I recently visited Kenya in a once in a lifetime adventure where I got to go on safari and I had the opportunity to visit not just one, but all three local Fairmont hotels! I am a Fairmont fan and I purposely wanted to check out each property, especially since each is in a unique location. From city sights to views of Mount Kenya to right in the middle of a game reserve, there’s something special to see in each location!
The first night in Kenya, we stayed at the Fairmont The Norfolk, which was the perfect place to relax and recharge after a long flight. Hit up the hotel’s spa and heated pool before bed and you will definitely work away your jetlag. Our room was located in the historic 1937 building with a nice patio that opened up to views overlooking a cute courtyard filled with trees, chirping birds, and antique cars and carriages. We dined at the Tatu and they had the best surf and turf! Breakfast was included and there was a great selection too!
The second hotel we visited was the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, which is a stunning property, and the views facing Mount Kenya are surreal. The location is huge with a golf course, pool, hedge maze and ponds. They also have an onsite animal orphanage! The service was amazing. While you are out for dinner, they even setup the fireplace in your room, which makes for a super romantic vibe.
The last hotel we visited was the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, which was the most unique property just outside of Masai Mara. We stayed in a luxury tent with a full bathroom, hot water, and everything you expect from a regular hotel room. The hotel also includes daily game drives – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The hotel is close to several wildlife conservancies and the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. My favourite part was probably the hot air balloon and champagne breakfast, which was provided by the Fairmont.
Now that you have three amazing hotels to choose from for your stay, here are a few things to do and see while in Kenya:
Ol Pejeta Private Sanctuary – The nonprofit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa. It’s also the only place in Kenya where you can see chimpanzees.
Aberdare National Park – The park is a protected area in the Aberdare Mountain Range in central Kenya, located east of the African Rift Valley. The park is known for its waterfalls, and it provides habitat for elephants, black rhinos, leopards, hyenas, black and white colobus monkeys, buffalos, and more.
Masai Mara Safaris – This is what you think of when you think of Africa – safari! Masai Mara is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is known for the great migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. The migration also brings out all the cool animals that we want to see, including the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo, and rhinoceros). It was a life changing experience seeing the herds of animals in the wild. It was more than I could imagine even after watching the Lion King. 🙂 Every day was a new adventure as you never know what you will see. The suspense and “hunt” to see something amazing adds to the adventure. This is a must do at least once in your life.
The Giraffe Centre – The centre is like a petting zoo, but with giraffes. One of their missions is to care for giraffes that are endangered and it is a good place to see giraffes in the city, but not nearly the same as being able to see them in the wild.
Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy – The conservancy is right on the property of the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and is well worth a visit. It was great learning about all their conservation efforts and how they rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild (if and when possible). The craziest thing is that they have around 70-80 of the world’s 130ish Mount Bongos, which they are trying to keep from going extinct.
Masai Village – The tour through the Masai Village takes you through a culture shock as you learn about their way of life. Men can have more than one wife (custom and allowed). Nowadays, the villages are mainly tourist attractions where you have to pay an entrance fee. It was great to be able to experience it but I wasn’t too sure how authentic the experience was.
If I had more time I would have also visited the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and also South Africa, Botswana and Rwanda. I cannot wait to go back to Africa!
Tip: You could technically organize the entire trip on your own, but it is easier to book everything through a local tour agency in Africa. That cuts out the middleman as North American and European agencies for the most part offer the tour through a local agency and take a cut. Booking locally in Africa will get you the best deals – without the extra agency fees.