“ Address: Tsavo National Park East / Kenya „
As part of our two day safari at Tsavo East National Park in Kenya in January we were lucky enough to stay at Voi Wildlife Lodge. I had heard from a few sources beforehand that Voi Lodge was the best lodge to stay at in the park so when we booked the safari we made sure that the package included an overnight stay in Voi.
We arrived at Voi Wildlife Lodge after a four hour journey from our hotel at Diani Beach, Mombasa. We were hot and sweaty and quite miserable after the horrific journey including a one hour wait for a ferry during which we weren't allowed to open the roof of our jeep! However, arriving at this lovely lodge made the journey worthwhile. We entered the modern looking reception and were greeted by a few members of staff who welcomed us to the lodge. The first thing I noticed was a blackboard which listed all of the animals which had been spotted at the lodge that day, along with how many. I was excited already to see that there had been 22 elephants, 4 zebras and a hippo before midday! All new guests were then escorted to their rooms. Our lady asked us to follow her and then proceeded to walk across the whole site so slowly that it was almost impossible to stay behind her. She was an older lady and we did say that we were happy to take the key and find our own room, however she wouldn't hear of it. So about 10 minutes later we finally arrived at our room and gave her a tip before she started her long walk back!
When I hear 'safari lodge' I immediately think of a basic room which possibly isn't clean and has bugs everywhere. Narrowminded? Yes - but with no prior knowledge of safaris this is what I thought. So we were pleasantly surprised by our room! Fairly small but with a nice double bed surrounded by a mosquito net. There was a desk with a chair and a sliding door with a lovely view out over an elephant watering hole! Stunning! I can quite honestly say that I'd never stayed in a hotel like this! There was no balcony outside - the sliding door opened onto a railing to stop us falling out but it was a nice touch, especially seeing as a monkey kept coming up to look through the window at us! There was no minibar or TV or any extras but I didn't expect these at the lodge and certainly wouldn't have wanted them unless I was staying there a long time! There was no air conditioning which would have been quite nice in such hot, humid conditions but we had a rather loud fan in the room that kept us cool enough. However, keeping it turned on kept us awake all night!
The bathroom was quite dated but very clean and actually had a nicer shower than our hotel back at Diani Beach! The water was always a good temperature and was fresh water, not salty water which I'd heard was common from other guests!
Overall we thought the room was fine and were perfectly comfortable there for the night. It wasn't exactly luxury but fine for a few nights and in my book, a much preferred option to camping! The lodge's lights went off several times during the evening which only bothered me the time I was in the shower, in the room by myself, and couldn't find the tap or my towel! We knew from our travel guides that this was common in Kenya so it was half expected. Later that evening it happened a few times when we were at the bar and there was a big cheer every time it came back on - which was usually within a minute.
The lodge had 88 rooms in total including 12 superior rooms which I didn't have the chance to see.
When we arrived we dropped our bags off and headed straight down to lunch. The lunch was a large buffet served in the restaurant which included steak in peppercorn sauce and sautéed potatoes! Yum! I was already in my element and was full within minutes after a long journey. Alex ate their leek and potato soup and then had Spaghetti Bolognese which he said was lovely. It looked quite ordinary to me - almost like it was spaghetti with ketchup. There were a range of vegetables and lots of different options for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Desserts included a mousse and a range of cakes and pastries which we ate lots of knowing that we would be going back on safari for another few hours in the afternoon. Tea and coffee were provided and other drinks were at an extra cost.
Later than evening we returned to the restaurant for our evening meal. It was quite busy with everyone queuing for something down at the far end of the restaurant. We decided to grab a bowl of soup and a few rolls to keep us going and hope that the queue would die down. The soup was mushroom and was really tasty - one of the nicest mushroom soups I have tried! After the first course we got in the queue and couldn't wait to see what was at the end! On my way down I picked up a couple of cooked vegetables and Alex chose a salad, then we picked up some potato gratin until we reached the end - the meat counter! There was a grill where the chef was cooking chicken pieces. Yummy! We were really impressed with the food, especially as we expected to receive a packed lunch and something like a pasta dish for the evening meal! By far the best part of dinner was the dessert. They still had the wide selection of cakes and pastries but there were also two hot puddings. Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate custard and apple crumble! I nearly cried with delight - my favourites! We could help ourselves as many times as we liked, so of course, I did!
