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ISSUE 24| NOV/DEC | FREE COPY

HOLIDAY SEASON

FEATURING SOME EXCITING PLACES TO VISIT THIS HOLIDAY

FRESH EYES ON NAIVASHA

ADVENTURE IN JINJA, UGANDA

BIRTH OF THE WALKING SAFARI


Breathtaking

Views Kenyan hospitality and Signature


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Premium Hospitality

Emara Ole - Sereni part of Ole Sereni is a 148 rooms property offering unique views of Nairobi National Park and the city centre. The property has world class amenities like Karibu Cafe, Acacia Restaurant, Maskaan Bar and Lounge and Sky Bar. We also provide world class Conference and Banqueting Facilities, Business Centre, Gift Shop, Gym & Spa.


EDITOR’S NOTE

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WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY FLIGHT IS CANCELLED?

had spent two leisurely nights at one of those secluded and untouched islands in the Lamu archipelago, and by the time my boyfriend and I had checked out on the final day, we were running late to the airport. As usual. With barely 20 minutes left to boarding time, we rocked up to Manda Airport panting, dripping in sweat and certain that we must have lost some vital piece of luggage along the way. It was at this point that we found out, and only from other stranded passengers milling about, that our Silverstone flight to Nairobi had been cancelled without as much as an email alert.

for Malindi at 6:00 am, and it will be super cheap if we can get you two to join us.”

That had been the last flight of the day and even the airport was to close soon. Our next course of action was to browse around on AirBnB to find possible accommodation, which for two people terrible at making such decisions, must have been a comical conversation for any eavesdropper. We couldn’t even decide whether to go to Shella or the Old Town.

“There’s this house that you can join us in...it’s in Manda and has a verandah which you can sleep in for crazy cheap,” continued the spokesperson.

I couldn’t help but admire this solid pitch. In fact, years earlier, my broke solo traveling self would have happily jumped at the chance (one day I will write about how accepting such offers landed me in a bed-bug ridden mattress in a foreign country). Having done that road trip several years ago, you couldn’t pay me enough to do that today. I have become way too spoilt by the simple pleasures of comfortable travel.

As though having spotted potential prey, a group of European backpackers approached us. You could tell that they had been roughing it on the road for a while from the holes in their t-shirts, worn shoes and heavy backpacks slung on the front like some heavy eight-month pregnancy.

My boyfriend and I exchanged knowing glances. Ultimately, we ended up booking the entire ‘penthouse’ space of a lovely seafront hotel at Ksh 3,500 per person. This was our idea of slamming it, because you could never tell if you should drink the fresh juices, and the towels had that worn been-around-the-block look about them as though they had been carried into a war zone by some trooper before making its way to Lamu via Toi Market.

“You know, there are no flights out of Lamu tomorrow either,” started their spokesperson after a few pleasantries were exchanged. “We’ve found a matatu that can leave Lamu

Interesting how even our travel needs evolve over time. As you gear up for the upcoming season, we’d be keen to hear what you’re looking for from your end-of-year holiday...

Wendy Watta

ON THE COVER EMARA- SERENI PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRIAN SIAMBI

@WattaOnTheGo

NOMAD ISSUE 24 · NOV/DEC 2019 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI, JOHN NJOROGE SALES VANESSA WANJIKU DIGITAL FAITH KANJA CONTRIBUTORS JOANNE NDIRANGU, FAITH KANJA, MAURICE SCHUTGENS, SOPHIE IBBOTSON, KATY FENTRESS CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, ALASTAIR BOYD, TIME + TIDE, FAHAD FUAD MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO

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CONTENTS

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FRESH EYES ON NAIVASHA From flower farms and paragliding to scenic drives and incredible restaurants, Naivasha resident Joanne Ndirangu gives recommendations of things to do away from the typical Naivasha experience.

In this issue

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12. TOP SHOTS This month’s featured photographer took around five weeks and two trips to capture a shot of a black leopard at Loisaba conservancy.

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15. NEWS Salty’s Kitesurf Village opens in Kilifi, Mama Ngina Waterfront Park is redeveloped and Kenya Airways partners up with Safarilink. 17. WHATS ON From the Magical Kenya Ladies Golf Open to the East African Safari Classic Rally, find a roundup of must-attend events this season. 48. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS Kenyan-Japanese co-owner of the Endo² brand, Yvonne Endo, gives us a peek inside her travel bag.

FEATURES 30. PLACES TO STAY IN NAIVASHA Find a variety of incredible properties to consider on your next visit to Naivasha.

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REGULARS 18. GLOBETROTTERS We sat down with Tanzania’s most traveled social media influencer and photographer, Fahad Fuad, and asked him all your travel questions on Tanzania. 38. THE BIRTH OF THE WALKING SAFARI Norman Carr, regarded as the pioneer of walking safaris, found paradise in South Luangwa and thanks to his lifelong conservation efforts, this Eden is still here for us to enjoy.

20. JINJA: CALLING ALL THRILL SEEKERS Said to be the very source of the Nile, Jinja in Uganda has incredible views and world-class rapids, and promises a world of adventure for the keen thrill seeker.

40. ROADTRIP Faith Kanja sets off on an action-packed seven day road trip with the Kenya Tourism Board, covering places such as Karura Forest, Limuru, Aberdares National Park and Diani.

42. DISPATCH: A HIDDEN GEM IN MALAWI Located in the Upper Shire Valley, Liwonde National Park is undoubtedly Malawi’s most spectacular wildlife viewing destination. Maurice Schutgens returns to the park after 12 years to experience it.


CONTRIBUTORS

WHICH PLACE IN THE WORLD FEELS MOST LIKE HOME RIGHT NOW?

SOPHIE IBBOTSON The birth of the walking safari

FAITH KANJA Roadtrip

JOANNE NDIRANGU Fresh eyes on Naivasha

My first visit to Uzbekistan blew me away. I’d driven across Eastern Europe, Russia and Kazakhstan, and found myself in Samarkand: the heart of the Silk Road. I stood in the Registan in Samarkand completely in awe of the dazzlingly tiled madrassas around me. The city’s Timurid monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the artistry of the medieval artisans is remarkable, even now.

So far, no holiday has matched my one week trip to the northern frontier six years ago. I visited Marsabit, Kargi and Loiyangalani. At the time, the roads were not good but this added to the fun. Interacting with the El Molo community, camping under the stars and sometimes riding in the backseat of a dusty Land Cruiser on off road terrain are moments I will always cherish.

I always remember the first time I visited Nanyuki. I was staying with a friend and she came up with an exciting itinerary for me. Of all the places we went to, I will never forget Trout Tree Restaurant. We had lunch in a lovely tree house overlooking the ponds where they farm their own trout. I try to visit Nanyuki every year since, if I can.

GIVEAWAY!

It’s really easy to enter our competition to win some Nomad goodies worth Ksh 5,000. All you need to do is tell us your favourite trip of 2019 inspired by our magazine, in as many or few words as you wish. Send us an email with the subject line “My Favourite Trip” to editor@ nomadmagazine.co by midnight EAT December 10, 2019, to stand a chance to win!

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TOP SHOTS

Alastair Boyd @alastair_boyd Through old friends at Loisaba, I was told where there had been frequent sightings of the black leopard, and I decided to focus on one area. I found what I thought would be the kind of trail it would be using. It took around five weeks and two trips until I got the shot. I used a Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. My settings were ISO 320 at 24mm, f5.6 and 1/60. I also had a Cognisys Scout Trail Monitoring System with 2 X speed light SB900 and a Peli Protector Case. TIP: Always have patience and a sense of humour!

