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ISSUE 26| FEB/MAR 2020 | FREE COPY

WEEKEND AWAY AMAZING GETAWAYS THIS SEASON

LOVE ISLAND

ETHIOPIAN FEAST

SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE


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. Ride a horse, take a walk, milk a cow, indulge in a massage, venture out to nearby Lolldaigas, Ol Pejeta, Ngare Ndare or the favourite by far: “Do Nothing.� Proud to be #1 of 22 on TripAdvisor, B&Bs/Inns of Laikipia County

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


THE MAGIC HAPPENS AS SOON AS YOU

WALK IN

+254 729 403 697 WWW.MBH.CO.KE Call us to get our LOW SEASON rates


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


EDITOR’S NOTE

A

ROMANTIC WORK TRIPS ARE A THING, RIGHT?

s a travel writer, I get to stay at stunning and often romantic locations that come with candle-lit dinners set up right on the beach complete with exquisite wine, and to experience it with me is often our photographer, Brian. We have spent evenings in a conservancy around a bonfire watching the sun go down behind the Kilimanjaro, and while the experience is always memorable, we are both in consensus that it would be even better enjoyed with people we’re dating. Traveling for work is a privilege, especially the kind of work that we do, but it would still never beat trips taken with a partner. Still, being on a six-week vacation with my boyfriend at the end of last year was an interesting experience. With work, sometimes you’re on a set itinerary. Game drive at 6:00am. Interview with the conservation manager at 8:00am. Breakfast at 9:00am. Walking around the property’s greenhouse at 10:00am. Chat to the community leader shortly after. When it’s clear that it’s a vacation, however, everything is up in the air. During a stopover at The Cliff in Lake Nakuru National

Park, for instance, they offered to come and raise the flaps of our tent early in the morning so we could catch the sunrise. My boyfriend wanted to sleep in, but since I’m so used to being on the go when I travel, I wanted to see the sun rise over the lake. How else would I describe it if I were to later write about it? I of course won that one, and he thanked me for it, but there have been instances where I’ve needed reminders to slow down. Traveling with him vs for work also has its advantages, such as offering a fresh perspective when I might be starting to get a little jaded. Case in point, I was fast asleep one time during a game drive while he was losing his mind about seeing a pair of rhinos up close. Thing is, I’ve been on so many game drives for work that I’m no longer as excited about certain animals as I used to be, but being reminded about how sweet you have it can be just the jolt you need. Whether you’re traveling for work or with your partner this February, we wish you a lovely trip! Meanwhile, come with us across Africa to Senegal, Ethiopia, Lamu and Sao Tome & Principe...

Wendy Watta

ON THE COVER ELEWANA LODO SPRINGS LODGE, LAIKIPIA

@WattaOnTheGo

NOMAD ISSUE 26 · FEB/MAR 2020· PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI SALES VANESSA WANJIKU DIGITAL FAITH KANJA CONTRIBUTORS MAURICE SCHUTGENS, AMI DOSHI SHAH, JOE WAHOME, SAMANTHA DU TOIT, BRIAN KIMEU, NORA MUSA CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, STEPHANIE KING'ORI, PRANAV CHADHA, HARDIK THANKI MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI, JANE NAITORE SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO

NomadMagazineAfrica

@NomadMagAfrica

@NomadMagazineAfrica

NOMAD MAGAZINE 2020

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CONTENTS February/March 2020

38 34 24 In this issue

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10. TOP SHOTS This month’s featured photographers witness a clan of hyenas hunting down a wildebeest then eating it alive before being interrupted by a lion, and more.

on the plains to the hyenas whooping near their tent, today is just another day.

16. NEWS Turkish Airlines announces free stopover accommodation in Istanbul, Jambojet kicks off direct flights to Kigali, and other updates.

20. GLOBETROTTERS We talk to stylish traveler Silvia Njoki about traveling with her six year old daughter and how exploring different cultures has shaped her world view.

17. WHATS ON Events you should be planning to attend this coming month, such as the Lamu Yoga Festival. 9. BOOK REVIEW We feature “From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home” by Tembi Locke.

FEATURES 24. LOVE ISLAND The Cabanas in Lamu is the kind of secluded paradise that ignites the romance without much effort, leaving lovers under its spell. 40. AN ETHIOPIAN FEAST Wendy Watta signs up for an immersive Ethiopian food tour in Addis Ababa.

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38. SENEGAL: NO LONGER UNDER THE RADAR Nora Musa brushes up on her French then spends two weeks in Senegal, kicking off her trip in Dakar where she checks out beaches, cafes, markets, neighbourhoods, art and more.

REGULARS 18. NOTES FROM THE BUSH As we settle into the New Year, Samantha du Toit wonders why we like to think of it as ‘new’. Out in the bush, from the zebras

22. KENYAN TRAVELER With his eyes set on summiting Big Daddy as well as experiencing the Deadvlei and Soussvlei, Brian Kimeu traverses the Namib Desert in breathtaking Namibia. 34. SPOTLIGHT A family drives down to Lodo Springs, Elewana’s latest addition to the wildliferich Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia. 36. MAURICE SCHUTGENS VISITS YET ANOTHER country in Africa, this time, the twin-island state of São Tomé and Príncipe, and finds out why you should go. 42. GREAT HOTELS Come with us to Impala Ecolodge in Kisumu.


CONTRIBUTORS

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

STEPHANIE KINGORI Topshots, Page 12

BRIAN KIMEU Kenyan Traveler, Page 22

MAURICE SCHUTGENS Dispatch, Page 36

The Majlis Resort in Lamu. It has luxurious, stylish furniture and unique features with beautiful swahili architecture all round. The interior décor is well thought out and offers a serene environment to ensure you are relaxed as you enjoy your vacation. The pool has a spectacular view of the ocean that allows you to marvel at God’s beauty while reading a book and sipping some wine.

If home is where the heart is, my heart belongs to two lovers. When I think of home, my mind wanders through the labyrinthine streets of Lamu town and my skin tingles at the thought of the sun on my skin, basking at Shela beach. There’s nothing that would warm my heart more than to share the place that I love the most with the person that I love the most.

For me it's all about disappearing far off the beaten track with my girlfriend, to a place as far away from humanity and all reminders of civilization. Surely there is nothing more romantic than finding yourself somewhere in the African wilderness, looking up at the stars listening to the sounds of bush. Cliche? Maybe - but nobody can deny that it's a winning formula!

“FROM SCRATCH”

Book Review

By Tembi Locke

early last year, is “From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home” by Tembi Locke.

