The Location

Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy
Lions Bluff's Lodge overlooks Lumo Community Wildlife Conservancy and its neighbour, Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy. The privately owned 110 sq km Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy is an abandoned sisal plantation, which failed nearly four decades ago. Comprising savannah plains, a man-made reservoir and a riverine forest that follows the course of the Bura River, this unfenced wilderness has since found new life as a game reserve offering an abundance of zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, elephant, eland, waterbuck, reedbuck, giraffe, vervet monkey, lion, jackal and prolific birdlife. Good relations with this Conservancy means that our guests have the freedom to game drive within the Conservancy broadening the terrain and chances of seeing yet more african wildlife.

Grogan's Castle
'Part monastery, part Moorish fort and part hacienda it was approached via a road which snakes its way up the hill and deposited visitors at the foot of broad steps leading to an arch in which wrought-iron entrance gates were later set. Beyond the gates was a central courtyard with a fountain and flowerbeds surrounded by cloisters which contained the rooms for the students. Baths were in bedrooms, unpartitioned, as Grogan didn't see why anyone 'needed to hide'; beds were enclosed in cages covered with wire mosquito netting; and many of the ceilings and floors were made from sisal poles.

Lost Lion of Empire - Edward Paice
50 kms from the Conservancy near the shores of Lake Jipe is a massive white mansion standing on an isolated hill rising abruptly from the plains. Dubbed Grogan's Castle it was originally built, in the 1930s, as an agricultural training college for local Africans by 'Cape to Cairo Grogan' an influential colonial figure who walked from Cape to Cairo to prove his love of a young lady called Gertrude, whom he later married. Once finished however, the 'college' was rejected by the colonial administration and was finally turned into Grogan's home. Colonel Ewart Grogan was a gentleman adventurer dubbed 'the boldest and baddest of a bold, bad band' of pioneering Kenyan settlers who arrived in Africa in 1900 to embark upon a lifetime of grand, if somewhat over-ambitious designs, which included founding the country's timber industry, building Mombasa's first deep-water port, constructing what was then reckoned to be East Africa's finest hotel and building Kenya's first children's hospital, Gertrude's Garden.

Lake Jipe and Tsavo West
Lumo Community Wildlife Conservancy's west is bordered by the southern most part of Tsavo West park in which is situated Lake Jipe. We are currently trying to set up an arrangement with KWS whereby we can access this part of the park without going onto the road and through the Mwakitau gate. This gate is 10km along the road west from Lions Bluff to Taveta.

The Taita Hills
Dubbed 'Little Switzerland' by delighted Europeans, these hills are surprisingly cool and lush with panoramic views and steep winding roads. Tropical rain forests still exist at the very heights, protecting rare species of birds and butterflies. These forests can be visited with a guide and rocks at Wesu, Vuria and Eyale climbed to see yet more panoramic views over Africa.
The community has much to show you in the form of skull caves at Mwasungia, its long-ago visitors unsuccessful in their search for a longer life and a cure for their illness. The cultural centre at Njama Mzango Kitukunyi will show you how the Taita build their huts, how they live and they will tell you the stories and origins of their culture.

Lake Chala
90 mins from the Conservancy, north of Taveta and close to the Taveta - Oloitokitok road, shimmer the emerald-green waters of the 4sq km, said to be bottomless crater lake, Lake Chala. The Kenyan Tanzania border slices through the middle of the lake, which is fed by the melting snows of Kilimanjaro whose massive bulk also serves as a spectacular backdrop.

The Crystal Caves of Lake Chala
Missionary, Charles New, the first European to visit Lake Chala in 1871, was told by his guides to listen for the lowing of cattle, the crowing of cocks, the thudding of pestles and mortars and the grinding of flour mills which, they said, were the sounds of the people who lived in the crystal caves at the bottom of the lake. He was also warned to take care because sometimes the people at the bottom of the lake got lonely and came up to look for company.

Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
Meaning: 'The Mountain of Greatness' (Swahili) or 'Mountain of the Demon Njaro' (Maasai) or 'The Mountain of Caravans'. Since the time of their first mention, by Ptolemy several thousand years ago, the legendary snows of Kilimanjaro have excited the imagination of explorers, scientists adventurers, climbers and tourists alike. Rising from the surrounding plains like a massive mirage, the three snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro are three degrees south of the Equator and together comprise the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Comparatively young at 750,000 years old, (by comparison Kenya's Mount Elgon is 24 million years old) Kilimanjaro boasts 4sq km of glaciers and one fifth of all the natural ice in Africa. Previously thought to be extinct it is now believed to be dormant and is made up of three volcanoes: Kibo, the youngest and highest, and most central point at 5,896 m, Mawenzi in the east at 5,149 m and the western Shira at 3,962 m. Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round by anyone who is reasonably fit (the most popular route is via Marangu and usually takes five days). It lies within its own National Park and is most easily accessed from Moshi, the major Tanzanian town lying at its base.

The Taru Desert
Between Voi and the Kenyan coast lies 150 kms of seemingly never-ending, scorching, waterless scrublands, called the Maungu Plains and better known as the Taru Desert. A wilderness of 'wait-a-bit' thorns and occasional baobab trees, the plains form the main migratory corridor for wildlife passing from Tsavo East to the foothills of Kilimanjaro. Normally a haze of grey-green scrub and red rocky outcrops where hornbill swoop, in May and June the Taru bursts into a carpet of blue and white convolvulus flowers.

The compact and idyllically situated town of Voi is the capital of this region and the first main upcountry railhead on the Uganda Railway. It was here where the original passengers would have enjoyed the first of many overnight stops and, until recently, the original 'dak' bungalow built to accommodate the early passengers still provided dinner, bed and breakfast. Nowadays Voi is better known as one of the main points of entry into Tsavo East National Park and the site of Voi Safari Lodge, a beautiful lodge built into the side of Mzinga Hill. It is also the place where Denys Finch-Hatton, hero of Karen Blixen's book 'Out of Africa', crashed to his death in a light aircraft. (At nearby Voi Airstrip).

Leviathan, the second largest lava cave in the world

In 1975 the Cave Exploration Group of East Africa discovered what was then thought to be the longest and deepest known lava tube cave system on earth (later superseded by Hawaii's 61.5 km long 'Kazumura' lava cave). Dubbed 'Leviathan' after the giant serpent of Hebrew legend, the cave extends over 13 km beneath the hills and can be as wide as half a kilometre in places. Lava caves are formed when molten rivers of lava radiating out from erupting volcanoes cool and crust over on exposure to the air thus creating underground channels through which the lava continues to flow until the eruption has subsided.