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Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Birmingham
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Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Will post as replies for ease of reading

Warning - LONG TR as always!

Birmingham
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1. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Unlike previous Trip Reports, this one will not give a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of each and every day of our holiday – simply because most of them went like this:

• Wake up (usually about 10 minutes before breakfast ends…)

• Deliberate about whether to have breakfast or not (Not usually wins)

• Decide which bikini to wear today (Me. Not Mr Fletche. Although that would have been a conversation worth reporting…)

• Take our pick of sun loungers (always in plentiful supply)

• Cover from head to toe in Factor 50 (can’t be too careful with my bottle-white complexion…)

• Read. Lots. And sometimes listen to music to drown out the sound of Vengaboys and Whigfield coming from the pool area (this is apparently an encouragement to join in Water Aerobics…)

• Lunch – more often than not in the Snack Bar rather than the Buffet Restaurant…

• More reading and music listening

• Afternoon cocktail

• Couple of hours snooze (it’s tiring – this sitting around doing nothing lark…)

• Shower and dress for dinner, applying liberal aftersun and eau de mosquito repellent (why can they not make this stuff smell nicer?)

• Pre-dinner drinks and chat at pool bar with our favourite barmen Bernard and Elvince

• Dinner

• Post-dinner drinks at pool bar whilst watching hotel ‘entertainment’ – mainly consisting of local tribes from the village of Ukunda (seems to be the ‘talent’ capital of Kenya as all of our entertainers came from there) chanting, dancing, banging drums and sometimes jumping. Although the acrobats were particularly good. But the Animation Team’s ‘Comedy’ Show was particularly bad – Kenyan comedy must be a somewhat different concept to British comedy…

• Fall into bed after copious amounts of rum and coke (Mr Fletche) and vodka sprite (me)

• Next morning – repeat from Step 1.

However, I will provide some musings on the hotel as I go along…

Birmingham
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2. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Arrival Day, Aircon & Travel Anecdotes...

I love travelling. I love discovering new places. What I do not like is a 9 and a half hour overnight flight, when I am biologically unable to sleep on aeroplanes, cramped into a middle aisle seat and unable to read by the 2 watt ‘nightlight’ trying to penetrate the darkness all around me. And the food was awful. So, I’m more than a little grumpy by the time we land at Moi International in Mombasa, particularly as the queue to get through immigration is moving slower than a snail on crutches and my newly cut and straightened hair is fast turning into a not-so-fetching Afro…

Finally however, we’re out of Arrivals, the African sunshine is beating down on us despite it being only 10am in the morning and the transfer coach driver hands us a much needed bottle of water. We’re on our way to the hotel… our holiday starts here! But first we have to face the hour and a half transfer…

I am amused at my first sight of goats running across the road; slightly amused by the people waving at us like we’re some sort of tourist attraction; and much less amused when we have to wait for a ferry which is big enough to take our coach over to South Mombasa… I just want to sleep; I’ll be a much happier Mrs Fletche then I promise!

After what seems like a lifetime after we left Manchester – and even longer since we waved goodbye to our little baby Samson and started our journey up the M6 – we are finally at our home from home for the next two weeks… Diani Sea Lodge.

Being a Trip-Advisor addict, I had sought many reviews prior to booking this hotel, but one thing couldn’t be beaten… the price. So I bravely ignored the few dodgy reviews and booked away. But since booking, the reviews had been getting harsher, and harsher, even to the point when I contemplated calling First Choice in a flood of tears, begging them to change me into a hotel more suited to my status (hang the budget!)

But you know what? The hotel was fine. There’s a review on Trip Advisor so I won’t go into too much detail here, but actually ‘fine‘ is doing it a disservice. For a three-star hotel, under £2000 for the two of us, in a developing country such as Kenya, the hotel was pretty damn good.

No, it doesn’t have the little personal touches that one expects in a more prestigious hotel. There were no little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom. There was no free mini-bar – there wasn’t even a fridge. There were no swans made out of towels and rose petals on our bed (actually that’s the one thing I did miss.. I demand towel animals on a daily basis…).

