Nomad 31 - Family Travel

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TRA VEL GO-LIST Places to explore 2021


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YOU DESERVE A BREAK Jump into the first electric vehicles in the Maasai Mara. Enjoy a game changing experience. Get close to animals and enjoy the sounds of the wild and the scents of the savanna. Explore nature and leave a positive impact behind.

Look out over the Indian Ocean and realise that you are the only people around. At this private beach location you can listen to the waves, spot sea turtles, dine on sandbanks and fully relax.

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ith a family beach getaway in mind, we found an Airbnb in Malindi, White Nyumba, a lovely four bedroom all-white villa set within Kibokoni Residences and with plenty of lounging spaces and a pool in the garden. We had been trying to go on a trip together for a while but just couldn't find a date when everyone was free, so with my birthday coming up, I pretty much made it mandatory. With all the flights sorted, the accommodation booked, a chef hired and the food bought, I quickly realized a few things about traveling with family: Let everyone enjoy the vacation and have fun their own way, even if that means spending time alone in their room for a couple of hours instead of coming to hang out by the pool with everyone else. Don’t nudge your mum to try octopus or any shellfish for that matter. If she’s willing to try tuna, this isn’t the Best Ever Food Review Show... just leave it at that. Being adventurous with food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Speaking of, make sure you get her tea when you’re doing the food shopping, even if you think it’s too hot at the coast. You know how Kenyan mums are... It’s a holiday. Don’t be too rigid about time, especially when activities aren’t dependent on it. If you all agreed to meet by the pool at 3:00pm, but someone comes two hours later for whatever reason, just breathe and let it be.

Wendy Watta @WattaOnTheGo

As the older sibling, when you grew up and left home, those little errands that African mums love to give were only passed on to your younger siblings. Remember being called from downstairs to go pass mum the remote when she’s sitting right next to it? Don’t be surprised, then, when you hear her calling in your brother from the other room to go switch off her lights while she’s sitting up in bed. As you plan your family getaway this Easter, may there be no fights about who gets the middle seat.







March/April 2021



AIRBNBS There’s nothing quite like finding an incredible house to take over with your friends or family for the weekend, someplace close to Nairobi. Enter Kajiado, home to some of Kenya’s most beautiful Airbnbs.







In this issue 06. TOP SHOTS Stunning shots and tips from photographers whose work we’re loving right now. 10. MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER We catch up with wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas about his new book on the quest to photograph the elusive black leopard in Laikipia. 16. NEWS Kenya Airways resumes flights to Rome, Magical Kenya Signature Experiences are unveiled and Kempinski expands its portfolio with three new properties in Tanzania. 17. WHAT’S ON Lamu Yoga Festival returns, World Travel Market Africa 2021 goes virtual, and other events to attend this coming season.



29. TRIMBLE FAMILY BUCKET LIST This family travels the world full time with their three kids; in two full years they have visited 20 countries together, gotten 10 visas and taken close to 100 flights.

18. THE RAIN GOSLING A lone gosling is found earnestly chirping in the bushes. Should they catch and take care of it, or let nature take its course? Perhaps this story will have a happy ending.

30. BEACH HOUSES FOR EASTER Heading to the beach with family or friends for Easter? We list a few properties perfect for big groups.

20. ADVENTURE IN THE NORTH RIFT Kemzy Kemzy explores the beauty of Eldoret and the North Rift Economic Bloc.

32. THE WEEKENDERS Looking for weekend getaway ideas? Kari Mutu speaks to various travel enthusiasts for suggestions on their favourite spots.

36. A DAY AT THE FARM This month’s road trip is to Mlango Farm in Limuru, only a short hop from Nairobi, and the perfect day trip for families.

34. FAMILY FEATURE Photographer and content creator Tatiana Karanja speaks to Nomad about what it’s like traveling with toddlers


38. CONSERVATION We talk to The Pangolin Project founder Dr Claire Okell about these mammals, including why we don’t often see them on safari. 40. DISPATCH Once a critical trading hub between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, today Pemba Island lies far off the beaten track and makes for an incredibly romantic getaway. 42. GREAT HOTELS Ami Doshi Shah and her family stay at Finch Hattons, a place she first visited in 1993 and that has since reopened with a much more contemporary perspective on its offerings. 44. LAST WORD The safari guide and the buffoons - all in a day’s work.




Jose Cortes Instagram: @a2asafaris I took the photo from a Robinson R44 helicopter with the doors off, over the southern shores of Lake Turkana. This particular shoreline is just next to Nabiyotum Crater. Time of the day was 11:24am on a cloudless day which I find great for aerial photography as you don’t get any shadows since the sun is right on top of the subject, making the image cleaner. I used a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 100-400 f4.5- 5.6 series II lens. Shot at shutter priority mode at 1/2000 (the slowest shutter speed I use for low flight photography), f5.6 and at 200mm.






Raj Jakharia Instagram @jadioboss This picture of the cheetah cub was shot early in the morning at 7:13am in Maasai Mara. This image was shot using a Canon EOS 1300D with a Sigma 150-600mm. The settings I used were: f/6.3, ISO 200, 1/800 sec and 562mm. If you're looking for different perspectives, look everywhere. You have to look at each and every angle no matter what gear you have.





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Set on the magical Malindi shore, Diamonds Dream of Africa, Sandies Malindi Dream Garden and Sandies Tropical Village offer the perfect setting for your conferencing, banqueting and event requirements. With state of the art conferencing facilities, this beach resort location presents a truly unique opportunity to embark on a memorable experience.

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THE BLACK CAT The Black Leopard: My Quest to Photograph One of Africa’s Most Elusive Cats by Will Burrard-Lucas Instagram: @willbl





In his quest to create intimate portraits of animals, wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas developed innovative technology, including a remotely controlled camera buggy and a high-quality camera trap system for photographing nocturnal creatures. Then, one day in 2018, he heard about sightings of a black leopard in Kenya. In Africa, black leopard sightings are rare and photographs even rarer. Over the course of patient months, and with the help of people from the local community, he succeeded in capturing a series of high-quality photographs of this extraordinary cat. In his compelling and visually stunning book coming this March, BurrardLucas tells his story of creativity, entrepreneurship and passion for nature. Over 100 photographs are printed throughout, including awe-inspiring images of lions and elephants, and never-before seen shots of the black leopard itself. Here is an excerpt from the book: Chapter 1: Eyes In the Night The night is black. Clouds blot out the stars and the air is thick with the promise of rain. The monotonous drone of crickets is occasionally punctuated by the eerie alarm call of a rock hyrax. I turn off my headlamp, plunging everything into total darkness. A move in the wrong direction and I would tumble down a sheer rock face into a jumble of boulders and knotted vegetation. I take a step forward and there is a muffled click and a flash of light as the motion sensor detects me and triggers my camera. I stand still for half a minute, letting the African night envelop me. I feel far removed from the rest of the world. The camera shutter clicks again as it closes. I turn my light back on and circle round behind the camera trap to review the image. There’s a picture of me on the back of the camera, perfectly lit as if I were standing in a photographer’s studio. Now I just have to wait for the elusive creature to pass this spot, preferably on a clear night when the long exposure will reveal the stars in the sky. I have a nagging feeling that this ultimate image might never materialize. In the early days of the project, I was capturing photographs of the animal almost every week, but that was during the dry season, when its movements were constrained by the availability of water. The first rainfell four weeks ago, heralding the onset of the wet season, and since then the animal has vanished. Perhaps it has moved territory for good? At least I am still capturing images of other creatures, such as the beautiful spotty leopard that passed by last night. I close up the camera housing and turn to leave. As my headlamp flashes across a rock, there is a glimmer of reflected light. I peer into the darkness and two spots glow brightly back at me. Eyes! By the spacing of them, they could belong to a leopard. My pulse races with excitement. This might be the same spotty leopard that my camera caught yesterday. The animal is probably forty metres away; too far for me to make out properly in the dim beam of my headlamp. I creep closer, hoping to get a proper look. I dare not glance down at my feet as I pick my way through the rocks; if I take the light off the cat for a second then it might be able to see me clearly.




