Reflections Magazine - Issue 5

Page 1





KARURA FOREST A protected forest on Nairobi’s doorstep



KILIFI FISHERMEN Still using traditional methods



contents PO Box 40683-00100, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: +254 20 2500273 Cell: +254 722 202564, 733 621532 Fax: +254 20 2651890 Email: Website:


new ProPertieS add to aPPeal oF our Brand


Fig tree caMP Original jewel of the Mara


10. Mada newS 13. karura ForeSt A protected forest on Nairobi’s doorstep

18. Meet tHe Mada teaM The tick behind the tock

22. traVel trade SHowS A perfect ‘shop window’

24. tarangire elePHantS Lesser-known national park has special appeal M A G A Z I N E ISSUE 05

Reflections is published by:

land&MARINE Land & Marine Publications (Kenya) Ltd Suite A5, 1st floor, Ojijo Plaza. Plums Lane, off Ojijo Road, Parklands PO Box 2022, Village Market 00621 Nairobi, Kenya Telkom (wireless): 020 232 4343 Fax: +44 (0)1206 842958 Email: Website: The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the editor nor any other organisation associated with this publication. No liability can be accepted for any inaccuracies or omissions. Printed by: Ramco, Nairobi ©Land & Marine Publications (Kenya) Ltd 2012 ISSN: 1366-851x

26. JinJa: uganda’S coMeBack kid 28. tHe nile eXPlorerS


30. a StitcH in tiMe 32. uS StudentS ForM SPecial tieS witH kenya 34. kiliFi FiSHerMen Still using traditional methods

37. tHe Mada Hotel FaMily 38. adVentureS aloFt 41. Hotel la Mada


44. tHe oakwood Hotel 46. kiliFi Bay BeacH reSort 49. BaoBaB Sea lodge 52. Balloon caMP 55. Fig tree caMP 58. kiliMa SaFari caMP 61. JinJa nile reSort 64. wHat’S cooking

26 1


New properties add to appeal of our brand


elcome to Reflections, the annual in-house magazine of the Mada Hotels Group.

It has been a very busy 12 months since we last published Reflections, with lots of exciting new projects either under way or in the pipeline for the growing Mada brand. As a group, we have moved forward on several fronts as we embark on the construction of a new hotel on the spice island of Zanzibar and we finally take over and then give a much-needed upgrade to The Hunter’s Lodge, on the NairobiMombasa Road, the newest member of the Mada family. At the same time we have undertaken and recently completed the refurbishment of our two charming Kilifi properties and our venerable downtown Nairobi hotel, The Oakwood. Aside from hotels, the group is also involved in balloon operations through our subsidiary, Adventures Aloft. So, in addition to our long-standing presence in the Masai Mara, I am pleased to report that we have a new ballooning operation over the border in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, where our first

But this is just improving and expanding

and we very much look forward to seeing

Kenyan pilot is in charge. We have also opened

the hardware. Running hotels and oper-

you again at one of our properties or aboard

an exclusive tented camp in the same park.

ating balloons is about people – both our

one of our balloons.

highly trained and experienced staff and our

We have just the right combination of people and places to make each stay at a Mada property a memorable one

esteemed guests. As such, I feel confident that we have just the right combination of people and places to make each stay at a

Tinu Mhajan Chief Executive, Mada Hotels

Mada property a memorable one and each flight in one of our balloons a trip that will be treasured. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being one of our honoured guests


A tiny seed that is sowed in fertile ground and with proper care grows into a giant tree – that has been the success story of Mada Hotels, a growing hotel group in East Africa

original jewel of the Mara tHe tinY seeD tHAt GAVe BiRtH to MADA Hotels 4



he Masai Mara National Reserve is regarded by many as the ultimate holiday destination. And tucked away in this dream location is the original jewel of the Mara – a property that has witnessed its transformation into a natural wonder. For many years, Fig Tree Camp was a base camp for the renowned hunter Miles Burton. He chose one of the best vantage points in the Mara for viewing game and searching for trophies. The ban on game hunting changed all this, however, and after Burton’s untimely death in a plane crash, his family began looking for a new owner for the camp, which had only 10 tents at that time.

aPProacHed “Burton’s family approached my uncle, who owned the Westlands Green Grocers and was a supplier of greens to the camp,” says Tinu Mhajan, chief executive of Mada Hotels. “My uncle asked my father if he would be interested in taking over the property.”



Tinu’s father, Tochi Mhajan, decided to buy

“My father did not intend to venture

the camp, mainly as a weekend retreat for

into the hospitality industry,” says

his family, which already ran a camera shop

Tinu. “He mainly acquired the

in Nairobi.

property as a family weekend getaway. However, due to the constant demand, he was forced to

The fledgling tented camp took off with

rethink his strategy and work towards

the fame of the Masai Mara in the late

weekend getaway

having a fully fledged tented camp. At

1970s. An investment in human capital

the time, there were only a few proper-

further enhanced the appeal of the camp

From a small property with only 10 tents,

ties in the Masai Mara and the Fig Tree

and made it the ideal place to stay when

Fig Tree Camp has metamorphosed to form

Camp was among the key camp sites.”

visiting the Mara.

groups in East Africa. According to Tinu, the

This led to a gradual expansion of the

small camp laid the foundations of what

operation, which acquired a reservations

unique location

Mada Hotels has become in the regional

desk, a reception facility, constant improve-

Moreover, its unique location beside the

tourism sector.

ments in service, and product upgrades.

Talek River, overlooking the open grasslands

And the rest, as they say, is history.

the cornerstone of one of the leading hotel

of the Mara, has made Fig Tree Camp an ideal place to view game.

‘My father did not intend to venture into the hospitality industry. He mainly acquired the property as a family weekend getaway. However, due to the constant demand, he was forced to rethink his strategy’

Since it was acquired in 1978, the camp has steadily expanded to include 26 lodge rooms, 38 safari tents and 10 Ngaboli luxury tents. The two fig trees that gave the camp its name are located within the 90-acre property. A hot air balloon operation began on site in 1985.



Although the camp is just beyond the river boundary of the Masai Mara National Reserve, its central location ensures ready access to all parts of the Mara. The advantage of this is that guests can go on a game drive in the northern part of the reserve in the morning and another game drive in the southern part of the reserve in the

Guests can go on a game drive in the northern part of the reserve in the morning and another game drive in the southern part in the afternoon

afternoon – thus maximising the chances of seeing as many wild animals as possible. The camp offers guests a variety of experiences including nature walks, bush breakfasts, dinners and night game drives. Its close proximity to communal areas outside the game reserve is a welcome feature for guests interested in experiencing the local culture, especially that of the Maasai community.


MADA NEWS Prime Minister visits Jinja Nile Resort K

Major upgrade for Mada’s Kilifi properties TEXT

Mr Odinga was in Jinja in December with Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, to attend a fund-raising ceremony at nearby Busoga University. It was part of a drive to raise UGX 22 billion for a new multipurpose building at the university that will house a library, computer and science laboratories, a research centre and an assembly hall.

A major renovation of Kilifi Bay Beach Resort began last year and will continue bODY TEXT through the summer. All guest rooms will be upgraded, with more spacious bathrooms and elegantly designed Swahili furniture. The rooms now have flat screen TV and modernised dressing areas. It is hoped the upgrade will cement Kilifi Bay Beach Resort’s position as the premier property in the area.

enya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, recently visited Uganda’s Jinja Nile Resort.

During his stay at Jinja Nile Resort, the Prime Minister met with members of the Kenyan Diaspora Movement living in Uganda and updated them on developments in Kenya in areas such as infrastructure and the new constitution. The meeting was followed by a cocktail party at the property. Mr Odinga planted a tree at the resort to commemorate his visit.

Baobab Sea Lodge has also been given a facelift, with renovated bathrooms and new soft furnishings. With only 30 rooms, this boutique property is perfect for guests who enjoy luxury and personalised service.

Captain Barnabas gets balloon licence

Mada hosts First National Bank

Barnabas Mudi was recently sponsored by Adventures Aloft to train as a balloon pilot. He spent almost two months training in California and obtained both his US private and commercial balloon licence. Barnabas is now converting his licences so he can be licensed to fly in Kenya and Tanzania.

The trip was organised by Nairobi-based Naked Wilderness Afrika, which chose Kilima Safari Camp because it could provide the resources and services to cater for a large party of demanding guests.

Once his conversions have been completed, Barnabas will be building his hours with the support of Adventures Aloft at their two sites in Kenya and Tanzania.




outh Africa’s First National Bank recently chose Mada’s Kilima Safari Camp in Amboseli for a two-night stay for 60 of its top executives. The trip to Amboseli late last year formed a key part of an actionpacked visit to Kenya.

During the bank executives’ stay at Kilima Safari Camp, the Mada group’s executive chef produced an outstanding poolside seafood barbecue as well as a bush dinner. Highlight of the trip was a helicopter ride over the border to the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Six helicopters flew to Amboseli from Nairobi to take the group from the camp to the crater and back – a truly memorable experience.


