ISSUE 13 | FREE COPY
LAIKIPIA GATEWAY TO THE NORTH
A WALK WITH BLACK RHINOS
DISCOVERING THE MATHEWS RANGE
THE CAMEL SAFARI
Homeaway awayfrom from Home home.... home....
Mbweha Camp is tucked awayaway in theinspectacular GreatGreat Rift Valley on theonprivate Congreve Conservancy bordering Mbweha Camp is tucked the spectacular Rift Valley the private Congreve Conservancy bordering Lake Lake Nakuru National Park. Nakuru National Park. The camp is nestled up against the southern border of theofPark viewsviews over the and Mau Congreve The camp is nestled up against the southern border the with Park beautiful with beautiful overEburru the Eburru andranges. Mau ranges. Congreve Conservancy is part of the greater Conservancy area called Soysambu which has a large part of Lake Elementaita within its borders. Conservancy is part of the greater Conservancy area called Soysambu which has a large part of Lake Elementaita within its borders. LakeLake Nakuru National Park Park is a Rhino Sanctuary that has traditionally famous for itsfor large population. Nakuru National is a Rhino Sanctuary thatalso hasbeen also been traditionally famous its flamingo large flamingo population.
Amenities at Mbweha CampCamp include: Amenities at Mbweha include: Spacious dining area, sunken lounge/bar area with an amazing circular fireplace, gift shop, 10 delightful cottages, star baths, Spacious dining area, sunken lounge/bar area with an amazing circular fireplace, gift shop, 10 delightful cottages, star baths, swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and visiting spa facilities. swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and visiting spa facilities.
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TIPILIKWANI MARA – MASAI MARA TIPILIKWANI MARA CAMPCAMP – MASAI MARA This uniquely situated camp the of banks of theRiver Talek River This uniquely situated luxury luxury camp on the on banks the Talek overlooks the mottled plains of the Maasai vast herds overlooks the mottled plains of the Maasai Mara, Mara, where where vast herds of wildlife with the colourful of wildlife co-existco-exist with the colourful MaasaiMaasai people.people.
ELEPHANT BEDROOM - SAMBURU ELEPHANT BEDROOM CAMPCAMP - SAMBURU Elephant Bedroom offers luxury in a setting of breath Elephant Bedroom Camp Camp offers luxury in a setting of breath taking taking is set the along the of banks of the Ewaso Nyiroand River and beauty.beauty. It is setItalong banks the Ewaso Nyiro River by palms doum palms andtrees otherthat trees thatup make this belt green belt shadedshaded by doum and other make this up green of riverine forest in Samburu National Reserve. of riverine forest in Samburu National Reserve.
MARA NGENCHE SAFARI CAMPCAMP – MASAI MARAMARA MARA NGENCHE SAFARI – MASAI In a spectacular location in the heart the Masai Mara, Mara, lies thislies this In a spectacular location in theofheart of the Masai small, small, intimate, luxurious and elegant camp. camp. Well hidden in the in the intimate, luxurious and elegant Well hidden beautiful greenery of riverine forest, forest, Mara Ngenche Safari Camp beautiful greenery of riverine Mara Ngenche Safari Camp offers panoramic views over confluence of the Mara Talek offers panoramic viewsthe over the confluence of theand Mara and Talek Rivers,Rivers, overlooking a hippo is always busy with these overlooking a pool hippothat pool that is always busy with these beautiful large animals with crocodiles alwaysalways in closeinproximity. beautiful large animals with crocodiles close proximity.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
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PHOTOGRAPHY BRIAN SIAMBI
he Nomad team went on a manic five day trip across Laikipia and parts of Samburu, all in the name of research. We would spend our days tearing across the rough terrain often arriving late at night, and in the morning, wake up to the most spectacular locations as if unwrapping a gift box. Our Land Rover Defender was open-backed and a couple of minutes on the road every morning often resulted in us being covered in dust from head to toe like a pair of mud-bathing ellies. In fact, when we stopped by the chic Le Rustique restaurant in Nanyuki for lunch, our appearance startled a waitress into politely asking if we were perhaps farmers that had been toiling out in the fields all afternoon! Given the state of the roads, a flat tyre was inevitable. On our way back from exploring the breathtaking mountains and rock pools in the Mathews Range, we took a wrong turn and ended up driving for two hours in the wrong direction until a puncture stopped us in our tracks. In our defence, there was no network connection to check any maps and the landscape all looked the same. It was the amiable guys in an AMREF van that we flagged down for help that informed us that we were almost in Maralal, and our destination in Kalama conservancy would take another four hours to get to. We also had our first encounter with the hares at Ol Pejeta
Conservancy, aka the self-appointed busy-body traffic police of the wild. They kept running up in front of the headlights and zigzagging along our path. When we turned off the lights, they would scurry off into the tall grass to hide, but once the lights were back on, they returned to keep us in that sweet spot of 10km/h. It was late and we were just dying to get to our lodge for the night. After a thrilling on-foot black rhino tracking experience in Sera Conservancy, It was at the endangered species enclosure in Ol Pejeta that we would have our closest encounter yet. Following the death of Suni and Sudan, the last of the male Northern white rhinos, we spent the afternoon with Najin and Fatu, the only remaining females of this species in the world. These two were rather indifferent to our presence, but the southern rhino was very curious about our car. It got so close that you would be tempted to think it was either a Land Rover enthusiast or wanted to hop in and go for a drive. These and many more stories from our trip up North are in this issue of Nomad. We also take you on a trip around Eastern Africa, from a walk through Moshi in Tanzania to drifting down the Nile on a kayak. Go diving with whale sharks in Djibouti and be sure to check out our last word column about fictional rhinos aboard a safari airline. Meanwhile, stop toying with the idea of visiting Laikipia and just go!
NOMAD ISSUE. 13 · JULY/AUGUST 2018 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH INTERIM EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI DIGITAL FRED MWITHIGA CONTRIBUTORS TAMARA BRITTEN, HOLLIE M’GOG, MORRIS KIRUGA, JILL CRAIG, TAMANI TANZANIA, AMI DOSHI SHAH, TARA ELLIOT, THE TRAVELDOTE, SAMANTHA DU TOIT, FRANCES WOODHAMS CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, BOBBY NEPTUNE, RAJVIR SOIN, SUSHIL CHAUHAN, GURCHARAN ROOPRA SALES, MARKETING & OPERATIONS VANESSA WANJIKU, NJERI GATHARA, LEROY BULIRO, GILBERT CHEGE, DANIEL MUTHIANI, JANE NAITORI, MICHELLE SLATER, WINNIE WANGUI, JOY WAIRIMU SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO PRINTED BY RAMCO PRINTING WORKS LTD
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12. TOP SHOTS An evening paramotor flies over Lake Turkana, vultures dry their wings after feeding on a carcass in the river while Diani never looked so good from above. 18. NEWS Bobby Pall releases new book, andBeyond reopens Bateleur camp in the Mara and Balala appoints new board following rhino deaths in Tsavo. 21. WHATS ON Sail and Sound kicks off in Zanzibar this October, Sauti Sol heads down to Malawi to headline the Lake of Stars Festival and Maralal Camel Derby returns.
19 28. GLOBETROTTERS Aboard a sit-on-top kayak, Sam Ward talk about traveling all over the world coaching and competing in freestyle kayaking, and why he decided to set roots in Jinja, Uganda. 64. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS Radio presenter, actress and singer Patricia Kihoro gives us a peak into her travel bag packed with goodies made in Kenya.
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPERIENCE
FEATURES 32. DISCOVERING THE MATHEWS RANGE Wendy Watta discovers that a hike up the beautiful chain of mountains in the Mathews Range is hardly complete without rope swinging into an icy rock pool. 40. THE CAMEL SAFARI Forget the 4 by 4, going camel-back riding at Sabuk in Laikipia gives a new perspective to the traditional safari. 42. THINGS TO DO IN LAIKIPIA From Ol Pejeta and Ngare Ndare Forest to Nanyuki and Thomson’s Falls, we round up a comprehensive list of must-dos. 44. ACCOMMODATION GUIDE Whether you’re looking to splurge or want to explore on a tight budget, check out our list of fine properties to choose from. 48. A WALK WITH BLACK RHINOS Much like gorilla trekking in Rwanda, tracking black rhinos on foot in Sera Conservancy should be on everyone’s bucketlist. 51. RESCUING ORPHANED ELEPHANTS IN SAMBURU All about Reteti Wildlife Sanctuary in Namunyak Conservancy where the trailblazing communities have joined forces to rescue the orphaned elephants. 56. A WHALE OF A GOOD TIME Jill Craig goes diving for whale sharks in Djibouti. 58. SPOTLIGHT ON CHUI LODGE Set between Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidien, check out Chui Lodge, a slice of tranquility merging bush and lake to create a peaceful getaway from Nairobi.