The distance has now been halved to perhaps twenty metres. It doesn’t occur to me to feel any fear. As the animal holds my gaze, the sounds of the night fade, and I revel in this moment of connection with a wild predator. I can still see only the creature’s eyes, and wish I had a more powerful flashlight with me. I take one step closer and the cat starts to move. With a shock, I can suddenly make out the entire form of the animal. Its body reflects no light at all; it is just a black shape cut out from the scene in front of me. The silhouette of the black leopard passes in front of the rocks. Its movement is the unmistakable feline slink of a cat that wishes not to be seen. The creature melts away into the undergrowth and I am left all alone. I am breathless with elation as I continue to scan the bush, hoping to catch one last glimpse. Later, as I make my way down from the rocks, I am overwhelmed with a sense of privilege and euphoria. It seems that the many strands of my life have all come together to bring me to this singular moment in time. I cannot tell you how long that encounter with the black leopard lasted. For a while, in that remote corner of Kenya, it was as if time had stopped. MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER Often you bring your family with you – what’s that like? Having children suddenly made it much harder for me to leave home and be apart from my family. My wife and I therefore decided that whenever possible they would join me in the field. Travelling with young kids certainly presents challenges





– not all accommodation is child-friendly for example – but for us it is a small price to pay. Sharing my experiences with them is wonderful and helps me see the world through new eyes. What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced as a wildlife photographer? Wild animals cannot be controlled. They may be dangerous or wary of people. Getting close enough to capture intimate images of them can be difficult. It was to solve this challenge that I first created BeetleCam, a remote-control buggy for my camera, in 2009. To this day, I still use BeetleCam to get my camera into places and capture perspectives that couldn’t be achieved by a human holding a camera. Some animals may also be very shy or rare. Catching a glimpse of them, let alone photographing them, can be a tremendous challenge. When photographing elusive animals, I again turn to technology. Camera traps are cameras that are deployed for many weeks or months and automatically trigger when an animal passes by. Overcoming the technical difficulties of setting up these devices and capturing images with aesthetically pleasing composition and lighting is half the challenge. The other half is knowing where to put the cameras. On my own I would stand little chance of finding suitable spots, but by partnering with guides, conservationists and researchers who have dedicated their lives to studying and protecting wildlife, my chances are greatly improved. What's your take on the criticism that your book doesn't acknowledge the locals that helped in your quest to find the leopard in Laikipia? I greatly regret that in the initial whirlwind of press coverage resulting from the first

batch of images released in early 2019, I was sometimes afforded more credit than I was due for tracking down the black leopard in the first place. I learnt a lot from that episode and I will certainly be more careful when dealing with the press in the future. In my new book, everyone who helped me is fully acknowledged for the role they played. All that is left for me to say is to thank all those who helped me once again. In particular, Luisa Ancilotto and her team from the local community (especially Mohammed Parasulan and Patrick Lempejo) for making the entire project possible. Steve Carey, Annabel Carey and the team at Laikipia Wilderness Camp for helping me capture the first batch of photos. Ambrose Letoluai and Nick Pilfold from San Diego Zoo for sharing their research with me on the first day of the project and for their work studying and protecting leopards in Laikipia. Anne Powys and the team at Suyian Soul for helping me in the later days of the project. Plus all of my friends in Nairobi and beyond who have supported me over the last couple of years. If readers can take one message away from The Black Leopard, what would you like it to be? It can sometimes feel like the whole world has been explored and documented. The black leopard brings back a sense of mystery and proves that there are still unexpected wonders out there. Images and chapters from The Black Leopard: My Quest to Photograph One of Africa’s Most Elusive Big Cats, copyright © Will Burrard-Lucas.



stay a minimum of 2 nights and receive one complimentary lunch per person.


3 nights and have 2 complimentary lunches per person and a complimentary game drive.

Not just a safari lodge with the Nairobi National Park on its doorstep, Ololo is also a working farm producing fresh & organic paddock to plate cuisine for all to enjoy!


Email: || Phone: +254(0)708 844818 NOMAD MAGAZINE 2021



As we drive along the Kuruwitu dirt road, we pass dusty cattle and enchanting old baobabs. It is not your typical entrance to a luxury establishment, especially when attached to one of Kenya’s most prestigious brands, so our intrigue grows at every turn. Usually limited to members and guests during peak times, we had had to call ahead to make a booking – a “by reservation only” policy that didn’t frustrate but rather confirmed the exclusivity of the venue. It feels as if we’ve been accepted as the newest members of the high society of coastal gentry. We are thrilled to be spending a day at the Vipingo Ridge Beach Club. Upon arrival, the Beach Club is surprisingly humble and yet magical in its simplicity. It is rustic wooden tables among frangipani and palm trees on Kenya’s soft sand. The gentle beat of music is heard over speakers from the makutishaded bar to join the natural rhythm of the ocean. There are sun loungers facing the water and I spy a big swinging chair covered in cushions that has “post-lunch nap” written all over it. The beach in front is blissfully quiet, I wonder if it’s privately owned because we seem to have it all to ourselves. It is reminiscent of an earlier Kenya – a time before chain hotels and package holidays and waves of tourists and beach boys and curio sellers and continual interruptions. This is the coast from our childhood when we spent school holidays on the sand undisturbed. We are early, it has just gone midday,

but there are already a few big tables occupied, a bucket of rosé creates a dewy centrepiece, and I can sense the confident airs of those that belong here - the “glitterati” of Kilifi. One group is in the midst of debating the doubles tennis match they played that morning. Another is ordering from the kids’ menu for the children that are skipping up the beach from the sea, masks and snorkels in hand. My stomach rumbles. We are seated and handed menus. A giant blackboard is presented with specials drawn in colourful chalk. We are specifically here for the seafood – it could not be fresher, the Indian Ocean mere metres away. I also heard a rumour that the chefs are from Seven Seafood Restaurant in Nairobi, trained by celeb chef Kiran Jethwa (who I fully admit to following on Instagram not just for his recipes but for the eye candy too), and so am eager to try out any of the Beach Club’s signature dishes – lobster, crispy calamari, prawn masala curry. I decide to splurge and I’m not disappointed as a whole grilled lobster is placed in front of me with a garlic dipping sauce and a silver tub of golden fries. The meat is juicy and tender, the fries perfectly cooked (double cooked, triple cooked, I don’t care). I finish my plate and sip my cocktail. My toes wiggle contentedly in the sand as I glance over at the swing seat that is beckoning me over. I must have dozed off because I wake to my kids squealing with delight.

They’ve been trying out the new stand-up paddleboards hired from the watersports centre and have spotted some starfish in the coral gardens. Kuruwitu Marine and Welfare Association are the awardwinning outfit, along with Oceans Alive, that have created this sensational marine protected area thriving with sealife. I contemplate going out to join them in one of the available kayaks but I spot an old friend who I haven’t seen in years and wander over to say hi. She tells me they moved to the Ridge recently and send their kids to Kivukoni School in Kilifi – their life now filled with long warm days on the coast. I don’t hide my jealousy. The sun is beginning to dip behind the palms, the air is cooling. My friend invite us to play a family game of beach volleyball. We aren’t terribly good but we have fun jumping about in the sand and I feel I’ve counter-balanced my decadent meal (and subsequent nap). We have a triumphant post-match drink together and, with heavy hearts, start packing up to head back to our holiday home along the coast. My daughter asks why we can’t stay at the Ridge so she can carry on playing with all the kids that live there. “They’ve got pony stables and new mountain bikes too,” she declares. “Next time” I reply and, because I’m already planning our return trip, I truly mean it. The Vipingo Ridge Beach Club is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch. To book a table, please call +254 794 814 165.

A hidden gem serving incredible seafood with a side of nostalgia 14





Vipingo Ridge is a secure, gated enclave high above the Indian Ocean. Here life is filled with warm coastal days and plenty of space to work, run and play. Offering 2,500 acres of landscaped gardens, a wildlife conservancy, PGA championship golf course, tennis courts, stables, a private beach club, natural parkland and an abundance of opportunity, this haven of healthy activity beckons you to live well among its safety and splendour.

For more detail, please email or visit our website vipingo.ridge






KENYA AIRWAYS RESUMES FLIGHTS TO ROME, ITALY National Carrier, Kenya Airways announced the resumption of direct flights to Rome Fiumicino International Airport from its hub at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The direct flights are set to resume with two weekly flights on Wednesdays and Sundays from Nairobi on 6th June 2021 and return flight from Rome 7th June 2021. “We are delighted to resume weekly flights to Rome and will continue to maintain an expanding schedule to various destinations across our network as countries ease travel restrictions. Our codeshare partnership with Alitalia offers our customers excellent connections in Rome to the rest of Italy, Europe, and USA, and in Nairobi to the rest of Africa including Vanilla Islands. We continue to maintain the highest safety measures before boarding and on board our aircraft,” said Julius Thairu, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer.

MAGICAL KENYA SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES UNVEILED Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala urged tourism providers to expand their products offering to deliver unique, authentic Kenyan travel experiences to travellers. He said this during the award ceremony of the second phase of the Magical Kenya Signature Experiences (MKSE) held to recognise outstanding tourism offerings in the travel industry. Through the MKSE Program, which commenced in 2019, facilities and organizations are required to provide value addition to their offerings through exceptional travel experiences. In 2019, fifteen inaugural MKSE facilities that met the required criteria were recognised. The awards marked the beginning of a journey to deliver diverse tourism experiences in Kenya. The experiences that were awarded include Mida Creek floating adventure at Watamu Treehouse and the Pride Rock experience at Borana Lodge.