Mada to open in Zanzibar M ada Hotels is to build a new hotel in Zanzibar. Located near the village of Michamvi Kae, on the island’s east coast, the new property will occupy a 25 acre plot with 500 metres of beachfront. Once complete, the hotel will comprise 100 rooms of which 60 will be provided in the first phase and a further 40 at a later date. Work is due to start in May 2012 and construction is likely to take 18 months. Mada Hotels has chosen to build in Zanzibar because of its exotic character. It also adds to the group’s growing presence within Tanzania.

Oakwood Hotel offers new services


airobi’s Oakwood Hotel has recently upgraded its services with a new business centre and Wi-Fi connection now available throughout the hotel. Guest rooms have been renovated with new soft furnishings and lounge furniture. The Oakwood Hotel also offers takeaway lunches for customers in the central business district.

New look on way for The Hunter’s Lodge T he Hunter’s Lodge, a famous stopover at Makindu, about 160 km from Nairobi on the Mombasa Road, now forms part of the Mada Hotels group.

The lodge has traditionally offered good, reasonably priced accommodation and inexpensive camping, but will now be modernised and expanded. New management will be installed. For early starters heading for Mombasa from Nairobi, it is the ideal place for a late breakfast, while for late starters, The Hunter’s Lodge is perfect for lunch. The property traces its origins to Dennis Hunter, son of J.A. Hunter, a famous white hunter and author. In 1958 J.A. Hunter, with his son David, built Hunter’s Lodge at Makindu, where he died in 1963. David and his mother Hilda ran the lodge and they were later joined by Dennis. The existing 12 rooms will be totally renovated and enlarged and there are plans for an additional 24 rooms. A new conference centre will be added.



The world over, people are more aware today of the ways in which they can help protect the environment and preserve biodiversity than at any other point in history

A protected forest on Nairobi’s doorstep

By Denis Gathanju


nvironmental conservation and living in harmony with nature has become a fad for many corporations around the world. Today, people are more aware of the ways in which they can help protect the environment and preserve biodiversity than at any other point in history.

of Nairobi, she knew little of what was happening behind the gates of this unique hotel near the entrance to Karura Forest. The story was told to me by Martin Thinji, general manager at La Mada Hotel, as he walked me through the open-air restaurant in its attractive forest setting. “Professor Maathai was just making a stopover

So when the late Professor Wangari Maathai

here for tea,” he said. “But she was surprised at

ventured into La Mada Hotel off the

what she saw and she really commended our

busy Thika Road in the northern suburbs

work in helping preserve the environment.”



The rays of the midday sun, penetrating through the tree canopy to the ground below, further heighten this special dining experience Sitting here, in this beautifully located restaurant, enjoying the natural sounds and colours of the forest, you are bound to feel the same free-living spirit that Professor Maathai felt that July afternoon.

restaurant Martin tells me this is the only forest restaurant in Nairobi and perhaps in Kenya. Known as The Lion’s Den Restaurant, it is unlike any other you may have experienced. The restaurant has wooden tables and benches that further enhance the forest theme. The open-air kitchen gives you a feeling of the great outdoors as you watch your meals being prepared. The rays of the midday sun, penetrating through the tree canopy to the ground below, further heighten this special dining experience. The floor of the restaurant is a combination of soft earth, dried leaves and twigs. You could be forgiven if your mind begins to roam as it takes in the amazing views.

nature Says Martin: “The concept behind this restaurant is to help us merge with nature seamlessly. © Maggie Hardie / Rex Features

This also helps us offer our guests a rather unique dining experience that allows them to spend quality time with nature and appreciate our contribution towards environmental conservation. With that in mind, we work closely with the Kenya Forestry Department in our quest to maintain a clean and healthy


environment around us. We get indigenous tree seedlings from them that we plant within the grounds. We never cut down any trees and we plant at least six trees for every tree that falls down naturally.”

Protection Martins tells me that the protection and maintenance of this forest environment within the grounds of La Mada Hotel has gone a long way towards protecting the biodiversity within the grounds and the

If you are ever looking for a quiet evening, be it a romantic outing or a serious dinner, then this is the place to enjoy a great dining experience

nearby Karura Forest. Look out for squirrels and listen to the melodious chirping of the birds. Listen to the sound of the trees swaying

way down a path leading to the bottom of a

against the midday breeze and watch out

small cliff and, voilà, a whole world opens up

for white-ringed monkeys jumping from one

before your eyes.

branch to the next. Also within the grounds is a new addition – a family of dik diks.


Doesn’t it sound like paradise in the heart

If you are ever looking for a quiet evening,

of a bustling metropolis?

be it a romantic outing or a serious dinner, then this is the place to come and enjoy an

Apart from The Lion’s Den Restaurant,

out-of-this-world dining experience. Picture

La Mada Hotel is in harmony with the

the scene. You are dining under a canopy

surrounding environment in other ways.

of trees and, instead of the sometimes

From the car park, you will hear a sound

distracting sounds of a pianist in the back-

that you may have heard a long time ago if

ground, you have the humming sounds of a

you grew up in a village. This is the sound of

cool, clean stream playing the music for you.

spring water flowing down a small channel under a canopy of tall trees. We make our


Doesn’t it sound like heaven on earth?

Meet the Mada teaM

‘ Th e tick behin d th e tock ’ Rakesh Pant

Financial controller Jinja Nile Resort

just 36 When Rakesh started working at Jinja Nile Resort in 2000 the property had e rooms, rooms. Since then it has expanded into a 140-room resort with six conferenc four restaurants, an Italian coffee shop and five bars. During this time the property Weekend has also been voted Best Country Hotel for four consecutive years and Best Getaway in 2005, 2006 and 2008 by Travel News magazine.

new ‘Meeting most s the people i e part l enjoyab job‘ of my

s in Rakesh, who is in charge of accounts and finance for Mada Holding Operation tly been Uganda, has thrived in this environment of rapid growth and has subsequen put in charge of Mada’s expansion projects in Kigali and Zanzibar. “I like challenges, and running a five-star resort is full of challenges,” says Rakesh. “Meeting new people is the most enjoyable part of my job.” Rakesh enjoys spending his free time relaxing with his family.

n Rajeev Raja al controller Group financi Mada Head Office

of the finance operations le accounting and yc l-c ful ting un the co for ac e of d the keeping Rajeev is responsibl financial reports an lf of dic ha rio be pe on ing rs lud lde inc Mada group, th outside stakeho wi ng ali de for e ibl pons ns. records. He is also res ial and strategic pla ing them on financ vis ad d an y an mp the co ed new systems Rajeev has establish 09 20 in da Ma for rking h in recent years. He Since he began wo precedented growt un ’s da Ma th P-based wi al de software and an ER and procedures to n of new advanced tio nta nancial me fi ple the im of tional efficiency has overseen the increase the opera er ord in e ag ck pa accounting department. freedom to jeev says: “I enjoy the the Mada team, Ra of er d willing an mb e tiv me or ve pp cti As a proa nagement very su ma the to nd fi s ay I alw ing him the freedom take fast decisions. management for giv the es ais pr He e.” to stand by my sid tion. put his ideas into mo


‘I enjoy freedom the to fast dec take isions’


Ray Ewing

Hot air balloon pilot Fig Tree Resort, Masai Mara

“I may have the best job in the world,” says Ray, describing his job as a balloon pilot for Mada Hotels, Based at Fig Tree Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve, he joined the Mada team seven months ago and has acquired a detailed knowledge of the local region and its landscape. He describes the Mara as “safe, serene and full of wildlife”. Ray had always dreamed of being a balloon pilot in Africa and obtaining his Kenyan Commercial Balloon Licence was, he says, the biggest achievement in his life so far. He enjoys every aspect of his job, particularly getting to meet guests from around the world. In his spare time, Ray keeps active with physical exercise and dirt biking and also plays the guitar.

‘I may have the best job in the world’

Stella Pesi

Purchasing officer

Mada Head Office

arned ‘I have le e how to b le and responsib ent’ independ

within the hotel Stella joined the Mada group fresh from school in 2005. Her interest in working industry stems from her father, who worked as a hotelier for over 20 years. to Mada properties in Her role as purchasing officer covers a range of tasks, such as scheduling supplies used in the hotels goods the that ensure also must She . Kilifi and Nairobi, the Masai Mara, Amboseli are good quality and of a high standard. continues to learn Like all Mada employees, Stella underwent an intensive course of training and she how to interact learned have “I lity. responsibi more on and to grow into her role every day as she takes learned how to be with people from different communities and backgrounds,” says Stella. “I have responsible and independent.” She enjoys working in an environment that is peaceful. When she is not working, Stella spends much of her time socialising with friends. and she goes to dance classes, both for fun and for exercise.

