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ISSUE 18| FREE COPY

PLACES TO STAY UNDER KSH15,000

MARA ON A BUDGET

AROUND THE WORLD BY BIKE

SWIMMING WITH PENGUINS


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Close Earrings in Brass, Ebony & Leather Closure Collection @amidoshishah www.amidoshishah.com


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EDITOR’S NOTE

LUXURY ON A BUDGET

W

hen I started out traveling on my own during my uni days, flights weren't always practical because, well, I was a broke college student. My sense of wanderlust did not match my bank account, but I did not let that deter me. Buses became my preferred means of transport, and I would spend time longingly looking up and bookmarking hostels the way others look at cute pictures of dogs, cats, babies, decor and the works on Pinterest. I think the record for the longest time I've spent on a bus from one destination to the next was 72 hours. The journey to a new location was always exciting...new sights to check out, a route never ventured to before and depending on who was seated around me and my mood, there was also always a high chance of making new friends. The journey back, however, was always a total drag. There was always a restlessness to get home coupled with a silent dread for the rut that came with the familiar, and if we were driving down the same route we had come through, well, the scenery was altogether just not as exciting. Over time, these long bus rides started to take a toll on my body. I have since taken up yoga, but still, sitting for too long is literally always a pain in the butt. Thank goodness for budget airlines, flight search engines like Skyscanner

and platforms like Secret Flying which always have deals for anyone looking to save some money. Let's be honest, however, that traveling within Africa is still a lot harder and more expensive, especially if you have 'an African passport'. I am older now and my style of travel as well as what I look for in destinations has evolved, perhaps drastically so. I don't mind paying extra for little comforts here and there, and the chosen accommodation has to be just right because that can either make or break a tripbelieve me, I've learned this firsthand. The word "budget" is in itself relative, but in this issue, we've chosen that to mean properties with room under Ksh 15,000. These range from properties that target budget travelers year-round to midrange options whose prices are presently lower to match the current tourism season. Some of the listed properties will surprise you because the nightly rate is a steal for the luxuries they offer. Working a lot with hotels and lodges in every issue of Nomad, we have come to learn to always ask for special offers or resident rates because that can give one access to places that might otherwise be out of reach. Knowing which properties have affordable rates throughout is also always handy for those imptomptu getaways that don't break the bank. As you pore over this issue, we hope you'll discover a couple of new spots to check out.

Wendy Watta

wattaonthego NOMAD ISSUE. 18 · MAY 2019 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI SALES VANESSA WANJIKU CONTRIBUTORS SIMON MARSH, WINNIE RIOBA, CATRINA STEWART, SAMANTHA DU TOIT, FRANCES WOODHAMS, FAITH KANJA CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS RAHIM KARA, ANDREY JOSEPHS, PAREET SHAH, PETER NDUNG'U, BRIAN SIAMBI DIGITAL, MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI, FAITH KANJA, JANE NAITORE, FRED MWITHIGA, ANGELA OMONDI SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO

NomadMagazineAfrica

@NomadMagAfrica

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In this issue

You have asked us to list options for properties under Ksh 15,000, and in this issue, we finally oblige. The low season is upon us and with its onset, numerous properties that may usually be ever so out of reach have special rates for you to take advantage of.


CONTENTS 10. TOP SHOTS This month’s featured photographers capture a shot during sunset in Amboseli and Mt Kenya’s Naro Moru route. 12. NEWS Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia named among world’s top destinations, Magashi Luxury Camp set to open in Akagera National Park, Rwanda, and protests erupt over sea sand harvesting in Diani 14. WHATS ON From the Lukenya trail run to the Rift Valley Odyssey, find a roundup of must-attend events this season. 18. GLOBETROTTERS: THROTTLE ADVENTURES When Wamuyu and Dos met at a biker’s event, they agreed to go riding out of town the following day. They have been riding together ever since, setting off on a motorcycle world tour in 2018. 48. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS One of Africa’s leading celebrity stylists, Brian Babu, who has worked with clients like Mr Eazi and Seyi Shay, gives us a peek inside his travel bag.

FEATURES 38. BUDGET MARA Budget and safari don’t often go together, still less in the Maasai Mara during migration season. But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, as Catrina Stewart finds out. 50. ROAD TRIP Simon Marsh explores South Africa’s breathtaking Garden Route by road, discovering adventure, ocean and fine dining.

REGULARS 21. KENYAN TRAVELER Winnie Rioba swims with African Penguins in South Africa's Boulders Beach. 22. NOTES FROM THE BUSH The river is usually low towards the end of the dry season, but this year it has dried up completely for the first time in living memory. 52. LAST WORD: FOREST WALK Mercy has to admit, this spot under the trees is as good a place as any to while away weekend hours while snapping ‘out-in-nature’ selfies for Instagram.

46 ON THE COVER SOAMES HOTEL & JACK BAR, NANYUKI

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RESERVATIONS Tel: +254 (0) 723 697 346 Email: info@mbh.co.ke EXPERIENCE www.msambweni-beach-house.com


CONTRIBUTORS

WHAT’S THEIR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO FOR A BUDGET WEEKEND AWAY?

WINNIE RIOBA Kenyan Traveler, Page 21

ANDREY JOSEPHS Topshots, Page 11

RAHIM KARA, Topshots, Page 10

Naivasha. It offers game drives, walking safaris and the hiking possibilities are endless. You can also treat yourself to a therapeutic swim at the Olkaria Geothermal Spa which is the first of its kind in Africa. If you're looking for affordable accommodation, you can choose to camp by any of its lakes. Best part? It's only an hour away from Nairobi.

As an outdoor and hiking enthusiast, nothing beats Mount Kenya National Park on the Chogoria Route. Accessing it is very easy and the park fee is Ksh 430 per day for Kenyans. Sleeping at Chogoria Bandas is only 2,000 per night and the landscape is truly breathtaking. Sometimes I’ll drive all the way to Lake Ellis to fish for trout then spend the night camping under a starlit sky.

I find Lake Elementaita absolutely stunning, particularly at sunrise. In recent years, it has become a party/ wedding zone which does put a damper on the campfire evenings. Lake Magadi is also spectacular. It is usually deserted at night and I like to take a dip at around midnight when the temperatures have dropped to around 7 degrees and the wind is howling like a wolf in the night.

GIVEAWAY! It’s really easy to enter our competition to win a Enanai Clutch bag, worth Ksh 6,500. All you need to do is tell us about a budget trip you have been on, inspired by any of our previous issues. Send us an email with the subject line “My Nomad Trip” to editor@ nomadmagazine.co by midnight EAT May 30th, 2019, to stand a chance to win!

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RAHIM KARA Instagram: @nomadic.kenyan This shot was taken on our way out of Amboseli National Park. It was around 6:30 pm and the sunset was absolutely stunning so we stopped and I took this shot. It’s a combination of three photographs increasing the dynamic range. I used a Canon 6D with a 100-400mm lens, and the settings were: F5.6, 1/500, ISO 160, 3 shot bracketed exposure. TIP: Be patient when photographing in the wild. Most times, wildlife will come closer to you and will show you a whole new perspective.

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TOP SHOTS

ANDREY JOSEPHS Instagram: @andreyjosephs I got this shot as my Mt Kenya climbing party was making its last stretch to Naromoru Gate from Met Station. This is the most stunning view you get of the entire Naromoru Route. It was almost midday which is never my ideal shooting time. My settings were 1/125 sec at f/11.0, ISO 100 at 48mm using a basic 18-55mm lens on my Canon 80D. TIP: Always have a clear subject. Strive to find natural shapes (like S-curves) that act like leading lines flowing smoothly towards the chosen subject.