We discovered this month’s book recommendations via Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Every month, Reese picks one book she loves with a woman at the center of the story and shares it with her book club. If one of your goals this year is to read more books but you’re wondering where to start, her recommendations thus far are worth checking out to see what stands out to you. One favourite so far, a recommendation from

The synopsis reads, “It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams. From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins,

now she finds solace and nourishment— literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages. In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.” To get a copy, look it up on Amazon, Audible and Indiebound.

NOMAD MAGAZINE 2020

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TOP SHOTS

HARDIK THANKI @hardikblitz Even a king needs to relax after a good meal. I took this photo of the lion after he had eaten his lunch one afternoon in the animal orphanage at the Nairobi National Park.

NOMAD MAGAZINE 2019 2020

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STEPHANIE KING'ORI @explore_withsteph

During a road trip, we came across the expansive yellow canola fields in Kisima. This image was taken at around 5:00pm using a Nikon D610 camera with a Nikkor 70-300mm lens and a custom made cineflat profile. TIP: Always create a colour palette for your images and aim for the golden hours; either sunrise or sunset.


ESPRESS’ YOUR LOVE

+254 67 586 3000

dormanscoffee dormanscoffee

Celebrating 70 years of great coffee [1950-2020]

Dormans Coffee


TOP SHOTS

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PRANAV CHADHA @P_CHADHA

On our last morning game drive in Maasai Mara, a clan of hyenas brought down a wildebeest and started eating it while it was still alive. Minutes later, a sub-adult male lion came in and took over the kill, only to find that the hyenas left very little meat. I used a Nikon D3300 with a Nikkor 200-500 mm lens at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/1600s and ISO 800.

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NEWS & EVENTS

TURKISH AIRLINES ANNOUNCES FREE STOP OVER ACCOMMODATION Turkish Airlines is offering its passengers flying to Africa, Asia, the Far East and the Middle East a free stopover in Istanbul if they are traveling from the United Kingdom. Those with round-trip tickets will be given free accommodation to stay in Turkey’s largest city. They just have to send an application to their country’s Turkish Airlines e-mail address at least 72 hours before the first flight. Economy class passengers can enjoy a single night stay in a four-star hotel while those in business class can stay in a five-star-room for two nights. While there, they can take the chance to discover the rich culture, history and cuisine that Istanbul has to offer.

AZURE HOTEL UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT PrideInn group of hotels has with immediate effect taken up Azure hotel, located in Nairobi Lantana Rd, on a revenue-sharing management contract with a possibility of fully acquiring it within the course of this year. This new management contract will see the two investors use profits to strengthen the operational efficiency of the PrideInn Azure hotel in line with world-class best practices that suit the local market. The PrideInn Group of hotels is also looking to expand and grow its footprints in Kenya and Africa at large using this new model of revenue sharing management contracts.

JAMBOJET KICKS OFF DIRECT FLIGHTS TO KIGALI Regional low-cost carrier Jambojet made its inaugural flight to Kigali, officially becoming the first low-cost carrier in Kenya to fly the route. The airline will be flying once daily from its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Kigali International Airport. This comes after Jambojet recently expanded its fleet with two brand new De Havilland Dash 8 - 400. The airline is charging promotional rates of Ksh 11,240 for one way on the Kigali Route.

EMIRATES INTRODUCES LIMITED OFFERS FOR KENYAN TRAVELLERS Emirates offered jet-setters in Kenya special 2020 roundtrip global fares to enable them to plan early for their next adventures. For a limited time, jet-setters looked forward to great deals to key destinations in Emirates’ global network with special Business Class and Economy Class fares. Return fares started at less than $484 (Kshs 48,884) and were available until January 21st 2020, and will be valid for travel until November 30th 2020. With the vibrant and dynamic city of Dubai as its hub, Emirates provides travellers with direct connections to more than 159 destinations in 85 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.emirates.com/ke, or visit the Kenyan Emirates office located at 9 West Building, Ring Rd Parklands, Nairobi or your travel agent.

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

LAMU YOGA FESTIVAL The seventh annual Lamu Yoga Festival will be held from 4th to 8th March 2020. The festival offers five days of yoga with over 25 teachers, 150 yoga classes, meditations and workshops. Festival activities will be centered in the charming village of Shela, but will encompass Manda Island and Lamu Old Town, so the whole area will be abuzz. A variety of yoga classes and meditations for all levels will be offered at 12 unique venues and studios. You can also get a taste of Swahili culture by joining the planned Swahili dinner, sunset dhow sail and a final bonfire. www.lamuyoga.org

KENYA KITE FESTIVAL This is a family event that allows adults to relive their childhood and kids to learn something new and exciting through kite flying at a picnic style event with live music. The event will be taking place on Sunday 15th March, at the Nairobi Polo Club between 11:00am and 6:00pm. Activities will include kiting competitions and an interactive kiddy corner. Food, drinks and kites will be available for sale throughout the day. Please bring a kanga or blanket to sit on.www.ticketsasa.com

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NOTES FROM THE BUSH

AND SO

IT BEGINS… As we settle into the New Year, Samantha du Toit wonders why we like to think of it as ‘new’. Out in the bush, from the zebras on the plains to the hyenas whooping near the tents, today is just another day.

T

he time has come to reset the calendar, make some resolutions for the next year and take stock of 2019. It seems we call it a ‘new’ year, but this time, as we sipped tea and watched the sunrise over the unusually green, grassy plains behind camp, I found myself wondering why we like to think of it as ‘new’. What is ‘new’ and how does it apply to the things that surround us? To much of the immediate world around us, from the zebras on the plains to the hyenas whooping near our tent, and the Egyptian Goose who has recently appointed himself our early morning wake-up call, today is just another day. Yes, it might be a warmer day or a cooler day, or a day where food is plentiful, or indeed a day when it is not, but ultimately it is just another day. And to some things, like the thousands of different types of caterpillars which have appeared as a result of the rains, their lifetime is not even close to a year, and a single day is a

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significant portion of their lives. When discussing this with the children it gave me the opportunity to explore what a year really is, and why it is the length it is. Delving into the world of our solar system for the first time since leaving school, it was fun to share with the children the story of our planet earth in relation to the stars and planets they see in the sky every night. At the moment, Venus shines brightly down on us from the west as we sit by the evening campfire. Their eyes grew wide with amazement at the idea that our earth and other planets orbit the sun, and how some very clever humans a long time ago worked out that it is possible to calculate the length of these cycles, and that is how we have arrived at the length of our year. Despite all of this though, I have found myself thinking about what is ‘new’ and looking at the months ahead with fresh eyes. To appreciate the cyclical nature of things is reassuring, and to be able to press pause every now and again to re-assess things is refreshing. So what is new? Well, there is

new life everywhere thanks to the incredible amount of rain we have experienced over the past few months. Grass species not seen in years have sprouted, and caterpillars in shapes, colours and sizes that I have never seen before are munching away on all the bushes. We also invented a new solution to our internet struggles – a phone ‘hotspot’ in a plastic bottle which we hoist up the thorn tree next to our office tent much like hoisting a flag. It works surprisingly well for a lowtech solution. And perhaps this will form some of the resolutions for this year. Keep everything as simple as possible, and keep remembering that every day is a new day but at the same time, it is just another day. Samantha du Toit is a wildlife conservationist, working with SORALO, a Maasai land trust. She lives with her husband, Johann, and their two children at Shompole Wilderness, a tented camp in the Shompole Conservancy.