24. LOVE IN A TIME OF TRAVEL While some romantic partners make good travel buddies, most don’t, muses Morris Kiruga. 27. A MOST UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP As the weather changes, Samantha du Toit marvels at the peculiar habits of beetles and their self-appointed little human caretakers. 62. GREAT HOTELS: MSAMBWENI BEACH HOUSE Ami Doshi Shah reflects on the true meaning of luxury after a blissful coastal family getaway. 64. RETROSPECTIVE Mo Amin, the late photographer, captures a giant tortoise weighing about 400 pounds in changu island. 68. ALL ABOARD THE SAFARI AIR EXPRESS The hippo family arrive at their boarding gate juggling carry-on luggage and airline pillows and at the check-in desk, a secretary bird scans their passports
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
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GURCHARAN ROOPRA Cover Image
JILL CRAIG A whale of a good time, page - 56
ZOE GLORIOUS, TAMANI TZ A walk through Moshi, page - 54
The cover image was taken on a remotely released Nikon D850 kept hidden on the ground. It was inspired by my love for rhinos and constantly striving to push the boundaries of my photography. Growing up, I was really inspired by Arts & Craft. When I started working, I couldn’t get my art fix and that’s when I took up photography. My kind of travel is glamping. I love being close to nature without the hardship of camping because I prefer to spend my days taking photos.
The Moon Light cafe in Djibouti City was a gem. The mango milkshake was so delicious I ordered a second one, and then spent a week annoying fellow travelers with longwinded descriptions of just how tasty it was. Few people enjoy traveling with me. I am the tourist who has to check off every item in the travel guide, including historic sites, monuments, sporting events, “best place to get a (insert national alcoholic beverage here),” etc.
Tanzania is an endless adventure; it’s really hard to only pick one favorite thing to do. Most days here, however, I dream of starting with a sunrise run along Coco beach, get on a short flight for a swim in the tropical Kikuletwa hot springs then another flight for sundowners in Kigoma as I watch the sun go down Lake Tanganyika. My kind of travel is all seasons, light and glamorous: effortlessly chic!
Film of the Month
Travel Book of the Month
MABINGWA (“THE CHAMPIONS”), a film about youth and conservation, premiered in Nairobi in mid-March. The collaboration between the ESCAPE Foundation and Well Told Story follows four youths from different backgrounds exploring their relationship with wildlife in an effort to highlight the need to engage young people in conservation before it’s too late. The film was inspired by a study that found most Kenyan youth are confused about conservation and are neither sure how to get involved nor why they should bother doing so. “We really wanted to understand where the youth was at,” said Brian Kearney-Grieve, Escape’s Executive Director, after the launch. “If you don’t have a sense of ownership within the general population, then this [Kenya’s wildlife and habitat] is all lost.”
As one reviewer writes, O’Hanlon is in this book “in danger of giving travel literature a good name.” This is the hilarious account of the author’s travels through Congo-Brazzaville to find a mythical monster that is said to live in the depths of Lake Tele. The work starts with a feticheuse (accent on e) warning O’Hanlon’s travel companion that if he stays for two months, he will be protected by the forest spirits. “But if you stay for two months and one day, you will die,” she intones. Encountering horrendous food and some not insignificant dangers to himself along the way, the author humorously leads his readers through a little-documented world of fetishes, superstition and forest spirits to its culmination on the remote Lake Tele.
CONGO JOURNEY BY REDMOND O’HANLON
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
SUSHIL CHAUHAN Instagram: @sushilchauhankenya I took this shot past noon as we were waiting for a small herd of Wildebeest to cross the Mara River. My settings for the shot were as follows: 300mm, F/5.6, 1/500s and an ISO 200, hand held. The camera was a Nikon D5000 using the AF Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Sometimes we are so focused on a specific event that we forget to look around. Everybody was so keen on the crossing and nobody was looking at these majestic Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures drying their wings after feeding on a carcass in the river.
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPLOREEXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
TOP SHOTS RAJVIR SOIN Instagram: @adventuresingh This was shot on DJI Mavic Pro with an ISO 100 and shutter 1/100, at sunrise I was shooting some drone video clips in Diani. I love straight overhead shots and when I saw this incredible scene, I just had to snap a picture. I always try to think about how the photo would be taken by a normal point and shoot and then completely switch up my angle to get something unique.
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPLOREEXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
BOBBY NEPTUNE Instagram: @bobbyneptune I used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm lens at an ISO of 125, F/4.5 and shutter speed 1/200. The image depicts an evening paramotor flight over Lake Turkana just outside of Loiyangalani.Pictured are fishermen with their nets cast. Perspective changes everything, and flying above the landscape makes familiar things seem brand new.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
BALALA APPOINTS NEW BOARD FOLLOWING RHINO DEATHS
At the time of going to press, Tourism and Wildlife Secretary Najib Balala had swiftly appointed a new board of trustees to the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service). This came after news about the disastrous deaths of critically endangered black rhinos that were translocated from Nakuru and Nairobi National Park to Tsavo National Park. Balala had released findings of an investigation into the unprecedented deaths, with the report pointing to water salinity as the main cause with the animals having been under stress due to dehydration. The report had also established negligence of KWS staff manning the sanctuary where the rhinos had been translocated as they failed to promptly report unusual change in their behaviour. KWS head of communications Paul Udoto was quick to alleviate queries regarding the location of the rhino horns, stating that all 20 were in safe custody in Nairobi and Tsavo.
BOBBY PALL RELEASES NEW BOOK
Kenyan photographer Bobby Pall in partnership with Nikon Kenya recently launched a book, Vanishing Songs of the Warriors at The Village Market. The book showcases the life of Kenyan communities living in remote areas. Pall explained that the book was inspired by past projects, stating, “I was assigned to do a project in Meru and got introduced to the Borana tribe. They were dancing the ostrich courtship dance, and I think it was a dance meant to buy my heart. Trust me, they did! So I went back again to do this project, only to realise, ‘Who is really talking about where we come from?’ Because if these walls could speak they would tell us, and the skies have no recollection. Someone’s got to write and someone’s got to document.” Among the attending guests was Education CS, Amina Mohammed who delivered the keynote address. Nikon East and Central Africa Business Development Manager Sunny Sharma explained their commitment to helping Kenyan photographers tell Kenyan stories, highlighting efforts to promote the country’s photography culture.
ANDBEYOND REOPENS BATELEUR CAMP IN MAASAI MARA
In November last year, andBeyond closed down Bateleur Camp in the Mara in order to upgrade the property. The recently reopened 5 star camp has been completely refurbished but still retains much of its authentic safari feel that has made it a favourite with luxury travelers. The 20 year old camp’s original designers, Fox Browne Creative, were tasked with the new facelift to both the North and South camps. According to Robb Report, they have refreshed and upcycled several of Bateleur’s original antiques, furniture and other decor accessories; expect soft worn leather chairs, antique chests, crystal decanters and Old-World globes which are strategically placed around the communal lobby and mess tent. The most drastic changes were done to the guest tents whose new striking ensuite bathrooms have grand copper bathtubs overlooking stone courtyards complete with outdoor rain showers. Other improvements include two new infinity pools with views of the plains.
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WHAT’S ON SAIL AND SOUND 2018, ZANZIBAR
Founded by filmmaker Taye Balogun, this is a bespoke cruise along the Indian ocean that seeks to celebrate African urban culture through live music, food and conversation. The second edition of the annual event will take place in Zanzibar from 25th to 28th October. There will be performances by musicians Jose Chameleone (Uganda), Ben Pol (Tanzania), Yves Kami (Burundi), Siti and The Band (Tanzania) and Dj JB (Kenya). For foodies, Sail & Sound will bring on board four executive chefs from Kenya, Zanzibar, UAE and Seychelles who will share their delectable culinary creations with guests on board as they sail around the archipelago. Activities will also include snorkelling, yacht parties, fishing, diving, jet skiing and more. Tickets and more information available on sailandsound.com.