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NEWS

MAGASHI LUXURY CAMP SET TO OPEN IN AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK, RWANDA The Wilderness Safaris are set to open a new glamping experience in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. Magashi Luxury Tented camp launches in May 2019. The property will have six spacious and airy tents overlooking Lake Rwanyakazinga. The main area will comprise of a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, wine cellar and a pool, as well as an expansive viewing deck with a fire pit. Magashi’s architecture and interiors pay homage to traditional Rwandan culture.

LOISABA CONSERVANCY IN LAIKIPIA NAMED AMONG WORLD’S TOP DESTINATIONS The Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia has been named among the world's top 100 sustainable tourist destinations during the ITB Berlin tourism trade fair. The conservancy’s three properties are run by Elewana collection. They include the Loisaba Tented Camp, Loisaba Star Beds and the Acacia Campsite. The conservancy is perched on the edge of an escarpment and offers unhindered views across Laikipia's mottled landscape all the way to Mt Kenya. Also awarded was Chumbe island in Tanzania which emerged top in Africa.

PROTESTS OVER SEA SAND HARVESTING IN DIANI Diani Beach Stakeholders have protested against the dredging of sand from the ocean in the South Coast region. Diani beach, awarded as one of the best beaches in the world, is home to a great deal of marine life. The sand harvesting poses huge losses for fishermen and the tourism industry at the coast when the coral reef will be depleted and the white sandy beaches destroyed. The sand harvesting is being used for the construction of Kipevu Oil Terminal at the Port of Mombasa. Marine environmentalists, fishermen, hoteliers and the county government of Kwale are strongly condemning the Kenya Ports Authority and the National Environment Management Agency for failing to take action on stopping the harvest.

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WHAT’S ON

THE LUKENYA TRAIL RUN Encompassing hundreds of acres of grasslands, rocky hills and river-beds, the Lukenya Sanctuary is a slice of natural paradise. The trail’s terrain will include a run around the hill, across a small river and through the scenic environment with herds of wildlife occupying the vast lands around the race course. This will consist of 5km, 10km and 20km trail runs. Join and combine the majesty of the ancient race with the beauty of Kenya's natural resources. The Trail Run takes place on Sunday May 26, 2019 from 7 am- 11 am. Tickets available at www.karenpass.co.ke

RIFT VALLEY ODYSSEY 2019 The breathtaking mountain bike adventure will take place from September 19th to 28th. For the 2019 edition, the first 5 of 10 stages are all new, from Laikipia to Lake Naivasha. The first 6 of 10 nights will be in luxury lodges & camps with 2 nights in Lake Nakuru National Park. The final 4 nights will be in standard dome tents. The RVO is best suited to the experienced mountain biker, a purist that yearns for more adventure and less race. Register before May 31. More details available on www.riftvalleyodyssey.com

OFF-ROAD CHALLENGE KENYA This is an off-road event held in different locations across Kenya. The challenges are an exciting spectacle that capture the competitive spirit of offroad motor sport enthusiasts and supporters. Each event will be held on private land in a localised area in Kenya. The event will bring together numerous off-road vehicles ranging from 4x4s, buggies, quads and bikes to special vehicles in the open class category such as pickups. The event will be held on 27th October 2019. Ticket details available at www.bizbazevents.com

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HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS. Choose from 4 bed family villas, or 2 and 3 bed apartments and duplexes, with modern interior design and high-end fixtures and fittings throughout. You too can live the Garden City lifestyle – with that little bit of luxury at every turn – renting from only KSh 110,000 per month or buying from KSh 19 million. Garden City is conveniently located at exit 7 Thika Super Highway – with 24 hr security – modern, open-plan kitchen with breakfast bar, fully-fitted oven, hob and extractor hood – en-suite bathrooms with ‘his and hers’ double sinks and elegant Hans Grohe fittings – 100 % power backup – gym – heated swimming pool – children’s play park – private club house – Garden City Mall with iMax cinema, 100+ shops, restaurants & cafes on your doorstep.

What are you waiting for? Call 0722 200 032 for Rentals & Sales NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019

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MISS PLUS WORLD KENYA LAUNCH EVENT AT GARDEN CITY ON 29TH JUNE 2019.

Look out for the Miss Plus World Kenya launch event at Garden City on 29th June 2019.

Yes! Real enjoyment is going to the beach and the way the sand heals the soul. I get this easily at Garden City Residences.

H

Ch wi too –r

Ga se an ele po cin

W 16 DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPERIENCE Because of us, you will always look good at Garden City Residences.

I am thinking about you right now garden city residences I miss you when I am not with you.

C


To nature a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Garden City Residences green spaces do just that.

People are going to love you, people are going to hate you. But you can be you and be happy at Garden City Residences.

Live, Work, Play at Garden City

Teddy Mitchener, a talented creative conceptual photographer, has always believed that the full figured African black woman has never truly been celebrated and showcased as an icon of beauty, in the past, and even now. African women are rising up and demanding to have a space at the table, from fashion, to politics, to business, and all other spheres of societal life. In acknowledgement of the unique beauty that is often overlooked, Teddy has created a concept that will speak to the wondrous beauty that is the African woman. In coloration with Neomi Nganga, the franchise holder of Miss Plus hoose from 4 bed family villas, or 2 and 3 bed apartments and duplexes, World Kenya, and Garden City, Teddy has brought to life the illustrations of ith modern interior design and high-end fixturesDuane and fittings throughout. Bryer, that popularized Hilda, the plus sizeYou pinup girl who graced many a calendar from the 1950s through the 1980s. o can live the Garden City lifestyle – with that little bit of luxury at every turn Neomi has vaulted herself onto the stage as the spokesperson for plus sized womenfrom in the country alsomillion. the region, pushing positive imagery with her renting from only KSh 110,000 per month or buying KShand19 Team Curvy brand, and now bringing the Miss Plus World franchise, to Kenya. In showcasing the shoot at Garden City, Teddy has selected a venue that is arden City is conveniently located at exit 7 Thika Super Highway – with 24 hr very contemporary with its unique design and finishes that is supplemented by large green spacesfully-fitted and modern amenities. Being a mixed-used ecurity – modern, open-plan kitchen with breakfast bar, oven, hob development with a mall, residences and office park, this space lends itself to all one can need and nd extractor hood – en-suite bathrooms with ‘his and hers’ double desire…to live,sinks work andand play!

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS.

egant Hans Grohe fittings – 100 % power backup – gym – heated swimming ool – children’s play park – private club house – Garden City Mall with iMax Photographer: Teddy Mitchener. Model: Neomi Nganga, Fashion Design: Ruth Odhiambo, Make-Up Artist: Kate Wambui, Hair Stylist: Tabby Ayuma, Head of Production: Sharon Mitchener Location: Garden City Residences nema, 100+ shops, restaurants & cafes on your doorstep.

What are you waiting for?

Call 0722 200 forandRentals Give me what no other032 has ever gotten I will give you what& Sales those others try to get… Garden City Residences.

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THROTTLE

ADVENTURES

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GLOBETROTTERS When Kenyan couple Wamuyu and Dos met at a biker’s event, they agreed to go riding out of town the following day. They have been riding together ever since, setting up the Throttle Adventures website and heading on a motorcycle world tour in 2018. They are set to be on the road for at least three years, and talk to Nomad’s Faith Kanja about their journey thus far.

prepared for. We planned to avoid winter in the Southern Hemisphere by crossing into the Northern Hemisphere during their summer. We unfortunately got caught up in winter in Namibia and Cape Town. Our daywear was not fit for that weather. This meant more shopping in South Africa. We found ourselves shopping again in Ushuaia as the winter clothes we bought in South Africa were not fit for the temperatures in Ushuaia and Antarctica. Coming from a tropical climate means the right gear is not available back home and this has cost us quite a bit on our budget. Traveling on a motorcycle also means no much space to carry a lot of clothes so this has been a recurring cost The other challenge has been the language barrier upon entering South America. It was a huge mistake not taking Spanish lessons prior to the trip.

