ISSUE 22| SEPTEMBER | FREE COPY
BYBEAUTIFUL, THE SEASHORE SWEET, UNADULTERATED MALINDI FROM PRAGUE WITH LOVE
HOME OF AFRICAN ART
DISCOVER LUANDA, ANGOLA
Enjoy world class confrencing by the beach. Built to be the perfect venue for your conference, meeting, banqueting or incentive requirements, Diamonds Conference Center pays the tribute to be the perfect host in Kenya. A qualified team of meeting organizers and professional catering services are ready to orchestrate your event with precision and flawless good taste, be it a small meeting or a big conference.
Corporate Sales Kenya: +254 (0)720 531505, Email: email@example.com International Group Sales: +254 (0)720 531421, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
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NAIROBI’S REVENGE like to joke that my favourite thing to do in Nairobi is to get out of Nairobi. This should however not be mistaken for a dislike for the capital, though, because I’ve come to realize that the best thing about going to our beautiful coastal beaches or heading north to the mountains is that I get to come back to Nairobi. Oh my life is a paradox.
Recently, I’ve been particularly vocal about my disdain for Nairobi. I’ve mentioned how, after living here for 10 years, I’ve simply exhausted the list of things that I could possibly do in this city. Besides going out to restaurants, of which there are some excellent ones continuously cropping up, what else is left to do for a restless soul that has ticked everything off her list tenfold? In a bout of karma…wait, does it come in bouts? And when do you know when it is in fact karma instead of just a series of unfortunate coincidences? Being a Christian, I don’t exactly prescribe to that brand of spirituality, but the writer in me does quite like how that word rolls off the tongue. Anyway, in a series of unfortunate events, Nairobi decided that it had had enough and decided to exert its revenge. It struck at the right time too, when I had booked a flight out of the country and was excited about that for weeks. On the said day, I missed my flight because the road we decided to take had been blocked off for the day, and when we finally got out of that situation, it sent its agents, the police, to derail my driver for a further 30 minutes due to a minor traffic violation. By the time I got to the airport, the check-in counter had been shut off despite there still being some 30 minutes to flight time; I was simply too late. Determined not to spend another night in Nairobi, I booked the evening flight, and after hanging around the airport all day, got to the immigration desk only to be turned back due to an issue with my passport which I had used only one week prior. I then had to go back to my apartment and spend another night in Nairobi. It had won the fight, and just for the record, just so we’re back on good terms going forward, my dear Nairobi, I’m sorry for all the bad things I’ve said about you. Most of them, at least.
wattaonthego NOMAD ISSUE 21 · SEP/OCT 2019 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI SALES VANESSA WANJIKU DIGITAL FAITH KANJA CONTRIBUTORS SAMANTHA DU TOIT, KARI MUTU, DIANE MCLEISH, SABINA VIVALDI, FAITH KANJA, MAURICE SCHUTGENS, ERIKA KOSS CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, JAMILA HASSAN EL-JABRY, TREVOR MAINGI, RAHIM MANDVIWALLA MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI, JANE NAITORE SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO
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ON THE COVER MALINDI PIER PHOTOGRAPHED BY TREVOR MAINGI
MALINDI, MAMMA MIA! Having spent a glorious week exploring its beaches, sampling local and Italian food, following strangers on impromptu adventures and diving head-first into an array of excursions, Wendy Watta makes a case for why you should visit Malindi.
24 In this issue 10. TOP SHOTS This month’s featured photographers capture a boy swimming against the tide near Fort Jesus, Mombasa, and more. 14. NEWS New ground broken in an effort to save the northern white rhinos while Rwanda's most luxurious hotel launches in mountain gorilla territory. 16. WHATS ON From Afri-love Fest to the Zanzibar Beach & Watersports Festival, find a roundup of must-attend events this season. 24. GLOBETROTTERS Muthoni Maingi talks about her trips across the globe, talking to strangers in pubs and accepting invitations that no sensible person would.
44 36. MALINDI DREAM From Malindi Dream Garden and Sandies Tropical Village to Diamonds Dream of Africa, discover some of the places where we stayed during our one week trip to Malindi. 38. WHERE TO STAY Suggestions of beautiful properties in Malindi to book on your next trip.
52. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS Our Head of Sales, Vanessa Wanjiku, gives us a peek inside her travel bag.
40. COZY POINT HOMES Immerse yourself in the local vibe in Malindi in a charming home setting where you never have to worry about what’s for dinner!
46. ON THE RADAR: EBURU FOREST Eburu Forest is a treasure of the Great Rift Valley and that is why the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust stepped in and is engaged in a major long-term conservation exercise to preserve and sustainably manage it, writes Diane McLeish
20. BIRTHDAYS ARE FOR WILD CAMPING It seemed a slightly strange request from their soon-to-be eight-year-old; to take her ‘proper’ camping for her birthday when she had spent most of her life growing up in a tent, writes Samantha du Toit. However, missing ‘proper’ camping themselves, the family happily obliged.
22. FROM PRAGUE WITH LOVE Kari Mutu spends time in the capital city of the Czech Republic, walking around Prague’s old town which is an immersion into history, varied architecture, cultural attractions, beer and food...lots of food. 44. LUANDA: A CITY ON THE MOVE Maurice Schutgens heads to Angola and with only a day to spare, explores what he describes as ‘one of Africa’s greatest mysteries’. 48. HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS With an array of African art collected from over 20 African countries, coupled with its unique architecture inspired by the traditional mud houses across the continent, African Heritage House is indeed an art lover’s paradise.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
WHICH PLACE IN THE WORLD FEELS MOST LIKE HOME RIGHT NOW?
KARI MUTU Kenyan Traveler, Page - 22
DIANE MCLEISH Conservation, page - 46
MAURICE SCHUTGENS Dispatch, page - 44
Although I live in Nairobi, the place that feels most like home right now is Nanyuki town. There are still wide open spaces and natural landscapes not far away so you can easily escape from urban noise, traffic and general stress. Beautiful Mt Kenya is always hovering in the background. I love the peaceful countryside views of farms, livestock grazing in the fields and people working the land, and yet knowing that modern conveniences are nearby. Plus, it’s just a few hours away from Nairobi.
Living on a farm on the shores of Lake Naivasha definitely feels like home. Being retired, we moved here three years ago and the experience of raising chickens, cultivating and eating from the vegetable garden, harvesting rainwater, heating water only by solar power and supporting local businesses has been invigorating. We also have the pleasure of walking the dogs to the lakeshore daily where we can enjoy sundowners, watch glorious sunsets and the abundant wildlife.
Africa has always been my ‘home’, whether it was the rural eastern Uganda village where I grew up, the tea estates of Malawi where I spent my transformative teenage years or the metropolitan city of Cape Town where I did my masters degree in Conservation Biology. Now, having been based in Nanyuki for the last 5 years I’d have to say nothing has changed! I consider this whole continent my home and I hope to see much more of it in future.
SAROVA HOTELS & RESORTS REFURBISHES THE LIDO LOUNGE & RESTAURANT The largest indigenous collection of hotels in East Africa, Sarova Hotels & Resorts, has officially opened the Lido Lounge and Restaurant within the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa. The newly refurbished restaurant now exemplifies an elegant and stylish seaside restaurant that will offer a unique dining experience coupled with magnificent panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. The renovation is part of the ongoing full refurbishment of Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa that started three years ago. There is a large iconic bar in cool white terrazzo with light slots that goes from the deck into the water, allowing for a swim up bar seating. Rustic and rugged tropical textures are at play at the openair lounge. Lido certainly lives up to its name. The world class cuisine available combined with friendly service makes the experience in food and beverage exceptional at every encounter. The lounge is a chill out spot where guests can listen to contemporary music. It will offer a vast array of seafood and feature the catch of the day delivered by the local fishermen from the nearby reefs. The open kitchen also provides guests the fun theatrics of watching their food being prepared.