LAKE OF STARS FESTIVAL 2018 WITH SAUTI SOL
One of Africa’s hottest groups, Sauti Sol, will be joining this year’s Lake of Stars Festival as the African headliner for the 15th anniversary edition of the event. Lake of Stars Festival takes place from 28 to 30 September in beautiful Malawi. The three day arts and music extravaganza will take place at the Kabumba Hotel resort, an exciting new location in Leopards Bay. International visitors have the option to include three night’s camping when you buy your ticket online. If you want to make the most of your trip, consider combining the festival with a longer itinerary taking in the diverse landscape and activities that Malawi has to offer. Whether hiking up the famous Mount Mulanje, going on safari in one of the national parks or enjoying the multiple water sports available on the lake, there are plenty of options to keep you entertained. For tickets and help planning your trip, visit lakeofstars.org.
MARALAL CAMEL DERBY
The derby attracts local and international participants and spectators, and seeks to unite the surrounding communities while raising awareness about the rapid onset of desertification. This year’s event is set to take place from 24th to 26th August. Hire a camel and rider/guide for the day and get a front seat to the 10km race, enjoy the donkey and cycling races while taking part in the lively cultural shows showcasing the diversity of the residents of Samburu. The main event often kicks off in the center of town, flagged off by local dignitaries to initial chaos as the camels take off. Amateur jockeys have been known to lose control of their excited animals, which sometimes take off in the wrong direction. For those that make it to the final stretch, cheering spectators await. Drive down to Maralal or get in touch with local safari operators to plan your trip and combine it with a tour of the region.
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A KENYAN TRAVELLER
LOVE IN A TIME OF TRAVEL While some romantic partners make good travel buddies, most don’t, muses Morris Kiruga
prefer to travel alone, but that’s hardly ever the case. I have had several travel partners; friends that I can comfortably travel with at the drop of a hat, or those that make me apprehensive when I realize we are headed on the same trip. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find it hard to travel with someone I’m in a romantic relationship with. Perhaps this is an occupational hazard, because a holiday is never really just a holiday if you’re also trying to get more colour for your stories. The love manual however says that you should travel together; there are irreplaceable experiences to be shared out in the wild, on a cruise or even backpacking. In polls, people often say they prefer to travel with their significant others, but that’s only because it’s the right thing to say. Travelling with your partner is not as simple as it sounds, whether that’s a weekend away in Laikipia or a three month trip across Africa. Simple things like seeing your partner using slow internet can tell you a lot about them. Perhaps all those things you like about them will become a source of constant turmoil and you will end up on the bus back not talking to each other at all.
How do you define a holiday, for instance? Is it a time to do everything listed on the travel blog you found, or wake up at 11:00am and groggily walk to the breakfast table in your pyjamas? The problem isn’t just that formality often dampens spontaneity, it is that we define holidays differently. Some people want to explore while other prefer to relax with a drink watching the mountain ranges. There is also the fact that you will spend almost every waking minute together. Even in this time of constant texting throughout the day, being around someone that much can dim all the things you like about them. Like being woken up at 6:00am on a holiday because there are things to do, standing there with an awkward smile as she makes friends with perfect strangers or taking a whole hour to decide which Instagram filter to use. Most people only think of the itinerary and budget when planning a trip together, but they never plan for each other. I know a guy, a downright introvert, who went on a one-week trip with his girlfriend. It was a spontaneous trip, which was her first win, but as he got drained during the week, he started sulking. Their relationship survived, but they now travel independently.
The first time I ever travelled with someone, we backpacked around the Aberdares exploring the towns that surround the ranges. We hopped into a matatu to Nakuru for a night, then on to Nyahururu for another night where we almost froze in a room that had a draft whose entry point I couldn’t find. We then did Nyeri where we slept over at a friend’s house. There were little incidences, like a time when I had to grab her hand in Nyeri because we overheard a group of women talking about her short dress. History and good sense told me the next thing wouldn’t be pretty, so we navigated through as fast as we could. When we got home, we went our separate ways until the next trip. Thing is, not all romantic partners make good travel buddies. A true travel buddy stays true to themselves first and knows to let you be if you want to sleep in or go for a bush walk. Sometimes, however, some things might start to feel like an obligation. Get yourself a true travel buddy. If they happen to be the same person your heart beats for, lucky you. If not, may good fortune lead you to the right person, platonic or otherwise. Morris Kiruga blogs about travel, culture and more at owaahh.com
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NOTES FROM THE BUSH
A MOST UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP
As the weather changes, Samantha du Toit marvels at the peculiar habits of brown and yellow fruit chafer beetles and their self-appointed little human caretakers.
he rains we had so long awaited did not disappoint. In fact, more water flowed through the rivers and fell on the parched earth than had been seen in decades. The results were fast and fascinating. Grass kept appearing, covering areas which had not gone to seed for years. New species raised their heads and others that had not been seen in the recent past appeared again, to the excitement of local Maasai elders. Plenty of grass in their banks to tide them over to the next rainy season, they proclaimed. In accordance with local grazing rules, they had moved their herds out of the grass banks, which double up as their wildlife conservancies, to graze on the land across the river and allow the banks to fully recover. With the rains came insects. Plenty of them, crowding round the lights at night or crawling across the footpaths during the day. Then came ‘Fanta’, the beetle. The children had never had a pet before, at least not one over which they had full responsibility. Fanta, a medium sized brown and yellow fruit chafer beetle, was found near the camp kitchen. The children asked if they could keep her, feed her and observe her for a few
days. They settled her into a medium sized tupperware, poking holes on the top to the dismay of our camp cook, provided sand for a base, some fruit for food, some leaves for shelter and a name. After breakfast the following day they excitedly opened up the lid to see how she was doing. After a few minutes, their faces dropped and they rushed into the office to seek advice from anyone who would listen as to whether poor Fanta was alive or dead. Lying with legs curled away, Fanta had not moved for minutes. Even when she was picked up she stayed tucked up, lifeless. It was declared by our resident ‘bug’ expert (a visiting researcher who is passionate about insects, and thus our resident expert on the subject) that it would seem Fanta had indeed died. He returned to his desk to leave me with two heartbroken children to console. Mid consolation, Fanta decided it was time to wake up, slowly uncurling her legs and setting off towards the slice of mango. The children were ecstatic, the ‘expert’ astonished and me relieved. Three happy days later, as Seyia was changing the fruit in Fanta’s tupperware, she was once again devastated to find that somehow in a Houdini-like manner,
Fanta had now disappeared. We searched everywhere, but Fanta was really gone. Seyia, although tearful, was happy with the thought that Fanta had been able to find freedom and perhaps was off laying her eggs somewhere. Taru, less convinced, was too sad to eat supper. I was once again slightly relieved. The Fanta era had come to an end, and we could move on, or so I thought. The children left the tupperware on the kitchen counter in the hope that Fanta would return. I decided to humour them and left the box out over night, with the aim of clearing it away in the morning. Imagine our amazement in the early morning, as we went to put the kettle on, to find Fanta back in the tupperware! Once again, the children were ecstatic, the ‘expert’- and me this timeastonished. The rain has now stopped and the compacted earth is starting to turn to dust again. The animals, both domestic and wild, which made it through the drought are gaining weight and producing offspring. For a short while at least, people can relax and enjoy nature’s bounty and all the surprises this brings. Including, of course, the peculiar habits of brown and yellow beetles and their self-appointed little human caretakers.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
SAM WARD While drifting down the River Nile on a sit-on-top kayak, Sam Ward who has traveled all over the world coaching and competing in freestyle kayaking tells Nomad why he decided to set roots in Jinja, Uganda.