Dancing is her hobby

a Lawrence eSmilan ager Human resourc Mada Head Office

s. As one r almost 30 year king for Mada fo or w of changes en t lo be a s ha en Lawrence staff, he has se of rs be em m g rvin of the oldest se ny. with the compa e tim s hi g age his rin du exibility to man rence has the fl w La , an aff m st hu of g r be de managin A trusted mem daily tasks inclu s Hi . ad klo e. or w l advic own time and pany with lega oviding the com his family resources and pr quality time with loves to spend e nc re w La k, or Outside of w irobi. and friends in Na

Lawrence loves to spend quality time with his family



Paul Wanyeki Executive chef Kilima Safari Camp

Paul started working for the Mada group 18 years ago as a trainee at Fig Tree Camp. He soon showed a keen interest in becoming a chef and his genuine talent and drive soon promoted him to head chef at La Mada in Nairobi. Today Paul is the executive chef at Kilima Safari Camp, where he enjoys working with his team to prepare delicious food and creative displays. “I can proudly say that we run the best kitchens in Kenya,” he says. Working for Mada Hotels has allowed Paul to build his confidence and experiment with creativity. “Starting as a trainee, I had no idea my job would take me to so many places,” says Paul. “I think this was pure luck that I managed to get in the Mada Hotel chain.” Paul has received consistent training from professional chefs throughout his time with Mada and he receives all the latest top chef magazines for reference.

‘I can proudly say that we run the best kitchens in Kenya’

Moses Msuya

Commercial hot air balloon pilot

Balloon Camp, Tarangire National Park and Fig Tree Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve

se in the l e e r e h ‘W n you world ca r float ove ’ ark? Jurassic P

Obtaining a commercial Moses has worked as a balloon pilot for 17 years and joined the Mada team in 2009. receives biannual flight still and training intense of years t underwen balloon pilot licence is no easy task. Moses checks, base checks and medicals. in Tanzania where his daily Most recently, Moses has been involved in setting up operations at Balloon Camp ng a good rapport with duties include creating new procedures, coordinating with management and maintaini . As someone who loves paperwork and nce maintena balloon on spent also is time his of lot A staff. the balloon for Moses. fresh projects, this opportunity to work in Tanzania has been an ideal experience over Jurassic Park a few oat fl you Asked about flying in Africa, his response is: “Where else in the world can Mada guests. meeting loves and job his about passionate is He Five?” Big hundred feet above the

atee Margaret M er General manag Oakwood Hotel

g of day-to-day re the smooth runnin su en to is lity ibi ns po Margaret’s main res Nairobi. ’s Oakwood Hotel in da Ma at ns tio era op ly enjoys meeting cause she genuine be try us ind s tel ho the nager, Margaret aim She decided to join them. As a hotel ma th wi as ard ide nd g sta gin h an the hig people and exch ff while maintaining team spirit in her sta . up gro da Ma to foster a positive the m t guests expect fro tha ce rvi se r me of custo ff training, instilled as part of sta ht” is a philosophy rig s feedback ay ive alw is sit r po t me “The custo sis. She says tha ba s thi on d oo kw the Oa rking hard. and Margaret runs tivation to keep wo ts is her biggest mo es gu ed isfi sat m fro e Margaret enjoys e that in her spare tim ris rp su no is it n, rso rvices and enjoys For such a busy pe o attends church se als e sh r, ve we Ho some ‘alone time’. seeing her friends.

Positive feedback is key motivation


travel trade shows provide a perfect ‘shop window’




o single hotel or hotel group can expect to succeed in the highly competitive hospitality sector without a well organised and carefully thought through marketing campaign – especially in kenya, where visitors have a huge range of properties from which to choose.

When it comes to Indaba – attended by Mada only since 2010 as Kenya did not have a national stand until two years ago – it has been a case of attracting a new market and new operators. “Indaba is the biggest Africa show there is,” says chief executive Tinu Mhajan. “It’s great for inbound operators, but also for South African outbound operators. It’s a strong show for the coast and a strong show for safaris. We’ll certainly be going

Then there is the cost of attending. “It’s

back in 2012.”

expensive,” admits Tinu. “But it’s important

Apart from providing guests with a great product and a memorably stay, the key

to meet people and find out what people The open-air and informal Karibu Fair is

are planning for our destination and have an

to success often lies in promotion. Clearly,

pretty much a regional show, but features all

ear to the ground.”

Mada Hotels did not become one of Kenya’s

the main operators in the Tanzanian market

leading brands without getting out and

– and, of course, it’s here that Mada Hotels

Another important factor for Mada Hotels at

about, spreading the word and pressing

owns a camp, a property under construc-

these high-profile international gatherings

the flesh.

tion in Zanzibar and also has a ballooning

is that all the major players from Kenya’s

business. Says Tinu: “In 2011 it was just the

tourism sector are on hand. This provides

top shows

right place to launch our new Tarangire

an ideal opportunity to meet and socialise

Balloon Camp and our flights in Tarangire

on an informal basis with key personnel

So each year, Mada Hotels can be seen

National Park.”

from across the industry, including big

at the international travel industry’s top

names such as the Minister for Tourism, the

shows – ITB in Berlin (held in March),

The two local shows are different again and

Hon. Najib Balala, and KTB’s chief executive,

London’s World Travel Market (scheduled

are timed to maximise exposure ahead of

Muriithi Ndegwa.

for November) and, more recently, Indaba in

Kenya’s two main holiday periods, Christmas

Durban as well as the Karibu Fair in Arusha.

and Easter. “These local shows are fantastic,

These almost global exhibitions are in

as we are meeting people who are making

addition to important local shows held at

real bookings,” says Tinu.

Nairobi’s Sarit Centre in November and April.

attendance Over the years, Mada Hotels has also attended shows in Moscow, Rimini (Italy)

The face of Mada Hotels at these gather-

and Tokyo and this year will participate in

From Mada’s perspective, each of these

ings is Betty Olwenyi, the group’s marketing

the first Uganda Tourism Day in Jinja.

shows has a slightly different focus.

manager. She is sometimes joined by Tinu himself, in particular at ITB. “What’s more,

As Betty can testify, the merry-go-round of

For example, ITB is a business-related show

many of these bookings turn out to be

travel trade shows never seems to stop. As

and is timed perfectly just before the main

repeat business through the years for friends

one show closes, planning is already under

contracting period for air charter operators.

and family,” he says.

way for the next.

The show attracts trade buyers from across Europe, but especially from the key German

Attending big international shows requires

home market. ITB is the world’s biggest

meticulous planning in order to attract the

travel show with about 15,000 exhibitors

maximum number of visitors to your table

and enough floor space to ensure that no

on the national stand. “Preparation is the

part of the world is unrepresented.

key and the difference between a local show, where people just walk up to you on

By comparison, WTM is more social and is

the stand, is that you have to prearrange

used by Mada to keep in contact with its

meetings,” explains Tinu.

clients. This is the next most important show after ITB. It is not just for the UK market,

For a start, attendance at the big shows is

however, and it attracts small and some-

arranged by and through the Kenya Tourist

times highly specialised companies from

Board (KTB) and preparation for each exhibi-

across Europe.

tion begins about eight months in advance.

It requires meticulous planning in order to attract the maximum number of visitors to your table on the national stand



national park has special appeal W

ant to be in on a secret? Well, those who really know East Africa and where to find the most perfect places to view wildlife believe that Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park is a true gem.

Tarangire is home to one of Africa’s densest populations of elephant


This park, in which Mada Hotels now offers

cially in the dry season between June

both hot air ballooning and luxury tented

and December. Visitors can expect to see

accommodation at its own camp, remains

impressive herds of up to 300 animals and

well off the mass market radar as tourists

marvel at the huge number of elephants

flock to visit the better-known Serengeti and

– as many as 2,300 of them – roaming the

Ngorongoro reserves to the north.

park at any given time.


Because it receives comparatively few

Tarangire has just a handful of small and

opportunity to view the abundant wildlife

discreet camps, all carefully secreted

close up and without encountering many

throughout the park. There is a real feeling

other safari vehicles during the main

of remoteness and that authentic Africa

morning and evening game drives. In

sensation that is sometimes lacking in the

essence, this is how safaris should be, with

region’s bigger and busier reserves.

extraordinarily high game densities and a

visitors, Tarangire offers an unrivalled

minimal human presence. Set in 2,850 sq km of thickish bush and slightly off Tanzania’s main northern safari

In fact, Tarangire is Tanzania’s sixth-largest

circuit, Tarangire is home to one of Africa’s

national park. It is criss-crossed by the

densest populations of elephant, espe-

Tarangire River, the area’s only year-round


source of water and a haven for animals

months as well as taking advantage of more

works closely with Tanzania National Parks

during the unrelenting dry season. The river

attractive accommodation rates.