As for breakfast the next morning, we knew we would be in for a treat after the two meals the previous day. One chef was on the eggs counter and would make them to order. I asked for a fried egg to have with some toast and Alex went for scrambled. He went for the full English breakfast but I wasn't quite as hungry at 6.30 a.m. (I've not seen that time in the morning for years!) so just had the fried egg with beans on toast! However, realising that we would be on safari for 4 hours before we came back to check out and have lunch, I thought I should eat some more. I went for two pancakes with maple syrup! It was surprisingly easy to eat after I'd said I wasn't hungry! Fresh orange was a very strange greyish colour and I accidently poured myself a mango juice as it was the most orangey in colour. I didn't like it and went back for some grey orange juice instead! Again there were tea and coffee making facilities but we didn't have much time for that!
We were amazed when we found that Voi Wildlife Lodge had not one, but two swimming pools! We had expected a campsite in the desert and instead were surrounded by lovely pools and amazing food. After being dropped off and eating lunch we had another hour and a half to kill until our driver would be picking us up for the early evening safari so we decided to spend it by the pool! Unlike our hotel at Diani Beach there was no breeze in the complex at all so at almost 100 degrees it was far too hot for me to sit in the sun. Instead I kept my hat on and spent about 30 minutes reading my book in the pool as Alex sunbathed and occasionally threw a ball to me. They had a staff member on duty to hand out towels and he also offered to do drinks runs for anyone who wanted to order something. The other pool was situated at the back of restaurant where there was more space to sunbathe on beds and where we had a great view of a watering hole where there were about 20 elephants. Some of them actually came right up to the fence which was a metre away from us which was very exciting!
There was a gym on site which we didn't know about in advance and it wasn't in use any of the times we passed it. When people go on safari I'm quite sure they don't think about exercise and even if we'd have fancied it we wouldn't have had trainers or the right clothes with us. It did look good though with glass doors that looked out over the pool and watering hole. It was spacious and air conditioned with modern equipment and space for doing free weights and floor work. There was also a small beauty salon which provided massages, facials and mani/pedicures for higher prices than we had previously seen in Kenya. They also had a sauna and Jacuzzi which were available to use at a cost.
After the afternoon safari we decided to explore the lodge and its grounds further. The sun was just setting and we thought it would be nice to sit out and have a drink. Behind the restaurant you could walk out over a wooden bridge to the 'game watch terrace' which stuck out into the middle of the savannah grasslands and overlooked the watering hole. It was lovely to sit out with a drink watching the elephants at the hole and see the sun going down. It was still lovely and warm out and there weren't many other people around which was nice. We spotted a hippo drinking at the hole even though it was getting darker and it was interesting to see a range of different animals all together just ignoring each other.
There was also another bar which was attached to the restaurant where many people had a drink after dinner. It was very relaxing with no music, no glass in the windows so that we felt as though we were still outside and the chairs were very comfortable - I wanted to stay there all night just looking out! There were free coffee and tea making facilities in the bar which most people there were helping themselves to. Sadly they only provided the UHT mini cartons for milk so I stuck to water! The drink prices were quite expensive at around £2 a drink (whether beer, water, Diet Coke etc) and this was the same throughout the lodge.
How much did it cost?
We booked the lodge as most people do as a package along with the safari. We paid approximately £150 each for the two day trip which included the accommodation, park entrance fees and car and driver for two days and booked it through WT Safaris out at Diani Beach. We thought this was excellent value considering the prices we had been quoted by similar companies before we left ranged from £250 to £350 each! The room itself is priced on various UK websites at £160 a night so we feel we got ourselves a bargain. So a tip for all - don't book any part of a safari until you get out there!
The Voi Wildlife Lodge was everything we could have possibly wanted from our two day safari trip. We knew that this was one of the nicer lodges in the park but we hadn't expected the wonderful, varied food or such a fantastic setting. We would have loved to stay a few more days and if we'd have known how comfortable it was or how great the safari itself was going to be we would have definitely stayed a couple more nights. The only negative for me was the wake up call which they had more or less forced us to have. When it came, it was a man knocking on the door 25 minutes late leaving us only 10 minutes to change, eat and get to the jeep! Arrghh! Luckily our driver turned up late so I had chance to finish breakfast! With that one exception we had a wonderful time, we want to return and would recommend it to anyone!
~~Where is it?~~
Voi Safari Lodge stands high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the vast plains of Tsavo East game reserve in Kenya. It is possible to see for about thirty miles in three directions. This means that wildlife can be observed making the trek to the water holes situated immediately below the lodge. When we arrived there a solitary male elephant was having a drink and a bath and generally getting some relief from the blistering heat. The reception staff waited patiently for our attention and then led us to our room.