GLOBETROTTERS

THE STYLISH

TRAVELER Silvia Njoki is a Stylist and Digital Content Creator. She talks to Joe Wahome about traveling with her six year old daughter and how exploring different cultures has shaped her world view.

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What inspires you to travel? I have always been fascinated by differences in culture, food, religion, languages and even physical attributes. As a young girl in primary school, I would exchange photos and letters with pen-pals across the world; it was my way to get a glimpse into their life and vice versa. Curiosity inspires me to travel. How do you manage to travel regularly with your daughter who’s still in school? It may seem like a lot because we share a lot of pictures, but our travels together are always during her school holidays. We have a lot of fun exploring together. She has picked up things like photography and has started to be more adventurous with the food she eats, much like myself. She is very open to new experiences. What are some of your favourite places that you’ve been to? Jamaica is relaxed, soulful and rich in culture and I love the music there. Bali is absolutely breathtaking; the beaches, forests, rivers and the people are kind and welcoming, not to forget that it has the most amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants I've ever tried. As a fashion lover, London has the best shopping experience from thrift stores to high end designer brands and the nightlife is also great. These three are my favorite places. I am yet to go to a country that offers me a combination of all three, but this may change as there are a few countries still on my bucket list. Which destinations, then, are currently on your bucket list? Australia, Egypt and Ethiopia, but also a few Latin American countries like Mexico and Cuba. How do you choose where you travel? This may be inspired by pictures I see, stories I come across or meeting people from a country in my day to day life and being inspired by accounts of their homeland. Sometimes my travels are driven by a work related event, and once I’m in that destination, I will grab the opportunity to travel in my free time.

What's your favorite thing to do in a new town? I am not too keen on hunting for the top tourist attraction but prefer to meet with the locals and get to know their daily life. I therefore love to spend time in markets and restaurants that serve local food. I definitely want to experience the nightlife and clubbing scene but also like to listen to the local music at other more modest venues.

How has travel impacted you? Travel has made me a lot more outgoing, broadened my mind and made me more accepting of people's differences. Solo travel has on the other hand pushed me to great limits and made me more aware of my strengths.

How do you prepare for a trip? Once I choose a destination, I do some online research and come up with an itinerary based on reviews and recommendations by other travellers. If possible, I even try to contact one or two people there to have someone to hang out with from the start to show me the local spots. Since one of my primary aims of traveling is to generate photo content for social media, I also search for local photographers to team up with. What are some things you love to do in Kenya? My most memorable experiences are always when I go back to my village where aspects of my culture and traditions are still strong. Times are changing fast and it is always refreshing for me to go back home and be reminded of our traditional values.

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DANCING IN THE DUNES With his eyes set on summiting Big Daddy as well as experiencing the Deadvlei and Soussvlei, Brian Kimeu traverses the Namib Desert in breathtaking Namibia. PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN KIMEU

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KENYAN TRAVELER

T

he ride from Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, to the coastal city of Swakopmund is simply breathtaking. The landscape has hues ranging from a dark rich red to a deep earthy brown, and the most spectacular rock formations rise in the distance as if beckoning you to explore. I wanted to climb every single one. One hour away from Walvis Bay, the sun set, hanging low in the sky. Picture the scene; a mountain straight ahead and to my right, a big orange sphere at eye level, the sky awash with a beautiful blend of purple, red and orange as we drove deeper into the evening fog. Swakopmund is a little sleepy town bursting with colour, full of adorable little cafes and watering holes at every corner. I got there at 10:00am, my phone at less than 10% with no idea where my bed and breakfast was. In hindsight, I really was trying to get lost. If it wasn’t for the kindness of the taxi driver who not only offered to help me find my accommodation but also took me on a little detour into the township, “Mission Dune” would’ve been but a dream. Having spent two nights in Swakopmund, we set out into the desert with a pit stop at Walvis Bay to view the

flamingos that call home a stretch of beach here, their pink plumage contrasting sharply with the dull tones of the Atlantic Ocean blanketed in a heavy fog. It took us two days to get to the dunes. The drive there can only be summarized as landscapes that ask you to simultaneously experience them while also curating them for the world to see, often leaving you in a state of confusion as you drive through the vastness of the desert. With the Namib Naukluft Mountains looming not too far in the distance, you would be remiss to try and catch even a sliver of sleep.

The Naukluft Mountains stretched before me and the Namib Desert challenged the horizon as far as my bespectacled eyes could see.

Finally, D Day (Dune Day) was upon us and we had to be up early because we had a two hour drive to the entrance of the Namib Naukluft Park. When you go on vacation, getting up early isn’t the kind of thing you want to hear, especially if early in this instance is 4:00am, but I was eager to take in the views atop Big Daddy. Dune 45, Big Daddy and the Soussvlei and Deadvlei are all within driving distance of each other, with the park providing 4x4’s to ferry you from the pickup point to any of these attractions. The park opens at 6:00am and we had to be among the first to get there to avoid the long queues for the few 4x4’s available. On the drive to the park entrance, the moon languidly sashayed away behind the Namib Naukluft to my left taking the night’s cold with it. Shortly after, we were at the bottom of Big Daddy. Found between Soussvlei and Deadvlei and at a height of 325m, this was bound to be a challenge to climb especially seeing as I straddle that fit/unfit line, but “Mission Dune” was not for the weak. Two hours, more stops than I care to admit and a lot of heaving later, I was on top of the world. Deadvlei, white and blinding, spread below me. The Naukluft Mountains stretched before me and the Namib Desert challenged the horizon as far as my bespectacled eyes could see. “Mission Dune” was complete leaving me with a sense of yearning for this beautiful country that pushed me past my physical limits.

