Owned and managed by a husband and wife team, with two young children living on site, Lewa House is a great safari destination for families. Situated within the Lewa Downs Wildlife Conservancy, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is in a prime location for wonderful wildlife viewing including many endangered species such as Grevy’s zebra, black rhino, Somali ostrich and wild dog. The house and its rooms occupy a fabulous hill top position, providing guests with awe-inspiring views of beautiful Mount Kenya and the landscape that surrounds it.
Accommodation & Facilities
Lewa House has seven cottage style rooms and four new ‘Earthpods’ which are spread out along the hillside, all looking out to the expanse of wilderness to the north. Of the cottages, three are family cottages which are part of the original house, built using the traditional Lewa architecture of rough stone walls and thatched roofs, furnished with beautiful rough-hewn hardwood furniture. Each cottage has a double room and a twin room, both en-suite, with a shared veranda. A third child’s bed can be added in the twin room so these cottages can accommodate a family of up to five. Two of the Earthpods have room for an extra bed in the main bedroom and can sleep up to three people so ideal for family who prefer to have their child in the room with them.
The main dining area and comfortable lounge are the heart of this property that was once a family home. After a thrilling day spent exploring the bush with an expert guide, the large free-form, solar heated swimming pool overlooking a water hole, also offers a chance to unwind whilst providing a more relaxing way to witness game. The shallow ends is too deep for very small children (or those that can’t swim at least) although there are steps for them to play on. Very small children can be taken to visit the crystal clear springs at the western end of Lewa to play in the shallows.
Eating & Sleeping
Earlier mealtimes for kids or even the family as a whole are easily arranged. The lodge is very flexible with regards to children’s food and will prepare meals according to parents’ suggestions. The lodge recommends that younger kids are given a picnic supper that they can eat whilst their parents enjoy their sundowners. This means that on arrival back at the lodge, the children can be bathed and put to bed and a babysitter can watch over them while they sleep and their parents enjoy a relaxed supper with the other guests (or even have a private dinner).
Babysitting is undertaken by the room staff who are all mums themselves and are happy to sit in or outside the room while the children sleep in the evening. They can also be on standby during the day to keep kids occupied while the parents have the all-important afternoon siesta (although this depends on how busy the lodge is). If guests are happy to use lodge staff for the above facilities then there is no extra charge. Otherwise an “Ayah” (nanny) can be booked with advanced warning at an extra cost of approx. US$20 per day.
Wildlife & Activities
Guests are able to participate in a huge variety of exciting activities during their stay at Lewa House. As well as the traditional vehicle based day and night game drives, you can also enjoy fascinating guided bush walks, horse riding, and even unique trips through the conservancy on a camel. Educational talks explaining the history of the Lewa Conservancy and how it is run on a day to day basis can also be arranged, as can visits to a nearby pre-historic archaeological site with fascinating rock art. Since the mid 1980s Lewa has been a haven for the endangered black rhino and for a truly unique experience, meet the Conservancy’s anti-poaching tracking dogs, participate in their training and see them at work. Thanks to the area’s extraordinary biodiversity and natural beauty, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Ngare Ndare forest were recognized as part of the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site in 2013 as designated by UNESCO.
Specifically for children …
• Crab fishing and picnic – fishing in the crystal clear spring waters is very popular with younger children. Parents can relax in the shade and have a picnic lunch while the kids splash around.
• Paw and claws walk – Calum and one of the Masai staff will take kids on a ‘paws and claws’ walk which is specifically aimed at children. They explore all the smaller things, from insects to tracks and everything in between. Calum (a Zoologist by training) is FGASA Trails Guide qualified.
• Horse and Camel rides – children tend to favour the camels although some adults do too. Smaller children need to be led on the horse and be paired up with an adult on the camels.
• Game drives – all the guides have kids, love kids and go out of their way to keep them occupied. Children will love to ride up front next to the guide… if they aren’t driving the car themselves! It’s not unusual to find smaller kids sat on the guide’s knee doing the steering on a game drive or operating the spotlight at night time. Game drives can be kept shorter or longer as the guests see fit. Lewa is on private land so it’s possible to stop and have regular breaks for the children to get out of the vehicle and run around, climb trees and rocks before continuing with the drive.
• Bush breakfasts and picnics – Lewa House can organise bush breakfasts or picnics out in the conservancy. Food always tastes better outside.
• Visit Ngare Ndare forest – One of the last remaining patches of forest and once described as a cross between Jurassic Park and a Terrarium where you can jump off rocks and swim in beautiful blue spring fed waterfalls and walk through the forest canopy on a wire bridge suspended 40 feet up.
• Cultural visit – visit the local Masai community where children can learn to make fire by rubbing sticks together as well as learn some ancient hunting tricks.
• Schools and community projects –Adults and children alike often benefit greatly from visiting the schools. It’s a real eye opener for a lot of children – both guests and the Kenyan kids!
• Lewa ‘behind the scenes’ conservation visit – visit the Conservancy HQ and learn about the challenges faced by poaching. One of the highlights is a demonstration by the LWC bloodhound anti-poaching tracker dogs – the children can pretend to be poachers and run off to hide with one of the rangers, the friendly bloodhounds then track them down (with the rest of the family following) and eventually catch them with a big slobbery lick!
• Farm visit –Children are more than welcome to visit the farm and help milk the cows, collect the chicken’s eggs for their breakfast and collect the veg from the garden. Literally from farm to fork.
• Archaeology – Lewa is fortunate enough to have 3,000 year old rock paintings and rock carvings and a prehistoric Acheulian hand-axe site with some of the stone tools being over 500,000 years old.
• Helicopter scenic flight – scenic helicopter flights and fishing trips to the trout filled lakes high on the slopes of Mt Kenya.
• Plane scenic flight – scenic flights in a fixed wing aeroplane around the peaks of Mt Kenya