WHAT’S IT LIKE COMPETING IN FREESTYLE KAYAKING? It’s a lot of traveling! I’ve been all over North & Central America, South East Asia, New Zealand and more. Freestyle kayaking is like gymnastics, but in the water. You do summersaults, flips and twists. It’s also a bit like freestyle skiing where the bigger, harder and more impressive the tricks, the more points you get. I went to Argentina for the last world championships, and that was the last big trip I was on. After I qualified my wife got pregnant and the due date was December 14th while the championships were in December 4th. That was cutting it really close and I didn’t want to miss either. It was however fine; the baby was born at
8:00am on Christmas day 2017, which was the best present ever. WHAT TYPES OF KAYAKING EXPERIENCES DO YOU SPECIALISE IN? Right now we’re floating on the Nile sipping a beer on a sit-on-top kayak which is one of the more relaxing types...it is very tranquil and accessible for anyone from 4 to 70 years old. We’re enjoying the birds, trees, watching the sunset and it’s all very gentle and calm. On the complete end of the spectrum, we also have a high adrenaline rollercoaster ride of your life on the white water. We teach people to tackle the white water on a one person kayak, but we also do tandem kayaking where you sit in front and a guide goes at the back. That allows you to experience the best of the white water on your first day- it’s a bit like skydiving... you wouldn’t want to jump out alone on your first day. We also have stand up paddle boards which are a great way of floating around, almost like you’re walking on water. It’s a great all round gentle workout. We also do that on the white water, but that’s mostly just silly and fun because you always fall in. It that happens, it’s very safe because you have your helmet and life jacket so you tumble down a rapid but 10 seconds later you’re in the pool at the bottom. Because a lot of other rivers aren’t as safe, it’s hard for them to do stand up paddleboarding on the white water. WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU LIKE IN JINJA? I’m the founder of Love it Live it, I bought
Kayak The Nile six years ago, have established Nile SUP as its own company and now have a podcast on the side called Climate Change Unfolding about the environment and the things I see and experience here. I have a decent sized team helping with these. Yesterday, for instance, I went and paddled some of the grade 6 rapids with an old friend who happens to have been one of my very first clients that’s now grown to be an amazing world class kayaker. Today I’ve been working on my next podcast episode and tomorrow will be Sunday funday with the family. Monday will be meetings with the team, Tuesday admin and email...everyday is quite different. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO IN UGANDA? I got married here, up in the Sipi falls which is absolutely breathtaking! I also have two things that I like to do to relax in Jinja. One is to go out on the water just drifting like we’re doing now, and the other is to chill out on a hammock. I have a special place in my heart for hammocks! One time, on our rest day, we made a metal frame with four poles and tied that to three SUP boards to make a hammock that can float on the Nile! We call it a SUP hammock. Because we quickly realised that it was tasking to keep going back up the hill to get more drinks, we got a cooler and tied that to a board. Now we have a board whose only job is to float next to the hammock while carrying the cooler, and that makes for a rather chill afternoon.
PHOTOGRAPH WENDY WATTA
HOW DID YOU END UP LIVING IN JINJA AND RUNNING A KAYAKING BUSINESS? I grew up in Wales, UK. Having lived in a small town, when I turned 18 I was ready to get out of there. I traveled around a bit and came to Uganda on a two week kayaking holiday 14 years ago and it captured my heart; now I’ve even given up trying to leave. I have coached and kayaked in about 27 different countries, traveling to about 40 over my lifetime. Within Africa, my other favourite places include the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, the latter being one of the seven wonders of the world. Uganda is however my favourite and is my home now. The people, river, lifestyle, climate, amazing white water...I just couldn’t believe this place existed. Kayaking is my specialty, and each year I leave to try and go do kayaking or different trips all over the world.
SILVERPALM SPA & RESORT Bofa Road, Kilifi P.O. Box 41247-80100, Mombasa | Tel: +254-780745837 /+254 707745837 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.silverpalmkilifi.com
ROYAL COURT HOTEL On Haile Selassie Road, P.O. Box 41247, Mombasa, Tel: 2223379 / 2312389 /2230932(3), 0722-412867 / 0733-412867 Email: email@example.com
HIGHEST RANKED HOTEL IN KILIFI TOWN EA Classification 2017 by TRA
HIGHEST RANKED HOTEL ON MOMBASA ISLAND Classification 2017 NOMAD MAGAZINEEA JULY/AUGUST 2018 by TRA 29
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPERIENCE
LAIKIPIA Wendy Watta discovers that a visit to Kitich camp and a hike up the beautiful chain of mountains in the Mathews Range is hardly complete without rope swinging like Tarzan into an icy rock pool. PHOTOGRAPHY : BRIAN SIAMBI
or the fifth time this afternoon, a hitchhiker flags down our Land Rover Defender. This time it is a warden in green uniform with a stubborn white goat tethered to a short rope, and if it were entirely up to me, this is where I would have drawn the line and driven on. Brian, who is currently behind the wheel, however stops to let him into the back. So far we have picked up everyone from school kids, village elders, a pregnant woman and more. We are en route to Kitich Camp in the Mathews Range, a place so remote that there is neither network connection nor radio reception. Detailed directions from camp manager Emma Hedges are printed out on a piece of paper, and with no Google Maps for reassurance, these hitchhiking locals not only regale us with stories about their community but also confirm that we are indeed on the right road. The warden’s goat later pees all over our luggage. After successfully maneuvering the car out of a natural ditch, we continue up the dusty underdeveloped road and the vast brown earth dotted by vegetation unusually green from the recent bouts of rains gives way to a colourful and vibrant Lolkuniyani market. It is market day, otherwise the place often looks eerily deserted, as we soon found out on our way back. A dry river bed, a shallow flowing river and several potholes later, the printed directions indicate that we are currently driving through the set of the White Maasai movie, but all we see are sparsely spread buildings. “Are we close to the Mathews Range?” we stop to ask a group of shepherds who thankfully speak Swahili. They have no idea where that is, and I know I am about to nose dive into yet another European-whodiscovered-Kenya narrative. Turns out this beautiful chain of mountains which are 150 km long and stretch north to south are named after Sir Lloyd Mathews, a Welshman born in 1850, who joined the navy and went up the ranks, ultimately being knighted and appointed His Highness’ First Minister before dying of malaria in Zanzibar in 1901. Given his rank and the notion that his assistance was key for any mission into the mainland, a Count called Samuel Teleki who was on a Northern Kenya expedition named the range after Sir Mathews.
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If you ask any of the Samburu men and women around to point you to the Mathews Range, however, they will have no idea what you are on about. They instead have indigenous names for each mountain in the range. It was also interesting that they would pronounce back “kitich” as “kichich”, and we later found out that the camp’s name comes from the Maa word “kichich” which translates to “happy place”. After driving through Ngalai Village 10 hours after leaving Nairobi, we came up to the gates of the camp to a warm welcome by Emma and intern Olly. Used as a hunting lodge in the 60s, this luxury camp is today an intimate collection of six comfortable, semi-permanent, ensuite tents: three doubles and three with twin beds. Sunrise from the main mess tent which is perched on a cliff overlooking the seasonal Ngeng River is absolutely breathtaking. The staff, most coming from the neighbouring Ngalai Village, have been working here for a while, with the bar man being the oldest having started in 1990 before I was even born. Their black and white photographs adorn a section of one wall. Early the next morning, we set off on a two hour hike up the range with three guides: Reteno, Ltauzsen and Lesemana. The plan is to go swimming up the rock pools of the River Ngeng before tucking into a bush breakfast. Before we even set off from Kitich, we hear a hyena in the distance, to which Ltauzsen informs us that it sounds like it is eating. Towering trees and foliage so thick that the guides have to sometimes use machetes ensure that the sun is not directly overhead, making for a rather relaxed climb. It is quite cold in fact. With its highest peak at 2688m, temperatures here can get down to 10°C. We come across a Hartlaub’s Turaco which might be weak at flying but is a champion at running through trees. The bird would be an excellent national mascot given that it has all the colours in our flag: a green chest, white patch in front of both eyes, red around the eyes and under its wings with the rest of its body being black. The Mathews Range are also home to several ancient cycads unique to the area, as well as De Brazza’s Monkeys which camouflage well into their surroundings. And as if crabs and spiders are not enough, I have my first encounter with crab spiders when Ltauzsen catches a web in his spear. The area is said to be teeming with lions, leopards, Impalas, elephants and more, but we only ever see tracks and droppings without any actual close encounters. Two hours later, sweaty and damp from dew and crossing the river via boulders and logs, we triumphantly walk out onto the serene rock pool enclosed in thick indigenous trees. One could contentedly lie back, eyes shut, listening to the rich biophony, and never get bored. With the sunlight barely seeping through the canopy, we decide to go for a quick dip before we can eat; the longer you
wait, the more the body heat from the hike gives way to a slight shiver. There’s a rope swing from Kitich tied around one of the trees on the banks. Olly goes first, backflip culminating in a neat landing somewhere near the middle, followed by Brian. When it is my turn, it takes a little coaxing. My hesitation is largely because I have been strongly advised against touching the water first, likely hinting to how cold it is. When I finally clasp the rope and ‘Tarzan’ in, I am initially shocked at how deep this natural pool is before coming up to the surface and yelping out of sheer surprise at just how freezing the water actually is; it is like a Finnish ice bath! Well, almost. Our guides vehemently refuse to dive in due to the cold (clever chaps!) but I also suspect that they don’t care much for swimming. Still, a visit to Kitich Camp and a walk up the Mathews Range hardly seems complete without your skin turning blue from jumping into icy water.