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LOVE ISLAND

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The Cabanas at Kizingoni Beach in Lamu: this is the kind of secluded paradise that ignites the romance without much effort, and as long as you’re with a partner, you’re instantly put under a spell, writes Wendy Watta


WEEKEND AWAY

M

y boyfriend and I have been on a trip across the north coast, booking stays at boutique romantic beachfront owner-run properties where our days are spent going on romantic sunset cruises, sipping good wine and going on long walks along pristine beaches (and somehow still managing to have the occasional argument). We save the best for last; The Cabanas at Kizingoni Beach in Lamu. This property was actually my suggestion, having visited it previously in 2016 and vowing to one day return with a partner. Arriving at the all-too familiar Manda Airport, a prearranged speedboat with a friendly captain picks us up from the jetty and pretty soon we’re darting across the sea past mangrove forests towards the southern end of the Lamu archipelago. Set a little far from the airport (we wanted somewhere secluded where the only other people we would bump into would either be staff or a fisherman passing through), it takes us about 35 minutes to get there. “Is that it?” he asks eagerly as we approach Matondoni, then Kipungani. “When you see it, believe me, you will know it,” I respond. Everything falls into place as we advance upon a golden stretch of beach where staff members dressed in breezy white shirts are smiling and waving at us. Kizingoni beach looks like a dream, and to be back here with somebody it’s like straight out of one of those romantic novels I spent afternoons poring over under my desk during boring history classes in high school. Perhaps due to the fact that I always had my head buried in books about faraway places as a teenager,

I’ve always wanted to be marooned on an island, Robinson Crusoe style - albeit with all the haute style and luxuries of a chic room with clean linen - and this would be just the place to live out those fantasies. As our bags are carried to our room, we are ushered to the bar area for a refreshing welcome drink and an orientation of the property. The bar looks different from what I remember with swing sets serving as bar stools and a comfortable lounge on one end. Perched on a sand dune and nestled amidst trees right on the beach with unobstructed views of the sea, walking up our two-storey villa, one of eight in the property, is like going up a tree house. Rightly so because given the elevated position of our room, we might as well be staying in one. The rustic structure, too, blends with the environment as the high roof is palm thatched and the walls are made from woven mats. Wooden accents are also everywhere, from the Swahili-style balcony chairs to the large intricately carved mirror above a bed so large it could fit an entire family. Lying on this bed during high tide, you can see the water shimmering under the sun right in front of your balcony. There is also a loo with an absolutely incredible view and one could be content to just gaze at the landscape from there, but alas, there’s an even better spot downstairs where two hammocks, set side by side, bring you eye to eye with the ocean. Bare feet, messy hair, swimsuits and cocktails at hand, we spend a bit of time bonding and enjoying the breeze from here. It takes a certain kind of romantic to run a place like this, and should you meet Shawn and Anna, it will all fall into place. These two, much like my partner and I, come from opposite ends of the world - Shawn is from Hawaii while Anna is from Kenya. The

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WEEKEND AWAY

pair met in Hawaii at a kitesurfing event and it was love at first sight, quite literally, as Shawn saved Anna from a serious kite tangle out at sea. By the time they both got safely back to shore, they were besotted, and have been together ever since. Anna says that all their friends and family raised their eyebrows as they lived and worked on opposite sides of the globe, but the two made the long distance work, spending all their savings to travel to see each other whenever they could. Finally, last year, they decided to put down roots in Lamu, one of their favourite places, to nurture the healthy, happy lifestyle that they wanted to start together. Anna is a health coach and advanced yoga and meditation teacher (which they provide at The Cabanas), while Shawn has been a professional kitesurfer since he was 12, and has competed around the world. He retired from competing when he moved to Lamu as he finally found his perfect kitesurf playground at The Cabanas after a worldwide search, a real testament to the conditions here. He has set up a bespoke kitesurf school and now the couple gets to enjoy the sport that brought them together most days of the year. We prefer to take our breakfasts at the Top Deck, which is exactly what the name suggests, taking turns tucking into breakfast and swimming the length of the infinity pool which offers views of the ‘jungle’, cabanas and sea. This is the kind of spot which ignites the romance without much effort, and as long as you’re with a partner, you’re instantly put under a spell. You will look like quite the sappy pair taking turns between marveling at the scenery and getting lost in each other’s eyes. For lunch and dinner, chef Njole Zuma is adept at various cuisines ranging from Italian to continental and African. He also whips up fantastic vegan

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and vegetarian dishes using some of his favourite ingredients such as seeds, cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek and cardamom. I love his use of coconuts to elevate the dishes, accompanied by fried potatoes so good that it would be a crime to resist- at least that’s what I tell myself. Succeeding at working ourselves into a food coma, we have no choice but to stroll down to the beach for a massage that sends us right to sleep. Such a tough life. As if to balance things out, our plans for a seafood beach bbq are put off thanks to a bout of rain. The Cabanas at Kizingoni Beach lend themselves to a do-nothing-but-relax-andget-pampered romantic escape. The staff are ever at your beck and call. The place is also so secluded that when we set off along the shoreline for a walk, we only have sand crabs and birds for company. The villas, too, are so spread apart that even if there are other guests, you and your partner will likely feel like you’re alone on the island. Love is celebrated here, and Shawn and Anna love to host proposals, anniversaries and just couples wanting to escape the rat race and reconnect with each other. You are very welcome to relax into the healthy happy nest that they have created in this corner of Lamu. www.thecabanaslamu.com


I’ve always wanted to be marooned on an island, Robinson Crusoe style, albeit with all the haute style and luxuries of a chic room with clean linen, and this would be just the place to live out those fantasies

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WEEKEND AWAY PHOTOGRAPH: BRIAN SIAMBI

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MEDINA PALMS

Watamu

With its distinct North African and Mediterranean flair which followed through to the dishes served, this hotel became a fast favourite. We checked into a chic allwhite apartment-style villa with two ensuite rooms, a kitchen, private lounge and balcony overlooking the pool, an upstairs living room complete with a rooftop plunge pool on the terrace. Families and honeymooners lazed away the day by the main pool which stretched 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. There’s a fitness centre as well as the rooftop, open-air Sakina Ocean spa offering full-body massages using rose quartz crystals, shea and water jets, as well as a range of deep facials. www.medinapalms.com

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WEEKEND AWAY

CHUI LODGE Lake Naivasha The Zwager family originally built Chui as guest accommodation for Oserian flower farm, naming it after the area’s healthy leopard population. There are eight, well-spaced luxurious cottages each with its own veranda and views of the Rift Valley escarpment and the Sanctuary. The bedrooms have magnificent four poster king size olive wood beds, roaring log fires, ensuite bathrooms and unique décor. On site is a large swimming pool overlooking the waterhole, and four course candle-lit dinners under the stars are highly recommended. www.oserengoniwildlife.com

KOBE SUITE RESORT Watamu 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 topclass 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.

