I was determined to see Castle Forest Lodge for myself.
I find it hard to imagine why there's not a strong contingency of visitors to this place -
it's perfect for a stop between Amboseli and Samburu but it's a shame if visitors don't stay for longer - there's so much to see and do here.
I had concerns regarding the safety of the walks, however, I discussed the incident of last year with the Manager (who, by the way, was and is still very upset about this), and I was assured that nature walks are not recommended to visitors.
Instead, there is a very nice walk to the twin falls, quite a beautiful spot to spend time and you can walk for as long as you please within this area.
8 cottages, 3 bungalows and 1 self contained chalet. The bungalows have double or twin beds, desk, dressing table and wardrobe. The en-suite has shower, toilet and hand basin. There is no doubt that the rooms are basic, however, I found them comfortable, cozy, clean and functional.
They are solar powered, 12v so anything needing charging can be done at the restaurant/main house.
The unique selling point for the rooms, however, is the wonderful log fire which is lit each evening for some hours whilst you are dining.
It makes for a wonderfully warm and welcoming
room and it’s a nice change to enjoy this whilst also enjoying the peace and
each has two double rooms, living room and
en-suite. There are three bungalows which are perfect for families.
The Chalet Montane: a new feature for Castle Forest Lodge. A beautifully wooden built chalet, self contained and perfect for large families or groups.
The chalet is set apart from the main cottages
and its area is peaceful and the views breathtaking. It sleeps four in a double
room and has a loft area which sleeps two. However, there is ample space for
extra beds to be brought in if needed.
lots of space for camping
(own tent or hire from the lodge); with an external bathroom/shared facilities
including hot showers. Camp fires are allowed.
North of the lodge there is a single bush hut available to guests. It can be reached via a forest track, a 2 hour walk, or on horseback (horses at the lodge). It boasts fantastic views of the Mt. Kenya peeks and the forests below.
The hut is self-contained, has one room with a large fire place, a small kitchen and a collapsible double bed. The hut is fully furnished and the kitchen well equipped (gas stove).
There is a toilet and
shower with hot water (heated from the fire). A caretaker lives on the premises
and will cook, light the fire, guide you on walks in the area and care for the
horses. A very nice alternative bed for the night after a horse trek.
a beautiful mainly wood clad building with wooden porch surrounding. The interior is extremely warm and comfy boasting again an open fire. There is a dining/lounge and a bar area which is well stocked and built in beautiful wood.
There is a fixed menu for evening meal or sandwiches and a small selection available.
The cook is extremely talented and it would be advisable to take advantage of her food whilst there!
Above the restaurant there
are additional rooms with either double or single beds and one which it is
reputed the Queen of England slept in whilst still a Princess.
Castle Forest Lodge is, without doubt, in one of the most beautiful places in the World. This is very much taken advantage of by the lodge who offer guided treks up Mount Kenya (if you opt to go alone or with an alterative guide, the lodge will take care of your belongings whilst away).
I’m reliably informed that the trek can take up to 6 days. Horse riding is also offered from the Lodge using the 3 ex-racehorses.
Due to the standard of horse, it is imperative that guests have knowledge of riding before taking this activity.
A very nice walk to the twin falls is a must – the surrounding area on this walk is beautiful and you are usually joined by one of the five extremely friendly dogs who reside here! Along with horses and dogs, there are goats and cattle within the grounds which are friendly.
I couldn’t possibly complete a review of Castle Forest without giving mention to the Manager and the staff. Arriving at the Lodge is like being greeted by family members.
Everything is at a slow and relaxed pace and very informal.
The Manager is obviously at one with the environment, she loves the place and it shows in everything she does. The staff are without doubt part of the furnishings. Some having worked here for many, many years. They are loyal, versatile and irreplaceable.
I cannot recommend this place highly enough. Forget the hairdryers, the bling, the Hollywood glamour – you will not need it here. The Lodge is perfect in its own way.
I would also highly recommend it as a place for convalescing or for some peace away from the misery that is everyday working life for some! Stay for 3 or more nights and take full advantage of the fantastic hospitality and activities, you will not regret it.
On my safari, I stayed in some five star
lodges/hotels and this, by a mile, was my favourite place and I wish I could
have stayed for longer.
I'm informed by the Manager that the cost will be $140 per cottage, full board, from next year, which is very good value for money in my humble opinion. I love this place and will be back again for longer next time.