10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
And The Animals Went in Two By Two.
"The Ark is just as it sounds,built in the shape of an Ark, Noah would have been proud . The animals arrived ten by ten. What a fabalous place. Stayed at the Ark as part of A long Safari, and its so worth a Visit, very different from most Lodges, Basic sleeping accomodation, but if your interested in seeing the animals then very little time day or night is spent in your room. The Lodge was clean,very friendly,good service and very good food.There is a huge water hole floodlit at night, its more l;ike a small lake, and salt is put down for the animals every day to attract them.and it does. Cabins as they are called have private bathrooms and the cabins come in different sizes depending on your requirements.The staff wake every one up in time for breakfast with african music which is quite nice.There is a very pleasent dining room overlooking the grounds a bar and two viewing decks.You can join in with others and listen to wild life talks wich are interesting also giving information on the surrounding areas. our room over looked the water hole and the animals passed by all the time almost within touching distance. A great experience.
An Ideal evening after supper is to take your drink and camera out on to the deck and just enjoy the view and wait. You will be well rewarded.Take plenty of film with you will need it. also there is a down staries photo hide which is great fun and a must for any photographer.In one evening we had Lion, Elephants, Hyenas,Rhino Buffalow,They came for the salt and stayed for ages, Be warned you may get very little sleep, all far to interesting and just fascinating.The staff are very obliging and if you let them know in advance they will call you during the night to see any animals you have on your wish list, The Lodge has a great system of sounding a bell a different number of times for each species. if it rings 5 times you know its a big cat of some sort, a great idea. I would recommend this lodge for just about every one it does however have steps and staires.Children will love it, as you are unbelievably close to the animals. If after little sleep you can manage to get up early you will be greated by the wonderful site of Mount Kilamanjaro in the distance There is a wooden walk way which leads to a place to see the staff feed the birds They tell you all about the birds and there habits and this is worth doing check on the feeding times. .Out of all the places I have been if I had the choice to re visit, I would choose the Ark."
- Travel date: Mon 30th of June 2008
"This was a very exciting night, but unfortunately we didn't get to see much activity. There were large herds of elephants at the salt lick and an occasional hyena would peep up at the herd to look out for potential prey. There were as many as 13 elephants at one time wandering about the salt lick and it was certainly impressive.
It got chilly at night as it started to rain and the noise outside the window was of the rustling of the leaves as the elephants were a little restless and started moving about in the forest. I could see some of them from where my room was.
The night watchman was my friend for the night as I challenged myself to stay up at night to wait for the animals myself (instead of relying on the buzz system). I gave up at 2am after seeing the elephants come and go, and the occasional hyena pop its head out from all around the observation deck. I'm sure if you're luckier you could see something more exciting.
The room was simple and comfortable enough. Excellent if you're in kenya for an adventure."
- Travel date: Thu 26th of June 2008
The Cave, a better name than The Ark
"This year my family and I, a party of three, stayed at the Ark for two nights, at a wopping $1139! Which is the approximate price for some top hotels in europe and seriously luxurious safari lodges in Africa. Having expected a certain degree of luxury and comfort, we walk into the only door, the back door, and wondered aimlessly through maze which is the hotel to the bar, where one aparantly book in. The rooms are far from worth the amount spent. The showers leaked. The carpets stained. The windows don't close properly. The night stay disturbing because the hotel is hardly sound proof...
The cuisine was good to great. Excellent chef, and friendly, efficient waiters. The hotel staff over all softened the blow. The animal viewing was amazing from the several viewing rooms.
I would, however, not stay at the ark untill it has been upgraded."
- Travel date: Thu 17th of January 2008
A totally different experience
"The 2 hour journey from the Sweetwaters Tented camp (which was great) to the Ark gave me ample time to read up on what others had written on the place and I was left feeling a little worried and as a result gave our driver a good grilling - had we booked into the local flea pit? Thankfully not. We started the experience at the Aberdere Country Club - buffet lunch - before heading off to the Ark. There are 2 choices - take the bus which is free and takes 45 minutes or opt for the 3 hour safari ride (20US$). We opted for the latter - which, like all safaris its pot luck whether you see great game or a zillion zebras - fortunately we got to see some elephants close up near to the Ark but that was about it. The setting; imagine Jurassic Park - with a lodge set up in the mountains. Ok so it isn't the Four Seasons - it is quite basic and I assume there are different gradings of rooms - we were on the top floor, very nice double room, clean with ensuite shower and hot waterbottles. There are lots of viewing points both inside and out.
My rating is for the overall experience not the quality of the wallpaper!
I was a little surprised at some of the comments from fellow travellers - we certainly did not have a 'disgusting' expereince. This is a unique expereince, you choose this hotel because you want to be very close to the animals and try something different for one night. The food was very good - al a carte - considering its a good hour from civilisation too, it was one of our best meals.
There is a buzzer system to alert you to the animals feeding during the night which the staff explain, its a personal choice whether you want it on or off - if this is the first experience of coming into contact with the animals then i would recommend it, if a visit to the Ark is part of a week's safari and you have already seen the main game then you may not want to disturb your sleep. Overall its a very good experience - more 'Travel Lodge' than 'Four Seasons' on accommodation but you cant compare having 4 elephants on your doorstep etc to anything else."
- Travel date: Wed 2nd of January 2008
This place is a dump
"My party of three stayed at the Ark for one night last week as part of a safari tour of Kenya and Tanzania.
While the animal watching was good (mostly dominated by elephants while we were there), the accommodation was disgusting. This is not only the worst hotel we stayed at during our 14 days in Africa, but probably the worst hotel we have ever stayed in (inclusive of hotels throughout the third world). Dirty, cramped, old, and bug-ridden, the new "Fairmont" label should by no means lull anyone into a sense that this is an acceptable place to spend the night.