(Tanapa) to ensure that elephants are well

attracts wildlife from far and wide.

protected. And, today, they certainly are. It hasn’t always been this way. When one visits

Apart from its abundant elephant popula-

the park today, it is hard to appreciate the

tion, Tarangire is home to a variety of other

contrast between its present-day calm and

wildlife including buffalo, eland, gazelle,

what happened in the not-too-distant past.

hartebeest, impala, wildebeest and zebra. It is also probably the best place in Tanzania to view the rarely sighted fringe-eared oryx


and gerenuk. There is also a good selection

During the dark days of the 1960s and

of big cat predators.

1970s, Tarangire suffered from excessive poaching and many of the park’s

Tarangire and its elephants are the main

elephants were killed. This carnage also

attraction for the safari cognoscenti, and

impacted on migratory patterns, so

rightly so. In addition, however, the park

that elephants preferred to stay in the

itself offers a special kind of solitude. This

park rather than just pass through or

is matched by a diverse landscape that is

visit during dry periods.

unique to the region, featuring hills, a profusion of mighty baobab trees, and tall grass

Thankfully, large-scale poaching

that provides exceptionally good cover for

is no more and Tarangire’s huge

local wildlife.

elephant population is a testament to this situation.

The park looks particularly splendid during the green season from January to May.

Praise is due to the Tarangire Elephant

Although it may not offer the same high

Project (TEP), which since 1993 has been

numbers of elephant at this time of year,

committed to the conservation of elephants

there is still plenty of game, and visitors can

by way of field research. TEP was started by

enjoy a greater tranquillity during these

Charles Foley who today, with his wife Lara,


Jinja Uganda’s comeback kid


ew towns in East Africa have endured the mixed fortunes of Jinja.

Whoever created Jinja’s original town plan came up with a masterpiece comprising grand tree-lined avenues neatly laid out on an easy-to-navigate grid system.

Once-thriving Jinja grew, blossomed and

Industries (Nytil), which at its peak employed about 3,000 people to spin and weave cotton

then sadly wilted as a combination of politics,

By the late 1940s Jinja must have been a

outright tyranny and changing business

thriving community and many of the finer

patterns hit the town hard. Today it continues

houses date from this period as spacious

The expatriates who lived in Jinja enjoyed a

with a slow, painful yet inexorable recovery

new dwellings adorned a town prospering

truly idyllic lifestyle, occupying large houses

from its glory days in the 1950s and 1960s.

in the immediate post-war years.

in expansive gardens – often with uninter-

for the immediate East African market.

rupted lake views – and, of course, basking At the start of the 20th century Jinja was a


in a fabulous climate.

Goa, who arrived in the town to run small

Jinja soon became the industrial powerhouse

Close by was the inevitable club. As was

businesses in what was then a British colony.

of Uganda as businesses set up to benefit from

customary, the Jinja Club was a social centre

popular base for Indian traders, mostly from

energy generated by the new hydroelectric

and provided the usual sports and pastimes:

They established and helped to develop

Nalubaale Power Station. Probably the biggest

a nine-hole golf course, tennis and squash

what became a beautiful small town.

of the new businesses was Nyanza Textile

courts and a swimming pool. There were also separate sailing, rugby and football clubs. A somewhat faded Jinja Golf Club remains a relic of this bygone age and is best known for an arcane local rule that allowed players a free drop

The expatriates who lived in Jinja enjoyed a truly idyllic lifestyle 26

Reflections if their ball came to rest in a hippo footprint. While

perhaps long to restore their now faded and

the rule may still apply, the hippos have long gone.

dilapidated family homes. Some properties have been restored to their former glory, adding

Then everything went horribly pear-shaped.

to the growing attractiveness of the town.

Jinja’s sudden demise, from which it has still to recover fully, came when former president

But Jinja has yet to regain its importance or

and bloody dictator Idi Amin chose, in 1972,

influence it enjoyed in the past as Kampala

to expel Indians from Uganda. With their

has emerged as the nation’s commercial

expulsion, Jinja fell into a long spiral of decline

heart. Some members of Jinja’s local business

as maintenance of buildings dropped and the

community have moved to the capital

seminars as well a base for daredevil activities

management of local industries suffered.

– only 87 km away to the west – in order to

such as white water rafting and bungee jumping.

be closer to the nation’s decision makers. Jinja’s long-defunct airstrip (although it has

Recovery has not been painless and many


a 1,300 metre long runway, ‘airport’ is perhaps

Sugar, agricultural produce, leather, edible

An early sign that Jinja was returning to its

by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and there

oil, coffee and a large brewery now form the

former glories was the decision by Mada

is talk of direct services to, for example, Nairobi.

backbone of the local economy – and, in

Hotels to build the Jinja Nile Resort just outside

A new service would obviate the need to travel

recent times, tourism has created some jobs.

the town. In fact, the hotel has mirrored Jinja’s

though busy Kampala or across the border to

improved fortunes of recent times and the

Kisumu and would save many hours of travelling.

once-prosperous industries ceased operations altogether or moved production elsewhere.

What’s more, pioneers from Jinja’s once-domi-

too grand a term) has now been rehabilitated

property has been developed and expanded. Its reopening would be a sure sign that

nant Indian community have returned, while others probably still harbour dreams of doing

Tourism has taken off as Jinja has carved a role as

Jinja, the comeback kid, once again means

so from exile in Canada, the UK or Australia and

an away-from-it-all retreat for conferences and


The Nile explorers


he history of Nile exploration is filled with legendary stories. Even in Ancient Greece, the source of the Nile was considered one of the earth’s most compelling mysteries, written about extensively by the historian Herodotus (484 to 425 BC).

upon a rustic church and beyond it a little

journey, the two became the first Europeans

swamp with a small hill rising from the centre.

to reach Lake Tanganyika. They heard of a

That, he declared, was the source of the Nile.

second lake in the area, but Burton was too sick to make the journey. Speke went alone,

The White Nile

and found the lake, which he christened

By the mid 19th century, nothing obsessed

be one of the sources of the Nile.

Lake Victoria. This lake eventually proved to

explorers more than the quest for the source Between the 4th and 17th centuries, the rest

of the White Nile. It was the world’s most

Speke returned to England before Burton,

of the world largely forgot the Upper Nile in

elusive secret, the prize coveted above all

on 8 May 1859, and made their trip famous

Ethiopia. Only missionaries, merchants and

others, and the challenge was accepted by

in a speech to the Royal Geographical

adventurers reached the Ethiopian highlands.

adventurers such as Richard Burton, John

Society, in which he claimed to have discov-

Padre Páez, a Spanish missionary, wrote about

Hanning Speke, James Augustus Grant,

ered the source of the Nile.

seeing the source of the Blue Nile on 21 April

Samuel Baker, Florence von Sass, David

1618: “I confess I feel fortunate and happy

Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley.


Caesar and the Kings Ciro and Cambesses

In 1856 Speke and Burton went to East Africa

Together with James Augustus Grant,

desired to see in the past but never accom-

– a strenuous journey during which both

Speke returned to East Africa in 1860. Speke

plished.” Páez was recognised in 2003 by the

men fell ill from various tropical diseases.

reached Lake Victoria on 28 July 1862. He

Ethiopian authorities as the first European to

Speke temporarily became deaf after a

found the River Nile flowing out of the north

visit the source of the Blue Nile.

beetle crawled into his ear and he tried to

side of the lake and discovered the Ripon

remove it with a knife. He also later went

Falls. Later, he sent a celebrated telegram to

blind for a time. At the end of this arduous

London: “The Nile is settled.”

for seeing what Alexander the Great, Julius

In 1768 the Scottish explorer James Bruce disputed Páez’s claim and endeavoured to discover for himself the source of the Blue Nile, which he believed to rise in Ethiopia. After a long and difficult and journey, during which he contracted malaria, the final march was made on 4 November 1770 and, following a 9,500 ft climb, Bruce’s party came

Modern-day facts: • The River Nile has two main tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile • The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, notably Lake Victoria • The Blue Nile is the source of most of the water and fertile soil. It begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia.


Index of explorers • Padre Páez: Spanish missionary sent to Ethiopia in the early 17th century to convert the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to Catholicism. First westerner to ‘discover’ and describe the source of the Blue Nile. • James Bruce (1730-94): Scottish explorer who set off from Cairo in 1768 and arrived at Lake Tana in 1770. He established for the first time that this mountain lake was the origin of the Blue Nile. • Samuel Baker (1821-1893): English explorer who became the greatest expert of his day on Egypt and Sudan. His 1860s hunt for the source of the Nile led to the European discovery of Lake Albert in Central Africa. • John Hanning Speke (1827-1864) and Richard Burton (1821-1890): Army officer Speke joined up with legendary explorer Burton in 1858 to search for rumoured great lakes in Central Africa that might be the source of the Nile. Their journey took them to Lake Tanganyika and the challenging Mountains of the Moon. In mid-journey, Burton took ill and rested, while Speke pressed on. He became the first European to lay eyes on Lake Victoria, then considered the main source of the Nile. • James Augustus Grant (1827-1892): Joined John Hanning Speke in a memorable expedition in 1860 in which they believed they had solved the mystery of the Nile sources. • Bruckhart Waldekker: Little-known German explorer who quietly proved in 1937 that the main source of the Nile was the Ethiopian highlands, which contribute some 85 per cent of the water, while Lake Victoria provides only 15 per cent.

t may come as a surprise to visitors to East Africa, but the Mhajan family business empire stretches beyond ownership of Mada Hotels and a successful hot air ballooning operation.