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FAHAD FUAD Instagram: @fahad_fuad I shot this at Serengeti National Park. Balloons in Tanzania typically take off in the morning between 6:00am to 9:00am. I used a Nikon D810 with a 70 to 20mm lens. My settings were 1/400, F6.0, ISO 320. TIP: Wake up early for that sunrise golden hour. Always try different perspectives and take more than one shot to get the perfect picture.

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NEWS

KENYA AIRWAYS AND SAFARILINK PARTNERSHIP Kenya Airways has signed an agreement with Safarilink to provide passengers with connectivity to different tourist destinations in Kenya and Tanzania. These include eleven airstrips in Maasai Mara and direct flights to Amboseli, Diani, Kapese, Kitale, Lewa, Loisaba, Migori, Samburu, Lamu, Zanzibar, Ukunda, Vipingo, Kilimanjaro, Tsavo West, Nanyuki and Lodwar. The codeshare agreement aims to bring more global travellers to Kenya Airways as well as enabling customers from international destinations to book their full safari experience directly via KQ holidays. The packages will conveniently connect travellers from JKIA to Wilson Airport and eventually to their respective safari destinations.

MAMA NGINA WATERFRONT PARK REDEVELOPED The Mama Ngina Waterfront Park is a 26-acre waterfront space recently redeveloped into a modern public recreational area with several added amenities. It has become the first public landscaped waterfront and starts from the Likoni Ferry Crossing in the south to the Mombasa Golf Club in the north. These two points act as both entry and exit points into the park and are marked by huge monumental gates. As part of the renovations, the waterfront now features a natural amphitheatre, a cultural centre, 2.1km long promenade and a space for food vendors. The amphitheatre has a seating capacity of 3,000 people. The Kilindini Cultural Center has exhibition halls and screening rooms where visitors can watch films and listen to audio to learn more about the history of Mombasa. Being open 24-hours a day, the park is well lit with strategically placed security lighting, a police post and public toilets.

SALTY’S KITESURF VILLAGE OPENS IN KILIFI Salty’s Kitesurf Village is a sustainably and ethically-run establishment on Bofa beach in Kilifi. With beautiful tropical waters, calm lagoons and great waves out on the reef, this Kitesurf center, beach bar and restaurant is perfect for kite surfers and caters to numerous styles of the sport while offering affordable accommodation options for all, starting at Ksh 3,500. With barely any marketing, a soft-opening where about 30 guests were expected drew almost 150 residents and tourists, and the laid-back beachfront bar, one of the handful in Kilifi, is already being hailed as an it-spot in the town. Permaculture is done at the premises and they grow most of their food which chef Jack then whips into healthy and delicious platters which are also making the menu here the talk of the town.www.saltyskitesurf.com

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THE

MSAMBWENI EXPERIENCE

USE

C O D E : K T B /E A /U G 1 9

USD 340 USD 160

PER PERSON PER NIGHT ON FULL BOARD

VALID UNTIL 20TH DECEMBER 2019

www.mbh.co.ke

info@mbh.co.ke + 254 729 403 697


EVENTS

MAGICAL KENYA LADIES OPEN The Magical Kenya Ladies Golf Open will take place from 5th to 8th December 2019 on Vipingo Ridge’s Baobab Course - the only (UK) PGA accredited golf course on the continent. Not only will this event mark the very first time professional lady golfers will have played competitively in the region but it will also be the final event of the 2019 season. The 72-hole stroke play competition will prove a significant milestone in the history of the sport in Kenya and work to motivate the next generation of female golfers throughout the country. VIP ticket holders will receive world-class benefits including a first class rooftop experience, priority view over the golf course, a welcome present, premium food and drinks and more. tickets available at ticketsasa.com

Image courtesy www.grandnairobirace.co.ke

2019 EAST AFRICAN SAFARI CLASSIC RALLY The 9th edition of the East African Safari Classic Rally will take place from November 27th to December 6th. The rally is widely acknowledged as the world’s toughest historic motorsport event. It offers competitors an incredible opportunity to enjoy the epic landscapes of East Africa as they journey between exceptionally challenging stages, some of which can be over 150km long. The nine-day competition will start from Mombasa before its spreads its wings across Kenya and Tanzania regions. This year’s rally is set to cover more than 4,500km, showcasing the picturesque beauty of the East African landscape with vehicles racing through world-famous game parks with overnight stops at the region’s finest lodges and hotels. www.eastafricansafarirally.com

2020 TROPIC AIR 10TO4 MOUNTAIN BIKE CHALLENGE The 2020 Tropic Air 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge will take place on 14th-16th February 2020, starting at an altitude of 10,000ft on the slopes of Mt Kenya and ending on the savannahs of Borana Conservancy at 4,000ft. This annual event provides a unique opportunity for cyclists of all ages and abilities to take on the challenge of the 2nd highest mountain in Africa. Having started in 2002 as a very small mountain biking event with just a handful of riders, it has grown to over 350 competitors from across the globe, raising over US$80,000. With courses for all abilities, this annual event provides a unique opportunity for people to enjoy Mt Kenya and its surrounding beautiful wildlife conservancies, whilst raising critical funds for Mount Kenya Trust’s community projects and mountain conservation. Register on www.10to4.org

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BONGO

TRAVELER

We sat down with Tanzania’s most traveled social media influencer and photographer, Fahad Fuad, and asked him all your travel questions on Tanzania. By Wendy Watta Instagram: @fahad_fuad

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GLOBETROTTERS

and Materuni formed by water from the top of the mountain. While home to see their relatives, people from that region, for instance, could do so much more. You will also find Chemka Hot Springs there, a place that is also quite popular with people coming from Nairobi. It’s very scenic, there are tiny little fish that can give you a ‘fish pedicure’, and it’s a great place for swinging or diving. Contrary to the name, the water is actually more tepid that hot. So what’s there to do in Moshi for someone who’s new to Tanzania? Check out the culture. You can start with the Mangiameli remains in Old Moshi- he was one of the strongest chiefs in Kilimanjaro and an avid freedom fighter who met an untimely death, and a monument still stands to remember him. Try machalari which is a mixture of bananas and meat. The people here have a variety of ways of making bananas using recipes and techniques passed down through generations and that would be hard to replicate elsewhere. You can actually get a guide to go to the waterfalls or Chemka Hot Springs, try machalari and if you love beer, sample the local brew which is also made from bananas. You can do a day tour up Kilimanjaro from the Marangu gate to Mandara hut at 2700m above sea level- it’s a hike of about 8km which would take 5 hours. There is a crater lake called Chala which borders kenya, and here, you can do a family picnic.

