|Royal wedding fever
has reached fever pitch this week. There has been much speculation as the where the royal Mr and Mrs will be honeymooning. Australia? Because the prince recently said he'd love to dive the Great Barrier Reef. The Scilly Isles? Because, well somebody started a rumour and of course Canada which is the royal couple's first official tour at the end of June. Or maybe they'll just hunker down at his dad's pad, Llwynywermod in Wales
. But while speculation about the wedding night
and honeymoon still rage we do that Kate Middleton
will spend her last night as a single woman with her family in a five-bedroom suite at TLTB
favourite The Goring Hotel, just around the corner from Buckingham Palace. Hotel owner Jeremy Goring
said "We are delighted that we are able to play a small part in what's going to be a wonderful day of celebration around Britain".
More importantly for couples who might want to swear undying love in a spot with the royal stamp of approval we also know that the proposal took place near Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (known as Lewa Downs) in Kenya.
In 1995 the Craig family (close friends of the royals) turned their farm in Af-ff-rrrica (said with a Meryl Streep
accent) on the northern slopes of Mt Kenya into an impressive wildlife sanctuary.
Lewa Downs is certainly a romantic spot - a 62,000 acre area of outstanding natural beauty, dissected by the Lewa River. It has it all from dense woodland to patches of open savannah. To the south are the snow-capped peaks of Mt Kenya and to the north, the terrain drops away with breathtaking views of Samburu, Ololokwe and the Mathews' range beyond. Not a bad place to propose really.
The Big Five so beloved of safari types - including both black and white rhino - are all found here. You'll also have spots and stripes before your eyes with the array of plains game from zebra and giraffe to oryx, kudu and the delicate little Dikdik.
All these animals roam undisturbed because The Craigs succeeded in convincing the local communities to stop seeing animals as competition for their cattle's grazing and instead see them as a source of income; fences were taken down and old migration routes were re-opened to the animals.
Ian Craig is the father of Jecca Craig, a rumoured ex-girlfriend of Prince William but there are other reasons for William's love of Africa. The Prince is a keen conservationist and has visited the area a number of times. He spent part of his university gap year in Kenya and Tanzania.
... there are other reasons for William's love of Africa. The Prince is a keen conservationist and has visited the area a number of times.
Prince William and Kate Middleton apparently started their holiday by going bush and camping in the wild in an area of northern Kenya known in Swahili as Ishak Bin which is managed and conserved by Somali tribes. The Royal couple camped there with Ian Craig. They then spent time at the Craig home at Lewa Downs and then headed off alone via helicopter to Rutundu Lake, high on the slopes of Mount Kenya; just Kate and William and that ring (carried it seems in the royal backpack for the occasion). She said yes -and the rest is history in the making.
Those in search of an equally romantic Kenyan safari can stay at a number of places within the malaria-free Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Here is our pick of those most suited to The Luxury Travel Bible readers' discerning tastes:
Lewa House is booked on an exclusive basis for up to twelve people. The house overlooks the valley and has views of the Mathews range and the sacred mountain of the Samburu, Ol Lolokwe.
The property consists of a main building with a wide verandah and with a lounge with comfy sofas and coffee table books and a dining area. Close by are three large cottages each with a double and a twin room. All the cottages have en-suite bathrooms plus a private verandah perfect for sitting on in the cool of the evening under those wide starlit African skies.
There is also a swimming pool overlooking the waterhole with a thatched bar area for those all important sundowners.
Lewa Safari Camp
The Safari Camp has equally spectacular views with the dramatic backdrop of snow-covered Mt. Kenya. The camp used to be the old rhino sanctuary headquarters but don't let that put you off. These days these are definitely tents of the luxury variety. The camp has twelve permanent luxury tents; with ensuite bathrooms ,hot and cold running water and flush toilets (you need to know this if the word 'tent' is involved) Nine of the tents are twins, there is also one double, two family/ triple tents and a handicap accessible tent. After a day of viewing the big five and other wildlife on the conservancy, guests can either enjoy a drink in the main lounge area or a swim in the nearby
Sirikoi is a spectacular game lodge situated in the centre of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya. Surrounded by an acacia grove and overlooking a natural waterhole so there is the potential for some great game viewing.
Sirikoi has four luxury tented rooms that have been built and designed by Willie and Sue Roberts who have run tailor-made safaris throughout East Africa for over thirty years. Each tent has views of the waterhole, a living area with a fireplace and an elegant bathroom with a Victorian bath and a shower - now that's what we call Africa with style. Two new luxury tents have recently been built and also have great views of the waterhole and surrounding bush.
A central thatched dining area has open log fires and a large deck area. Picture your elf sipping a G&T at sunset with views of distant mountain ranges or eating meals served under the stars next to a blazing fire with distant sounds of animals in the African night. There is also an 18m pool.
If you don't fancy being under canvas, a two bedroom stone house, with a large deck area is in a private corner of the camp near the wetlands where elephant and buffalo are regular visitors.
A wide range of activities are offered including helicopter trips, lion tracking, horseback riding, and visits to a local Maasai homestead The lodge also has a 20ft hide, which is a great spot for viewing the diverse landscape, having sundowners and stargazing.
What to do at Lewa.
- Go on day and night game drives and nature walks
- Take a horse or camel ride
- Visit Lewa's orphaned animals and horseback rhino patrol for experienced riders.
- Accompany the lion tracker to collect data on the resident lion population
- Head for the Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve in search of black and white colobus monkeys.
- Visit local schools, water schemes and other community development projects
- See Lewa's prehistoric archaeological site where stone hand axes are found.
Bec Hannah 18/4/11