We had travelled from our hotel close to Mombasa and were in need of a cool drink, whilst we were gawping at the elephant the staff brought us both a glass of fresh mango juice and a cold flannel for our faces and hands to rid ourselves of some of the red Tsavo dust. What a lovely welcome to the place! We signed the registers and followed our small amount of luggage along a specially sound dampened corridor at the back of the building. Up a few flights of stairs and avoiding the lizards and rock hyrax who were oblivious to the humans, we were ushered into our room.
~~A Room With A View! and what a view it was!~~
Our room was large enough to house two single beds comfortably, a desk, a couple of easy chairs and a small wardrobe. The bathroom was next to the door and contained a loo, a good sized handbasin and surround and a powerful walk in shower.
The room was pine cabin decorated and all of the fixtures and fittings were made of natural wood, it was lovely but it could have been a complete dump and I would still have been happy for two reasons, one was that the air conditioning was humming away quietly and efficiently.
The main reason though was the incredible view. Right over the water holes, surrounding terrace and Tsavo plain! It was magnificient and the air was so clear that you could see for miles and miles and miles and miles! We watched in amazement as about two hundred wildebeest made a progression from the left towards the water holes. We tried to guess how long it would take them to get there but we were both out by about half an hour! (When they did finally arrive, a family of lions decided it would be a good time to leave.)
The windows opened and were meshed against mosquitos. All the rooms have been recently refurbished and although fairly basic were comfortable and clean. The mosquito nets were in good order and it was possible to turn of the bedside lights without getting out of them. The beds were very comfortable and we both slept well in them.
The shower was powerful and refreshing (if a bit salty) and ran hot after a few minutes.
If you are a light sleeper then you might want to consider wearing earplugs because although the lodge itself is quiet, the same can't be said for the wildlife that surrounds the lodge! That just added to the pleasure for me but you might feel differently about lying there wondering what on earth was upsetting the elephants.
~~The man with the catapult~~
Going in to dinner later that evening I was suprised to see a young man dressed in khaki stood on one of the paths just outside the dining room. He was armed with a large catapult and had a small mound of pebbles stacked up on the wall next to him. I asked him what he was shooting at. "Nothing yet." came the cryptic answer. He smiled rather sheepishly when I asked him if he was a good shot. "Sometimes I hit and when I don't I run!" It turned out that it was his and another young man's job to repel boarding baboons, who sometimes find the aroma of dinner a bit too tempting and run in to the dining rooms and help themselves off guests plates. They have also been known to help themselves to the odd handbag, hat, camera and anything else that wasn't guarded, crisps being a particular favourite. I wished him good hunting and went on into the fairly open plan dining room. I was tempted to select my meal on the basis of what a baboon wouldn't fancy. As it was the food on offer was so varied and so good I soon stopped worrying about the simian pirates and helped myself to the buffet. On offer was three different kinds of soup, about six varied main courses served with rice or potatoes, a large table full of different salads, breads and fruit and another table full of desserts. The variety and quality of the food on offer was excellent and everything was meticulously kept covered to deter flies.
We chose a table overlooking one of the waterholes (and close to catapult man!) and tucked in. The tables were set with gleaming glassware and cutlery and the napery was white linen.
We could have been dining in a five star hotel, not a small lodge in the middle of a safari park. Whilst I was eating my salad, a rock hyrax climbed up the wall and came to have a companionable snuffle around my feet. I was dying to give him something to eat but was deterred by a stern look from one of the waiters. Dinner over we retired to a lower level of the dining rooms for a smoke and a coffee.
~~Tunneling to the water hole~~
A unique feature of the Voi Lodge is that it is possible to walk down to the water holes undetected by the animals, by way of a tunnel that has been constructed from the terrace. From the bottom end of the tunnel it is possible to see the wildlife far more closely. The end is closed off by a metal grid so it is a safe place to be if any of the more dangerous beasts get wind of you. We went down quite late at night and a few strategically placed spotlights made it easy to spot hyenas, storks and baboons having their after supper drink and wash. The tunnel itself is unlit so when the power to the spotlights failed for a few minutes it was a bit unnerving to say the least. It is hard to describe the sheer beauty of the evening and the privilege of being able to watch the animals in the wild. The day before a group had seen a pride of lions take an unwary wildebeest calf and then battle with hyenas and vultures to be able to eat their kill in peace. Every day a new spectacle presented itself. It was awe inspiring.