What makes Tanzania an ideal holiday spot? The country is so diverse in its people, landscape and biodiversity. One day you can be in the mountains then be at the beach the next day. We have Zanzibar and Pemba islands, then coastal cities like Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam, Kilwa and Mtwara. Tanzania also has an array of national parks and epic waterfalls. There is just so much to see and do! Where do Tanzanians typically go for the holidays at the end of the year? People like to go upcountry. If you go to Moshi right now, there is no traffic jam. In Tanzania, you can be stuck in traffic for hours and it gets really congested. Moshi is the land of Mt Kilimanjaro and has a lot of waterfalls such as Marangu, Kilasia

What would you recommend to do in Zanzibar for families? It has such a variety of food, and there is always a festival in full swing. The food market at Forodhani which now has a lot of kid games and competitions during festival season is a key spot. Check out Jozani National park for a trek which years ago had wildlife but now has red colobus monkeys which are only found here...kids would enjoy that. The Butterfly Center is a must-see. Swim with turtles at the aquarium in Nungwi, or just feed them. Feed the huge tortoises at Prison Island, which also has a lot of history, and is a great place for snorkelling. Go on a spice farm tour. Boot the popular Safari Blue whereby you leave in the morning, go to a sandbank, snorkel, have lunch and relax along the beach. You can try hundreds of beach activities. Hotels like Hotel Verde have become popular because they have dedicated acres of land to fun activities such as jet skiing, waterbiking, navigating an inflatable obstacle course, kayaking, thrill seeker tubing and much more. Why do you recommend Lushoto for adventure seekers? It’s on the highlands and is therefore very mountainous and scenic with an array

of waterfalls. Hike to Magamba Nature Reserve- it’s a strenuous one so come prepared. Go to Maweni Farms for serenity...it’s a huge farm in the middle of a small forest with an . old German house which has now been transformed into a hotel. Hike up to Soni Waterfalls at whose base you can swim, dive or fish. Magoroto is very popular now. It’s great for friends and couples. For kids, it’s quite a hike and there aren't a lot of activities up there. There is no network so you really connect with nature. There are decks where you can camp next to the lake, and when you unzip your tent in the morning, the view is spectacular. You can also go horse riding here. If you’re in Mombasa, you can cross through the Tanga border to experience it. Break down some of your go-to national parks Tanzania has so many parks spread across the whole country. Udzungwa Mountain National Park in Morogoro is ideal for hikers and has incredible sunsets. You can hike up, camp and descend the next day. Sanje Waterfall is very big and really beautiful. From Dar, go to Mikumi or Saadani National Park in Bagamoyo, or even Selous Game Reserve. From Arusha, Moshi or Kilimanjaro you can go to Tarangire, Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. From the lake zone in Mwanza you can also go to Serengeti. We have a new a new one called Chato which is even easier to access from the lakeside. In Mbeya/Iringa, go Ruaha National Park for wildlife. Mkomazi Park is great for people from Tanga and Kilimajaro. Any Tanzanian can view some wildlife during the holiday season without necessarily having to cross the country. There is also Arusha National Park. What’s one hidden gem you wish more people would explore? In southern Tanzania there is a place called Mbeya, the land of hidden treasures, as I like to call it. It has a crater lake shaped like Africa called Ngozi, and getting there is quite a hike. Matema Beach which is in Lake Nyasa borders Malawi and here you can get a sunrise and sunset at the same time... it’s very beautiful. Kaporogo waterfalls, some of the biggest in the country, are located here. Kitulo National Park, referred to as the heavens garden, is a floral park so imagine just how breathtaking that is. What’s your favourite thing to do in Arusha? There is a meat market called Kwa Mrombo where people specifically go for different styles of choma. Arusha has the park, Mt Meru and Lake Duluti. It’s like a small Nairobi, which is why Nairobians like to go there to party. Fahad runs a travel agency which you can find on instagram as @unziptanzania

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JINJA:

CALLING ALL THRILL SEEKERS Said to be the very source of the Nile (the longest river in Africa and arguably the world), Jinja has incredible views and world-class rapids, and promises a world of adventure for the keen thrill seeker. I find it appealing because food, outdoor activities, transport and entertainment are relatively cheap here, writes Wendy Watta. Photography: Wendy Watta 20

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Quad biking with All Terrain Adventures My guide Henry helps me gear up in tan overalls, goggles, a scarf and helmet. Riding a quad bike is very easy to master and hard to forget, and after a short practise session, we set off for Kyabirwa village. In the dry season, Jinja is very dusty; the kind of red soil that desperately clings to the skin long after you have taken a shower. In the light afternoon breeze, it curls and curls, patiently, waiting to attack. Henry goes first and I am hot on his trail, along what was once Bujagali Falls. When the Ugandan government dammed the river in 2011 for a hydroelectric project, six rapids were buried under a giant reservoir, and the loss is palpable. Now the Nile silently snakes along the periphery of the village, between a sprawling mass of trees and shrubs, its beauty domineering. We charge almost full-throttle towards simple mud or brick homes, some unintentionally quirky given the pop of bright paint on the windows and the bold graffiti etched into the mud walls. Bare doorways are covered only by thin brightly coloured curtains billowing gently in the breeze. At first, it is hard to imagine that a place as charming as this would be without inhabitants, but as we roll on, I spot them lounging in the shade outside their houses

seeking respite from the mid-afternoon heat. The kids run to the roads in numbers to wave and say hello. We also come across goats, those stubborn animals that when we meet along the road, it is us that have to move out of the way. As I switch gears to charge uphill through a road lined with surprisingly green farms, it is thrilling to feel that power underneath my hands. We get to a secluded river bank where some villagers are bathing, washing clothes, swimming, fetching water in yellow jerrycans or tending to their fishing nets, all within about five feet of each other. This is not only an exciting activity, it is also a great way to gain insight into the daily life of the locals. Book with: www.atadventures.com Whitewater rafting with Adrift Uganda As far as names go, it doesn’t get more intimidating than a class five rapid called ‘The Washing Machine’, but Jinja has up to grade six rapids for seasoned pros. As beginners, after we are taken through some safety instructions followed by a brief practical session out in the water, some of my apprehension gives way to excitement which continues to build as the seven people in our bright blue raft start to paddle in a near-perfect synchrony. Shortly after, we

come to our very first raging class three rapid, or the scene of the crime, as I now like to call it. It is called ‘Bubugo’, and when I find out that this translates to ‘condolences’, my apprehension returns. There is no time to second guess things, however, as the majority of the group quickly vote that we navigate it from its very centre which increases our chances of flipping over by about 90%. With feigned gusto, we paddle right for Bubugo. Before I am hurled out of the raft, it feels like I’m tumbling over the edge of the earth, an untetherdness that’s as unsettling as it is thrilling. The white water rages at me but my life jacket pushes me up to the surface, and as I splutter for air, I realise that I am trapped under the raft. Remembering the practical session, I manoeuvre my way from underneath and swim to the safety boat which had been following our raft all along. It is only later while we are tucking into delicious sandwiches on calm water, bumping fists and hooting into the air as the adrenaline kicks in, that I realise I would probably do it all over again. Book with: www.adrift.ug

We charge almost full-throttle towards simple mud or brick homes, some unintentionally quirky given the pop of bright paint on the windows and the bold graffiti etched into the mud walls

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Where to stay Lemala Wildwaters Lodge- Nestled in a rainforest and surrounded by rapids, right in the middle of the Nile. High end. The Haven - Serene, with stunning views. Cottages are mid-range, but consider the lazy camping accommodation for even cheaper rates. Nile Porch- Has semi-permanent tents raised on cliffs overlooking the Nile. Accommodation available for different budgets. Nile Explorers River Lodge- Has affordable camps, dorms and rooms. Always lively. Great for meeting other adventurers from around the world.

Where to Eat and Drink Black Lantern- Striking view, serene, popular for their pork ribs, excellent mojitos, has a pool. Moti Mahal’s- Try the Tahil, a delicious spicy curry with unlimited naan, daal and rice. Good spot for vegetarians as well. Jinja Sailing Club- Set along Lake Victoria and can be a good base for boat cruises. Good Indian and continental food. Try the “kuku in a basket”.

