Sabuk Lodge is a small lodge in the remote northern Laikipia, in northern Kenya. It stands on a cliff above the Ewaso Nyiro River, whose waters flow through the gorge below. Sabuk is now run and managed by one of its owners, veteran safari guide, Verity Williams, who has been operating luxury camping safaris for over 20 years throughout Kenya. Her hospitality, complemented by her trusted team of Maasai, Samburu and Turkana, and her deep knowledge of the bush infuse the Sabuk experience.
Sabuk Lodge has 8 open-fronted stone and thatch cottages. The cottages follow the contours of the rocky ledges and outcrops and make use of the shapes and textures of gnarled wood. All rooms have solar-powered electric lighting after dark, private facilities including bath and shower (with water heated by a Kuni booster), and an individual safe. All the beds are netted. Dressing gowns and toiletries are provided. Two of the rooms offer the opportunity of sleeping out under the stars (weather permitting). The two Eagle cottages are booked as one unit and offer the option of a private pool, lounge and private dining with a dedicated butler. (For larger parties, Cottage 5 can be included in the arrangement.) These cottages are more on one level and have double brass basins, as well as shower and bath.
Breakfast is often served in the bush, in the course of the morning activity. It is a full breakfast, cooked outdoors. Lunch is usually served in the shade of the woven makute roof in the main open-front dining area, to the sound of the river rushing over the rocks. You might start with a salad nicoise, followed by a choice of beef filet with vegetables, pasta salad and green salads. Desserts tend to be a creative take on fruits. Dinner is usually served around 8, though earlier meals can be arranged for children. Meals are delicious and unpretentious at Sabuk (though they will go to town for any special occasion). The emphasis is on fresh, clean tastes and a lighter style of cooking. Some herbs, vegetables and fruits are grown on site – and some survive the depredations of the elephants.
The main area comprises a spacious and comfortable open-front lounge overlooking the gorge, the dining area, a bar, a deck and a library providing books, games and adequate light for reading. Sabuk has a double infinity swimming pool for cooling off and watching for game on the opposite slope. The top pool is about 3’ deep; the lower pool reaches a depth of 2 metres. In addition to the local honey, the shop stocks the usual safari items and necessities. A massage room overlooking the river opened in 2008. There is no network coverage at Sabuk, but a satellite phone is on hand.
Sabuk is known for its guided walks and for camel safaris led by Samburu guides. It also offers day and night game drives in Landcruisers, and Samburu cultural visits. You can go fishing in the river for barbel, catfish and tilapia, and swim in the river in season. Horse-riding is available at an additional charge (experienced riders only). A Sabuk fly-camp is an unforgettable experience.
Sabuk is in the unfenced Nalare Wildlife conservancy, part of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, and the animals - leopard, wild dog, dik dik, elephant, Greater kudu, buffalo, Reticulated giraffe, both species of zebra, impala, waterbuck, klipspringer and bushbuck - are free to come and go. About 250 bird species have been recorded.
Children are genuinely welcome at Sabuk. Verity is confident that, despite the cliff-top setting, Sabuk is suitable for children – her own young grandchildren come to stay at the lodge. Two of the cottages (1 and 5) have sleeping arrangements to entrance most children. The staff are kind to children and prepared to help keep them safe, entertained and occupied; and to listen for them while their parents have dinner. Verity is also quite relaxed about putting a small child to sleep on one of the sofas in the lounge while dinner is served. Nonetheless, parents should be aware that the cottages are open-fronted and that there is no solid fence or balustrade.
Sabuk is approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Loisaba airstrip.