My party of three slept in the hotel lobby the entire night, as did others from our tour. What's more, although the hotel staff was well aware of why we were in the lobby (and as gracious as possible), no one required us to go back to our room -- leading us to believe that we were not the first who had this idea, or followed through on it.
We're not elitist travellers by any stretch, but we paid for a bed for the night, and didn't get it....very disappointing.
- Travel date: Thu 15th of November 2007
Needs a facelift
"We stayed at The Ark for 1 night earlier this month as part of a safari in Kenya. Whilst the food was good, the accommodation was in need of major refurbishment.
The rooms were clean but small (we expected that, but they were very cramped) with only enough room for 2 single beds butted up against the walls. They were also cold and we were grateful for the hot water bottles which were put in to warm the beds whilst we were eating.
We were disappointed in the lack of wildlife which visited the salt-lick, but realise that were just unlucky that night.
We were also confused with the rules about hand luggage. We had read that we were only allowed 1 overnight bag and so packed this before we left. However, when we went to our rooms, we found all our luggage there. (We did only take small holdalls, though, so maybe they were allowed?)
Two final pieces of advice. After lunch at Aberdares Country Club, you are taken by jeep to The Ark. This is short journey with not much to see. If possible, book the 2-hour safari instead which gives good views of the park and the opportunity to see lots of animals. Aberdares is very different to other safari parks which are generally wide open spaces and the safari was a totally different experience. We were lucky to see a female leopard appear from the bushes and then wait around our vehicle for almost 15 minutes. Those who went directly to The Ark saw very little.
And finally, the rooms do not lock, although there is a bolt so the doors can be locked whilst you are in bed. Although it felt very safe and we did not worry about security, it may be better to leave any valuables at home and to carry passports etc with you."
- Travel date: Thu 27th of September 2007
Basic but great 1 night experience
"We stayed at the Ark for 1 night on our way to Samburu. Lodge is very basic, however experience is unique. Had an elephant put his trunk into the window of the photo bunker. Saw the hyenias make a kill of a baby buffallo. Forest is very peaceful with lots of unique birds and wildlife. Make sure you dress warm, it is very chilly at this altitude."
- Travel date: Sat 18th of August 2007
A Little Basic!
"We arrived at the Ark after travelling from Nairobi for the first overnight stay of our safari tour. Guests are taken to the Abedare Country Club for lunch & at this stage your luggage is locked away as you are only able to take hand luggage to the Ark. Unfortunately nobody had told our party about this so it was a bit of a scramble to dig things out of our bags that we thought we might need.
The area surrounding the Ark is truly stunning but unfortunately for us the weather took a turn for the worse & it was raining and misty for most of the night.
The rooms are extremely basic, twin beds & not much else, think Youth Hostel style, and it was very, very cold! Staff provide a hot water bottle whilst you are at dinner but I still needed to sleep fully clothed.
Elephants were in attendance at the watering hole but unfortunately we didn't get to see the elusive leopard or rhino. There is a buzzer system in the rooms which alerts you if animals do appear so you can be sure not to miss anything.
The food was good & the service excellent however after completing the rest of our safari I really don't think I would be tempted to visit the Ark again."
- Travel date: Sat 7th of October 2006
Best Choice for Aberdare National Park
"This park and lodge are great choices from the most common visited national parks in that they are located in a cloud forest at a high elevation so forest greenery is everywhere year round. The Ark is also different from other lodges in Kenya in that lunch is served at Aberdare Country club outside the park and then you are transported via their vehicle to The Ark. Overnite bags allowed only, the country clubs stores your other luggage so pack accordingly. You are not permitted to The Ark on your own but if you plan your trip correctly you can get your own private driver/van to take you to the lodge with a 1-2 hour game drive along the way vs. a direct short drive in a large bus. This lodge is deeper into the park than Treetops and the rooms and bathrooms are small but well laid out and very clean. If you can live in a small ship's cabin, you can handle this. No heat at The Ark so bring a warm jacket & PJ's. A nice touch is a hot water bottle is placed in your bed while having dinner so you have a warm bed to come back to. There is always a roaring fire in the large lounge fireplace, hot coffee and tea set out and The Ark even provides blankets to keep you warm while animal watching. There are a few cozy lounges on different levels to wait for the next animal to arrive. Meal choices were very good and the food was above average and the staff was very friendly and helpful. After dinner they feed the wild Genet cats outside a window and you get great views. The buzzer system works well in annoucing what animal has arrived at the salt lick in the night and everyone views the animals in their PJ's and blankets. There is a small lake right located next the lodge so even if one of the Big 5 don't arrive, there are lots of birds and mammals to watch (otters, storks, bats, etc). Ask for a room overlooking the lake side. There are plenty of viewing areas to choose from (inside and out) and even a stone blind at ground level that looks like a turret attached to the lodge for the best photo ops. The only negatives are: You are on their tight schedule for meals and such; kinda like a cruise ship. There are no locks on the doors so keep your valuables with you. But from what I've heard, theft is almost non-existent; everyone is here to see and enjoy the animals."
- Travel date: Thu 20th of October 2005
Remeber your there to see the animals.
"The lodge is all about seeing the animals. It was built in the 1970s but the viewing, drinking and eating facilities are all very nice. The bedrooms are extremely simple and bare and a little cold depending on what time of year you visit. That said you only really stay there for 1 or 2 nights and you are actually there to see the animals so you spend an absolute minimum time in your room. Quite literally somewhere to rest your head."
- Travel date: Tue 27th of September 2005