RHINO HAVEN

Just 4 hours drive from Nairobi, is the privately owned Solio Game Reserve. Home to large numbers of white rhino, the Reserve was initially focused on the breeding of the endangered black rhino, but has now succeeded in the breeding of white rhinos.

Driving down was a comfortable drive, and we arrived at the lodge in time for lunch. Lunch was served outside on the lawn deck and comprised of fresh salads with a pasta dish, followed by delectable cheeses and crackers. All this was accompanied by a glass of chilled rose.

After lunch we retired to our rooms where we spent some time admiring the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Then it was time to go out and see the rhinos. We began with a walk outside the Reserve for about 45 minutes, before entering the Reserve for a drive.

Rhinos, rhinos and more rhinos…we saw them in large numbers as we drove through the Reserve. Our vehicle was modified to have seats fitted on the roof, giving us an unobstructed 360 degree view.

At around 6 pm, we came upon a large pride of lions (about 27 to 30), feeding on the fresh carcass of a giraffe. We stopped a few feet away from them and settled down to watch. Lots of grunting and crunching sounds rent the air and we were totally surrounded by lions – one young male was stretching himself on a tree right beside me, and there were lions lying in the grass close to the vehicle.

As the sun had begun to set, this made for a charged atmosphere that had us glued to our seats, while feeling very vulnerable at the same time as we were completely exposed, and night was falling rapidly.

Then the lions began to quarrel amongst themselves and an old male lion began growling and roaring at two young male lions who had come closer to feed. The roaring grew louder and then the old male swatted his huge paw at one of the younger lions and the younger lions came bounding towards us – we were all spooked. This was definitely out of our comfort zone.

Our driver/guide, Ole, bless him, chose this moment to ask us if he could pass us our sundowners….a resounding NO from all of us put paid to that idea. We spent another 10 – 15 minutes there until it became too dark to see, and then headed back to the lodge. You can imagine what the topic of conversation was over pre dinner drinks.

Dinner was served in the dining room – the meals at Solio are very well prepared with good vegetarian options should you require, and a great wine list.

Taking a shower is a real treat as the shower heads are huge and it feels like you are standing under a waterfall. The shower area is large, and is fronted by glass on the garden side, so you can shower with a view of the gardens. There is a free standing bathtub should you wish to indulge, with a fireplace next to it – this fire is lit on request.

The lounge area next to the sleeping area also has a fireplace where the fire is lit in the evening, and lends a cosy air to the room. The beds are super comfortable and we spent a very relaxed night.

Morning game drives don’t start at the crack of dawn as in other parks and reserves, but at the more civilized hour of 8 am. On our morning game drive, we saw again, huge groups of rhino, and we went back to visit the lions – there was a lone lion feeding on the carcass with the rest of the pride sprawled in the long grass around.

The highlight of the morning game drive was a bush breakfast set up right next to the rhinos….who were very curious about us and kept coming closer to look at these strange creatures.

Later that day, we went for a horseride outside the Reserve. This lasted about 45 minutes and the horses were quite amenable except for one spot where 2 of the horses were bitten by tsetse flies and wanted to bolt.

On the day of departure, we had breakfast at the lodge and as one of our party was celebrating a birthday, the manager Ava, graciously arranged for a birthday celebration complete with cake and singing and dancing.

Ava also, very generously, sent us off with packed lunches and gifts for the ladies – the lunches came in very handy.

For anyone wishing to interact closely with rhinos…Solio is the place to be!!!

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