ENTIM SIDAI, Nairobi This is a serene wellness sanctuary in the heart of Karen, with a clear view of Ngong Hills. Accommodation ranges from a junior suite to a honeymoon suite and luxury villas. One of the attractions here is the spa which is surrounded by a wonderful natural forest and lush greenery, with a skylight to view the birds as they fly past. Some of their packages this month include a romantic picnic for two at Ksh 8,600, and couple’s massage plus dinner for two at Ksh 19,500. www.entimsidai.com

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

DIAMONDS DREAM OF AFRICA Malindi Thanks to their all inclusive formula, you will be able to enjoy your holiday being pampered by the professional staff at their luxury beachfront property. Here, the enchanting force of nature blends with the exotic IndoArabic architecture accented by Balinese armchairs to create a hypnotic charm. Reach out via their website for their exclusive Month of Love package which includes a 30 minute couple’s massage, one day use of the thalassotherapy salt water pools, room service breakfast, romantic room set up during turn down a romantic dinner under the stars and more. www.dreamofafrica.diamondsresorts.com

SASAAB LODGE Samburu It is a place of rich natural diversity with an astounding number of animals including the ‘Samburu Special Five’. The architecture of Sasaab follows strong Moroccan design principles, in which African heat is of primary consideration. Each of the nine rooms is over 100m² with an enormous open-air bathroom and private plunge pool. From the veranda, guests can take in the remarkable views across the Laikipia Plateau toward the jagged peak of Mount Kenya. Its position on the river naturally facilitates watching the herds of elephants that come to bathe. www.thesafaricollection.com

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IF I HAD TO PICK A SCHOOL, I WOULD SEND THEM TO PEMBROKE

www.pembrokehouse.sc.ke


@pembroke_house_school

What do an international rugby player and an emotional intelligence strategist have in common? The answer is that they both went to Pembroke House School, a small boarding preparatory school in the Rift Valley, Kenya. Toby Francombe and Nandi Kegode are two alumni of the 90 year old school, both from very different backgrounds and with very different jobs and aspirations. “I don’t think I would be the person I am today, if it weren’t for Pembroke”, Nandi waxed lyrical about her time at school. Nandi is an emotional intelligence and cultural strategy consultant with her own business, Hisia Intel Solutions. “By the time I left, I was more adventurous, with a strong identity of self and a can-do attitude, which made me more resilient [during the tougher times of her teens and early adulthood]”. Pembroke allows children to be children – to run around in the mud, make dens, climb trees and appreciate the natural beauty of the Kenyan countryside – but [it] also helps to give them confidence and character; don’t ever underestimate what kids can do”, Nandi said. “We were taught manners and we are able to talk to anyone, of any class or creed. International schools appreciated that; Pembrokians were renowned for being reliable team members”. “Pembrokians have such a strong bond – the Pembroke Spirit – and race or colour has no place in that. I have had people come up to me recently to say “hi”, who were five years old when I was in the upper school, asking “Do you remember me?”. The friendships that you make when you are there are still friendships now- and you pick up exactly where you left off, no matter how much time has passed… My favourite memories were in the dorms, sharing tuck, talking after lights out and on the sports field, with hours dedicated to sports”. Toby Francombe is an international rugby player and was selected to play the position of hooker in the 2019 Kenyan Rugby Union team. He is now in Scotland, playing for the Boroughmuir Bears in Edinburgh. Toby went to board at Pembroke aged six, because his father went there but also because they lived near the Maasai Mara and there were no schools in the area. When asked about Pembroke’s strengths, Toby said, “Pembroke was a caring school – when I first arrived, I was shy and hadn’t really spent time with lots of other kids. The older kids really looked after the younger ones… The other thing that I think also helped me was the manners Pembroke taught us – I am grateful for that as this training has stood me in good stead and gave me the confidence to meet new people and travel to new places. The opportunities to play sport were also phenomenal and my passion for rugby was spurred on by the dedication of the coaches there”. Toby also spoke warmly about the friendships he had made at Pembroke. “Boarding made for much stronger friendships because we spent every minute of every day together. There was so much time after school for us to play and do sport and get to know each other. Everyone looked after everyone else and we had a special bond that we still have today”.

Tel: 0708 143 600, Email: registrar@pembrokehouse.sc.ke


Elewana

R

LOISABA LODO SPRINGS

oad-tripping in Kenya can be exhilarating but also occasionally grueling. Our recent family expedition to Elewana’s new addition to Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia was a perfect example. With Nairobi behind us, what followed was three and a half hours of barrelling through eaten, potholed tarmac and mucky murram, coupled with momentary stops waiting for herds of nonchalant cattle and rambunctious goats to cross the road. Then, an hour and a half of going around in circles in the conservancy having followed the wrong Google Map pin. All this, during some of the heaviest rains Kenya has encountered in decades. Needless to say, by the time we reached Lodo Springs, tempers were frayed.

TEXT AMI DOSHI SHAH

We were warmly welcomed by the camp manager who must have thought we were nuts for deciding to drive, and ushered down into the property that sits perched atop an escarpment with breathtaking views of the plains leading to Mt Kenya. Due

A family drives down to Lodo Springs, Elewana’s latest addition to the wildlife-rich Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia.

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can often be found in places of worship. Nature is the focus. Loisaba is known to be part of one of East Africa’s largest elephant corridors and our game drives in Elewana’s open Land Rovers accompanied by a dedicated guide clearly demonstrated that. The elephants were shy and not used to human contact. On close approach to a herd of 10 tuskers, the matriarch flapped her ears and pretended to charge as an act of warning, protecting the young calves that were under her care. It was a heart thumping insight into the intelligence of these vulnerable creatures. Shrouded in several layers of shuka blankets, after sunset we tailed a lone lioness for 30 minutes culminating in an unsuccessful hunt of a skittish impala. Other wild game that the conservancy protects, including leopards, cheetahs and rare wild dogs, were much more elusive, hidden in swathes of towering bushland.

into dishes like freshly baked focaccia with a soy dipping sauce or a warm and delicately spiced mushroom laksa soup and vegetable dumplings. In addition to the gourmet meals, they also had a separate kids menu and much to our amusement, chips and spaghetti were also mainstay during mealtimes for our fussy younger son. Breakfast and lunch were an outdoor affair, overlooking an infinity pool and the plains of Loisaba where a solitary elephant could be seen in the valley drinking from the Lodo Spring, a natural water source that attracts nearby wildlife and the namesake for the luxury property. As our time came to an end, the ‘adventure’ that awaited in our journey back home was at the back of all our minds. We did however take comfort in two things. First, that we had experienced the beauty and majesty of this pocket of Kenya in the most sublime way as a family. Second, that when we came back to Lodo Springs...we’d take a flight!

