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Found 5 results

  1. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) The Emakoko, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya 2) Website address if known: 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). February 2016 4) Length of stay: 1 night plus day-room 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Recommended to me by safari planner. I wanted to visit NNP, no idea where I wanted to say. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Safari planner did all the work 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my third 8) To which countries? Tanzania and Kenya, one time each prior 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Ngorongoro Farmhouse, Maramboi Tented Camp in TZ. Nothing comparable on my last Kenya visit (all Porini camps) 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Not that I could tell 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 rooms that are more like little houses set into the hillside 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Room 3 was on the main level, five more are built into the hill higher up. All overlook a riverbed where there is constant activity. Hyraxes, waterbuck and vervet monkeys spotted right near rooms during the day 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable: overstuffed chairs in front of fireplace, enormous bed, soaker tub, waterfall shower, toilet, double-sinks in bathroom, balcony with chairs and table. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Extremely good food. Creative and plentiful, very tasty. Both dinners, lunch and breakfast that I had were something I'd go back for! 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes, they catered to vegetarian, unsure of other diets. I requested this in advance through my safari planner. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables. Manager was around most of the time, socializing with guests. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Did not have any meals out on game drives. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Typical Land-Rovers, open sides, sunroof top, three rows of seats 19) How many guests per row? 2 in the first 2 rows behind driver, 3 in the last row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? From the airport you have to drive through NNP to get to the Emakoko, so you're always on a game drive. Officially, I went out from 4-7ish on my first day there, and did game drives to/from the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage my second day there. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? I'm unsure what standard hours are, as I wasn't there long enough. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Not private that I'm aware of. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Passed several self-drive vehicles which were not meant to be safari vehicles (personal-use cars instead). Don't recall seeing other camp/lodge vehicles. Any sightings we had were alone. 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. It never came up, unsure. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Surprising number of rhinos (12, 6 each black and white) during my stay. Excellent sighting on the black rhino. Superb sighting of male leopard at sunset. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? None 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Peter knows photography and the park well, also seems to know where to find particular animals in their usual places. Set me up well for photos. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Extremely so. Anthony was very excited by my leopard sighting, which was an indicator that he cares about the guest experience. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Participates in "lion lighting scheme" which deters lions from attacking community bomas. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Anthony and Emma run a great business here. The rooms are comfortable, the food great, the wildlife sightings are extraordinary (surprisingly so, given that it's technically right in the city of Nairobi!) I loved the time here and jokingly daydream about retiring here. I aspire to be like the old ladies in Fawlty Towers coming to meals every day… There is very healthy wifi. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Main level rooms: Dining area: Bedroom from balcony: Balcony:
  2. The Lipault Ladies go to the Mara It was meant to be my second solo trip to Africa. Singapore had a short working week in February and I wanted to make use of it to have a longer trip. But feb is packed end to end with projects for my husband so that meant I would go alone again. As I narrowed my short list to kenya (thanks to much advice and input by the ST-ers in this thread: ), @@SafariChick jumped on board. I had originally wanted to see wild dogs in Laikipia but in the end, Laikipia didn't work out so we were happy to settle for a Masai Mara-focused trip that minimized travel to land transits between neighboring areas, and sealed a what turned out to be 9-night trip. The schedule was finalized - Feb 8 - Emakoko in Nairobi National Park for @kitsafari Feb 9 - meet @@SafariChick at Eka Hotel, Nairobi Feb 10-13 Serian Mara camp, Mara North conservancy Feb 13-16 Serian Nkorombo mobile camp, Masai Mara Reseve Feb 16-18 Mara Plains, Olare Motorogi conservancy Feb 19 - Emakoko for @@SafariChick Once we had the schedule pinned up, @@graceland jumped in, eager to relive her happy memories at Serian in Mara. So it became a threesome and it worked out marvellously as with the power of three we could command a PV at MP. Serian provides PV and guide for each tent, one of 2 big draws in clinching the deal, the other being a stay 6 and pay 4 deal. How we ended up being the Lipault ladies is something of a tale that @@graceland has to tell since she was the catalyst!