~~Overview of the Lodge~~
As if the views from the Lodge, the fantstic food and the lovely little rooms weren't enough, Voi offered a neat little swimming pool on one of the terraces. There was also a great little bar overlooking the plains and one of the smaller watering holes. It was a lovely place to sit and have a beer and watch the sunset.
Just to the left of the bar area is a specially constructed photographers hide. We never went in because we didn't want to disturb the people already using it, they looked like serious photographers! It looked roomy and fairly comfortable from the outside.
The lodge is built using the rock from the hillside it is built into which means that it is on various levels and some of the floors can be a bit uneven. There is good wheelchair access within the lodge itself and some of the rooms are at ground level.
There is free parking at the rear of the lodge.
I am sure I read somewhere that there is a gym but I never saw one! Just to the right of the entrance hall is a little shop selling typical souvenir type stuff for rather silly prices!
One thing that I found really interesting was a large book in the entrance hall for people to report what animals they had seen. As my husband was stood reading the entries for the last few days he was hit on the head by a very large flying beetle. One of the gamekeepers identified it as a Goliath Beetle so that was duly written in the log. (I guess it just didn't want to be left out!)
Surrounding the Lodge are well tended but wild terraced gardens and some smaller pools which are stocked with fish that particularly like to eat mosquito lava, I can't remember their name. I do know that they enjoy the odd bit of left over toast too. The gardens were a fantastic place for us to watch the smaller wildlife. I have never seen so many different species of lizard in the wild before. I was particularly intrigued by one kind which was bright blue with a bright orange head. There must have been ten species of lizard there, in fact they were virtually everywhere you looked. Tiny blue birds hopped around the sisal plants decimating the ant populations and hyrax trundled around looking like oversized guinea pigs. The flowers and shrubs were beautifully coloured, it was like sitting in paradise. The only problem was having to be vigilant about the baboons.
Six oclock in the morning found me standing on one of the walkways outside the restaurant having a peaceful smoke and waiting for my husband to join me. All was quiet except for the tree frogs. Inside the restaurant the waiters were setting the tables for breakfast. Suddenly there was a loud drumming noise like thunder and two of the waiters ran like Hell out of the dining room and disappeared up the walkway in the opposite direction to where I was standing. The noise got worse and suddenly baboons started dropping from the roof all around me. I was scared witless and just froze. To be surrounded by about twenty of these beasts is a scary experience. I quietly backed up to the wall with my bag behind me and prayed that there was nothing edible in it they they might smell. Another half dozen baboons ran out of the restaurant being chased by a waiter brandishing a dining chair. At the sight of him the baboons lost interest in me and with a lot of screaming and baring of teeth they hopped over the wall and carried on down to the water hole. The waiter put down the chair and grinned at me. "Jambo!" he said "Hakuma Matata!" (Hello! Don't worry!) I went in for breakfast on wobbly legs! "Don't worry?" I hope I never ever get that close to a troop of baboons again! Russ wandered in for breakfast ten minutes later and told me there were about forty baboons at the waterhole and it was a pity I hadn't seen them!
I found out later that these aggressive animals did this about once a week. If they couldn't be bothered going around the lodge, they just took a shortcut over and through the dining rooms. Where is the man with the catapult when you need him?
~~Cost and Booking~~
We travelled from Shanzu Beach to Voi Lodge on a safari package which lasted two days and one night. During that time we went on three guided safaris and spent one night in the Lodge. Next time I will go for longer. All meals were included but any drink except water, coffee or tea had to be bought seperately. The price for beer at Voi lodge was not much higher than at our hotel in Shanzu. (about 200 Kenyan Shilling for a half litre. 112 KS = £1.00 approximately.)
The trip cost us £120.00 each, board, transport, safari and safari guide, Lodge and Park entrance fees included. This seemed like very good value to us because overnight accomoation in the Lodge is approximately $100.00 per person per night if you travel independently.
My visit to the Voi Safari Lodge was a very brief one in early October 2008.
I was in Kenya on my 2 week honeymoon, of which 8 days were a safari covering various different parts of the wonderful country. We were meant to spent our last night in Voi before heading off to Mombassa, but due t an extra night we spent in Amboselli, we had to sacrifice Voi - a not altogether bad idea as it turned out.
