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HOT LIST ISSUE 25| DEC/JAN | FREE COPY

60 OF OUR FAVOURITE PROPERTIES OF 2019

LAKE TURKANA KITE SURFARI

HIKING MOROCCO'S HIGH ATLAS

CHEETAH CONNECTIONS


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Premium Hospitality

EMARA & Ole Sereni - Luxury Airport Hotel in Nairobi P. O Box 18187 - 00500, Nairobi, Kenya || Tel: +254 732 191 000 || Fax: +254 720 3910 400 Email: info@ole-serenihotel.com


EDITOR’S NOTE

IT’S “ZEBRA”, NOT “ZIBRA”

M

y boyfriend and I come from different countries, and while I think my pronunciation of words is pretty standard, it’s interesting the challenges we’ve been having on that front. Take for instance that time we were on safari at Meru National Park and I spotted a big cat sprawled against a low branch, scanning the area for prey. I saw it first and nudged him, but he started scanning the sky instead, binoculars on the ready, keen not to miss this ‘leobird” I was so excited about. When the tables were turned, to me, his pronunciation of “leopard” sounded like “leper”. I let him have that one, but when we came across a dazzle of zebras shortly after and he decided to change the standard pronunciation to “zibra,”, that’s where I put my foot down. “Trust me, I’m an expert. You don’t even have zebras in your country!” Sometimes when we’re out and about at a supermarket or restaurant, he’ll give up altogether when I’m talking to my fellow countrymen, because he struggles to understand the accent in a fast conversation. “Thing is, I can tell that you’re speaking in English, but I just can’t understand what’s being said!” he says. Since I’m now the girlfriend that dabbles as a personal translator in the English to English language, I can’t wait to slap him with an invoice for services rendered when his trip comes to an end. I’m keeping tabs.

It’s also interesting the things that you consider normal in your own country but someone visiting would be utterly gobsmacked by. One time we were en-route to Wilson Airport, running late as usual, and because there was heavy traffic, our Uber driver took a short-cut that led us through downtown CBD, past the Muthurwa Market area. The boyfriend suddenly went quiet in the car, gazing intently at the chaos outside, never mind that at this point he had been in Nairobi for weeks. The hive of activity outside was surprising to him; the human traffic, motorbikes jostling for space with people, a woman balancing up to 10 plastic chairs on her head, vendors selling fruits on the side of the road while encroaching onto the tarmac itself- some fast asleep in the scorching heat. I, on the other hand, was so jaded that rather than wonder how much the orange hawker who came up to our window was possibly making per day, I was just anxious to get to the airport. It’s interesting the things that other people will make you notice about your own culture. As we at Nomad wrap up with our second annual ‘Hot List’ issue, we hope you will enjoy the festive season, and while you’re at it, please watch out for those leo-birds!

Wendy Watta ON THE COVER SEGERA RETREAT

@WattaOnTheGo

NOMAD ISSUE 25 · 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 MAURICE SCHUTGENS, MARK SMELTZ, JOE WAHOME, ABIGAIL ARUNGA, SAMANTHA DU TOIT, JAMIE HOCKLEY, LUCY MUNENE CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, INDIA BULKELEY, DEEPAK SANKAR, NITIN MICHAEL, LEE-ANNE ROBERTSON, FRANCESCA HOCKLEY MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI, JANE NAITORE SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO

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NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019

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ADVERTORIAL

BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO A CLASSIC GEM

CLASSIC GEM

meeting rooms are supplementary to the Lilly and Orchid meeting rooms. Your luxury experience begins at the front in the upgraded lobby with a new arrival experience and a new parking silo with a capacity of 120 cars that includes a provision for VIP parking and the physically challenged. To complement your stay and the current Food and Beverage experience offered at the all-day Café Maghreb Restaurant, Mandhari Fine Dining Restaurant, Bambara Lounge, The Pool and Aksum Bar, a new restaurant, Herbs & Spices, opened in May 2019 offers guests an all-day diverse dining experience. The menu is influenced by Pan-Asian cultures across the world expertly crafted to take guests on a culinary journey through South-East Asia. It’s not all about the look though, your health matters and that’s why Maisha Health Club has been updated as well with the installation of new cardiovascular equipment. “We are pleased to see the evolution of the hotel to support the ever-changing needs of our guests. Service excellence is an intrinsic part of our culture, developed over the last 40 years. Enhancing the Pan-African design features, coupled with modern amenities and caring service demonstrates our commitment to meeting the expectations of our clients.” says Mr. Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Managing Director, Serena Hotels. “Through the use of unique handcrafted woodwork and motifs, water features and beautiful landscaping, we have been able to preserve our unique identity,” says Mr. Jan Mohamed. For reservations and enquiries please contact: Email Nshreservations@serena.co.ke | Tel: +254 732 123 333

N

airobi Serena Hotel is pleased to announce the completion of the ongoing refurbishment. The refurbishment is in line with Serena Hotels commitment to the continuous improvement of its product and is aligned to respond to global trends and needs of leisure and corporate clientele. The five-star hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and is well known for preserving the rich PanAfrican inspired culture expressed through its interiors and unique décor accents.

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The refurbishment program was done in two phases; phase one –north wing and phase two-south wing and includes 199 fully upgraded rooms which have doubleglazed acoustic windows, a unisex hair salon, modern Air Conditioning systems and enhanced fire and safety features in compliance with international standards. In addition to this, there are 2 private meeting rooms on the new executive 7th floor, 450 sq. metres acoustic ballroom with a capacity to hold 350 people theatre style and can break out into two separate meeting rooms (Frangipani/Allamanda) fitted with state of the art Audio Visual Equipment. These two


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CONTENTS

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In this issue 12. TOP SHOTS The Angama Foundation announces the winner and runners up of The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year 2019. 15. NEWS Kenya receives accolades at the World Travel Awards, Jambojet kicks off direct flights to Kigali while Google launches street view for 21 Kenyan parks. 17. WHATS ON From the New Year’s Eve Ball at Villa Rosa Kempinski to Kilifi New Year, find a roundup of must-attend events this season. 48. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS Award-winning travel blogger Bonita Aluoch gives us a peek inside her travel bag.

FEATURES HOT LIST 2019 Featuring up to 60 of Nomad and our reader’s top picks of properties from the past year, selected from across East Africa.

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REGULARS

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THE DAILY BAT SHOW On the dot of ten to seven, just like every day for the past few months, bats start to come out of their daily resting site in the trunk of an old fig tree and head south down the river.

CHEETAH CONNECTIONS Lions are widely reputed to be the only truly social big cat, but you’d be forgiven for questioning the traditional wisdom of this sentiment after observing cheetahs in the field for any length of time.

DISPATCH: THE ROOF OF NORTH AFRICA Maurice Schutgens travelled to Morocco to experience the romantically named “Idraren Draren”, the “Mountains of Mountains”.

A COMMUNITY’S DREAM We sent Lucy Munene on her first-ever bush escapade to Basecamp Explorer’s camp in the Masai Mara where the Enjoolata Awareness Centre was recently launched.

GLOBETROTTERS Noonoouri is a digital fashion avatar with a passion for fashion, over 330,000 followers on instagram and has worked with top-name brands like Dior. We talk to the Creative Director behind this profile, Joerg Zuber.


CONTRIBUTORS

WHICH DESTINATION HAVE THEY FOUND THEMSELVES RETURNING TO THIS PAST YEAR?

JAMIE HOCKLEY Lake Turkana Kite Surfari

ABIGAIL ARUNGA Havana-Oh-Na-Na

MARK SMELTZ Cheetah Connections

Over the course of 2019, the location that I have found myself returning to and which ranks as one of my favorite travel destinations is the Tana River Delta and Sabaki Estuary which can be found in the northern coastal province of Kenya. As the second most significant estuarine and river delta ecosystem in East Africa, the area offers a rich biodiversity of habitats and is also classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

I keep going back to Utrecht, which is a not-so-small town in the Netherlands. I like that halfway point between not-a-big-city and not-a-tiny-village‌you get the scenic walks through beautiful parks, the continental and traditional cuisines without the price tag and the warmth of a people not yet overtaken by a more intense version of capitalism. It's beautiful in the summer but almost even more beautiful when it's grey with rain.

Although there are other reserves in Kenya which are perhaps more intimate, or experience less visitor traffic and therefore offer a quieter wilderness experience, I find myself returning to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The sheer spectacle of the Mara is unmatched even by its southern neighbor, the Serengeti. Cheetah fans in particular had a banner year in 2019 here, with active coalitions and unusually large litters of cubs. I know I’ll be back for 2020.

INDIA BULKELEY Top Shots

LUCY MUNENE Base Camp

MAURICE SCHUTGENS Dispatch

This year I found myself returning twice to the Lamu Archipelago. There are many aspects that I love about this area of Kenya including the architecture, history and Swahili culture. It's a great place to explore again and again as each island has its own unique character and culture. On my last trip we were even lucky enough to witness turtle hatching on Manda island with the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust. It is truly a perfect place to photograph. I can't wait for my next trip!

This past year has involved a lot more travelling than I am used to but more than anything, I have enjoyed rediscovering Mombasa, Diani and Lamu. Walking around following Google Maps (and getting lost sometimes) helped me discover new spots to eat while marveling at cultural and historical sites I don't get to see during regular tours. I'm hoping to explore Kilifi, Malindi and other coastal towns and get a little bit lost in them too.

One of my favourite destinations is Samburu National Reserve. I love the drive, dropping down the plateau into the wide open expanse of northern Kenya. Here, you are guaranteed to have wildlife encounters usually elephants but more often than not, predators as well. With my tent set up on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro and watching elephants come to drink, the experience is magical.

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The Angama Foundation is proud to announce Lee-Anne Robertson as the winner of The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year 2019, for her image “Juxtaposition”, of a lioness with a wildebeest in her jaws. Lee-Anne was awarded the grand prize – a fivenight safari for two at Angama Mara with return flights from Nairobi, and US$10,000 in cash. Lee-Anne’s guide, Joseph Njapit of Zebra Plains Mara Camp together with guides Daudi Ledukan of Naibor Camp and Leshan Sayialel of Talek Bush Camp also won all-expenses-paid trips to the UK to watch Premier League football. The competition ran from January through October 2019 and received close to 1,000 entries over the course of 10 months. The 10 finalists of 2019 will be on display for the next 12 months at the Kenya Airways lounge at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Acclaimed wildlife photographers, Art Wolfe, Federico Veronesi, Michael Poliza, Nisha Purushothaman and Adam Bannister judged the entries, with Federico commending the photographer for successfully capturing the essence of such a dramatic moment with a lot of dignity in a powerful shot with a strong message. The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year competition encourages the creation and submission of beautiful imagery to showcase the Maasai Mara as a year-round wildlife destination, raising the profile of wildlife photographers and supporting conservation initiatives in the process. With the support of the entry fees and the success of these exhibitions, more than US$83,000 was handed out by the Angama Foundation to the Anne K. Taylor Fund, the Maa Trust, the Mara Elephant Project, the Mara Conservancy and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, more than five times the amount raised in 2018s. Entries for the 2020 competition open on January 1st, 2020. Photographs must have been taken in the Maasai Mara within the preceding 12 months.