Kayaking with Kayak the Nile It is day three and I have kayaking on my mind. From solo to tandem, and whitewater kayaking which would see one go down a rapid like Bubugo which I faced on day one, the limit just depends on how adventurous you are. I settle for a one-hour session gently paddling out on the calm, flat water while checking out the birdlife. My guide and I both get on solo sit-on-top kayaks after which he shows me a few basics like how to hold the paddle and move in different directions, then we set off. The scenery surrounding the Nile River, especially taken in from the water, gets me every time. It is spectacular, and it is not long before we start spotting an array of freshwater birds like the cormorant, grey crowned crane, various herons and egrets, and my favourite: kingfishers. My guide points them all out, and the conversation naturally turns to conservation, as he tells me about some of the efforts being made to involve the local community in beekeeping as a business, as opposed to cutting and selling riverine trees which are vital for the ecosystem here. He even tells me about two friends who followed the Nile from its source in Jinja to Egypt on a four-month kayak and rafting trip. Book with www.kayakthenile.com

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Cycling with Bikeventures Uganda There are many routes and options to consider, but cycling to Mabira Forest just outside Jinja, then heading to the surrounding tea estate, sounds most appealing. Indigenous trees stand on long lean trunks, branches converging at the top to provide a much needed umbrella, without which the climb would be much more arduous. Rolling along the rainforest, we spot barefoot kids balancing heavy bundles of firewood on their heads, and I learn that while the surrounding community is not allowed to cut trees, they can pick fallen branches. While the first kilometre is laid back, thereafter it is anything but. The route has steep climbs and fast descents, all queued up in quick succession, and it feels like a challenge-and-reward cycle that any enthusiast would revel in. 7km later and the thick foliage gives way to a well-manicured tea estate which stretches into the gentle hillside as far as the eye can see. It is also dotted with tea pickers who are dexterously plucking the delicate leaves by hand (or using handmade devices) then throwing them over their shoulders into large sisal baskets on their backs. Bikeventures is a social enterprise for CooP-Uganda. All profits are allocated to

three social projects that improve access to income generation (Bike4Work), education (Bike4School) and healthcare (Bike4Care) by providing bicycles to social entrepreneurs, students, teachers and health care workers. As we cycle past their homes, the smell of brewing tea wafts towards me, disappearing over my shoulder almost as quickly as it hit. I am reminded just how hungry I am, and when we get back to the main road after covering 16km in 2.5 hours, it is time for a classic Ugandan snack. To some, a rolex might be a beloved luxury watch, but here, it is a spanish-style omelette placed inside a chapati which is then rolled to create the most delicious thing I tasted in Uganda. SUP Hammock with Nile SUP I decide to wind down with something relaxing. A friend and I get on SUPs and after pottering about the river for all of 30 minutes, decide to hire a SUP Hammock instead. It is a thing of wonder; three SUPs rigged together with two hammocks tied to either end. We get comfortable, and a guide on a kayak gently pulls us along. Time spools out. I barely even lift my head to look at the otters swimming past. The sun starts to set. Our gin and tonics are instinctively topped up. If ever an activity deserved to be called blissful, it would be this. www.nilesup.com


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 22 on TripAdvisor, B&Bs/Inns of Laikipa County

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

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COUNTRY CHRISTMAS And... Three things are guaranteed at Enashipai: Family • Food • Fun Talk to us today on +254 51 2130000 or email sales@enashipai.com 24

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FEATURE

FRESH EYES ON NAIVASHA

From flower farms and paragliding to scenic drives and incredible restaurants, Naivasha resident Joanne Ndirangu gives recommendations of things to do away from the typical Naivasha experience. PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI

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have lived in Naivasha for over six years now and I’m still always discovering hidden gems. For a town one and a half hours away from Nairobi by road, Naivasha is never short of tourists, but Kenyans are notorious for frequenting the same old spots when there is just so much more to this place. It is the ideal town to drive to for a weekend getaway that doesn’t break the bank and still does the trick. Whether you are a solo traveler, avid bird-lover, group looking to party or a parent with kids, there is so much more to see here than you likely know. With only two days to spare, I took the Nomad team around to share some of my favourite jaunts with them. Flower farm visits Kenya is one of the two major flower exporters in Africa, and Naivasha’s altitude and proximity to a large body of water makes it the perfect town for horticulture. Of all the flower farms in Naivasha, my favorite one is DeRuiters in Oserian. They are breeders and do a lot of experiments with various breeds of roses, and the results are stunning. They have a designated showroom where visitors can view the flowers on display and get to learn more about their processes. When we got there, we were given white coats to wear and had to sanitise our hands before our guide, Abraham, could take us around the hot showroom. There are rows upon rows of brightly coloured roses with the most creative names, and should one catch your fancy, you’re welcome to buy. In this section, the roses on display have been grafted for a mixed-colour effect. Some are heavily scented and therefore have a shorter vase life in comparison to the flowers that have the scent bred out of them and can then last upwards of two weeks in a vase. Here is where potential investors choose a rose they would like to grow for commercial purposes and then purchase it. We then proceeded to a bigger greenhouse where the purchased roses are now grown in high production to meet the clients’ demands. They are finally moved to the cold room where the cut flowers are stored for up to eight hours in a 4 degrees celsius room to stop the growing process. They are then cut and packaged ready for shipment to European markets. Kenya’s biggest markets are Amsterdam and the UK, and for that reason, most of these farms observe these countries’ calendars to mark their high holidays. Note: DeRuiters charges Ksh 1,000 per car as entry fees. Scenic drives I have driven around Lake Naivasha on two separate occasions and yet I’m still always keen to seek out this experience with every return. The fresh air and serenity of the drive makes it great for relaxing, the perfect way to wind down after a stressful work week. The properties lined along this route are beautifully maintained and some have been left untouched over the years so you feel like you are driving into the past. Another scenic drive to consider is through Olkaria Power Station. You will pay a park fee of Ksh 400 for citizens. During our visit, we drove up for over 20km through the gorges and power installations, and the vistas were breathtaking. The road ends at the top of a view-point that offers the most incredible panoramic views of the Mau hills.

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Sundowners and night drives Imagine sitting by a fire in an open field with buffaloes grazing a few feet away from you. You are sipping your chardonnay as you watch the sun set. Now imagine experiencing this with that special someone or a group of friends you made on your solo trip. As the darkness sets in, it’s now time to find the night time wonders when all the nocturnal animals are just starting to rouse. I played ‘spotter’ on my most recent night drive and saw the ever elusive bush baby, long tailed fox (...or mongoose. They all look the same in the dark to the untrained eye), wild hare and a golden orb spider. I tried looking for the aardvark but I wasn’t so lucky. I can’t even begin to describe what a treat that was. Somewhere between the sunset and watching a baby hippo come out of water to feed, I was at peace with the world. If you are not a night person but enjoy early mornings, plan for a morning drive before the hyenas are back in their holes and out for the day. Fun fact: Dik-diks mate for life and are always in pairs. Whenever you spot one on your drive, look for the partner close by. If you see a lone dik-dik, chances are their partner just died and they will die too, of a broken heart For philanthropic travelers What if I told you that you could have the relaxing weekend you deserve and still give back? Elsamere and Mundui House are two places that let you do just that. Elsamere is part of the Elsa Conservation Trust that was left behind by Joy and George Adamson who spent their lives dedicated to the conservation of wild animals. For history buffs, you can spend the night in Joy Adamson’s bedroom


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WHERE TO EAT Sawela Lodge’s all glass restaurant. You can enjoy your meal indoors with sweeping views of their lush, green gardens dotted with yellow fever acacia trees. Ranch House Bistro where you can have raspberry fresh juice with berries grown in their own garden. Their helpings are massive and the warthogs grazing nearby will pay you no mind. Take your time as you watch fishermen offload their haul on the shores of Lake Oloiden. Afterwards, you can stop by La Pieve and pick up some roses and sunflowers that come in daily from DeRuiters. Matteo’s: For authentic Italian feast, you can never go wrong with this restaurant. It is situated close enough to an array of familyfriendly activities, and their menu is kid friendly too. There is a nice spot in the middle of the restaurant where you can buy any of the ingredients you would like to have added to your selected dish. After a long drive, you can make one final stop at Enashipai’s Coffee Lounge for their boozy coffees (don’t drink and drive, though) for an afternoon buzz that will make the traffic back to the city bearable. A personal recommendation would be the Amarula coffee. Thank me later.