We triumphantly walk out onto the serene rock pool enclosed in thick indigenous trees. One could contentedly lie back, eyes shut, listening to the rich biophony, and never get bored.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
REMOTE AND BEAUTIFUL
SABUK LODGE EWASO NYIRO RIVER | LAIKIPIA
#CAMEL SAFARIS #flycamping #authenticculture #familyfun #stunningwilderness #bushwalks #laikipia #safaridreaming #GREAT RESIDENT RATES NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
www.sabuklodge.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
YOUR GUIDE TO LAIKIPIA PHOTOGRAPHY : BRIAN SIAMBI, TROPIC AIR
OVERVIEW OF LAIKIPIA
Laikipia is located on the equator in the larger Rift Valley Region, 186 kilometres from Nairobi. The county has two major urban centres; Nanyuki and Nyahururu, with its capital being Ramuruti. The county is known as one of the world’s most exciting wilderness safari and wildlife tourism destinations with abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery and extraordinary cultural diversity. Over the years, Laikipia has grown as a tourist destination with investors setting up hotels, lodges and camps in various parts of the county. After Tsavo, Laikipia is Kenya’s most extensive wildlife haven forming part of the much broader 56,000km2 Ewaso Ecosystem.
Laikipia can also be reached from Nakuru in the Rift Valley via Nyahururu – a drive of some 130 km on good tar that also takes about three hours.
HOW TO GET TO LAIKIPIA BY ROAD:
Nanyuki is the getaway to Laikipia for most visitors travelling from Nairobi. A drive to Laikipia takes roughly three hours via Sagana, Karatina with the road connecting to Meru and Isiolo.
BY AIR: •
You can fly to Laikipia from Wilson Airport with Tropic Air, Air Kenya, Safari Link or Fly540. The planes fly directly to Nanyuki Airfield, Lewa, Loisaba and Samburu from where you can connect to Laikipia. Both carriers also operate flights to the Masai Mara National Reserve from Nanyuki, Loisaba and Samburu. Tropic Air, located in Nanyuki, operates aeroplanes and helicopter air charters within Laikipia and beyond. Many ranches and conservancies have their own private airstrips which can be used by charter aircraft. Most of these facilities will arrange to transfer guests directly by air or road from Nairobi or any other destination as part of their service.
Map of Laikipia was provided by Expert Africa Contact www.expertafrica.com & www.wildaboutafrica.com
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THE CAMEL SAFARI
Game viewing on camel-back offers a new perspective of not just being a spectator but actually being part of the wild. PHOTOGRAPHY: BRIAN SIAMBI
am idly standing by what turns out to be the stables of Sabuk Lodge, cup of hot black coffee in hand, when two camels on long thin legs are led out. I have never been on a camel before, and save for the trees, these seem to tower above everything in the vicinity. Perhaps seeing the alarm plastered on my face, the handler reassures me that these two are being taken out to graze and are not actually used for safaris. Relief washes over me. Shortly after, our guides Gas and Tise bring out our rides for the day and at a little over 6 feet, these seem more manageable. “You need to hold onto this metal frame and hop on fast so that you don’t get tossed off,” instructs Gas, erupting into peals of laughter when he sees my shocked face. The camel is resting on its knees so I hop on and it gets up hind legs first, then we set off for the plains. The saddles are draped in colourful maasai shuka and complete with a metal frame to grasp onto, are sturdy and secured in place. They however do not have much padding and I can instantly tell that this won’t be comfortable for me over a long distance or faster pace. As it walks, it moves both legs on one side then both on the other, making me rock from side to side. I wonder out loud if I might perhaps be too heavy for the animal, but I am quickly reassured that their legs are incredibly strong and can carry up to 400kg. This certainly came in handy for nomadic pastoralists when they had to pack up their belongings and move from one manyatta to go set up base in greener pastures. It is around 8:00am so the sun is mercifully not overhead in all its scorching glory. As though we had set up a meeting and they showed up on time, we encounter two giraffes browsing on leaves and they seem unperturbed by our presence even as we get as close as 100 metres. To me, we might as well be eye to eye. I have rattled around ranches and conservancies in a 4X4 van and gone on walking safaris, but this is an altogether new perspective. It is almost as if we are no longer spectators but are actually part of the wildlife. Camels can reach speeds of 65 km/h; imagine the thrill of tearing across the plains alongside this pair of giraffes, heart pounding and wind against your face, as though trying to get away from a big cat. During our short walk, we also encounter a herd of zebras and elands drinking their fill at a waterhole. When we come across about six female camels grazing and browsing, the guides tell us that these are largely kept for
breeding and their milk which is very nutritious and can fetch a good price at the market . “One camel can cost up to Ksh 80,000 and if you own all these, you would be considered wealthy,” suggests Gas, stopping his infectious whistling to point at the herd. The mischievous grin I have come to associate him with spreads across his face. “If you got married and your father received two of these as your dowry, he would be a very happy man!” he finishes gleefully. Camel safaris can be anything from half day, full day, overnight or a short walk like ours which culminates in a bush breakfast nestled amidst trees. Here, we discover a rock reminiscent of the famous Lion King “everything the light touches is our kingdom” rock scene. From this vantage point we are able to see the vastness of the plains as well as the waterhole and trail we just took.
SABUK LODGE There are several properties in the North that offer camel safaris but our selected spot was Sabuk Lodge which was about a three hour drive from Nanyuki. The lodge has been running these safaris for over 25 years and their animals are well looked after. We arrived late at night and I wasn’t able to check out the property in the dark, but the refreshing hot shower with water from the Ewaso Ng’iro river which I could hear roaring past was a magical experience under the night sky. There was also a star bed and telescope which kept me preoccupied for a while. In the morning, I was woken up by orange sunrise seeping in through my mosquito net and I sat up to see that it had washed over the entire rustic space as though casting an enchanting spell. The cottage was open-faced and perched on a cliff with no construction blocking the view of the valley below. Looking down onto the gorge, the river meandered and thundered by, and binoculars revealed zebras milling about. A plunge pool curved out of natural boulder overlooked the plains and similar rock fixtures were worked seamlessly into the design of the lodge. Verity Williams who is a pioneer in Kenya’s safari scene owns and manages the property and was the loveliest of hosts, running Sabuk like a well-oiled machine. There are six spacious open-front cottages, each unique from the next, as well as a family cottage with its own mess area and plunge pool. Rates: Contact bookings@africanterritories. com for specific detailed quotes.