Mills Industries is an independent business

factory within the Mada Hotels’ head office

with retail premises, known as Valley

complex near Mombasa Road in Nairobi.

Tailors, at Valley Arcade Shopping Centre in Kilileshwa, a suburb of Nairobi. The shop –

Since the business started in 1980,

sometimes known simply as Mrs Mhajan’s

Mills Industries has grown from a small

– provides the kind of personal service that

workshop of just 15 or so specialist tailors

One of these divergent interests is Mills

has been lost in other parts of the world.

at Valley Arcade to a company employing

Industries, a textile and garment business

Here, the philosophy is that no job is too

some 250 workers and exporting its goods

that is run, seven days a week, with unre-

small and every customer is important.

to markets beyond Kenya’s borders.

lenting verve and energy, by Mrs Mhajan, the mother of Mada Hotels Group chief

In addition, and in sharp contrast, Mills

executive Tinu Mhajan.

Industries operates a busy garment Tinu Mhajan explains how Mills Industries has developed rapidly in recent years: “In the 1970s my mother undertook repairs and alterations here in Nairobi for the upmarket UK fashion retailer Richards Shops, which later become Empress Fashions. She ran a small workshop that was also able to stitch dresses and this operated from Valley Arcade.” Mrs Mhajan adds: “Initially the shop would just make alterations and home furnishings on an individual order basis. But we invested in good staff and we had experienced designers come out from the UK to sell in the store.

The shop will tailor anything from staff uniforms to evening gowns


Reflections “Even today, the shop at Valley Arcade

was to set up a factory within the spacious

will tailor just about anything from staff

Mada Hotels Group head office complex.

uniforms to evening gowns and cushion covers. Or we can make a copy of a

So, while there remains a team of qualified

favourite item of clothing or come up with

cutters and designers working from the

a completely new design. The shop’s team

shop in Valley Arcade, Mills Industries is busy

of tailors is there to help.”

fulfilling orders for a range of major clients, including some of Kenya’s most exclusive safari

About eight years ago, Mrs Mhajan took

operators such as Governors’ Camp, Cheli &

the bold step of moving into the industrial

Peacock, Ker & Downey and Rekero Camp.

clothing sector and began to tender for

in South Sudan and Uganda, and has

highly competitive government and other

branched out into new areas. For example, Mills Industries made all the

similar work – special order uniforms for the police, the Kenya Defence Force and the large

The mix of state and private sector clients

tents for Mada Hotels’ spectacular Kilima

parastatals as well as for private sector security

seems to work well. Mrs Mhajan says: “The

Camp in Amboseli, as well as soft furnish-

firms. Clearly, this is a completely different

demand from security companies is year-

ings and bed linen. The company has also

market, with all the complexities and formal-

round, while our hospitality customers

supplied mosquito nets to the Jinja Nile

ities involved in tendering for contracts.

order during their low season [April-June]

Resort in Uganda.

and government tenders tend to revolve As this more industrial-scale business began

around budgets and financial years.”

So it seems that work never stops for Mrs Mhajan, a lady who has just celebrated her

to take off, it become apparent that, in order to handle larger orders, Mills Industries

Mills Industries now exports across the

70th birthday and clearly enjoys life to the

would need larger premises. The solution

region, making uniforms for customers

full. She is an inspiration to us all.


tudents from Michigan State University in the United States have been in Kenya and enjoying all this wonderful country has to offer. MSU has also been sampling the warm hospitality of Kenya’s people and the delights on offer at Mada properties in the Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park.

while Dr Dorothy Mutsiya from Nairobi’s South Eastern University College handles the social sciences.

teaching Gabe was originally asked to become involved in teaching the course because he had previously lived in the Mara for a year conducting research on spotted hyenas. During this time he met Tinu Mhajan,

The man behind this close relationship

chief executive of Mada Hotels, and stayed

between Michigan, Kenya and Mada Hotels

at Mada’s Fig Tree Camp. Gabe recalls a

is Dr Gabe Ording, who runs a course at MSU

two-day walk that he and Tinu undertook,

entitled ‘Society and Ecology of Kenya’. This

following a Maasai livestock herding trail all

were visiting Amboseli, so he naturally

course has been running for eight years and

the way to Narok, gateway to Masai Mara.

invited them to use Mada’s Kilima Safari

is co-sponsored by MSU’s colleges of Natural Science and Social Science.

Camp on the edge of the national park. On his return to academic life in the US, Gabe thought it would be good if the MSU

MSU is said to have more International Study

It benefits from relationships with MSU’s

students could visit the Mara during the

Abroad programmes than any other US insti-

Kenyan co-instructors. Gabe is responsible

wildebeest migration and stay at Fig Tree.

tution. Gabe has personally been involved

for teaching the natural science component,

Tinu learned that Gabe and his students

in trips to Alaska, Costa Rica, Switzerland, the

US students form special ties with Kenya


Reflections Virgin Islands, New Zealand, the Canadian

are given several opportunities to interview

Rockies and Borneo. “I can confidently

groups of Maasai elders, morans [warriors]

say, from my perspective, that our Kenyan

and women,” he says.

programme is without a doubt the most academically valuable and culturally rich of

At the same time, Gabe wants his students to

any that I’ve been involved in,” he says.

give something to Kenya. “We are involved in reforestation at a location about one hour

The MSU programme allows students to

south of Nairobi, where students have helped

explore the most attractive areas of Kenya,

in planting trees for the past three years.”

with multiple trips to national parks, and also to gain an appreciation of the nation’s political structure.

organisation Furthermore, the MSU programme is

Gabe says: “We actually developed a

linked to an on-campus student organisa-

relationship with – and visit each year – the

tion known as STOMP (Students Taking on

Hon. Mutula Kilonzo [Minister of Justice]. He

Malaria and Poverty). In order to help, the

has hosted our group for afternoon tea. This

students throughout the academic year

has been a highlight for students.”

collect books, school materials and feminine hygiene products. These are then delivered

Gabe is keen on community interaction. “We

to a range of rural schools where MSU has

visit several rural communities, and students

developed long-standing relationships – in

conduct social science investigations and

particular Loitokitok, just outside Amboseli.

‘The Hon. Mutula Kilonzo has hosted our group for afternoon tea’

Kilifi fishermen still using traditional methods

By Denis Gathanju

With the Kilifi Bridge providing a perfect backdrop, the fishermen arrive at the crack of dawn 34



love fish. It is the kind of delicious food that I would want to have for dinner after a day relaxing by the beach or after a hard day’s work.

With the magnificent Kilifi Bridge providing a perfect backdrop, the local fishermen arrive at the crack of dawn in their wooden boats, called jahazi. Anxiously waiting on the shores is a crowd of men and women of all

The Kenyan coast is blessed with an abun-

ages. It is market day.

dance of fish varieties. The local Mijikenda people have been fishing the waters of the

For those who have been to other markets,

Indian Ocean for many centuries now using

especially in Mombasa, this market is unlike

mostly traditional fishing methods that have

any other. I am surprised at how orderly and

been passed down from one generation to

procedural it is. Suleiman Abdalla, the owner of

the other.

one of the boats, tells me that the fishermen, who have just returned from the deep seas,

Today, Idriss Ali, one of the fishermen in


have recorded a not-so-impressive catch.