and all the proceeds will go back into the trust which seeks to sustain education in their surrounding community. If you are only in Naivasha for the day, you can do the museum tour and visit the Birds of Prey Sanctuary and leave having done your part for the community. For a more secluded and tranquil stay, I’d highly recommend Mundui house. Richard and Hellen, the two managers will make you feel decadently spoilt and cared for. They will come out to answer any questions you may have on the history of the property and to offer their infallible advice on where to look for certain elusive animals. I had the grandest time at their cottage; there was so much to experience. I went bird watching on the ‘secret lake’ with Mohammed, their resident guide. The waters were so still and calm, a haven for numerous birds. Then breakfast was served on the shores of the lake affording breathtaking views of the Mau Hills. In addition to the seasonal-fresh-fruit-and-prosecco-breakfast, Purity, the chef came to take my order and proceed to prepare a phenomenal omelet as I watched. After the hearty meal, we proceeded to their Animal Rights Reserve Unit (ARR) where they protect and rehabilitate orphaned animals. Hellen explained to us that the income they get from staying guests goes back to protect and treat animals ensnared by poachers and afflicted by fellow prey. Their efforts are very necessary to the preservation of wildlife in Naivasha and its environs and they make animals feel safe, so much so that they walk around grazing comfortably among humans. Imagine waking up to a huge giraffe strolling casually outside your door. It is because they know no harm will come to them. Being a private unit, the funding needed is more urgent and necessary to ensure our future children will find these animals alive and well.

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FEATURE

DO NOT MISS: Have bespoke pieces made to your exact liking at Elementaita Weavers. Choose the colours you want on your rugs, placemats and other woven pieces and watch as they make them on their huge looms. Collectible tchotchkes are also available for sale. For adrenaline junkies, paragliding is just the fix. Jump from Mt. Margaret near Ubuntu Kenya and soar over Mt. Longonot and Lake Naivasha. You can carry your own equipment or hire from the trainer. This activity is also wheelchair friendly. NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019

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PLACES TO

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PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI, RESPECTIVE PROPERTIES

LUCITA FARM GUEST HOUSE The decor is rustic country chic, and if you love art, Lucita farm is a haven! There are three properties on the farm; two (3 and 4 bedroom) guesthouses great for families and a stable suite perfect for couples. The guesthouses are spacious, complete with fully equipped kitchens. The stable suite is all white with quirky decor and if you look out the window, you are likely to spot a waterbuck milling about the foliage. There are also two horses and dogs on the farm. The cottages are available for booking on AirBnb.

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WHERE WE STAYED: MUNDUI HOUSE Built in 1926, this property has seen numerous visitors including Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway. “We take our conservation very seriously,” says our host Helen Hartley. “It’s all privately funded by a Polish family who set up an organisation called ARR (Animal Rights Reserved) who are involved in things like wildlife rescue and protection with people calling in from as far as Mt Elgon”. When you stay at the house, it helps to know that your money goes towards supporting a good cause. The property has four doubles and one family room, and two extra doubles can be availed on request. www.munduihouse.com


FEATURE WHERE WE STAYED: AJABU HOUSE Ajabu house is located on the Gilgil and Malewa delta of lake Naivasha on Loldia Farm which has been in the JD Hopcraft family for over 100 years. Initially, it was built by Wildfred Hopcraft in the early 1930’s, and added to as his family grew with his wife. There is a master bedroom which is large, spacious and en-suite with an antique bath offering stunning views across to Lake Naivasha. The bird room is perfect for children with bunk beds and one queen bed; its birds-on-the-wall fixtures are unique and create a certain je ne sais quoi. Siriane guest house, nestled among the fig trees, was initially constructed by Italian Prisoners of War during the mid1930’s and has two spacious rooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, with incredible views. The muse guest house was the backbone of the house (offices, stables etc) until 2014 when it was converted to accommodation with three bedrooms. www.ajabuhouse.com

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THE MANOR HOUSE & DODO'S TOWER This colonial tudor-style house sits on the exclusive Hippo Point conservancy along with the wooden 120 foot Dodo’s tower. The Manor House was derelict before being purchased by its current owners about 30 years ago, and they have since transformed it into the cozy home it is today while retaining much of its Elizabethan charm. Some of the living spaces have been renovated, with stables being turned into two-storey one bedroom pads and a granary now serving as a main lounge. The decor is European and African, mixing contemporary art with locally made quirky pieces www.hippopointkenya.com

CHUI LODGE It was designed and created by June Zwager; her vision was brought to life with help from the local community and her team of skilled craftsmen. The Lodge is built from simple bush stone, acacia, olive and Leleshwa wood all sustainably sourced from within the sanctuary. There are eight spacious ensuite cottages, each with its own veranda and striking views. The bedrooms have magnificent four poster beds, roaring log fires and unique décor, making the rooms completely different from one another. A large swimming pool on the property overlooks the waterhole and wildlife sanctuary beyond. www.oserengoniwildlife.com

ENASHIPAI RESORT & SPA A bit closer to Nairobi is Enashipai, meaning place of happiness. This sprawling retreat on the shores of Lake Naivasha is a great base for exploring the lake, but also for relaxation. Various kinds of rooms such as the afro-chic fountain executive rooms with their signature Maasai necklace headboards are available. At the spa, the signature treatment involves a mud wrap, a waterfall treatment followed by a calabash instrument massage. If you bring the kids, there’s a playroom with staff to watch them, giving you the opportunity to nip away for that massage. www.enashipai.com

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FEATURE

ELSAMERE LODGE The story of the raising of an orphan lion cub by Joy and George Adamson in the 1950s and her subsequent release into the African bush is one of the great conservation stories of all time. Once a holiday home and later to be a retirement home for the Adamsons, Elsamere remains a unique destination in Naivasha. Delicious meals are served here and the traditional style high teas remain some of the best in Kenya. At Elsamere, history connects with the future as conservation is their main objective. The lodge has 10 double rooms, all ensuite, with private verandahs facing the lake. www.elsamere.com

KIBOKO LUXURY CAMP This boutique camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha has only eight spacious luxury tents set in green serene surroundings. Guests can expect five-course gourmet meals from the restaurant as prepared by talented chefs, best enjoyed while taking in the rich scenery. Relax and get pampered at the Eseriani Spa which offers full body, face and foot massages, aromatherapy, body scrubs and wraps, and so much more. Excursions around Naivasha can easily be arranged based on your interests from the camp’s convenient location. www.sunafricahotels.com

GREAT RIFT VALLEY LODGE The Lodge is built on the Eburru, a mountain that the Maasai call Ol Donyo Opurru, meaning mountain of smoke. It sits at about 7,000 feet from which elevation it enjoys magnificent views to the west and east. The vistas stretch from Lake Naivasha to the jagged volcanic crater of Mount Longonot and, beyond, the sloping shoulders of the Aberdare Mountains. There are 21 twin and nine double rooms, all with private balconies overlooking the spectacular expanse of the Rift Valley. The rooms are located in spacious two- and three-storey blocks, furnished with large four-poster beds, handmade wooden furniture and modern en suite bathrooms. www.heritage-eastafrica.com