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JAMILA HASSAN EL-JABRY Instagram: @jammy.eljabry This photo was taken near Fort Jesus. The boy was swimming against the tide and was really enjoying himself, so I decided to capture the moment. I used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24 -105 mm lens, and my settings were F/8, 1/400 and ISO 100. TIPS: Always capture a moment that tells a story. Framing and composition are also very important to take into consideration.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
RAHIM MANDVIWALLA Instagram: @r.m_wild I used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 150-600mm lens set to shutter speed 1/320, F/6.3and ISO 200. The image is titled Brotherly Love. These brothers are part of the Kingfisher pride at Nairobi National Park and may be the future kings there. This shot was captured as they rested under a tree in the afternoon.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
AFRICA HOTEL INVESTMENT FORUM (AHIF) 2019
This annual event brings together the who’s who of the hotel investment community that drive investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across Africa. AHIF has proven to be Africa’s annual meeting place for the region’s most senior hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors. It is the conference that connects business leaders from international and local markets to do deals across the region. Meet the investors panel who will share the main hurdles and opportunities available in the region. Themed Unlocking Tourism Opportunities across the continent, this event takes place from 23rd to 25th September 2019 at Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia. www.AHIF.com
THE ZANZIBAR BEACH & WATERSPORTS FESTIVAL
This annual event, now in its 9th edition, is a celebration of beach life, culture and music, spanning three days. Taking place from 6th to 9th December, the main location this year will be in Jambiani on Mfumbwi beach, on the South-East Coast of Zanzibar. The festival comprises different sports including goat racing, dhow racing , 'nage' for women, a beach soccer tournament, beach run, kayak racing, kite surfing, touch rugby, tug of war, a paintball fight, Maasai high jump, beach volleyball tournament, music from famous local and international musicians and more. For more information please visit www.zanzibarfestival.com
Fun, interactive and fresh, Afri-love Fest returns! Save the date for another day of creative play on Sunday 3rd November, in Nairobi. There will be plenty to enjoy for people of all ages. Try your hand at something new with a variety of creative workshops, talks and interactive experiences. Discover some of East Africa's most innovative makers and designers spanning home, fashion, beauty and more! Relax with friends, food and drink in the beautiful Ikigai Westlands garden. Find out more at www.afri-love.com/fest.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
NEWS NEW GROUND BROKEN IN EFFORT TO SAVE THE NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS Great news as scientists carry out a successful egg harvest from Ol Pejeta’s Najin and Fatu, the only two female northern white rhinos left in the world. This breaks new ground in the effort to save the species. On 22nd August 2019, a team of veterinarians successfully harvested eggs from the two females — a procedure that has never been attempted in northern white rhinos before. The scientists artificially inseminated the eggs with frozen sperm from a northern white rhino bull. By September 11, two embryos from Fatu were successfully matured and in the near future the embryo will be transferred to a southern white rhino surrogate mother. The successful procedure was a joint effort by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (LeibnizIZW) Berlin, Avantea, Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
RWANDA’S MOST LUXURIOUS HOTEL LAUNCHES IN MOUNTAIN GORILLA TERRITORY
Rwanda launched one of its most luxurious hotels in Kinigi sector, Musanze district in Northern Province, right at the habitat of the rare mountain gorillas. The facility, Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House, is set within a landscape of wetlands and lush meadows with magnificent views of the Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. Designed around local materials, the buildings have been crafted using volcanic rock, river stone, handmade ceramic tiles and oven-red clay bricks made by surrounding communities. The interiors have been carefully curated with a focus on handcrafted details, including woven panels, tiles and clay pots. Catering for the unique climate and conditions in Rwanda’s northwest, all the suites feature indoor and outdoor fireplaces and outdoor heated plunge pools. The cost of a stay ranges from $1750 per night to $8000.
KURIFTU RESORTS & SPA OPEN THE BIGGEST WATER PARK IN EAST AFRICA
Set in the lake town of Bishoftu in Ethiopia, the park which has water playgrounds, swimming pools, about 123 shops and three banks is the first of its kind in East Africa. Opened on 31st August, the park has 12 facilities designated for different recreational activities such as two water houses, a boomerang slide, a spiral slide, a wave pool and a performance center. There is a designated area that will host concerts and events complete with a lit-up stage, and it has beach-like features including the sand. Kuriftu currently has five operational resorts and hotels in Bishoftu, Bahir Dar, Afar, Langano and Adama, and in Moucha Island, Djibouti.
SILVERPALM SPA & RESORT Bofa Road, Kilifi P.O. Box 41247-80100, Mombasa | Tel: +254-780745837 /+254 707745837 Email: email@example.com | www.silverpalmkilifi.com NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
WILL TRAVEL FOR COFFEE
You may be an avid lover of coffee, but have you ever considered going on a coffee tour to find out more about how it ends up in your cup at a cafe, or how farmers are learning to sustain their business through coffee tourism? Text: Erika Koss
n 1994, during my first summerlong visit to Kenya, I cannot recall visiting a coffee shop in Nairobi. Twenty-five years later, it isn’t hard to find such cafes to conduct business interviews or meet with friends, complete with a knowledgeable barista showcasing the special quality of Kenyan coffee. Among these coffee drinkers, however, how many know that it takes more than three dozen pairs of hands for a tiny coffee seed to transform into a liquid beverage? Sometimes even those who drink the most coffee in the world – per capita consumption is highest in Scandinavia and the United States – may not know that coffee is a tree and a cherry. And who can explain the labour-intensive process that coffee takes from farm to cup? To help bridge this gap, some farms have launched coffee tours to teach visitors about the lengthy coffee chain, where it first begins as a seed and grows into a tall tree that produces flowers, green unripe cherries and finally red cherries. Only when these cherries are bright red are they ready to be picked and sorted, a time-consuming job often accomplished by women. These cherries can be processed in different ways depending on the machines or technical capacity at various farms. After processing, the “parchment” coffee is ready to be dried in the sun, then taken to the mill where it transforms again to “green coffee”—usually the form in which it is then exported to North America or Europe. Only after all these steps will green coffee be roasted into a darkbrown hue, then be ground, brewed and prized as a beverage.
Coffee tours can offer a way for farmers to diversify their income. From climate change to coffee-berry diseases, many challenges lead young people to migrate to cities and older farmers to uproot their coffee trees to plant other crops. For many coffee farmers in the more than 70 coffeeproducing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, coffee has been an unprofitable business for decades. I always learn something new every time I visit a new coffee plantation, estate or farm. I’ve joined coffee tours on farms from Nicaragua to Rwanda. Some family estates, such as Greenwell Farms on Kona island, Hawaii or Hacienda San Pedro in Puerto Rico, have been giving public coffee tours for many years, allowing survival despite market fluctuations and climate disasters, such as hurricanes. Yet in East Africa as a whole, it is still relatively harder to find a coffee estate, plantation or cooperative that publicly welcomes guests to learn about the whole process of coffee from seed to cup. In Kenya, however, there are several opportunities to learn about coffee production. For those near Nairobi, one of the best options is the educational experience offered at Fairview Estate in Kiambu, where day-time coffee tours are possible most days except Sundays, which is the weekly agricultural holiday. When I visited in June, I was given an enriching tour by Mary, an experienced barista, coffee taster and tour guide. As we walked through part of the estate’s 150 acres of land, she talked about the importance of coffee varietals, such as those now popular in Kenya (Batian, Ruiru 11, SL28), and she shared that in addition to several families who live and work year-round on the
estate, during the harvest, more than 400 people are given work picking, sorting and processing coffee. The tour ended with a tasting of three different roasts of the same coffee—emphasizing that coffee’s unique flavor has as much to do with its production on the farm, as it does when it is roasted and brewed. Last month, I flew from Nairobi to Kitale to visit Sakami Coffee in Trans Nzoia county on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. With 70 acres in production—50,000 coffee trees—Sakami’s husband/wife co-owners, Gloria and Jarmo Gummerus, are focused on sustainability and transparency at every step of their coffee’s production. And while they are not yet ready to host coffee tourists, it is part of their overall vision for the future after they complete their next phase of planting 30 more acres of coffee trees from the seedlings growing in their coffee nursery. From California to Cape Town, owners of vineyards have offered wine tours and wine tastings for decades. In the twenty-first century, coffee may be the one of the world’s most desired beverages, but its consumption will only be possible if coffee farmers and producers find it financially profitable. For those who can, Coffee Tourism may be one strategy to sustain a future with coffee for us all. Author bio: Erika is a writer, teacher and researcher living in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a Research Associate at the University of Nairobi; a PhD candidate in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Canada, and an Authorized Trainer of the Specialty Coffee Association. Instagram: @ AWorldinYourCup.