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TOP SHOTS JUXTAPOSITION (WINNER 2019) By Lee-Anne Robertson Instagram @flerrieoo7 Life and death are in close proximity here and are very powerfully conveyed, especially with the direct gaze of the lioness, she being so powerful and alive, with the wildebeest lifeless, a gaze of death in its eye. Taken in the Maasai Mara, a lioness took down this wildebeest in front of us. It was the first hunt I had witnessed and I was amazed at the speed and strength of this lioness. It was all over in a few minutes. Later on the rest of the pride joined her, a few other lioness and lots of cubs.

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NEWS & EVENTS

The prestigious 2019 World’s Leading Safari Destination award went to Kenya during the World Travel Awards ceremony held in Muscat, Oman. Mahali Mzuri Camp in the Maasai Mara was crowned World’s Leading Safari lodge. Other awards scooped by Kenya included Africa’s Leading Destination, Africa’s Leading Beach Destination and Africa’s leading Tourist Board. Nairobi was voted Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination while Kenya Airways received the Africa’s Leading Business and Economy Class Airline award. Finch Hattons Camp won Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp. KTB CEO Dr. Betty Radier said that the win was testament to the fact that tourists and business people across the globe prefer Kenya to other destinations because it offers a myriad of safari travel opportunities. Kenya has also been chosen to host the Africa and Indian Ocean World Travel Awards Gala Ceremony in 2020, which will offer further boost for destination Kenya.

EA TOURISM & HOSPITALITY EXPO 2020 The EA Tourism & Hospitality Expo is the largest travel expo in East Africa, offering the ideal platform for B2B meetings between leading African products and top-producing global buyers. The expo will be a platform which connects all stakeholders for each to capitalize the opportunities for their own utilities. The event is estimated to engage at least 400+ exhibitors and 5,000 attendees from the travel industry globally and in this region, over 3,000 of these being trade visitors (buyers). The Expo will be taking place from 24th to 26th Jan 2020 at the Ushirika Stadium, Moshi Urban, Tanzania. www.mikonoexpogroup.com

GOOGLE LAUNCHES STREET VIEW FOR 21 KENYAN PARKS You can now take virtual tours of Kenya’s myriad of national parks after giant Google launched its street view feature on maps for 21 national parks and one conservancy. Visitors are increasingly going online to scout for potential destinations, hence the advantage of the preview offered by the virtual imagery. The virtual map captures 360-degree ground-level imagery, enabling users to remotely explore landmarks and park features, which will work as a marketing tool for the destinations. Some of the parks are the Samburu National Reserve, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Amboseli, Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, Mount Kenya, Hell’s Gate and Tsavo National Parks, as well as Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

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Image courtesy www.grandnairobirace.co.ke

KENYA RECEIVES ACCOLADES AT THE WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS


The best value... ...under the sun Medina Palms, Watamu has set a new benchmark in luxury accommodation on the Kenyan Coast. Beach Villas and Penthouses with private plunge pools, or one and two bedroom fully-contained suites, this is the ideal destination for the perfect family holiday. The only Five Star Hotel on the North Coast offers a wide range of facilities including the Africology Spa, a fitness centre, water sports centre, Kid’s Club and a business centre with spacious meeting rooms. And our wining and dining options are simply unsurpassed. Get in touch to book your dream holiday today. Email: reservations@medinapalms.com Call +254 (0) 718 152 999 Take a virtual tour: www.medinapalms.com

WATAMU THE PLACE TO VISIT

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SAFARILINK NEWS CODESHARE AGREEMENT WITH KENYA AIRWAYS Safarilink, Kenya's premier safari airline has signed an agreement with the national Carrier, Kenya Airways that will see Safarilink connect Kenya Airways passengers to different tourist destinations in Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya Airways will partner with Safarilink on the following destinations; eleven airstrips in Maasai Mara and direct flights to Amboseli, Diani,kapese, Kitale, Lewa Downs, Loisaba,Migori, Samburu, Lamu, Zanzibar, Ukunda, Vipingo, Kilimanjaro, Tsavo West, Samburu, 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 connect travellers from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Wilson Airport and eventually to their respective safari destinations. This will be a great convenience to them. The agreement was signed on 3rd November 2019 .Safarilink offers daily seamless interconnecting services from Safari destinations to our beach destinations such as Zanzibar, Diani Beach, Vipingo and Lamu.

SAFARILINK HOSTED THE 6TH AVIASSIST TRAINING IN AFRICA Safarilink hosted the 6th AviAssist Training on Flight Data Monitoring. This was the first AviAssist training in Kenya and also the Second Aviation Training on Mental Health in Africa. The Training is organized by the AviAssist Foundation, which is an independent, international, and impartial non-profit that exists to champion the cause of aviation safety in Africa. The Safety trainings in Nairobi scheduled to run between 4-11 November 2019 covered courses in Flight Data Monitoring, Aviation mental health, Crew Resource Management, Human Factors in Aviation as well as Flight Operations Management- Dispatch. AviAssist aims at providing effective and affordable safety support to the African aviation industry.

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SAFARILINK JOINS THE UNITED FOR WILDLIFE TASKFORCE Safarilink joined the United For Wildlife Transport Taskforce in adopting a zero tolerance policy towards all illegal wildlife trade. The recent East Africa meeting of United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the transportation of illegal wildlife products hosted by Kenya Airways welcomed two new members, Safarilink and JamboJet. In addition, the transport companies committed to increase passenger, customer, client, and staff awareness about the nature, scale, and consequences of illegal wildlife trade as well as mechanisms to detect potential shipments of suspected illegal wildlife and their products.

ARRIVAL

FROM

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DEPARTURE

091

Maasai Mara

Diani / Mombasa

1430

1645

092

Diani / Mombasa

Maasai Mara

0815

1030

FLIGHT NO.

SAFARILINK ATTAINS ISSA CERTIFICATION Safarilink Aviation is now on the ISSA registry after successfully completing the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) designed for commercial airlines. Safarilink was awarded this prestigious mark of quality certificate during the IATA Regional Aviation Forum that took place on September 17, 2019 in Nairobi. The IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) Program is an evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an Operator and also to extend the benefits of operational safety and efficiency that emanated from the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Program for operators of aircraft below 5,700Kg maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) who are not eligible for the IOSA program.

INTRODUCTION OF NEW ROUTE AND ADDITIONAL FLIGHTS After a busy high season, Safarilink seeks to make some operational changes in 2020. A new fleet service has been introduced : Masai Mara - Coast effective from 16 June 2020. These flights will operate in high seasons only. Additional Flights between Wilson and Maasai Mara will be introduced to enable clients from Kilimanjaro to connect to Masai Mara. In Mara we have some time changes and we also have additional flights during the high season.


SAFARILINK CSR AITONG ANNUAL MEDICAL CAMP 2019 has been a great year for our community in Aitong as we ran our 8th successful free medical camp between 29th and 31st October 2019 at in the northern Mara. The Medicalcamp is hosted at the Aitong Medical Centre and a total of 961 patients were seen and treated free of charge by our group of volunteer doctors from Kenya and oversees. This brings the total number of patients treated since inception to over 5,400. The medical camp is organized by the Land and Life Foundation who donate medical supplies. Safarilink, a kind partner on this project, donate free flights to the participating doctors and the Foundation’s Staff. Other key sponsors of this project include Kicheche Camps and Kicheche Community Trust, Elephant Pepper Camp, Saruni Mara, Mara North Conservancy and Oasis Healthcare. A volunteer team of medical professionals from Oasis Healthcare give free consultations and treatment. Essential screening for cervical and prostate cancer‚ HIV/ Aids‚ and diabetes were conducted‚ as well as general medical consultations‚ orthopedic consultations‚ dental work and pediatrics. The Land and Life Foundation is committed to ensuring communities living alongside wildlife receive tangible benefits from wildlife tourism. This year, the Angama Foundation and Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) came on board to support us in cash and in kind. This is a clear indication that our visibility and impacts are now being felt more than ever.

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TREE PLANTING IN MT KENYA Safarilink partners with Mt Kenya Trust in an afforestation program that also serves as the airline’s carbon offset program. Through this program‚ Safarilink became the first local airline to be carbon neutral. The ten year partnership has seen Safarilink support the Mt Kenya Trust in planting about 8‚000 tree seedlings annually. Safarilink also supports by giving discounted and free tickets to MKT management whenever it is practicable for MKT work between Nairobi and Nanyuki. Since 2009‚ with support from Safarilink‚ the Mt Kenya Trust has planted over 5000 seedlings within Irangi and 13‚5000 seedlings at Ontulili Forest station site. The Trust had been working with women groups at the Irangi site since 2003‚ but support from Safarilink allowed for planting work to start of the Ontulili Forest station site by engaging two new women’s groups and working with local Kenya Forest Service forester in the area. Through Safarilink support‚ a training trip was organized for the Onyulili Women group members to visit and learn from the Irangi groups. The Ontulili women and Kianjogu Mwanzo Womens Groups received new nursery equipment and planted most of the seedlings at the new site between 2011 and 2013. Additional equipment has also been purchased for a group in the sirimon area to expand the planting areas.


