Until a few years ago, Lake Nakuru National Park was one of Kenya's most perfect spots to vacation with upwards to 1,000,000 Greater and Lesser Flamingoes clogging the lake, shore and water birds virtually everywhere, and animals, including the endangered White Rhinoceros, easy to see. Its roads were charming and its lush trees a perfect "frosting on the cake."
Then a year ago came rain and rain and more rain. Today, the lake is at its highest level in recorded history, there is widespread flooding, the main road that skirted the lakeshore is underwater, and many of the lovely mini-forest trees along that same shoreline, are dying every day because of so much water. The flamingoes have nearly all deserted the lake for more shallow locales. (On our recent visit, we counted less than 40). The park is still more than worth visiting. We spotted, for instance, a lioness and her four cubs frolicking together on one of the many side roads, a grand sight to behold.
What does this all have to do with the Lion Hill Game Lodge? The lodge, operated by the Sarova hotel chain and sitting as it does high on a hill overlooking Lake Nakuru, is still safe from the increasing encroachment of the rising water. Many of the roads leading to and from it, however, are not. A casual drive down any one of them, offers endless scenes of dead or dying trees, water lapping the edges of the road, and a general malaise. Since the Kenyan government is unable (or perhaps unwilling) to do anything to stop the effects of the flooding, it can only get worse in the days ahead.
And that is a shame because, all in all, the SLHGL is a very pleasant establishment. Some of their rooms are small and cramped (my wife was reminded of an attic garret when she saw the first of two rooms we were assigned when we were there in June, 2013) but others offer comfort, more room, and quality for the money. (It should be noted, however, that there is poor lighting in the rooms which makes it hard to read). The grounds are quite scenic though some of the rooms, far from offering views of the lake far below do little more that overlook the extensive, and quite noisy, parking lot.
A highlight of the lodge is its dining facilities. They offer buffet dining three times during the day with choices galore, many of which are excellently prepared. There is also a very nice gift shop which offers little distinctive but all the usual shirts, knick-knacks, and the like. There is also nightly entertainment which, for those who are interested, offers an enjoyable bit of local culture.
For now, the SLHGL, despite an abysmal road connecting it to "the outside world," is one of the nicest places to stay on or near the lake. The plumbing is slightly antiquated and the furniture, at least in our two rooms, less than sterling but then no-one ought to expect first-class accommodations -- this is, after all, rural Kenya. For a pleasant weekend or so, however, it is a delightful place to visit. The staff, to a person, was always helpful and welcoming.
We'd like to be back someday when, hopefully, the lake recedes and the birds and animals return in full spectrum. No-one will be overly disappointed in Lion Hill Lodge if they make this their choice as well but, for now, considering the condition of the lake, the lodge has much less to offer than it once did.
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