Now dont get me wrong, Voi was a lovely place to be (we went tere for lunch and a short afternoon break) but just a little short of the wonderful high standard in most of the Kenya lodges we experienced.
I can not comment on the rooms as we didnt go into those, but from the outside they did look like they needed a new coat of paint and a few minor repairs.
The restaurant food was very nice, certainly on par with the other lodges we stayed in - served as a hot buffet with loads of choice and was served by very friendly staff,
The view from the restauramt and bar was amazing, overlooking a watering hole where we were able t watch a few elephants and giraffes come and go for their refreshment - along with a warthog or 2!
Overall i would say if we had only gone therewe probably would have loved it and been very happy, however having stayed in the previous locations we had done, it did highlight the slight lack of attention to repair!
Dont let this put you off though, the views over Tsavo and the local wildlife still make sure this is a stunning place to be!
October 2008, my husband and I spent 2 weeks in beautiful Kenya for a week long safari and 6 days at the beach. During the week long safari we were to stay in many different lodges and hotels, including some that we were just visiting for dinner before moving on.
We were due to spend out last night in Voi Safari lodge, but due to a little car trouble a few days previously, our itinerary had to change. So we missed out on sleeping here, but still arrived here for lunch on our final day before travelling to our beach hotel in Mombasa.
I have to say, on first impressions, we were glad that we hadn't stayed here. The lodge, in comparison to the other places we'd stayed in, seemed dated and may not have had a good coat of paint since the 1970s. Oh, it was clean, and the staff were lovely (as seems to be the norm in every area of Kenya!), but it would have been a disappointing last stay for us.
We arrived in time for lunch and were greeted with the usual hot buffet selection, as is normal in these lodges. Although the food was hot, tasty and a good variety, again it lacked in quality overall compared to previous locations. Maybe at this point in our safari/honeymoon we had been so spoiled by other locations, that our usual expectations had been heightened. I want to make clear that there was nothing wrong with the food at all, but we'd had better.
This was the only location on our safari though that treated us to the most beautiful multi coloured lizards we'd ever seen - freely running around the lodge gardens!
The view from Voi Safari Lodge is outstanding. The view over Tsavo West is beautiful, and you can literally see for miles. We didn't have time to take advantage of any of the facilities on site, but the pool certainly looked inviting (even though that too looked like it was designed in the mid 70s!), especially with the view you would have had while swimming a few laps.
Overall, nothing wrong with Voi Safari Lodge at all, but not the highest quality generally. We can't comment on the rooms, but even the outside of these looked like something from the 70s...maybe even as much as a 70s holiday park! I wouldn't choose to stay here, but if I returned to Kenya and Voi Safari was one of our overnight stays on a safari package, I wouldn't mind.
I went to Kenya in June last year and during our 2 week stay we went on a 5 day safari staying in three different locations. Voi was the first stop on our safari.
Voi Safari Lodge is perched on the top of a cliff-faced hill, and is uniquely designed to be a hinge like structure overlooking Kenya's Tsavo East National Park plains extending as far as the undulating terrain of the Yatta Plateaus.
The lodge is 160km from Mombasa and is an ideal place to visit Tsavo East and West as well as Taita Hills national parks. There are 52 rooms at the lodge.
The accommodation at the lodge is good. The room we stayed in was large and bright. We had two comfy double beds and a large bathroom. The rooms were very clean and tidy. We also had a balcony where we could look out over the watering hole at all the animals.
In the main part of the hotel there is a restaurant which serves good food although not very memorable!
There are two bars and an outside 'patio' area where you can watch the animals at night as well as during the day. The watering hole was lit at night so you could still see all of the animals.
We found all of the staff to be incredibly helpful and friendly (as was everyone we had the pleasure of meeting whilst in Kenya).
The only animals we saw here were elephants, buffalos, giraffes and deer. There were also a lot of lizards and small birds wandering around the hotel grounds! Also, whilst out on our afternoon safari we went on a Rhino chase as they are quite close to the loge. Unfortunately we only managed to catch the back end of the rhino as he was moving away however we did have an exciting chase!
There is also an outdoor pool but to be honest we did not get chance to use the pools at any of the safari lodges as it was much more exciting sitting and watching the animals. There was plenty of time to laze around the pool when we got back to our hotel after being on safari!
June was a good month to go as the lodge was not particularly busy and if you don't have children there are not many around as it is not during school holiday season.
This is a good safari lodge however I would probably only advise staying here one night.