  3. I've been thinking about how to give an interesting and adventurous sounding trip report when it was, in fact, just a quick dip into the Masai Mara to get particular photos for a new collection I'm putting together for exhibition later this year. So I will just upload some photos (not the art ones, they haven't even begun to be worked on) and make some observations and not try to compete with some of the wonderful recent reports. As many of you know, my son spent 5 weeks volunteering at Alex Walker's Serian camp in the Mara thanks to Alex, Adrian and Roisin. I had planned to meet him and take him on safari as he wouldn't get many game drives during his volunteering. Initially I wanted to go to the Amboseli area to get some particular shots I wanted, however, the logistics became too difficult and expensive so that will have to wait. In the end, I took the easy way out and just headed down to Serian where Adrian and Roisin kindly let me take my son out on safari. I flew in at around 1pm and met Newton from Emakoko Lodge, rather late as I had some problems buying a phone from the Safaricom counter. The reason I decided on a night at Emakoko was because of the short duration of the trip, the fewer nights I had in a suburban atmosphere the better, and because I wanted some new black rhino photos and Nairobi National Park was my best chance on this occasion. My one mantra on this trip was to take NO tourist photos. By that I mean not taking a hundred and one photos of everything I saw, whether it was interesting or not. Some of the photos I took were, by themselves not interesting, but they were taken for a long term purpose. Of course, I failed on the first test thrown at me when we entered the East gate of NNP and I took a photo of the first thing I saw … the rear ends of departing guinea fowl. So my initial observations of NNP: It is great value and offers much to the safari visitor. The suburbs and industrial areas are becoming more and more obvious and are a distinct threat. Rains had been generous so the park looked glorious. Very big herds of hartebeest and eland … both species doing extremely well by my sightings. Many young calves. I was the only guest for my night at Emakoko, but I really liked the lodge and the location. Driving towards it you can see the villages on the southern side of the park, and at night you can see the lights from the village where the young boy with the flickering light, anti lion experiment lives. I didn't see them as they hadn't come on in time for my evening drive. So here are a handful of photos I took on the afternoon/evening drive and the following mornings drive to Wilson's. First off, an iphone photo of Emakoko as a reflection in their mirror. Also taken with my iPhone, my little cabin at Emakoko. Water lilies in one of the ponds. I saw several large herds of hartebeest but have chosen to show just one, because she posed so nicely for me. You wouldn't think that there would be any hidden or secret roads in a small, well visited park like Nairobi National Park, but surprisingly there are. Newton drove down one very small track which apparently doesn't lead anywhere but down the valley, consequently most drivers don't bother with it. We did encounter another vehicle on the track, a self driver, but they didn't linger. It was here that we spent quite some time with a rhino cow and calf. A Thomson gazelle. One of my goals was to collect photos of the industrial activity on the southern side of the park and found this very easy to do. A zebra stallion. A different zebra. Sundowners, looking towards the Ngong Hills. The following morning Newton and I left Emakoko for a game drive to Wilson's. I could have stayed longer. A rather handsome rhino bull to finish off All in all, I would highly recommend Emakoko and the Nairobi National Park for a short stay.
  4. The start of my Kenyan safari in February was in Nairobi - which is where we finished up before flying home. To read the rest of the combined trip report from @@Safaridude and myself, click here. It was a relief to arrive at the park gates: Nairobi traffic can be a real issue and the drive from the Fairview, where I had stayed on the night of my arrival in Kenya had proved to be the sum of all my fears. (It was nothing however compared to the drive the next day from the park gates to Wilson...) Nairobi National Park was somewhere I was really keen to visit: since reading the words of Martin and Osa Johnson: the stretching Athi Plains with its teeming wildlife concentrations, seeing their photos taken in the 1920s. A park on the outskirts of a city: the ultimate case of human encroachment into the wilderness. The gate proved to be a very touristy affair with shuka wrapped Maasai in all their finery dancing singing and jumping for visitors - for a price. We were in and out of the Friends of the Nairobi National Park office: it seemed run down. We waited in the car park to be met by my guide and ride from the Emakoko. Sun blazed down, the asphalt boiled beneath our feet: there was little shade. On one side, entrance to the orphanage, the other, the safari walk. I drank water from my bottle and looked through the gate, at the road which stretched into the park proper. Once through, I knew, I'd be starting my Kenyan safari proper...
