Beach Vacay at Severin Sea Lodge

Travel is an elixir to my soul… it is much needed rest… it is seeing and learning new things…  it is friendship… it is love.

I am always appreciative of the opportunity to get away from the day to day humdrum and just for a few days do/be something or someone different. October has for the last couple of years been my holiday month and so I couldn’t wait for it to roll by.

And so two weeks ago, I grabbed my bags and hopped to an Uber which transferred me to my second reason for being excited about this trip – SGR! The Standard Gauge Railway, popularly referred to as SGR, is the new railway system in Kenya which has cut short travel time to the coastal city of Mombasa by half. Before 1st June 2017, a majority of Kenyans travelled to Mombasa by bus – a long, arduous trip that took eight hours. With SGR, the trip was cut down to four and a half hours – a relief for those of us who were terrified of taking that bus-trip, especially at night!

I got to the railway station at Syokimau at 0800hrs and for a few minutes stood, mesmerized at the number of people there. Hundreds of people were milling in queues and for a second there I wondered how all of us were going to fit in the train. Then came the second shocker: the security checks. I counted five security checks that included sniffer dogs and scanners. Most of us were so shocked/impressed/annoyed in equal measure at having to stop every few meters to have our bags checked. So at one of the queue I found myself in, two sniffer dogs refused to badge from a black bag owned by this couple.  As expected, all eyes turned on them. We all had that OMG look on our faces!  They were pulled aside for further interrogation! While I don’t think they had any illegal substance in the bag, I can imagine just how awkward they felt having to go through that experience.

At about 0845, we were ushered into the train – I was in Coach 8  (economy) – and at EXACTLY 0900, the train slowly started moving. This was an amazing occurrence. Things seldom start on time in Kenya (there’s no hurry in Africa :)) therefore when the train pulled out at precisely 0900, I was thoroughly, thoroughly impressed.

The ride is smooth, you can barely feel the movement. As the train meanders over the landscape, you get to enjoy the scenery down below. The sitting arrangement in the economy coaches is two rows of seat separated by an aisle. Then in each row, there is a ‘face-me’ setup with a table separating the two sides. While this may not be ideal, the arrangement gives you no choice but to be friendly! After a few awkward glances, my seat mates started chatting. By mid-way along the trip, we had became fast friends. One of them had carried a pack of cards, which kept us competitively entertained until we reached Mombasa.

SGR Cabin 8

There is a space above the seats to store bags for the duration of the journey. If you miss taking breakfast at home, tea, coffee, mandazi, are sold on the train. Potato crisps, juices and beer are sold too but at a premium. If you can, carry some from home. An announcer informs travellers each time the train pulls in at a station and requests those that are disembarking to do so.

At exactly 13:30, the train arrived at the Miritini Station in Mombasa. There is a variety of transport options to transfer you to your next destination.  I took a taxi to Severin Sea Lodge, which would be my home for the next three nights.

Severin Sea Lodge

Established in 1972, Severin is located in Bamburi Beach, North Coast right on the Indian Ocean. You can easily get there through public transport which stop at a junction close to the hotel. After a refreshing glass of fresh orange juice, and checking in, I was taken to my room. As we walked there, I couldn’t help but notice just how lush and green the property despite the little rains that had poured at the coast.

Path

View from my room View from my room

ROOMS:

Accommodation is in two-storey, grass-thatched bandas. The rooms have been furnished with Lamu style furniture including the bed, seats, mirror even the light fixtures. There is a touch of safari with wildlife portraits on the wall.

Double-storey bandas

Room

Wildlife potraits

Room amenities include an LED TV with local and international channels, a rain-shower, a hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, a mini-fridge and a mini-safe.

Verdict: The rain shower was amazing and I could have stood under it for a long, long time. However, some furniture such as the campaign seats on the balcony needed to be varnished. The mini-fridge was not working.

Food:

The hotel has two eating establishments: the Safari Restaurant and the Imani Dhow. Safari,the main restaurant, is an airy eatery that serves local dishes in a buffet setup. You can expect your fish, beef, chicken, ugali, rice, greens etc. With its huge German clientele, I was expecting to find German cuisine but it appeared the guests preferred local food. Diners are allocated dining tables during the duration of their stay, the concierge will show you your table. The restaurant has a strict no-shorts dress code during dinner. The restaurant played some lovely piped RnB during dinner – I wish it had been  audible though.

Safari Restaurant

Restaurant ceilingSafari Restaurant ceiling

For guests looking for a different dining experience, they can try the Imani Dhow restaurant. Imani was for a long time used in trade trips between Zanzibar and Mombasa along the Indian Ocean. When it retired, it was transformed into a restaurant where guests can enjoy sea food and international cuisine. Unfortunately, I did not dine at the Dhow! I hope you do when you visit!

Imani Dhow Restaurant

Imani Dhow Inside

Other Amenities:

Severin has an awesome bar called the Swing Bar where instead of seats, they have swings; so you can sway polepole as you sip on a mojito or a pina colada. How cool is that!! There is a second bar – a sports bar where I watched Man United lose to a mediocre team 😦

Castle bar

The hotel has two pools – a children’s pool with a slide and an adult pool which is about 1 metre deep.

Pool 1

Pool 2

There is a small internet cafe for anyone who would like to use it.

Bush Drum

If you wish to do a bit of shopping, the Severin Mini Supermarket is the place to go.

Severin Mini Supermarket

The beach

Right on the steps of the beach, I found these ladies selling these colourful deras among other souvenirs. There are other traders and young men selling boat excursions and camel rides. There are several hotels along this beach front including Bamburi Beach, Travellers Beach and Sarova Whitesands Hotels. I wish the beach was as pristine as the ones in South Coast though.

Souveneir shop

Beach shower headLoved this showerhead!

Indian OceanIndian Ocean at sunset

On my last night, the lodge hosted a wedding reception on its grounds.  The decor, against the backdrop of the ocean, was amazing.  Severin is a fantastic wedding venue!

Wedding

Wedding lights

If you are the kind that needs explore during your vacay, the Mombasa Go-Kart is a 5 minute walk away from the hotel. Yul’s Aquadrom is a great place to enjoy a pizza and a cold drink. From the hotel you can take a cab to Tapas Cielo and Anuba, the hottest clubs in Mombasa!

Have you been to Severin Sea Lodge? What was your experience? Let me know.

Thanks for passing by!

 

 

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