Nakuru to me, much like a lot of Kenyan travellers, has long been a stopover point for accessing Western Kenya or heading off on safari. But The Cliff, a luxury camp, has now made Lake Nakuru National Park and the town a worthwhile stopover.
I stumbled into numerous families from Nairobi; my mom and I were lucky to get accommodation on the weekend.
Our morning wake up call, which we arranged with the staff the night before, arrives smack on time; 6am. The front flaps of our tent are rolled up all the way to the top to reveal a soft burnt-orange sunrise whose light washes over Lake Nakuru as it sweeps over the entire room, illuminating the rustic yet modern European-style furniture within.
What a way to wake up! Gingerly, I slip my feet into the fuzzy slippers then step out onto the balcony which is still slightly wet from the overnight rains whose patter on our tent’s canvas, punctuated by peals of hyena laughter, had kept mom and I company through the night. This balcony is flanked by stilts and perched on a balcony that is about 100m high, which explains the name of the lodge. The lake’s water is eerily still in the distance; only a couple of years back, its waters were usually specked by a flock of blush pink flamingos which are today nowhere to be seen.
Ours is one of 10 spacious tents in the property. A free-standing bathtub within the tent overlooks the lake and I idly contemplate running a bath and fixing up a hot cup of milk coupled with the chef’s tempting jar of freshly baked pastries which are complementary with each room, before heading off for a quick gym session. As we are still on holiday-mode, however, our well-meaning plans go out the window and after breakfast, we are content to wade about in the infinity pool and look out for the birds in the area.
The decor is chic and refreshing, different from your typical “safari chairs and Maasai shukas” narrative. There is a daring plush canary-yellow leather sofa in the lounge, a bold statement for a camp. This is complemented by customised designer furnishings, Timothy Oulton furniture and the carefully curated contemporary artwork on the walls featuring flamingos and other wildlife.
For this lodge, the Kenyan owner worked with three different architects over a four-year period to come up with a design that would maximise the obvious advantage of the cliff and the lake, all without destroying the site given its protected location within the park.
On our second morning, we head off on a guided game drive around the national park which is flanked by rocky escarpments and dotted with pockets of acacia forest, and right off the bat, spot zebras, rhinos, giraffes as well as a big herd of buffaloes milling around a marsh. We even chance upon Mukalia Falls which I had no idea was in the park, and marvel at the petrified trees reminiscent of an eerie scene in Sleepy Hollow.
The entrance fees here are very affordable and while this park can be a stopover on your way to explore the Maasai Mara circuit or Western Kenya, Lake Nakuru National Park is certainly a fitting destination in itself.