What made you decide to explore the world on motorbikes? In 2015, Dos rode from Kenya to South Africa and back on his 180-cc bike. He holds the Kenyan record for the smallest bike to do an adventure trip of that nature in Africa. Listening to his experience and noting how hard the adventure bug bit him, we knew this was it and we would need to work on it fast. We began planning the world tour in 2016.In July 2017, Wamuyu took a similar but shorter adventure and rode to Tanzania entering through Namanga border and riding across Tanzania to Kingoma – Lake Tanganyika. She returned to Kenya via Mwanza and through Isebania border. She detoured to Kisumu before coming back to Nairobi. In 10 days, she covered 3,100 km. She so far holds the record of a Kenyan solo female long-distance rider. We want to explore the world with our own eyes, make our own experiences and enjoy foreign countries, cultures and traditions. We also want to tell the story of our beloved country Kenya to the world. For this reason, we quit our jobs, sold our belongings and said goodbye to our families and friends for three years.

What are some of the travel myths you’ve demystified through your travel? We are constantly explaining that Africa is a safe continent. The most asked questions are whether we live with animals walking around and whether the continent is safe to travel to. We are always happy to change the narrative of Kenya and Africa. Some of the people we have met have also said that they don’t see a lot of Kenyans or Africans traveling,and we are always happy to share stories about African travelers because those numbers have changed. We are honored to change this perception.

What have been the highlights so far? One of the best things about our travels has constantly been the people. The kindness, love and hospitality we have encountered in locals and other travelers has been all amazing. Visiting Antarctica was also a major highlight for us. It felt like another universe altogether. The serenity of this particular continent cannot be explained in words or pictures...one has to visit to experience it. What have been the challenges so far? We have been very blessed during this trip and fortunately there have been no major challenges. The weather however has drastically changed from what we were

What impressions have you received from people in other countries? What we are doing is a first for many so people are always surprised. There are also a lot of people in the countryside of South American countries who have never seen black people, so we definitely receive some looks. It is not common that a woman rides her own motorcycle for such long distances and there has not been a black woman from Africa do it, so Wamuyu does get lots of thumbs ups. How do you compare Africa with the other places you have been to? Culturally speaking, we have similarities in family bonds with South Americans. Family is very important and they also recognize extended families like we do in Africa. Argentina and Chile have quite different food from ours but in Bolivia and Peru, we have lots of familiar dishes. Rice with stew, grilled chicken with chips, boiled maize and a lot of fruits. In Argentina we ate grilled meat similar to Nyama Choma, but they grill theirs differently. What are the top five travel essentials while using a motorcycle? The right gear that can withstand different weather (wet, hot and cold). We have five

piece suits that have a rain suit, armoured riding suit and removable thermal lining. This caters for all weather apart from winter. Basic tools that can repair a puncture, tighten loose nuts or change a clutch cable. Spare parts – brake pads, tube if needed, bulbs, clutch cables, engine oil, oil filter and spark plugs. When we were changing Wamuyu’s rear brake pads, we wanted to replace the spare but couldn’t find it in Bolivia. When we finally did, the price was extremely high and if we had no spare we would have had to pay that. GPS– Navigation can be hard in a foreign country. Whether you prefer Gaming, Google Maps or maps.me, you need to have your offline maps well in advance. Take time to check the route, road conditions, towns in between, petrol stations etc. We use offline maps on our phones. The locals are also always helpful. Water, snacks and food – Always have a fruit, nuts or energy bars, some canned food and enough drinking water with you. Traveling by road is unpredictable. Sometimes you go for a long distance without any access to restaurants and also heavy meals in between riding can make you drowsy and slow you down. Sometimes you could also decide to camp, and you will need some food. We carry some canned tuna. Getting bread is easy anywhere and that makes a meal. We also carry coffee sachets for breakfast. Camping gear – early bookings don’t work for us, as with many overlanders. In case you have no accommodation, there is always an open campsite or space. You can easily make your home with no hustle. Advice to people willing to take up intercountry travel The most important is having your documents ready and with you. The rest can be available everywhere. If traveling by air, you only need your passport and a valid yellow fever certificate. If using a motorcycle or car, you need a passport, valid yellow fever certificate, valid international as well as local driving license (make sure your local license is valid even if you have an international license), vehicle documents – original log book (proof of ownership), carnet – not required in all countries. You must check this with Automobile Association. You also need insurance for the motorbike or car. Most are sold at the border. Make sure you process your vehicle for entry at the border customs and get all the documents and keep them for exiting the country. We almost got stranded in Chile since we misplaced our customs documents. We thank God for the kind border officers who were kind enough to request for details of our entry from the entry border. Personal medical insurance is also important as cost of treatment can be very expensive in foreign countries.

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A KENYAN TRAVELLER

SWIMMING WITH

PENGUINS Before my trip to South Africa, the only penguins I was familiar with were from the movie Penguins of Madagascar, except, these birds don’t exist in Madagascar, writes Winnie Rioba.

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fter paying the conservation fees at Table Mountain National Park, I quickly walk in. There is a boardwalk that stretches throughout the park with trees on either side of it creating the perfect backdrop for pictures. I have my first encounter only a few minutes later. My excitement is palpable…right in front of me is a real penguin casually waddling across the boardwalk! Before I can take it all in, I see dozens more. There are penguins everywhere, some in the surrounding bushes, and they all come to peer at us curiously before clumsily waddling back to the rest of the colony. They are so close that if I extend my hand over the fence, I can reach down and touch them. There are several grass-lined burrows under the trees that serve as nesting grounds. Inside these, some penguins nest while others pass time by preening their feathers. They seem indifferent to our presence. I finally get to an elevated wooden platform with a fence that separates the boardwalk from the white sandy beach that the hosts the penguin colony. There are hundreds of them waddling on the beach, some swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and others jumping from rock to rock. No big deal! Other than the fact that they look outstanding in their “tuxedos”, a waddling penguin is probably the most endearing thing you will ever see. While I get to see hundreds of penguins within the park, they are confined to a protected area where tourists are only allowed to take pictures and admire them from a distance. I can see some of them coupled up and separated from the crowd

and I read that they usually have lifelong mates of whom they are very protective. It actually seems more like insecurity to me, but let’s just go with protective. To swim with these adorable birds, head out to Boulders Beach which is right next door. Nothing prepared me for the magnificent landscape or how close I would be to the penguins. I watch them frolic in the sand and swim, sometimes intentionally tumbling with the waves. Boulder’s Beach is a slice of heaven but the royal blue water is extremely cold. I however brave the freezing temperatures to swim with these birds, and as I wade through the water, I decide to squeeze through the gaps in the boulders towards the more secluded parts with no tourists in sight to find dozens of penguins. I try to get a little closer to a group with my GoPro camera for a close up selfie but one of the little fellows is not having it because it pecks my camera so hard that I almost drop it into the ocean. I notice that while these birds are friendly, they are very excitable and can be a little aggressive. There are warning signs that if you dare get too close, they will use their strong beaks to defend themselves if they feel threatened. You should swim with them while respecting their space. My intention is to spend an hour swimming but I end up staying longer, playing about in the water with them while taking pictures. Luckily, I had packed some snacks and cold drinks so I have a solo minipicnic by the beach. Tip: You will need sunscreen if you visit during the summer. The water is generally ice cold and a wetsuit is highly recommended, especially during the winter.

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT AFRICAN PENGUINS • They are also known as “jackass penguins” since they sound like a braying donkey when they communicate. The first time you hear penguins calling to each other, you will be forgiven for wondering what donkeys are doing on a beach. • The African penguin is the smallest compared to other species. They are on average about 65cm tall and weigh between 2 to 3.5 kg. • Penguins have lifelong partners and the African penguin is no exception. You are bound to see some paired up away from the general colony. • They have black spots and stripes on their chests and much like human fingerprints, each pattern is unique to each penguin. • They survive on small fish and they are great swimmers. They can dive as deep as 130m and hold their breath underwater for 2.5 minutes. • Penguins are flightless seabirds although they have flippers which are significant during swimming. • African Penguins can live anywhere between 10 to 15 years although presently, most do not reach this life span as their population is decreasing.