NOTES FROM THE BUSH

THE DAILY BAT SHOW

‘It is almost time; quick or we will miss the bats!’ came the cry from the lawn as we grabbed our drinks and headed for the river. By Samantha du Toit

T

rue to form, on the dot of ten to seven, just like every day for the past few months, bats started to come out of their daily resting site in the trunk of an old fig tree and head south down the river. We watched as one or two of the first pioneers turned into a steady trickle and then ultimately, what looked like a waterfall of treacle, cascaded out of the hole. The bats seemed to launch out, drop a few feet and then open their wings to regain height and fly off together towards the wetlands. Not being experts on bats by any means, we hypothesised as to whether they were fruit bats, preferred to eat insects or were possibly even ‘vampires’ as our son Taru seemed to like to imagine. What we did know was that they somehow knew how

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to keep very accurate time, and that our bedtime was their day time. Sometime during the night when they had done everything that they had set out to do, they would all find their way back to the same hole in the same tree at the same place along the river to rest as we swam and splashed around beneath. Aside from holes in trees, the children had also learned that some bats loved hanging upside down in any roof they can find. They had seen them in the tall thatched roofs of the nearby research centre, in the schools and local shops. Here they were not so welcome as they tended to leave their droppings all over the floor or on unfortunate visitors who may have lingered around too long. Around the camp are also the aptly named yellow-winged bats that tend to live more solitary lives, and are seen more in the daytime, the sun shining through their

beautiful yellow wings as they flit about in the trees. Knowing bats in this setting it was with some amazement that, while on a short trip back to Nairobi, we happened across our first neighbourhood Halloween party. The children were surprised to see bats as a common theme, but were equally surprised by the other, in many ways disturbing, symbols of skulls, cauldrons and ghosts. Most questions were quickly replaced by the fun of buckets full of sweets and treats, of which no questions were asked I noticed. Returning to camp we were saddened to find out, as we sat down to watch the daily bat show, that the bats had moved on. Where to or why, or whether they will be back are questions yet to be answered, but it has taught us how little we really know about the diverse and fascinating natural world around us.


HAPPY

Holidays! www.mbh.co.ke

info@mbh.co.ke

+254 729 403 697


THE TRAVELLING

AVATAR

Noonoouri is an activist with a passion for fashion, over 330,000 followers on instagram and has worked with top-name brands like Dior, Burberry and Marc Jacobs, traversing the globe in the process. She however only exists online. We talk to the Creative Director behind this digital fashion avatar, Joerg Zuber. By Joe Wahome

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GLOBETROTTERS

How did your trip to Kenya come to be? I met Jochen Zeitz, the owner of Segera Retreat at the Suzy Menkes Condé Nast Luxury conference in South Africa. He first heard about Noonoouri as I was presenting her on stage. We talked about how we could collaborate, and he then invited me to Kenya. I was fascinated by his vision and how he gives people hope and a future; being respectful of nature and animals while trying to find new ways to educate and motivate people to do the same. What was your most memorable experience in Kenya? Definitely the untouched nature and animals. I saw elephants, which are my favorite wildlife. The people I met were so open hearted people. We went to a Samburu village and I was touched by the simplicity of it all. They may seem to have so little to someone from a big city, yet they have so much and are happy and content with life. I enjoyed their dance so much. What inspires you to travel? People, cultures, traditions - as curiosity is one of Noonoouri's main core values, she wants to know about everything, and so do. Noonoouri has met almost every A-Lister in the world, from Kim Kardashian to Lewis Hamilton. What were those experiences like? I believe her no-fear-approach gives her access to those top celebrities. She wants to support with ‘cuteness, curiosity and quality’. At first glance one can see that she is not real, but she can grab the attention in a very nice, playful and never-seenbefore style. Meeting her two main muses when I was drawing her was definitely incredible: Naomi Campbell, her grace and otherworldliness, and Kim Kardashian, the face of social media who changed the way of communicating and interacting in the digital age. Endless possibilities are now open. How is the creative process for Noonoouri and how long does it take to get the image? A still post takes around three days to produce. First the topic is set, either related to travel and events or in tribute to a special person or day. Then the story is set. What do we want to communicate? What is the right pose/ body language, hair and makeup and of course finding the right outfit which has to be adopted to her body while respecting the original cut of the designer. Is it a photographed background or a 3D generated one? Then the pose has to be rendered in 3D, and since we can never adopt or reuse something, it is all done from scratch. The speed at which the eyes blink and every floating hair has to be carefully animated, and her body language has to be spot on.

What is your background? I am a creative person by heart. I started to draw and design when I was five. The first magazine I got at this time was Vogue, so my roots are deeply related to this world. After school I worked as an apprentice in an advertising agency. Afterwards I worked as a freelance designer and set up my own studio in 2001. I never studied this in school...I am self-taught. Last year you spent about 160 days travelling across the world, and this year it could be even more. What are some of your favorite destinations that you have been to so far? Iceland was really impressive. Kauai in the Hawaii archipelago was lovely as there are so many untouched areas. I love New York as this is a true man-made jungle. Africa, too, because it is the cradle of mankind. What's your favorite thing to do in a new town? I love to explore the city by walking or biking. I am not a self-driving person. I want to step/dive into the city and feel the vibe of the local people. How they talk, dress, what they eat, are they hectic or relaxed... Which destinations are currently on your bucket list? India because of the street food and culture, Rwanda because of the gorillas, New Zealand because of the scenery. Who are some of the African designers you have worked with and are you looking to work with any Kenyan designers? Absolutely – I have on numerous occassions worked with African designers such as Thebe Magugu, Laduma, Rich Mnisi, Marianne Fassler – I made contact with Kenya-based designer Wandia Gichuru. I am always curious to know about new cultures. What’s the weirdest collaboration offer you have ever received? When I was in South Africa for the aforementioned luxury conference, a journalist asked if I could put Noonouri next to Nelson Mandela for a picture to be published. I told him that technically I could, but this is not the idea about Noonoouri; I want to be respectful and authentic. She never met Mandela and this would be a rude way of getting the wrong attention. Noonoouri is digital but I try to give her an authentic life and only put her next to people I actually met in reality. What do you always carry when travelling? Cellphone, power bank, credit card and my Leica and Sony Alpha cameras.

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HAVANA OH-NA-NA The summary is, if you like old cars, good dancing, reggaeton, rum, cigars and breathtaking architecture, go to Cuba, writes Abigail Arunga PHOTOGRAPHS: MAGUNGA WILLIAMS

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KENYAN TRAVELER

W

hen the wheels of the plane touched the runway of Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, I immediately started to cry. I was overwhelmed. It had been a long journey, and every step of the way, I had yearned, for reasons unbeknownst to myself, to go to Cuba. My visa had been denied at the embassy in Kenya, and I had to appeal. A visa denied, as writer Jackson Biko so eloquently put it a couple of years ago, is traumatizing to the soul. It makes you question your worth. It makes you question your bank balance. It makes you question whether you should have worn a dress instead of jeans to go be rejected. Maybe if they had seen flowers, it would have made them a little bit more amenable? But I got the visa. Then, there was the journey. Six hours to Istanbul, then 14 hours in the now refurbished airport there. Was I supposed to get a hotel? Yes. Did they forget to tell me that I needed a transit visa to access the hotel? Yes. Was it in the terms and conditions for my ticket with the airline? No. You can tell why I was weeping by the time the plane landed. Because Istanbul to Havana is a 14-hour flight, I had been travelling for 34 hours. My last flight was next to an old lady who I could not bear asking to move so I could go to the bathroom, so I stood up a total of one time to go pee. Hoping the drama was over, I leapt into immigration joyfully, already approving of

the miniskirts and fishnet stockings all the ladies at customs seemed to wear – until the lady who stamped my passport wasn’t stamping my passport, but instead, called over her supervisor. 45 minutes later, after umpteen questions on where I was going, where I was from, who I worked for over there (I was scared to say journalist, but I figured, this is Cuba, they’ll find out anyway), which cities I was planning to visit (Varadero, Cienfuegos, Trinidad de Cuba and Viñales, in no particular order), they finally let me loose. And now I was actually, truly, freely and legally in Havana. Havana. If that word does not conjure up pictures of dramatic dancing, cigar smoke, a splash of dictatorship and constantly good weather, then I must not have said it loud enough. HAVANA! I just really wanted to go – I just wanted to see what it was like. I was enraptured with the romance of a place I had never seen, but it exceeded my every expectation. I expected it to be good, but not spectacular. Not like this. The summary is, if you like old cars, good dancing, free spirits and breathtaking architecture, go to Cuba. I remember as soon as I got into the AirBnB, I left again, just so I could walk on the streets and people watch, and figure out where to get Wi-Fi, like the Kenyan I am. Cuba doesn’t have Wi-Fi at every home (Kenyans are so spoilt) – they have it in public parks, and you have to buy a card with minutes on it, like a scratch card, and then go to a park to use it. The cards also run out at a certain point, and expire if you use them in a different city. After the rest of my travelling party landed, and after they went through their interrogation as well, we set about planning our itinerary for the next two weeks. These are the highlights: Perfect breakfasts. Dancing in Fabrica*

under a full moon with sweaty bodies whose names you don’t know, then buying yet another drink to do it all again. Walking through a hallowed cemetery with such pristinely sculpted tombs that you think there’s no way these people love the dead this much – and then when you pass a 45 metre tall tombstone, you realize they do, and not just because the first president’s parents are buried there. Having a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio – the one in Trinidad, because the one in Havana is a tourist trap – and writing your name on the visitor’s wall, next to the portraits of all the famous people. Being surrounded by art on walls from a revolution that has passed, and from one still waiting to happen. Riding horses through a tobacco farm, and learning how to roll cigars from a wizened uncle who looks very tired of the fifth group of tourists he’s seen today. More dancing. More rum. A lot of rum. A lot of guavas, and guava juice, squeezed from the juiciest plumpest pinkest guavas you’ve ever had the pleasure to taste. More dancing – this time in a little town square where everyone and their whole families come to dance too, and reggaeton is blaring from a speaker in the corner as couples salsa, whirring. Strolling along the Malecón – the biggest road in Havana, closest to the Atlantic Ocean, whose address is simply, 1, watching people pour out of their houses to watch the sunset – and use the Wi-Fi spot. Weaving in and out of museums that smell like an age ago, with spirits still there. Climbing to the top of the hill where ‘Cuban Jesus’ overlooks Havana – they call him so, because instead of holding his arms outstretched, one hand looks like it’s holding a cigar, and the other looks like it is holding a glass of Havana Club. Riding in those convertibles you see in the movies, bright pink with leather seats and a driver called Andy, to the revolution square where Castro and Che Guevara's faces tower above. Having your fortune read by a Santeria holy woman, and attending a religious ceremony unlike anything Christianity has ever seen before. And more rum. Though if I am being honest, the experience is heady enough for you to not need any more intoxication. At the end of the trip, I was intoxicated enough to swear that I would return to this land. When it was time to leave Havana, when every last penny in my pocket had been claimed by Cuba, including my rent, when I knew that the romance wouldn’t be the same long distance and by the time I came back, something else, something more, would have changed…I cried again.