KEMPINSKI EXPANDS PORTFOLIO WITH THREE NEW PROPERTIES IN TANZANIA Kempinski Hotels has signed management contracts for three outstanding luxurious properties, two elegant lodges and a highend tented camp, which will be open to wildlife lovers and guests as of 2023. Set in extraordinary wilderness sites, the three new Tanzanian Kempinski properties will be ideal to be combined in a roundtrip and offer a luxurious stay in close vicinity to the most demanded attractions in the country. Inspired by the natural elements of surroundings and with a focus on sustainability, each lodge has its own expressive architectural language and distinctive character that is unique to its particular, protected environment. 19 tents with terrace and outdoor showers await guests in the high-end Kempinski Msasa Lodge Lake Manyara. Serengeti National Park will be home to the 75 rooms Kempinski Longosa Lodge Serengeti, while the third of the new Kempinski properties, surrounded by splendid Baobab trees in the heart of Tarangire National Park, is a haven for wildlife viewing.





KTB BRANDS A JAMBOJET PLANE Regional low-cost carrier, Jambojet has partnered with the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to unveil its first ‘Magical Kenya’ branded aircraft , the De Havilland Dash 8-400, to promote domestic tourism in Kenya for a period of one year. “Last year we launched the ‘Now Travel Ready’ campaign to encourage domestic tourism as part of COVID-19 recovery. This partnership with KTB will further drive this conversation in a bid to revive the sector,” said Captain Michael Kwinga, Head of Operations at Jambojet. KTB CEO Dr. Betty Radier said that this partnership was among the many ventures the Board has explored with a view to growing Kenya's tourism offerings.


LAMU YOGA FESTIVAL RETURNS The annual Lamu Yoga Festival returns this year from 11th to 14th March. In this four‑day immersion, you’ll be introduced to various yoga styles including vinyasa, Hatha, Yin Yoga, Dance, meditation, breath work, sound healing and personal development. As you move through the various traditional Swahili homes that are hosting the classes, you can explore the charming village of Shela. With its winding, narrow streets, beautiful architecture and donkeys around every corner, you’ll be sure to fall in love. Plus, as the location is only minutes away from the beach, you’ll have the opportunity for early-bird yoga on the beach — a firm favorite among local yogis.

WORLD TRAVEL MARKET 2021 AFRICA GOES VIRTUAL Africa Travel Week (ATW) has unveiled an audacious plan for its 2021 suite of shows, which includes several value-add opportunities, in addition to WTM Africa, set to run as a 100% virtual exhibition from 7th to 9th April 2021. In addition to the virtual show in April, which consists of one on one meetings, content sessions and speed networking, ATW has lined up a collection of bolt-on events throughout the year, which include educational content webinars from May to August and a series of virtual masterclasses from September to November. Attendees and industry professionals can remain connected and informed throughout 2021 via, ATW’s dedicated resource hub jam-packed with free digital tools, industry news and updates.

7 ISLANDS FESTIVAL WATAMU Papa Remo has announced the inaugural edition of the 7 Island Festival happening from 12th to 14th March in Watamu. Bringing a selection of Kenya's finest DJs and musicians to a beautiful beach setting, the line up includes DJ Kace, Suraj, Kato Change and Foozak. Tickets are Ksh 14,000 for the entire festival, and accommodation partners such as Seven Island Resorts and Crystal Bay Villas are offering discounts on rooms and villas during the festival. Instagram: @paparemobeach.



THE RAIN GOSLING A lone gosling found earnestly chirping in the bushes presents a dilemma for Samantha du Toit and her family. Should they catch and take care of it, or let nature take its course? Perhaps, though, this story will have a happy ending.


t never ceases to amaze me how many different types of ‘bugs’ seem to flit out of every burrow, nook and cranny when the rains come. We always wonder where they have all been hiding for the dry months. The cicadas are perhaps the most impressive, if not the most frustrating, with their deafening evening cacophony, the noise so piercing that we have to cover our ears just to walk past. Our open-air dining arrangement takes on new challenges, such as fishing various bugs out of the soup and watching poor moths attempt to fly into the candle flames, much to the children’s distress. With all the new insect noises around, it took us a little while to tune in to a new noise in the undergrowth one morning as we sat catching up with computer work. At first it seemed very much like the usual chirping of a cricket, but was somehow different. Further investigation revealed a small gosling in the bushes, earnestly chirping away, all alone. We walked away slowly and looked around for its parents. We were aware that a pair of knob-billed geese had been nesting in a tree which was now some distance into the river due to the water rising around it due to the rains. We could only imagine that perhaps this little one had tried to leave the nest,




had swum across to the bank and was now lost. There was no sign of the parents, a dilemma for us, one that we usually try to avoid at all costs. Should we catch it and take care of it, or leave Mother Nature to take her course? Would the parents come back? We decided to leave it for a few hours to see what happened, but the chirping became louder and more earnest and our mothering (and fathering) instincts took over. Scrabbling around on our hands and knees under the bushes, we managed to catch the little goose. The children received the new addition with mixed emotions. On the one hand, who could not love the little bird immediately, but the anxiety at trying to protect such a vulnerable creature with no knowledge or training in how to do so was daunting. After a few phone calls to various experts, we had a plan. Keep it warm and try to feed it spinach and water, much like training it to eat water weeds, its natural food. We did have some success and the afternoon passed with minute-by-minute updates from the children about what little ‘Chirpy’ was up to. Over dinner, turns were taken to have Chirpy snuggle into our clothes for comfort and warmth against the night air, and the rest of the night was surprisingly quiet as it nestled up to a hot


water bottle in a crate. At dawn, seeing Chirpy still alive and well gave us all hope as to our gosling caring skills, and we resigned ourselves to raising and hoping to release it back into the wild, in the very place it was born. But Mother Nature had other plans. Just after breakfast, to our surprise, we saw two knob-billed geese back in the nesting tree. On a complete whim, we decided to try to return Chirpy to them, or at least see if they would recognise it. Placing Chirpy, who was indeed chirping frantically again, in the middle of the lawn, we stood back and held our breath. To our surprise, one of the geese instantly took an interest, and within minutes had flown over our heads, landed near little Chirpy and started making its own chirping noise. The rest of the scene played out like the end of a movie… Chirpy flapped across the lawn, they chirped at each other and the adult goose walked off into the long grass by the river, with Chirpy following behind. The children were now in floods of happy and sad tears, and I think we all imagined that perhaps Chirpy might pause, look back at us for a moment, as if torn at leaving her new human family, before choosing to continue on. But it did not look back. Perhaps this story will have a happy ending...







Naiberi River Campsite



Adventure in the North Rift Kemzy Kemzy gets invited to explore the beauty of Eldoret and the North Rift Economic Bloc by Jambojet for their #NowTravelReady campaign. PHOTOGRAPHS: C/O JAMBOJET






that they were just being kind to us. They are pros after all! I highly recommend the drive from Eldoret to the camp; the sights are astounding.

Climbing Mt. Elgon

This eighth highest mountain in Africa is one of the few mountains where cross border tourism is allowed. You can climb the mountain from the Kenyan side and drop down at the Ugandan side or vice versa. Fun fact: Mt Elgon has the largest caldera in the world.

Kitum Caves


love morning flights and ours was coincidentally at 6:30am, and I therefore had to be at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by at least 5:40am. To my relief, Jambojet had put all the recommended health protocols in place to curb the spread of Covid 19; as soon as I got to the check in station, I had to sanitize my hands, have my temperature taken and keep a social distance. All passengers were always reminded to wear their masks properly at all times, including during the flight. One hour later we landed at Eldoret International Airport where we were picked up and driven to the Noble Hotel and Conference Centre for breakfast. I spent my stay at their executive room which goes for Ksh 9,200 for single occupancy on a full board basis. The next four days were spent touring parts of Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties. Here’s what we got up to:

Kapsimotwa Gardens

This was one of my favourite spots in Nandi county, aka The Source of Champions. The drive up the remarkable Nandi Hills through the tea farms was very scenic, and we stopped to get some tea plucking lessons from the kind, welcoming farmers who even gave us sugarcane to snack on. We then headed to the green Kapsimotwa Gardens which is perfect for dates, picnics, weddings and team building. They charge ksh 500 entry fees per vehicle. Check out the ponds, and since there’s no restaurant on site, bring your own food. Be wary, though, of those cheeky black and white colobus monkeys who will snatch away your food given the chance.

Chepkiit Falls

Also known as ‘Mlango Falls”, take in the scene from any of the four viewing points. The water forcefully gushing down the rocks from River Sosiani is beautiful to behold, but is also a death trap that has claimed quite a number of lives. I’d suggest visiting in the drier seasons when it is much safer and you can even camp with the sound of the waterfall in the background. Entry fee is ksh 200 per adult and ksh 100 per child.

Chororget Church Rock Viewpoint

This is the best place to get unobstructed panoramic views of the Rift Valley, Tugen Hills and Kerio Valley. Not so long ago, paragliding used to take place here but due to safety reasons, it has since been put on hold. It is also a great vantage point for watching the famous Eldoret safari rally.

Fishing at Kesses Dam

This is one of the must-see places in Uasin Gishu County. About 45 minutes from Eldoret town, the man made dam is ideal for a chilled out afternoon boat ride or a fishing escapade. On a lucky day, you can spot the rare swamp-dwelling sitatunga antelope which is a major tourist attraction for the dam. A boat ride will cost you ksh 100 per hour and ksh 2500 per day.