But in those big, luxurious hotels with every ‘extra’ available, do the bar staff know your name and what you’re drinking by the end of the first night? Does everyone from housekeeping and the garden boys to the reception staff and the restaurant staff greet you and take an interest in how you are? This is what set Diani Sea Lodge aside from the huge monstrous European and Caribbean complexes – its fantastic customer service.

We did have something of a glitch on arrival… a lack of air-conditioning. Or so we thought. With our room key finally in our hand (and our suitcases being manhandled by the ever-present, ever-friendly staff), we can relax! Except… we don’t.

Problem No 1. The sound of a generator right by our room which sounds like a helicopter taking off and puts paid to peaceful afternoons lounging on our terrace. Problem No 2. The cool air being distributed by our Air Con unit is the equivalent of a baby’s breath. We lie on the bed slowly roasting and melting into a pool of sweat. It’s unbearable. After an hour’s uncomfortable snooze, I am leaking as if I’ve done a heavy session in the gym (not as though I’d know what that’s like – mention gym to me and I think of steam rooms, massages and hot tubs…)

Over to reception we go. I am not a natural complainer, neither is Mr Fletche but the heat in Room 17 is insufferable and the generator noise is not conducive to a relaxing holiday… We are told by the receptionist – with his ever-present smile – that what we are experiencing is a power cut. “Ha!” we exclaim. “But the lights are working so it can’t be!” Mr Smiley Receptionist explains that the lights are powered by a back-up generator in the event of a power cut, but there isn’t enough power to run the Air Con units as well. “This back-up generator? It wouldn’t be right behind Room 17, would it?” Yes it transpires. It is.

Convinced that Mr Smiley Receptionist is trying to fob us off – or force us into paying for an upgraded room – we amble down to the pool bar for a beer. The alcohol is not particularly helpful to our exhaustion, so we head back to our room. We open the door, insert the key into the power socket… and WHOOSH, our air con is now emitting Arctic winds. This however is decidedly better than the feeble breeze it was generating earlier…

One of our favourite things about our first evening – now we are rested, cooler and have had a most refreshing shower – is the people we met. Without making us sound like a grumpy couple, we are usually the type to keep ourselves to ourselves – not that we’re not friendly and polite and everything but we never seem to strike up the same easy conversations and gravitate towards other couples and families the way that others do. However this holiday was different, and we easily chatted to some wonderful people at the bar.

One of the things that amazed me was that the couples we spoke to on that first night were much older than us, yet we all shared a common love of travel and were able to share and compare stories. I loved the fact that both couples were not content to lie on a beach in Spain every year, or return to the same destination year on year, but wanted to travel as much and as far as they could. That’s what I want the Fletches to be like in 30 years time – to be able to chat to young whippersnappers over a cheeky cocktail about our wonderful travel experiences…

I

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3. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Days 1,2 & 3 - Musing on Mossies & Monkeys...

Passed by in the peaceful blur outlined in the intro – sunshine, swimming, food, alcohol.

Notable musings…

I wake up on Saturday morning to discover that my body had been utilised as some sort of mosquito feeding ground overnight. Every part of my legs was covered in angry red lumps… oh, and then the itching started….

After dousing myself in eau de mozzie repellent before venturing out the previous night, I can only assume it was during the short period I spent out on the terrace reading (after the generator noise had ceased). Or it was possibly due to me trying to mask the overpowering scent of eau de mozzie repellent with DKNY ‘Be Delicious’…. The perfume will stay untouched for the rest of the holiday!

Sunday’s afternoon sunbathing session was rudely interrupted by a rainstorm which sent guests scattering every which way. Determined not to let it upset our afternoon, Mr Fletche and I set up camp at the inside bar for a particularly competitive game of Travel Scrabble (an overhanging legacy from my childhood holidays spent in caravans when it rained all day every day – never leave home without a pack of cards and at least one board game…)

Monday… Mr Fletche is the victim of serious crime. It still pains him to talk about it – you can see the shivers running down his spine when faced with two words. Monkey. And coconut. Yes, Mr Fletche was robbed by a coconut-stealing monkey. For the first couple of days we were delighted by the Vervet & Columbine monkeys happily jumping around the hotel, swinging from tree to tree… “Ooh, look! A monkey!” Now we are reduced to gathering up all our belongings in our arms and hissing whenever a monkey comes within 20 feet of our sunloungers…

Mr Fletche has also become Victor from the ‘Animation’ Team’s new best friend after a particularly long game of darts… why oh why did I predict early on that the game would end on both of them wanting a double 1 checkout… At least they played to the familiar British rules with Chris losing out in a group game later on in the holiday when no-one told him that a double check-out was not required in their version of the game… Still, he eventually left that one victorious and king of Diani Darts!