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THE NAY PALAD BIRD NEST, SEGERA

Built alongside a river teeming with wildlife, it offers a unique concept of nesting and sleeping like a bird – set above the ground, with a 360 degree birds-eye-view of this beautiful wilderness. In the evening, the nest is lit up with lanterns, with champagne and culinary delights laid out on the open-air nest​​ ready for the night ahead. Enjoy ​a magical African sunset, feast on a picnic-style dinner and can fall asleep under the sparkling African sky. www.segera.com

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FEATURE FARU FARU LODGE

Singita Faru Faru’s relaxed approach to luxury forms a golden thread throughout this easy-going lodge in the heart of the Serengeti. Its contemporary African décor and design and close-up views of a busy waterhole alongside the Grumeti River invite continuous connections with nature, while vast outdoor decks, an interactive kitchen and multiple airy enclaves for dining add personality to every meal. The café-style bar hums with a subtle sparkle that spills over to the pool area and firepit, making for magical evenings under starlit skies. www.singita.com.

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HOT LIST Houses 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. There is a large master bedroom 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. Siriane guest house, nestled among the fig trees, was initially constructed by Italian Prisoners of War during the mid 1930’s and has two spacious en-suite rooms. www.ajabuhouse.com

KIMANA HOUSE

This is a beautiful self-catering four-bedroom home set on the banks of a river, and can comfortably sleep eight people. Surrounded by Yellow Fever trees, this secluded area of the sanctuary is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday in the bush. It has a wonderful on-site manager who can help with housekeeping and washing-up. Kimana Sanctuary is yours to explore by vehicle from the house, and for those wanting to venture further afield, Amboseli National Park is only a forty five minute drive away. www.kimanasanctuary.com

COZY POINT HOMES

In this charming, owner-run villa, there is a striking painting by the artist Giampaolo Tomasi who portrays the head of the Mijikenda tribe, seats made from traditional dhows, Armando Tanzini sculptures, Indian fabrics and objects, the Italian taste of Lalla Spagnoll's decor, and more. Six guests can occupy the main house which has three spacious rooms. There are two spacious verandahs and a big swimming pool coupled with a pool deck which would be great for practising yoga. www.cozypointhomes.com

PELICAN HOUSE

Overlooking the serene Pelican Dam, this cosy self-catering cottage sleeps eight, but can sleep 12 on request. Located in the east of the conservancy, it is within easy reach of some of Ol Pejeta’s best wild experiences including the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The Pelican Dam is frequently visited by a variety of wildlife, especially in the dry season. The verandah looks out over the tranquil water and is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast with the dawn chorus, or a well-deserved sundowner after a day’s safari. www.olpejetaconservancy.org

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HOT LIST Places We’ve Stayed NDONGORO LOG CABIN,

This self-catering log cabin sleeps eight people in four comfortable rooms. It sits in a beautiful glade on the lower slopes of Mt Kenya near a large waterfall and the Ragati River. It is spacious with a large sitting room, dining room, a fireplace, and a fully equipped kitchen opening to a large verandah overlooking the surrounding greenery. This is your ultimate eco-lodge, built entirely from sustainable materials and using sustainable methods to collect water and generate electricity. It can be reached by 4×4. www.ragati.com

TAWI LODGE

Tawi Lodge sits just 10 minutes away from Amboseli National Park’s eastern entrance. It has a heated pool, four lounges, two bars, a fireplace, restaurant which often has a daily set menu as well as a small library. Set in a 6,000 acre community conservancy, there are 13 luxury cottages, and the breakfast table is set under the shade of a giant tortilis tree overlooking the waterhole which, depending on the season, is frequented by numerous wildlife. Sundowners overlooking Mt Kilimanjaro are recommended. www.tawilodge.com

OLEPANGI FARM

It has five cottages including the impressive Round House with a bedroom on its upper floor and an outdoor bathtub. The farm does all of its own water harvesting and rooms are solar powered. Each morning, take in the sheer beauty of the Lolldaigas. Food is organically grown in their own garden. The decor was curated over the years by the owners on their travels, and a favourite spot is the grass thatched Party House where bohemian maximalism is at play. Horse riding is available. www.olepangifarm.com

SHEPHERD’S HUT’S 100 YEAR OLD HOUSE

The 100 Year Old House was originally built in 1912 in Hurlingham in Nairobi and was going to be demolished, so in December 2018, it was purchased and moved piece by piece here to Nanyuki, preserving a little of Kenya’s History and a great new asset to One Stop Nanyuki’s Shepherd’s Huts. The house took many months to rebuild but is finally complete. It has three bedrooms, a kitchen, verandah and a sitting area with a fireplace. A private garden surrounds it. www.onestopnanyuki.com

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HOT LIST In-House Picks SILVERPALM SPA & RESORT

With 38 rooms, this grand contemporary Swahili style resort sets the benchmark for chic luxury accommodation along the coast. A grand pool winds its way around the midsection of the resort which majestically sits on a cliff overlooking the sea. With most of the rooms, one can step right from the terrace of the living room and into the pool. There are two restaurants and bars offering everything from fresh seafood, wood-fired pizzas, cocktails and a teppanyaki grill. www.silverpalmkilifi.co.ke SAMAWATI HOUSE,

This spot has a distinct North African and Mediterranean flair. Families and honeymooners while away the day by the main pool which stretches across the length of the hotel, culminating in an infinity pool overlooking the sea. Choose from 50 units ranging from cozy one-bedroom apartments to palatial fivebedroom villas. Meals can be enjoyed at Amandina Restaurant or under the moon by the pool, beach or garden. www. medinapalms.com

TEMPLE POINT RESORT

On the site of an ancient temple whose ruins still stand on the headland today, Temple Point is set in sweeping tropical gardens that expand across the whole promontory. The 100 rooms are housed in 20 thatched bungalows and all have modern amenities and views of the enclosed botanical garden or Mida Creek. Also on site are snack bars, restaurant, spa, gym, boutique, conference centre and floodlit tennis courts. For health and retreat enthusiasts, check out their website for upcoming retreats. www.templepointresort.com

KIJANI HOTEL

Kijani’s history started in the early 1980’s; eccentric explorer and famous hunter, Bunny Allen, found passion in transforming ancient ruins into beautiful homes using the typically Swahili architectural influences. Every room here therefore offers unique views with locally crafted Swahili decor throughout. Dine at the open-air bar and restaurant which offers spectacular views over the Taqwa channel. Watch the local fishermen and white lateen sails whistle by as you indulge in the splendid seafood platter or sip on a punchy tropical cocktail. www.kijani-lamu.com

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HOT LIST

Nairobi Hotels SAROVA STANLEY

It launched into Kenyan history in 1902 by becoming the first luxury hotel in Nairobi and the gracious host to prominent world leaders and celebrities. Sarova Stanley retains much of its historical charm while offering all the luxuries and amenities of a five-star hotel. Towering high up on the 8th floor is the charismatic and chic 1902 Club Lounge. With it comes a promise of personalized business solutions; exclusive boardroom access, specialized concierge services, whole day refreshments and city sundowners to wind down your day. www.sarovahotels.com

TRIBE HOTEL

The hotel is softly lit with warm colours, and boasts a good steakhouse called Jiko. The standard rooms are spacious – some with a bath, others are shower only – and adorned with colourful artworks. The tribal theme plays out across the hotel which has some 900 pieces from around the continent. There’s a library with 3,000 books, a stone table on a raised deck in the pool if the idea of dining with water lapping around your feet appeals, and Kaya spa. www.tribe-hotel.com

KAREN COUNTRY CLUB RESIDENCES The Karen Country Club is a family oriented club founded in 1937 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya. Tucked away in a pleasant forested area overlooking the second hole of the golf course, The Residences at Karen embody comfort, luxury and serenity, perfect for any getaway. You will wake up to the vast bird life chirping away welcoming the morning. Created for use by members and their guests, The Residences host six - two bedroom cottages and twelve apartment suites. www.karencountryclub.org

MOVENPICK HOTEL

With 276 spacious rooms, suites and residences, this hotel charms with its African design, uplifting atmosphere, open spaces, cool features and panoramic views. Dine in the spectacular 360-degree revolving restaurant that complements two more restaurants, two bars and a lobby lounge. Chill out at the pool, relax in the spa and in the gym. More than a dozen modern meeting rooms, a spacious ballroom and large exhibition hall make this a great option for conferences and events in Nairobi. www.movenpick.com

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GOLD LIST

RHINO RIVER CAMP, MERU NATIONAL PARK TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY: WENDY WATTA

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T

he AirKenya plane flies in a loop above the dirt runway three times, unable to land instantly, because giraffes are lounging on the path; we are certainly not in Nairobi anymore. Shortly after, we hit the road for Rhino River Camp which sits on 80 acres of privately owned wilderness right on the edge of Meru National Park. The drive there takes some 80 minutes, made the more slower by guinea fowls which seem to enjoy ‘jogging’ on the road right in front of us like traffic police keen to keep us in that sweet spot of 10kmph. Meru National Park is thriving this time of the year; lush and green. The sky clears up and we see Mt Kenya’s snow-capped peak standing tall in the distance. A leopard is sprawled on a low-hanging branch, perhaps scanning the surrounding tall grass for his next meal. It slinks into the bushes when it spots us. The most vibrant yellow butterflies flit between mounds of animal dung on the brown earth, and I could wax lyrical about that contrast. Moments after checking into our room, I am lying on my back gazing out in wonder through the rolled-up flaps of our semipermanent tent which is raised on stilts and positioned on a wooden deck. I imagine that I am at the cinema enjoying a panoramic view of the greenest vegetation, with the soothing sound of the river streaming past as the soundtrack; the entire scene is covered by trees as far as the eyes can see, with numerous bird species flitting from branch to branch. The decor within this treehouse-ofsorts is understated and our river-facing tent is one of five, with two others being purely nestled into the forested folds of the property. This is the kind of spot that conjures descriptions like ‘secluded and serene’. My boyfriend and I take the wooden walkway leading from our room, strolling hand-in-hand along a narrow path thick with foliage, to the common area which should henceforth be

described as nothing short of ‘an arena of relaxation’. There is an open-faced restaurant, a chess piece laid out under a tree if you’re up to the challenge, a living area with comfortable sofas to lounge in and a little library in whose comfortable sofas you can sink into with a book. This entire lounge is spread across a raised ground and a path leads down to a pool which sits smack in the middle of a forested area. Right in front of it, a river rushes past, cascading over a huge rock to create a mini-waterfall. The scene is reminiscent of Bali, and right after lunch, we spend the rest of the day pottering around the pool well into the evening. Thereafter, we huddle around a campfire whose logs are ever so often adjusted by a nightguard. Wrapped in towels and still dripping wet from the swim, the night is spent sipping gin & tonics, watching glow worms, holding hands, chatting and trying not to fall asleep. It is the three course dinner that ultimately does me in; a carrot soup with warm freshly baked bread, rice with pan fried fish and vegetables and a delectable slice of pie for dessert.

during which we encounter a herd of elephants wallowing in the shallows. Reticulated giraffes prance around like supermodels at Meru Fashion Week. Several sightings later, our car comes to a stop at a signpost (for a viewpoint) where an Eastern pale chanting goshawk is standing on one long leg, upright, as though keeping watch. Peterson, our guide, sets up a bush breakfast at scenic gorge and just as we begin to dig in, monkeys come crawling out of the woodworks as though calling dibs on the spoils. The ground is muddy following the bouts of rain the previous night, and perhaps wearing white sneakers wasn’t the best idea. The boyfriend, stuck on the notion that we might be ambushed by a lion, scans the area with one eye while the other calculates the next bite of his sandwich. It is cool at this viewpoint which is accessorized even more so by doum palm trees lined along the riverbank. Soon, we pack all our trash and leave for the park’s rhino sanctuary which lies on the western boundary and where about 40 white and 20 black rhinos roam freely.