Kapsait Nike Training Camp

In the heart of Elgeyo Marakwet county lies this training camp which has produced a few champions. One of them, Bridget Kosgei, broke the world’s marathon record in Chicago on 13th October, 2020. We had a very in-depth conversation with the athletes, most of whom had impressively won a race in their different categories. To top it all, they challenged us to a quick race which one of us won but I really think

On entering Mt Elgon National Park through the Chorlim gate, we spotted buffaloes, monkeys, zebras and bushbucks on our way to the famous Kitum Caves where elephants have learnt to mine the sodium-rich rocks. The cave is 160m deep and its entrance is covered by a waterfall so don’t forget to carry a raincoat and comfortable shoes. The park is safe and you can go on a walking safari, ride horses, picnic and even camp. Accommodation is available at a fee in the bandas. Park entry fee is Ksh 250 per adult and Ksh 200 per child.


Apart from the Noble Hotel and Conference Centre, the other accommodation options we visited were:

Poa Place

For traditional Kalenjin food, I recommend stopping by this spot in Eldoret. All their meals were served from traditional clay pots, and I really enjoyed their kienyeji chicken, brown ugali and signature fermented milk called mursik. It is a perfect stopover for families as they have a kids amusement park, swimming pool and a cultural centre. They also offer accommodation in tented cottages.

The Naiberi River campsite resort

This “stone age with a touch of modern luxury” resort has accommodation options for all kinds of travelers, ranging from luxury executive suites and log cabins to dorms and camping. What stood out for me was their stone cave bar/restaurant which is literally in a cave. It reminded me of the Flintstones cartoon.

Samich Resort

This luxury villa on the edge of Kerio Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet county was another highlight to our trip, particularly for the views we enjoyed when we stopped over for a picnic lunch. They charge an entrance fee of Ksh 200 per person, redeemable at their restaurant. The place is ideal for swimming, camping and cycling.





There’s nothing quite like finding an incredible house to take over with your friends or family for the weekend, someplace close to Nairobi, with that winning combination of peaceful privacy and oodles of beautifully designed spaces. Enter Kajiado, home to some of Kenya’s most beautiful Airbnbs, and our pick for your next weekend getaway.


Little Tandala, Il Bisil

Getting there

Hosted by Stewart and Sandie, getting to the main gate was pretty straight forward following the directions on Google’s only two hours away from Nairobi, and just a little past Il Bisil town. There are two routes to get there, either via Rongai, Kiserian and Isinya, or down Mombasa Road to Kitengela and on to Kajiado.

The House

There are two options for accommodation, Tandala House being the main, and suitable for families and larger groups. It has a room with glass windows through which you can see people swimming across in the adjacent pool, and a lovely roof deck for sundowners. There are seven beds and four baths here, one of which is tucked in an open green courtyard. There’s even a secret underground room which started out as a borehole in the property...see if you can find it during your stay. Both offer a real sense of exclusivity and privacy. Being selfcatering, we did all our shopping in Nairobi. We had been informed that there was no chef so we would need to do all our own cooking, although the staff would be there to assist with cleaning up. Driving in we encountered a tortoise hatchling and also spotted a dik-dik right before it skirted into the bushes on needle-thin legs. You may apparently also see the lesser kudu, impala, eland, bushbuck and more. Little Tandala is impressive, and the outdoor pool which covers the front section of the property and overlooks the surrounding hillside is the ultimate indulgence. In the morning, pleasantly woken up by birds chirping in the nest on a nearby tree, I would get up from bed and take two steps right into the pool to swim its length, then gaze at the hills - how can a place be so beautiful? The house has one double bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, and two en-suite twin rooms (whose beds can be pushed together to make a double). One of the bedrooms is actually in a separate cottage within the walled garden. The decor mixes curated items with the owner’s personal items, such as books and a gallery wall. Stewart, who I found to be very friendly and helpful, informed me that they actually started living in Little Tandala when it was still a grass house. When they moved to the big house, white ants started eating it. Impressive what they have since put up in its place! The fully equipped kitchen opens up to the space making it perfect for entertaining. Seriously...this kitchen had everything from From the expected fridge and gas cooker to all utensils I needed and a wooden spice rack from which hung a variety of dried herbs and spices. The sitting room has a fireplace in front of which we spent all our evenings. There is a little dining area by the pool perfect for breakfast, but the best part about the house is that both the bedrooms and living room open right into the pool.

Note: • • •

• • •

The property runs on a Solar System. Fun fact: Tandala is also Swahili for Kudu. You can also visit Amboseli which is only 1.5 hours away. At the top of the ridge behind the house there is a WW1 historical ruin which was an old gun emplacement/signal post which may be of interest to some guests. No pets are allowed. Accommodation starts at Ksh 28,000.



Champagne Ridge Villa Champagne Ridge

Only an hour’s drive from the city, we arrived here in the evening, just as a warm orange glow was washing over the space through the massive windows. After seeing the bathroom, and then picking my jaw up off the floor, I decided to run a bath, pour a glass of Chardonnay and enjoy the sunset, staying until the water in the tub got a little cold and my legs became numb. By morning light, on closer inspection of our home for the next two nights, I realized that from whichever angle, this villa is impressive; a study in good taste. The entire front section is covered in floor to ceiling glass, and with the house perched right on the edge of a cliff, the view of the Rift Valley which spreads below as if for the taking is as dramatic as it is beautiful. It may be deceptively calm indoors but it is only when I decided to go for a quick run that I realized just how windy it is in the area.




The villa has four bedrooms- two large en suite master bedrooms on opposite ends, and two smaller ones. The decor and architecture are very sleek and modern. The living room is mostly adorned in neutrals with hints of gold, and the few pops of colour throughout are carefully curated. This is particularly effective with the cobalt blue sofa in the lobby that, for some reason, remind me of an airport business lounge. An area rug in the same colour as the cozy L-shaped sofa in the main section adds a fun element of texture, and we carried board games for a fierce game of Word with Friends (or Words with Enemies as I now like to call it after I gloated too much for winning) around the fireplace. The doors slide back to an outdoor verandah with white seats, a spot perfect for wine and conversations into the balmy Champagne Ridge evenings.

An well-equipped open-plan kitchen is located right next to the dining area. The property is solely managed by YourHost Curated Stays, a group of young people passionate about design and hospitality. They sent us all the follow up information upon booking, and co-ordinated everything to ensure we had a comfortable stay.

The dining table sits eight, and I spotted a grill in the garden in case you’d like to throw on an apron and cook some meat.


Note: • • • •

There is no WiFi but the Safaricom cellphone signal is strong. There’s a housekeeper and guard on the premises. The house is eco-friendly and only operates on solar power. The chef is not based within the property but can be contacted to prepare your meals at an extra fee. Accommodation starts at Ksh 24,000 for four people. Instagram: @yourhostbnb.


Stop by: Kitengela Hot Glass Rongai

Here, at East Africa’s first glassblowing company, visitors coming from all over the world will find a passionate and practical ensemble of scrap glass renewed and refashioned into stylish objects, functional art and inspired design. Sip cappuccino at a funky, chunky mosaic table in the outdoor café. Step into the workshop to discover art and watch the magic of glassblowing as it happens. Relax in a secret garden of sculpture and furniture and living designs that enchant and inspire. Then, at either of the two shops, purchase colourful crockery, dalle de verre, chandeliers, lamps, beads and more.

Founder Anselm’s mother was working with stained glass and encouraged him to find out about molten glass. He went to Holland after his education to understand glass making with Willem & Bernard Heesen in the early 90s. During this apprenticeship he fell in love with the frustrating, challenging and deeply satisfying process of glass blowing, and, all fired up, came back to Kenya to set up Kitengela Hot Glass with a team that today features everyone from core blowers to women in the dalle de verre. Collected from suppliers to the building industry, melting 150kg of old glass a day, They have converted over 2,000,000kg of scrap window and bottle glass into useful and decorative items over the years.



Other places to stay

The Container House Kajiado This is a quirky house made out of three shipping containers and set on top of a cliff overlooking the beginning of the Rift Valley. Only a 40 minute drive from Karen on mainly tarmac roads, there’s a vegetable patch to get ingredients for dinner, fresh eggs from the chickens and even fresh milk from the goats that live there too. It not only has stunning views but also has a pathway down to huge rocks perfect for watching the sunset. Interiors are decorated with objects from across Kenya, personalised with pictures from the owner and her family. Although there are big dogs on the property (I mean huge - half St. Bernard, half Great Dane), they are friendly, fun and always looking for someone to share the sofa with. Ksh 12,000 per night; two double bedrooms, sleeps four guests.