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4. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 4 – Chasing Cheetahs & Looking for Lions...

The 6 o’clock alarm wakes us, and I almost turn it straight off and roll over back to sleep until I remember – today’s Safari Day! It would have been impossible to come on holiday to Kenya and not go on safari, so after a bit more Trip Advisor surfing and bombarding various recommended safari companies with e-mails, we opted for F King Safaris.

Despite vowing to pack light (never a strong point of the Fletches I note…), Mr Fletche & I, our two holdalls and camera bag are soon ensconced into our Nissan safari bus. For those not familiar with Kenya, seemingly around 90% of all vehicles are minibuses, and around 90% of all vehicles are Nissans… We are introduced to Abu – for the next three days he will be our driver, guide, animal-spotter, wildlife expert, protector and best friend.

It’s a long drive to Tsavo East, through the heaving traffic of Mombasa – a fascinating city, but one best experienced from the safety of a vehicle and not somewhere you would like to take a leisurely afternoon stroll.

Desperate for a toilet break and to stretch our legs, we make a stop at a ‘Curio Shop’ where Abu promptly disappears for tea with his driver friends leaving us to the souvenir shop equivalent to an African safari… except we – rich (we wish), white, gullible English tourists – are the prey, and the ‘shop assistants’ are the lions, ready to pounce on the weak and vulnerable.

One toilet break, one wander around the curio shop (“Looky, looky, it doesn’t cost…”) and one embarrassingly high credit card bill spent on Kenyan tat later, we’re back on the bus… We’re quite looking forward now to getting to East Tsavo and being surrounded by less predatory creatures… (Oh, except for the man who lifted up the roof on our Nissan bus at Bachuma Gate, took our photo at the sign and laughingly told me that my straw cowboy hat would soon be parted from my head and I definitely needed one of his super-special Tsavo safari hats… Yep, we fell for that one as well (although in hindsight these were wise words and a hat that tied under my chin – whilst not top of the most fashionable items in my wardrobe – at least remained on my head).

Into East Tsavo… it’s not long before we spot our first giraffe! This was soon followed by elephants, zebras, elephants, antelopes, elephants, gazelles, elephants, elephants, elephants…. There was also a brief sighting of a lioness snoozing under a bush. Oh, and more elephants…

Now it’s all very exciting, but out tummies are rumbling and we’re in need of a nice cool drink… Put those elephants on hold for a while, it’s time to check in at our first lodge.

Ashnil Aruba is located on the edge of the Aruba Dam, which is a popular watering hole for waterbuck, giraffes, zebra and of course the ever-present elephants. Lunch – and beer – is a welcome event and we chill in our room before the afternoon game drive.

As we sit and enjoy an afternoon coffee on the terrace, there is a flurry of excitement around the lodge. Before we know it, Abu has appeared like a genie from a bottle – binoculars in hand (actually, our binoculars which we had left in the minibus…) – and drags us down to the Lodge’s boundary by the pool - two cheetahs have been spotted just behind the lodge. They are darting in and out of the long grass before disappearing. Except it turns out it wouldn’t be the last we saw of them…

On our afternoon game drive we tick off No 4 of the Big Five – buffalo. Of course there were also elephants (other animals made an appearance too…). Disclaimer – officially it is the leopard in the Big Five, but we considered cheetahs to be closely enough related to count instead. Just the rhino to go now for a Big Five Full House…

There’s a lot of excited chatter on the radio and suddenly Abu is putting his foot down and driving at speeds that would put Lewis Hamilton to shame. On a very bumpy road. All that advice about wearing a good supportive bra was very sensible (and that’s just Mr Fletche…).