We are off at 6:00am the next morning for a game drive

Rhino River Camp has been around for about nine years

and was until very recently individually owned, but is now under the management of Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps who have been running it for barely two months. The plan is to expand their circuit to Meru National Park, in addition to the camps in Ol Pejeta and Ol Kinyei Conservancies, Maasai Mara as well as Nairobi and Amboseli National Parks. Going on such a safari circuit enables travelers to visit more than one camp under Porini’s portfolio, but an itinerary can also include a specific property for the domestic traveler. With Rhino River Camp, Porini’s plan coming in is to do some renovations, refurbish the space and upgrade the quality of service offered by the staff, most of whom stayed on when the camp changed ownership. The room we stayed in will now be the honeymoon suite, aptly so, as it comes with a small separate room where we got massages accompanied by a soothing biophony. Perfect for families, there are two family tents and an array of other activities including walking safaris, short hill hikes crowned with sundowners, fishing in the park and more. www.porini.com

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HOT LIST Family OLARE MARA KEMPINSKI

Surrounded by rolling savannah across which wanders a glorious pageant of wildlife, this exclusive tented camp blends the welcome, simplicity and vibrancy of Masaai culture with the opulence of a five-star experience. It has twelve tents, a central lounge and dining area, a tented bar set deep within a forested glade and a shaded swimming pool. Meanwhile, action includes campfire cocktails, sundowners on the plains, game drives, guided walks, balloon safaris, horse-riding and a colourful range of cultural interaction. www.kempinski.com

KOBE SUITE RESORT

The exclusive collection of suites here are designed with both an Italian elegance and authentic Swahili flair. Garden View suites are tucked in the luscious gardens and overlook the main swimming pool of the property, while the highly-sought after sea top-class suites are sea facing. There are two swimming pools and a popular bar and restaurant which also face the sea and a wellness spa to help you relax. It’s a great base from which to explore the marine pack and enjoy an array of family-friendly activities around town. www.kobesuiteresort.com.

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. Owned by the Planhotel Hospitality Group which has stunning properties around Africa and the Maldives, there is an ‘animation team’ to keep the entire family entertained or to look after the little ones as the adults go for a massage at Mvua African Rain Spa followed by a soothing dip in the thalassotherapy center. www.sandies-resorts.com

LOLDIA HOUSE

With stunning views of the dormant Mt Longonot volcano and the sprawling Great Rift Valley, Loldia House offers a choice of accommodation either in the old family house or in cottages in the grounds. The main house boasts four ensuite rooms, while the three cottages vary in their room offering and location; from a garden or lakeshore setting to high on a hillside. Guests can enjoy a variety of activities such as game drives, boating safaris and a visit to the Joy Adamson Museum. www.governorscamp.com

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HOT LIST Tanzania ZURI ZANZIBAR

Choose from 55 west-facing bungalows, suites and villas overlooking the beach. Designed to provide the ultimate in coziness, equipped with a mixture of contemporary and local furniture and decorated with African artwork, they come with an option of outdoor showers, jacuzzi, a private stretch of beach and more. Zuri Zanzibar offer a fusion of European, African, Arabic and Indian cuisine at their three restaurants and four bars. Everything from a swimming pool to an indoor and outdoor “wild fitness” gym area are at your disposal. www.zurizanzibar.com

KILINDI

Kilindini offers a luxurious serene stay with each pavilion having its own private tropical garden, plunge pool, an extraordinary rainfall shower room and your own dedicated butler. It achieves the perfect marriage between Scandinavian minimalism and the dramatic architectural overtones of Middle Eastern heritage, whilst encouraging an open, ‘back-to-nature’ ambiance throughout. This same openness allows the gentle ocean breeze to waft throughout each of the rooms and carry with it the delightful soundtrack of Kilindi’s colourful birdlife. www.elewanacollection.com

FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON

With views of Dar es Salaam Harbour and close to the CBD, this 174-roomed hotel is the premier conference venue in Tanzania with 12 meeting spots. Situated nearby the Zanzibar ferry, this hotel is the perfect starting point for anyone keen to explore the city and beyond. Unwind at the rooftop terrace or sample the flavours of the world in one of the five restaurants and bars. To refresh, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool or work out in the 24-hour gym. www.marriott.com

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HOT LIST As Voted By You THE CLIFF

Located in a protected area within Lake Nakuru National Park, each tent is built on solid foundations at the edge of the cliff and faces the lake, allowing guests 180 degree views of the panoramic paradise, yet maintaining privacy. The tents are spacious with a freestanding bath that looks outwards. While the exterior environment is pure Africa, the room interiors combine organic chic with international design to create the understated style of a modern boutique hotel. An outdoor pool, gym and stylish bar complete the setting. thecliffkenya.com KIANGAZI HOUSE

Built as a sprawling colonial farmhouse with endless green lawns and a swimming pool with amazing views over the lake, Kiangazi is a luxury home away from home. Located in the main house are two beautifully decorated double en suite bedrooms and one twin en suite room. There are a further four luxurious en suite bedrooms detached from the main house all set within the lush garden. The rooms hold views of the wildlife waterhole, exotic garden and the lake beyond. www.oserengoniwildlife.com

AMANI TIWI BEACH RESORT

This is a breathtaking five star development offering a beautiful blend of eco-friendly African and Swahilli influences in its design, lush landscaped gardens and private stretch of white sandy beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. The hospitality here is unrivalled, and you can also expect four bars, five restaurants, a thematic kids club, an impressive 167m swimming pool with three ‘islands’ and a private stretch of beach. A total of 209 spacious air-conditioned rooms including 110 interconnecting and four wheelchair accessible rooms complete the resort. www.amanitiwibeachresort.com

KILAGUNI SERENA SAFARI LODGE

A tranquil, hushed and cool refuge framed by Mt Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu Hills, this lodge immerses you in stunning beauty and exhilarating adventures while surrounding you with modern comforts. Arriving guests are enchanted by the classic stone design and views of elephants, buffalo and other plains game drinking and cooling off in the water hole. Six guest rooms including five suites are located either in a two-storey block overlooking the water hole, a series of charming cottages or in a lodging of luxury suites. www.serenahotels.com

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HOT LIST

Photographer’s Paradise OLARRO PLAINS

With a serene location chosen for the unblinking vistas it offers, Olarro Plains couldn’t be closer to nature. An open and airy luxury lodge, the wildlife floods endlessly into the vicinity. Set up your tripod and watch them gather to drink, as the property overlooks a waterhole and a live feed beams every beat into the bar. Cool off with a cocktail in the infinity pool, another striking photo backdrop. The lodge has four double and four twin rooms. www.olarrokenya.com

NDERIT HOUSE

This is an exclusive use ocean front family villa located within the Kilifi Plantation and is positioned so as to capture the sea breeze at all times of the year. The main house can accommodate 10 guests in three double suites and two twin bedrooms. The luxury one bedroom Nderit Villa that can sleep another 2 guests which can be rented in conjunction with the main house or as a standalone romantic hideaway. The property has two pools, including an infinity pool leading from villa’s verandah. www.nderitkilifi.com

THE MAJLIS RESORT

With a superb beachfront location and breathtaking views over the bay and Lamu Island, Majlis offers the perfect setting and the ideal accommodation for barefoot luxury. The boutique hotel has 25 exquisite deluxe rooms and suites divided into three beachfront villas. The rooms, all presented in timelessly elegant Lamu Island style, are very spacious, well appointed and fully air-conditioned. The Majlis restaurant will not fail to impress with a panoramic view of the bay and the finest cuisine, and you will also find two bars and two swimming pools perfect for those instagram pictures. www.themajlisresorts.com

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HOT LIST

Rwanda & Uganda THE HAVEN ECO RIVER LODGE

This is a peaceful, relaxed and well-maintained eco river lodge with great family-friendly accommodations and restaurants. It can accommodate 60 people in the honeymoon suite, bandas, cottages and tents. The restaurant and bar in the centre of the lodge overlooks the mighty River Nile and the waterfall. Watch the fish eagle, otters, monkeys and incredible bird species from the spacious terrace as you enjoy delicious food, or simply swim in the pool. The lodge is solarpowered and provides 24-hour electricity, and hot UV-filtered spring and rain water. www.thehaven-uganda.com

THE NILE PORCH RIVER LODGE

The Nile Porch Lodge and The Black Lantern Restaurant were established as a partnership in 2004. In 2009, it changed sole ownership into a family business and has since been completely rebuilt. With a move to be eco-friendly, there has been an increase of fauna such as pangolin and monkeys returning. Ideally positioned individual semi-tented units have been designed to optimize privacy and allow uninterrupted panoramic views of the river, while the two bedroom family units have a master and kids bedroom, lounge and porch area. www.nileporch.com.