NOTES FROM THE BUSH
BIRTHDAYS ARE FOR
It seemed a slightly strange request from our soon-to-be eight-year-old; to take her ‘proper’ camping for her birthday when she had spent most of her life growing up in a tent, writes Samantha du Toit. However, missing ‘proper’ camping themselves, the family happily obliged.
reparation started with digging out old tin trunks full of slightly rusty pots and pans, dusting out camping tents, relocating the grill, deciding on bedding options and, of course, creating campfire-friendly food menus. At last, with the car heaving under the weight of our outdoor equipment, we set off to our new campsite; a short journey of a mere kilometre or so from camp but, nonetheless, a different world. Located right on the river, and a few feet from a small sandy valley which we knew from past experience was a key drinking point for many wild animals, our new campsite was just the right size. Nestled in the bushes, we had enough space for our cooking area and two tents; one for us and one for Auntie and Uncle, who were joining our birthday fun. As the camp came to life with a washingup station in place, tents and beds made up and tables and chairs put around the campfire, preparations for dinner started. The children rose to the occasion, delighted
to help with all the chores and preparations as it all seemed novel and fun. As the light was fading, we almost could not believe our eyes as, in the distance, a small family of elephants made their way carefully down to the river to drink. They could not see us, and dinner preparations on hold, we watched them until the light faded. Later, we sat with a delicious meal on the plates on our laps, tasting all the better for the time and campfire smoke it had taken to get it there. The night noises seemed closer than usual. As we fell asleep we could hear the distant bark of baboons, the closer whoop of the hyenas and perhaps some more elephants splashing in the cool river. In the morning we started our day by reading the ‘morning news’ or in other words, looking for who had come to drink in the night. A plethora of tracks greeted us including leopard, hyena, various gazelles and a porcupine. Seyia shrieked with surprise when she noticed our washing up sponge in the bushes with a few chunks missing from it. A hungry genet had done that, we all assumed. As we stood and
turned around from the river to walk back to the campsite, we gasped to see a lioness with her four small cubs looking at us, very surprised to see us on their way to drink. She stared at us for what seemed like a long time, but in reality was probably a splitsecond, before heading off at a fast trot in the opposite direction. Her cubs followed, and we could track their progress away from us by the warning calls of the baboons and vervet monkeys. We spent the rest of the day by the river, relaxing, swimming, cooking and bird watching. We returned to main camp the following day, tired and dirty but with blissful memories of our ‘proper’ camping trip and with a family pact not to leave it so long until the next time. 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.
KOBE SUITE RESORT, WATAMU Nested in the heart of Watamu Marine National Park, Kobe Suite Resort offers a unique stay, endless opportunities to relax and reconnect with nature and the special people in your life, this is a place you don’t want to leave. The resort features a tropical garden, two outdoor pools & a private beach area. Come & discover the beauty of the best beach in Kenya. WELCOME It is our pleasure to welcome you to Kobe Suite Resort, Watamu. Our helpful, friendly personnel eagerly await your arrival and are committed to ensuring that your stay is enjoyable and unique. As soon as you arrive you’ll be greeted with the warm embrace of our perfect tropical climate and feel instantly relaxed with the natural beauty of our spectacular location. Our team always ensures to go the extra mile to make sure your visit is an extraordinary experience. The resort’s twenty three suites, two swimming pools, luscious gardens, beach bar and beach restaurant make a relaxing lounging area with direct access to the beach, where we provide exclusive services for Kobe Suite Resort guests.
The pure and peaceful character of Kobe Suite Resort is ideal for just relaxing and connecting with nature. The warm, turquoise blue waters and the majestic sand bar are soothing and alluring offering themselves as your own therapeutic spa while also providing a spectacular place for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and kite surfing. SUITES The resort consists of 23 suites of which; 18 Garden View Suites and 5 Ocean View Suites. All suites have all the necessary amenities to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. WELLNESS & BEAUTY Every facet of daily life is aligned with the purpose of nurturing health, harmony, and spiritual growth and provides a complete experiential education in holistic living. Hence we offer, three types of massages as well as manicure and pedicure. FOOD & DRINK Dining at the beach with a gentle breeze is one of life’s great pleasures. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, our signature menus focus on fresh produce cooked simply and served expertly.
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WITH LOVE Kari Mutu spends time in the capital city of the Czech Republic, walking around Prague’s old town which is an immersion into history, varied architecture, cultural attractions, beer and food...lots of food.
Established in the 9th century, Prague has become so popular that one resident told us that she leaves the city during the summertime. I travelled in the spring when the weather was still chilly but the streets were less crowded and therefore pleasant to walk around. Communication is not difficult because English is spoken by many locals, although you might struggle with the names of places. Each morning we strolled down the celebrated Wenceslas Square, named after an old king whose good deeds are immortalised in a famous Christmas carol. Here, many important events have taken place like the founding of Czechoslovakia and anti-communist protests.
oday this ancient city is a mix of old and new, where businesses and retail shops sit next to monasteries and palace gardens. At the bottom of a cobble-stoned street we found an outdoor market that has apparently been running for almost 800 years. There were stalls selling mouth-watering fruits, sweets, souvenirs and colourful figurines of the famous Infant Jesus of Prague. Just beyond the market was the St Gallen Church, and inside the quiet softly light sanctuary, I marvelled at the rich paintings, gilding, carved pews and sculptures. Much of the city's architecture is like works of art and at every turn there is something captivating to see: pink, blue and green facades, sculptures at street corners, fascinating sewer gratings, large doors with amazing details, decorative wrought iron grills, buildings with bas relief art and more. Yet Prague wasn’t always beautiful. Czechoslovakia rose from the ashes of the
Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of World War I then split into two countries in 1993. Prague’s complicated story includes bombings during World War II and occupation by Germany and communist Russia. A wall around a construction site was covered with photographs of Prague between the 19th and 20th centuries. Near the town square we stopped to view the Astronomical Clock, a 600-year old medieval timepiece that is the oldest operating clock in the world. Its two blueand-gold clock faces are decorated with Zodiac signs, carved figures and Roman numerals, and it looks like something out of a fairy tale. When the clock chimes at the top of every hour the animated statuettes come to life, much to the amazement of gathered onlookers. We passed street performers in gold costumes and face paint. Somebody cruised slowly along in a long red vintage vehicle. Down a narrow street we were shocked to see a man dangling by his hand from a building. It is the renowned Man Hanging Out sculpture of the celebrated physiologist Sigmund Freud, created by Czech artist David Cerny. Czech Republic is renowned for beers such as Budweiser, Pilsner Urquell and the non-alcoholic Birell, so a visit to the Prague Beer Museum was not to be missed. An unusual attraction was the Museum of Senses which had all kinds of optical illusions and intriguing displays. Food is quite affordable here with a variety of cuisine available. We had Vietnamese lunch at the Banh-mi-Ba, a busy Vietnamese bistro where big portions of soup, noodles, shrimp and vegetables arrived at our table promptly. I was surprised to learn that Prague has a sizeable