The A-Frame on Windy Ridge Karen Recently built and situated in the heart of Karen; this cosy one-bedroom A-frame cottage is tucked out of sight in a corner of a four acre garden. Ideal for solo travellers and couples or friends, it sleeps two guests. The upstairs large queen bed can be separated into two twin beds if required and the downstairs couch can be made into a single bed too if needed. The open-plan kitchen is well stocked, and a reverse osmosis system provides a constant supply of safe, drinking water. The outdoor wooden deck overlooks the private garden and a large, comfy swing chair hangs from the fig tree. An outdoor chiminea fireplace can be lit in the evening upon request ( bring some firewood with you) and fairy lights add to the ambiance. Starts at Ksh 8,200 per night. airbnb. com/h/theaframeonwindyridge





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TRIMBLE FAMILY BUCKETLIST Dale and Damiana Trimble, 38, are entrepreneurs who travel the world full time with their three kids King (7), Legend (4) and Love (3). In two full years they have visited 20 countries together, gotten 10 visas, taken close to 100 flights and scratched so much off their bucket list that they’ve run out of passport pages, and they still can’t imagine a life without travel. Instagram: @trimblefamilybucketlist

Were you scared to take the leap to travel the world full time with your kids? One January morning over breakfast, we decided that we would sell or give away all of our things, store the keepsakes and take to the world to see and experience all that God had made. We were initially scared because it was so far out of our comfort zone...this was a huge risk! Our kids were really small and to traverse the world with babies, you had to have balls. Change was however imminent. We had money without beautiful experiences, and a life without meaning was the last thing we wanted our legacy to be. Did your family support the decision? Some of our family were not for this journey. To this day, even after seeing the beautiful and wonderful things we have experienced and showcased around the world, they are still not our biggest supporters. This journey is about freedom for us. We are escaping the status quo, the mundane and the old routine systems we were brought up in. We did not want that life for our kids. It’s also spiritual for us as we have reconnected with our highest selves and feel good about it. Having visited 20 countries, which are some of your favourite places so far? Our very first flight on this journey was to Bangkok, Thailand. We had never flown for more than eight hours before, yet there we were, inflight for a full 24-hour day with three babies. We had no clue about full time travel and all that comes with it, but we really enjoyed Thailand. Kenya, India, Bali, Vietnam and Tanzania have also been highlights.

How do you keep up with the kids education while on the road? They are extremely smart. We teach them in 2-4 hour blocks of time throughout the day, and most learning is hands on. Reading is done half the day - as we move about we have the kids read signs, menus, books we bring with us, grocery items at the store, and they also do math through purchases we make, taxi fares and balancing our check book. We teach them the history of every country and visit all historical sites. We use YouTube for additional learning as well. We explore markets, sites and museums with them and immerse ourselves in the culture, teaching them as much as their minds can hold of each destination. In each country, they also learn as much language as they can.

Any travel hacks you’ve picked up along the way? Pack extra outfits, have quiet toys for long flights, keep gum on hand for clogged ears and balloons on hand to unclog ears, keep favorite treats on hand, bring light blankets for flights and layovers, roll clothes in suitcases for more space, sometimes book flights at the last minute to get better deals, and we also pack a week ahead to ensure we have everything for our journey. For flights, we try not to take very long ones to keep the kids from experiencing anxiety. We take all our baggage and pay for any excess.




Manda Bay Lamu This is a small privately owned boutique lodge located on the northern tip of Manda Island in Lamu. It is the perfect escape for families or honeymooners looking for the ultimate 'no shoes, no news' experience and is renowned for its wonderfully relaxed atmosphere with a variety of activities on offer. The only access to Manda Bay is by speedboat so guests can enjoy this private island all to themselves. It has 16 rooms; six seaview and 11 beachfront. Room 7 has an extra bedroom designed for families and room 11 is the biggest and can accommodate three extra beds.





Heading to the beach with family or friends for Easter? Here are a few properties perfect for big groups.


The Zubeida Diani This is a family-owned vintage provincial property which has been carefully transformed and hand crafted into the vision of what a beach holiday should be. From the ornate main villa entrance to the simple yet sophisticated interior furnishings, as well as the delectable a la carte menu, everything at The Zubeida has been consciously curated to offer luxury at the right cost. This spot caters to the most discerning of travelers, and if rest and relaxation is what you crave, look no further. From white sandy beaches to lush gardens, you can easily explore and get lost on your own, or with company.

Ornella House Malindi Set on Casuarina Road and designed with traditional African open spaces in mind, this large villa has five bedrooms and bathrooms and is suitable for groups of friends or a family that wants a quiet escape that’s just five minutes away from the beach. It sleeps up to 10 people. Spend your days dipping in the pool, enjoying some sun on the blue sun beds or taking a nap in the shaded gazebo. At the front of the house is a spacious patio and dining room, and your meals can be whipped up in the fully equipped kitchen. Instagram: @ornellahouse

Heavenly House, Watamu This is a spacious and modern private beachfront home set in an Indian Ocean cove at the southern end of Turtle Bay. It has three stories set on two acres by the beach, with five bedrooms that can host up to 13 people. Heavenly House has a daytime lounge, evening lounge, a shaded outdoor lounge, an office/studio, art/reading room, a huge pool, three dining areas and two rooftop lounges. For families, the pool has three sections, and the shallow, shaded one that comes into the house is brilliant for smaller kids whose swimming skills are still a work in progress.




Looking for weekend getaway ideas? Kari Mutu speaks to various travel enthusiasts for suggestions on their favourite spots. PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI

AKSHAY VISHWANATH, Environmental Professional For an easy getaway, Akshay goes to the community-owned Naretunoi Conservancy just south of the Nairobi National Park. This small wilderness and wildlife dispersal area is accessed from Kitengela town, driving through Maasai community land. “It’s very close to Nairobi and a great place to walk around, observe wildlife, birdwatch or just to chill,” he says. He stays at The Wildlife Foundation Centre which has simple but comfortable bandas in a large compound surrounded by acacia trees. Three meals a day are provided but you can bring your choice of beverages and enjoy nice conversations around the outdoor fireplace at night. For a longer escape, he gets onto the Magadi Road and heads off to Shompole Conservancy, deep in the southern Rift Valley, not far from the Tanzania border. Apart from congestion in Ongata Rongai

town, it’s an easy three-hour drive on a good tarmac road with very little traffic. If you carry a packed lunch, you can stop at the Olorgesailie prehistoric site and museum, then eat in their open-sided picnic mess. Along the way, Maasai settlements dot the countryside and you might catch a bustling weekly market depending on the day. “There are stunning landscapes and it’s a great place to do bush camping,” he adds. Wildlife can be hard to spot so engage the services of a specialist guide based on site. Lake Natron, famous for lesser and greater flamingos, is just 15 minutes outside the conservancy. Wrap up the day with sundowners at camp watching the sunset over the Loita Hills. For something more luxurious try Shompole Wilderness. You need a 4WD for this trip as the section between Magadi and Ol Kiramatian is rocky and uneven.

KAMWETI GETHOI Environmental Consultant Kamweti likes Hell’s Gate National Park. The unique cliffs and valleys were the inspiration for the setting of The Lion King movie. Even though it is a national park, the absence of predators allows for several activities. “Hell’s Gate is great for biking, hiking, walking through the gorge and even fishing,” says Kamweti. Bikes are available for rent and rock climbing is also a big draw. There are self-catering campsites in the park, and more hotel options in Naivasha. Other weekend trips take him to Nyeri county in the central highlands, just a two-hour drive from Nairobi. It’s a place he likes “for its spectacular views of Mount Kenya early in the morning and lush, tranquil locations.” In town is the Nyeri Museum and the Baden-Powell Centre, named after the founder of the Boys’ Scouts movement. The colourful Karatina open air market is the largest in East Africa. A preferred lunch spot is Trout Tree Restaurant along the Burguret River; they serve freshly caught mountain trout daily.





ELEN SPYROPULOS Travel Operator Helen has found many special places to visit, but for a person who doesn’t have a 4WD and as flying can be expensive, the two places she loves best are Lake Baringo and Lake Magadi. Hippos, crocodiles and other wildlife are plenty at Lake Baringo, but the biggest attraction is the huge flocks of birds. A boat excursion is recommended, but you can get more adventurous with kayaking or sportfishing. She enjoys visiting Ruko Island and walking alongside the endangered Rothschild giraffes. Helen

usually stays at Island Camp on Ol Kokwe Island, but there are more choices on the mainland. The drive to Lake Magadi is particularly pleasant for the absence of traffic and roadblocks. The luxurious Lentorre Lodge is her usual choice of accommodation, but there are other mid-range lodges and camping sites in the conservancy. Longer hikes with a Maasai guide can be organized. A mustdo activity is a bath in the hot springs which are believed to have medicinal properties. At night, star-gaze into the amazing Magadi sky that is clear on most nights.