The reason for all the excitement? There are more lions! A brother and sister to be precise; Abu makes sure we are in prime position for the best shots (Photo shots. Not gun shots. We haven’t come home with a large stuffed lion’s head to display over our fireplace…).

But the excitement isn’t over… more chatter, more pedal to the metal driving, to…. The entrance to our Lodge? No, just past the entrance are our friendly neighbourhood cheetahs. Except this time they don’t look quite so friendly… they’re on the hunt.

In the distance, a group of gazelles are grazing happily, like they don't have a care in the world… And then the cheetahs spring off on a run that I can barely catch with my binoculars. I manage to track the last gazelle in a fast receding pack… the cheetah’s gaining ground. It leaps, all stretched-out elegance and beauty. The dust kicks up, obscuring my view for a second. Who won? Does the cheetah have a good tasty gazelle meal tonight, or does the gazelle live to tell the tale?

It was a close run thing but the cheetah is slinking back towards the small gathering of Nissan minibuses empty handed (well, empty-mouthed… you know what I mean). Is it going to take it’s frustration out on us in our ‘Made in Japan’ metal cages? Nope, it just slinks past between the traffic, and goes to (metaphorically speaking) lick its wounds. I think it may be embarrassed that it had the chance to put on a real-life wildlife show for us… and failed miserably. Still, it was a fantastic sight to end the drive and luckily we’re within walking distance of our lodge. (Not as though we would walk … not with two hungry cheetahs on the prowl…)

Dinnertime, a few drinks on the terrace, then off to bed for us intrepid travellers!

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5. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 5 – Circle of Life abd 'When Babboons Attack'...

This morning’s alarm makes yesterday’s seem like a lie-in. Who knew there was two 5:30s in the day? Still, it's a tasty breakfast and then back in the minibus for the first game drive of the day, and then out on our journey ‘across the road’ to Tsavo West.

We pass by our friendly neighbourhood cheetahs, zebras, and lot’s more elephants. There’s a flock of large birds up ahead, and just a second too late we realise what they are. Vultures. And where there are vultures, there’s….

Mr Fletche: “You might want to look away babe… there’s a dead giraffe ahead…”

Look away? Are you kidding? It’s like a car crash – or a really really bad movie – you know you don’t want to watch but you feel compelled. The giraffe – taken down by a pack of lions a couple of days previously – is almost hollowed out, with vultures poking out of its stomach. It’s both disgusting and fascinating all at once… Circle of Life and all that (yes, that and other Elton John songs were floating around my mind… although I’m not sure how ‘Rocket Man’ applied to the situation…)

The giraffe carcass was the finale to Tsavo East as we exit back onto the main road. It gives a sense of how big these parks are when they are ‘across the road’ from each other but it still takes an hour to drive North from our Tsavo East exit gate to the Tsavo West entrance. There’s another curio shop en route, but this time we stay strong and do not even enter…. We haggled yesterday, we wasn’t very good at it, we’re not doing it again!

We stop to hear the story of the ‘man-eating lions’ of Tsavo… the lions were in protest at the railroad being built so attacked the workers. According to Abu, if you’re ever faced with a lion (man-eating or not…), you should stand up still and straight… if you bend over they will think you’re an animal and will go for your face or your backside! Wise words Abu, wise words…

The locals gather around our minibus as we wait to enter Tsavo West, almost climbing through the windows to show us their fantastic hand-carved animals. I have taught the soft-hearted Mr Fletche well and he repeats “No, thank you. No, thank you. No, thank you” over and over again liked a scratched record.

We notice the difference in two parks straight away – whereas Tsavo East is miles and miles of scrubland and plains, where you could see the horizon in every direction, Tsavo West is bushland – making the animals much harder to spot. Even the elephants are in hiding! Luckily, we’re going to just the place where you don’t go and see the animals – they come and see you. (If that isn’t the Kilaguni Serena’s advertising line, then it should be…)

We check in to Kilaguni Serena and are seriously impressed by this place. And honestly, they could have made us sleep in a broom cupboard, or on a bed of nails but NOTHING would have stopped ‘that’ view being the highlight of the safari.