Dinners were in the cosy main dining room over candlelight and wine, digging to its elevation, a consistent breeze carried the sounds of whistling thorn acacias and weaver birds. After eight hours in a car with two kids, finally, silence. Elewana’s Loisaba Lodo Springs officially opened in mid-2019 being the third of their properties (others are Loisaba Tented Camp and Loisaba Star Beds) in this 57,000 acre conservancy and ranch. Unlike the other two hospitality offerings though, this property was a new build and a massive undertaking creatively led by architects and spatial designers Chris Payne (of White Elephant Trading Co.) and Jan Allen. The focal point for each of the eight stone-clad bedrooms is the limitless and unobstructed sight of the archetypal African plains with a high tented ceiling evoking the same sense of awe that

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SÃO TOMÉ AND PRÍNCIPE:

LIFE IN THE CHOCOLATE ISLANDS

Located deep in the Gulf of Guinea, the twin-island state of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is a jurassic paradise where the portuguese speaking locals greet you with a disarming smile and a léve léve (easygoing) attitude to life. Forged in isolation, today STP has emerged from its dark history to tell a story. Maurice Schutgens finds out why you should go. PHOTOGRAPHS MAURICE SCHUTGENS

Find a secluded beach. Get down on one knee. Pop the question. Job done. You’ll thank me later.

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DISPATCH

five species of sea turtles. During our night on Praia Jalé a large female green sea turtle dug her nest directly next to our tent. We watched in silence as she tried to secure a future for her species.

Hiking Pico Cão Grande

Chocolate

In order to understand STP, one has to understand chocolate (and eating the chocolate is only part of it). In 1822 the cocoa bean made its way from Brazil to the impenetrable shores of STP and thus the Chocolate Islands were born. In 1913 these isolated African islands became the world's largest producer of cocoa, supplying Hershey’s and Cadbury. Fast forward to present day and while STP has long handed over its chocolate crown to Ivory Coast, the island is experiencing a resurgence of sorts and locals claim that the best quality beans still come from this tiny volcanic spec in the Atlantic. Thankfully one can still taste the deliciously complex and intense flavours of cocoa that have been perfected by individuals like Claudio Corallo (an Italian agronomist who has been celebrated as the creator of chocolate without bitterness). Following the journey from the spectacular cocoa plantations on Príncipe (Roça Terreiro Velho) to its transformation into a neatly packaged chocolate bar is a right of passage on STP. And yes - it's good!

Exploring roças

The roças (plantations) of STP were once a network of beating hearts, structures of aristocratic splendour, opulence and ingenious engineering built on the back of imported slave labour from Angola, Congo and further afield. Today the roças are crumbling facades, but a fading reminder

of former glory and pain, that have been left to the island to be reclaimed and forgotten. Some, but not all. Most have been inhabited by local families, carving out a simple existence away from the modernity of life. Visiting the roças is an opportunity to immerse yourself into the very fabric of the island and hearing the stories of how each roça once fit into the history of STP is as fascinating as it is thought-provoking and disturbing. Roça Agua Izé, formerly one of the islands main plantations is a must-see, as are the well known roças of Sundy and Belo Monte on Príncipe but it is the less known roças that lie far off the beaten track on unmarked overgrown roads like Roça Ubu Buda and Roça Boa Entrada that are hauntingly authentic reminders of the past.

Beaches, Rum and Turtles

Ironically it was a Bacardi Rum Commercial, filmed in 1991 on Príncipe’s now famous Banana Beach, that briefly put STP on the map… though it was soon to be forgotten again. There are few places on the islands that can be described as crowded, for this tiny archipelago receives less than 30,000 visitors a year, but Banana Beach with its sweeping white sand beaches with lapping azure waters is one of the places that can get ‘busy’. As the saying goes, “three families is a crowd”. Further afield there are many more isolated, photogenic and unexplored beaches on the islands that offer seclusion and pure wilderness such as Praia Boi and Praia Macaco. Some however offer even more. Praia Jalé, located on the southernmost tip of São Tomé island, is a wild coast with golden sands, overhanging palm trees and large crashing waves that only truly comes alive at night during November and March. Under a waning moon tens of sea turtles heave themselves up onto the soft sands to nest, making STP one of West Africa’s most critical habitats for

As the low hanging clouds slowly parted in the far south of São Tomé island, a prehistoric dark volcanic tower slowly came into focus, looming large on the horizon, drawing us near. Erupting from the Jurassic landscape of giant ferns below, this was Pico Cão Grande, a phonolite (ancient magma) tube. This was the Lost World. From the charmingly sleepy town of São João dos Angolares we headed for the nearby grounds of Agripalma (a palm oil concession) and drove through its maze of muddy rutted roads until our little suzuki could go no further. We abandoned our car and started walking towards our goal until we encountered Miguel, a plantation worker who knew the way (or so he claimed). Within one hour we were hopelessly lost, slipping and sliding through a bamboo jungle, no path in sight. Eventually we navigated our way back to the spire and stood at its base gazing up at its treacherous sheer cliffs overhead. Without maps.me we would probably still be lost somewhere in the forest!

Chasing Waterfalls

Parque Natural Obô de São Tomé, established in 2006, straddles parts on both islands of STP and as a result of its incredible abundance of endemic species, is recognised as an ecological jewel of global significance. While catching a fleeting glimpse of the Congo Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) with its strikingly red plumage through the thick canopy was exhilarating we were on the hunt for something more stationary...waterfalls! And STP was bursting at the seams with them. While some are located right along the road (Cascata São Nicolau), others require a little more effort. Cascata Nazaré, hidden away beyond the village of Ponta Figo (just outside Neves), is one of them. After recruiting our nine year old guide, who demanded half payment in local dobras and half in, would you believe it, chocolate, we hiked up through a stunning patch of tropical forest littered with cocoa plants gone wild and random moss covered bridges. An hour long hike gave way to ancient Portuguese built aqueducts that pitched us into complete darkness only to emerge at the most spectacular waterfall on the island. Screaming into the thundering spray we knew we had found happiness.

The Ultimate Proposal

Find a secluded beach. Get down on one knee. Pop the question. Job done. You’ll thank me later.

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SENEGAL

NO LONGER UNDER THE RADAR

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ROAD TRIP

Nora Musa brushes up on her French then spends two weeks in Senegal, kicking off her trip in Dakar where she checks out beaches, cafes, markets, neighbourhoods, art and more. Dakar

As I arrived at Blaise Diagne airport, I felt excited for the two weeks ahead. For this trip, I was prepared for the fact that not many people in Senegal speak English and had therefore tried to brush up on my very basic French. Fortunately, I found the Senegalese to be really patient people, and they appreciated the effort. I was staying in Mermoz, a middle class residential area. As we drove along the beautiful Dakar Corniche, I realised that I was only staying ten minutes away from it. The Corniche is where the whole city seemingly converges for open air circuit training, zumba classes, a run or walk at sunset.