Do you have a story you would like featured in this column? Email a detailed pitch to editor@nomadmagazine.co

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NOTES FROM THE BUSH

SEND IN

THE RAINMAKERS It is that time of year again. Things have slowed down as the heat and hardship intensify, writes Samantha du Toit. The river is usually low towards the end of the dry season, but this year it has dried up completely for the first time in living memory.

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ver the last week, the trickle that was meandering past the camp has slowly retreated in front of our eyes. As troubling as this is, it has also brought a plethora of life to our doorstep, showing us just how vital water is to the area. Sitting in the shade by the river trying to stay cool in the stifling heat of the day, we have come to recognise the regular visitors searching for where the trickle runs out. The baboons of course are always around, quieter than usual, perhaps choosing to focus on water and food rather than squabbling. A little family of warthogs comes every day with two little piglets. Seyia, our daughter, asks if they might be Squeaks’ family, the abandoned piglet who came in to our lives for a short time in January. Most likely, I reply. The loudest visitors come in the smallest sizes. Although each tiny qualea bird may not be heard by itself, the thousands that are flocking together by the trickle and chattering away create such a noise it can be almost deafening. The bushes sag under

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the flocks' weight and the birds look like pouring water as they fly down to the river to drink. The guinea fowl come to drink in large chaotic groups, chirping and running around in all directions. They are often joined by our resident herd of impala and take turns to startle each other. Each evening as the day gets cooler, we walk up the dry river to see where the river now stops, our feet crunching through the sand. The colobus monkeys stare down at us from the tops of the fig trees and the fish eagle flies ahead of us looking for the biggest pools of water. Sometimes we see herds of zebra coming to drink. Cautious but thirsty they don’t stay long. We also see the women collecting water and the goats and cattle coming to drink. The women and children have taken to digging holes in the sand and waiting for sand-filtered water to fill the hole, before taking a cup and laboriously scooping it into their water containers. Some people living downriver are walking several hours to find water with their livestock, and the distance increases every day. As night falls we then wait for the largest animals to appear. Every few days we see a

lone hippo making her way upriver. In fifteen years of living here, I have never actually seen a hippo until now, although we have known they are around. As the moon comes up, we start to see the large shuffling shadows of the elephants, sometimes thirty at a time, quietly and cautiously making their way up stream. One voice or one flash of a torch and they bunch up, turn around and retreat. Throughout the night they dig and explore up and down the river, leaving large footprints in the sand. Prayers for rain are starting today we hear. The Maasai women are due to be walking down the river bed any time now, splashing blessings of milk and singing. We join them in hoping that the weather predictions are wrong and that soon there will be water flowing again and life will become easier again for everyone and everything. Samantha du Toit is a wildlife conservationist, working with SORALO, a Maasai land trust. She lives with her husband, Johann, and their two children at Shompole Wilderness, a tented camp in the Shompole Conservancy.


Nestled in the foothills of Mt Kenya, award-winning accommodation 40 minutes from Nanyuki, endless opportunities to relax, reconnect with nature and the special people in your life. Now offering half-day horse riding safaris into the neighbouring 36,000 acre, privately-owned wildlife conservancy. Proud to be #1 of 21 on TripAdvisor, B&Bs/Inns of Laikipa County

For rates contact us at welcome@olepangifarm.com | We also offer resident rates | www.olepangifarm.com OlePangi.indd 1

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With the private 18,000 acre Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary at your disposal, the choices are seemingly endless. Chui Lodge is a boutique luxury lodge set in the heart of the sanctuary with amazing over the Mau Escartment & surrounded by indigenous forest. From night safaris searching for aardvark & leopards, boat rides on the lake watching the hippos to stunning sundowners with herds of bualo across the plains, we can oer you the best of what is to be found in Naivasha. For Bookings: Call: 0722 200 596/ 0707 645 631 Email: reservations@oseriantwolakes.com

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WHERE TO STAY We list some favourite budget spots whose rates are often appealing throughout the year, yet they never compromise on style and comfort. From quiry places in Karen to the beach. PHOTOGRAPH: PETER NDUNG'U, RESPECTIVE PROPERTIES

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PLACES TO STAY

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PLACES TO STAY

LAMU LAMU HOUSE, OLD TOWN

This is a collection of properties in Lamu Old Town. The hotel is located in the sea front and has ten individually designed rooms, several swimming pools, courtyards, terraces and more. The apartment building is minutes away and boasts nine apartments with magnificent views. An excellent chef completes this voyage of the senses with a variety of gastronomic delights from local dishes combined with the best international cuisine. They have a special offer running till July at $100 per standard room and Ksh $150 per superior room. www.lamuhouse.com

MARIDHIYA HOUSE, OLD TOWN

Step back in time at Maridhiya House, an outstanding example of a traditional 18th Century Lamu townhouse which has been restored, rebuilt and extended. Set in a quiet, unspoilt area of the old town, a short walk from the seafront, Maridhiya has been renovated with care and skill to create a beautiful, comfortable home. The house comes complete with the services of our helpful staff who will be pleased to collect you from the airport and shop, cook and guide you around town and island. The house can host five guests and costs $99 for the entire apartment. Book via airbnb.

MSAFINI HOTEL & MANGO TOPROOF, SHELA

A two-minute walk from the beach, this limestone, five-story structure combines modern architecture and traditional Swahili design. Family-owned and run, they have been in Lamu for centuries and are happy to share their traditions and culture with guests. The hotel has a private pool as well as fourteen spacious and well-ventilated en-suite rooms, each with a private balcony. Accommodations vary in size and style, with options for twin, double and triple rooms. Rates from Ksh 6,000. www.msafinihotel.co.ke

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TURKANA PALM SHADE RESORT

This is without a doubt the nicest place to camp in town, but the wind gets gusty so tents need to be well pegged. Campers can make use of a shaded, grassy area in which to pitch their tents, clean and decent ablutions and covered huts for preparing food and cooking. Food is also prepared on request and served up in the camping grounds. Basic rooms are available here. Trips on the lake and to Mt Kulal can be arranged. Ksh 500 per person camping; Ksh 1,000 for a rondavel. www.palmshaderesort.co.ke

ELIYE SPRINGS RESORT

Set on the western side of Lake Turkana along pristine sandy beaches and shaded by palm trees, you would be forgiven for thinking that you’re on the Kenyan coast. It has different types of accommodation ranging from luxury Bomas and selfcontained rooms to a campsite with manyattas and star-tents. There is also camping space in the sand dunes. The Resort runs a restaurant with a popular fully stocked bar. Enjoy the natural spring-water spa or hire a boat to visit Central Island or go fishing. The bomas go for Ksh 10,000 but there is room for as little as $Ksh 1,000. www.eliyespringsresort.com

KENYA MUSEUM BANDAS & ALIA BAY GUESTHOUSE

In a rugged spot deep inside the park, the Koobi Fora museum offers very basic accommodation overlooking the lake on a self-catering basis. There is a dining area and kitchen. Camping, with access to the facilities, is also available. Rooms cost ksh 1,000 per person, camping Ksh 300. Near the main gate is Alia Bay Guesthouse, the KWS-run cottage, sleeping five. Guests must bring their own water. Ksh 5,000 for the whole house. To book Koobi Fora, go to www.museums.or.ke For the guest house, visit www.kws.go.ke or call its reservations’ team on 0726 610 533