Suleiman’s boat, has brought home some

The entire length of the Kenyan coast is

ocean gods

men waiting on shore to jump into the

landing sites that are used by the Mijikenda

“You never know what the fishermen will

marlins, a giant sailfish and a load of yellow

people. In the resort town of Kilifi, sand-

bring in the morning,” he says. “We are at the

fin tuna.

wiched between Mombasa to the south and

mercy of the ocean gods. Sometimes we get

Malindi to the north, the old ferry landing

a good catch, other times an average catch

Suleiman takes note of the day’s catch as

site is one of the biggest fish landing sites

and other times a bad catch. But we remain

the young men go on to slice the fish on

used by the Mijikenda.

grateful for whatever the seas give us.”

the wet rocks by the shoreline. The men

dotted with numerous fishing villages and

big fish. He smiles as he watches the young wooden boat to offload two big stripped

and women watch silently. The fish is then cleaned and taken to a small room near the shore for weighing and onward purchase by

To catch big fish such as marlins and sailfish, they use long lines up to 20 metres in length

the buyers. Sale is by auction. Once the fish is sold, it is transported to other markets in Kilifi, Malindi or Mombasa or sold directly to the many hotels and resorts in the area. Local people also buy their fish from this seaside market. Idriss says they use various fishing methods, depending on the type of fish they want to catch. There is both daytime and night fishing. They also fish in the shallow waters along the ocean shore and in the creeks, again to catch different kinds of fish.

overnight For deepsea fishing, the men prefer to fish overnight. They leave the landing sites in the late afternoon and sail up to 5 km out into the ocean before casting their nets. To catch big fish such as the marlins and sailfish, they use long lines up to 20 metres in length. The

check if they have any fish. The fishermen

wooden dugouts to access these areas. At

fisherman dips into the waters to set up the

also use bigger nets called jarife as well as

low tide, the men set up fish traps using

hooks with the bait. The hooks are spaced

ring nets and lamps.

mangrove sticks pierced into the moist

out at intervals of 3 to 5 metres.

sands. They then weave other sticks in In addition to nets, traditional fish traps

The lines are left overnight and before dawn,

are used. These are set up mainly near the

the fishermen dip into the waters again to

shoreline and creeks. The fishermen use

between to create mesh-like structures. The fish move into these traps at high tide and are left trapped as the waters recede. The fishermen use this method to catch smaller fish and prawns.

crab HOLES To catch other sea creatures such as crabs, the fishermen scout the shoreline for crab holes in the sand and dig them out with their bare hands. “Can the crabs not easily chop off your fingers?” I ask. “No they cannot,” answers Idriss. “Normally, the claws are folded when the crab is in a hole. So, we just grab them first and then pull them out of the hole.”




Lake Turkana Sibiloi National Park


Marsabit National Reserve

Marsabit National Park South Turkana National Reserve

Losai National Reserve

Mt. Elgon Kitale

Samburu National Reserve




Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Kakamega Kisumu

Mount Kenya National Park

Nakuru Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Victoria Masai Mara National Reserve






Chalbi Desert




Malka Mari National Reserve


Bisinadi National Reserve

Meru National Park

Mt. Kenya

Aberdare National Park

Rahole National Reserve

Rahole National Reserve



NAIROBI Nairobi National Park


Haba National Park

Arawale National Reserve

5 4 Tana River Primate National Reserve

Amboseli National Park


Dodori National Reserve


Tsavo East National Park

Lamu Kipini

Chyulu National Park

Ungama Bay



Boni National Reserve


Mt. Meru



Watamu 1 Kilifi

Tsavo West National Park


Mombasa Shimba Hills National Reserve



he Mada Hotels group operates eight properties, six in Kenya, one in Uganda and one in Tanzania. The six properties comprise: a tented camp in the Masai Mara, two beachside hotels, two hotels in Nairobi and a resort in Jinja in Uganda plus a new hotel under construction in Zanzibar and another to be taken over in Kenya.

1. Kilifi Bay Resort, Kilifi 2. Baobab Lodge, Kilifi



200 Miles

6. Fig100 Tree Camp,200 Masai Mara300 Kilometres 7. Jinja Nile Resort, Jinja

4. Oakwood, Nairobi

8. Adventures Aloft, Masai Mara

5. La Mada, Nairobi

9. Balloon Camp, Tarangire

3 1



3. Kilima Safari Camp, Amboseli

Pemba I.

5 4

7 6

9 8 37

flying high across east africa ADVENTURES ALOFT


n operation for more than 25 years, Adventures Aloft is proud of its perfect safety record. All its pilots are highly experienced and are commercially rated on the large-size balloons used by the company. The collective skills and knowledge of the staff ensure that guests feel completely safe and able to enjoy the experience knowing they are in good hands.

The weightless feeling you experience in a hot air balloon creates a sense of freedom and tranquillity. Over the years, Adventures Aloft has become an expert in creating memorable experiences for its passengers. Each flight is planned with precision so that all passengers have to do is enjoy the view. Since operations began in the Masai Mara, the company has built a reputation for professional and friendly service. The business has expanded as a result of its growing popularity. Last year



the company began flights from Tarangire National Park and added a new balloon to


its Masai Mara operations.

Bird's-eye view Flights typically take off at 06.30 but passengers are woken early so they can freshen up and have some coffee and cake. Flights last an hour and allow guests a phenomenal bird’s-eye view of the landscape. A chase crew follows the balloon, carrying equipment and ensuring a smooth landing. After landing, the balloon crew sets up a champagne-style breakfast complete with butler service, an open bar serving Bloody

In 2010 Adventures Aloft began operations in Tarangire, where it uses an A-415 Cameron balloon with a capacity of 16 passengers. Apart from the pilot, it takes a fleet of vehicles and several members of staff to make the flights run smoothly – especially in the first year of operations. The balloon crews have years of expertise and knowledge, thus helping to ensure a continuation of the high standards that passengers expect from Adventures Aloft. Bookings should be made in advance to avoid disappointment. Guests can either contact Adventures Aloft directly or book through a tour operator or via staff at their own camp.

Company staff collect passengers from lodges and camps throughout the park and bring them to the launch site. Typically, flights take off at sunrise. Take-off sites can vary depending on the weather, but all are easily accessible. The balloon path is led by the prevailing winds, but mostly follows the meandering Tarangire River. The flights are peaceful and offer passengers a bird’s-eye view of the wildlife that comes to drink and cool off by the river. On landing, guests are served breakfast on the riverbanks as they enjoy panoramic views of the Tarangire River and the cool breeze through the baobab trees. Following a hearty breakfast guests are taken on a game drive en route back to their lodge or to the drop-off point, as agreed by the tour guide.

Guests are served breakfast on the riverbank with panoramic views of the Tarangire River


Each passenger receives a certificate from the pilot as a memento of their flight

MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE Since 1997 Adventures Aloft has been creating memorable balloon safaris in the Masai Mara National Reserve and is now flying five balloons, with a total capacity of 76 passengers, on a daily basis. Balloon safaris are the most outstanding way to see the annual wildebeest migration, for which the Masai Mara is famous. Whatever the time of year, passengers are guaranteed a spectacular view across the reserve. There are daily flights from two separate locations at Fig Tree Camp and Siana Springs Intrepids departing at approximately 06.30. For guests not staying at Fig Tree or Siana Springs, Adventures Aloft offers a transfer service to and from most of the camps and lodges in and around the Mara.

Mary cocktails and a hearty English-style breakfast. To mark this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, each passenger receives a certificate from the pilot as a memento of their flight. The experience is completed by a game drive back to camp. Adventures Aloft abides by eco-friendly practices and all operations are carried out with minimal impact on the environment. The company expects its passengers to follow a similar code of conduct.


The company has a fleet of Cameron balloons, consisting of four A-415 balloons with a flying capacity of 16 passengers each and one A-315 balloon carrying 12 passengers.


Tranquil haven in a bustling city HOTEL LA MADA


t is hard to believe that La Mada Hotel is just 8 km from Nairobi city centre. This small four-star boutique hotel is surrounded by the lush Karura Forest, home to a rich birdlife and several monkey colonies.

and unwind. The property is set in seven

and the pool bar serves refreshing drinks in

acres of land with a tranquil stream running

a picturesque setting.

through the grounds. Thanks to its location, the hotel has become


more and more popular for business meetings and conferences. In response to

With just 35 guest rooms, the hotel is intimate

demand and its growing popularity, there are

and friendly with many personal touches.

now four conference halls. In addition, there

There are 25 double rooms, six twin rooms and four executive suites. All accommodation

Ideal for those wanting to escape the noise

is luxuriously furnished with crisp white linen

of the city, La Mada is a great place to relax

and towels, large wooden beds and spacious en-suite bathrooms. Guests can choose from a variety of culinary delights at La Mada. In addition to the elegant à la carte dining room, the newly opened The Lion’s Den Restaurant serves barbecue lunches and is located in

With just 35 guest rooms, the hotel is intimate and friendly with many personal touches

the forest. There is also a charming coffee shop, perfect for an afternoon beverage,


is a well equipped executive boardroom with LCD projectors, computers and a secretarial and photocopying service. Staff are experienced in terms of organising functions and making every conference a success. Activities on offer include special events in The Lion’s Den Restaurant, poolside cocktails and live band entertainment. There is a range of facilities aimed at making every guest’s stay as relaxed as possible. For example, the large swimming pool is great for a revitalising swim, while the airport shuttle service helps take the stress away from travelling. In addition, there is free Wi-Fi to keep guests fully connected.

There is a range of facilities aimed at making every guest's stay as relaxed as possible FACT FILE: 

Impressive conferencing

Star rating: **** Location: Nairobi, Thika Road Number of rooms: 35 Leisure: Swimming pool Dining: Two restaurants Bars: Pool bar Conferencing: Four conference halls, one meeting room and a boardroom Entertainment: Live bands Nearby attractions: Karura Forest Additional facilities: Curio shop, airport shuttle service, business centre and free Wi-Fi.