We eat our lunch watching the animals visiting the watering hole – giraffes, warthogs, baboons, elephants (of course), zebras, ostriches and buffalo. And the beauty is that our room is situated just a couple of doors down from the restaurant so we have that same magnificent view from our ground-floor terrace. There are no fences either… just a sign that says ‘Do not go beyond this point’… Is that for the humans or the animals? (Clearly not the animals when I am faced with a stampede of baboons heading onto the roof of our lodge… I’m on the phone to my mother at the time who could have probably heard me scream without the aid of the telephone…)

At 4pm, after spending an hour or two gazing at this incredible real-life wildlife programme spread out before us, we head out to meet Abu, who is taking us to Mzimba Springs. This is a 1km walk accompanied by a rifle-toting ranger; we see monkeys, lots of hippos and a log in the water that may or may not be a crocodile. On the way back to the lodge, there are fantastic sunset views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Dinner is a la carte, although I note with dismay that my ‘medium’ steak (I know, all this beautiful wildlife and I succumb to my carnivorous instincts…) is dripping with blood. The waiter however kindly exchanged my steak for one slightly less rare, and all was well. We adjourned to the outside terrace where a friendly security guard gave us an impromptu but highly informative wildlife talk while we nursed our after dinner drinks.

As tempting as it is to sit up all night and watch the frequent visitors to the watering hole, it’s another early start and a long day ahead of us tomorrow, so we retire with images of wild animals dancing in our heads…

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6. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 6 – Sleeping with a Masaai Warrior...

Another early morning game drive – the animals are in short supply but the scenery is stunning as we drive to the volcanic lava formations. We do however get another sighting of a male lion, keeping cool in the morning sun under a rock. He is a magnificent creature, but lions – and all cats – are inherently lazy and not wont to entertain us.

We return for breakfast at Kilaguni (real baked beans – possibly even Heinz!) before checking out and taking our final game drive. Despite driving through an area known as ‘Rhino Sanctuary’ there’s still no sign of rhinos…

When Abu mentions visiting a Masaai village on the way back to Mombasa, we are torn. We’re exhausted by the early morning starts, and just want to get back to our hotel where everything isn’t dirty and dusty. But this is a fantastic opportunity to see the Masaai tribe in their own environment, and particularly the facilities such as clinics and schools which are being provided by tourist donations.

So we decide to make the stop. And it was definitely worth the effort and the money. We are shown around the village by a Masaai tribesman who only speaks about 10 words of English. I am ushered into a cow-dung hut and encouraged to share a bed with him… (Mr Fletche now has photos of me in bed with a Masaai warrior…). We watch the children in the schoolhouse singing and learning from the Bible and see where a second classroom is in the process of being constructed. Mr Fletche made fire using nothing but two pieces of wood…and promptly forked out 500Ksh to bring this symbol of manhood home with us (handy if we can’t find a lighter or matches).

Mr Fletche is mobbed by small children when we produce a pack of pens and a pack of little elastic hairbands (a confession here; I had images of pretty little African girls with braids in their hair – except in the Masaai village all of the children have very closely cropped hair and it is often impossible to distinguish whether they are boy or girl… still, the hairbands were a great hit and were worn as bracelets…)

I mingled with the ladies of the village, who were quite happy to have their photos taken with us. Mr Fletche – who is VERY protective about his camera – lets the Village Chief loose to take photos willy-nilly. We – of course – are encouraged to purchase souvenirs (what? We’ve just bought a fire stick!) and when we plead poverty (‘tis true, we’re on the last of our safari budget…) I am offered a necklace for 100 Ksh as a gift (about 80p, all we have left after the fire stick purchase). Strangely enough this necklace looks almost exactly the same as the one that cost mucho shillings in the curio shop on the way….

We wave our goodbyes to our newfound Masaai friends, and both agree that it was a fantastic experience. Hot and tired, we head on to the final stint back to Mombasa. We are glad to arrive back at Diani Sea Lodge, but sad to say goodbye to Abu, who has looked after us well for the last three days (apart from releasing us to the tourist-eating lions at the curio shop….)