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PLACES TO STAY

NANYUKI & OUTSKIRTS OLEPANGI FARM, TIMAU

It has five cottages including the impressive Round House with a bedroom on its upper floor and an outdoor bathtub. The farm does all of its own water harvesting and rooms are solar powered. Each morning, step out onto the wooden floorboards on the front porch of your cottage to take in the sheer beauty of the Lolldaigas. Food is organically grown in their own garden. The decor was curated over the years by the owners on their travels, and a favourite spot is the grass thatched Party House where bohemian maximalism is at play. Horse riding is available. Resident rates from Ksh 13,500 on full board. www.olepangifarm.com

COLOBUS COTTAGES, NANYUKI

On the banks of the Burguret River, these rustic cottages overlook woodlands filled with birdlife. They have two and three bedrooms, their own kitchen and deck, and are fully furnished complete with bed linen, towels and eco-charcoal. The cottages are equipped for self-catering or – with prior arrangement – meals can be served. Fun things to do here include fishing for rainbow trout and bird watching. Rates: 3,500 Ksh per person self catering, Plus 900 Ksh for a full English breakfast, and 1,500 for a twocourse dinner. www.colobuscottages.com

SOAMES HOTEL AND JACK’S BAR

Set within a 100 acre private property with sunrise views of Mount Kenya, this hotel was named after Jack Soames, a European settler who came to Kenya in 1920 and made this farm his home. It has a classic contemporary style with a clean cut modern look and is simply and tastefully furnished. It has 12 double en-suite rooms in 6 cottages set within a garden. Each room has a double or twin bed configuration, flat screen TV, modern bathroom facilities and a dressing room/ work space. Rates from Ksh 13,600 on booking.com. www. soameshotelkenya.com

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WATAMU ALAWI BOUTIQUE HOTEL

The hotel’s name (Alawi means ‘heavenly’ in ancient Arabic) draws from the legend of a rich and famous 18th century merchant, Sheikh Alawi, who on his innumerable business trips between the Gulf of Aden and the coasts of Kenya, fell in love and married a beautiful local girl. From the marriage four sons were born, and the rooms of this hotel are named after them. The Lamu-style property offers a selection of four comfortable double rooms and one single room, three of which offer panoramic views of the beautiful coral beach of Watamu. Rates from Ksh 10,500 in the low season. www.alawiboutiquehotel.com

MIDA ECO CAMP

This eco-friendly community camp offers three traditional huts and two campsites. On the rustic platform-restaurant, visitors can look out over the Arabuko Sokoke Forest and mangroves and watch a multitude of birds ducking and diving, while the friendly staff cook Giriama food over a fire for them. This community project was built from private donations and all profit goes to projects in Mida Creek including health, education and agriculture. Ask the staff to take you to their secret spot on Kirepwe Island and grill seafood for you as you wallow in the warm water. Rates: From 900 Ksh for a single room B&B. www.midaecocamp.com

VILLA ISLA DEL AMORE

This two-bedroom makuti-thatched villa is located just 10 minutes from the beach and features a terrace, garden and outdoor pool. The property is housed in a modern building dating back to 2012 and offers Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and in the kitchen, microwave, fridge, toaster and coffee machine. A car-rental service is available as are staff to assist with cleaning, to act as a guides etc. An experienced chef versed in making Swahili food and international cuisine can also be hired as needed. Perfect for families, rates start from $112 per night. Available for booking on Airbnb.

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PLACES TO STAY

DIANI THE MAJI BEACH BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Imagine a beach hotel without the shriek of young children. If that sounds like music to your ears, the Maji might just be the place for you. With a strict ‘no under 12s’ policy, and the freedom to take your meals when and where you want them, this is a place that might particularly appeal to those seeking a romantic escape, or stressed parents looking for a real escape. The hotel’s 15 rooms are spread over a converted villa, surrounded by a moat-like pool. The economy room goes for Ksh 8,210 pp but superior garden-view rooms start from Ksh 16,685 pp full-board. www.the-maji.com

FLAMBOYANT, DIANI BEACH

Although technically beachfront, Flamboyant looks out onto a pool and landscaped gardens giving it an air of elegance and peace that is absent from many other places on the coast. Considerable thought has gone into the fabric and furnishings, particularly in the common areas. The restaurant serves up good food, including eggs Benedict for breakfast, and the hotel is much more reasonably priced than many comparable small properties. Resident rates start from Ksh 11,000 for a double room, B&B. www.stiltsdianibeach.co.ke

KENYAWAYS KITESURF BEACH HOTEL

Further down the coast at Galu is this rustic little 10-bedroom hotel (five bedrooms with sea views), catering to a more chilled, barefoot kind of crowd. With the excellent Lymingtons bistro on site, guests don’t have to travel for good food. Bedrooms are pretty simple but nicely done and there’s a good watersports outlet on site offering kite surfing and other activities. Galu, a large sweep of beach, is quieter than Diani. Rooms are very reasonably priced, even those with a sea view. Rates start from $43 pp sharing a double, B&B. www.thekenyaway.com

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OFF SEASON BEACH BARGAINS

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+254 714 315 151 | info@lantana-galu-beach.co.ke | www.lantana-galu-beach.co.ke

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PLACES TO STAY

NAIROBI THE BRANDY BUS

Established within a shared compound in the heart of Karen, the bus is close enough to Nairobi for a quick spontaneous getaway, but far enough for some much needed fresh air and an escape from city life. It can technically sleep six. There are two queen-sized beds upstairs separated by a curtain, and two sofa beds downstairs in the common area. Although it is a compact space, the host has managed to fit everything you need into the bus. Its charm comes from its global inspirations, from woven baskets originating in West Africa to Mexican tiles. Available for booking on Airbnb.

ANGA AFRIKA LUXURY TENTED CAMP

This family-run camp has six tents and is set in the expansive backyard of their lovely home in Karen. Each tent can host up to three guests and is a great base for people either heading on safari or residents looking for a weekend escape away from all the Nairobi hustle without having to drive to Naivasha or the Aberdares. The ambiance created here is the same- lush greenery, tranquillity and an abundance of birds. The nights are also just as cold, but the tents are thankfully outfitted with electric heaters and hot water bottles. Rates from Ksh 10,000. www.angaafrika.com

THE RIVER HOUSE

A world away from conventional design, the River House – conceived and designed by owner Jonny Dwek – is made up of eclectic design, tiny nooks and crannies that conceal stairways, ladders, bathrooms, you name it. As Jonny says, “It’s the opposite of architecture.” This treehouse-style home was made with his kids in mind, to give them the kind of childhood he dreamed about, and it may well bring out the child in you too. Three doubles, plus a deck-style room for a child. The house is generally available only when the owners are away. $129 per night on AirBnB.

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PLACES TO STAY

MAASAI MARA MARA SERENA

This is one of only two lodges in the Mara Triangle and guests can therefore enjoy a slightly more exclusive feel to the game-drive experience. On first inspection, Serena’s pod-like structure seems a little otherworldly and the inspiration is a Maasai manyatta, but it is magnificently appointed to overlook the plains below with a terrific viewing deck. The 70-plus rooms are designed to catch the best of the views, too. Rates: Ksh11,000 pp sharing for full-board. They don’t offer a game drive package unless you book flights too, so game drives are charged at Ksh 4,500 per person per drive. www.serenahotels.com

MARA NGENCHE

This is a classy riverside camp near Talek gate with tents set a decent distance from each other to ensure utmost privacy. Each room is aptly furnished with four-poster beds, free-standing bathtubs and open showers. Each tent also comes with its own private plunge pool perfect for dipping in during hot days, particularly appealing if it gets too warm in the tents during the dry season. Rates start from Ksh 14,000 per person sharing on a full-board basis excluding drinks. Game package costs Ksh 19,000 per person. Children under five go free. www.atua-enkop.com