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LAKE NAIVASHA SOPA RESORT With their traditional and conscientious care for the environment, Sopa carefully positioned all the buildings on the property so as not to chop down any of the numerous trees on site. As a result, they had to come up with a radically innovative design for the main public area building which now snakes its way between the trees with long and graceful curves. This is why the two swimming pools and areas like the spa, tennis court, two conference halls and stables are so widely set apart. The lodge has 84 rooms, two being wheelchair accessible rooms. www.sopalodges.com

NAIVASHA KONGONI LODGE Located 27km from the turn-off to Moi South Lake Road is Naivasha Kongoni Lodge, crafted from simple bush stone, local acacia, Leleshwa and olive wood with a beautiful thatched Makuti roof. The lodge whose name is Swahili for hartebeest overlooks Lake Oloiden and Lake Naivasha, only a few minutes away from Hell’s Gate National Park. It has three executive/honeymoon cottages and 26 well-spaced and beautifully furnished deluxe rooms. Each executive room has an indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi and a luxurious corner shower. A swimming pool is available, and sundowners can be arranged in their rondavel. www.privatecollection.co.ke

OLERAI HOUSE Nature was left to take charge of this former cattle farm in 2001, and today, the farmhouse is shrouded in bougainvillea and the scent of wildflowers fills the air. Bright, individually-decorated rooms are furnished with expansive beds and crisp linens, and the ensuite bathrooms are stocked with organic soaps and lotions to soothe your skin. The chefs produce unforgettable meals with organically-grown or pasture-raised ingredients picked fresh from the garden each day. The farmhouse drawing room is comfortably arranged around a crackling log fire where you can sip chilled wine, relax and warm up. www.elephantwatchportfolio.com

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SWAHILI DREAMSCAPES

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POTTED HISTORY

Katy Fentress sets out to find out more about Swahili culture and its rich history by heading to Tanzania and visiting the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani, once the epicentre of the vibrant East African coastal trade. PHOTOGRAPHS KATY FENTRESS

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t’s low tide as Hassan, the boatman, manoeuvres our taxi dhow up onto the shallows. The Portuguese fort that I had been photographing as we approached the island dominates the small beach in an otherwise unassuming harbour. I wade through the ankle-deep water and up some steps to the outskirts of a village. A plaque painted with a Tanzanian flag indicates there is a foundational school some hundred metres to our left. We wander over to the fort and stand underneath what looks like a giant version of an intricately carved Lamu door. The mid morning glare stings my eyes as I squint up from underneath the brim of my straw hat to study the fine floral lattice work which frames the looming entrance. Jamila, our guide, is explaining that the Gereza Fort was erected after the Portuguese seized control of the Swahili coastal trade routes and is one of the last in a series of great forts and palaces built on the island of Kilwa Kisiwani, at one point the most powerful city-state in the whole of East Africa. Located directly opposite the town of Kilwa Masoko, 300km to the south of Dar es Salaam, Kilwa Kisiwani is one of two islands that were the epicentre of a once bustling cosmopolitan trading hub. Kilwa Kisiwani and its neighbouring Songo Mnara, are today quiet places, inhabited by small communities, which survive on fishing and subsistence farming. During the Middle Ages, however, this vibrant Swahili city-state came to dominate commerce up and down the East African coast, due to a favourable geographical positioning at the intersection of trade routes of gold and ivory from Zimbabwe, beads and textiles from India, ceramics from China and Persia and slaves captured as far as Lake Malawi. Jamila narrates how the fort is the symbol of two successive colonisations of the Swahili coast, once an interconnecting network of urban trading centres which were inhabited

as early as the first century CE. The first colonisers were the Portuguese around 1500 and then the Omanis, who in the late 1600s liberated the sultans and their cities from the European invaders, only to then take on the mantle of occupying rulers themselves. A few hundred metres from the fort we see ruins peppered to either side of us. Jamila points out a small cemetery, some merchant houses and the “Malindi mosque”. I later learn that the city state of Malindi was one of Kilwa’s great rivals during the 1400s. With every step, we feel ourselves going back in time. “Here you can see the Great Mosque that was built with coral blocks by the Shirazi sultans one thousand years ago,” Jamila tells us. The mosque, with its sixteen domes, seems like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Jamila waits patiently as I clamber around to try to get a good shot of a towering ficus which has long outgrown its host, its gnarl of roots threaten to tear the walls of the ancient building apart.

Here you can see the Great Mosque that was built with coral blocks by the Shirazi sultans one thousand years ago,” Jamila tells us. The mosque, with its sixteen domes, seems like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Inside the mosque, the morning light pours sideways through the colonnades, the bulbous domes and tear drop arches stand sensuously in the saturated light. Close by the Omani palace, relatively new in the grand scheme of the island, is an ode to space and luxurious living. I stand in the middle of what would have been the palace’s huge garden, bird song fills the air. We press on, there’s one more site to visit. Built in the early 1300s the Husuni Kubwa was once a sprawling palace replete with spacious courtyards for merchants to ply their wares, a public hearing hall for audiences with the sultan and in the private quarters, a hexagonal swimming pool that looked out onto the sea. I walk around in the unforgiving midday heat with just enough energy to marvel at the thick coral walls,

at the remains of large domes and sunken rooms where I can imagine angry men shaking their fists at each other has they discuss the matters of the day. Exhausted, after covering almost three kilometres walking around ruins, we make our way down a long flight of stairs to the mangroves and then through to the expecting boat. Kilwa Basics Situated in one of Tanzania’s less frequented areas, Kilwa and Songo Mnara aren’t exactly the cheapest holiday destinations, unless you are keen to take the Mashallah bus or are self-driving. The trip takes about five hours depending on how bad traffic leaving Dar es Salaam is. We stayed at the delightful Kilwa Dreams Beach Resort where the owner Gladys and her staff made us feel instantly at home and treated us to some excellent seafood. The bandas were painted red and decorated with images of sea life, while on the inside they were simple, clean, lit with lights powered by solar panels on the roof, with nice seating areas, well maintained mosquito nets and hot water coming from a solar heater outside. For those used to Kenyan prices it felt a bit on the expensive side but this is probably due to the low levels of tourism in the area which means it is costly to keep hospitality facilities running all year round. Our friends in Dar es Salaam also recommended checking out the Slow Leopard, a recently opened lodge on the Jimbiza beach which seems popular with the backpacking crowd. Visits to Songo Mnara and Kilwa Kisiwani should ideally take place over two days. Songo Mnara is 12 kilometres from the mainland so remember to bring a book as the internet reception dies a few kilometres out. Kilwa Kisiwani is just a fifteen minute boat ride from the harbour at Kilwa Masoko and should definitely be the second of the two places you visit. The Kilwa Information Centre, situated at the main market in Kilwa Masoko, is your go to place for arranging for a guide and paying the entrance fees at the antiquities office down the road. All in all we ended up paying 70$ for the Kilwa trip and $140 for the Songo Mnara trip (for two people) which seemed steep but was confirmed by the Lonely Planet as being the correct amount. For more information on organising a trip you can call the Kilwa Information Office on +255715463029 or visit their website www. kilwatourism.com Bandas at Kilwa Dreams cost $90 a night, can accomodate up to three people and can be reserved through their website www. kilwadreams.com or by phoning Gladys, the owner, on +255 784 585 330

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THE BIRTH OF THE

WALKING SAFARI

Norman Carr, regarded as the pioneer of walking safaris, found paradise in South Luangwa and thanks to his lifelong conservation efforts, this Eden is still here for us to enjoy. By Sophie Ibbotson Photos:Courtesy Time+Tide