Vietnamese population, a legacy of the communist era when students came to study in the former Czechoslovakia. Down a narrow street we discovered the Choco Café that specialises in flavoured hot chocolate made from real chocolate bars. Mine had fresh raspberries and whipped cream and was smooth, creamy and incredibly rich. We had planned to take an evening river cruise but decided against it because there was rain in the forecast. Instead, we dined at the stylish Hergotova Cihelna Restaurant located along the banks of the Vltava River. Near the restaurant is another legendary David Cerny statue called Piss. It depicts to two mechanical brass men urinating into a water fountain! Under the imposing vaulted ceilings of the restaurant we enjoyed beautifully presented plates of baked goat cheese, beef tartare and venison accompanied by fine Czech wines. The service was wonderful too. On another day we strolled across the beautiful historic Charles Bridge, the most well-known of the 18 bridges across the Vtlava River. From the middle you gaze at the broad blue river flanked by historic buildings, spires, church steeples and clock towers. In the distance was the setting sun and forest-covered hills. That evening we happened upon the U Tri Ruzi Resturant off the main town square. Inside the busy, double-storey establishment, the wood panelled walls and booth seating give the ambience of an old tavern. The menu offered home-style dishes like ribs, beef goulash and pork knuckles with mashed potatoes and gravy. Ruzi also operates a popular micro-brewery and I found red ale beer more to my taste than the dark lager. With some extra time I would have liked to visit the old Jewish Quarter and Prague Castle that looks over the city.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
Faith Kanja talks to travel blogger Muthoni Maingi about her trips across the globe, talking to strangers in pubs and accepting invitations that no sensible person would. Twitter @NonieMG What inspires you to travel? I have always loved to disappear and immerse myself in the novelty of ‘undiscovered to me’ territories. This started when I was a small child who would climb into cupboards and hide for hours, to the present when I sometimes book spontaneous trips and disappear into weekends of pure silence. I like to walk in spaces that are familiar and comfortable to others because it is their home, but that are unfamiliar to me. In many ways, a penchant for discovery and disappearing are not solely tied to the traveling experience; these are inherent drives that come with certain personality traits. I also like to engage in the banal difference and nuance of everyday existence in a different place, because a morning commute in Kuala Lumpur and one in Nairobi essentially holds the same tension; working hard to get somewhere on time, in style and in one piece (the mundane) but the difference is in the sounds, smells, transport options and directional signage languages. What are some of your favourite destinations that you’ve been to? Malaysia, Mexico, Scotland, Madagascar and Turkey are my favourite travel destinations for their amazing people, food, one-of-a-kind views and experiences overall. How have other cultures influenced you during your travels? I always come back with recipes and cultural practices that I love to replicate at home. I do Ethiopian coffee ceremonies for friends and make Malagasy iced tea. The latter is pretty simple: boil black tea, lavender, vanilla, honey, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, add lemon juice when cool, add ice then serve. I also have a tradition with a close friend where I bring the country’s alcohol back and we enjoy it in my garden as we gossip and catch up. What’s your favourite thing to do in a new town? Walking into bars and cafes and striking up deep conversations with strangers. I have friendships that have grown having started off from this, as well as heaps of stories on adventures that this led to! What’s one tip you’ve learned thanks to frequent travel? Please buy travel insurance. So much can go wrong with your health, missing flights, theft or loss of property. Essential items to pack... My packing list always has sweaters, scarves, sundresses, shorts, sunscreen, sunglasses, sneakers and sandals. I call them ‘the big S’, and those are the essentials. Everything else is not as important. How do you prepare for a trip? A lot of research goes into the tourist traps and how to discover the path less travelled. I make sure I have insurance, extra money (make sure you have 1/3 more than you think you need) then take care of cultural sensitivities to avoid offending anyone by reading up on the place. I’d suggest following local bloggers and voices for insight on that. Which three destinations are currently on your bucket list? Jamaica, Japan and Colombia.
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PHOTOGRAPHS BRIAN SIAMBI
MALINDI, MAMMA MIA!
Having spent a glorious week exploring its beaches, sampling local and Italian food, following strangers on impromptu adventures and diving head first into an array of excursions, Wendy Watta makes a case for why you should visit Malindi.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
he plan is to join our photographers Brian and Trevor on a sunrise-chasing mission, but when I get a call from the former at about 5:15 am the next morning saying that our tuk tuk is waiting at the hotel gate, I seriously contemplate shutting off my phone and sinking deeper into the warm bosom of my comfortable double bed at Malindi Dream Garden. I often find it easy to catch the sunset, because if I’m at the coast, I am likely to be strategically placed at the best seat in some beachside or cliff-top bar with two daiquiris singing a catchy pop song in my head. A sunrise is often caught if it so happens to wash through the large windows of a cozy room I’m staying in, but actually having to rise up early for one is a concept I’ve never understood. Yet, I’ve seen enough photographers nearfanatically plan for one with the seriousness of Jack Bauer trying to find a bomb hidden somewhere in the city in 24. Walking down the Malindi pier barely 10 minutes after getting up, I am instantly sucked into vibe here. A man holding the hands of his two little daughters on either side strolls past me and the trio position themselves at the end of the pier facing the water in wait of the sun. Another rides his bicycle back and forth as though either restless or exercising. Two tall guys, abs in full display, do their burpees on the pavement, and let’s just say that I can see how a tourist from a faraway land would be drawn to these ‘oh so exotic’ beach boys. At this point, the sky is yellow and orange and pink but the sun is still playing peekaboo, so I decide to walk down to the sand which, much like the rest of Malindi, has black deposits and is speckled with micah, aka fools gold, which glitters in the sand. A group of boys play football close to the water, and every so often, the ball is kicked into the sea and someone has to dive in and body-surf the waves to retrieve it. When the blazing ball of orange does take to the skies with such boldness and aplomb, we all come to a standstill as though watching the ultimate flag being raised. Malindi sunrises are incredible, and as an apology to photographers for everything I said before this mission, I get it. Really, I do.
In some rather stark ways, this town has changed from what it was three years ago when I spent quite a bit of time here on a family holiday. If ever there was a place where the hotel industry took a hit along the coast, it would be this. Once-popular spots like Coral Key, one of the oldest hotels in the town and where I remember us struggling to find space and thereafter stuffing our faces with heaps of cheese-packed pasta, are no more. Others like Eden Roc, Beverly key and more also closed down. Italians, who would come down in large numbers, have also reduced from this town which was once deemed as ‘Kenya’s little Italy’. Still, their influence is just as tangibly noticeable in the food and even signage language Things seem to be looking up, particularly this year, as Malindi seeks to return to its former glory. Keen to rediscover the town, I hop on a boda boda to the Vasco da Gama pillar which I first visited during a history class field trip as a teenager. During a candid conversation, a hotelier at one spot we passed by had confided that they thought it was a run down place that they hadn’t taken their guests to for years, a sentiment I heard echoed a few times. On personal inspection, however, I thought it to be fine, and a tunnel underneath it led us to a beach where we were lucky to spot some starfish. Gede Ruins, the remnants of an ancient Swahili town, are still a worthwhile visit for culture buffs. Keen to find out some history, I head to the museum which proves to be a rather underwhelming experience. It is 5:00 pm and there is no one to show me around as all the guides have apparently gone home. I am instructed to ‘just walk around and see’, and when I ask about the history, get the noncommittal ‘if you know about the popular history of Mombasa then that’s pretty much it”. Still, the charm of this quaint town is not lost on me, and for the discerning traveler, Malindi has a lot to offer. As of this year, tourism is looking up yet again and spots like Malindi Dream Garden where we stayed are bustling with guests. Having spent one glorious week exploring its beaches and tucking into its food (both at the nice restaurants in town and that roadside kibanda where a lovely Swahili woman sold me viazi karai with tangy tamarind sauce), what follows are some things that we did during our trip and that are worth adding to your itinerary.