Distance Estimated time

City Centre

10 km

15-20 mins


25 km

20-40 mins

Wilson Airport

18 km

25-35 mins






G.S.U. Shell Choma Station Zone

Thika Road bi

m Fro

o air


Utalii Hotel

Fox Drive In


The property was built in the 1950s and maintains its classic old-style colonial architecture

Steeped in history THE OAKWOOD HOTEL


he Oakwood Hotel is a small, exclusive and perfectly located property. In fact, it’s the ideal accommodation for guests who enjoy the hustle, bustle and non-stop nightlife of Nairobi.

There are just 20 self-contained rooms, all with telephone, TV, in-house video, mini fridge and tea/coffee-making facilities.

The hotel is great for easy connections and shuttle services to other major cities and towns in East Africa and near the railway


station. Also in close proximity are the many

The hotel has a stylish bar and a restaurant with

bars, restaurants and evening entertain-

an Ă la carte menu. A full traditional English

ment that make Nairobi one of Africa’s most

breakfast is included in the room rate.

exciting cities. The Oakwood resides in the Elite House

The Oakwood offers a wide range of facili-

building, formerly Livingstone House. The

Aptly named, The Oakwood is decorated

ties, including a business centre with Wi-Fi

property was built in the 1950s and although

with traditional wood furnishings and

connection and ample parking (at an addi-

it maintains its colonial architecture it has

fixtures that create a homely and warm

tional cost). There is also a laundry service for

recently been refurbished for the comfort and


guest convenience.

convenience of its guests. The hotel retains some of the original features, including the Otis lift, which is manually operated and has an open-cage design.

Fact file:


Star rating: ****

In the heart of the business district, the hotel has become increasingly popular with


Location: Kimathi Street, Nairobi Number of rooms: 20

business travellers who want the conven-

Dining: One restaurant

ience of a central location with all the

Bars: One bar

benefits of a comfortable boutique hotel.

Nearby: Close to all business facilities.


The Stanley

Kimathi Street

Moi Avenue

Kenyatta Avenue

Hilton Hotel

Kimathi Street

Kimathi Street

Distance Estimated time

City centre

0 km

0 mins


12 km

20-30 mins

Wilson Airport

8 km

20 mins


The resort puts emphasis on personalised service, ensuring that all guests are well looked after during their stay



ilifi Bay Beach Resort is a fourstar property on the beautiful white sandy beaches of Kilifi. The resort is small and exclusive with unspoilt panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Since it is the only hotel on this beautiful stretch of beach, guests can be sure of total peace and quiet. The hotel gardens contain hundreds of palm

and drinks throughout the day. There are two further bar areas within the resort: one

that all guests are well looked after during

in the lounge reception area, popular for

their stay. Each room has its own private

pre-dinner cocktails, and the Pool Bar, ideal

balcony where guests can relax with a

for a refreshing beverage while guests relax

sundowner or just read a book.

and soak up the sun.


The hotel boat ‘Baobella’ departs throughout

To help guests unwind, a free massage

Creek, with soft drinks and snacks provided.

service is available. There are also two

Other water sports include snorkelling,

swimming pools, perfect for a relaxing dip.

diving and canoeing, all of which are avail-

trees creating shade while the cool breeze


The Coconut Bar on the beach serves snacks

the day on scenic excursions through Kilifi

able from the beach.

blows in from the ocean. All the buildings

The main restaurant serves buffet breakfasts,

and guest accommodation has recently been

light lunches and sumptuous evening meals.

Kilifi Bay Resort is a well established conference

refurbished and are painted white and the

The dinner menu is a selection of international

venue. The atmosphere is quiet and the staff

interiors are fresh and modern.

cuisine, with themed nights and barbecues

are trained to cater for large groups. Various

throughout the week. In addition, the Tepen-

activities are available for special functions,

With only 50 rooms, the resort puts

yaki restaurant offers an exotic mix of Japanese

including beach dinners, day trips to Malindi

emphasis on personalised service, ensuring

cuisine and delicious seafood.

and beach cocktail parties.


Fact file: Star rating: **** Location: Kilifi Number of rooms: 50 Leisure: Two swimming pools, snorkelling, windsurfing, scuba diving, glass-bottom boat, big game fishing, cruises in the creek Dining: Two restaurants Bars: Three bars Conferencing: Facilities and capacity for up to 80 delegates Entertainment: Acrobatic shows, discos, live music and traditional African shows Nearby attractions: Kilifi Harbour and Creek Additional facilities: Massage service


The atmosphere is quiet and sta are trained to cater for large groups. Various activities are available for special functions Lamu

Kenya Malindi





Mombasa IN






estiMated tiMe

Mombasa Airport

64 km

1 hr 20 mins

Railway station

58 km

1 hr 15 mins

Mombasa town

56 km

1 hr 15 mins

Malindi town

55 km

1 hr 15 mins

Malindi Airport

50 km

1 hr


A little piece of paradise BAOBAB SEA LODGE


et in seven acres of tropical gardens and with 60 metres of ocean frontage, this is the ideal place to relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the magic of the Kenyan coast.

from all-inclusive to basic bed-and-breakfast available, guests can eat in the hotel as little or as often as they want. The main restaurant serves a variety of good-tasting cuisine and has themed nights with live entertainment throughout the week including

Kilifi is small and picturesque and self-sufficient, with fruit markets, small shops, two banks, a post office, a pharmacy and a hospital

This boutique hotel, which has recently

acrobatics, discos, live music and traditional

undergone refurbishment, is located in the

African shows with dancers. Guests who

old coastal town of Kilifi, halfway between

prefer a quieter and calmer evening may

Mombasa and Malindi. Kilifi is small, pictur-

choose to have a cocktail in one of the two

esque and self-sufficient, with fruit markets,

bars, or catch up on the latest news in the

small shops, two banks, a post office, a

TV lounge.

pharmacy and a hospital. Kilifi also has many grand houses, both alongside the creek and overlooking the ocean.

Ultimate For the ultimate in relaxation, visitors can

When it comes to dining at Baobab, every

enjoy a free massage, which is available

meal is fresh and unique. With meal plans

to all hotel guests. More active types can


FACT FILE: Star rating: *** Location: Kilifi Number of rooms: 30 Leisure: Two swimming pools, including a children’s pool, tennis, snorkelling, windsurfing, scuba diving, glass-bottom boat, game fishing and creek cruises Dining: One restaurant, banquets on request

A perfect venue for conferences with a theatre-style room for up to 200 people enjoy the large variety of water sports on offer, including snorkelling, deepsea fishing, windsurfing, scuba diving, canoeing and a glass-bottom boat. The hotel’s boat, the ‘Baobella’, is also available for excursions in and around Kilifi Creek. With so much on offer, it may come as a surprise that Baobab Sea Lodge has just 30 guest rooms. What’s more each of the rooms has recently been refurbished for maximum comfort. The philosophy here is ‘quality not quantity’ so that guests are well attended by friendly and professional staff. The Baobab Sea Lodge is a perfect venue for conferences with a theatre-style room available for up to 200 people. Banquets can also be arranged in either indoor or outdoor settings.


Bars: Two bars and a swim-up pool bar Conferencing: One conference room, public address systems, LCD projector and computers Entertainment: Live music, theme nights and traditional African shows Nearby attractions: Kilifi Harbour, Kilifi Creek, fruit markets and curio shops



Kenya 63 km

1 hr 20 mins

Railway station

55 km

1 hr 15 mins

Mombasa town

53 km

1 hr 15 mins

Malindi town

52 km

1 hr 15 mins

Malindi Airport

47 km

1 hr

Malindi Kilifi N

Mombasa Airport


estimAted time









Each tent is raised on stilts with spacious verandas from which to enjoy Tarangire’s famously beautiful sunsets

Sky’s the limit at top quality resort BALLOON CAMP


he aptly named Balloon Camp, in the heart of Tarangire National Park, provides the ultimate balloon safari experience.

with spacious verandas from which to enjoy

River. Each passenger then receives a

Tarangire’s famously beautiful sunsets.

certificate from the pilot as a memento of the flight. This special morning is rounded

Of course, the camp’s main attraction is the

off by a game drive en route to the lodge or

availability of hot air balloon safaris. Flights

main gate.

depart daily from a take-off area near Tarangire Sopa Lodge. Operations are run by the Mada-

An impressive fleet of 4x4 vehicles is

owned company Adventures Aloft, which has

stationed at the camp, allowing guests to

The new camp, which opened in July 2011, is

years of experience in creating memorable

enjoy games drives throughout the park.

a luxurious boutique-style property situated

adventures for its clients.

on Boundary Hill with spectacular views across the national park.


