At 2 000m above sea level and surrounded by emerald jungle that reverberates with the cries of Sykes’ monkeys and is home to blue cranes, white-tailed mongooses and plenty of game – not to mention an uninterrupted view of ice-peaked Mount Kenya – Serena Mountain Lodge is one of the most unusual stop-overs in the country.
Balanced on stilts and built almost entirely from cedar wood, each room in this 3-storey hotel looks out on the permanent waterhole and salt lick, meaning you can enjoy the privacy of your balcony while honing your photography and animal identification skills so that you can soon easily tell the difference between a bush and water buck. By day, enjoy the antics of visiting elephant families, while staff can wake you at night should a hyena, leopard or genet drop by in the wee hours for a drink. Very keen photographers can access the photography hide via a tunnel for hours of composing, focusing and capturing their shots.
Hikers and walkers can delve into the jungle with an experienced guide to learn more about this fragile but beautiful ecosystem; look down to spot exotic flowers and fungi, and up for birds, butterflies and hooting monkeys. The clear mountain streams teeming with fresh-water trout beckon anglers while climbers can tackle Mount Kenya up to Point Lenana. Guests preferring a traditional 4×4 game drive can make the trip to the Ol Peteja Conservancy beyond the lodge.
Serena Mountain Lodge is geared to families with children over seven who want to explore an environment so different to classic savannah and safari grassland. The key attraction at the hotel is the permanent floodlit waterhole and salt lick, which attract a wide variety of large and small game, including the occasional nocturnal predator. Linked to this is a secret photography hide, ideal for those wanting to hone their skills and get familiar with the animals before heading out onto a game drive.
Guides lead educational walks into the jungle, where you will stop for tea (out of delicate porcelain cups and saucers) at clearings along the way. Serena Mountain Lodge also runs a tree-planting programme to aid reforestation and secure the wilderness for future generations.
Outdoorsy guests will also love a day in the cool mountain air fishing for trout, climbing to Point Lenana or spotting birds and game from the open-air viewing room.
In the evenings, swap stories in the bar, relax at the central fireplace, peruse the library or challenge your fellow guests to a board game or two. Guests can also indulge in treatments like massages, facials and manicures.