From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Situated within a mosaic of grassy plain, marshland, and stands of yellow-fever acacia, Solio Lodge has the only guest lodgings within the private 16,800-acre Solio Game Reserve. Created in 1970 by a foresighted American tycoon and nature lover, Courtland Parfet, it protects both the black and white rhinoceros. (The new guest program was begun to increase reserve funding amid a resurgence of rhino poaching since the 1980s and '90s, when populations across the continent fell by more than 90 percent.) Six enormous thatched cottages are tastefully done with bright Kenyan artworks popping on pale walls, with fireplaces that make for cozy high-altitude nights. Vast floor-to-ceiling windows frame distant Mount Kenya, while outdoor sundecks deliver full panoramas. Communal meals emphasize harvest from the vegetable garden and are often taken alfresco within sight of grazing waterbuck, zebras, and impalas. Sightings of as many as 40 rhinos at a time are not uncommon; less commonly spotted species include leopards, cheetahs, lions, and the rare Laikipea hartebeest. The gracious manager, Ava Paton, arranges off-site trout fishing, visits to nearby parks and conservancies, and private meals with Solio's resident rhino ecologist, Felix Patton. For game drives, ask for Sammy Lengila, a 21-year-old Samburu spotter whose sharp eyes pick up cats hiding in tall grass, including the small, magnificent spotted serval. 2011 Hot List
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