SUSAN MUUMBI Journalist One of her favourite places to retreat is Hemingways Nairobi. Located in the serene suburb of Karen, Susan likes to unwind at the Serenity Spa and enjoy the wide selection of treatments available. “One time I had a full-body wrap massage that left me feeling like I had new skin on,” she says. She follows an invigorating swim in the private pool with a session in the sauna. Afterwards she’ll take in the views from the terrace of the upstairs bar. The early evening is spent watching the sun setting over the Ngong Hills while sipping her favourite cocktail. If you have some extra time, she suggests visiting the nearby Karen Blixen Museum, Kazuri Beads Workshop for handcrafted ceramics, and the The Giraffe Centre.

SHREYA KARIA, PR and Marketing Professional Shreya recently discovered the treasures of Samburu. She gushes about the beauty of the arid landscape, the hills and incredible red sunsets, an ideal way to reset. “You feel entirely at one with nature and the vastness reminds you that you are a part of something bigger,” she says. Samburu is a six-hour drive or onehour flight away from Nairobi. Game drives yield a good selection of wildlife, especially the rarer northern species like gerenuk and reticulated giraffes. She likes to stay at Sasaab Nyiro camp for its closeness to the Ewaso Nyiro river favoured by elephants. Saruni Samburu is perched on a cliff and looks out onto the endless plains. There’s lots of walking there, and Shreya says “ it’s well worth it if solitude and natural beauty is what you’re after.” At the rustic Sarara camp you get “entirely immersed in the ‘National Geographic experience’ of Samburu.” Good mid-range options are Samburu Intrepids, Samburu Simba and Samburu Game Lodge. Another destination high on Shreya’s list is Laikipia, particularly the Borana Conservancy. It’s greener and lusher than Samburu, and known for a large population of rhinos. “The conservancy feels holistic, with a sense of belonging and community. I’ve had the best breakfast to date at Borana Lodge,” she adds. Being a private conservancy, visitors can immerse into nature through guided bush walks, mountain biking and horseback riding. Lengishu and Laragai are some of the other luxury private homes in Borana, whereas the rustic Sieku Camp styles itself as a glamorous camping spot.

Her next choice is Lake Naivasha. A morning spent on Crescent Island, accessed by boat from the mainland, is one of her favourite things to do. “I like to walk among the wildlife and experience unfettered interaction with nature,” she adds. Other fun excursions are boat riding and bird watching on the lake, visiting the Olkaria Geothermal spa, a tour of Elsamere Lodge and museum, indulging in some nyama choma at Kikopey or a driving to Hell’s Gate National Park for the day.





29 year old Photographer & content creator Tatiana Karanja and her partner Wayne Mutiso, 28, a Real estate Agent, have spent a lot of time traveling across the country with their kids: Olive, 3, and Marley, 2. They speak to Nomad about what it’s like traveling with toddlers. Instagram: @mamaolivek

How did you start traveling regularly with the family? Wayne and I met six years ago in Kericho. Things moved very quickly for us and now, six years later, we’re lucky enough to be travelling around Kenya as a young family of four. I always dreamt of a life like this and I couldn’t be happier about how things have turned out. Even with all the ups and downs, I am so grateful for where we are now. We are lucky that some of our work revolves around traveling to beautiful locations around Kenya, and hope to do even more family travel going forward. Do you have any advice for other parents looking to travel with their kids? Be patient and don’t try to have a “perfect holiday” where everything is planned out. Flexibility goes a long way. Toddlers can be erratic; they will be so excited and eager to explore and have fun, but they will also get tired and throw tantrums, so just try to and relax and go with the flow. I’ve come to learn that you shouldn’t plan to get work done while on vacation as it's very difficult and you tend to start getting frustrated. Just go with the intention of just spending quality time with your family.





What’s your favourite place that you’ve been to so far? As a family, our trip to The Sands at Nomad in Diani last year has been a favourite. Our kids absolutely love the coast and relish being out on the water. The entire holiday was spent swimming in the ocean or hanging around the pool and eating really good food. Does it really get any better than that? How do you ensure that the kids have fun while you and Wayne also get to experience activities that you enjoy? Honestly, with toddlers, that’s not an easy thing to do unless you bring a nanny along...I find that it’s just not possible to leave the kids at the hotel or on their own while we're off doing our own thing. What’s lovely though is that we truly enjoy seeing them happy...seeing how their eyes light up when they’re experiencing something new. Sometimes, though, our nanny comes along so that once in a while we can get time to perhaps have a romantic dinner or do some water sport that the kids can’t partake in. We also love the fact that our nanny gets to travel and see more of Kenya with us.

What kind of accommodations do you seek out when you travel? The most important consideration is how child friendly a place is. Locations with a playground and activities for kids are often the best bet, and I would choose those over other places even if the quality isn’t as great. Being able to get a break while the kids are enjoying themselves is absolutely fantastic... it allows for some peace and rest. Other than that, we’re very open and enjoy different activities and new experiences. How has traveling been beneficial to the kids? They are not only learning about their country but also about various wildlife, landscapes, people, cultures and ideas. They are learning and experiencing a lot which I believe will not only help develop their minds but also make them more understanding human beings. Who takes your family photos when you’re out and about? Being a photographer, I often take the photos. If it’s work related, sometimes we have a photographer come along. Other times I’ll ask our nanny to help.

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This month’s roadtrip is only a short hop from Nairobi, and the perfect day trip for families. Set in Ngecha Village in Limuru, at Mlango farm, you get to harvest your own organic vegetables then tuck into a delectable lunch, and for kids, learn about farm animals and where their food comes from. ,







gecha Village in Limuru is only 35 minutes away from my neighbourhood in Nairobi, and following the direction on Google Maps, getting there is pretty straight forward. The road is tarmacked most of the way, followed by a stretch of dirt road in the last kilometre or so from the farm. You can in fact get there and back by Uber. Be sure to however ring up the farm days in advance to ensure you get a slot. We get there at 11:00am as we were advised on booking, and have a quick coffee and cake before a guide, Becky, is assigned to take us around the farm. The cost is Ksh 2,000 per adult which includes a guided farm walk and an all-you-can-eat lunch, and should you wish to harvest any vegetables, you get a large basket which you can fill as you wish at only Ksh 800. Kids under 12 go at half price, and under three are free. The 20 acre farm is run by Kamande and his Dutch wife, Els, who met in Amsterdam. Their house was built some time in the 80s by Kamande’s parents, but wasn’t used for much after that. Returning to Kenya in 2007, the pair had an empty house and the rest was all bush; Kamande slowly started building the farm and clearing the land with two workers, and after about five years, they started welcoming visitors. Today, they have a beautiful organic farm with over 50 different crops and 70 workers. The length of the walk depends on you, and ours took about an hour, cut short due to the heat. Becky told us more about the farm and the different vegetables they grow, and every now and then we would stop to taste a gooseberry or tree tomato, smell some lemongrass or learn the uses of the various herbs and plants. When we came across something I wanted to bring back home, Becky and I took turns harvesting. In the end my basket was filled with produce such as curly kale, spinach, red cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, three different kinds of lettuce, spring

The cost is Ksh 2,000 per adult which includes a guided farm walk and lunch, and should you wish to harvest any vegetables, you get a large basket which you can fill as you wish onions, rosemary and more. I was so excited when they told me that the managu they had on the farm was the bitter type that my grandma used to ferment with milk...for some reason, most that I’ve bought from markets in Nairobi never have that taste, so I stocked up. There’s a stream which runs through the farm and when we came across a patch of baby carrots, Becky told me that it was okay to wash and eat directly from it. To prove this, she used a banana leaf as a cup to fetch and drink the water; I’m happy to report that it’s been about a month now and I haven’t had any health issues from the water. I was impressed to see kids from Nairobi, as little as four years, accompanying their parents around the farm. In fact, Mlango Farm hosts schools with groups of 60 to 80 kids, and just built an education center last year. Kids learn about farming, then go around in smaller groups. There are also different farm animals which are kept not for dairy or meat but to show city kids what a farm looks like. These include a donkey, horse, sheep, goats, cows, rabbit, ducks, geese and tortoise. “Sometimes they have no idea where their food comes from so we’re on a mission to show them the difference between a goat and a sheep, then we start to talk about the environment and why it's important to care for it because that’s where their food comes from,” explains Els.

The walk was followed by lunch under a much-welcome shade in the garden. There was rhubarb juice aplenty, something I’ve never tried before, and I must have had it by the bucketfuls. The spread was so lavish for just two people. First came a zucchini soup topped with basil and served with warm herbed homemade herb. This was followed by everything from vegetable quiche, Greek tahini, lentil salad, beetroot salad, jacket potatoes and sausages to tumeric sultana rice and more. We were so stuffed by the end that it would have been lovely to take a nap in the garden. There’s actually a hammock should you wish to do this. A lot of recycled bits and bobs such as madafu, hats, tin cans, plastic water bottle tops, gumboots, paint brushes have been recycled into art which hang around the space from tree branches. Some were made by volunteer workers, so are art projects by the kids who come by. Classic cars in vibrant shades of orange, and blue, are also dotted around the parking lot; they may be immobile but boy are they just pretty to look at. There’s even a bus with cows painted on it - it was initially bought to transport kids from schools which didn’t have a bus, but it is now being turned into a home. The conversion is actually halfway done, with a kitchen in the front section and a bed at the back. Kids, who are always curious about it, are often told tall tales about a man with a long white beard living inside the bus. Everything goes straight into the kitchen to hotels, restaurants or individual households. For Ksh 1,000 anyone can sign up to receive a weekly farm share of the harvest. With about 130 households having signed up in Nairobi, the farm sends you recipes as some people don't know where to start, and push you to be creative. There’s also a gallery which sells paintings from artists largely from the surrounding village or curated from all over, as well as a shop where you can buy items such as jams and honey.