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THINGS TO DO IN LAIKIPIA
As well as conserving wildlife, preserving wilderness and providing sanctuary to endangered species, Ol Pejeta has a host of activities that’ll keep even the most active visitor happy. Those who are interested in their innovative conservation techniques can ‘get their hands dirty’ working behind the scenes with the rangers. Tracking lions, working with anti-poaching dogs, visiting the endangered species boma, participating in feeding time with the chimpanzees and dropping in on the local communities are just some of the ways rangers spend their days. For those who enjoy safari, there are many ways to view the animals and birds: game drives, bush walks, bird watching and more. For the most energetic of all, try a safari on horseback or mountain bike, then slake your appetite with one of Morani Restaurant’s
famed burgers or a healthy fresh salad. www.olpejetaconservancy.org
NGARE NDARE FOREST
This lush forest is dotted with cascading waterfalls, gleaming pools, rugged crags and towering trees. Not only that – according to the Northern Rangelands Trust, it’s the only indigenous forest in Kenya with an expanding canopy cover, some of whose trees are thought to be as much as 200 years old. There’s plenty to do here. The canopy walk – a mesh bridge over 450 meters long, dangling around 15 meters above the ground – takes you through the tops of the trees; if you’re lucky, a black rhino, elephant or buffalo might stroll beneath you. Many walking paths and mountain bike trails meander through the forest and guides are available to show
you the way. If you’re brave enough, why not leap from the towering rocks and plunge into the icy water below. Afterwards, if you need a drink, head for Ngare Ndare Village which – it is said – is home to 500 people and 26 bars! www.nrt-kenya.org/ngare-ndare/
MT KENYA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY
Kenya’s highest mountain, and the second highest in Africa, is home to unique species of flora and fauna; the mountain is a National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and has a Wildlife Conservancy on its shoulders. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy was started in the 1960s by film star William Holden and TV personality Don Hunt, and immediately seized the interest of the then
President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. The conservancy aims to prevent the extinction of species by breeding endangered species and rehabilitating them into the wild. It also has an animal orphanage for orphaned, injured or abused wild animals, and an education programme that hosts over 10,000 future conservationists. Visitors can become a friend of the conservancy or adopt an animal. The conservancy is now home to 28 species – the rarest of which are breeding herds of mountain bongo and white zebra. www.animalorphanagekenya.org
Nanyuki, previously thought of as a country town, is growing fast and a plethora of new joints have sprung up. For the best kuku wet, head for Checkers – but be ready to
wait: this delectable dish takes two hours to make. The Flower Shop has much more than just flowers – come for gifts, cards, artwork, bags, cushions and honey fresh from the flower farms. I love Nanyuki coffee shop has fresh coffee, full breakfasts, light bites and a stash of humorous I Love NanYuki merchandise. Cape Chestnut has delicious food served in landscaped gardens: don’t miss Friday night tapas or every second Sunday curry buffet and carvery. On the same compound, Cookswell Jikos sell their popular eco-jikos, as well as kilns, ecocharcoal and tree seeds – and they’re happy to offer baking advice too! Le Rustique, which relocated from Nairobi several years ago, continues its tradition of fine dining in a garden atmosphere. Soames Hotel and Jack’s Bar has rooms, a great menu, Wifi and events, all in a comfortable contemporary setting.
A striking waterfall that plunges almost 75 meters, Thomson’s Falls is on the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The waterfall, near the town of Nyahururu, can be seen from a viewing platform in the grounds of Thomson’s Falls Lodge; there’s a small charge for entering the platform where there are curio stalls and local traditional dancers. The trail leading down to the foot of the waterfall is a winding path that takes around 20 minutes. After the climb back up, you’ll be ready for a plate filled at the lodge’s plentiful buffet, and perhaps a stiff drink at their bar. The waterfall is named after Scottish geologist and naturalist Joseph Thomson. He also gave his name to the dainty Thomson’s gazelle and – it is said – was the first European to walk from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. www.thomsonsfallslodge.co.ke
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OF OUR BEST LUXURY LODGES & CAMPS
Given the array of incredible luxury camps and lodges available in Laikipia, it is hard to narrow down the list to just six. That considered, here is our pick of six fine options to choose from for anyone looking to splurge.
With five contemporary cottages, Solio is located on a private wildlife sanctuary tucked in the valley between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains. Each room has a private lounge with open fire for cooler evenings, as well as large en-suite bathrooms with a double sink, bath and shower. Activities include game drives, horse riding, a visit to a Kenya coffee plantation and birdwatching. Take a helicopter to Mt Kenya for a hilltop picnic breakfast or go trout fishing in the Aberdare National Park. Resident rates start at Ksh 42,000 per person sharing and include game drives, horse riding and mountain biking. Conservation fees excluded www.thesafaricollection.com
LAIKIPIA WILDERNESS CAMP
Owned by Steve and Annabelle Carey, this is an intimate camp with only five tents that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Laikipia Wilderness offers scenic views of Mt Kenya and programs can be tailored to suit any guests. Activities therefore range from game drives and walking safaris which can be focussed on specific interests like photography, tracking game on foot, birding, fly-camping, tubing and fishing in the river, etc. The camp consists of a tented mess building with a dining room, bar, sitting room, library, a deck out front and open campfires in the evenings. Rates available on request www.laikipia-wilderness.com
EKORIANâ€™S MUGIE CAMP
This is the family base for Josh and Donna Perrett who own, manage and host the luxury camp with a small competent team and their three young children and pets. It is simply designed with a dining area and six spacious but cosy tents raised on wooden decks under thatched roofs. Each tent has plumbed hot and cold running water. This is a small safari camp with an exclusive location in the heart of the Mugie Conservancy in NorthWest Laikipia, where game and birdlife viewing are prolific. Activities include kayaking, golfing, safari walks, fishing, camping, cultural safaris and swimming. Resident rates start at ksh 17,000 www.ekorian.com
OL PEJETA SAFARI COTTAGES
Nestled in a serene and secluded river valley in the southern section of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, this boutique spot is owned and managed by Andy and Sonja Webb who have a wealth of knowledge in lodge management, safari planning as well as bush guiding garnered over 30 years each. Our two bedroom en-suite cottage had an open-plan living room, fireplace for those cold Nanyuki nights and dining area with flaps unzipping out onto a large private verandah overlooking yellow-backed acacia trees. Each cottage is independent and self-catering, but there is also a chef on call if desired. The fully inclusive resident rate is Ksh 19,900 covering game drives, guide, a vehicle per cottage, full board meals and drinks. If self-catering, costs start at Ksh 9,900 www.thesafaricottages.com
EL KARAMA ECO LODGE
Fourth generation Kenyans, Murray Grant and Sophie Grant designed El Karama as a ‘home away from home’ to allow families and groups to come together and experience an authentic Kenyan wilderness. Their passion for family, sustainability, home grown produce and supporting local communities is prominent throughout; from the farm to fork meals enjoyed by the eco swimming pool, visiting the bush school to learning about El Karama’s history whilst on a guided bush walk with Joseph Kaluu, the Head Guide. Resident rates on full board per person start at Ksh 18,500 for the river cottage and 14,500 for main lodge. Conservation fee is Ksh 1,800 www.elkaramalodge.com
LOISABA STAR BEDS
Handcrafted, wheeled four-poster beds on raised wooden platforms are rolled out so that guests sleep under the expansive Northern Kenya night sky. Rustically designed to complement the surrounding environment, each star bed is individually built in harmony with the natural rocky landcape. Poised on a rocky kopje, the beds command sweeping views over an undulating valley and a permanent waterhole frequented by resident wildlife. Pick from either three ensuite double rooms or one en-suite family room with two double beds pushed out onto separate platforms. Each have open-to-air bathrooms with a plumbed shower offer piping hot solar-heated water Rates available on www.elewanacollection.com NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
OF OUR BEST BUDGET LODGES
While Laikipia is known for its exclusive conservancies and the luxury camps and lodges within them, there are various budget options for anyone looking to explore without breaking the bank. Tamara Britten rounds up these six