A group of boys play football close to the water, and every so often, the ball is kicked into the sea and someone has to dive in to retrieve it
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
THE LOW-DOWN ON MALINDI HIDDEN GEM SABAKI RIVER ESTUARY
We had heard that the Sabaki River is a haven for flamingos, and that the best spot to take in the view was at the bridge, and so we ask our regular tuk tuk driver Mohamed to take us there. This place turns out to be exactly as advertised, but as Trevor is setting up his drone, a man runs up to us, introduces himself as a guide and tells us that there is an even better secret spot, one where the river meets the sea and where the view is tenfold. This man, Karisa, tells us that it is about 10 minutes off the main road, and that our tuk tuk can make it there, so without much convincing, we follow him. We turn into a blink-and-you-will-miss-it-path and follow the meandering river whose banks are so muddy that I think we will certainly tumble over in this rickshaw, but we only ever get stuck. Moments later we come to the base of a huge sand dune where the tuk tuk can’t go any further, and as we follow Karisa up one sand dune and the next, I can’t help but wonder if I’m a lamb walking altogether too willingly into slaughter. Mohamed, too, says he has never been to this place, and while I’m starting to panic inside whilst wondering if he might be in on whatever this is, on the outside, I am the definition of calm and collected. Then our group walks up to the most beautiful enclave I’ve seen in Malindi, where the river stretches a hand out to greet the sea but ever so slightly misses - so near yet so far! The ocean forcefully crashes into the land as if it has a personal vendetta that the wind is egging on. There are ridges left in the sand by the tide, and I quite enjoy sinking my feet into the little pools scattered all over. A big flock of flamingos paint the shoreline white in their plumage, and as we approach, they flap their wings as though part of a wellrehearsed orchestra and fly off to the other shore. Karisa informs us that this is an important birding area, and that hippos are also found in this region. This estuary, which overlooks Malindi town, is certainly worth the trip. Karisa Benjamin (Guide)- 0711849742
WHERE TO EAT
BEACHSIDE: Osteria Beach House - This English colonial-style house
is set right on Silversand beach, and when we stopped by for lunch, we dined al fresco under the cool shade of a tree. If you dine at only two places in town, stop by this spot or their other outlet in town
which has the best ice creams around. There is a swimming pool but you can also dip in the sea then lounge on the sunbeds. Service is fast and friendly and the food is worth writing home about, especially the deep fried calamari, and our group also tried tuna and a salad, pasta and pizza crowned with ice cream. There’s a stand where a local man selling handmade souvenirs. He is so convincing that weeks after my trip, I still don’t remember how I bought four brass rings from him.
FOR DINNER: Bar Bar Restaurant & Bar - Bar Bar came recommended several times by residents, so we made a reservation. Set right next to the road, it is open to the front side ( imagine the great people watching during the day!) and is also quite spacious. There was a lively game of football showing on the screens. As soon as we sat down, an elderly Italian guy, presumably the manager, brought menus to our table, handing them to the ladies first - what a gentleman! The menu is very Italian, so expect pasta, pizza, gelato, tiramisu and the works. The ragu pizza is highly recommended. FOR LOCAL FOOD: Taheri Fast Foods - This is a small but prominent restaurant run by Tasneem Mohsin and her husband and sons. It is always bustling, which speaks to its popularity. The food is good and cheerfully affordable. Tasneem makes a mean baked mutton leg, and the menu being Indian and Swahili, I like to pass by for their mandazi, viazi, bhajia, kaimati and the works. FOR SEAFOOD: Che Shale - 20 km North of Malindi, this spot might be popular for kitesurfing, but foodies will know it for its organic crab farm to plate experience. In an environment best described as castaway-chic, this passion project by owner Justin offers massive mangrove crab served in various ways blended with local flavours and spices. If you’ve never had soft shell crab fried until golden crispy with a dab of mango salsa, or the perfect crab cakes, this place is it. NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
THE OCEAN FORCEFULLY CRASHES INTO THE LAND AS IF IT HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA THAT THE WIND IS EGGING ON. A BIG FLOCK OF FLAMINGOS PAINT THE SHORELINE WHITE IN THEIR PLUMAGE, AND AS WE APPROACH, THEY FLAP THEIR WINGS AS THOUGH PART OF A WELL-REHEARSED ORCHESTRA AND FLY OFF TO THE OTHER SHORE.
Aerial Photographs Trevor Maingi
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
The white, yellow and red pigment in the soil are so vibrant that according to our guide, Maasai and Giriama women collect and use it cosmetically or as paint during traditional ceremonies. Wear comfortable walking shoes if you intend to go down into the valley. Evenings are the best time for a visit as the sunsets here just photogenic.
FUN IN THE SUN DHOW CRUISE
A sunset dhow cruise is my all-time favourite thing to do at the coast, and I therefore always seek it. Our crew of two is waiting when we finally get to the family-run Driftwood Beach Hotel, and we quickly hop on a speedboat which takes us to a traditional Mozambican-style dhow. After we all climb the ladder and get on board, we set sail. These cruises can be as laid back or extravagant as you want them to be. Desired drinks and snacks are always advised, and I always remember to pack some ciders or a bottle of wine. We even carry a bluetooth speaker so we can play our favourite songs as we are lulled up and down the waves, in and out of the winds. If you wish, you can even stop on a secluded beach for a private beachside seafood barbeque. Book a cruise with Driftwood Beach Club: www.driftwoodclub.com
Plan Hotels overlook Malindi Marine Park which is located south of the town extending to Mida Creek. It stands out for its fringing reefs, coral gardens in the lagoons, diversity of fish, mudflats and more making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling, both of which we try. Brian, who goes diving, reports seeing octopus, lionfish, turtle, stingray and more. Dive with Blue-Fin Diving: www.bluefindiving.com
OUT OF TOWN EXCURSION MARAFA HELL’S KITCHEN
About an hour from Malindi Dream Garden where we are staying, we make a return trip to this intriguing sandstone canyon which, according to science, formed through erosion over thousands of years. The soil is so brittle that if you kick it it breaks apart so this isn’t exactly a far fetched notion. Its daunting name comes from the structure and colour which resembles flames jutting out of the bottom of the earth, and if you visit in the daytime you might just pass out from the heat. There are a variety of rather bizarre local folklore surrounding its formation, including one which claims that it came to be as a result of heavy rains which God sent down to punish a rich family who had a lot of cattle and so much produce that they would even bathe in milk, and yet would not mind their poor neighbours. A friend, on the other hand, mentioned that he thought it may have formed during the flood in Noah’s day... Whatever the case, this canyon is indeed fascinating to see.
This excursion was organised by Intra Safaris Ltd. www. intrasafaris.com.
Sabina Vivaldi, Owner, Cozy Point Homes Malindi resident for the past 20 years.
What are your favourite places to eat in town? I quite like Osteria Beach Bar for their good Italian food. In the town center, I like to have breakfast with friends at Karen Blixen or Bar Bar where I’m likely to have a cappuccino and brioche. Favourite thing to do in town… I like going around the fabric shops because I enjoy making my own clothes and sometimes for friends and guests. I work with a few tailors in town for that. I especially like the Indian shops and once in a while they will bring something new and will let me know beforehand so there is always that excitement of waiting for their stock to arrive. I even take my guests to explore the shops. I also really love the beaches, and Silversands beach is a nice spot for an evening walk. Mayungu, which is 20 minutes out of town, is one of the best and if you fly over it you will realize that it is a natural pool because you can see the reef and the coast underneath its clear waters. Best kept secret... In the dry season, I go to this secret spot near Arabuko Sokoke forest, and it has a natural water pond where elephants come to drink.
