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“Wonderful Lodge, but where was the game?” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sarova Shaba Game Lodge

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Sarova Shaba Game Lodge
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Shaba National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Swindon England
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
154 helpful votes 154 helpful votes
“Wonderful Lodge, but where was the game?”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2011

From The Bull to The Buffalo Part 3 The North Shaba

An early start after a Mt Kenya sized breakfast we sadly departed from The Stanley.
Driving in Kenya is best accomplished by local experts. Even early morning trying to get out of Nairobi, when most were trying to get in, is a challenge. Road works are everywhere. Our driver told us the government are trying to replace roundabouts with “Superhighways.” We survived local transport mini-busses having Enterprising Routes, that is cutting in front of us and doing emergency stops to pick up a fare.

Eventually we were North of Nairobi; the road frequently had more potholes and craters than tarmac. After many hours we had our first comfort stop while our guide filled the tank with diesel local children offered to sell us wood carved animals. We set off again and hardly covered any miles when the driver sensed problems. The front offside wheel bearing was overheating. We piled into our second safari bus and ours went back to the diesel station for repairs. Thank heavens there were 2 safari busses and so many of these Nissans that the local workshop had spares. But it hardly inspires confidence in Pollmans that at the start before even reaching the first Lodge there was a poor maintenance failure.

We seemed to skirt round Mt Kenya seeing many British Army Bedford Lorries and Kenyan Army Isuzu Lorries towing field guns. We passed the Kenyan Army Artillery School. Cultivation was fascinating large areas of greenhouses growing flowers and food for Europe.

We rejoined our guide and repaired safari bus in time for the ride that makes Alton Towers a kid’s playground. Leaving the highway we hit dirt to reach Sarova Shaba Lodge. The dirt track or at times lack of track can only be regarded as a compulsory Kenyan Safari experience. There was a British Army Bedford left hand drive lorry (Ex Rhine Army) and platoon close to us. Suddenly the track ended there was an entrance gate to Shaba Lodge and a decent track.

Wow what a location, river with sandbanks and crocodiles formed a natural boundary. We were checked in, taken to our cottage type rooms and invited to lunch. Our room was beautiful no travel lodge here. A first class bed, a fine bathroom with a more than adequate shower. Views of forest with many monkeys coming to our windows to rear and river to front. The Lodge was quiet and bird song audible very relaxing, perfect so we might recover in no time after the challenging Marathon from Nairobi.

The Restaurant was elevated on wooden stilts to afford views of crocodiles and any other animals that might approach the river. Late lunch was eaten with relish and a very fine dine with loads of choice. Time for a brief siesta or wander, or to try out the pool, keeping doors and windows of our Chalet rooms locked to keep out local monkeys.

Local Sarova management were first class. I suffer sleep apnoea and have a breathing machine. They readily agreed to keep the electric generator running all night so I would have proper sleep. A fellow safari party member, a lady “with child” was also most grateful as this kept her room fan moving all night and gave her better sleep.
Then the first afternoon game drive began, with the long drive back to the main road. Surely Sarova Management, The Local Kenyan Authority, Pollmans the Safari Operator and TUI could sort out this problem a decent track would help deliveries and those with back problems. Given how well the Tsavo Safari Park roads are maintained we were disappointed at the lack of maintenance here.

Our first game drive was beyond all doubt the best that Shaba had to offer. I love elephants, I will never complain that one sees too many. This game drive (see pictures) provided the magnificent sight of two separate herds watering at their local river. There must have been recent rains as the river was fast flowing and vegetation green. But there is something almost magical seeing extended families from baby elephants to old tuskers standing on the bank drinking. Sadly these elephants did not enter the river to wash. We kept moving and encountered lion on a little hillock surveying a herd of antelope grazing by the river. She was patiently waiting for the Safari Busses to get out of her way before supper. As light was fading we returned to Shaba game lodge delighted to have seen so many elephants but just a little worried that compared to Amboseli, Masa Mara and Tsavo 2007 & 8 there was a scarcity of game.

Time for a convivial drink with our British Army instructors, then another enjoyable Sarova Buffet dinner again plenty to satisfy carnivors, vegetarians and fussy eaters. Frankly we were exhausted, perhaps a small nightcap and off to join the African Mahoganies.

The Thomson Worldwide / Hayes and Jarvis itinerary may well have been written in United Kingdom. It mentions a traditional pre-breakfast game drive. No not from Sarova Shaba due to the disgraceful road we have breakfast then game drive by which time animals will be resting after their dawn patrol. We ventured out for what till then was the most disappointing Game Drive we have undertaken.

Our Polman’s Safari van had a duff radio. We entered a park through impressive “Zebra Gates” but struggled to find more than an odd giraffe or zebra. Towards lunch time we did encounter a few more heading towards a water hole. No elephants, no rhino, no lions, no leopard, no buffalo. Those with prior safari experience all returned to Shaba Lodge wondering did we miss game while at breakfast. Or have years of drought after 2008 left the northern parks empty?