  5. Emma and Anton. Situated on the boundary of Nairobi National Park, (one transfers through the park to arrive, a game drive in itself), The Emakoko is a luxury lodge owned and managed by Anton and Emma Childs. Offering a true taste of safari before or after a holiday in Kenya, (as opposed to staying in the city), with varied resident wildlife in and around the property, staying at the Emakoko gives you the chance to discover everything the Park has to offer, long before the first visitors of the day arrive. Somewhat of a treasure, most tourists bypass the park on the way to other popular destinations in Kenya and thus miss out on excellent wildlife sightings: however, more and more people are choosing to spend time exploring it, including a greater percentage of Nairobi citizens who appreciate its value as a wildlife and educational resource. Here I speak with Anton and Emma about the project, the history, the wildlife and issues of Nairobi National Park. To find out more about the Lodge, visit their website here - Anton and Emma, what are your safari backgrounds? Where have you worked prior to opening the Emakoko and how did your experiences help with the new venture? Anthony started off his career with wildlife working with Paula Kahumbu in Shimba Hills counting and documenting elephants. Whilst doing that, his hobby for snakes became more and more a part of his life and by the time he left he was not only a fountain of knowledge on elephants in Shimba Hills but also an authority on East African snakes. The industry started when both of us started working for Jake Grieves-Cook – taking over Porini Camp and the Eselenkei conservation area, from there we moved to Elsas Kopje, Ol Donyo Wuas and finally set up here. Emma really started work with Daphne Sheldrick as her PA and slowly started to move more into the field operations of the trust. After 3 years both of us decided that we wanted to see more of each other, (Anthony was working in Tsavo and I in Nairobi), and it just made sense that the only jobs we could do where we could continue with a life in the bush was to run camps. The experiences we gathered and the people we met during these 12 years were instrumental in not only building our confidence to do such a thing – but also on being able to do it at all! What is the history of the Emakoko? How did the idea come about to establish a lodge on the fringes of Nairobi National Park? What was your design brief when visualizing the concept and how did the process of obtaining an EIA impact those conceptual plans? Before the lodge was constructed, what was in this location? We both met in Nairobi national park, and on running camps it became so apparent that people were wasting so much time in the city transiting and not using what we believe to be one of the most incredible parks in the world. People had put so much time and effort into a safari, but were missing out on part of the experience. So many people left our lodges to head back home having not seen Rhino and some having not even seen lion – and yet they drove within miles of them as they drove around the park to get to their Nairobi destinations. It was a ‘no brainer’ as to doing something on the border of the park – our rules were that the park HAD to benefit and we were not to build in the park. The park is surrounded by the city and it seemed awful to then go and plonk a lodge in the park too. On top of this hotels have built on the edges of the parks and their guests benefit from the wildlife that the hotels do nothing to protect. It was imperative that Nairobi National park benefitted from tourism. Anthony literally ‘slept’ his way down the river trying to locate the perfect spot – it had to be away from the city, away from the flight path, in a beautiful area – and any an added bonus of a community benefitting from it all was also a big plus. So we found our spot and it ticked all the boxes. We were however horrified on how long it took for us to get all the permissions in place. The EIA assessment alone took 7.5 months and then planning permission etc. also took its time. The Kenya Wildlife Service were very accommodating but were also very strict and particular about how things would be done – we were surprised and pleased that there would be lots of hoop jumping for anyone else who would want to do the same. What were the challenges you faced during the planning, construction and initial opening phases? The initial challenge was getting permission from the KWS for us to transit the park at night, (transferring people), – although once they came around to the idea it was fairly straightforward with certain procedures which we had to adherer to for each transit – the security of the park and its wildlife were not to be compromised in anyway. We built the lodge in 8 months and 21 days. We worked day and night in the last month to make sure we got up and running. Unfortunately we had to move our opening date back because of the rains and this was why we made absolutely sure that we got it done this time. One of the biggest issues with the construction was the lower base of the lodge – the soil is all black cotton which shifts and therefore we had to build a ‘floating slab’ which we had not prepared for, (therefore lost 3 weeks), nor budgeted for, (an increase of 21% in cost to the base structures). We had been made promises by everyone and one by one they let us down. We opened with no electricity and no form of communication at all without having to run up the 131 steps to the top of the hill. By the end of the first year all of this had been put in place and now our focus is on improving what we have! How do the logistics of running a lodge close to a city differ to one more remote? For instance, from where do you draw water and how is waste water disposed of, rubbish recycled, electricity generated etc? The logistics are so much easier, we re-supply every week and so all our produce is very fresh. We