We get back to our room and it’s a toss-up between what’s most important – a nice refreshing shower? Or a nice refreshing beer? Both seemed equally appealing, and it’s not long before we’re taking up our usual position at the pool bar to chew the fat with Bernard. But what’s this? Newbies? In our absence, the Gatwick flight has arrived and there’s a whole host of unfamiliar faces. However, the Gatwick flight did bring us the lovely Gary & Claire, honeymooners from Guildford, who fast became our new favourite drinking companions…

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7. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 7 - A much deserved - and slightly hungover – rest day…

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8. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 8 - Speedboats, Sandbanks and Scabby Knees...

We had been attracted by the sound of the Kinazini Funzi Dhow daytrip at the rep’s welcome meeting, although by the Saturday we couldn’t quite remember what it entailed. (Something about a boat, something about crocodiles, something about a sandbank? Maybe?)

So we were picked up at 7:20 by our driver (yes, another minibus – possibly a Nissan), ready for our magical mystery tour. We arrive at Bodo after an hour’s drive to tea, coffee and a Kenyan doughnut and meet our fellow daytrippers… we are the only English couple; we’re accompanied by two German couples and a Swahili couple. This means that our poor guide Jamil has to translate everything into three languages (although one of the German couples speak English, and later decide to translate to the other couple in order to save Jamil some time).

Our morning is spent firstly on a speedboat from the Indian Ocean to the Mangrove River… we see lots of seabirds, and apparently this is where the crocodiles dwell. We do in fact spot two crocodiles, although they are cunningly disguised as logs…

From there, we go to Funzi Island – like the Masaai village this is a chance to see a more traditional side of Africa, and we are given a tour of the village including the schoolhouse. The children sing to us in Swahili, German and English, and we are suckered into donating $25…. Then again, some of these children are probably better educated than some back home…. Three languages already?!

From Funzi, its lunchtime, and we’re taken over to Kinazini Restaurant on Mangrove Island for a BBQ feast! Giant prawns, tandoori chicken, crab, red snapper, potato salad, coleslaw salad, salad salad, rice…. The trip was worth the money for the lunch alone!

After lunch – and a short opportunity to let the magnificent food settle in our stomachs – is back onto the speedboat, and then over to the traditional dhow. The dhow takes us over to a sandbank which has finally appeared out of the Indian Ocean… this is an opportunity for us to feel the sand beneath our toes and take a quick paddle in the gloriously warm water…

We walk around the sandbank – which takes us approximately two minutes and regret that despite wearing swimwear underneath our clothes, we didn’t have the foresight to pack any towels…

Back onto the speedboat which takes us back to the dhow (unfortunately, whilst clambering onto the dhow from the speedboat I managed somehow to rip my knee to shreds… the scab on my knee an unwanted souvenir to take home!). The crew hoist the sail (hoist? Is that the correct nautical term?) and we let the gentle ocean breeze blow us back to home base.

All in all, a wonderful trip; Jamil kept us stocked up with (inclusive) soft drinks, the village of Funzi was wonderful (and not simply trying to drain our money out of us… even at the ‘market’ (I use the term loosely) we were not hassled into purchasing anything at all) and the seafood lunch at Kinazini was outstanding. Only complaints? I think anyone who is older, or who has any kind of lower-body disability would struggle to get in and out of the speedboat/dhow – or people with short legs like me. Also – the lack of toilets; other than home base and at Kinazini there was a long time between toilet stops… which resulted in Mr Fletche utilising the mangrove forest at Funzi as an ‘au naturel’ bathroom… And where there were toilets, there was a distinct lack of doors, meaning Mr Fletche had to stand guard for me…

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9. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 9 to Day 13 - Snorkelling, seafood and sickness strikes...

After all our recent exertions, we were determined to spend the last part of our holiday relaxing – and on the whole, that was exactly what we did.

Day 11 (Tuesday) saw us taking a trip on the glass-bottomed boat which embarked from the hotel – a fantastic chance to see some of the underwater life, do a bit of snorkelling (and it was only a bit as neither Mr Fletche or I are fans of snorkelling when we can’t touch the bottom… plus the sea tasted foul!) and investigate yet another sandbank… Except this sandbank was ready for us; as soon as we disembarked there were men trying to sell us things! And where exactly did they think I was keeping my money? I’m in a bikini for God’s sake!