THE PANGOLIN PROJECT We talk to The Pangolin Project founder Dr Claire Okell about these mammals, including why we don’t often see them on safari and how Coronavirus has highlighted the extractive and exploitative nature of the illegal wildlife trade.







What is a pangolin? Despite their appearance, pangolins are mammals- the only ones covered in an outer layer of scales. These scales, which form an effective defence mechanism, are made from keratin – the same material that makes up your hair and nails. When they face danger, they curl into a tight ball. Any predator now faced with this armoured exterior has a hard job to break in! Pangolins are strong and can stay in that ball for a number of hours. Most predators become bored in this time frame and move on. They are shy, humble and mainly solitary creatures. They have one pup at a time that feeds on milk and moves around on its mothers back until it is old enough to be independent. Pangolins are anteaters with a long nose and a phenomenal sense of smell. Their front claws are sharp and powerful and they use these to open ant and termite nests, then their long sticky tongue reaches into tunnels and retrieves the ants. Contrary to popular thought, pangolins are not related to any other ant eating species such as aardvarks. What are the species of pangolins one can see in Kenya? Globally there are eight species of pangolins; four in Southeast Asia and four in Africa. In Kenya there are three of the four African species. The most widespread is the Temminck’s Ground pangolin which can be found in a range of habitats from arid lands and savannah to riverine areas. The White Bellied Tree pangolin is found across the equatorial rainforest belt of the continent and its eastern most reach extends into western Kenya – but it is only found in protected areas such as Kakamega Forest. Lastly, we have evidence to believe that the Giant Ground pangolin still exists in a very small area of Kenya – more on this later in the year! Why are they critically endangered? Threats include climate change, habitat loss and in Asia, being killed for use in traditional medicine and ritualistic purposes. Rate of poaching of pangolins has grown exponentially to meet an ever increasing demand for their scales that are used in traditional Chinese medicine and meat that is seen as a delicacy in some cultures. All four species of Asian pangolins are now on the knife edge of

survival. Since 2000, as the numbers of the Asian species declined, the poaching crisis has expanded to Africa and threatens all four species on the continent. How do they get poached? Curling into a ball makes them extremely easy to pick up, place in a bag and move off with. The very defence mechanism that is so effective against predators is now acting against them. Once poached the pangolin will be moved, usually in a simple sack, to a trader and then on to an end market. It is killed, the meat may be consumed and the scales are removed and sold separately. Over six tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized on several occasions, likely poached from various different countries. What does The Pangolin Project do? It is a charitable organisation dedicated to the protection of pangolin species and their habitat in Kenya. The Pangolin Project was founded in 2019 by Dr Claire Okell who recognised that not only were we in danger of losing all three species of pangolins but also that very little was known about them. The organisation focuses on four critical areas of work; conservation research that answers the questions that guide protection strategies, creating awareness and skills to protect pangolin by training stakeholders such as rangers, the health and welfare of pangolins including rehabilitation and relocation which is essential for successful re-release, and partnerships with local communities. The Pangolin Project works in programmes in Narok, Tsavo and West Pokot in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service and other wildlife protection stakeholders. Why don't we typically see pangolins while on safari? Where in Kenya are we most likely to spot them? There is no other creature like them in the ecosystem but they are very hard to see in most areas. The main reason for this is that they are extremely shy and predominantly nocturnal – most guests are tucked up at night when they are most active. They also have large home ranges and their movement may seem erratic making it hard to predict where they might be. Often when they hear a

vehicle or people, they stop still and sink low to the ground waiting for you to pass. In thick bush or grassland that Kenya is so famous for, it can be very hard to find them. The best time to see one is early evening or at night, and after the early rains when the grass is short. The Maasai Mara Reserve is an essential habitat for Temminck’s Ground Pangolin but you may also see them across the Tsavo ecosystem. The impact of poaching and other risks means that sightings are a lot less frequent – an indicator that their numbers are in decline. The Pangolin Project’s research team, based at Sala’s Camp, welcomes those that would like to learn more about pangolins and would like an interactive experience to see what it really takes to protect the species. In light of Covid 19, the Chinese government has taken measures to help curb the trade of pangolin. Are you actively involved in trying to change policies like that? Science has shown us that COVID 19 and previous pandemics such as SARS & MERS have origins from wildlife and that human health is directly affected by the health of the environment and our contact with it. COVID 19 has highlighted the extractive and exploitive nature of the illegal wildlife trade, and that if humanity continues with these practices, it does so at great risk to our health and the economy. Being a transboundary crime, stopping the illegal wildlife trade requires actions by all governments to prevent the poaching, trade and markets for wildlife. Any policies that will abolish these steps are essential to wildlife protection. We are working with the government to ensure that pangolins are offered the highest level of protection and to ensure that they remain here, in Kenya, for future generations. Conservation funding typically goes to the larger animals. What can be done to change that? We have to tell the story of the lesser known species so that everyone realises how essential they are to biodiversity and our environment. We need more coverage of pangolins and other species to the wider public...once people are interested in a species and connected to them then we are halfway there.





Enshrouded in lush green forested hills, flanked by rocky inlets and dotted with mangrove swamps lies El Huthera, the Green Island as it was once called by Omani Sailors who sailed through the Zanzibar Archipelago for centuries. Once a critical trading hub between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, today Pemba Island lies far off the beaten track and makes for an incredibly romantic getaway. Maurice Schutgens and his fiancee went in search of its hidden gems. Text and Photography by Maurice Schutgens






of age, the views were breathtaking, with dhows dancing in the wind offshore and the patchwork of seaweed farms scattered below.

The Diving


he plane started descending before I felt we had properly got going. Hues of blue and teal erupted from the deep below. Skimming the tops of palm trees we came to a shuddering halt on the airstrip. Within a couple of minutes we had cleared through the formalities of Chake Chake Airport in the laidback capital. Salim, our driver, dressed in a traditional thawb, whisked us away to the far north of the island in his barely road-worthy chariot. Pemba could not have been more of a contrast to the chaotic hustle and bustle of Unguja (what is popularly referred to as Zanzibar). Outside our window clove plantations and spice farms slid by in a blur - it was easy to see where the island got its name. Little over an hour later we stood with our feet in the sand gazing over the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, a breeze in our hair, not a care in the world. In the distance we could see Pemba’s main claim to fame floating 250m offshore - Manta Resorts’ Underwater Villa. At $1,800 a night it was just out of our budget range! While this trip was meant to be our pre-wedding honeymoon, lying enveloped in each other's arms on the silky white sandy beaches devoid of tourists while feasting on fresh seafood and sipping bubbles simply wasn’t our style. Though you wouldn't be blamed for doing just that. We had come to get under Pemba’s skin.

The Sandbank

On the far northern tip of the island lies one of the most spectacular sandbanks in the world. There are plenty of ways to get to it, mostly through a set price tour, but we were determined to walk out to it at low tide. A 6km stroll? Why not. With the tide times firmly in our heads we set out

As we headed out for Swiss Reef, a pod of spinner dolphins launched themselves out of the water throwing spray into the air ahead of our boat. It was a good omen, or so Mike said. along the rugged coastline, exposing the extensive seaweed farms being cultivated by Zanzibari women, submerged up to their waists. These red seaweed farms are the superfood of the future with the active ingredient, Carrageenan, used as a thickening agent in foods, cosmetics and medicines generating up to $8 million in revenue for Zanzibar per annum. Wading out to the sandbank we carefully crossed the shallow reef, being sure to side-step the colossal red sea urchins (which looked positively painful). The aquamarine colours were incredible, and the sandbank was abandoned. It was a true Robinson Crusoe moment, made complete with a chilled bottle of Champagne I had smuggled along to celebrate my fiance's birthday. But the moment simply could not last. As the high tide returned with a vengeance, slowly the sand below our feet surrendered back to the ocean. We had come prepared to make the long swim back but a passing dhow took mercy on us and we hitched a ride. Back on land we hiked up to the island's highest point, the Kigomasha Peninsula Lighthouse which the keeper proudly (but questionably) proclaimed was the oldest in the world. Irrespective

The Pemba Channel, separating mainland Africa from Pemba Island, plummets to depths of over 2,000m before rising dramatically in an explosion of marine life in the shallows on the island’s west coast. Pemba offers some of the most spectacular diving on the continent and I was not about to skip it. As New Year's day broke, my hangover all but forgotten, I jumped aboard a Swahili diving boat with the owner, Mike, a Lebanese national and quite the character, who runs a professional operation. As we headed out for Swiss Reef, a pod of spinner dolphins launched themselves out of the water throwing spray into the air ahead of our boat. It was a good omen, or so Mike said. Dropping below the surface the waters were startlingly clear and the vibrant healthy reefs a sensory overload. We glided amongst the coral pinnacles to the edge of sharp precipices beyond which the big blue ocean began. A green sea turtle emerged from the shadows and silently slipped past us. These were magical scenes, played out on repeat, only for few to enjoy.