In the evenings, guests are treated to a


gourmet meal before retiring to the lounge

The philosophy at Balloon Camp is one

Flights typically take off at 6.30 am and

are served.

of quality over quantity. Accommodation

last for about an hour. On landing, the

consists of just six grand safari tents with

balloon crew sets up a full English breakfast,

king-sized four-poster beds and large open-

complete with Bloody Mary cocktails and

plan bathrooms. Each tent is raised on stilts

champagne, on a site next to the Tarangire

bar where coffee, whisky and other drinks


Fact file: Location: Tarangire, Arusha Number of rooms: Six Leisure: Balloon safaris Dining: One restaurant / champagne breakfast in the park


An impressive fleet of 4x4 vehicles is stationed at the camp, allowing guests to enjoy game drives

Mt Kilimanjaro National Park Arusha National Park

Arusha Lake Manyara National Park

Kingori Boma Ngombe

TANZANIA Tarangire National Park





Distance Estimated time


115 km

2 hrs

Kuro Airstrip

15 km

30 mins


A warm welcome to the Masai Mara FIG TREE CAMP Only from Fig Tree can visitors enjoy the special experience of moonlit champagne bush dinners


ig tree camp is located on the banks of the Talek River in the heart of the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve.

Only from Fig Tree can visitors enjoy the special experience of moonlit champagne bush dinners. This is a truly magical, once-ina-lifetime opportunity that involves a night game drive and a candle-lit barbecue dinner

The camp has a fleet of four-wheel-drive

in a special conservation area.

vehicles, all driven by professional guides who are highly knowledgeable and always available to answer questions. Fig Tree Camp also offers


guests a more in-depth understanding of

Breakfast, lunch and dinner (all of which are

the local area with lectures by naturalists and

inclusive in guests’ room rates) are served in

game walks led by Maasai morans.

the main dining area. Each meal offers a huge selection of food from a large buffet. Evenings are lively, with local Maasai to sing and dance

ADVENTURES ALOFT The balloon safari company Adventures Aloft is a member of the Mada Hotels group and is based at the camp. Flights depart each morning at 06.30. The experience offers guests a bird’s-eye view of the Mara as they watch the sun rise over the plains. To top off this special occasion, a full champagne-style breakfast complete with open bar is organised on the landing site to celebrate the flight.

for guests after their meal. The charming tree-house coffee deck is ideal for afternoon relaxation surrounded by trees and wildlife. In terms of accommodation there are 35 classic safari tents and 10 superior Ngamboli tents, all with single and double beds and


FACT FILE: Location: Masai Mara National Reserve Number of rooms: 70 Leisure: Balloon safaris, game drives, nature walks, massage service and a swimming pool Dining: One buffet-style restaurant, bush dinners

Guests looking for a more luxurious travelling experience could choose to stay in one of the 27 garden chalets private patio on the banks of the Talek River. Guests looking for a more luxurious travelling experience could choose to stay in one of the 27 garden chalets, each with its own private balcony. The rooms are tastefully furnished with modern facilities.

Conference New additions at Fig Tree Camp include conference facilities, offering a perfect venue for those seeking a private retreat in a safari setting. Equipment includes LCD projectors, computers and a secretarial and photocopying service.


Bars: Two bars and a tree-house coffee deck Conferencing: Two conference rooms Entertainment: Champagne bush dinners and guest lectures Access: Airstrip nearby. Guests can fly in from either Nairobi or Mombasa









estimAted time


240 km

4 hrs 30 mins


110 km

2 hrs

Keekerok airstrip

24 km

40 mins

Ol Kiombo airstrip

14 km

30 mins

Masai Mara National Reserve

Talek Gate Talek River

Sekenani Gate



In addition to classic game drives, Maasai morans can take clients on game walks

Spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro KILIMA SAFARI CAMP


ocated in Amboseli National Park, the newest addition to the Mada portfolio, Kilima Safari Camp, is set in 360 acres and has commanding views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

comfort and style. The professional driver

offers guests the chance to dine under

guides are very knowledgeable, allowing

the stars in the Amboseli. The camp also has

clients to get the most from their safari

a fine restaurant serving a hearty breakfast, a


buffet lunch and delicious evening meals.

Kilima Safari Camp offers a great selection of


activities. In addition to classic game drives, Maasai morans are available to take clients

For guests at Kilima, the three-storey

on game walks, while a local naturalist offers

Kibo Lounge is a true high point, in more

free lectures about the local environment.

ways than one. Situated in the centre of

In terms of accommodation, there is a choice

the dining room, the lounge is actually

of 50 classic safari tents, 10 superior tents and

Those looking to relax and unwind can

a look-out tower with splendid views of

12 luxury lodge rooms. Clients can view game

make use of the massage room, which

Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park

from the comfort of their own room as they

offers a variety of treatments. Alternatively,

and the waterholes in front of the camp.

come to drink at the nearby waterhole, which

the ornate swimming pool is perfect for a

This is a perfect place for guests to relax,

attracts a wide variety of animals and birds.

refreshing dip after a morning game drive.

watch the sunrise with a morning cappuc-

There is an impressive fleet of 4x4 vehicles

Kilima’s culinary delights include moonlit

so that guests can enjoy game drives in

bush dinners, a magical experience that

cino or just gaze at the stars after dinner.



Fact file: Location: Amboseli National Park Number of rooms: 72 Leisure: Game drives and nature walks Dining: Restaurant and bush dinners Entertainment: Guest lectures Nearby attractions: Mount Kilimanjaro Additional facilities: Resident nurse, massage service, excursions


The camp has a strategic location with panoramic views of Mt Kilimanjaro



to Mombasa

Amboseli National Park

Mt. Kilimanjaro



estimAted time


235 km

5 hrs


80 km

2 hrs

Amboseli airstrip

12 km

20 mins


The ideal weekend getaway Jinja Nile Resort

The elegant main restaurant seats up to 150 guests and has a terrace with excellent views


t’s easy to see why Jinja Nile Resort has been voted ‘Best Weekend Getaway’ and ‘Best Country Hotel in Uganda’ by Travel News magazine for five years in a row.

public areas and the colonial-style accom-

The resort commands a strategic location

There are various dining options. The

providing a panoramic view of the River Nile

elegant main restaurant seats up to 150

and offers some of the finest accommoda-

guests at a time. It has a terrace overlooking

tion and hospitality in Uganda.

the swimming pool and offers an excellent

modation have been designed to give guests Nile-facing views.


view of the River Nile and the surrounding

Lush gardens

countryside. The equally spacious Confer-

Popular with both business travellers and

conference halls for fast and efficient service

tourists, the resort is spread over 75 acres of

to delegates. It has an independent bar for

lush gardens with beautifully landscaped

serving refreshments to conference and

lawns, palm trees and tropical plants. All

workshop attendees.

ence Dining Room is located near the


FACT FILE: Star rating: *****

The resort has three conference halls, three meeting rooms and a boardroom. There is also a large amphitheatre facing the river with a capacity of 3,000 people The newly opened Nile Palace is a restaurant and bar located on a 20 metre cliff over the river. With its unique location and exquisite food, the restaurant has become popular as a venue for special events.

Equipment The heath club features Italian Technogym equipment as well as a sauna, a steam bath and a massage room. In terms of business facilities, the resort has three conference halls, three meeting rooms and a boardroom. For larger events and outdoor concerts, Jinja Nile Resort has a large amphitheatre, facing the river, with a capacity of 3,000 people.


Location: 4 km from Jinja town centre Number of rooms: 134 Leisure: Gym, health club, swimming pool, badminton, three pool tables, squash court, sauna, steam bath, massage service and a tennis court Dining: Three restaurants, plus two private dining rooms Bars: Five bars Conferencing: Three conference halls, three meeting rooms and a boardroom Entertainment: Weekend discos Nearby attractions: Nine-hole golf course Additional facilities: Children’s park, experienced nannies and gift shop


Luwero Jinja Distance Estimated time

Entebbe Airport

105 km

1 hr 30 mins


75 km

1 hr

Jinja town

4 km

15 mins


135 km

2 hrs


Port Bell

Mpigi Entebbe


wHAT’S COOKING Honey glaze crispy duck with orange and red wine emulsion Mark Kumara Group executive chef

iNGREDIENTS: • Duck breast • Red wine • Onions • Garlic

METHOD 1. Take the duck breast and season with herbs. After seasoning, make some cross-cuts with a sharp knife on the duck skin. 2. Add honey and grill until lightly cooked. In a shallow baking tray, put the duck in the oven to cook until crispy. 3. Take a thick-bottomed pan and add sugar, orange juice and red wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and then grate fresh bread crumbs and mix with herbs.


• Ginger 4. For the pumpkin base, boil the skinned pumpkin and make into a purée. Season according to taste. Lightly spread some of the purée on to a dinner plate, place the sliced duck breast on top of the purée. 5. Sprinkle with herbs and crumbs and put in the oven until brown. Remove from oven and lightly dress with red wine sauce. Garnish with pickled onion and herbs. Serve hot.

• Pumpkin • Pickled onion • Orange • Honey • Fresh breadcrumbs • Mixed herbs • Soy sauce • Salt • Pepper

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