ONE & ONLY GORILLA’S NEST

Cushioned in the foothills of the Virunga Volcano Range, this spot makes the magical possible as you enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime personal encounter with rare and majestic mountain gorillas, roaming free in their own natural habitat. One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is home to 14 luxury rooms and seven suites, all encircled by trees for ultimate privacy. Traditional Imigongo art and craftsmanship fill each space with warmth and rich history, as expansive glass opens onto breathtaking views of pyrethrum farmland, lush shambas and eucalyptus forest. www.oneandonlyresorts.com

SABYINYO SILVERBACK LODGE, & BEYOND

Surrounded by tropical forests, guests can unwind in their choice of stone cottage or suites, each with a large sitting room, fireplace, stylish ensuite bathroom and private veranda. The stone buildings feature traditional terracotta tile roofs and polished wooden floors. Scrumptious menus can be savoured in the cosy dining room or al fresco on the deck. Nearby adventures include hikes to see the mountain gorilla and the enchanting golden monkey, cultural excursions, bird watching and mountain biking trails. www.andbeyond.com

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Eco Friendly EMBOO RIVER CAMP

The owners are rethinking every aspect of the safari experience so guests can enjoy a unique holiday which is truly eco friendly, sustainable and community focused. Emboo River is going back to nature, but that does not mean going back to basics. By applying tech and innovation, it has created a Closed Loop System whereby its operations rely on local, renewable and natural resources. The Closed Loop System includes amongst others, water management where 100% of water is filtered by local plants and reused, farm to fork meals from an organic shamba and full solar power. A highlight: Emboo River has the first and only electric safari vehicles in the Maasai Mara! The vehicles are silent, have no exhaust fumes and allow you to feel one with nature during full day game drives. www.emboo.camp

EAGLE VIEW SAFARI CAMP Eagle view is located on an escarpment with sweeping views over the Koiyaki Plains, a natural salt lick and watering hole. With this modern eco-camp, you are invited to gaze towards the future of sustainable tourism. Their vision is to blend the best of ecological architecture with state-of-the-art minimalist design to compliment the overwhelming natural surroundings. As a highly acclaimed conservancy model for wildlife and nature conservation management, in 2013, it was named one of the top 25 eco-lodges in the world by National Geographic. www.basecampexplorer.com

IL NGWESI ECO-LODGE Designed by Simon du Fresne and constructed entirely out of local materials, six spacious rooms accommodate two to four people. Each one offers a slightly different experience, being either tucked away with views up the valley, adjoined to another by rope bridge for families, or overlooking the water hole. All are designed in an ‘open to the bush’ style with opportunities for viewing wildlife, and two have extended verandas for visitors who wish to sleep under the stars in large four poster star beds. www.ilngwesi.com

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HOT LIST New kid on the block

SALTY’S KITESURF VILLAGE

With beautiful tropical waters, calm lagoons and great waves out on the reef, this kitesurf center, beach bar and restaurant is the perfect spot to unwind. They cater to all kitesurfing styles and also provide affordable accommodation. They have their own farm where ingredients are organically produced then used in the kitchen where everything is made from scratch. The sea facing restaurant and bar are decked out with bean bags, comfy spots to chill and speakers for jammin’ to a mix of great music. www.saltyskitesurf.com

LOISABA LODO SPRINGS

Located within the 57,000 acre Loisaba Conservancy, Elewana Loisaba Lodo Springs offers an ultra-private experience with eight individual, spacious tented rooms with impressive views that stretch out to Mt Kenya. Service is paramount, with each room assigned an Elewana Guest Ambassador to serve and cater to guests’ every need, as well as a dedicated safari vehicle and highly qualified guide. Loisaba sits on a vital Elephant Corridor and plays a key role in supporting one of Kenya's largest and most stable lion populations. www.elewanacollection.com

EMARA OLE-SERENI

With the stunning greens and golds of Nairobi National Park’s landscape punctuated by giraffe, zebra, antelope and buffalo lounging near their waterhole, the views alone make this spot one-of-a-kind. Emara Ole-Sereni has 148 rooms which are either park facing, city facing or courtyard. The property has coffee shops, restaurants, bars, conference and banqueting facilities, a gift shop, business center, Peponi Gym & Spa and a heated swimming pool. It is also conveniently located between Nairobi’s international and regional airports. www.ole-sereni.com

LENGISHU HOUSE

Lengishu is an exclusive-use family home offering unparalleled luxury accommodation at the heart of Kenya’s 32,000 acre Borana Conservancy. Nestled into a ridge, it can hold up to 12 guests in six beautifully appointed bedrooms within four cottages, which are situated apart from the main house. All rooms face east over the valley below, offering spectacular sunrise views. The bedrooms are spacious with fireplaces or wood burning stoves for the cooler evenings, and have en-suite bathrooms with rain showers and freestanding copper bathtubs. www.lengishu.com

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HOT LIST Unique experiences AFRICAN BORN LUXURY PRIVATE CAMPING,

These custom-made tents are extremely large and spacious. They consist of a bedroom, verandah and changing area with private shower and loo. Antonia Stogdale and her team create a fusion of cuisines ranging from Mediterranean and Middle eastern to Swahili, Pan Asian and Moroccan. Experiences that can be offered include helicopter safaris to remote landscapes, camel safaris, high-altitude hiking, hot air balloon rides, fly camping, hang-gliding or paragliding in the Great Rift Valley, and more. www.africa-born.com

RUTUNDU FISHING LODGE

These simple but welcoming cabins, located on the edge of Lake Rutundu, are the perfect place to escape from the fast pace of modern life. Enjoy walking in the incredibly fresh mountain air or try your hand at trout fishing. Bring your catch back to cook and enjoy from the veranda of the main cabin with incredible views across the magical high altitude heathland. Rutundu is perfect for fishermen, walkers, families, adventurers, couples and those simply looking to experience the tranquility of Mt Kenya. www.rutundu.com

VIPINGO RIDGE

Set within a 2,500 acre estate, this exclusive residential golf development has a topranked PGA championship golf course. It offers luxury accommodation in villas ranging from two to four bedrooms- you may enjoy the public swimming pool or opt for a villa with a private plunge pool on its rooftop terrace. There is a sundowner bar across the road from the 10th fairway and a pristine private beach bar which offers some of the best seafood and cocktails you can ever have at the coast. www.vipingoridge.com

ELIYE SPRINGS RESORT

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

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HOT LIST

Serene SIRIKOI LODGE

Sirikoi is surrounded by 68,000 aces of the pure wilderness of Lewa. Resembling an eco-chic African home and having a main lodge, dining deck and four luxury tents, each accommodation has a private observation deck making game viewing a breeze from the comfort of your seat. Rooms are spacious and well designed with big Victorian bathtubs, rainshowers, fireplaces and unique decor touches to make your stay worthwhile. There are four luxury tents, a two bedroom cottage, a three-bedroom house and one swimming pool. www.sirikoi.com

LENTORRE LODGE

Nestled at the foot of the Nguruman Escarpment is this secluded lodge where accommodation is in rooms all with their own plunge pool, as well as an Italianstyle pool for communal use. For romantics, consider the room with two baths adjacent to each other overlooking the Shompole plains. There is the animal blind next to the watering hole, where guests can lie in wait for arriving game ranging from elephant to cats. Lentorre is offered on an exclusive basis and sleeps a maximum of 16. www.lentorre.com

SASAAB

Sasaab is a stunning blend of Moroccan and Swahili design. Each individual cottage is designed to offer majestic views of the landscape; airy rooms with fourposter beds, open-air bathrooms and private plunge pools make for a completely invigorating experience. Sasaab also has a main swimming pool, built on a hillside overlooking the river. If you are planning on enjoying some family time, book the family suite (Rooms 8 and 9). They have a shared central area and can be taken as an exclusive villa, with separate access. www.thesafaricollection.com

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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

OPEN DAY PEMBROKE HOUSE SCHOOL

Come and see for yourselves! Thursday 23rd January, 2020 11 a.m - 2.30 p.m

Limited spaces are available; please pre-book by Thursday 16th January Email: registrar@pembrokehouse.sc.ke PEMBROKE

HOUSE S C H O O L

Every child matters, every moment counts. www.pembrokehouse.sc.ke +254 (0) 708 143 600

pembrokehouseschool

pembroke_house_school


Jemimah Sairowua the BMB Project Manager and Svein Wilhelmsen founder Basecamp Explorer & Basecamp Foundation during the grand opening of Enjoolata Centre

ENJOOLATA: A COMMUNITY’S DREAM

We sent Lucy Munene on her first ever bush escapade to Basecamp Explorer in Maasai Mara where the Enjoolata Center, a community vocational space, was recently launched. PHOTOGRAPHS LUCY MUNENE

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LAUNCH

A

s an avid beach lover, bush trips are not my thing but when the opportunity to travel to the stunning Masai Mara presented itself, bags were semi-enthusiastically packed. We sat through the short flight which ended at Olkiombo Airstrip (aka the Heathrow of the Mara). There, we were met by Agnes Kilena, a Maasai lady guide who not only turned out to be a proficient driver but was also knowledgeable about the game reserve and its wildlife. The short drive through Talek town led us to our accommodations, Basecamp Masai Mara, which sits on acres of unspoilt bushland right next to the Masai Mara Reserve. If you listen keenly at night, in between the soothing sound of the Talek River flowing close by, you can hear the sounds of hippos, hyenas and other wildlife joining in to create a nighttime symphony of sorts that lets you know that you’re miles away from city life. Stunning as the property was, we were there for a different reason; the launch of the Enjoolata Centre. The occasion began with a three-course lunch curated by Chef Benson Ole Soit that featured welcome drinks, an extensive buffet and delicious bites. After the luncheon, the Maasai women from Basecamp Maasai Brand (BMB), a community-based handicraft business, led the group towards the new Enjoolata Centre where Svein Wilhelmsen, founder of Basecamp Explorer, and Jemimah, the BMB Project Manager, officially opened the centre to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Enjoolata Centre features several open rooms that serve different purposes. To the left are the exhibition rooms where cultural collections from the Maasai community and different educational pieces are set up to showcase the Maasai Culture and way of life, as well as provide information about the wildlife in Masai Mara. To the right is a coworking space where researchers can come in and share their knowledge and findings of the Mara. As you walk in, however, the first thing you will see is the spot where the Basecamp Maasai Brand ladies sit and work their magic using beads, leather and metal to produce bracelets, necklaces, belts and a collection of other skilfully produced items that are displayed for purchase. “Enjoolata is an awareness centre where the community can work,” explained Svein. “It will also open people’s eyes to see that there is more than just wildlife in the Mara. It’s more than an information centre, and hopefully, it will be a centre for awareness

A wildlife exhibition room at the Enjoolata Centre

that will lead to more sustainable long term partnerships. We started with vocation training through the Koiyaki Guiding School, our wildlife and tourism school, and now the Enjoolata Centre a Mara research hub. All of these are part of one great vision for the Masai Mara." “The centre is set up as an open space so that guests can have a closer interaction with the community,” added Jemimah. “The BMB ladies are talented and creative and together they have found ways to translate drawings into actual designs that have helped them appeal more to the international market. This has, in turn, helped empower them as they build brighter futures for themselves and their children.” Beyond the speeches, the designers of the centre planted trees while the sky opened up and blessed the area with light showers that marked the end of a beautiful ceremony but the beginning

of an unforgettable learning experience for guests who are looking to have a deeper understanding of the unique and fascinating Maasai culture. The vision for Enjoolata Centre and the community of Talek is bright and I cannot wait to see how it grows and contributes to the gem that is the Masai Mara.