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CONSERVATION

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orman Carr is quite possibly the most influential conservationist of the 20th century. It is thanks to him that tourists’ primary interest in Africa has shifted from hunting to game watching, and that we have national parks and other protected reserves across Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in which wildlife can thrive. The pioneer of the walking safari and the first person to open a safari company in Zambia, Carr also understood the importance of local community empowerment and employment in ensuring conservation projects’ sustainability. The heartland of Carr’s work was the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, which is where I want to transport you -- at least in your mind -- today. The Luangwa River and its tributaries meander at the tail end of the Great African Rift Valley and their life giving waters support more than 60 different kinds of mammals and 400 species of birds. The river teems with crocodiles and hippos; herds of Cape buffaloes and elephants trundle through the bush; and amongst the treetops you will frequently see the heads of Thornicroft’s giraffes snacking on the leaves. Norman Carr Safaris -- now incorporated into Time+Tide -- has five properties in South Luangwa, each one of which has a light footprint in the valley. Time+Tide Nsolo is one of the oldest camps in the region, a place of barefoot luxury besides the seasonal Luwi River. The dry riverbed is a thoroughfare for the local lion pride and there is also a wild dog den nearby, so from the night time howling to the first sighting of tracks on your morning walk, the anticipation of an up close predator viewing builds. A game drive is always a thrill, but it is during a walking safari that the hairs on the back of your neck will really stand up on end.

In this part of South Luangwa, you are quite literally walking in Norman Carr’s footsteps, often along trails that he forged. He trained his guides to notice and care about the tiniest details and to understand the symbiotic relationships between all creatures great and small. When you walk, you have the time -- and are close enough to the ground -- to see new shoots sprouting, the way that insects scurry across the dirt, and to stop and sniff dung to see if it is fresh. That’s a sure fire sign that the animal who made it has recently passed by. Your eagle eyed guide will spot and point out the smallest paw prints in the sandy soil, and when there are tracks in the mud, he can tell with great precision when they were laid. I adore walking out in the morning, when the vegetation scented air is still cool and fresh. I listen out for the chattering and chirruping of the birds, keeping my eyes peeled for the flashes of colour as they dart from one tree to the next. With no sound or vibration from a vehicle engine to alarm them, it is possible to get much closer to the birds than I would on a game drive. And this gives the guides the chance to show off their knowledge, identifying not only iconic species such as the southern carmine bee eater and my favourite, the lilac breasted roller, but also rarer species like the pretty African pitta, Allen’s gallinule, and the always well camouflaged moustached grass warbler. A walking safari can deliver an unrivalled adrenaline kick at any moment, too. I still remember the time that I was happily plodding through the bush when my guide suddenly gave the sign to stop, be quiet, and get down. I froze. What was up ahead? I had no idea, and without this intervention would undoubtedly have trundled unsuspectingly into danger.

The threat, on this occasion, was a fully grown elephant bull. He was eating his breakfast placidly enough, and hadn’t noticed us, but regardless of that I watched wide eyed. I could hear my heartbeat banging in my ears, knew my breath had quickened, and felt the tingle of terror mingled with exhilarating excitement running down my spine. There was nowhere I could run, and nothing between me and the elephant. That’s what makes a walking safari so unforgettable: it’s the chance of an encounter such as this. By the time I get back to Time+Tide Nsolo after a walk, I’m inevitably tired with exertion and the over stimulation of my senses. Breakfast is a welcome reward, and if I’ve been out separately from other guests, we’ll relive the highlights of our respective mornings, regaling each other with accounts of our most memorable sightings. There’s no WiFi or mobile signal here, and that’s a blessing in our hectic, overconnected world. I can sit out on the deck for hours at a time, undisturbed and watching giraffes wander by. Now and then there’s an elephant mother and her calf, the latter playing without a care in the world. Norman Carr found paradise in South Luangwa and thanks to his lifelong conservation efforts, this Eden is still here for us to enjoy. Sophie Ibbotson is the author of five Bradt Travel Guides, including the first guidebook to South Sudan. She travelled to Zambia with wildlife and wilderness specialists Africa Exclusive.

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ROAD TRIP

ROAD TRIP Faith Kanja sets off on an action-packed seven day road trip with the Kenya Tourism Board, covering places such as Karura Forest, Limuru, Aberdares National Park and Diani. PHOTOGRAPHS FAITH KANJA

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ur seven day trip organized by the Kenya Tourism Board encompassed a circuit around parts of Central Kenya and South Coast. We were in to discover some of Kenya’s hidden treasures that make for good weekend escapes. All set with two 4x4 touring cruisers, we were ready to explore the country. We had begun the day’s activities by taking up the famous Heritage Tour offered by the Sarova Stanley Hotel. Throughout the tour, I felt as though in a museum of sorts, taken back in time through the rich, authentic history of Nairobi’s first luxurious hotel. Did you know that the hotel’s Thorn Tree Cafe traces its roots to one of Nairobi’s first makeshift post offices? The “Tree Mail” was a centrally placed acacia tree that allowed travellers to pin mail onto its trunk! Sarova Stanley is a historical charm and definitely has a story to tell. The adventure kicked off at Karura Forest, which is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world. It is a very convenient recreational facility for individuals and families to take up trail biking, running, walking and dog-walking within the marked nature trails. There are also scenic waterfalls and caves to see, open fields to enjoy some ball games, a tennis court as well as picnic sites. Visitors can also spot a few animals within the forest such as monkeys, bush bucks, bush pigs, various bird species, some reptiles among others. After spending our first night at Brackenhurst, I was excited about our second day. I was hoping to escape the mist but the rain and cold persisted. However, being an adrenaline junkie, the activities lined up for the day had me excited. The Forest in Kereita is a superb outdoors facility offering a myriad of activities such

as ziplining, mountain biking, archery, horse riding, paint-balling, foot-golfing and camping. Few skids and falls during the trail biking added to the fun. We were in for a long drive from Limuru to the Aberdare Country Club in Nyeri where we spent our second night. The country club is set within its own wildlife sanctuary and as such it was delightful to spot baboons, antelopes and peacocks while heading to the dining area for breakfast. The lush gardens and cozy cottages set on a hill made it an ideal country getaway destination. The beauty of the property was very evident as one overlooked the Aberdare Ranges to the west and Mount Kenya to the east. I wished to have spent more time there but we had an early day planned out. Majority of the trip was characterized by rain and it was therefore not surprising to be met by a fallen tree only a few kilometres into the Aberdare National Park. A few animals did not shy away from crossing into our driveway but I felt intimidated by the massive size of the buffaloes. Huge canopies, forested gorges and massive open moorlands are characteristic of this park, making it an ideal location for mountain scenery photographers. As we drove up the hilly terrain, it was interesting to spot different types of vegetation that kept varying with the altitude. I was mostly drawn by the intriguing waterfalls situated inside the Aberdares. We visited the Chania Waterfall, Magura Falls and Queen’s cave. The majestic falls have a way of making one feel like a miniature being. For a moment I lost myself in the calming sounds of the falling water. The Karuru Falls are the largest and most popular falls inside the Aberdares but we were not fortunate to visit them on that day. Having spent a full day at the park, it was time to hit the road again and head to Nanyuki. We checked into Maiyan Villas where we would spend the next two nights. I was eager to catch a glimpse of the mountain upon waking up but it was too cloudy. Even while heading towards Timau for our day’s excursion, we were still not lucky to spot Mt. Kenya. Nonetheless, my mind was set on exploring the Ngare Ndare Forest. The Forest is set between the Borana and Lewa conservancies and it was therefore intriguing to see a number of fallen trees thanks to the elephants. Ngare Ndare is popular for its azure pools that form beneath its three main waterfalls. People can plunge into one of the pools and enjoy a nice swim. In addition, there’s a 500 metre long canopy walk. It however took a lot of convincing for some to take up the scenic walk that’s set 40 feet above the ground.

