Kenya and the Diamond Jubilee

From 2-5 June, the United Kingdom will celebrate Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee in recognition of her 60-year-reign.

Sixty years ago (1952) the Queen was in Kenya, on a Commonwealth tour spanning four continents, when her father, George VI, passed away. Along with her husband, Prince Philip, she had been staying at Treetops, a wooden lodge on stilts in Kenya's Aberdare National Park, which was so remote that she did not hear the news until she reached her next destination, Sagan Lodge at the foothills of Mount Kenya.

Her guide and big-game expert Jim Corbett famously wrote in the Treetops visitors' book: 'For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a princess and, after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree next day a queen.' A BBC radio archive of reporting from that day can be heard here.

Located in Aberdare National Park in Central Kenya and founded in 1932, Treetops is the oldest lodge in Kenya. At the time of the Queen's 1952 visit, Treetops was a rickety-looking, simple two-bedroom lodge high above the ground on stilts, with a viewing platform overlooking the habitat of elephant, rhino and waterbuck. The lodge has since expanded and in April 2012 reopened after extensive renovations.

There are several other great lodges located in Aberdare/Mt. Kenya including the Ark and Serena Mountain Lodge.

The Ark is a unique experience. The Ark is located in the low altitude extension to the east of the Aberdare reserve in central Kenya. Built in 1967, the Ark overlooks a floodlit waterhole (for night viewing) and salt lick, which attracts a host of awesome wildlife. Modeled after Noah's Ark, the Ark has four viewing decks with balconies and lounges to provide superb game viewing from the comfort of the lodge.

The Serena Mountain Lodge is another great option in the Mount Kenya area, located at 2,134 meters (approx. 7000 feet) above sea level, on the lower slopes of the mountain. Raised on stilts above the forest canopy, a timbered drawbridge leads from the forest and up on to the wooden ‘decks' of the lodge. These open-air viewing-deck looks down on to its own water hole and salt-lick, which attracts numerous herds of elephant and buffalo. There is also a tunnel leading to a photo-hide, which offers great viewing and photographic opportunities just feet from the water hole. Inside, the impression of having boarded a ship is perpetuated by a combination of log paneled walls, timbered game-viewing decks and winding stairs leading to a selection of snugly comfortable, cabin-styled rooms. Activities include guided walks through the forest, trout fishing in the clear mountain streams, trips to the high moorlands of the mountain, and 5-day luxury climbs of the mountain.

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Elizabeth Gordon