NYIKA BIRD SANCTUARY, MTITO ANDEI
Nyika Bird Sanctuary, a quirky little property a few hours outside of Nairobi along the Mombasa Rd, is a little-known gem for nature and bird lovers. Surrounded by thorny shrubs and throngs of birds, it’s perfect for those who prefer the smaller, more private spots to big hotels. Whether it is exclusivity, eco-friendliness or rustic comfort you’re after, Nyika ticks all the boxes.
Retired safari guide Robin McDonald raised his family on this 100-acre estate on the boundary of Tsavo East national park. After many years in Mombasa, Robin returned to Nyika, and set up a bird sanctuary to protect the sheer abundance and variety of birdlife. He rebuilt the family home, knocked down during his long absence, and repurposed it as a guest house. He lives in a small cottage nearby on the sanctuary.
Rob doesn’t like things to be more complicated than necessary, and this view is reflected in the house. It is a simple yet beautifully-finished bush home, sleeping six. It consists of three bedrooms, one large en suite double room, one twin en suite room and a lounge (where two guests can also sleep). There’s also a fully-equipped kitchen (includes a fridge, freezer, stove, oven, crockery and utensils) and large dining room. For fine evenings, there’s an outdoor barbeque chill area, and a roof terrace on which to dine. On a clear day, you can see Mt Kilimanjaro from the terrace. The house is run on solar power while the fridge and stove run on gas. Bahati, the cleaning lady, comes in daily.
Nyika Bird Sanctuary is located 10 km off the main road from Mtito Andei. It’s an ideal mid-way point if you’re driving to the coast or returning to Nairobi. It is 234 km from Nairobi (around 3-4 hours driving) and 284 km from Diani (we were coming from Diani and took the Shimba Hills route. This takes around 5-6 hours).
- Nyika bird sanctuary didn’t earn its name for nothing! If you are a bird lover, you will be spoilt for choice.
- Sundowners on the roof terrace.
- If you like to bring your dog, you can ask to bring them along. Be careful though – the house borders a national park, and you wouldn’t want your pet to dash off into the bush after an animal. Only a few weeks ago, Rob’s dog was eaten by a leopard.
- The house does not have power sockets so if you need to charge your laptop or camera, it’ll be tricky. There are USB ports in the battery packs found inside the house where you can charge your phone.
- The showers aren’t heated, so depending on the time of day be prepared for a cold one!
WHAT TO DO:
We spent most of our evenings on the roof terrace, swapping stories with Rob, drinking beer and taking in the view. If you’re an early bird, it’s worth waking up to see the sunrise, or grab a pair of binos to look at the birds.
On the other side of Mombasa Rd is Tsavo West, the easier to access of the two parks. Spend a day there visiting Mzima Springs, walking up Roaring Rocks to take in the views, and having lunch and swimming at Kilaguni Serena Lodge. And, of course, seeing the animals!
HOW TO BOOK:
Call Nyika Bird Sanctuary on: +254 (0) 710 384 808. You can also book through Airbnb, just search for “Nyika Bird Sanctuary.”
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This review is independent and unbiased. The authors of this piece pay for their own accommodation.