Adjoining the Safari Club is an animal orphanage – part of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy – and currently, home to some 1200 animals. Privately owned and run it was founded by William Holden and Don Hunt in the Sixties, supported by Don’s wife Iris and actress Stefanie Powers. Recognised by the Kenyan government, the education centre receives visits from hundreds of school children each year. We wandered among orphaned ostriches, Mountain Bongos (forest antelopes), llamas, monkeys, cheetahs, baby buffalo and a giant tortoise. There are also cheetahs and lynx.
A combination of animal rescue, adoption and rehabilitation here has ensured the survival of the endangered and rare Albino Zebra. The conservancy which is spread over 700 acres is also home to Mountain Bongo breeding programme which has seen the population of the Bongo’s increase from 18 to 70 renewing hopes for their survival whose population was below 100 in the wild.
Photos of Hollywood stars who have visited the conservancy grace the walls, including Grace Kelly, and a very young John Travolta.
Having been thrown from horses as a kid, I faced my fear and actually enjoyed a 1:1 ride with horseman John before dinner. Riding next to the Safari Club was a great way to get closer to a herd of white zebra, many deer – and sneaky warthogs who hide in the long grass and scare the horses. My trusty steed was spooked, but luckily I was holding on tight. No bolting back to the stables this time.
We enjoyed a superb dinner on our final evening in the private dining room at Tusks.
Fire lit, we all gathered around an impressive antique dining table, like a scene from out of Africa. Executive Chef Picco truly worked his magic with a range of African, Indian and European-inspired dishes. Scallops starters followed by Salmon Wellington and a divine Pistachio and Coconut Ladoo. The flavours here are so fresh and flavoursome – what a joy to have local provenance.
Reclining on my bungalow lounger later that evening I stare up at the inky night sky. Lanterns flickering on the pontoon the only visible light. And the stars. Pure, blissful silence. If heaven is a place on Earth, then Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club is as close as I’ll get.
East Africa has cast her spell once again. A magical and unforgettable experience.
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club – Where and How
P.O Box 35, Mount Kenya, Nanyuki, Kenya
Email: [email protected]
Tel: + 254 (0) 62 203 6000
Fax + 254 (0) 20 221 6796