Kilaguni, oldest lodge in Kenya goes green

Saturday December 15 2018

The Kilaguni Serena Lodge, in Taita Taveta County

The Kilaguni Serena Lodge, in Taita Taveta County: It is now powered by a solar plant. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By MAGUNGA WILLIAMS
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Deep inside the Tsavo West National Park is one of the oldest lodges in Kenya.

The Kilaguni Serena Lodge (initially called Kilaguni Lodge) was built in the 1960s and was one of the favourite relaxing spots of Kenya's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta.

Hardly five minutes into my visit, I understood why the former president loved staying there.

What with the wildlife that comes to drink from the watering spot just a few metres away from the lodge’s verandah restaurant, and the incredible view of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu Hills sprawling on the horizon.

With such views, Kilaguni Serena is always at the top of favourite destinations with safari tourists.

Recently, the lodge has been upgrading to tackle the effects of climate change and contribute to conservation through projects that it hopes will change the dynamics of tourism, hospitality and conservation.

The management has invested in the Kilaguni Solar Power Plant, making it the country's first fully solar-powered lodge.

The solar power plant, set on two acres of land, features a fixed system and a tracker system of solar panels that track the movement of the sun and change position depending on its movement on different times of the day and season.

These two systems generate up to 307 kilowatts of energy to power the lodge's 56 rooms and other auxiliary services.

Because of its location inside a national park, the lodge is off the national power grid, and relied on diesel generators whose use is expensive and not environmentally friendly because of the noise generated.

The solar power plant has reduced the lodge’s carbon footprint considerably by removing up to 513 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air.

It would take about 41,209 trees to remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

Given the success of the Kilaguni power plant, TPS Serena Hotels has already made arrangements for this model to be replicated in other properties such as Amboseli, Sweetwaters, Elementaita and Masai Mara.

Solar plants in the Serena lodges located in these areas will soon be launched.