We were treated to an impromptu lunch at the Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club. I must admit this was one of the most beautiful properties I have been to. The hotel is situated inside the Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy which provides visitors with access to animals inside the orphanage. We woke up to our final Day at Maiyan Villas. Checkout was at 10:00am giving us enough time to walk around the property. Each villa has a heated plunge pool and jacuzzi and varying room suites. The resort also has a number of ball game courts, offers biking, boat rides as well as horse rides. To properly wrap up the central circuit, we were treated to the majestic views of the Mountain over breakfast. With all our heavy clothing packed very far down our bags, we were set to welcome the coastal leg of the trip. We took a connecting charter flight from Mt Kenya Airstrip to Wilson Airport before proceeding to Ukunda Airstrip. Upon arrival, we checked into the Swahili Beach Resort where we would spend the final three nights. The coastal circuit tour kicked off with a visit to the Shimba Hills National Reserve, which is Kenya’s home to the endangered sable antelope which inhabits the wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa. There are few animals in the game reserve hence the main attraction is the Sheldrick Waterfall and Nature Trail. We had to trek downhill for 2.5km in order to get there. Our ranger guided us down a trail which was dotted with mud, canopies, ants and a river crossing. Part of the trip’s highlight was removing our shoes to cross over (luckily no crocodiles). The ground was very slippery and I really hoped I would not slip into the mud. Upon arriving at the waterfalls, everyone dashed to the water like little children. We later headed to Shifoga (Shimba Hills Forest Guides Association) Cultural Village where we got to learn about the Mijikenda Culture. There’s a lot of conservation being done by the Forest Guides. We were taken through the ‘Kaya’ model and got to also witness an exorcism ritual take place. This was a nice twist to our coastal adventure; one without the beach. Our scheduled visit to Wasini island and the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park was cancelled due to bad weather. Despite it raining all day, we had a superb time at the Swahili Beach Resort. This wrapped up our activity packed expedition around the country. Wonderful memories were made and beautiful gems were discovered. Kenya is indeed a magical country. Get on the road and get exploring!

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A HIDDEN GEM IN

MALAWI Located in the Upper Shire Valley, Liwonde National Park is undoubtedly Malawi’s most spectacular wildlife viewing destination. Originally established in 1973, Liwonde has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, one that has restored it to its former glory. Maurice Schutgens returns to the park after 12 years to experience it.

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T

he memories came flooding back in a hurry. While it may have been just over a decade since I had last laid eyes on Liwonde, I still remembered the details well enough. The bumpy road to the park, the large mango trees scattered in the neighbouring villages, the humidity hanging heavy in the air. It was exhilarating. From the jetty I gazed out over the dark waters of the Shire River, the pièce de résistance of Liwonde, beautifully lined with countless towering borassus palms and ancient baobabs. And then there were the hippos, known as mvuu in the local Chichewa language, put simply - they were everywhere, grunting and groaning loudly without apology. It put a smile on my face; it was good to be back.

other like-minded organisations, I was keen to get out and explore the park and maybe, just maybe, catch a glimpse of the critically endangered black rhinos. In the late afternoon, after a long day of meetings, we set out for a game drive heading away from the lush riverine areas. The contrast couldn't have been more clear. Penetrating deep into the dry mopane woodland, occasionally broken up by a baobab, we silently scanned for wildlife. We spotted a lone young bull elephant going through the motions of dismantling a tree to the chagrin of the park management, but it was the sight of the rare sable antelope that caught our breath. Their brown and orange flanks perfectly camouflaging them in the surrounding vegetation’s neutral palette. Suddenly spooked, they sprinted across the road and disappeared into the undergrowth.

A herd of elephants waded into the shallows as we crossed over to Mvuu Camp (no rewards for guessing why), a rustic style accommodation managed by Central African Wilderness Safaris, situated on the banks of the Shire River. The core dining area, flanked between two ginormous baobabs, offered sweeping views over the floodplains teeming with life. Looking out over this scene you would be forgiven for thinking that this paradise had existed since time immemorial, but Liwonde’s journey has not been without trial and tribulation.

Come nightfall, with us happily settled in our chalets, the park once again came to life. A sign on the way to the rooms wisely informed us to ‘beware of the hippo’ who certainly have the right of way. As we tried to sleep they made their rounds grazing on the lush grass in front of our accommodation, none too quietly in their antics.

In 2015, when African Parks (a South Africa based non-profit conservation organisation) took over the management of Liwonde, in partnership with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the 548km2 park was littered with tens of thousands of wire snares and wildlife populations had been decimated. Poaching was rife and severe human-wildlife conflict was a daily occurence. Liwonde was facing an uncertain future. It is in this context that Liwonde’s transformation must be viewed. After overhauling the law enforcement capacity and constructing a comprehensive perimeter fence to regain control of the park, African Parks set about restoring Liwonde. While a small population of critically endangered black rhinos have lived in the park since the early 90s, it had long ago lost all of its apex predators. This was set to change. A small population of cheetahs were reintroduced in May 2017, a historic moment given that these cats were last documented in Liwonde over a century ago. Lions followed in August 2018. African Parks’ investment and business approach to conservation has seen a revival in tourism numbers and bolstered revenue to what is today a big-five destination. While I was in Liwonde to attend a conservation technology conference with

On our final evening in Liwonde we headed out onto the Shire River for a boat safari. Wildlife encounters are all but guaranteed, the grassy floodplains providing critical dry-season grazing. Hippos eyed us suspiciously, only their eyes showing above the water, as we glided by carefully while crocodiles basked in the heat with toothy grins. Spectacularly coloured malachite kingfishers balanced delicately on reeds in the shallows as fish eagles swooped low in the warm afternoon breeze scanning for prey. The sheer diversity of wildlife along the river was astounding. The African sky turned a soft shade of lilac as the day drew to a close. With a Malawi gin and tonic in hand we admired the most perfect of sunsets as storm clouds gathered far away on the horizon. I couldn't help but think that Liwonde National Park is one of Africa’s best kept secrets.

Hippos eyed us suspiciously, only their eyes showing above the water as we glided by, while crocodiles basked in the heat with toothy grins.

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WHAT I PACK Yvonne Endo is co-owner of Endo², a brand curated with her sister Patti to create a collection of products featuring Patti’s art. These are the travel essentials you are likely to find in her bag this holiday season. CHANEL COCO MADEMOISELLE PERFUME Easily my favorite scent. I find that a few spritzes go a long way in keeping me smelling great all day.

TOTE BAG FROM ENDO² – Tote bags really come in handy - I can throw in all my essentials, use it as a shopping bag or a fashion statement piece and easily fold it away when I’m not using it. FENTY GLOSS BOMB IN “FENTY GLOW” I used to love all things matte for my lips until I tried this gloss - plumps my lips and it’s also super moisturizing.

CANTU COCONUT CURLING CREAM - My hair can get pretty moody depending on the weather and climate, but this curling cream keeps my curls moisturised and manageable which is important when you have the volume of hair that I have.

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SAMSUNG S9+IN “MIDNIGHT BLACK” - I use my phone to take all my pictures and videos and the picture quality on this phone is amazing. I especially love capturing interiors and architecture of places I am visiting on holiday.

SUNNIES FROM MANGO They don’t just protect my eyes, they are also a statement fashion accessory and hide any evidence of long nights.


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Profile for Nomad Magazine Africa

Nomad 024 - Holiday Season