Morris Kalama, yoga teacher I’ve been teaching yoga for the past 10 years and currently spend a lot of time between Watamu and Malindi. My favourite spot is a beach which we call Obuntwane in Bajuni...it is close to Vasco da Gama and sometimes I go there with friends. My favourite thing is however to teach different types of yoga such as ashtanga, power vinyasa, hatha, vinyasa flow and restorative yoga. I get all levels of people, and we have some really beautiful homes which are perfect for sessions in the mornings or evenings. Malindi is also ideal for retreats so it would be a good spot for teachers to look into. firstname.lastname@example.org
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
MALINDI DREAM GARDEN
Run by the Planhotel Hospitality Group which also owns Sandies Tropical Village and Diamond Dream of Africa , this cozy gem is a real slice of paradise on the coast. Text: Nomad Photography: Brian Siambi
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wned by the Planhotel Hospitality Group which has stunning properties around Africa and the Maldives, there are technically three unique boutique hotels set along the powder-white backdrop of one of Malindi’s best beaches. First there is Sandies Tropical Village, one of the key and longestrunning successful hotels in town, with a locally influenced Swahili architecture and decor. There is also the Indo-Arab style Diamonds Dream of Africa which is one of the most luxurious offerings in this part of the coast. Finally, there is Malindi Dream Garden which is where our team stayed, checking in through a reception which used to be an old English house before being extended and renovated, outfitted with attractive art accented by whitewashed wooden furniture which blends seamlessly into the coastal atmosphere. Guests have access to all spaces, and there is a different ambiance throughout the property. At Malindi Dream Garden, there are 44 deluxe suites and four stylish superior suites spread across two floors and semi-circling a lush green garden dotted with palm trees, and in whose center sits a large swimming pool. Much to my delight given our allinclusive status, a pool bar is only a stone’s throw away from my room, and those rumand-passion cocktails aren’t going to drink themselves. Walking in through the front door of my room, there is an air-conditioner and a fan, a large en-suite bathroom, double bed, refrigerator, safe, working area and the usual conveniences found in spaces of a similar standards. Large glass doors lead to an open terrace with sun loungers, overlooking the garden and pool. For art lovers, the exterior walls of each suite has a vibrant tropical painting, a pleasant addition to the decor. For lunch we meet at the beach which has daybeds facing the blue water where guests take turns dipping in the sea or basking in the sun. As far as set-ups go, this is as special as it gets. Tucked in the more secluded end of the beach, a rustic white-washed wooden table with four chairs sits in the shade of a white sailing canvas which billows gently in the afternoon breeze. The white backdrop is offset by a colourful wreath made out of palm and accessorized by bougainvillea flowers. There is a bottle of white wine chilling in an ice bucket, and this is served as soon as we settle in. Chef Ayaz then comes to take us through his menu; most of the dishes are either from the sea or sourced from their organic farm, making for the absolute farm-to-table dining. The amusebouche is a bite-sized California roll with a side of smoked sailfish and tomato-topped bruschetta. This is followed by delicious
seafood paella which comes topped with lobster and served in a wok. The star of the show, however, is a miniature wooden ‘seafood boat’ laden with all sorts of grilled seafood, and I don’t care where we’re sailing to...I’m jumping aboard and jostling for space! I spot lobster, octopus, prawns and tuna, and after grabbing a few pieces of lime, we tuck in! After dessert, fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue, I all but waddle to Mvua African Rain Spa for a relaxing 30 minute massage in which I fall sound asleep, followed by a soothing dip in the thalassotherapy center which has pools lined with water jets said to boost circulation. The rest of the afternoon passes by in a glorious blur of cocktails, sleep and a rented kayak from the adjacent diving and watersports center taken out to sea: it’s not a bad day to be a travel writer. For business travelers, this spot has just opened the biggest hotel conferencing facility in Malindi with a capacity of about 500 people. Two restaurants and three bars complete the idyllic vacation setting, and there is also a gym on site which I actually don’t set foot in as I am altogether too content to be a beach bum. We tuck into themed gourmet dinners ranging from African to Mongolian, and on our second of five nights, an animation team provides the evening entertainment. The hotel helps set up most of our excursions around Malindi, from diving and snorkelling to out-of-town excursions to Marafa Hell’s Kitchen. What stands out the most is however the friendly staff with whom I can tell that every interaction is truly genuine. Whether they are whipping up a cocktail at the pool bar, offering a bottle of water at the lunch buffet or ensuring the rooms remain fresh and polished, truly enjoy what they are doing and just want to ensure that we are having the best time. At these three hotels set just off Malindi’s Casuarina Road, we arrive as guests but leave as friends, having had a good ol’ time by the beach. www.planhotel.com Email: email@example.com
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WHERE TO STAY
WHITE ELEPHANT SEA & ART LODGE This lodge is a fusion of nature and art having 19 rooms and four two-and three-bedroom apartments. Each room is personally adorned by the master artist Armando Tanzini’s creations, and each furniture piece handcrafted at the White Elephant Creativity Centre. The outdoor areas are intricately designed with nature and art in mind. Three guest-accessible art galleries are nestled in the beach forest which is not only dotted by Armando Tanzini’s monumental sculptures but is home to an array of small animals and birds. The Lodge has two restaurants, individual gazebos, lounging areas and meeting rooms. www.whiteelephantmalindi.com DRIFTWOOD BEACH CLUB These family-run cottages and villas can accommodate just 70 guests. The dwellings are constructed in the traditional coastal style and brought up to date with air-conditioning and other modern amenities. The rooms are designed to be private while still being close to the open-air bar and dining area. For those who simply want to relax, they have four miles of white beach perfect for long walks, a treatment room as well as plenty of lounging areas. Driftwood Beach Club's experienced team are on hand to offer some of the best food in Malindi. www.driftwoodclub.com OCEAN BEACH RESORT Expect a five star resort that takes hospitality back to its essence. Luxuriously appointed rooms are spread around the beautiful gardens creating a private and secluded atmosphere. The hotel offers 20 rooms and 15 suites showcasing early 20th century tropical style with wooden beamed roofs and elegant wooden floors. Surrounded by green lawns and palm trees, spend four nights in a deluxe suite beachfront room and the fifth night is on them. Relax at the beachfront restaurant, Dunes, sample the chef’s menu at Victoria Restaurant or simply enjoy the sunset and an evening cocktail at Finch Hatton’s Bar. www.oceanbeachkenya.com
Photography: Brian Siambi and Respective Properties
WHITE NYUMBA This all-white house has four double rooms spread across two flours. The ground floor has the kitchen which comes with an experienced chef and a small team who go out of their way to make sure your stay is comfortable. The main terrace has a large dining table which can hold eight people, a spacious lounge where your group can hang out in the evenings, complete with a swinging hammock. It overlooks a large pool tucked in the garden, perfect for cooling off on those hot Malindi afternoons. From Ksh 20,000. Book via AirBnb. BELLA AZZURA VILLA This is a lovely family vacation house set in the heart of Casuarina and which comfortably sleeps up to 12 guests. Located in a secure gated compound of four villas, the property has two apartments with a shared terrace. It can be booked as one villa for a large group, or each villa booked separately by up to six people. It has a beautiful pool with a gazebo, lush mature gardens and is only a five minute walk to the beach. A chef is available at an extra cost. Rates start from Ksh 3,400 per night. Book via AirBnb. KILILI BAHARINI This resort has 29 comfortable airconditioned rooms, three prestigious suites, three junior suites, five pools, two bars, a restaurant, spa and wellness center called Medicallife, and is set along the beach. The rooms â€“ all furnished in Swahili style with whitewashed walls, draped mosquito nets and subtle lighting â€“ overlook one of the swimming pools, and each has its own fully furnished private veranda. Deck chairs and comfortable day beds can be arranged at the beach for guests to use, as required. Simply put, the team here goes above and beyond to offer the very best. www.kililibaharini.com
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
COZY POINT HOMES
Immerse yourself in the local vibe in Malindi in a charming home setting where you never have to worry about what’s for dinner!
Text: Sabina Vivaldi
I would describe this spot as a charming, ownerrun villa where we love to invite people to explore, enjoy themselves, eat, drink, sing, dance, swim, bask in the sun and simply BE TOGETHER. Create lifetime memories in a comfortable home where your curiosity, desires, needs and passions can be explored. We offer a heartfelt and personalized experience where: • The Indian Ocean is at our front door • We have an intimate local understanding coupled with hands-on curating of whatever you’re seeking during your stay • Friendly service with a neighborhood and community vibe that includes dining, drinking and dancing • Retreat and quiet reflection services including a spa, massage, yoga and nature gazing. When I thought about how to decorate this
house, I took Malindi as a reference. Every piece of furniture or art therefore draws inspiration from something specific. There is a striking painting by the artist Giampaolo Tomasi who portrays the head of the Mijikenda tribe, seats made from traditional dhows or fishing boats, Armando Tanzini sculptures which portray African subjects in the shapes and colours of the surrounding landscape here, and more. We also used Indian fabrics and objects to respect the colourful traditions of its people, the Italian taste of Lalla Spagnoll's decor is unmissable, paintings full of life and passion showcasing African expressions by the talented Alexandra Spyratos adorn the walls, complete with the paintings born of travels in the savannah by the artist Mariangela Verriello. In short, there is an air that unites Kenya, India and Italy in a harmonious and elegant mix that appeals to the
eyes and truly speaks to the heart. Six guests can occupy the main house which has three spacious rooms. The spot is ideal for those looking to rent an entire place for themselves, couples or a family in search of exclusivity, privacy and serenity. It is the ideal place to use as a base from which to set off every day to discover numerous experiences that I organize to surprise the guests. There are two spacious verandahs and a big swimming pool which are ideal places to relax, have a drink or enjoy a meal. Coupled with the pool deck, these spots are great for practising yoga, and the home would be perfect for a wellness retreat. It is actually the excellent cuisine and soothing music which make the evenings a time to cherish, as guests and hosts come together to trade beautiful stories which has been known to lead to long-lasting friendships.
