Out in the Southern Rift Valley where borders seem to dissipate into nothingness lies a hidden gem: something I would describe as the last truly wild oasis left in Kenya. Many years ago, there was a luxury lodge called Shompole in this area. It was super exclusive and visiting this was on my Wanderlustlist for ages but sadly I never got to experience it as it closed down for one reason or another and that was the end of that dream. Until another bespoke lodge – Lentorre was built and a couple of months ago, my dreams of setting footsteps in this area came true.
Set in the heart of the Olkiramatian Conservancy, Lentorre is certainly a place for Wanderlusters that want an experience that is out of the ordinary: it isn’t your everyday lodge or accommodation and fits into my category of a “next level get away”.
Throw in scrumptious home cooked meals, endless high end drinks, panoramic views of stunning vistas, game drives and an opportunity to interact with the Maasai community in the area giving it that cultural touch and you have a pretty delectable escape from the humdrum of ordinary life. And all this is literally just scratching the surface of what Lentorre has to offer. Being the only luxury lodge in the Olkiramatian conservancy with a mere 6 villas each with their own private plunge pool gives it unrivalled privacy and that makes it feel like you are in your own little utopia in wild and untouched Africa.
Lentorre is a mere 3 hour drive from Nairobi, passing through the Magadi area. Growing up, we would visit Magadi as part of school trips and my memories of this area are of being in a dry and dusty place with a soda lake that you couldn’t swim in. Well, perception does change when you grow up and are able to appreciate where you are: what in my imagination was arid with not much to offer turned out to have natural hot water pools, a colourful local community and pink flamingos floating around on lake that looks like it has sprung from the centre of the earth.
Luxurious, spacious villas with no walls, yes, you read right – no walls make you feel like you are part of the wilderness and the splendid vistas in front of you. Don’t fret though, at night a strong netted tent canvas is zipped down protecting you from the elements and any wildlife that may decide to saunter across…but you still have the feeling of sleeping in the wild as the crickets chirp away and you can see the stars from the comfort of your cosy bed. A private plunge pool in the villa overlooks a water hole where you could be lucky enough to see any manner of game come to have a drink: in the recent past this has been frequented by elephants and leopards! An open bathroom with an outdoor shower and a huge bathtub also affords uninterrupted views of the Nguruman Escarpment with Mt. Shompole in the distance.
Being surrounded by nothing but wilderness, I must confess that I felt compelled to put away all my gadgets and immerse myself into this view by plonking on the sun bed by my plunge pool and just staring at the vastness in front of me, allowing nature to soothe my frazzled soul from the ills of the corporate world. Yes, checking in to Lentorre is like a soothing balm for the soul, and I am already hankering to go back: though this time I doubt I will want to leave my room at all!
Though the villas are the piece de resistance of Lentorre, the rest of the lodge is also built in a chic manner that takes full advantage of the spectacular vistas afforded by the Nguruman Escarpment. Cosy sitting areas where the sun comes streaming in mean you can curl up and relax while not being too far away from the view you are here to indulge in in the first place. And if the plunge pool in the villa isn’t enough, then there is a larger swimming pool under the shade of beautiful trees. Dining is atop terraces that overlook either the water hole or the escarpment, and as nothing is too much to ask for, you can even dine in the privacy of your villa next to your plunge pool if that catches your fancy!
Truly Unique Game Drives
Of course, at some point I had to break away from my reverie, leave my room and venture out to explore this wild and untouched region. The feeling of driving off sat on a seat on the roof of a 4×4 into the wilderness to spot some game is unsurpassed. Completely unobstructed, you really do feel like you are part of the ecosystem making up the plains rather than watching the game through a window in a car.
The Olkiramatian Conservancy is home to large troops of the rare Colobus monkey and also has a plethora of other game: large animals like buffalo and elephant, cats like lions and leopard and plains game: zebra, impala, dik diks, maasai giraffe but what makes it truly unique is the presence of the soda lakes. Lake Natron and the western side of Lake Magadi are both a short drive away, and during the right season, the still mirror like waters of the lake are graced with flamingos with a pink so vivid that it looks almost luminous! The sight is simply spectacular.
Night game drives reveal a whole different side to wildlife. Nocturnal animals such as genet cats and porcupines come to life under the inky black canopy of darkness and there is something truly thrilling about driving around in the night with just a spotlight, watching out for these otherwise seemingly impossible to spot creatures of the night. An exhilarating experience was coming across a pride of lions that had just made a kill and watching them tear away at the flesh by the light of a flashlight, savouring their meal with the sounds of crunching bones in the otherwise silent night: the thrill factor was even more magnified!
Raaji, our friend, guide and the Manager at Lentorre who knows the area like the back of his hand split our safaris such that we got to have some incredibly unique experiences. Sundowners by the shores of the lake one night and up on a hill with the glowing embers of a bonfire the next: we really felt truly spoiled! Indeed an ode to wild Africa: this is the epitome of what makes a great safari. Spotting game is a matter of chance and luck: it can be as exciting to see an elephant as it is to watch a creature like a genet cat slink away into darkness. But the true celebration is the sundowner: clinking glasses in a memorable setting and raising a toast to being out in nature and appreciating whatever she chose to show you on the drive around. And after a dusty game drive, coming back to a luxurious and cosy villa, lit with hurricane lamps and having a hot shower before indulging in a delectable dinner caps it all off perfectly.
As I write this for my fellow Wanderlusters, I am hit by a wave of nostalgia and I can say hand on heart, I am dying to go back to Lentorre. I honestly feel like I just scratched the surface of what is a very diverse ecosystem which needs more than just a weekend to fully appreciate. But, I am grateful to have experienced some time out in this beautiful area and be part of the #LentorreStory. For my fellow Kenyans: check in to Lentorre to experience the last true wilderness our country has to offer. And for my international readers: add this to your wanderlustlist – it is truly a piece of paradise that you will remember magical Kenya for! Until next time, Happy Wanderlusting! xoxo
-On Getting There
Lentorre is an easy 3 hour drive away from Nairobi, through Magadi. You can also charter a flight or arrive in style by helicopter. Please contact the management for travel options on the contact details below.
For the latest prices, please contact:
Tel: +254 (0)723 317553
Though the proprietors of Lentorre are good friends and extended a discount on the overall room rate, this is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed in this piece are entirely my own.I would return in a heartbeat!