SEKENANI CAMP

A combination of luxury and adventure, in the low season, this is a quiet and enjoyable place to spend a couple of days. It has small but comfortable safari tents accessed via a rope bridge. Each tent has a wooden floor and en-suite bathroom complete with a full-length bathtub, and they are said to be the first tents with bathtubs to be installed in Kenya. Best of all is the camp fire ambience in the evening. Rates: Full board starts at Ksh 7,500 per person sharing. There is no game drive package, as most guests drive in, but a guide can be arranged. www.sekenani-camp.com

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AMBOSELI & TSAVO SATAO, TSAVO EAST

This is a charming camp, furnished in classic safari style with an inviting downtime area with daybeds and loungers. Much of the game comes to you, with the boundaries between park and camp pretty fluid. Vulturine guinea fowl, semi-tame impala and other creatures wander in and around the 20-plus tents. On any given day (particularly in the dry season), you are likely to find hundreds – yes, hundreds – of elephants outside your tent, with every room facing the watering hole. Full board accommodation starts from Ksh 5,500 pp sharing, and Ksh 9,500 pp sharing for the game-drive package. www.sataocamp.com

AMBOSELI BUSH CAMP

This is a secluded self-catered safari camp that can comfortably host 10 guests. This accommodation boasts extensive views of Mount Kilimanjaro and is only a few kilometres away from Amboseli National Park. Each tent has a large and comfortable bed and faces towards the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro. Whether you want a tasty BBQ or delicious pizzas, this bush camp is true safari luxury at the fraction of the price. Price: You can enjoy exclusive use of the property from only $95 per night. Book via AirBnB

LION’S BLUFF, LUMO CONSERVANCY

Perched on a hill – or bluff – with 360-degree views towards Tsavo West and the community-run Lumo conservancy, this is a camp with a truly incredible perspective. Accommodation is in 12 solar powered tents or two cottages overlooking the plains, all furnished in a rustic but colourful and cosy style. The lodge offers bush breakfasts, sundowners out in the bush, archery for kids, night game drives and nature walks. There’s also disabled access to one of the tents (as well as elsewhere in the lodge. FB rates start from Ksh 7,500 pp, sharing. Game drives are charged at Ksh 2,000 pp. www.lionsblufflodge.co

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PLACES TO STAY

NYERI & ENVIRONS SANDAI HOMESTAY AND COTTAGES

Forty minutes from Nyeri, guests are welcomed into Petra's eclectic home and have the choice of the four original rooms, self-catering cottages, rondavels or a bigger house for families and friends. African prints and colourful quilts reign supreme here, giving every room a homely feel. The bigger house on the edge of the homestead sleeps up to 8 and has gorgeous views of Mt Kenya. Activities include horse riding into the neighbouring Sangare ranch where plains game roam. Rooms start at approximately Ksh 6,000 to Ksh 14,000 for the cottages. www.africanfootprints.de

OUTSPAN HOTEL

This old colonial hotel built in the 1920s is a place for those looking more for nostalgia and fine gardens than mod-cons. Indeed, it feels like little has changed in the last 50 plus years, with dark wooden panelling very much a feature of this Nyeri mainstay. The sitting room is less than cosy but the standard doubles with wooden floors looking out onto well-manicured lawns are hard to beat. Even if you’re not staying, consider dropping in for an outdoor buffet lunch in congenial and peaceful surroundings. B&B starts from Ksh 10,600 per room. www.outspan.co.ke

ABERDARE COUNTRY CLUB

Probably the plushest place to stay in the locale is the Aberdare Country Club, a sprawling property comprising cottages, health spa, pool and its own nature conservancy. Drop-ins are required to pay a Ksh 500 day fee just to visit. Once at the hotel, you’ll find yourself in something of a haven, with the main dining area overlooking large, hillside gardens where peacocks roam. Activities include horse-riding, nature walks, golf, and tennis. A visit to the Ark is booked through the club. Prices are usually higher but in the low season, a single room starts at Ksh 15,000, thereabout. www.aberdarecountryclub.com

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KISUMU & ENVIRONS ACACIA PREMIER HOTEL

With its outdoor terrace pool bar and restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria, tastefully-furnished rooms with all mod-cons and impeccable service, it sets a high bar for business hotels in this city. The hotel’s attention to service is one of its high points. Guests are welcomed with warm towels and cold drinks, and staff go out of their way to be friendly and courteous. The chefs put considerable thought and effort into producing food that actually whets your appetite. Various types of rooms available, rates from Ksh 15,000. www.acaciapremier.com

SOVEREIGN HOTEL, KISUMU

This five-star gated hotel is very private and set apart in the high-end Milimani neighbourhood. Rooms are contemporary and well decorated. A king-size bed, two closets, safe, two-seater couch with table, mini bar, flat-screen TV and study desk in case you want to do some work incorporate the furniture in every room. The beautiful paintings and photographs add colour to the rooms, bringing them to life. The lounge bar is well designed and photographs of music icons bring about nostalgic memories of the music of the past centuries. Rates from Ksh 14,000. www.sovereignhotel.co.ke

KWEISOS HOUSE, KORU

About a 90-minute drive east of Kisumu is this simple, rustic homestead, built on a hill with tremendous views over the surrounding countryside. The original house is a Harrods flatpack, shipped from England in 1912. With three rooms – two doubles and a twin – it makes for a cosy family stay. Over the years, the owners have added four more double rooms allowing it to accommodate up to 14 guests. Activities include walking, tennis, horse-riding and trips to nearby dams on the large farm for tilapia fishing. Pool available. Ksh 7,500 pp full-board, Ksh 3,000 pp self-catering. Ksh 2,000 for children under 12. www.homalime.com

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BUDGET

MARA 38

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MARA

Budget and safari don’t often go together, still less in the Maasai Mara during migration season. But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, as Catrina Stewart finds out.