Tuesday also saw us encroach on Gary & Claire’s romantic honeymoon dinner for two at Ali Barbour’s Cave – a five minute (Free) taxi ride from the Diani Sea Lodge. Still, we enjoyed our intimate dinner for four! This was a great little restaurant in absolutely stunning surroundings – a natural cave with its ‘roof’ open to the starlit sky. We all dug into the fresh seafood and agreed that the meal had been worth the money (taking Gary’s lobster out of the equation it worked out at about £45 per couple for three courses and drinks).

And then came Day 12 (Wednesday). Both Mr Fletche and I felt a little under the weather. We had booked an evening trip to Fort Jesus with our rep, but by lunchtime we realised that neither of us could face a full five-course meal that evening.

(A note about First Choice here; with our rep not at the hotel we contacted the call centre in the UK. They cancelled the trip with no problem, and the rep provided us with a full refund despite us cancelling so close to the pick-up. 10/10 for customer service!).

In fact, by early evening, it was doubtful whether we would even be able to face a meagre buffet meal, but with malaria tablets to be taken with food, we decided to venture down for a light snack.

This turned out to be a bad idea. As did accepting Bernard’s suggestion of a shot of white rum each – “Kenyan medicine” he called it….

Next thing I know, Mr Fletche is looking decidedly peaky and is lying prostrate on a sunlounger. Hot sweats, cold chills, nausea…. This is not good. I’m not good in a crisis, but when Mr Fletche weakly croaks “get me a doctor….” I kick into action, and run through to reception to explain the situation. Five minutes later, two burly hotel workers are half-supporting, half carrying Mr Fletche back to our room and a doctor is on his way.

Diagnosis? Dehydration, caused by gastroenteritis. Cure? Antibiotics, rest and lots of sweet black coffee. The cost? About £70… paid in dollars this is almost the last of our money…

Mr Fletche looks a little better on Day 13, and we both manage to eat a little food, although Mr Fletche wisely stays in our room and out of the sun for most of the day.

I allow myself the treat of a manicure… bright blue looked wonderful in the Kenyan sunshine; not much when we arrive back in drizzly England…. The cost is 500 Ksh – around £3.50 - and I am treated to a fantastic manicure and hand massage… much better than those I’ve ever had back home!

We venture on down to dinner, but its something of an anticlimax for our last night as both of us are now staying well away from the alcohol. With a 4:30am alarm set for tomorrow morning though, the last thing we need is to feel hungover and nauseous….

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10. Re: Trip Report - Diani Sea Lodge, Tsavo East & West, June 2011

Day 14 - Departing Kenya

4:30am alarm. I feel nauseous. At least I know its not the alcohol as not a drop has passed my lips since Day 11 (apart from that damn shot of white rum….)

Mr Fletche is looking better, which is a good job as I feel in no state to nurse a patient… I spend the transfer on the coach to Moi Airport trying my hardest to think of nice light fluffy things, and not to think about my stomach churning. When the transfer rep sells packages for the VIP Lounge, Mr Fletche suggests it might be a good idea, not least because we have now been advised that our flight is delayed by almost two hours.

Moi Airport (Departures) is a nightmare. You pass through three security checks before you even check your luggage. There is little or no order to the queues. Every passenger seems to take an age to get their boarding tickets and pay their exit visa (yes, you have to pay both to get in AND get out of this country…).

We had moved into a newly-opened queue – and typically this was the slowest moving one yet. Once we finally get to the front (my grouchiness on arrival is NOTHING compared to how I’m feeling right now…) I am convinced we will be seated as far apart as possible, and I am ready to burst into tears….

Except, not only are we seated together, but we get a window seat – better seats than our outbound flight where we were one of the first to check in… Proof that it really doesn’t matter what time you check in…

The VIP Lounge is much welcomed for its air conditioning, free soft drinks and comfortable seating. I only wish I felt well enough to take advantage of the free alcohol and sandwiches/pastries… although ironically we probably wouldn’t have opted for the VIP Lounge had I not been feeling so dodgy…

Edited: 11 July 2011, 12:06