Written by Cynthia Njeri.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience it to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience”-Eleanor Roosevelt.
The current pandemic facing the world has taught us a lot of things, among them is to appreciate each second of life and to live it to the fullest. This includes exploring the world whenever time and finances allow. I have seen most people on social media promising to be intentional about their travels; to explore even the unexplorable cautiously or with reckless abandon.
Wondering where to start with? A place not far from the city and conducive for unwinding and rejuvenating? Punda Milias Nakuru camp is a good starting point. “Punda Milia” is a Swahili term meaning Zebras. The camp is named after the Zebras on its surrounding environment. It is located along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, 3 kilometers from the Greensted International School Junction. The camp is set away from the town’s noise and activities hence offering visitors the chance to enjoy their peace and quiet. The only noise that you will encounter is the chirping of birds, buzzes and high-pitched raspy squawks of insects. Constructive noise!
The establishment at Punda Milias Nakuru Camp has itself invested ensuring visitors enjoy a stress-free, enjoyable and memorable stay. To begin with, there are various accommodation options available:
1. The Punda Milias House.
This is an ideal space for a family or a couple of friends looking for an escapade in Nakuru. The house is a well fully furnished, two-storey, 4-bedroomed house. The balcony offers you the opportunity to enjoy the views of the surrounding landscape, the sunrise and the sunset. Accommodation at the House can be on self-catering basis because there’s a well-equipped kitchenette but you are free to enjoy the meals prepared by the chefs at the camp’s restaurant at a fee. The bedrooms are spacious; fitted with alluring beds and bedside tables.
2. The Cottages.
The camp offers three different cottages; Twiga, Hippo and Buffalo cottages. The cottages are of different features and sizes. Accommodation can be on a self-catering basis in the Twiga Cottage since it is fitted with a fully furnished kitchenette. Visitors are free to order meals prepared from the camp’s restaurant as well. I loved the hippo cottage because it had an outdoor bathtub, which has been set outside intentionally for visitors to enjoy beautiful moments under the sky.
The Bandas are a perfect fit for budget travelers who do not want to explore the tented options. They can only accommodate 2 people. They are cozy and spacious. Double/twin beds can be fitted, depending on your preference. Guests share outdoor washrooms, which are well maintained hence no need to sweat over hygiene.
4. Tented Accommodation.
The tented options include the safari tents, the family tents, the dorm tents, and the camping tents. The safari tents are fitted with double/twin beds and mosquito nets. They can sleep 2 people. I spent the night in one of the Safari tents with a friend. A highlight for me was the outdoor open-roofed shower. While freshening up, I felt like I was reconnecting with nature. The outdoor washrooms are also common to Bandas, dorm tents, family tents and campsite. This was indeed breathtaking experience for me. A well-noted feature on the safari tents was the use of bamboo sticks in their amenities like sinks, luggage rack, and washroom area. An indicator of conservation and the use of alternative resources, away from timber in making furniture and fittings.
The family tents are ideal for but not limited to families as the name suggests; a couple traveling with their children for a camping experience. The tents house a Double and a Decker bed. Parents, after quarantine this is a plan, right?
NB: Children between 5-11yrs pay 75% of the per person sharing rate if they are put up in their own rooms; 50% of the rate if they are sharing the room with adults. Infants (Kids btween 0-4yrs) enjoy a free stay.
The dorm tents are a budget-friendly accommodation option for a group of guests who don’t mind sharing space. The tents can sleep up to 12 people. Guests share the ablution facilities. The space in the dorm tents is just enough for everyone to go about their usual activities without being intrusive of another’s space.
The last option is camping on the grounds of the facility. The camping grounds have been well-groomed and the tents are spacious enough. The tents come with a mattress and bedding and accommodate only 2 people. Guests also have the option of coming with their own camping gear. There is a designated area where campers can prepare their own meals.
I prefer camping to hotel experience because of the adventurous feeling that it gives me. Camping is always a great experience and Punda Milias has evidently put in the work to ensure guests enjoy an experience in the wild without compromising on their comfort and needs.
Tip: The cold is numbing in the night. Carry extra warm clothes.
Meals and Drinks
The reception hosts the dining and lounge for meals and relaxation. The menu is diverse and meals are sumptuous. The chefs have their eyes and heart all in preparing the meals as the ingredients are done to perfection. The meals are served on a buffet basis. During our stay, we paid a total of Ksh2000 for breakfast and dinner and it was worth it! The camp’s restaurant sells both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at a fair price so you can opt to buy at the reception.
Enjoy the well-lawned circular campfire as you bond over tales of the past, catch up in life, sing joyful songs or discuss unprecedented pandemics like the COVID-19 with family and friends over the bonfire.
2. Relax by the Pool.
Temperatures rise by the day. A small pool has been fit in the facility for cooling off. I call it a relaxation pool as it is quite small for a big group of people. You really don’t have to have a dip because the springs of water sprouting from the side could suffice besides adding beauty to the pool area. Hammocks and comfortable chill beds have been made available to add comfort to your basking.
3. Game Drives
Lake Nakuru National Park is just an hour or so away from the camp. If you use the Lanet Gate to acess the park, it is only a 15 minute drive. Guests can head to the park for game viewing and appreciate the environmental diversity and varied habitats that extend from Lake Nakuru itself to the encompassing escarpment. Birdwatchers would love it here! I have to say this was one of my best game drives. Spotting the wildlife began at the entrance and we saw them in large herds. The entrance to the park is Ksh. 860 for the adults and Ksh. 215 for the children. The park has three of the big five animals; Lions, Rhinos and Buffalos.
Fun Fact: The big five are “the big five” because they are the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. Also, either of them can kill the other when it tries to hunt them. For example, the buffalo can easily take down a lion. But this is rare since the big five have grown to maintain that silent boundary and respect among them.
4. Nature walks, biking and hiking
Nature walks, bike riding and motorbike safaris can be organized and done at Soysambu Conservancy, which is separated from the camp with a common fence. Guests have the option of carrying their own bicycles. The terrain at the hotel is great for a group of motorists who are looking for a new joint to test their skills. Game drives can also be done around Soysambu conservancy. Upon request, the administration can as well organize a short hike to the nearby Hyrax Hill and the Menengai Crater.
My highlights during my stay at Punda Milias Nakuru Camp:
- The camp is well lit; in the rooms and around the compound. There are sensors that make movement at night comfortable.
- The architecture is impressive. Every building is a masterpiece on its own.
- The accommodation provides clean and warm bedding for everyone even campers. I was impressed by this.
- Privacy is guaranteed. The cottages and tents are widely spaced to ensure that the clients get ultimate privacy in the rooms.
- The management has put in efforts to make use of environment-friendly materials in construction without compromising on comfort.
- Parking options are available hence don’t shy away from coming with your vehicles.
- The camp is pet friendly
I don’t think I have done justice to the place. So I need you to go visit and share ratings of the place. Tag me along in your escapade and in case you may have other concerns / need a hand in planning just comment down below and I will be of help.
Special thanks to the staff at Punda Milias Nakuru Camp, The Manager, Madam Flashia for agreeing to host us on a complimentary basis, The Sales Manager-Lillian who has been amazingly responsive to our requests, Koki, Ruth, and Dennis who were quite helpful whenever we needed assistance and the Chefs Joseph, Sammy, and Douglas. I fully enjoyed my stay and I recommend Punda Milias Nakuru Camp to every person looking for a getaway in Nakuru. Cheers!
Trip Credits: Starboard Safaris
Pics: Kenan Moses