the watering hole.
Due to us being there on a different day to our original plans, we were extremely lucky to find ourselves one of only 5 couples who were staying there! Due to this, the usual evening buffet was scrapped, and a la carte menus were brought out to the tables. The food here was divine! Freshly made rather than sat in a buffet made a massive difference, and the meal choices themselves were verging on high class restaurant quality! All three courses was delicious. Breakfast was also served to the table. We could chose what we wanted (types of fruit, toast, cooked breakfast) and it was all brought when ready straight too us.
There's not really much we can say about the grounds as there aren't any! As the whole hotel is pretty much based up on stilts, you're restricted to walking the walkways. All for good reason though as you'll see in the next part.
When exploring the lodge we discovered a curious purpose build tunnel that led down, underground. At the end of the tunnel was a small round room, with high windows which we discovered was positioned out away from the lodge right next to the watering hole! Ideal for spotting animals. Although at this time we'd only seen a lone giraffe and a lone elephant making their way to the water for a quick drink before disappearing at sunset.
However, when the sun had set, this is when the action really started taking place. We had heard there would be animals visiting the watering hole, but we had no idea to what extent. As we sat having a pre-dinner drink, overlooking the watering hole, we saw a family of elephants making their way, one behind the other, towards to the watering hole. We soon discovered that this was quite a large family - over 30 - and they were actually more interested in the water that was directly alongside the reception area. The lodge pumps fresh water everyday into a large trough along side the OPEN sided reception area. Upon rushing down there we found ourselves stood in the relative safety of the reception area only 6 foot away from a herd of thirsty elephants thoroughly enjoying the water. We couldn't have been closer if we wanted to. (There was an armed ranger stationed in the reception area all night for protection and also to stop anyone using the flash on their cameras as it would startle the elephants.)
The whole watering hole area at night becomes fully lit - thank goodness - because as night went on family after family of elephants arrived, waited their turn, had a bit of a fight with other families (the noise! It sounded like roaring lions - no wonder the room had double glazing!!), drank their fill, and left back into the darkness. At one point, quite late on, a family turned up and we counted no less than 90 elephants in one family group! Overall, during the time we were awake and watching, we must have seen hundreds of elephants. Please don't think I'm exaggerating here, I'm really not! It's quite unbelievable even to me and I was there!
The gentleman at the bar - which had excellent views over the watering hole - was very informative and told us about a lioness and cubs who had been spotted occasionally quite recently at the watering hole. My husband, showing a great interest in this, was then thrilled to discover that the barman had gone out of his way to knock on our room door when there was rumour of the lioness and her cubs being close by!! Unfortunately this night she kept her distance, but with our night vision binoculars we were lucky enough to see lion shaped and coloured movements right on the outskirts of the lit up area. Maybe the high numbers of elephants that night put her off!
We should also mention that our poor driver had the shock of his life in the morning. The drivers all stayed in a ground level lodge away from the main lodge itself, and he woke, opened his curtains to find a herd of buffalo looking straight in at him!!
This turned out to be our favourite lodge that we stayed at on our safari - mainly because of the unbelievable elephant experience during the night. But with excellent food and informative staff, you can't go wrong.