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MARA

A

s my battered Toyota offered a spot of luxury. We had a simple were. “Um, somewhere near the river, but it Prado jarringly hit a dinner, chatted around the camp fire and has opened out a bit,” I faltered as a hyena ditch in the middle retired to a fairly spartan yet comfortable, slunk in front of our headlights. “Stay where of the rock-strewn, furnished tent. you are,” said James, “and we’ll drive out to corrugated road to The next morning, we ditched the car for find you.” the Mara, I mentally a game drive in one of the camp’s vehicles. The next day, I asked a ranger who counted the cost I hadn’t yet seen any cats and wondered if to call if lost in the Mara at night. “You of booking the car in for an extended a budget safari means economising on the shouldn’t be driving in the reserve at night,” service back in Nairobi. By the time we wildlife experience. But my doubts were he admonished. “I know that,” I said, “but pulled into the Aruba Mara camp, a soon dispelled. James stopped the car, say you do get lost, and it gets dark, who do campsite a hundred metres outside the and smiling broadly, said, “Cheetah.” We I call?” He looked at me unsympathetically Talek gate, the car was making the first of watched the group of male cats prowl just and said, “You shouldn’t drive in the reserve its ominous, clanking sounds that would metres away from the vehicle. As I fiddled without a guide if you don’t know the way.” dog the trip. with my camera, James whispered, “Watch, After a night on stony ground, Julia’s Neither Brian- the photographer- nor I they’re going to hunt.” were particularly expert in pitching tents, Later, we hit car trouble again, the near and certainly not in the darkness. The front wheel starting to emit a high-pitched first we found to have no fly sheet, the screeching sound of metal on metal. A second became a tangled mess. Luckily, colleague holidaying in the Mara texted I had a couple of spares, and Edward, us excitedly, giving us a blow-by-blow our Maasai host, quickly took us under account of the wildebeest crossing the river, his wing, and showed us how the experts crocodiles snapping at the beasts plunging do it. Sweat pouring down my brow, I ungainly through the surging waters. Come suggested we retire to the bar for some quickly, she urged, while it’s still going on. food and drink. “Closed now,” he said. But the car was going nowhere, and nor “You should have rung ahead.” were we. “I can’t believe we’re here during Instead of heading out on a game the migration and we missed it,” I muttered drive the next morning, we watched to Brian. a mechanic wriggle into position And so here we were, at the ends of underneath the car and solder broken the earth – or so it felt. After his lukewarm parts together. I parted with 500 welcome, the guard led us away from the shillings and we hit the road again. We gate to a charming spot under a tree on the meandered through the park, marvelling river bank, and our spirits started to pick at the plethora of wildebeest which up. We pitched our tents and huddled had in earlier weeks started their next to a camp fire, set up by the arduous journey to the Mara, braving rangers who would keep us safe for the treacherous rivers with gaping the night. crocodiles lying in wait. I awoke early, and surveyed our Spotting big game – particularly surroundings in an entirely new light. Travel in low season when lodge rates are slashed the cats – is something of a science. The sun started to edge its way over across the Mara. Avoid peak season times such as the An experienced guide will notice the horizon, spreading a golden, great migration in July and August, and the Easter and an empty clearing where droppings ochre hue over the boulders and Christmas holidays. indicate that plains game were surrounding moorland. Hundreds of recently grazing, and surmise a campers before us had woken to the Stay outside the park to avoid paying extra in park fees, big cat might be lurking in the same view and I started to appreciate and for a wider range of budget options. undergrowth nearby. We had no why Sand River is considered one Self-drive and camp. If camping is your thing, this is such innate sense, and instead used of the country’s more magical wild undoubtedly the cheapest way to experience the Mara. our observation skills to spot a cluster campsites. There are several public campsites in the Mara Reserve, of minibuses that might suggest Back at the gate, we fell into an and the adjacent Mara Triangle. Beware, though, that something interesting nearby. argument with the guard, who refused extras, such as rangers for security, or guides hired at the En route to our next night’s to give us a receipt, saying he had gate, can start to push up costs. lodging, Julia’s River Camp, a none. As campers and guard eyed budget lodge situated in a prolific each other warily, each of us knew The journey can also be tough on your car. wildlife-viewing part of the reserve, that he had charged too much, but Join an organised tour. A plethora of travel companies, we lost our way. The Mara is short we also knew he would never admit some more reputable than others, offer budget trips on signs and maps are of little use it. As we left the reserve, however, we of two or three nights from Nairobi, with discounted when dozens of unmarked tracks appealed to the warden, and were accommodation options. Others, such as Jumia Travel, criss cross the plains. It was 7:00pm, refunded the difference. also offer discounted lodge rates. and dark, not a twinkling light to be A minor spot of corruption did little seen, and we were driving around to spoil the mood. We may not have Visit travel fairs, such as the one at Sarit Centre every in circles. The wildlife was the least been the best-equipped campers, but spring, to bag good deals from hotels and lodges. Check of my worries – far more concerning waking on the edge of the Mara to a out lodges’ websites, too, for special deals outside of was the prospect of a zealous ranger view that few get to see will stay with peak season. catching us breaking the golden rule me. Money assuredly buys fine food of never driving at night. and a comfortable bed. But does it I called the lodge, and James, the have the monopoly on an experience? manager, asked us to describe where we I’m not so sure.

FIVE WAYS TO CUT COSTS IN THE MARA

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PICTURE

PERFECT

DOUBLE TROUBLE: I underexposed this image on purpose to create the silhouette that I wanted. I had to be patient to get both lions looking in opposite directions.

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There is no shortage of great wildlife photographers, but reaching that level of expertise requires skill and patience. For anyone looking to hone their craft, Pareet Shah shares vital tips to get you started. •

Make sure you have the best guide... someone who understands and is able to effectively communicate animal behaviour. One who understands photography is a huge bonus. Lighting is key.Get out early in the morning and stay till late in the evening to capitalise on the golden light. Either shoot with the light behind you or in front of you but avoid shooting in overhead light. Throw away all previous rules you have learnt about photography. Rules are meant to be broken. Some of the best images I have captured were when I broke photography rules. Think before you shoot. Consider the image you want to portray and the story you want to tell, then click. I have seen too many photographers just clicking away without much thought. Patience is vital...things don’t just pan out as you see them on TV. To get that perfect shot, you need to sit it out. Don’t rush from one sighting to another. Several times, we have waited over seven hours to photograph a kill. Look for details to shoot – cat’s paws, bird’s feathers, leopard’s tail, elephant’s tusk etc. Sometimes you can draw a viewer to your image by featuring a particular aspect of an animal. When shooting, keep your camera and lens stable. You can do this by supporting your equipment with a beanbag, making sure the car is turned off, breathing techniques etc. Try and keep your backgrounds simple and non-distracting. Photos with cluttered backgrounds can cause your subject to get lost in the frame. Less is more. Step away from shooting the boring ordinary images. Most photographers have photos of lions yawninE5Ug, cubs hugging etc. Dare to capture a different perspective. Be unique! Carry lots of water and snacks with you in the car. You never know how long you will be out in the field.

*Pareet Shah from Cheka Wild (IG: @chekawild) leads customised photosafaris in the Maasai Mara. Rates start from $2,000 for a five day trip.

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HANDS OFF: even the symbiotic relationship between the oxpecker and the buffalo can be too much for the latter sometimes. I noticed this pattern where the buffalo would get irritated by the oxpecker as it had a fresh wound. I used a high shutter speed and had to be ready with my finger on the trigger when this moment occured.

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WATER DANCE: I used a very high shutter speed for this frame to freeze the water droplets as the giraffe came up from drinking from the Mara River.

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SANDSTORM

What I pack … for my travels Brian Babu is one of Africa’s top celebrity stylists having worked with people like Sauti Sol, Wahu, Nameless, Mr Eazi, Seyi Shay, Amina Abdi Rabar and more. When traveling, here are some items you are likely to find in his carry-on bag. Instagram: @brianbabu

SEWING KIT I bring this along just in case of an emergency. Once a stylist, always a stylist.

Tan Moshi Ksh15,900

PACE HEADPHONES Music soothes my soul and I like to carry these African-designed headphones wherever I go. EDWARD EAST WATCH I love simple, classic and timeless accessories, which is exactly what this watch is.

TOM FORD GREY VETIVER A brother must always smell good, and this has great top notes of sage, grapefruit and orange blossom. A nice scent is part of my identity. AFROSTREET KOLLEKTIONS ANKARA KIMONO Stylish and comfortable at the same time. ROCK AND STONES HOLIDAY SHORTS Their designs reflect the fascinating history of the Swahili trading empire and its relationship with West Africa, India, Arabia, Europe and the Americas. These are the most comfortable shorts ever.

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NIVEA SUN LOTION It’s important to keep my skin moisturized. I hate dry skin. This is also water resistant and has SPF which provides protection against the sun.

NOTEBOOK I use this to pen down ideas and thoughts as I go.


MEDIUM SIZED HOTEL ON THE SOUTH COAST AND VOTED BY TRIP ADVISOR REVIEWS IN THE TOP 10 IN KENYA IS LOOKING FOR A

FRONT OFFICE MANAGER The FRONT OFFICE is the department which gives the first and lasting impression of the hotel to our guests, which is why the position entails the following: • • • • •

Key responsibilities Managing and training the concierge, night auditor, and team of receptionists. Ensure the Front Desk provides a professional and friendly service for our guests. Taking reservations and “driving the sales and marketing strategy” and running special offers. Good computer skills are crucial and knowledge of the Fidelio System will be important. Handling telephone sales outside office hours.