Breakfast and brunch

As someone who loves to linger over breakfast and a nice cappuccino, I checked out cafes and brunch spots online in this city where new, trendy eateries are constantly popping up. I headed for Lulu cafe, a ten minute walk from my Airbnb, passing older people dressed in brightly coloured traditional dress. One thing I love about Africa is the embracing of colour. At Lulu’s I ordered the breakfast special, and the food and decor had me sitting there for far longer than originally planned. As the space is divided into different sections, it’s also a place where you could go and work. Other great breakfast and brunch spots in the Mamelle and Mermoz area include Melo cafe and Simoni cafe. Downtown, there are lots of options for breakfast such as La Galette and Press Cafe.

Beaches

Being on the western tip of Africa, you won’t struggle to find beaches in Senegal. The most well known is Saly on the Petite Côte where you’ll notice a large French and Belgian presence, and Cap Skirring in the Southern region of Casamance. Even in Dakar, however, you’ll find some beaches, and these were some of my first stops- places to unwind and catch up on some reading before heading into town. One option is Mamelle beach, a ten minute taxi ride from where I was staying. If you do a lot of solo travel, taxi drivers can be a great way to source for local recommendations, get tips for prices and practise the local language. This ride was no different - a fun exchange of elementary French, Wolof, English and Arabic.

Mamelle beach is small but very charming, backed by lovely little eateries and places to get umbrellas or mats to lie on. When I got there at about 10.30am, it was just me and three young boys alternating between playing football and jumping into the water. As I was about to leave, the people working in the cafes came and introduced themselves; new friends made for my next visit. In the mid to late afternoon, this place gets busier with more tourists but is still a nice respite from the city. If you want a bigger beach, head to the lively Yoff about 30 minutes away and you can learn to surf there too.

Almadies

This neighbourhood in the north of the city is where some of the nicest sea-facing cafes, hotels and night spots are. Some allow you to go down and join the surfers or get your feet wet. I met up with a friend at Chez Fatou where we snacked, caught up and took some pictures with the incredible sea view behind us. I spent other sunsets and evenings in Almadies at Sharkeys, Jet cafe among others. Many of the places with sea-facing terraces also had sun loungers so you can still get work done or read a book while sunbathing.

DAKAR HAS BECOME such a creative hub that last year, a specialist artist residency called Black Rock Senegal was set up to much fanfare and an opening party that included creatives from all over Africa, Europe and the US. Set up by Kehinde Wiley, the artist who was commissioned to paint a portrait of Barack Obama, it’s an exciting addition to the local art scene. A browse through Instagram will help you connect with many creatives doing great things here.

Medina

I’d read online about the old part of the city called Medina becoming a hub for street art, so I reached out to a few local creatives to accompany me on a walk to make it a little more informative. One of the first to respond was a talented internationally accomplished photographer and filmmaker called Abdoulaye. He met me at Soumbédioune beach early in the morning to watch the fishermen bringing in their night’s haul, as others went out to sea to replace them. We talked to them and took photos of the colourful pirogue boats then headed off into the Medina with a pit stop for a street baguette and omelette. While it is a residential area, many of the locals have allowed the walls of their homes to be painted with beautiful murals by local artists.

Islamic influence

Dakar is home to some beautiful mosques and I decided to visit my favourite, Mosquee De La Divinite. It’s set down from The Corniche against the sea, and the dramatic setting combined with its stunning green and white colour is truly a feast for the eyes. I was greeted by the guardian, Mohammed. His uncle had founded the mosque and was buried in front. Another delight? The mosque was only open during prayer time but he opened the green shutter windows to show me the inside and told me that men had one floor downstairs but the women had two floors. This is something you’ll see across Senegal, women are actively welcomed to pray. Dakar may not have as many mosques as say Cairo or Istanbul but at prayer time, people will pray anywhere; while waiting to be served in markets and when waiting for taxis, if it is time, the prayer mats will come out, then they continue with their business.

Markets

You cannot visit Dakar without visiting a market or two. Located downtown, Sanadaga is so big that taxis will ask you which part you want to go to. Fabric? Jewellery? What do you need to buy? I was determined to get something made for myself and therefore decided to find a market insider. I was connected to Ibrahim, a friendly tailor, salesman and market guide. He greeted me wearing a bright yellow thobe (bou-bou) and equally bright smile. I scurried along behind him as he took me up the steps of a building in a busy market intersection, full of different rooms with fabric. He left me to choose a design and material I wanted, and this was followed by a little price negotiation. Sewing is usually done in a few hours but I returned the following day to pick them up. Other than Sandaga, HLM is good for markets, while on a smaller scale Marche Artisanal Samboudine is where you can get jewellery and crafts.

Landmark

The African Renaissance statue is of a man, woman and child facing the sea, and is the tallest in Africa. Built in 2010 to commemorate independence, the long flight of stairs leading up to this statue adds to its drama and is a prime spot to take photographs. It is always worth a visit even just for the fabulous views over Dakar. It was not without controversy when it was built due to the cost, the short skirt the woman is wearing and the fact that it overlooks the mosque. However, people now seem to have warmed to it, and whether or not you visit, you’ll most definitely drive past it at some point. I actually love the statue... to me it represents strength, family and independence.

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AN ETHIOPIAN

FEAST Wendy Watta signs up for an immersive Ethiopian food tour in Addis Ababa

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ETHIOPIA

W

hen I arrive in Addis Ababa on January 7th, I find that it is Christmas and the majority of people are in a festive mood, a stark contrast to Nairobi where I left people reporting to work at the start of a new year. I have just two days to spare in this city before heading on the historical northern route, hitting up spots like Lalibela and the Danakil Depression. To make the most of my time, I sign up for a food tour with Go Addis Tours on my first day, which promises an immersive introduction to Ethiopian food; exploring several restaurants for local food and drinks, all while walking around town to get a feel for the daily life here. I meet Genet, a warm and personable nursery school teacher-turned-guide that

the tour company pairs me up with, at Esset Restaurant. Walking in there is grass spread on a patch of ground at the entrance; I noticed earlier that my taxi driver had grass on the floor of his car as well. This is apparently done during celebrations to wish each other well. Ethiopian jazz plays softly on the speakers and one wall is covered in black and white paintings of the country’s famous actors, musicians and journalists. At the open kitchen, the staff are dexterously pouring a four-day fermented teff flour mixture onto a circular griddle to bake, to make the staple dish, injera. This comes served in a sharing platter accompanied by shiro, a chickpea stew which quickly becomes a favourite in my time exploring the country. Genet tells me the rules for eating from a shared platter: use one hand, no licking and no double-dipping. The waitresses, as polite and pretty as Ethiopian women are said

Then there is tire siga, which translates to raw meat, and that’s exactly what it is. Straight from the butcher’s knife, the beef is diced then served on a plate, accompanied by a spicy dip... to be, go around passing complimentary freshly-made defo dabo bread, their Christmas gift to patrons. After this meal, we take a leisurely stroll to the next spot called Yeshi buna. Buna is the Ethiopian word for coffee, which according to legend, was discovered here by a shepherd called Kaldi who after noticing that his goat would become more energetic after nibbling on the bright red berries of a particular bush, decided to try them for himself. Today, the beverage is typically served black, in espresso-style cups, with sugar on the side. Yeshi Buna proudly displays its coffee set at one corner, and the chairs all have hand carved images that tell stories of some of the 80 tribes in Ethiopia, such as a lady from the highlands spinning cotton by hand. The space is intimate, the chairs low, and the dish, when it comes served in a colourful woven basket, is delicious. We accompany this with a St George beer which is light and easy to enjoy even for a beer-averse person like me.