The Forest

Ngezi Forest Reserve is the last remnant of indigineous tropical rainforest you’ll find in the Zanzibar Archipelago, and it is absolutely teeming with life. With the sun overhead, shards of light barely penetrated the dense canopy above, creating a light display on the foliage below. As we followed tiny paths in the undergrowth we listened carefully for the crash of colobus monkeys up high and the tell-tale swish of flying foxes overhead. Still, what we really were in search of were the famed Giant Coconut Crabs (Birgus latro), once described by Charles Darwin as monstrous and affectionately known as the Palm Thieves (for uh...well, their coconut stealing behaviour I suppose). Sadly we didn’t see as much as a single misplaced claw. Gradually we emerged onto Vumawimbi Beach, on the east of the island, shaking off the claustrophobia of the dense forest. Today Pemba’s pace of life remains refreshingly languid. It will not remain so forever, of that I am confident, but right now, it still retains that charming island tranquility making it a great destination for a secluded getaway.





ur four and half hour road trip from Nairobi to Tsavo West National Park started well before the break of dawn. Our mission was to avoid the early morning Nairobi traffic and catch a welcome cup of chai at Makindu Temple only to find that due to COVID 19, it was shut to the public. So onwards we went, finding myself and my younger son catching some shut eye and snuggled up in the back seat of the car. Three and a half hours in while down the smooth tarmacked Emali Road, we awoke. Like a beacon proclaiming “Keep Calm and Carry On”, Mount Kilimanjaro revealed herself in all her snow-capped splendour, not a cloud in sight. We took a moment to bask in her glory and take a prerequisite photo to document the moment. We spent the last hour of the off road journey with our 13-year-old’s musical repertoire of pop rap anthems and bass-thumping EDM tunes, debating over volume levels and song





Ami Doshi Shah and her family drive down to Tsavo West National Park to stay at Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp, a place she first visited in 1993 and that has since reopened with a much more contemporary perspective on interiors, dining, sustainability and architecture.

choices (which had at some point begun to feel like sound torture). As we drove alongside the rolling Chyulu Hills and into the Tsavo West National Park, torrential seasonal rains had aggressively eaten away parts of the murrum road. The deluge had given swathes of grass and verdant shrubs had gained a new lease on life. Providing the perfect cover for the plethora of wildlife in this vast savannah, it seemed as though wildlife had also received the memo on social distancing. Save for the incredible sights, smatterings of butterflies, weaver birds and a near miss with a tortoise crossing the road, our drive to Finch Hattons had passed without event. In 1993, I had come to Finch Hattons as a surly teenager (much like my son and yes, the irony is not lost on me). It was at that time newly built, with an aesthetic legacy that harked back to colonial sensibilities. After all, the property was named in honor of Denys Finch Hatton

- the Eton educated, big game hunter whose illustrious affair with Karen Blixen was immortalised in her book, Out of Africa. I imagine in those days, much of the draw of tourism to this beautiful corner of East Africa was the wish to experience and live the ‘luxury safari’ of days gone by. And the Finch Hattons of 1993 did this perfectly, sans the hunting and with running water and electricity. The Finch Hattons of today has most certainly brought the property into the 21st century. A visionary renovation that was years in the making, the property reopened its doors in 2015 with a much more contemporary perspective on interiors, dining, sustainability and architecture. The introduction of a world class spa in the renovation, aptly named the Chyulu Spa, became one of the many spaces of respite during our stay. Awe inspiring in its architectural simplicity, the two story structure of the spa complex features a first


floor yoga studio with a shrine-like view of the Chyulu Hills. We enjoyed the spa’s infinity pool, a separate air conditioned treatment room and hammam at leisure till we emerged with wrinkly-tipped fingers, sated and rejuvenated. On one evening game excursion, elusive hippos, hyenas, jackals, cape buffalo and elephants emerged from the overgrown scrubland into view, wading through nearby watering holes. We drove through craggly rivers of volcanic rocks, endless rolling plains of bush and a few minutes before sunset, arrived on an elevated verge. A tent had been set up with a bar and a range of snacks from a cheese board to nibbles. Safari chairs were positioned with seemingly endless views of the horizon punctuated only by the sun receding behind Kilimanjaro and a set-up of an archery target and the Maasai equivalent of basketball hoop where the rungu took the place of the more obvious basketball. Our boys took to testing their hand-eye coordination and competitiveness as we sat back, a gin and tonic in hand,

We enjoyed the spa’s infinity pool, a separate air conditioned treatment room and hammam at leisure till we emerged with wrinkly-tipped fingers taking in this absolutely idyllic moment that had been orchestrated for us by nature and the intuitive hospitality of the team at Finch Hattons. After checking out of the camp, we returned home after our weekend away with a sense of gratitude, acknowledging the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.




The Safari Guide

– all in a day’s work



t’s 6:00am and still pitch dark but to enjoy prime game viewing, the vehicle should be on the road by 6.30am. Jonathan, dressed in a branded uniform of khaki slacks, collared shirt and matching fleece jacket, waits patiently. He checks his watch. At 6:50am his clients, a motley family group, shamble toward the car half asleep, spilling cups of hot chocolate and wrapped in Maasai blankets. Dad has a camera, his son is armed with a smartphone and Mum carries a heavily-stuffed bag and sports a red, broad brimmed hat. The family climbs aboard. Little Sammy complains about having to sit at the back, so swaps with Mum. The sun is now up and the radio message that Jonathan received an hour ago about a leopard sighting down by the river is a distant memory. Jonathan smiles resignedly. “Everybody set?” He turns the ignition and the car engine bursts to life in a cloud of diesel fumes. Once out on the plain, and when mum has finished distributing packets of biscuits and extra warm layers from her bag with the professionalism of a Red Cross volunteer, Jonathan slows the car to point out some wildlife. “Ah, a lilac breasted roller,” he gestures to an iridescent blue bird perched on the branch of a tree. “So when will we see the big stuff?” Dad asks, shifting forward in his seat. “The Big Five?” Little Sammy does not look up from his digital game. Mum is moisturising her arms.





“There’s a place a couple of K’s from here where we may spot a pride of lions if we are lucky,” Jonathan says. “Right, well, if we could get over there asap then that would be great,” Dad says. “I have an important business call to take in an hour and Sammy will want breakfast.” To stick to the schedule, Jonathan speeds past a pack of hunting dogs with their young, decides not to point out a rare Martial Eagle nor the unusual herd of long-necked gerenuk. “So Sammy, do you know what the correct collective noun for a herd of zebra is?” Jonathan tries to engage with his clients. No answer. “Anyone? Well, it’s a dazzle.” “Oh how fancy!” Mum says. “I like that.” Meanwhile, Dad mutters, “I’m not sure that’s right”. The vehicle starts to pitch and roll as it heads off road. Sammy complains because he can’t focus on his tiny screen. Jonathan spots a magnificent male lion on a grassy mound and edges the car as close as he dares. A mother with three cubs approaches from behind the car then settles down to doze next to the male while the young play. There is an initial ripple of excitement while photographs are taken but the visitors’ attention is not held for long. “Are there any more lions?” asks Sammy, before stating, “I’m thirsty.” With a clatter, Mum reaches into the cool box, helping herself to two bottles of Fanta and removes the caps. Sammy drops his glass bottle, sending sticky liquid

across the car. Dad, splattered from the spill, rises from his seat and shouts, “For goodness sake, stupid child.” Mum starts dabbing at the spill with her Maasai blanket. The male lion lifts his head and fixes the car’s occupants with a steely, yellow stare. Jonathan indicates with his hand for the family to sit down but it’s no use. Dad’s phone starts ringing. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this.” By now the male lion is on his feet and squaring up to the car. Jonathan turns on the engine and decides to reverse away to safety. “I think it’s probably time that we headed back anyway,” suggests Mum helpfully as Dad bellows down the phone above noise from the car engine. Halfway home and Jonathan encounters a colleague passing in the opposite direction. They pause to enjoy a short exchange in Maa. “Looks like you have your hands full there mate,” says the guide. Passengers in both open-sided cars are eyeballing one another with more interest than they’ve shown in any wildlife. “Definitely going to try to swerve the evening drive with this lot. Mum’s scaring the animals with her red hat and the little one’s a handful.” The other guide laughs. The vehicles go their separate ways. “What did he say?” asks Mum. “Has he spotted a leopard, or cheetah?” “No” says Jonathan, “he was looking for the lion. Oh, and he’d spotted a family of buffoons.”










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