Back to Shaba Sarova for lunch, fondly remembering those full day game drives with picnics that Wesley organised on the Masa Mara 2008 from KICHWA TEMBO. Regret there was no such versatility here in Shaba too late to leave too little to see.

Sorry if the morning was disappointing, the afternoon Shaba game drive was even worse. The afternoon game drive was nil points. Not a single animal seen. We were taken to an elevated platform with views of the river, no elephants, nothing a total waste of time. Could Polman’s driver guides not have compensated us with a return to the previous day’s park? Could we not rise early next morning and try an extra game drive? No, fixed time table and itinerary could never be adapted for conditions. We had paid a very high price for this safari, yes accommodation was good but I would rather stay in Kenyan tents and see game than luxury accommodation and empty game parks. Someone in authority at TUI must have been aware of this situation and should have intervened. Would we repeat this safari? No. Next stop Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge Lake Nakuru.

Room Tip: Great Lodge, fine staff , good food but a first ever nil points game drive
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  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anthony K, Lodge Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, September 13, 2011
Dear guest,

It was a pleasure to host you. The Sarova Shaba team is highly motivated by your very positive comments. We are pleased to advise that the lodge in now connected to the main electricity lines making us the first lodge in the region to do so. This makes us able to provide all services round the clock thus adding value to the product.

Every effort is being made to have the local council under which the park belongs to assist in rehabilitation or totally improve the access road which is only 8km to the adjacent parks. Notably the advantage of visiting this region gives one the ability to visit the three parks namely Shaba which has more of the amazing landscape and home to 22 springs, Buffalo springs and Samburu on one park entry ticket a day experiencing the very unique game.

We once again look forward to your next visit and assure you of yet another memorable stay with us.
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177 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (40)
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English first
Nairobi, Kenya
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2011

Sarova Shaba is a lovely hotel situated in Shaba National Reserve, approx 330km from Nairobi. The road is good all the way (with the exception of the Thika Road construction project) and it takes about 5hours. The hotel is not far from the main road; about 10km and you do not need a 4WD vehicle.

The staff were very friendly and welcoming, always willing to answer questions. The room was nice, on the upper level. If you are keen on privacy, it is recommended that you do not request a ground floor room as passersby can see into your room. The range of rooms allows you to also choose to be far from or close to the main hotel areas. The rooms are cosy with comfy beds and huge bathtubs...very nice for unwinding! The hot water was not hot enough though in the evening, which was a bit unfortunate.

The food is the best part about this hotel. Everything was deliciously fresh and tasty, with a good variety. Excellent! The hotel has some games and activities for the evening, but you could also just enjoy a drink by the river, listening to the sound of it going by. This was the rainy season though, so the river volume is less in the dry season. The grounds are also large enough for you to walk around, explore and allow the food to settle. The swimming was also very nice and clean, with lots of sun beds.

We had massages done in the amazing riverbank tent, the most relaxing feeling ever. The masseuse was very professional and it felt amazing, and again, all you could hear was the sound of the river rushing by...pure bliss!

Unfortunately, Shaba reserve has very few wild animals, and one has to go to Samburu and Buffalo Springs (about 30-45minutes away) to view the amazing wildlife there. For this, you definitely require a 4WD vehicle. However, the Shaba park fee allows you entry into Buffalo springs park. If your intention is to see lots of wild animals, then stay in Samburu or Buffalo Springs. If your intention is to relax, then Shaba is the place for you. I have stayed in both Samburu (Intrepids Lodge) and Shaba (Sarova Lodge), so I would recommend doing both. Stay two nights in Samburu/Buffalo Springs and one night at Shaba, that way you get the best of both worlds.

Thanks to the reception staff for being very friendly, welcoming and patient. The restaurant staff could improve on welcoming and ushering diners to their table and making us feel welcome. Overall, it was a wonderful 2 nights stay.

Oh. and you can watch crocodiles lazing along the river banks, as well as monkeys and birds within the hotel compound.

Room Tip: If you want privacy, request an upper level room and far away from the main areas.
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LODGEMANAGER2010, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, August 20, 2011
Dear guest,

Thank you for making Sarova Shaba your place of choice during your recent visit to the area. Your positive comments are appreciated by the team as we strive to make every detail count in improving in our delivery of service.

We have taken note of your experience with the hot water and every effort is being made to rectify shortfalls in this regard.

We look forward to hosting you hopefully in the near future.
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Vienna
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2011

This lodge is located directly on the river bank and the fat crocodiles that inhabit the river are fed every evening with what seems to be fried chicken. Also, monkeys of all sizes roam the grounds in search of an easy meal - guard your plates well. Monkey business is fun to watch. The food at the restaurant is decent and the wine is surprisingly good. In the evenings a guitarist at the restaurant will entertain you with international and local chart breakers.