The walk to the final stop takes about 15 minutes which I spend taking in Bole, considered the nicest part of Addis. Old taxis and tuk tuks painted white and dark blue line a cobblestoned street while the women sashay along in their beautiful handwoven and embroidered traditional dresses. I marvel at the charming streetside cafes and bars and say hello to some people; by my experience, Ethiopians are really warm and welcoming. Having worked up enough appetite to eat again, we get to Yilma, which Genet boldly declares the best butchery in Addis. Its claims to fame is that this is where Anthony Bourdain dined when he visited the city. It’s a family business started 50 years ago by the patriarch who started off selling livestock from his own farm before progressing into this meat-focused eatery. Fresh delivery is done daily, and since Orthodox Christians don't eat meat on Wednesday and Friday, they remain closed on those days. The space is large with numerous tables, two TVs and a live butchery from which we order our meat. There are two go-to dishes here. The tibs is fried up with a lot of onions and is downright delicious; a typical Kenyan’s dream. Then there is tire siga, which translates to raw meat, and that’s exactly what it is. Straight from the butcher’s knife, the beef is diced then served on a plate, accompanied by a spicy dip made with red chill, awaze, mitmita and mustard. I take a chunk, dip it into the condiment, then take a bite. It is really soft and you do get the sense that you’re chewing raw beef... but maybe that’s just a psychological thing. Given the number of spices used in the condiment, it is really bold and flavourful, but without it, I probably wouldn’t dare to eat the raw meat. Given that it is a holiday, we are unable to get a place that does a coffee ceremony. After a delightful time showing me around Addis, introducing me to the food and answering all my eager questions about the culture, Genet and I part ways with a promise to keep in touch. The night is still young, so I swing by the oldest coffee house in town, Tomoca, where the coffee is still brewed in vintage coffee machines. Thereafter, I am wired enough to go out dancing... Email: info@goaddistours.com

LANGUAGE BASICS Selam: Hello Ameseginalew: Thank you

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LIMITED TICKETS FOR SALE ON MOOKH.COM

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Spicing It Up VA L E N T I N E ’ S E D I T I O N

Out Now Stay tuned for our March and April Edition Get in touch for early bird discounted ad rates. Email; joy@yummy.co.ke | +254 726 097 486NOMAD MAGAZINE 2020

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IMPALA ECOLODGE KISUMU PHOTOGRAPHS WENDY WATTA

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GREAT HOTELS

T

he water playfully laps against the small, wooden boat rhythmically rocking it back and forth as if to the lake’s very own sweet tune. The sun splashes across the sky in striking orange hues as a fish eagle flutters across my periphery. I am yanked out of my reverie by the fisherman’s paddle incessantly tapping against the wood, and as if in response, a hippo’s head bobs out of the water and starts inching towards us. I have seen YouTube videos of hippos attacking boats, and this canoe is certainly no speedboat; should it lunge, we’d be done for. My fear is quickly forgotten when we pass Hippo Point, now predominantly a hang out center where a crowd is gathered marvelling at the sunset. As we inch towards Impala Ecolodge with its wooden jetty illuminated by the soft orange glow of lamps lined along its ramp, a place I have only ever seen from a boat during lake cruises like this, I can’t believe we’ll finally be staying there tomorrow! Kisumu Impala Sanctuary sits barely a five minute drive from where I spent several years of my primary school, and yet, in that

time, I recall visiting only once; the memories are hazy. I like to consider Kisumu my hometown, but the truth is, every time I return (once this year, so far) I can’t help but feel like a stranger. This city is fast developing. Kisumu waits for no one. We pay our entrance fees at the gate: Ksh 215 per day for me, a Kenyan citizen, and $22 for my companion, a non-resident. We walk... yes, walk...past zebras and impalas which are peacefully grazing in the surroundings, unperturbed by our presence. The lodge sits at the edge of the sanctuary and it takes a five minute walk to get there. There is a long, shaded, wooden ramp elevated above the ground such that it feels like you’re walking amidst trees and this leads us from the reception down to our tent. There are 12 double tents in total, each named after luo numbers (ours, for instance, is “aboro”, meaning “eight”). The structure is semi-permanent with wooden floorboards and canvas walls. A large cozy bed above which hangs a mosquito net sits in the middle of the main room. Behind it is a small living area with two armchairs, a perfect nook for entertaining should you happen to have friends over. A walk-in closet and changing area sits to the left, as do the bathrooms. Right in front of the bed is a large sliding glass door which reveals a balcony. Here, there are comfortable wicker chairs to relax in as you take in the stunning view; birds flying past, the lake almost coming right up to your doorstep. On this private balcony we would spend our evenings drinking wine, playing some RnB and slow dancing with a spectacular setting sun as our backdrop.

The park closes at 6:00pm, but since we were staying at the lodge, our curfew was extended to 11:00pm, with strict warning not to roam the grounds at night because the hippos come out to the land at that time. Impressive meals are served either in the eco-friendly makuti-thatched restaurant which stands next to a pool overlooking the lake, or on a gazebo right above the water such that it feels like you’re dining on the deck of a boat. It is raised on stilts within the lake but close to the shore. Here, you can tuck into a three course lunch while watching the fishermen standing on one edge of their boats while using long poles to steer themselves forward in the shallow water. Lake Victoria unsurprisingly makes Kisumu synonymous with fish, boat rides and birdwatching. The locals have broken down the art of preparing tilapia (because if you watch how it is handled from the moment a fisherman traps it in his net to the way a chef meticulously plates it up for a patron, then it really is an art) to two options: deep or wet fried. The fish is traditionally served with ugali, kachumbari and sukumawiki or some other indigenous vegetables. Be sure to order a plate at Impala Ecolodge’s restaurant. Our mornings were spent wandering this serene park where impalas and zebras are free roaming, but other animals such as giraffes, an ostrich, two prides of lions which are kept separately so they don’t fight for the territory, monkeys, a buffalo, two warthogs, leopards and more are caged with enough space to roam. www.jambochesterhotels.com

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