"Is it fair that somewhere can be this beautiful?" Crater Lake by CatherineReichardt
Crater Lake Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 24 photos
The opportunity to visit Kenya for a few days arose because my husband was doing some work there, and so his travel and car hire had already been covered. Ever keen to capitalise on a travel opportunity that someone else has funded, we called in a babysitting favour from some friends, and set about plotting our 'adults only' weekend!
Because of prior commitments, we were limited to just over four days (including travel to and from Nairobi) which sadly put the most obvious option - Maasai Mara - beyond our reach. My initial research was not encouraging: on first inspection, accommodation in Kenya's national parks seemed to be horrendously expensive, especially if you're not coming from the first world (with a hard currency salary to match). However, as I discovered when I persisted, there are some very competitive deals to be had if you're willing to look past the obvious options and be a little creative.
So, based on what I learned, this is my 'top tip'. In addition to its world famous national parks, Kenya has many smaller parks and nature reserves which are not so well known, and therefore not in such great demand - as a result, prices tend to be more affordable. Crater Lake (close to Lake Naivasha) is a case in point: as it is a nature reserve, the only people who tend to come here are guests to the lodge and a limited number of 'day trippers' who tend to come for lunch.
Although luxurious accommodation is all very nice when someone else is footing the bill, we would rather stay in less ostentatious places that provide better value for money, and in that regard, Crater Lodge is right on the mark. We particularly loved the fact that the quoted price - as promised - did in fact include everything (bed, breakfast, evening meal, game walks and night drive) as so many lodges take the opportunity to load the bill with 'extras' that you weren't made aware of. In fact, the only charge on top was a very modest bar bill, which I can assure you, reflected no particular restraint on our side!
Where do I start? Well, to begin with, how many lodges boast their own exclusive, lake-filled volcanic crater? This is pretty close to my definition of the 'ideal' place to stay ... affordable, comfortable accommodation in a jawdroppingly beautiful location surrounded by stupendous wildlife.
The Crater Lake reserve extends beyond the immediate crater and reaches down to the shores of Lake Naivasha beyond. Naivasha is a comparatively deep freshwater lake and is a very different ecosystem to the shallow soda lake in the crater itself, so it's nice to have two such contrasting environments so close to one another.
To experience the Crater Lake reserve at its absolute best, you really have to get out and walk - indeed, the opportunity to do so was what attracted us here in the first place. A game ranger is assigned to you for the duration of your stay, and will be happy to guide you around the reserve on foot.
Just be warned that the terrain is pretty rugged, especially if you are going to hike up onto the crater rim and some scrambling is required on certain sections, so I would recommend that you come suitably equipped. Quite apart from the stupendous views, one of the unexpected benefits of clambering along the crater rim is the bird's eye perspective that it gives you on the wildlife below!
I can happily confirm that Crater Lake's wildlife is indeed spectacular and the bird life in particular is extraordinary. The absolute highlight for us was to be able to get out and hike amid such a beautiful landscape and get really close to wildlife - something that many other safari experiences simply don't offer you. For those who are concerned about safety whilst walking in the bush, this reserve doesn't have many large predators (mostly hyaena and leopards which tend to be shy and solitary) and you are accompanied by a game ranger.
When I read the Crater Lodge's website, I was particularly irked by a statement that they offered wildlife from 'aardvark to zorilla' - this struck a nerve with me, as my failure to see a single aardvark, despite quarter of a century of trying, is a very sore point! We were therefore beside ourselves with excitement to see a zorilla (a sort of African native skunk) on a night drive for the first time ever. Sadly you'll have to take this momentous sighting on trust as we have no photographic evidence of this miracle - we were too busy straining to see his bushy black and white tail as he scurried towards his burrow to think of taking photos!
For other attractions in the vicinity of Crater Lake, follow these links:
My Lake Naivasha Page page
My Crescent Island page
My Lake Bogoria page
- Pros:Too many to list - doing Kenya on a modest budget doesn't necessarily mean compromising on the experience
- Cons:If you're into 5 star luxury, this is probably not the lodge for you, and the steps are a bugger!
- In a nutshell:For us, this was sheer perfection, and we can't wait to return!
If you're someone who's previously done safaris elsewhere in Africa, one of the differences that you'll immediately... more travel advice
The Crater Lake reserve extends beyond the immediate crater and reaches down to the shores of Lake Naivasha beyond.... more travel advice
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