SILOLE’S LOCATION MAKES IT A MAJOR WINNER
(Posted 04th September 2019)
My return to Silole was prompted by the desire to get away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi after spending a day too many in the city and yet be close enough so not to have to spend hours on the road or by air to reach a similarly ‘remote’ place.
On arrival was Maina, Silole’s Jack of All Trades, at hand to promptly take the baggage and shopping from the car and deliver it to the Silole Cottage which was just steps away from the car shade where my driver had parked. While I was busy taking my stuff out of my suitcase did Maina unpack the shopping and put it into the fridge/freezer and on to the shelves – an impressive service!
Silole can be booked on Full Board basis if guests so wish but I always opt to bring food myself and then cook my meals, often shared with the owner of Silole Cottage, Will Knocker, who over the meals happily narrates the many stories he has to tell about his life, and life in general, in Africa.
The cottage has, ideal for families, two bedrooms each with their own bathroom and notably above both an attic space each where kids can bunk, making the cottage an ideal location for a family getaway just an hour – depending on traffic – from the centre of Nairobi.
A common sitting room, including a fireplace, and a kitchen complete the layout of the cottage but the main feature is of course the terrace outside.
From the front door side can one see the skyline of Nairobi forming a splendid backdrop – especially when game can be seen in the foreground – and from the other terrace extends the view into the bush, where, better believe it, plenty of game are found. Just a day earlier were lions seen, as were giraffes, antelopes and – while walking with Will – evidence of rhino visits as well as of buffaloes. A rhino was seen nearby, half way between Silole and the neighbouring Masai Lodge, more than enough evidence that this is an area rich of game, and birds for that matter too.
When taking a rest from game gazing are plenty of books on the shelves in the living room of the cottage and Will says one can take any book but should replace it with another, something I always do when I visit.
My first view after settling down at the cottage, with a cup of tea at hand, was towards the city of Nairobi which skyscrapers made a unique background, seen across the adjoining national park.
I sat down on a safari chair, watched the birds come by to drink at a little feeding and waterings slab stone and then moved to the other side of the terrace where, book in hand, I spread out across the sofa.
A dining table is available outside too, perfect for teas or a lunch and of course a breakfast I shared with Will.
Will, when he is in residence, is always ready to take guests staying in the cottage for a walk or even better, for a drive into the park through the nearby East Gate, against a fee of course but which is very reasonable given his vast experience as a safari guide.
Into the park we ventured one morning and saw in the space of a few hours one morning 8 rhinos, mating ostriches and plenty plenty of other game. Lions were elusive that day but are according to Will regularly seen and even more often heard.
Mwangi helped out to prepare for dinner by expertly cutting the vegetables, onions, garlic and ginger and then even washed the dishes before he left for the day every evening. For such kind of dedicated service is a good tip the best response before leaving, putting a smile on his face and ensuring a warm and hearty Karibu Sana when next returning to Silole.
I gave a five star ranking for Silole in my TripAdvisor review, if for nothing else for the solitude, the peace and quiet – apart from jets overhead on their final approach to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – and the ability to walk on the sprawling Silole Sanctuary, WITH A GUIDE PLEASE for one’s own safety!
Kitengela Glass’ is located nearby too and the crossing of the suspension bridge is an adventure all by itself. Will took me there to meet Nani Croze and exploring that property is another excursion altogether, especially for anyone interested in glass work and seeing how it is molten down and then processed. Nani too has some guest cottages but access requires a longer drive to reach her side of the gorge. Nani kindly enough offered tea and cakes and Will and I stayed until the sinking sun demanded we rush back, albeit caught by nightfall when still out walking back to Silole Cottage.
Enjoy the YouTube clip Nani shared with me about her life with Eric and for more you just have to visit her yourself.
My visits to Silole always give me my own personal ‘Out of Africa’ experience, of course these days with connectivity – all networks work very well on Silole – solar powered lights, piping hot showers and running water. Add a fully equipped kitchen and what more can I ask for really … well, perhaps company once in a while but otherwise, phone set on silent, I treasure the alone time Silole gives me.
The cottage itself is well worn but this precisely adds to its charm. Close up with nature, that close to Nairobi, few other properties can match the feeling I experience when I am here. On my own I can set my day’s agenda – when it involves Will one better let him know the day before – red, write, star gaze at night and otherwise watch birds and game as it makes an appearance near the cottage.
The guests staying at the cottage a week earlier me saw a lioness walk by right at their front porch but also saw buffalo, gazelles and warthog – I only heard a male lion roar, close enough to make my hair stand and beating a hasty retreat into the cottage, firmly closing the door.
One night were hyenas very vocal and after supper one evening did the growl of a leopard ensure I did not venture out again to watch the stars overhead.
While in the park was I sadly also able to see the destruction wreaked on the so called Green Line, planted along the park boundary at great expense and tens of thousands of hours donated by well wishers and KWS has a case to answer, as Will in the following YouTube clip also explains.
Additional impact on the park, now both audible and visible – audible when a clueless train driver hoots while crossing the massive bridge – is the new railway line, an eyesore of the highest order and clearly also having an effect on wildlife distribution.
Overall though, was the park visit a pleasant game viewing experience apart from being looted 42 US Dollars as a foreign non resident visitor despite the fact that Uganda Wildlife Authority extends residents rates to Kenyan expats coming over to visit, something KWS clearly does not recognize and barbs of course for that failure to reciprocate!
When leaving Silole after 4 days was I already planning my next return and that, for all intent and purpose, tells the story …
For more information check out www.siloleconservancy.com