also do not need a team of plumbers / electricians / carpenters etc as they are all in the city and can be here within ½ an hour. We have a borehole at the bottom of the lodge and all our water is drawn from this. Our electricity is now finally on the grid and we have a backup generator should in the unlikely event there be a power cut. As for our rubbish – all our cans, bottles and plastics are dropped off at Marula Studios which run the best recycling project in Kenya. In fact they also have a shop there which we take our guests too and they are a very important part of our lodge. All the cans / plastics / glasses are taken to them weekly during re-supplies and they then have the job of recycling it all. We have a compost heap for the rest. What is the average length of stay for your guests and in that time, what can they experience in Nairobi National Park? Our average guest stay is about 2 nights now. The park in our opinion is one of the best places in kenya to view black and white Rhino. Not only this but the bird life is simply amazing and particularly at the lodge to be able to see the African Fin foot potter up and down is a real treat. Another thing which I find extraordinary are the lions in this park which are very at home ambling beside your car for kilometres and are just not bothered. While people may prefer to see ‘wild lions’ I still find it so impressive how they will happily sit under your car for shade – peer through your window and even mate inches away from you without batting an eyelid. It is nice to come across wildlife that has not yet been scarred by the horrors of humanity. Mount Kenya rising above the Nairobi skyline. Everyone knows of the Sheldrick orphanage and I assume that many guests want to visit it, but what in your opinion are the other highlights of the park itself and what are its secrets which few people get to see? It is just the extraordinary wildlife. Having said this, Nairobi National Parks best kept secret is that on a clear crisp morning, (normally in November, if you are lucky enough to have the clouds clear), you can see both Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Not many wild areas in Africa that you can do that!!! What have been some of the great sightings you have personally witnessed in the park? We have had several dinner parties with lions observing us from the pool area – on two occasions they were eating their dinner too. We once, and sadly only once, had a large male white Rhino come up to the pool to investigate. We had, (whilst watching an enormous figure in the dark), assumed it was a hippo until he came into the light. That was an absolute highlight for us. Finally just the other day we had a Leopard come up to the foot of the bridge for everyone to see. Some of the best sightings have been in the lodge. Other than this, we have had a group of 8 black Rhino all trying to get a female, in our sights for hours. We did manage to get one, (only one), photograph. What wildlife can guests reasonably expect to see from the lodge’s confines? Buffalo, bush buck, hippo, baboons, verve, genet cat, mongoose, crocodiles, the odd lion moving through, (this is almost a weekly occurrence), – African Fin Foot, Fish Eagles amongst other extraordinary birds. What facilities can the Emakoko offer to disabled guests? For instance, what do you offer partially sighted visitors to help them have a greater safari experience? How important, in your opinion, is it that safari operators and properties cater for disabled visitors and how easy would it be for existing lodges and camps to upgrade their facilities for wheelchair access? We have one room which once across our bridge makes the lodge entirely wheelchair friendly. There are no stairs and doors have been made wider to cater for this. A safari experience is probably the only holiday in the world, (water sports, beach, skiing, fishing etc), which can be done easily in a wheel chair. Any lodges built on the flat, (so the Mara), should be able to cater for guests who are disabled, it is more when you head up to the north and have lodges perched on the edges of cliffs that it all gets very complicated. Certainly the lodges that we have run, do have a degree of accessibility. How well can you cater for families and especially those with younger children? Because of the diversity of activities we can do it is probably the best place for kids. Tying in the Giraffe Center and the Sheldrick Trust is not only educational but is so kid friendly it adds so much to the safari experience. On game drives it is lovely to get out at the hippo pools and stroll the river in search of not only hippos and crocodiles, but also the wonderful birds. In the lodge itself we are part of a large Maasai community and taking kids to the manyattas and the schools in the area, (all by foot), is quite an experience. Aside from this, we have the Athi Kapiti conservation area which has been set aside by the government for people to not only graze livestock, but also for herbivores to spill out of the park and also graze. This is a wonderful place to go for runs or walks to stretch ones legs. Finally Kenyans are renowned for their hospitality but also with their way with children. We are lucky enough to have a team of people who are more than willing to show kids the ways of the world bush style. A stylish "City Cat". How does Nairobi National Park change throughout the year, with the different seasons? What is the best time to stay in the park and what is your personal favorite time of year – why? The best time of the year is November, the park is stunningly green littered with flowers and it is the most amazing light – so capturing sun rises and sunsets at this time of year is the best time. Unfortunately the game is harder to find as the grass is longer and it is more scattered, but it is still absolutely beautiful. The proof this time, is that our city cats HATE getting wet and so tend to use the roads more