Camping is the best form of accommodation that travel has to offer. You can pitch tent in front of any view and wake up to it every morning; be it camping by the beach or camping besides a mountain, there is something invigorating about it.
THE ROAD TRIP
Castle Forest Lodge is a cosy, picturesque lodge located in Kimunye Kirinyaga District in Kerugoya at the foothills of Mount Kenya. It is approximately 4 hours from Nairobi by road whereby the landscape is amazing. The greens from the endless tea plantations and the rice fields near Mwea is worth the trip.
I am not ashamed to say that I had never really seen tea plantations until this road trip. Ha! Please don’t judge.
We made a quick detour at Nice City which is located in Mwea. The name suggests exactly what it is like. It’s pretty nice as it is the perfect place to do quick shopping before venturing into the isolated forest at the foothills of the mountain.
As the sun was setting, we arrived at Castle. There was no reception at the gate which was seemingly a foreshadow of our stay there. The lodge itself is quite a distance from the main gate as you will drive through canopies of massive trees and hear the sound of the two waterfalls located nearby.
The camping gurus pitched the tents and started the camp fire. We all quickly hurdled around the fire to keep warm as the place is PAINFULLY cold. You could literally feel the cold seeping through your clothing , to your bones then to your nerve endings. AH! IT WAS SO FREAKING COLD. The ones who were armed with gloves, scarves, jackets and beanies knew exactly what they were getting into. It was so cold that we needed to share tents.
CASTLE FOREST LODGE.
The next morning was dedicated to exploring the lodge as we arrived quite late in the evening the previous day.
Firstly, you cannot go to Castle and not go view Mount Kenya in the morning. The view is majestic. However, I slightly underwhelmed as I assumed I would see a giant mass of rock protruding from the earth. A MOUNTAIN.
The lodge itself is serene and quite isolated. The timber cottages are located in the middle of the rain-forest that is home to elephants, hyenas and a variety of other wildlife. They give an authentic earthen feel to the place and appear to fit right in.
They are located slightly far apart from each other with each getting a majestic view of the forest. However, one cottage has the best view of the grand Mount. Kenya. A little birdie also told me that a stay at the cottage is beyond glamorous as the staff set up a fire and a meal within the cottage prior to your arrival. So you walk in to find a warm fire set up and the aroma of seared steak! Hmm…
The cottages have different rates ranging from 8000ksh to 14500ksh ($8-$145) per night. Camping however is 500ksh per person per night with a bathroom and a hot shower.
The communal space is the well stocked and quite affordable restaurant which is the largest structure and is located at the highest point with a serene view of the forest. The lodge is also home to friendly horses and dogs who make your stay at the lodge slightly more homely.
I spoke to one of the friendly staff who informed me that there are few Kenyans who actually visit the lodge. Most escapades to Castle are made by foreigners who will get to experience the splendor of the place before any of us locals.
The Lodge also won the 2014 Travellers Choice Award from Tripadvisor so you can definitely know that you are getting your money’s worth.
For more on the rates and details on Castle Forest Lodge, please visit their website.
Misty mornings at Castle are also quite a treat. The fog engulfs the entire lodge and as it clears; the scene exudes a sinister atmosphere. Perfect weather to snuggle up in a warm blanket with a good book.
THE CASTLE WATERFALL
Castle offers a nature trek through the forest to nearby waterfalls. However, one of the waterfalls is quite close to the camping site, accessible through a couple of slippery steps.
There are also guided treks within the forest of which you might get to see the elephants lurking inside it.
The waterfall is everything and more!
Castle Forest Lodge is an affordable cosy spot for a weekend getaway. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to getaway from the hassle of the city.
This post is already quite long. Next post we will look at our road trip to Nyeri 🙂
Have a lovely day!