Sieku has taken the concept of glamping – or glamorous camping – and made it Kenyan. These bell tents have snug beds with quilted duvets, fluffy rugs and views over the distant valley. With an enticing mess tent and a selection of places to chill out and stare at the view, there are plenty of places to while away your day. We particularly enjoyed the outdoor bathrooms and loos-witha-view! Rates: 5,500 Ksh per double tent www.facebook.com/sieku.glamping.laikipia
On the banks of the Burguret River, these rustic cottages overlook woodlands filled with an abundance of birdlife. They have two and three bedrooms, their own kitchen and deck, and are fully furnished complete with bed linen, towels and eco-charcoal. The cottages are equipped for self-catering or – with prior arrangement – meals can be served. Fun things to do here include fishing for rainbow trout, bird watching and relacing to the sounds of nature. Rates: 3,500 Ksh per person self catering, Plus 900 Ksh for a full English breakfast, and 1,500 for a two-course dinner. www.colobuscottages.com
RANGELAND HOTEL AND CAMPSITE
Known best for its delicious nyama choma, this attractive garden restaurant also has comfortable cottages and rooms. This spacious and friendly place just outside Isiolo has a campsite, conference centre and playground. It is bustling with bickering weaverbirds and rock hyracks. The garden is filled with trees whose produce supplies the restaurant with fresh fruit, and rabbits and geese stroll around the grounds. Stop here to eat or sleep – or hang out at the buzzing bar. Rates: 4,000 Ksh per person B&B. www.facebook.com/Rangeland-Hotels-Isiolo-150953168344450/
NARO MORU RIVER LODGE
Known by many as a base for climbing Mt Kenya, this appealing lodge is much more than that. On the banks of the Naro Moru River, the lodge has rooms, cottages and country houses, as well as a conference centre, a couple of restaurants and bars with views of the mountain. With a swimming pool, tennis courts, table tennis, squash court and sauna, thereâ€™s plenty to do within the grounds. Alternaively, venture further afield for bird watching, hiking or cycling. Rates:From 7,100 Ksh per person per night B&B, From 8,400 Ksh per person per night half board, From 9,700 Ksh per person per night full board. www.naromoruriverlodge.com
RIFT VALLEY ADVENTURES
With a host of conservation, eco and downright fun activities, this is the place to send your kids for an all-round introduction to the Kenyan bush. Working alongside the rangers of Ol Pejeta, jumping into the gorges of Ngare Ndare Forest, climbing Mt Kenya, learning about traditional Maasai medicine and mountain biking across the bush are just some of the activities on offer here. The tents are comfortable and the mess tent accommodating too. Rates: From 7,000 Ksh per person, Minimum group size: five people. www.riftvalleyadventures.com/index.php/kenya
This friendly staple on the outskirts of Nanyuki has rooms and rondavels as well as a popular bar: come for pizzas fresh from the wood-fired oven, tasty steaks, fresh salads and an extensive selection of cocktails and shots. The camp also offers a spa, restaurant, gift shop and a bunch of places to hang out around the spacious gardens. Start your climb of Mt Kenya here, or just stay and enjoy the views. There is even a pool for guests staying at the camp. Rates start from 5,600 Ksh per single and 10,000 Ksh per double. www.kongonicamp.com
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
A WALK WITH BLACK RHINOS Much like gorilla trekking in Rwanda, tracking black rhinos on foot in Sera Conservancy should be on everyoneâ€™s bucketlist, writes Wendy Watta PHOTOGRAPHY: BRIAN SIAMBI
he ranger comes to a halt and lifts the GPS transmitter a little above his head, and we all listen with bated breath for a signal being sent from the microchip implanted in the horn of the black rhino we have been tracking for the past half hour. Joseph- our Samburu guide- shakes a small cloth dispersing ash particles into the air, a method that was traditionally used in the bush to tell wind direction in order to keep one’s natural scent away from the rhino’s strong olfactory sense. He motions for us to keep moving forward and our procession of three elite anti-poaching rangers, myself and Brian who’s wielding a camera follow in a single file like nursery school children at a zebra crossing. The rangers’ tough black leather boots effortlessly trample the thorns and hard terrain as they tear through the prickly commiphora bushes with ease. “Umm...I think I wore the wrong shoes,” I mutter to myself glancing at my sneakers, careful not to say this out loud so as not to seem like a wuss. Joseph is on the other hand wearing sandals and other than a slight natural wobble in his gait, hardly seems fazed by the thorns. Through shrubs and up boulders, I charge on at pace. Suddenly, he freezes and his right hand shoots into the air, commanding us to stop. He seems to be peering at something in the thicket further ahead. He gestures for me move forward as silently as possible. With Pink Panther stealth, I try to inch closer but dry grass and brittle twigs crackle noisily under my feet, and I might as well have been blaring music on a stereo because about 60 metres away following Joseph’s gaze and pointed finger is a mother rhino and calf browsing away among the shrubs. While their rough grey skins camouflage seamlessly into the surroundings, up close, these creatures are magnificent! I feel a cough forming at the back of my throat. The black mother rhino is almost as tall as me with even higher horns, and it easily weighs almost 900kg. Earlier, I had asked
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
if given its weight, it could actually catch up to me in a race, to which one of the rangers solemnly informed me that it can charge at up to 55km/h. I dare not cough. The sun is searing hot despite it being only mid-morning. I lift a finger to wipe sweat off my brow, and thankfully, we had been informed earlier that these animals do not have good sight. Shortly after, the spell is broken: Brian lifts up his camera to take a couple of pictures, a ranger shifts his weight onto the other foot and I move forward crackling more brittle twigs, to which the duo wander off in the opposite direction. Because rhinos tend to sleep during the scorching heat of the day, we set off to track them at about 6:0am. We are in the community owned Sera Conservancy and this is the first time black rhinos are back in their habitat in the North after 30 years, following a translocation. There is now a population of 13; 10 adults with three calves (one having been born in January 2018) with at least two more suspected pregnancies. For visitors, one is almost guaranteed a sighting with the highest number on record being six in one session. For accommodation, we are set up at the luxury Saruni Rhino camp, a first in the conservancy. It is nestled amidst towering doum palm trees surrounded by brown sand, and for a minute there while taking a dip in
the surprisingly cold infinity pool complete with colourful lounge beds and overlooking a ‘lugga’ (dry riverbed) of the seasonal River Kauro, I think I am back in Zanzibar. This is more like a beach resort than a camp in the arid North! The property also overlooks a waterhole which often attracts the Samburu special five; Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, East African oryx and gerenuk. On busy days in the wild, this natural television is best tuned into from the cosy depths of a hammock bed strung up between two trees. Saruni Rhino is as boutique and intimate as it gets with three bandas that can sleep up to eight guests (two doubles and one family banda). Our two bedroom half stone, half canvas banda is aptly designed in rustic country-chic fashion, making for the perfect abode. Tracking black rhinos on foot at Sera is a unique and thrilling experience that allows wildlife lovers to contribute to the protection of these critically endangered species. Our walking safari was crowned by a bush breakfast, after which we headed to the wildlife sanctuary to visit calves that were either orphaned or had been abandoned by their mothers. Since it was not feeding time, however, we missed that action. Instead, we set off on another short walk to see a calf called Loijipu up close, and under supervision,
The rangers’ tough black leather boots effortlessly trample the thorns and hard terrain as they tear through the prickly commiphora bushes with ease. were even able to pet its tough dry skin. It was quite approachable, with me being more wary of it than it seemed to be of me. Still, I had been instructed to leave behind my red maasai shuka because as amiable as things were, this was still the wild after all. Saruni Rhino resident rack rates per person sharing (2 night minimum stay) • High season: Ksh 34,650. • Other seasons: Ksh 26,250 • Rhino tracking and conservation fee: Ksh 8,320
RESCUING ORPHANED ELEPHANTS IN SAMBURU TEXT: HOLLIE Mâ€™GOG
Behind and below Katie, the midday wallow is in trumpeting progress. Some small elephants push and shove boisterously. Others contentedly rub on favourite scratching trees worn smooth by a succession of big bottoms. We are standing on a visitor platform that allows fantastic viewing but little interaction with the orphaned elephants that are destined for rewilding. This is Reteti Wildlife Sanctuary in Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu, where the trailblazing communities have joined forces to rescue the orphaned elephants.
