It makes for a magical weekend getaway, whatever the season. A new road has greatly improved its accessibility in the last couple of years, and the drive down from outer Nairobi takes around 90 minutes. Known as the pink lake for its rose hues, Lake Magadi remains one of the best places in Kenya to view flamingos up close, and is a photographers’ playground.
Given the heat of this part of Kenya, you might wonder why you’d want to get any hotter. But head down to the hot springs (ideally in the cooler hours of the day), a 30-minute drive from Magadi town that winds along the shores of the lake, for a dip that reputedly comes with all manner of health benefits. As the notices warn, take lots of water with you into the bath-like pools. A guide, particularly during the wet season, is recommended, but not essential. There’s nothing at the springs themselves in terms of refreshments and ablutions, so take everything with you. Residents pay Ksh 500 to enter; Ksh 100 for private cars.
WALK WITH BABOONS
About an hour’s drive towards the Nguruman Escarpment is Lale’enok, a research centre that offers visitors a chance to get up close to baboons. It’s fascinating to learn about these creatures, which generally get a bad rep for aggressive behaviour. Not that this will necessarily disabuse you of that notion. They may not be aggressive towards observers, but woe betide the lowerranking baboon who forgets their place. Visits must be arranged in advance. Contact Sisco at Lale’enok on 070405834 to book.
On request, Lake Magadi Adventures, the tourism arm of Tata Chemicals, organises a one-way train ride from Kajiado to Lake Magadi. It’s a wonderful way to reach the lake, even if part of an all-included deal. A Ksh 9,700 fare (children for Ksh 7,200) covers your transport, including the drive back to Nairobi, game drives and other activities, and one night’s accommodation in Lake Magadi Tented Camp (see next page). The train requires a minimum of 15 people to depart.
Nestled at the foot of the Nguruman Escarpment is this secluded lodge, where accommodation is in rooms (part tent, part villa), all with their own plunge pool, as well as an Italian-style pool for communal use. For romantics, consider the room with two baths adjacent to each other overlooking the Shompole plains. A recent addition is the animal blind next to the watering hole, where guests can lie in wait for arriving game, ranging from elephant to cats. Lentorre is offered on an exclusive basis, and sleeps a maximum of 16. Resident rates, inclusive of conservation fees, start from Ksh 13,700 pp, fullboard, excluding alcohol. 90 minutes from Lake Magadi.
An hour from the lake is this attractive little camp with just four tents on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. Shompole Wilderness has 25,000 acres of conservancy at its disposal. The animals may not be as easy to spot as in the Mara but nor are the tourists. The camp is a particularly welcoming spot for kids with the croc-free river a playground in every sense. Resident rates from Ksh 15,000 pp FB. Conservation fees are Ksh 1,000 extra, Ksh 500 for children.
In the town itself is Lake Magadi Sports Club, the entry point for the hot springs, but also one of the few places to get a sit-down meal. Ignore the notice saying “strictly no non-members allowed.” Visitors can make use of the restaurant, pool (Ksh 300 a day) and bar. They also offer decent rooms, starting from Ksh 8,000 for a double, B&B. The club has a tented camp nearby, 15 tents offering slightly cramped, but comfortable enough, accommodation. Doubles start at Ksh 7,000 B&B.