International holidaymakers flock to the Tsavo East and West parks for game viewing

The iconic Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge in Tsavo
The iconic Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge in Tsavo West National Park is among the lodges, which are hosting wildlife lovers from Europe.

Lodges and camps in Tsavo East and West and Amboseli are busy thanks to international wildlife enthusiasts, who are flocking to the national parks for game drives.

According to Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Tsavo and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo, visitors to the three parks have been on the rise since December last year.

He noted that lodges and camps are currently enjoying occupancy of between 70 per cent and 90 per cent compared with between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in the same period last year.

Mr Mwadilo attributed the surge in foreign wildlife lovers to peace enjoyed in the country unlike last year when tourism was affected by political uncertainty over the August 8General Election.

He added that the lodges and camps in the parks are receiving safari seekers from Poland, Italy, Germany and France.

The KAHC official said the facilities would continue to enjoy brisk business till after the Easter holiday when the low season sets in.

Mr Mwadilo, who is also the general manager of Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge, said the lodges had occupancy of 90 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.

“At Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge, we have guests from Poland, Italy, France and Germany, while at Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge, we have locals attending conferences,” he added.

Apart from the large number of international visitors, he said, the lodges as well receive domestic tourists from Nairobi, who are being ferried to the parks by Madaraka Express trains.

“The trains have been a game changer to tourism in Tsavo, as the visitors disembark from Madaraka Express at Voi before heading to Tsavo East or West for game drives,” he said.

Ashnil Hotels managing director Rajan Bhandari, said the Ashnil Aruba Lodge in Tsavo East National Park was enjoying brisk business.

He noted that the lodge has guests from European markets of Belgium, France and Italy, adding that the inbound tourist flow had boosted occupancy in the properties in Tsavo.

“February is looking good, as the international tourists, who come for beach holiday in Mombasa and other coastal resorts also visit Tsavo for game viewing,” he added.

Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels (KSLH) chief executive Victor Shitakha, said Voi Safari Lodge has 90 per cent guest numbers this month compared to 30 per cent in the same period in 2017.

He added that the property has guests from Croatia, Poland and Italy, saying visitor numbers would continue to rise till after Easter.

Mr Shitakha, who is also the chairman of Kenya Coast Tourism Association, said charter flights had also contributed to the rise in foreign guests in the lodges.

“There are chartered airlines from Italy, Poland and Germany, which bring tourists from the cities of Milan, Warsaw, Frankfurt and Munich,” he explained.

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