The candidate must be prepared to work irregular hours covering shifts at short notice & work long hours if necessary He or she must have Front Desk experience, either a Concierge, Reception, Reservations or in Marketing. A good salary is offered dependent upon your experience, skill and attitude. Must be Kenyan Citizen or have the eligibility to work here and be ready to commit to the responsibility. Please send your CV and cover letter to southcoastjobs@gmail.com Interviews start in Diani beginning of June 2019

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ROAD TRIP

HERMANUS /KNYSNA Simon Marsh sets off to explore South Africa’s breathtaking Garden Route by road, discovering adventure, ocean and fine dining. You are guaranteed to want to plan your own visit.

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ROAD TRIP

T

he infamous Garden Route of South Africa, where the Indian Ocean’s African odyssey begins in earnest. Starting on the southernmost coast of Africa with nothing but ocean between the shore and the Antarctic other than ocean lies the small town of Hermanus. Famous for whale watching and shark diving, this small seaside town is an easy ninety minute drive from Cape Town along well maintained smooth roads. We opted to stay at the grand old lady of the town, The Marine, which was established in 1902. This hotel which dominates the sea front has undergone more than one revival and since 1998, has been a member of the very exclusive Liz McGrath collection which incorporates just three Western Cape-based five star hotels. Hermanus is a seaside town littered with quirky shops full of knick knacks, a plethora of restaurants and bars offering sumptuous seafood and the opportunity to see, first hand, some of Africa’s most southerly water based mammals. In whale watching season, normally between July and September, it is possible to view the mammals from one of the eateries overlooking the ocean or to take to the sea in an organised whale watching trip, or even in kayaks (it is not unknown to be lifted up by a whale underneath you). A more relaxing way to enjoy the stay includes the hop on- hop off bus tour, the harbour museum, a meander along the cliff top path with the possibility of seeing dolphins playing in the surf and an invigorating massage at the hotels own spa. As we gazed out to the water, we were lucky to notice a movement in the open seas ahead and spent the next hour enchanted by a pod of dolphins leaping and spinning in a show that felt like it had been put on especially for us. Origins Restaurant at The Marine offers the best of land and sea, sumptuous calamari paired with an oaky chardonnay is just one example of the vast array of options available and as Hermanus is really the border of the wine producing region, you are able to both eat and drink locally produced products. The next drive to Knysna is a leisurely stretch along beautiful open countryside and dramatic ocean vistas. There are many places along the way to stop for a snack. The last stretch between Wilderness and Knysna is the most dramatic with long inviting beaches, sweeping estuaries and an array of local businesses offering their services. Knysna offers waterfront properties overlooking the sheltered lagoon, hotels on the infamous heads that look out to the open

ocean beyond or properties on top of the of the surrounding hills with views of its forest where the elusive Knysna elephant live and the mysterious phantom pass. In this town, the world is literally your oyster, which is coincidentally the mollusc that Knysna, with its annual oyster festival, is best known for. We opted to rent a house through Airbnb. Embarrassed by its size, it included kayaks which we could use to navigate our way to a cafĂŠ by water, keeping an eye open for one of the remarkably unique Knysna loeries with their radiant red wings and exchanging pleasantries with neighbours embarking on their own nautical expedition. There is no shortage of things to fill your time, from boat trips into the lagoon to seek out the unique Knysna seahorse or taking to the board to test your balance on the sand dunes as you learn to descend by standing on a piece of wood and hope to win some bragging rights by not getting a face full of sand. A new arrival is the scooter tours that take you into the forest and allow you to feel the breeze as you whizz along tracks as fast as you dare. These vehicles specially imported from Europe have super fat tyres that give extra stability and even the children were soon flying along at breakneck speed causing more that one heart palpitation to us fretting parents. There is no shortage of dining options in Knysna; in fact there is something to suit everyone and any known dietary consideration. Thesen Island, the Venice of the Western Cape for its array of canals, is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of locally brewed craft beer, the trademark oysters or one of the sumptuous seafood platters that combine the line caught fish of the day, delicately cooked calamari and meaty prawns. Some of the home made peri peri sauce provides a guilty treat to mop up the accompanying rice or chips, topped with a nightcap of red wine. For the children and those of us young at heart, a short drive offers the waterslides of adventure land or the canopy tours in neighbouring Sedgefield. For the adrenaline junkie there is everything from throwing yourself off a plane strapped to a stranger or whizzing across plains and forest on a quad bike as you go places that a car could never reach. The Garden Route is a place of remarkable beauty. Accommodation options range from backpacker hostels to the finest of five star hotels, and there is something to cater for every taste and with first-world facilities readily on hand. If the ocean and the forest are not enough, there are game reserves dotted around so it's perfectly possible to see the big five in the day and be at the coast in time for sunset.

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LAST WORD

Forest

WALK

W

hy go on holiday?” asks Chris, throwing his arms out wide and breathing in the scenery as Mercy settles herself down onto the Maasai rug. A duck squawks as it lands picturesquely on a lily pad across the dam and a dozen cormorants sun themselves on the far bank, lazily spreading their wings as they bask. Mercy has to admit, this spot under the trees is as good a place as any to while away weekend hours while snapping ‘outin-nature’ selfies for Instagram. Although not the ideal outfit for a forest sanctuary date, Mercy is pleased to be camera-ready in her newest dress and full make-up. Chris sits down companionably as they crack open a soda. Moments later, a gorgeous couple jog past, all lycra running gear with ball caps and probably a nice town house in Karen thanks to good jobs in finance and no kids yet. A small, yappy dog dashes over to the seated couple, spreading footprints over the rug and upturning a soda. Florence, the dog’s owner, yells, “No, Tito, no!” But it’s too late. Soda has spilled over Mercy’s lap as the couple frantically search for tissue to mop up the mess. The forest path leads through the woods in an 8km circuit. A little further along, a

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family group with baby in a sling, large dog, mum, dad, grandpa and toddler have stopped at a clearing for a short rest on a bench. Mum hands out rusks and sippy cups to the younger members of the party as little Tommy empties mud out of his boot. Grandpa wishes his daughter had brought a rusk and sippy cup for him too. “Are we almost half way?” he asks. “Not now Dad.” Grandpa’s daughter admonishes. “Tommy will hear.” A crested eagle swoops overhead, coming in to land on the high branch of a croton tree. Dad, David, is excited and passes around binoculars. “It’s rare to see one of those,” he says, opening the Birds of East Africa app on his iphone. “Crested or Crowned? I’m not sure which.” “Time to go,” says Mum, sensing a delay. Further on, forest grounds-man, Silas, is doing controlled burning in preparation for the rains. He works year round, clearing paths, weed and ground cover for the enhanced enjoyment of the public. The fire starts low level but after gusts of wind, the flames are gaining ground at alarming speed. A pair of workers from a nearby plant nursery have come to help, damping out sparks with leafy branches. Silas runs out of the woods in heavy boots to phone for backup. Fortunately the ranger at the gate has already received word and sirens can be

heard along the new bypass. The gate is flung open and a red fire truck careers along a dirt track inside the forest reserve. Uniformed security staff wearing helmets fall out of the vehicle and begin hurriedly unravelling the hose and start a noisy, onboard generator to provide pressure to the pump. A sense of panic pervades as flames lick yet further into the woods, wrapping round tree trunks and flickering through the bush. “Over here!” shouts Silas, sweat covered face and char smeared overalls, directing the hose operator on where to go. Soon the fire crew have the fire under control and smiles break out across a smoldering scene that was fraught only moments before. Meanwhile, Mercy takes selfies by the dam with her man, blissfully unaware of the drama not a kilometer away. “Tito, tito!” The middle class professionals search for their disobedient dog in the woods. Tommy and grandpa climb gratefully into the car, having found a handy shortcut, while Mum, Dad and Baby follow not far behind. *Forest Sanctuaries in Nairobi include Karura Forest and Sigiria - Karura Forest, Ngong Forest Sanctuary and Oloolua Nature Trail. Entrance fees apply. Frances Woodhams is author of the blog: www.africaexpatwivesclub.com

SKETCH: MOVIN WERE

By Frances Woodhams


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