AS A GUEST, YOU CAN EXPECT:
• • • •
The rates start from Ksh 45,000 and include breakfast, WiFi, laundry, daily cleaning and a local advisor. Contact via www.cozypointhomes.com
Three master bedrooms with bathrooms and walk-in closets. There are air conditioners, mosquito nets, linens and towels in all rooms. The entrance has a relatively large reading area. A wide verandah with a living room and dining table are on the first floor. The main verandah is on the ground floor and has a lounge and a big dining table.
• • • •
Spacious kitchen with a local chef Store for sports gear Swimming pool with sun beds and towels Daily cleaning services and laundry are available. Guard and Security services 24 hours Local advisor and assistance all day at the residence Masseuse (there is a massage room), personal trainer and yoga instructor can be arranged on request Recommended minimum stay is three nights, and children under the age of 15 are not admitted in the main house but are welcome at the beach.
• • • • • •
Visit local communities Explore the surrounding beaches Shop from the town’s tailors, shoemakers, basket makers, craftsmen and fabric sellers. Check out Malindi’s art and meet the artists Excursions like diving, horse riding, golfing and deep-sea fishing We organise lunches and dinners (personalized menus, shopping lists and cooking) and have a convenient formula of sharing the shopping costs We can set up any type of events such as honeymoons, birthdays, anniversaries, marriage proposal, small weddings, private dinners with music, yoga and wellness retreats and more.
I have international experience having planned events all over the world, and can help you organise whatever event you want.
Travel without feeling foreign firstname.lastname@example.org || +25 472 6313101 www.cozypointhomes.com
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
NOMAD HOT LIST ISSUE Singitaâ€™s Kwitonda Lodge Rwanda
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Acheche Luxurious Travel P.O Box: 579 â€“ 80200, Malindi, Kenya. Phone: +254 717 340 333, +254 715 096 099 NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019 43 @acheche @achechetours
LUANDA: A CITY ON THE MOVE Maurice Schutgens heads to Angola and with only a day to spare, explores what he describes as ‘one of Africa’s greatest mysteries’.
Luanda’s cuisine is famous for its strong Portuguese and Brazilian influences, with signature seafood dishes.
or many, Angola is the last piece of Africa’s travel puzzle. Once known as the mighty Kingdom of Ndongo ruled by Ngola (kings) it is a country that has been virtually ‘closed’ to the outside world since it cast off the shackles of Portuguese colonial rule. It is a country that has been shaped by a painful history of war and conflict, and yet today it is experiencing transformative change as certain as it is unpredictable. For most, knowledge about Angola starts and ends with war. This is unfortunate but unsurprising for a country that was embroiled in a bitter complex civil war that spanned 27 years and caused immeasurable damage. While the war ended in 2002, its scars are yet to fully heal. Tourists, therefore, haven’t flocked to Angola’s shores in great numbers and it is this that has transformed the country into one of Africa’s greatest mysteries. The plane banked steeply over the dazzling waters of the Atlantic Ocean below us, the sun casting blinding reflections of the newly built skyscrapers rising from Luanda’s central business district. But it was something else altogether that caught my eye - the sprawling shanty towns (locally known as Musseques) home to the majority of Luanda’s eight million souls. It was literally a sea of humanity contained in a chaotic maze of corrugated iron dwellings. I knew, well before the tyres kissed the tarmac, that Luanda would be a city of unfathomable contrasts. Luanda was undeniably hot and somewhat humid, probably a climate not too different from when it was founded in 1576 by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dia de Novais under the flowery name of São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda. From the moment of its birth and for centuries after, Luanda’s existence was inextricably linked to the movement of human cargo: the slave trade. Some three million souls destined for the plantations of South America and the Caribbean passed through its port. It was something to contemplate as the taxi whisked me through traffic. I parked myself in the Hotel Continental just a stone's throw away from the Baía de Luanda (Bay of Luanda) and situated directly next to crumbling facades of houses built some 400 years ago. Luanda is however more than a few crumbling buildings; new construction projects are springing up across the city with an insatiable appetite, from modern gated condominiums in the Talatona neighborhood and Chinese financed (and built) skyscrapers to fine dining establishments along the bay. There is no doubt that this city is Angola’s heart; a cosmopolitan and frenetic city, alive and heaving just below the surface. The next morning at sunrise, I hit the Avenida 4 de Fevereiro, situated along the bay, for a run. I swept past the Banco
Nacional de Angola, a stunning relic of architecture with its perfect pink dome designed by Vasco Regaleira and inaugurated in 1956, before backtracking and heading for the Ilha do Cabo (Cape Island), a long spit of land jutting out into the Atlantic and lined with restaurants. By the time I got back to my hotel, Luanda was starting to wake from its slumbers and I prepared to head down the coast. Nearly half a century ago Parque Nacional da Quiçama (Kissama) was teeming with an abundance of wildlife, from the critically endangered Giant Sable to a nationally important population of elephants roaming freely in this 12,000 km² park. Initially established as a hunting reserve, its birth as a national park in 1975 coincided with the eruption of civil war and like many of Angola’s National Parks, Quiçama was abandoned. Today, driving through the park, it is clear that while Quiçama no longer hosts the multitudes of wildlife like it did in the past it is experiencing a resurgence of sorts and offers the best opportunity for spotting wildlife close to Luanda. In the late afternoon we left Quiçama behind us and headed back towards the capital, with one brief stop. The Miradouro da Lua (Viewpoint of the Moon) is one of Angola’s most spectacular natural sights, a lunar-martian landscape of deep shades of red and pink and earthy browns intricately carved by rain and wind over time. The cliffs tumble down to Angola’s wild coast in the distance. It is one of Angola’s most easily accessible sights just an hour (40km) out of Luanda. I returned to the city just in time to head up to the imposing Fortaleza de São Miguel guarding the entrance to Luanda Bay, constructed by the Portuguese in 1576. It is Luanda's oldest surviving building and home to the National Military Museum. Along with several planes and artillery housed in the courtyard it offers sweeping views of the surrounding. As night fell, I headed out in search of a meal. Luanda’s cuisine is famous for its strong Portuguese and Brazilian influences, with signature seafood dishes. For those on a culinary adventure, sampling traditional Angolan dishes like Funge ( dish made with cassava flour) and Muamba de Galinha (aromatic chicken stew) are a must. I played it safe with the fresh lobster curry eaten on the rugged wooden deck of the contemporary Cafe del Mar, situated near the end of the Ilha do Cabo. Make no mistake, Angola is outrageously expensive and difficult to travel around, but is absolutely raw in every sense of the word. Hidden within its borders lie mystical waterfalls, impenetrable equatorial rainforests and isolated beaches. It is an unexplored paradise and so as the Angolan Proverb goes: “The mysterious road beckons the young man”. I know I will return; sooner rather than later.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
ON THE RADAR: EBURU FOREST
Eburu Forest is a treasure of the Great Rift Valley and that is why the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust stepped in and is engaged in a major long-term conservation exercise to preserve and sustainably manage it, writes Diane McLeish
buru Forest was gazetted in 1936 and falls under the Mau Forests Complex which is fully managed by the Kenya Forestry Services (KFS). Compared to other forests, Eburu is a small forest of 8,700 hectares on the rolling foothills, deep valleys and steep slopes of little known Mount Eburu. This prime indigenous forest nestles within the folds of a geologically active volcanic mountain which overlooks Lake Naivasha, Lake Elementaita and Lake Nakuru, and is the source of the Ndabibi River, numerous streams and ground springs. Most motorists zoom past on the Nakuru highway not realising that travelling along the North Lake Road towards the Rift Valley Lodge, on the northern side of Lake Naivasha, it is easy to get to the Eburu Forest. Those of us who have visited have been delighted to find this tranquil forest and have spent a relaxed day either exploring, bird watching, hiking or picnicking in the glade. Leaving the tarmac close to the Rift Valley Lodge you head continually uphill for 12km on a reasonable dirt road, following the KenGen Eburu Geothermal Power Station signs, passing through farmlands growing a wide range of food-crops. The countryside is dotted with dwellings, village shops and rural schools. It comes as a surprise to see the steam bellowing from the geothermal plant just inside the Eburu Gate, making you realise just how active this mountain really is. Entering the calm, green forest the track narrows considerably and you drive down fern-lined tracks and through tree tunnels into the heart of the reserve. Stepping into the forest is like entering another world. You leave all the fuss and stresses of a busy life behind, to be greeted with the tranquillity and fragrance of nature. Branches covered in lichen hang over ferns and vines tangle themselves around the majestic trees towering above. The earthy smell of damp ground combined with fallen leaves has an instant calming effect. Continuing along the track it leads you into thick upland forest and down scenic valleys until you reach the forest glade. Pack a picnic, bring binoculars, a book or simply
