This beautiful old hotel was Kenya's international air terminal just after World War II when the ‘flying boats' of BOAC (The British Overseas Airways Company) landed there enroute to South Africa. Once an elegant old house, the Lake Naivasha Country Club still maintains the original polished wooden floors, magnificent fireplaces, billiards room and broad verandahs overlooking the extensive gardens. Smooth lawns with huge fever trees lead down to the lakeside, where there is a wooden gazebo and a jetty for the pleasure boats that leave from the hotel. There is also a secluded swimming pool and adjacent conference centre.
Location Lake Naivasha lies 89 kms north-west of Nairobi and can be reached by road within approximately 2 hours.
The Background A freshwater lake, the highest of the string of lakes that glitter down the vast trench of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is infamous for its rapidly shifting moods. One minute serene and calm, the next it will be whipped by swirling winds, waves and shadowed by storm clouds - hence its name, which means ‘the place of rough water'.
Enigmatic, and dotted with floating islands of Nile cabbage (water hyacinth) and papyrus, Lake Naivasha has no known outlet, and legends abound regarding the vast tunnels that supposedly run beneath its surface. Towered over by the brooding bulk of Mount Longonot (2,776 m), and featuring a submerged volcanic crater known as Crescent Island, this beautiful lake is best known for its high numbers of water birds. Also for the haunting cry of the fish eagles, which feed on the black bass and tilapia of its waters.
Kenya hotels and accommodation Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodge or tented camp, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.
Accommodation The hotel has 51 rooms in separate one-story wings and garden cottages. Each room has a private entrance and a small veranda with views of the grounds. Lake View Cottage is on the edge of the lake and accessed by a wooden walkway. It offers two bedrooms and a spacious central living room. There are phones in the rooms and room service.
Dining and bars The dining room occupies what was once the verandah and looks out over the gardens. At weekends, the tables are taken outside and clustered beneath the shade of a huge acacia while a buffet lunch is served from a stone gazebo. The intimate bar features murals of the lakes and leather covered antique furniture. There is also an outside terrace and a billiards room and gracious resident's lounge with magnificent fireplace. Conference and event facilities The hotel has its own stand-alone conference centre adjacent to the pool.
Child-friendly The hotel welcomes children and can arrange for additional beds, cots, high chairs and baby sitting. There is also a baby pool and an excellent children's play area with swings and climbing frames.
What to see and do The lake has a large population of hippos, which are regularly to be seen snorting and laughing in the shallow waters. At night, they troop out to feed on the lawns of the hotels and the lush grass of the riparian fringes. Vervet monkeys and olive baboons live in the woodland adjoining the south-western shore and the game corridors that run from nearby Hell's Gate NP allow buffaloes, kongonis antelopes and Masai giraffes to access the shores. As for birds, there are plenty of cormorants pelicans, herons, jacanas, long-toed plovers and weavers, while numerous warblers breed in the papyrus reed beds. Crater Lake, an extinct volcanic crater at Naivasha's western end is thickly wooded with yellow fever tress in which troops of black and white colobus, vervet monkeys and olive baboons disport themselves A total of 38 mammal species have been recorded here; buffalos, warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, bush bucks, Thomson's gazelles and impalas can be seen by walking around the crater, while night game drives allow sightings of spring hares, Senegal galagos, common gents, white tailed mongooses and predators such as servals and bat-eared foxes. Antelopes shelter in the dense vegetation (Kirk's dik-dik, steinbucks and elands) while the vivid green water offer sanctuary for lesser flamingos, duck and grebes. Once the home of Joy Adamson of ‘Born Free' fame, Elsamere Conservation Centre offers a wide range of education facilities while hippos graze on the lawns at night and black and white colobus swing from the yellow fever trees. There are 200 birds species in its grounds alone. Crescent Island, the exposed lip of a submerged volcanic crater, is a good place to view zebra, waterbuck and gazelles. It is also home to the Naivasha Yacht Club. Boats can be hired at Elsamere, Fisherman's Camp and the Lake Naivasha Country Club. Wildlife highlights: hippos, black and white colobus, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, buffaloes, Masai giraffes, kongonis, impalas and gazelles. Water birds are a highlight and include African fish eagles, pied kingfishers, yellow-billed storks, flamingoes and waterfowl.
Facilities Swimming pool, 12 hectares of grounds, bird-watching, fishing in the lake, boat trips on the lake, sundowners on the lake and trips to Crescent Island, Hells Gate Park, Mount Longonot and Lake Nakuru. The hotel has its own gift shop plus a selection of local handicrafts stores.
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