often, which makes it easier for us to find them. What is the breakdown of your guests nationalities? How do they hear about the Emakoko and how important for you is word of mouth publicity? How are you trying to change the mindset of staying in Nairobi, the city, at the start and end of a safari? The majority of our guests are from the USA followed by Europe and Canada. It is through our agents that they hear about us, so travel shows and door to door meetings is how we get our name out. We are most fortunate to be a part of the Bush and beyond team who are a group of several properties who are owner run. We have therefore piggy backed on their name and have been lucky enough to benefit from this. The word Nairobi is often followed by the word ‘crime’ or ‘travel warning’. As a result of this people do, quite understandably feel it is a place to avoid. We offer a great alternative, because although we are in Nairobi, we are not in Nairobi. It is more word of mouth and tour operators visiting us which is what will change the mindset. The amount of people who have come with pre conceived ideas of visiting a ‘zoo’ and have left being pleasantly surprised is more often than not. Indeed, what do you feel can be done, not only to market the Emakoko better to an international audience, but Nairobi National Park itself? We really do need the Kenya Wildlife Service to get more on board with marketing – sadly their fight against poaching is taking up all their resources and so marketing is the last thing they have the time or the finances to do. This does fall a little in our lap and thankfully Bush and Beyond do all of this for us. Good chance of seeing Rhino. Black and white. What conservation efforts is the Emakoko involved with in and around the park and what is your relationship with KWS? We have an excellent relationship with the KWS and the community and are the link between the two – particularly during human wildlife conflicts. In 2012, 6 out of 8 lions were killed in the community area behind the lodge. Had it not been for our guides it may very well have been all of them. The community and the KWS are now beginning to bridge the gap and for the first time in a long time the community are benefitting from the park itself. We provide employment, purchase supplies and have lit up 10 bomas with lion lights for deterrents, (so far in 2 years there have been no attacks). On the KWS side of things, our presence has not only helped with guarding the boundary but also with all our customers coming in the KWS have now benefitted in the two years from USD$180,000 in park fees / vehicle and guide fees which they would never have got before. We have also purchased the materials for a look out in the park so that rangers can keep an eye on the Rhinos in an area which is close to the boundary. There is still lots to do and as our business grows our impact on the park will be much bigger, (in a positive way). How is human encroachment from the Nairobi suburbs affecting the boundaries of the park? There is no human encroachment from the suburbs into the park anymore. The bigger issue is human encroachment from the Maasai communities on our boundaries – grazing is an issue as is lions killing livestock. With regard to the proposed Southern Nairobi bypass which will cut through the boundaries of the park, (which it is believed will lose +/- 150 acres) – what impact will this have on the park’s environment and ecosystem, not only during construction phase but later on, perhaps in 5 – 10 years’ time? This has now officially been stopped. How worried are you by the second rhino poaching which occurred over the weekend of 24th - 26th of January and how will this impact upon security measures at the Emakoko? Rhino poaching is happening all over Africa – Nairobi National Park is under tremendous pressure as other than most wildlife areas where human pressures are at the most 200,000 people – this park has the pressure of over 4 million people. We are indeed worried, not just for this park but for the country and any other countries with rhino’s in it. Security is very high in the park, and in particular on our side – where the Rhinos have been poached, (another one last weekend), they have been on the suburb sides of the parks. Where we are based the communities are very tight nit and anyone seen coming in or out tends to be ‘brought in for questioning’ – there are a lot of suspicious people here and there is a huge sense of community. Added to this we have 7 Rangers on this boundary based right beside the lodge – they have so far succeeded in stopping anything happening this side. Fingers crossed it will remain… Whilst close to the city, Nairobi National Park is no zoo. How long do you think it will realistically be before Nairobi National Park is fenced? What, in your opinion could be done to maintain wildlife corridors to the south and how important are such corridors for the continuing biodiversity of the park itself? Fencing the park is inevitable – the wildlife corridors are almost gone. The park will have to be managed and the KWS will need to be taught how to do this, it is more technical then we all think! What is your long term aim for the Emakoko? In an ideal world we would have loved to have bought up more land and secured a better boundary and this may still happen. We would like to have a much bigger impact on helping to preserve the park, not only that we would like to get the community more on board with helping to preserve it too. This would mean that they would need to benefit more from the wildlife. The Maasai in this area are fiercely loyal and if they believe the park is a good thing they will protect it, likewise if they thought it and the wildlife in it was a bad thing they would have gotten rid of everything too. Images courtesy and copyright of Anton and Emma Childs. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.

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