Located in the heart of the Ngulia Valley, in one of Tsavo West's finest game viewing areas, Ngulia Bandas (renamed Rhino Valley Lodge) is one of our favourite places to just sit and watch as the wildlife comes to you. Unusually, for one of our special places, a stay here is not normally exclusive. However, the disturbance from other guests is usually kept to a minimum since they tend to occupy the rooms further up the hill and we often bring our own food and chef so we can serve meals in the privacy of our own verandah. Having said that the lodge kitchen, dining room and bar are all excellent so it is left entirely up to you to choose.

The lodge started life as six self-catering cottages that were built and managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Even though the facilities were rudimentary, its location and position over a rare, but permanent water hole meant it has been amongst our favourites for nearly 30 years. Some years ago the cottages fell into total disrepair and the place closed down. Given its superb location, it wasn't long before the site was leased off, the cottages renovated and a new lodge built on the site. Fortunately the lodge was built in keeping with its surroundings and not made too big so it never gets overly busy.

The old cottages remain the best rooms to have as they sit directly above one of the two waterholes and it is quite feasible to just sit on the verandah and watch a parade of animals coming down to drink, rather than going on game drives. The parade continues right through the night, when the elephants arrive in numbers and can be seen in the floodlights.

Over the years we have seen all of the "Big 5" at the waterhole although extremely rare Black Rhino are seldom seen, since they are only occasional visitors and, even then tend to arrive after the floodlights have been switched off, in the depths of the night. Elephant and Buffalo can normally be relied on, as both need to drink every day and there are few alternatives available to them in the area. Leopard are common along the valley although, as always extremely elusive and hard to spot. Lions also occasionally set themselves up in the rocks nearby, in the sure knowledge that their prey will be passing close by at some point.

Having said it is perfectly feasible to just spend the days just sitting and watching the animals come to you, the Ngulia valley and other parts of Tsavo's vastness are well worth getting into a vehicle for. A breakfast outing, via the Shetani Lava Flow to Poacher's Lookout, followed by a walk around Mzima Springs, lunch at Kilaguni and sundowners at  Roaring Rocks all make for a stunning day out. There are also a number of excellent short game drives nearby, criss-crossing the valley floor in search of  animals and enjoying Tsavo's prolific birdlife, with the added bonus of some spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance.

Favourite-Places Naibor Enchorro Naibor Ngulia Oloololo Rhino Twiga Umani