Pool nice and large enough for swimming short laps. Rooms tasteful and comfortable; shower (and bath!) with good water pressure. Service was good, especially the lady at the aptly named service center. Minus: Internet KSH 250 for 15 minutes. Also sub-ideal: relatively long drive to see animals, as there is no game in the area around the lodge, apart from monkeys, birds and crocodiles.

Bonus: We visited the Samburu village near the camp (KSH 2000 per head), an interesting experience, although we did feel at times that we were prying intruders.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LODGEMANAGER2010, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, August 20, 2011
Dear guest,

We thank you most sincerely for chosing Sarova Shaba during your recent visit to Shaba National Park. We are honoured by your visit and by your encouraging remarks. We would like to assure you that your observations on the internet have been noted and are happy to inform our clients that we are in the process of installing WI FI before the end of August 2011 and thus improve on this service wherever our clients will be within the property.

We thank you for the support and look forward to hosting you once again.
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gloucester
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2011

We have now stayed at The Sarova Shaba Game Lodge four times and have found it agreat place to stay at.The staff are very well trained and are only too happy to help you nothing is too much trouble as long as you are happy.The accomadation is first class as is the food,and elevated restaurant where you can watch the all the local wild life in its well maintained grounds,all in all a Joy to stay at which more than lives up to Sarovas Motto of Refreshing African Hospitality, and we will be back again

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LODGEMANAGER2010, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 28, 2011
Dear guest,

We thank you for the very positive and encouraging remarks. Indeed it goes a long way in building our confidence in being of service to you. Your repeat visits are testimony to your support and belief in the Sarova Shaba team and we are proud to have you as part of the Sarova family.
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Albrightsville
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011

We stayed 2 nights in June to begin our 5 night safari. We had emailed prior to arrival and had asked for a quiet room, and we got it! It was a bit of a walk, but well worth it. Lovely view of the river, croc's sunbathing on the rocks, and a large group of baboons playing outside of our building! The restaurant had a nice variety of foods, and we felt like we were eating in a giant treehouse. We had the same quiet table each night thanks to the lovely hostess. The first night they kept the power on all night and the fan going which was a Godsend because it was hot. The 2nd night we weren't so lucky!!!! whew!!!! We knew ahead of time that the Shaba game drive was a waste of time as far as animals goes, but the drivers went there the first day anyways. Going to the Samburu and Buffalo Springs area was much better. We had an enjoyable stay overall.

Room Tip: Further away from reception is more quiet.
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LODGEMANAGER2010, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 9, 2011
Dear guest,

We are pleased that you chose Sarova Shaba to begin your safari and even more so that we made your stay in Shaba National park worth your encouraging remarks. We do appreciate your feedback as it goes a long way in enhancement of our desire to be at your service. We would like to inform you that we are in the process of getting connected to the national power grid in a few weeks and as such power will be available all night and day thus an improvement in your comfort and convinience.

We look forward to hosting you hopefully in the near future.

Kind regards
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Bedford, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2011

The lodge was very nice and the service was excellent. However, not many animals in Shaba compared to Samburu and Buffalo Springs. If you stay, ask your driver to visit the other reserves which are not too far away. You'll see many more animals.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LODGEMANAGER2010, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 4, 2011
Dear guest,
We thank you for choosing Sarova Shaba during your visit to Shaba National Game Reserve. Your very positive feedback is indeed very encouraging to the team and goes a long way in our quest to raise the bar in service delivery.
The three parks namely Shaba, Buffalo springs and Samburu being so close together provide the advantage of three unique experiences next to each other and we do recommend a taste of each during your stay here.
We look forward to your next visit and assure you of your most memorable stay with refreshing african hospitality .
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Larnaka, Cyprus
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2011

Stayed here for one night with work, clean, nice grounds overlooking a crocodile infested river with a viewing point. There croc feeding at 2000hrs nightly. The resturant is buffet style good quality. Pool is nice however a few weeks ago a croc sneeked into it during the night when the electric fence was switched off(at mid-nightly) waiting for the guests morning swim lol. Overall worth a visit, great experience no more than 2 nights though then move on...

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anthony K, Manager at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Dear guest,

It was a pleasure hosting you though a while back. Your positive feedback was indeed very encouraging and we are pleased to inform you that we have made a number of upgrades in the property that you most definately should visit Sarova Shaba once again.

A state of the art buffet layout that meets the highest in hygiene standards and frontage cooking, kitchen upgrade and we are now the only facility in the region on the grid and as such with 24 hour electricity and WIFI connectivity anywhere within the Lodge.
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Additional Information about Sarova Shaba Game Lodge

Address: Shaba National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Eastern Province > Shaba National Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Shaba National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sarova Shaba Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 85
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Also Known As:
Sarova Shaba Game Hotel Shaba National Reserve
Sarova Shaba Game Lodge Kenya/Shaba National Reserve

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