Located slightly under 3 hours’ drive from Nairobi, Serena Mountain Lodge offers a unique getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. The lodge is built in a location which was identified by a game hunter who noticed its uniqueness in the 1950’s since animals would always come to the present day watering hole to drink water. The architectural style of the lodge is cabin styled and timber-built, and it has 42 rooms with private balconies overlooking the watering hole. The interior décor especially of the lobby echoes Kikuyu Culture with pictures of the community which date back to pre-British colonial settlements. The rooms have hand woven hangings which one would presume have been done by the surrounding community.
One of the things that immediately hit you as you approach the lodge is the clear fresh air, this is because the lodge is located inside Mt. Kenya Forest at 2,134 meters above sea level. And naturally, when you here of mountains region, adventure automatically follows. And Serena Mountain Lodge lives up to this ode with an array of exciting activities that any adventure seeker would be thrilled to take up.
It may not be the tallest Mountain in Africa but Mt Kenya is definitely a favorite for many Mountain climbers. Apart from the fact that Mt Kenya presents a real but welcome challenge, the journey through the forest and moorland is for many the highlight of the expedition. Here you will be intrigued by the exotic equatorial flora and transition zones from wetland to heather and alpine zones. Located in central Kenya, just south of the equator, around 150 km (95 miles) north-northeast of Nairobi, Mt Kenya is an extinct volcano with jagged peaks rising to 5,199m. It has three main peaks; Batian, Nelion, and Lenana Peak. Batian and Nelion are permanently iced with snow and small glaciers, and Lenana Peak is a straight forward trekking route. Serena Mountain Lodge offers technical guided ascents to the Lenana peak standing at 4, 985m, a trek that takes a total of 6 days under the very capable guidance from our veteran guide Benson Maina.
2. Moorland Hike
If a less intense climb is what you are looking for, then try the Moorland hike. A full day excursion from the lodge, the hike leads you across different forest vegetation and varying altitudes to get to the beautiful northern moorland tree cover with its unique flora and fauna. The experience commences with a guest brief after dinner the night prior to the hike, which involves ensuring guests are well prepared for the hike with the appropriate gear of hiking boots and waterproof jackets. In the event you do not carry the appropriate gear the lodge does provide wellington boots and rain coats as the weather can get cold at that altitude.
3. Forest walk through Mt. Kenya Forest
Enjoy an informative 2 hour guided forest walk under the leadership of the extremely well versed resident naturalist, Mr. Benson Maina. First, willing guests assemble at the point where safety precautions are clearly spelt out. Your next stop will be the Kikuyu Heritage Museum which is adorned with artifacts from the Kikuyu community. Here, the naturalist offers a brief overview of the community like some of the cultural practices that were observed by the Kikuyu people during the pre-colonial period.
From the Museum and accompanied by an armed Kenya Wildlife Service officer, you will start your walk led by Benson who decides where and when to make a stopover. Guests also get a chance to watch and learn more about different types of wildlife, how they co-exist among themselves and their survival tactics. For instance, did you know that most elephants die due to starvation? This is because they shed their teeth six times in their life-span. By old age, they can no longer regenerate their teeth and once they have all fallen off, they can hardly eat anymore. Other animals that you are likely to see during the walk include black and white colobus monkey, sykes monkey, olive baboon, giant forest hog, bush pig, genet cat, white-tailed mongoose and mole-rat. One can also spot a variety of members from the Antelope family such as Mt. Kenya Bongo, Bush bucks, Defassa waterbucks, Red forest duikers and Suni.
The best part of the walk though has to be the tea break smack in the middle of the forest. The lodge has a prime picnic location where guests have tea, seated on a fallen log of wood with ‘tables’ made of vertical rounded timber trunks. The tea comes with the option of milk (white tea) or with ‘elephant milk’ (which is black tea with Napoleon French Brandy)
4. Kihari Hike
The Kihari hike is a newly introduced activity at the lodge for those looking for a more challenging activity. An extension of the Forest walk, the hike up Kahari hill lasts 5 hours. Apart from learning more on the plant life, guests can look forward to spotting various animals like elephants, buffalos and colobus monkeys along the way. One of the most rewarding things however about the hike has to be the great views of the lower areas. The hike is sold as a day trip and lunch will be served on top of the hill, so definitely something to get you gong. Try and see if you can spot animals feeding on the lower plains while you enjoy your lunch and turn it into a sport if you wish.
6. Trout Fishing
While not exactly an adrenaline-rush inducing activity, fishing is sure to leave you feeling exhilarated. Serena Mountain Lodge is located near a trout hatchery, which is the biggest trout hatchery in East and Central Africa. One of the quintessential things to do while at the lodge is to visit the trout hatchery. Here you will be shown the whole process that goes in the hatchery, from the harvesting of eggs to seeing the fully grown trout that are sold in the fish market in a nearby town centre. While at the hatchery you will get to fish. In most cases it’s a catch and release affair but for the lucky ones that have a big catch, you can have it prepared for lunch; that is if you want to have fish for Lunch! The best time to go for sport fishing is during the cold seasons since trouts prefer very cold waters and during this time, they swim down-stream unlike the hot season when they swim up-stream in search of cool temperatures.
Viewing animals overlooking the Lodge’s water hole and Mount Kenya
In case you do not have the time to venture outside the lodge due to special cases and circumstances such as you have a conference in the lodge, then worry not about missing out since the lodge’s watering hole attracts a wide variety of game during the day and you can sign up to be woken at night should an animal of your choosing be spotted at the watering.
7. Bush Breakfast or Rooftop Sundowner
And what is a holiday getaway without a little spoiling? Before leaving for your next destination we welcome you to join us for a mouthwatering and unique filling Bush Breakfast as you take in the cool forest breeze backed by the amazing sounds of the forest birds chirping. Served in a forest clearing, enjoy a full English breakfast starting off with a glass of chilled “buck’s fizz” while you savour the experience. Or better yet, after your day’s activities at the lodge, delight in a truly unforgettable, and uniquely African tradition high above the canopy on our rooftop terrace overlooking the water hole. As the sun goes down, private “sundowners,” or evening cocktails, are served as you watch the local wildlife slowly transform the tranquil water hole into the rainforest’s bustling hub of activity. Floodlit at night, it attracts a wide variety of species. Common visitors include elephants, buffalos, waterbucks, warthogs, baboons, genet cats, red duikers and marsh mongooses. Alternatively, a private dinner can be served on the terrace.