doze off for an afternoon nap in the dappled light of the forest canopy. While a day trip is wonderful, a weekend is better as you can camp overnight. There are no facilities so everything needs to be brought in, including water. For those who don’t want to camp, there are plenty of accommodation options around Lake Naivasha. The forest is a paradise for bird watchers as it has a rich variety of upland birds. The delightful walking trails plus the opportunity of having knowledgeable birding guides makes this forest an appealing destination. It is also the home to an extraordinary diversity of butterflies, moths and insects as well as over 40 species of mammals. As rich and diverse as this ecosystem is, the forest hasn’t always been so blessed. Deforestation had been ruthless especially in the 90s. It was heavily damaged due to 50% deforestation from unauthorised logging, charcoal production and fires and by bushmeat poaching and livestock invasion. Eburu Forest is a treasure of the Great Rift Valley and that is why the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust stepped in and is engaged in a major long-term conservation exercise to preserve and sustainably manage it. Forests are the water towers of Kenya and since the 43.3 km electric fence was completed in 2014 there have been significant improvements in natural forest regeneration in Eburu. The partners of KFS: Rhino Ark Charitable Trust, Kenya Wildlife Services, M-PESA Foundation and Flamingo Horticulture have been instrumental in fundraising and promoting conservation of Eburu Forest. Local communities have benefitted from the success of the fence through activities such as eco-tourism, honey production from the 1,000 beehives within the forest and other conservation-related activities. Farmers have reported less human-wildlife conflict as crop raiding animals like the buffaloes and bush pigs are confined to the forest. This has resulted in safer living conditions and improved crops. A wildlife corridor and dispersal area has been opened up through Loldia farm to the shores of Lake Naivasha. There are no more cattle in the forest and no dead wood is allowed out. What you will now see is commitment, not
just from the conservationists and donors but from the local Eburu communities who are proud of its revival and growing reputation. Communities who were once seen as opposing conservation are now important partners and see themselves to be custodians of the forest. And there is more good news…… The habitat of undisturbed mountain forest, steep valleys, springs and waterfalls make this precious ecosystem the ideal home for about 12 mountain bongo thought to be surviving here. This represents 10% of global wild population of the critically endangered bongo. While still far from secure, the bongo is being given every chance to bounce back from the brink of extinction. Patrols have removed hundreds of snares and traps. Remote camera “traps” and GPS devices have been placed and are being monitored by the Bongo Surveillance Project. They patrol the forest checking the 40 cameras and give feedback on their findings. Translocation into the forest of other mountain bongo may be the only way to preserve this species. Eburu Rafiki, the forest community group, supports the rejuvenation of the forest reserve. During May 2019, they planted 11000 seedlings on the lower slopes of the denuded mountain. They don’t just plant seedlings but husband the plants by weeding, watering, inspecting and replacing any damaged ones. The attraction of this forest is to walk in it while taking in the remarkable natural scenery. There are six trails, all of special interest, which take in some of the most beautiful scenery within the forest. The trails vary in distance covered and steepness as well as difficulty. The two longest trails are the summit routes which are about 6km long taking between four to six hours to complete. There are four other trails taking from two to four hours to complete as well as shorter walks to the crater and around the glade.
TIP: Get The Mau Eburu Forest Guide, which can be purchased at the entrance as well as other locations, to help you navigate this forest.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
With an array of African art, textiles, jewellery, music instruments and more collected from over 20 African countries, coupled with its unique architecture inspired by the traditional mud houses across the continent, African Heritage House is indeed an art loverâ€™s paradise.
HOME IS WHERE
THE ART IS Text: Wendy Watta Photography: Brian Siambi
his property overlooks the Nairobi National Park where a pair of binoculars reveal a dazzle of zebra pottering about in the distance. A cargo train chugs across. Our host, dressed in a kofia and bright red tye-dye African print shirt befitting of the surroundings, plays a recording of owner Alan Donovan’s voice on a portable radio. By Alan’s account, the shade under which we presently stand is cast by a so-called wedding tree, because love-birds would get off the train to come get married in this very spot. I momentarily zone off and start to daydream about a couple that may have eloped to come get hitched here in the early 2000s... Our group of four then moves to the mazeras-lined pool where I’m instantly drawn to a metallic ‘Roaming Lady’ sculpture which stands out because it has some of the older handheld mobile phones. I remember having one of those in high school, and sending a text message was like thumb wrestling. Across from it stands a blue human-sized sculpture called ‘Three in One’ by Ugandan artist Francis Nnaggenda. The pool itself is surrounded by smaller sculptures, a favourite being a crested crane (the bird found in Uganda’s flag, done by an artist paying homage to his country) which overlooks the park. The structure of this building is Swahili, and it is adorned in everything from sisalwoven fishing nets which were used along the coast, a Luo spear and a Maasai shield made from real buffalo hide. The adjacent pool changing house is equally as striking, with Kisii soapstone pieces, a Lamu door, Tinga Tinga art whose origins are in Tanzania, and much more. We then shuffle to the mustard-yellow main house which is the main attraction. It is based on the pre-colonial mud houses of Africa, drawing inspiration from all over. The part facing the road is based on Northern Nigeria and the park-facing side is inspired by Mali, specifically the mud mosques of Timbuktu and the Grand Mosque in Djenne. Etched on the exterior walls are geometric designs apparently drawn from Ghana. Stepping inside, you can understand why African Heritage House claims to be the most photographed house in Africa having appeared on the cover of Marie
Claire, being the first house in Africa to be featured in Architectural Digest, among other accolades. The house is filled with instruments, fabrics, jewellery, tools and other artifacts collected everywhere from Congo to Egypt and beyond. Standout pieces are from Turkana, curved by women who only had shields and knives to work with yet the craftsmanship is remarkable. I also find the ibeji dolls handmade by Yoruba women rather fascinating, as is the peculiar history of multiple births surrounding them. We head upstairs to talk to Alan, an American who first arrived in Africa in 1967 as an army officer during the NigeriaBiafra war. He says he was actually made a Yoruba chief in Nigeria and has the photos and accompanying paraphenalia to prove it. He then resigned two years later, bought a volkswagen in Paris which he then drove across the Sahara back to Nigeria, collecting art from everywhere he went. Later selling the car, he made a collection of everything he had curated and brought them to Nairobi. Friends at the embassy urged him to set up a collection because a lot of people had not seen those items, not even in the Nairobi Museum. His first exhibition was therefore in 1970. He would then team up with Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s second vice president and an avid private collector, whose dream it was to open a Pan-African center in Nairobi where all the creativity of the continent could be seen. Together they opened African Heritage Gallery in the CBD along Kenyatta Avenue (where the I&M building currently stands) and for years, it was a huge success. “We always had at least 600 people everyday, and that’s only because the fire department wouldn't allow us to have more,” says Alan. The museum burned down in 1996 and just like that, all the stock was gone and it took some years to rebuild. When Alan finally bought the current property in Kitengela, he slept on the floor of his house for a year because he had to go to 20 countries to curate again. The process of buying stock and building the main house took five years to complete. He is currently working on a magnificent museum beside the house, and it is based on the last oasis in the sahara desert where the salt caravans passed through...it was one of the few routes where people entered africa, long before ships. African Heritage House is available for tours, meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinners on the rooftop or by the refreshing pool), conferences/functions, as well as overnight stays in its luxurious rooms filled with African art and furnished with modern appointments.
NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
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NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019
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