Hilton Salt Lick, Voi, Kenya....A Tame Safari
Nov 1, 2002
Review by Tom Barnes
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Incredible game viewing, neat rooms, spectacular setting
Cons:Remote location, dining is adequate, but not the focus of the place
The Bottom Line: Highly recommended for viewing large animals in comfort. You will do well to remember where you are. Accept the good facilities here with grace.
The Hilton Salt Lick is a good choice for those who want to go out on safari but might not be ready for the bother or expense of a more adventurous expedition. They do a decent job here, but this is, after all, a "tourist bubble" by definition. Go with an open mind and you should enjoy the place. The scenery and game viewing are incredible.
Recommend this product?
The Hilton Salt Lick and her big sister, the Hilton Taita Hills are in the middle of Tsavo National Park, near Voi, Kenya, about a hundred or so miles from Kenya's coast. Tsavo Park is nearly unspoiled, despite the large numbers of tourists who visit daily. Both lodges are built in an environmentally sensitive manner and blend in fairly well with their surroundings. A game lodge is still a game lodge, no matter what clothing it wears.
As for architectural clothing, this one has quite a costume. The collection of thatched rondavels (indigenous Kenyan huts) perched on stilts around a salt lick watering hole is nearly unforgettable. Built in the late 1970's, the buildings have stood the test of time well. They are also scrupulously maintained, so there is little evidence of the Decade of Disco here. This place is still another world, Hilton notwithstanding.
One must park and register at the Taita Hills Hilton a few miles down the road. The lobby is simple and welcoming, but don't plan on spending much time there. You will be driven over to the Salt Lick Lodge in short order. If you have to choose between the two lodges, the Salt Lick is definitely the more unconventional of the two.
The rooms here are attractive enough (there are 96), but are hardly the focus of your experience here. The curving walls of the round "huts" perched on stilts give the rooms an unusual layout. The rooms have everything you need here to be comfortable, but you will likely not be spending much time in your room. Unless perhaps you are ill with malaria (more on that one later).
Our rooms were not too large, but had two double beds in each, a small sitting area with a table and chairs, and that's about all. The rooms are done up in a colorful way, with bright orange, yellow and red materials. The beads are quite comfortable and everything works well, especially considering the very remote location.
Clean and adequate to your purposes here, the bathrooms are functional and efficient. The towels and soap are good enough, but there is no great luxury here. Would you expect to find a marble bathroom out in the bush? I hope not. What's more is that everything works here, no small feat in the middle of a game park.
Again, dining is not the main focus of the place, though you will likely find the food in the Bura Dining Room more than acceptable. You will be too busy running up to the glass wall to look at the elephants than to really worry about what is on your plate. We sawed through our lamb, potatoes and string beans and hopped up from the table every few minutes.
Breakfast was a bit better than the overcooked lamb at dinner, but is not really remarkable, except when one considers the great bother of getting all of that food out here. When you appreciate this difficulty, what has been provided seems all the more special.
Go upstairs to the bar with its viewing deck and watch the game. That is why you come here. We saw mostly elephants, a few oryx and Thompson's gazelles, but you might get lucky and see a lion or two. We had to wait until the Masai Mara before we saw any hippos.
We chatted with the General manager for a while about malaria. My brother had been diagnosed with a nasty case of it the week before, so his enjoyment of the place was somewhat clouded by the lingering disease. The manager told us that he is used to getting a mild case once or twice every year. Once it gets in your system, it never really goes away completely. One simply has to accept it as a possibility here. Do remember to get your shots or take your quinine tablets before leaving for Kenya, though. Malaria is not something to ignore.
The hotel will gladly arrange safaris into the bush and around the park. You cannot really go out on your own here (at least not on foot). Various expeditions may be arranged at the desk at the Taita Hills Lodge.
There is a swimming pool at the Taita Hills as well.
The rates here are not inconsiderable, though they are not nearly as costly as going to ,say, Governor's Camp or the Mount Kenya Safari Club. You ought to be able to get a room for something like $140.00. The suites are $780.00.
Hilton Salt Lick
Post Office Box 30624
Mama Ngina Street
FAX 801-315-7442 (USA)
Toll free 800-445-8667 (800-HILTONS)
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