Basecamp Maasai Brand (BMB) Ladies during the Enjoolata Centre opening ceremony

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THE ROOF OF

NORTH AFRICA

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The imposing Atlas Mountains of North Africa stretch thousands of kilometers creating an almost impenetrable barrier between the wild coast of the North Atlantic and the burnt sands of the mighty Sahara. Maurice Schutgens travelled to Morocco to experience the romantically named Idraren Draren, the “Mountains of Mountains”. PHOTOGRAPHS MAURICE SCHUTGENS


DISPATCH

a snowy ledge at an altitude of 3,200m. I guarantee it will not be enjoyable). The refuge was bursting at the seams with climbers and skiers dressed in brightly coloured apparel and speaking a myriad of languages. As the sun dropped behind the neighbouring peaks the temperature plummeted and we huddled inside around a much sought after fireplace with a pot of sweet tea. Our aim was to summit Toubkal at sunrise. Ibrahim, deciding that we looked reasonably fit and had performed adequately during the day, set our departure time for 5:00am. In a dorm room with 16 strangers, however, sleep did not come easy, if it came at all. Infuriated by the outrageous snoring going on I turned to my girlfriend Jorien lying next to me, “Why do we even do this?”. The alarm erupting at 4:30am was a relief and soon the whole refuge descended into a flurry of chaotic activity.

T

he Red City grew ever smaller in our rearview mirror as we sped due south. Truth be told, it was a relief of sorts. While beautifully chaotic and infused with the most pulsating energy, a few days of aimlessly wandering the claustrophobic labyrinth of streets that characterise Marrakech, was enough. Our excitement was tangible as we headed for the mountains on the horizon with our trusty Berber driver, Rashid, who spoke no English and even less French. After managing to dissuade Rashid from stopping at all the usual tourist traps along the way (most of which sold argan oil famous to the region), we pulled into the town of Imlil, the unofficial gateway to Toubkal National Park and the High Atlas. Imlil was littered with souvenir shops, cafés and gîtes. We did not linger, our journey continuing up steep hairpin bends with sheer drop offs to the village of Aroumd - the most notable village in the spectacular Mizane Valley. The Berber people who inhabit this part of the Atlas region have lived here since time immemorial, carving out an existence in this hostile environment. Aroumd was positively diminutive, situated on the edges of a rocky floodplain dotted with apple and walnut trees. Above all, however, it was quiet. The Mount Toubkal Lodge, our accommodation for the night, served up a mouth-watering traditional Berber Tajine served with couscous and a hint of saffron as we watched, transfixed,

how the snowy summits slipped in and out of view behind the clouds. In the late afternoon we climbed the steep winding alleys of Aroumd. It was a ghost town, only occasionally disturbed by an unseen voice calling from a street somewhere within. We continued on, gradually leaving the village behind. On a large rock, far above the village, we sat side by side and surrendered to the heat of the sun as we contemplated our adventure to come. Light only reached our valley after 8:00am the following morning. Our breath froze in the morning chill. Ibrahim, our Berber Mountain Guide, was a man stocky in nature who had climbed Jebel (Mount) Toubkal over 400 times. We were therefore in good hands, at least according to him, but he abandoned us for most of the day as he caught up and drank tea with his multitude of friends along the way. It was of no consequence; the route was simple to follow, slowly winding its way up the side of the valley. Muleteers and their respective mules zipped past us, seemingly oblivious to the altitude. Sadly, we never as much as caught a glimpse of the indigenous wild mountain sheep, the mouflon, that dwell in the Atlas region. Four hours and 11km later, we arrived at the two mountain refuges (Les Mouflons and Refuge du Toubkal) at the top of the valley. The latter was ours (make sure you book ahead, especially in the peak season otherwise you may find yourself perched on

There was hardly a moon as we stepped onto the virgin surface, our crampons biting into the snow with a reassuring and rather satisfying muffled crunch. With our ice axes at the ready we were the first to head up into the darkness. Soon, however, a scattering of 40-50 lights were dancing in our wake. We moved quickly up the face, fighting the mind numbing sub zero windchill. Suddenly Ibrahim slowed to a halt, “we stop here for five minutes. I pray, Ok?”. I looked around; we were still enveloped in darkness. I had lost all feeling in my toes and fingers an hour ago, but he wasn’t joking. I checked. It was 6:00am. I pounded my fists against my legs, desperate to keep the blood flowing in my limbs. The sun breached the horizon as we arrived at Tizi’n Toubkal (the South Col, 3,940m). I cast my gaze around, admiring the countless craggy snow-covered peaks. The air felt thin, but I felt alive. Ibrahim made us ditch our crampons as we navigated the final boulder field that led up to the summit ridge. Suddenly the summit triangle loomed ahead of us, proudly announcing an altitude of 4,167m. There was no higher to go. There was nobody but ourselves on that beautifully windswept morning. We looked out over Morocco, the Marrakech plains to the north, the Sahara to the south, the Atlantic to the northwest shimmering in the morning rays. It was glorious. Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman scholar, once described the High Atlas as "the most fabulous mountains in all of Africa". I think he may have been onto something.

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CHEETAH CONNECTIONS

Lions are widely reputed to be the only truly social big cat, but you’d be forgiven for questioning the traditional wisdom of this sentiment after observing cheetahs in the field for any length of time, writes Mark Smeltz

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CONSERVATION

T

hree days into my latest safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, I’d already enjoyed quite a show. I scored front-row seats to a sparring match between two Thomson’s gazelles clashing over territory, watched as a clan of hyenas played keep-away with a day-old wildebeest kill, and marveled as a lilac-breasted roller landed amongst a cluster termites and feasted to its heart’s content. But the Mara always delivers in spades, and it had another surprise in store. As the sun reached its zenith, we discovered a sprawl of golden-coated forms lying prone under the boughs of a blackwood. These shapes soon resolved into the unmistakable figures of five individual cheetahs. Cat rested upon cat; tails flicked and ears twitched; spots mingled together to weave a contiguous tapestry of tawny fur. Although they weren’t exactly living up to their reputation—in fact, they were reclined in various states of repose ranging from the simply indolent to the unequivocally comatose—there was no doubt about it: these cheetahs represented the Mara’s famous Fast Five coalition. Lions are widely reputed to be the only truly social big cat, but you’d be forgiven for questioning the traditional wisdom of this sentiment after observing cheetahs in the field for any length of time. Spending the afternoon with the Fast Five, I certainly developed doubts of my own. I watched as one cheetah or another periodically roused itself, only to collapse into sleep next to another member of the coalition. The cats were seeking physical contact with each other: an unmistakable hallmark of social bonding. But why has this social behavior of the cheetah gone under-reported? Cheetahs are born into litters of about four cubs, which are raised by their mother. They learn to feed and hunt until reaching maturity after about 15 months. Then females begin a solitary lifestyle, until they have their own offspring. But while males may also strike out to pursue the lives of lone hunters, sometimes they stick together. And that’s where things get complicated. “Cheetah sociality is a very interesting and complex topic,” says Dr. Elena Chelysheva, project manager of the MaraMeru Cheetah Project. This research organization studies cheetah populations in the Maasai Mara ecosystem and Meru Conservation Area. Chelysheva formed the project in 2011 and quickly became one of the foremost experts on Kenya’s fastest cats, establishing an exhaustive cheetah identification database and gathering data to ensure the species’ survival. Naturally, she was first on my list when I needed help understanding cheetah coalitions like the Fast Five. Chelysheva published her latest findings

about these nuanced social relationships in Swara, a quarterly magazine printed by the East African Wildlife Society. “I actually dedicated my article to the coalition of five males,” Chelysheva remarks. The Fast Five— or Tano Bora, as they’re locally known— have clearly made an impression on her. Distilling years of data collection, she shows how the coalition is led by two unrelated males which share the responsibilities of selecting prey, mitigating internal conflict, and directing movement across their territory. This form of leadership is specific to mixed coalitions; individual cats hold equal status in groups comprised entirely of siblings. But no matter who’s in charge, each cheetah benefits from being part of the coalition. The most readily apparent advantage of male coalitions pertains to hunting. East African cheetahs are known to favor Thomson’s gazelle; this small antelope can be easily managed by most adults. But its diminutive size means that it doesn’t provide much food. That’s why cheetahs often fill out their diets with animals like hares and warthogs. But you shouldn’t expect to see a lone cheetah attempt a big-ticket meal like a zebra or adult wildebeest on its own: for

that, even the sturdiest of these cats needs a little help. “From my observations, males in coalitions do go after larger prey than single cheetahs or even mothers with single cubs,” explains Dr. Anne Hilborn. Hilborn earned her PhD studying cheetahs in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park with the Serengeti Cheetah Project. Her research involved recording hunting behavior, prey selection, and competition with other predators. “Especially when the wildebeest migration is occurring,” she says, “coalitions of two to three males will bring down large calves of yearling wildebeest frequently.” When large prey isn’t available, coalitions may split up into smaller groups to make multiple kills. This is a great strategy for supergroups like the Fast Five, but not all coalitions are

created equally. “During the time I worked in the Serengeti,” Hilborn recalls, “all of the coalitions we tracked were two to three individuals.” Larger-sized groups may be attributable to the availability of local resources or the number of male siblings in a litter. “What we often saw in the Serengeti are two single unrelated males joining up to form a coalition.” These smaller groups may not enjoy as many hunting advantages, but they do reap other rewards by functioning as part of a team. Groups of cheetahs can remain more fully aware of their surroundings, helping each other to stay alert for other potentially dangerous predators. An injured cheetah can also rely on its coalition to obtain prey while it recovers. Chelysheva’s research in the Mara has even shown that cheetah coalitions can access preferential territory, choosing favorable terrain for hunting or areas more densely populated with prey. With strength in numbers, a coalition can also reduce competition from other cheetahs. But Hilborn advises that holding more territory can’t be used as the sole benchmark of success. “Whether holding a territory leads to fathering more cubs, we still don’t know,” she cautions. More research is needed to answer these and other questions, like why some males join coalitions and others don’t. It’s fortunate that groups like the Fast Five remain accessible to researchers, exhibiting normal behavior while under continuous observation. While the Fast Five is the most wellknown cheetah coalition today, there are other examples of cooperation among these big cats. Social media has made it possible for anyone to track their favorite cheetahs, keeping up-to-date with online posts from the field. “There are several historical male coalitions who were famous within the Cheetah Project,” Hilborn says, “but at the time we didn’t have a way to share their stories with wide audiences.” Hilborn regrets that she couldn’t relate the sagas of former coalitions like Richard and Armitage or Bradley and Cooper. But there’s a risk in following wild animals too closely. “Getting emotionally attached to male coalitions is tough,” she explains. “They don’t live very long and can disappear or die at any time. It can be tricky to build an audience online who is invested emotionally with your study animals, and then have to tell them that the individual they care about has disappeared.” So whether a large coalition like the Fast Five represents an enduring feature of the ecosystem or (more likely) a momentary flash in the pan, we should appreciate these manifestations of cheetah behavior while they last. They can teach us a lot about the species’ longterm prospects for survival—not to mention something essential about the nature of life itself in the African bush.

