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5-Star Hotel Review

Solio Lodge

Kenya

The 5-star gateway to the northern safari circuit

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Solio Lodge
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Solio Lodge

Location

Located between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains just north of Nairobi, Solio Lodge is a small and intimate camp, tucked away in a beautiful valley within a mesmerising fever tree forest.

Travel Information

A 30-minute flight or a 4 hour drive from Nairobi. Its private airstrip is 5 minutes from the lodge. Take adequate malaria precautions.

Top Tips

Binoculars, sunglasses and and a hat! Mosquito repellent is advised, as are warm clothes for the evenings, as it can get chilly at night.

5-Star X-Factors

The best place in the world to see, get up close to, understand, and appreciate rhino; both black and white. You can drive ANYWHERE on the conservancy and it always feels totally exclusive.

Solio Lodge

Situated between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains, Solio Lodge feels like a slice of Eden. Known as the gateway to the ‘northern circuit’, it is the perfect game retreat to start, end, or bookend your safari experience.

Topographically, this reserve is spectacular; framed by soaring mountains, the conservancy extends from open grass plains with shrubs, acacia trees, and bushes of wondrously scented wild jasmine, to pockets of enchanting mangled emerald green Fever Tree forest, with lush marshy waterbeds alongside a river. All this is paradise for game - from the very plentiful impala, giraffe, waterbuck, eland, Oryx, zebra and buffalo; to lion, leopard and cheetah, plus a plethora of bird species, over 300 noted to date. For example, we saw the great Martial Eagle on almost all our drives.

The animal that stands out here in abundance and in stature is the rhino. Glorious sightings of mother and infant to an entire ‘crash’ of rhino are observed several times on a single drive. This includes both the white and the black rhino. Since 1970, it has run a highly successful breeding programme for this marvellous, endangered species and it must rate as the most exceptional place in Kenya, if not the world over, to see them.

NURTURE IN NATURE

The sweeping thatched lodge is pristine, stylish and extremely welcoming. The curvy architecture is both appealing and calming: there are no right angles in nature. The earth-toned palette, comfy cane furniture, David Yarrow life-sized framed photographs of rhino and zebra, and scattered savannah-toned kilims splayed on polished smooth screed is extremely enticing. You are drawn in by its chic bush-style and alluring safari charm, while Ava Paton, the hostess and general manager, has a heart the size of Africa and made us all feel like we belonged.

Solio Lodge looks onto the seemingly endless grass plains, with Mount Kenya rising in the distance. There are five private en-suite rooms, all with twin or double beds, and a glowing central fireplace that divides your sitting room from the bedroom, which is lit at night when the temperature drops. Ours featured sliding glass doors onto a private decked viewing terrace with an en-suite glass surround bathroom, again with panoramic views, housing a large oval tub, shower room, twin vanities and wardrobes.

One morning, we awoke to a stream of buffalo walking single file alongside the lodge’s nearby perimeter. With heads hung low, as if defeated, they paced slowly forward as the sun rose up and kissed the peak of Mount Kenya. At dusk on our drive the evening before we watched an expectant pride of magnificent young lions, perched half-upright, ears forward with eyes keenly focused on this herd, and, though we left before the kill, we heard the roars of success in the camp long into the starry velvet night.

TAKE THE FAMILY

Two of the curvilinear cottages can be interconnected making five or even six a very comfortable sleep, with two en-suite bathrooms. Solio Lodge is a gentle, but still exciting and highly exclusive, introduction to game and safari adventure and I would not hesitate in taking children. They also include a raft of activities within the daily rate, including horse riding, cycling, and walking with a guide. These activities take place within protected areas.

THE DRIVES AND GUIDES

Drives at Solio feel extremely liberating, exciting and very private. Not only can you sit comfortably atop your land cruiser with a cosy rug across your legs, the 4x4’s can go anywhere they please. It was here that we literally saw only one other viewing vehicle, aside from our pair.

But, what makes these drives so special are the informed guides. Amos is famous in the Safari world of Kenya; being runner up in the 'best guide in the country' awards, while his partner in drives, John, is also top notch. You really do learn so much about the animals and habitat while simultaneously placing your trust in their outstanding tracking ability as well as technical driving skills. You feel safe. Totally. Sundowners; a tipple of choice along with tasty snacks set up in the dewy forest surrounded by rhino and buffalo was an almost surreal experience. We all felt truly blessed knowing that unless we return to Solio, such an experience was unlikely to be repeated, ever.

CUISINE AND SERVICE

The food was excellent. Buffet-styled lunches with platters of salads, pasta with a variety of vegan, gluten-free and meat sauces and house wine as and when you choose. We ate under the shade of a vast Acacia tree with a shade-bearing canopy that stretched over several tables on the front lawn’s circular raised deck.

Dinners were candlelit, inside usually, with a roaring fire in the open plan ‘mess’, an excellent place to retreat to for a nightcap and relish in the sightings of the day’s drives. There is also an upright bar with stools adorned with several large wildlife books. The service was genuinely outstanding. Nothing was ever a problem while everything was always resolvable.

Solio should be a three-night stay - or certainly a mnimum of two - and benefits from a private airstrip only 10-minutes away. It’s romantic for couples and fantastic for families; it really does feel like your exclusive home in Africa. If only.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer

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