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PHOTOGRAPHS QUESTKITEBOARDING

As experienced kite surfers, my wife and I both love strong wind and I knew Lake Turkana would tick all the right boxes, writes Jamie Hockley

LAKE TURKANA KITE SURFARI 54

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ROAD TRIP

The final push to arrive at Turkana was a fatiguing 12 hour drive, mostly off-road through a mixture of mountainous rocky terrain that eventually flattened off into hot, barren desert conditions. The change in scenery and temperature was quickly apparent and we realized that from there on it was going to be a bit of a rough ride. Finally arriving at Eliye Springs, we were greeted by the greenish-blue haze of the ‘Jade Sea’, a welcome sight after the long, hot, arduous drive.

M

y wife Francesca and I met in Diani in 2014, shortly after I had set up Quest Kiteboarding as an international IKO kitesurfing centre offering lessons, equipment rental and trips. Our mutual passion for the sport and love for Kenya’s amazing wildlife and biodiversity has subsequently led us on many unique and inspiring adventures throughout our years spent living here. These ‘Kite Surfari’ trips, as we like to term them, have taken us from the remote wind-swept sand dunes of the northern Tana Delta beaches all the way to the Funzi archipelago on the south coast. Heading off the beaten track in search of new and exotic destinations that offer both a bush and beach experience, coupled with the opportunity to kitesurf, is often the central theme in many of our expeditions around East Africa. Having had the opportunity to kitesurf on the western shore of Lake Turkana back in 2011, I had always been keen to introduce Francesca to this remote spot in northern Kenya, and so after several months of hatching plans we decided that 2019 was the year to make that dream happen. Lake Turkana is located in the northern frontier district of Kenya, in the Rift Valley bordering South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, and is famous for being the world’s largest permanent desert lake and largest alkaline lake. Archaeologically, Turkana is also renowned for its 'Turkana Boy' discovery and is often referred to as the 'Cradle of Mankind'.

From my previous visit in 2011, I knew that the best kitesurfing conditions were to be found at Eliye Springs Lodge which is nestled on the western shore of the lake. The wind at this spot, katabatic in nature due to the Chalbi Desert in the east, will very often arrive as a cross-shore or cross-onshore from the right-hand side and one can expect anything from 10 to 35 knots depending on the time of year. Growing up, I would sit and be regaled by my mother’s tales of her younger days spent as a pilot in Kenya performing supply drops at the Eliye airstrip and of the ferocious winds that would sweep across the desert, sometimes causing landings and take offs to be tricky. As experienced kite surfers, my wife and I both love strong wind and I knew Turkana would tick all the right boxes. At 4:00am on the morning of the 12th November, with a fully loaded Land Cruiser containing all our kitesurfing and camping equipment, we set off on what was to be a gruelling 2,500 Km roundtrip across some of Kenya’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring landscape. Our itinerary was to spend the first night in Thika, on a tea plantation that borders the Aberdare National Park. The cultivated tea valleys in this region are spectacular and we decided to spend some time exploring them before heading onto Nyahururu to enjoy the Thomson’s Falls Lodge and waterfall experience. On the third day we began our descent into the Great Rift Valley lakes and parks, stopping to drive around Lake Bogoria National Reserve. Geothermally active, Bogoria is famous for its gushing geysers and hot springs as well as its pink flamingo that feed on the blue-green algae of the lake. Our final stop for the night was to be at Robert’s Camp on Lake Baringo which is, after Lake Turkana, the most northern of the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes. With over 470 different species of bird to admire, along with the resident hippo and her baby, we were thoroughly entertained well into the evening.

Accommodation at Eliye was in locally thatched Turkana ‘bomas’ that were comfortable and lake-facing. The local springs help to sustain the area and provide a constant source of water in what would otherwise be a dry and arid environment. It was amazing to step into this little oasis in the middle of the desert. You are instantly met by bright green foliage in the form of healthy doum palms that scatter the lakeside and lodge grounds, providing a wealth of much needed shade during the hotter hours of the day. The sand on the western shore is similar to what we are used to in Diani Beach; bright white and in contrast to the dark green of the palms and beige of the desert horizon. We were not let down by the wind either, which lived up to its reputation and allowed us to kitesurf together for two of the three days that we spent at Eliye. Awaking to the pink and red shimmers of a freshly glowing sun as it began its daily climb up through the cosmos signalling the start of a new day, we would hear the rustling of the palms and know it was time to start to pump up our equipment and get ready for the water. Riding out away from the shoreline, the water changes from coffee brown to shades of light green and blue. Across the lake, shimmering in the morning light lies the outline of the Chalbi Desert, reminding you of where you are in the world. The thought of crocodiles is of course always present in your mind, but it’s not common to find them so far south from Central Island and they most definitely don’t appreciate all the wind swell that gets generated every day on the beach. It was an amazing experience to share, a way of bonding by riding in such an extremely wild and incredibly remote location. With special thanks to ‘Kaka Shabani’ and African Bush & Beach Adventures Ltd for supporting this journey and getting us safely there and back home again. www.questkiteboarding.com

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Start the year in

Conference & Accomodation Package @ Kshs.17,300 pp

Accomodation

• • • •

Accommodation in our Deluxe rooms on half board basis A cold towel and juice on arrival to refresh the guests Complimentary high-speed wifi through the guests stay Complimentary water in the room

Conference Package

• LCD Projector or TV and Screen • PA system and microphone • Complimentary high speed Wi-Fi in the meeting rooms for all the delegates • Flip chart boards, paper and markers • Participants writing material – pens/pads • 2 bottles of 500ml water in the conference rooms • Complimentary mints in the conference room

Airport Transfers

SALOON CAR (4 people)

You may choose to use Mombasa International Airport, Malindi Airport or Vipingo Ridge Airstrip to the hotel. You can also use the Madaraka Express Railway (SGR) & alight at Miritini or Mariakani. Transfers must be booked at least 48hrs before date of travel. Rate beside is quoted per vehicle, one way .

Mombasa Airport /SGR Malindi Airport Vipingo Ridge

7,000 5,000 3,500

BOOKI NGS & ENQUI R I ES T: + 2 5 4 780 745 837 | + 2 5 4 7 0 7 7 4 5 8 3 7 | +254 780 777 310 E : info@si lverpalmk i li f i.c o .ke | s a l es @ th eh o s p it a l i t y c on s u l t . c om E : m arketi ng@the hospita l ity c o n s ul t.c o m W: w w w. s i l v e r p a l m k i l i f i . c o. k e

• Mid-morning and afternoon tea break with pastries and fruits • Beautifully presented buffet spread for lunch overlooking the ocean • 1 Complimentary drink during lunch of either mineral Water, Soda or Juice • Dedicated events team on the conference floors forguests assistance

VAN (9 people)

BUS (25 people)

Mombasa Airport /SGR 9,000 Malindi Airport 7,000 Vipingo Ridge 4,500

Mombasa Airport /SGR 25,000 Malindi Airport 23,000 Vipingo Ridge 23,500

THE SAL ES & M AR KETING OF SI LV ER PAL M SPA & R E S ORT I S M AN AG ED BY HO SP I TAL I TY K. C O N S U LT LIM IT E D ____________________ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Let our furniture, style your home. w w w . ta r a d e s i g n s . c o . k e

0787939968

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info@sunnydazekenya.com

0787939968

www.sunnydazekenya.com


WHAT I PACK

Bonita Aluoch is an awardwinning travel blogger. Whenever she hits the road, these are the items you are likely to find in her travel bag. Instagram: @bonitaonsafari

OLD SPICE DEODORANT While on a long flight or road trip, wet wipes and Old Spice work wonders before I can get that next hot shower

IPHONE, IPAD AND TRAVEL ADAPTER If I have these three, half of my stay is considered comfortable. I save my maps, tickets, hotel reservations, books etc on my iPad. Recently, I began using my iPhone to take photos for the blog and I must say, it is not bad at all. I therefore only carry the camera when I must.

JBL NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES Sometimes when it is noisy and I’m between flights, my headphones allow me to get some sleep without being distracted by the environment I’m in.

A NOTEBOOK AND PEN. Being a travel writer, I like to draft my articles on paper first then later write a final soft copy. Since I’m on the move a lot and carrying my laptop around makes me feel like I am always working, a notebook is the way to go.

LEATHER PASSPORT AND CARD HOLDER My current favourite is a souvenir from Four Points by Sheraton. It is compact, functional and classy. It also limits you from carrying unnecessary cards. It can fit loose cash, a passport, four visa cards and a ticket.

A SMALL POUCH WITH MEDICINE This contains painkillers, anti-allergens, antacids and a mini first aid kit. When you travel, it is good to have these handy.

DR ORGANIC HEMP OIL LIP SERUM This lip balm is so light, spreads smoothly and leaves no residue even after sitting on the lips for a while. It leaves your lips soft and has a nice glossy finish.


NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019

59


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Profile for Nomad Africa

Nomad 025 December 2019  

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