PHOTOGRAPH: JLEAVING THE FRAME
What are some of the highlights of reteti having succeeded in its conservation efforts thus far? Having proud, capable and thriving women on our team who are making their own life choices; these women are role models in a bold and useful conservation project designed and run by their own communities. Second, tribal pastoralists coming in and asking about an orphan by name, being able to have that conversation because of interest generated from their side is so rewarding. And of course getting mis-adventurous elephants back to their mothers before they become orphans is a true highlight. Tell me about setting up the sanctuary... The 2011 drought hit Northern Kenya hard. In our region, elephants were falling down wells, dying in conflict and from drought consequences. The community was simultaneously asking for assistance and opportunities. Tolerance levels were falling and HWC (human wildlife conflict) increasing. With the full backing of the community, we partnered with a host of organisations such as Conservation International to bring employment to the community members as
custodians of their own heritage. The two went together and made so much more sense marching into the future hand-in-hand with hundreds of years of history behind them. KWS and Northern Rangelands Trust have been invaluable partners and have made incredibly positive impacts and additions of knowledge to the local Samburu communities of Namunyak. The biggest hurdle came in ensuring that the needs of everyone were met â€“ community elders and the young, literate and illiterate, lodge and guests, financial partners and donors, ourselves and of course the elephant calves. It has been trial and error and while there is still a lot to learn, things have begun to come together now.
familiar smells, sounds and sights; a landscape of familiarity for a wounded elephant and one that is vital in rebuilding their desire to live. Midday brings the mud wallow followed by an afternoon of wild and stewarded freedom from which the elephants return home to a bottle of formula every three hours.
How do the elephant calves get to and leave reteti? Mostly as drought victims but also from HWC and poaching. As wells get deeper, babies frequently fall in. In drought times we post teams in hotspots and when a baby elephant tumbles into the abyss, the call goes out and the calf is pulled out while the mother is still in the vicinity. If we wait and the community and their cows arrive, this task becomes extremely difficult. In 2017 we managed to get eight well victims back to their mothers within hours!
Reteti is a community conservation effort. How does this work and what has reteti brought to the community? The community involvement in this project is the reason this orphanage exists. Between them and KWS they are the authority on the entire project. The people have been able to recast themselves as proud custodians of their own wildlife and land. Lots of the people here never had the opportunity to go to school â€“ no English, Swahili as a second language, illiterate, and yet they are pulling their weight on the project. It gives them a dream for the future and shows them that they are capable in this changing world. With employment levels on the up we are not just saving a species but breaking down stereotypes, breaking ground with new ideas and fresh thinking while redefining wildlife management. The community is able to show itself that there is no need to break down to wildlife antagonism when tough times come.
Describe a general day at reteti... A Reteti day runs 24/7, 365 days a year with day and night shifts and a host of committed community drawn keepers. At dawn the keepers hand over medical instructions and little elephants on life support. Elephants rouse themselves from sheltered stables or from social groups that have huddled together in night bomas watched intently by their human guardians. The gates open and the day brings
How does the conservancy promote the preservation of natural resources? The communities can clearly see that they in fact hold the responsibility of their future...this mentality change has brought pride and self reliance to the Namunyak communities. There is achievement, power and strength embedded in self belief. We find that where Reteti promotes this, the side effect is the preservation of natural resources.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
The Forest Adventure Centre
ANSWER THE CALL OF THE WILD!
The Forest, an adventure getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of life giving you the thrill of exploring the great outdoors. The Forest Adventure Centre officially opened its doors to the public in January 2017 to promote local and international tourists. Located in the heart of the Aberdare Ranges, in the Kereita Forest, Kiambu County, Lari, Kimende, The Forest looks at giving Kenyans an opportunity to enjoy their own nature at affordable rates. Only an hour from the Nairobi City, The Forest provides an affordable wide range of activities that will cater for your spirit of adventure and finger licking delicacies. Our scope of adventure activities are;
1. ZIP LINING
Feel the rush of a world class adventure as you fly a total of 2.2 kilometres over spectacular views of forest canopies, guided by professional instructors maintaining the highest European Union Safety standards regulations, with a carrying capacity of a maximum weight of 115kg and minimum height of 1.4m.
Ever fantasised about being Robin Hood or in the hunger games? Grab a bow and arrow and see if you can hit the bullâ€™s eye! Our experienced instructors will train you to become a master archer on our dedicated range. Warning!! Archery can be addictive.
Did you know..our oldest zippers was 84 year old male and 81 year old for female!
Looking for a break or planning the ideal team building ....call us 0711 11 22 33 / 0711 22 33 66 / 0711 22 33 99
3. PAINT BALLING:
Pick your team, get kitted out and start dodging.. Shoot or be spluttered in sticky paint in the most exhilarating activity at The Forest.
4. MOUNTAIN BIKING:
Enjoy kilometres of enchanting trails in nature. Inhale crispy mountain air and sweeping views on our mountain bikes. Our qualified instructors will fit you into the right mountain bike and helmet.
6. NATURE WALKS:
Inspiring and informative, a guide leads you through the forest and reveals its secrets.
5. HORSE RIDING
The Forest on a horse back WOW! From first timers to expert riders...
E: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.theforest.co.ke
Enjoy star-lit nights at The Forest in a serene and secure environment sitting round a campfire. Each camp site has its own guards, firewood, pit latrines and bush showers. Make your camping experience memorable!
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018 53 theforest.co.ke @theforest
A Walk through
MOSHI Tamani Tanzania explore Moshi town, from a Swahili cafe with the best spiced tea to open
Moshi is tucked away behind one of the world’s most beautiful sceneries, that of the snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro- everyman’s Everest. No matter where you wander in this Tanzanian town with its clean streets, you are bound to behold the highest mountain in Africa, and so we wandered and wondered! During its inception, Moshi was a small market town and villagers would come down the mountain every week and meet here to trade. While Kilimanjaro might still be its main attraction, it is now a vibrant melting pot of sights, sounds and tastes begging to be explored. We began our walk at Maembe Cafe & Lounge located off the Jacaranda lined Moshi-Arusha road. This spot is popularly known for its delightful Swahili cuisine, and after settling into the outdoor seating area, we ordered mugs of hot tea coupled with chapati. The cup was a perfect blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and milk, the best accompaniment to the slow ballads playing on the stereo. The cafe is home to Kauli Studio, Hapahapa Curio and Pamoja Boys Art Gallery, which is where we strolled next. This is a haven for art lovers. There are various unique collectors items by Hapahapa who recycle pots into beaded clay home décor pieces. Kauli create premium
handbags with a distinctive African flair using folk fabrics traditionally crafted from all over the continent, a favourite being their ‘mkoba wa mpenzi’, bag of the lover. The Pamoja Boys art installation is a treat born out of the desire to provide education and employment opportunities to the youth in Moshi. Since there is no better way to experience a new place than by heading stark for the pulse of the town, we made our way to Moshi’s open-air markets. The are two main ones here: one is across the street from Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge on Chagga Street and the other is further south along Mawenzi Road (aka Double Road), near Mission Streets. We headed for Double Road where we were soon swarmed by enthusiastic “flycatchers” trying to either sell us goods or take us to “their store”, and we declined on both accounts. Instead, we stopped by Baba Pendo’s fruit store for the most succulent of oranges at only Ksh 5 each. Since it was getting hot, we decided to head to Union Cafe for a coffee shake and burger. The cafe is run by the The Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) who represent tens of thousands of coffee smallholders. The cooperative’s own beans are roasted on-site, and as a result, the aroma
of fresh coffee is ever wafting through the air. We got to meet all the presidents of the KNCU since 1933 through their portraits which adorn the walls. We then took a trip down to the industrial area to Shah industries, a leather lover’s paradise. The company is best known for employing disabled people and for their ability to create quality handmade products including custom leatherwork manufactured in Tanzania by Tanzanians. Here, I bought a new leather cover for my passport. Moshi has some excellent international cuisine, and that evening, we decided to indulge in delicious Mexican food at La Fuente Gardens in shanty town. Highly recommended is their chicken enchiladas, or, if you’re vegetarian, the beans and lime rice is a treat. For the small town that it is, the nightlife here is rather impressive. Given that it was Friday evening, we headed right down to Glacier, a seemingly popular spot given all the recommendations we got. There was quite the crowd when we arrived, and true to recommendations, they make some of the best BBQ chicken around. Shortly after, we hopped on over to La Fuente, some 7 minutes away, where we crowned our tour around Moshi with some cocktails and comic booty shaking on the dance floor.
PHOTOGRAPHY TAMANI TANZANIA
air markets crowned by a night out.
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A WHALE OF A GOOD TIME
ith the exception of the magnificent Lake Assal and Lake Abbe, Djibouti doesn’t make most travelers’ bucket lists, primarily because there’s not a lot of sightseeing to be had. In the coastal Djibouti City, you could have the best mango milkshake of your life at Moon Light restaurant, drive around the massive port in a beat-up taxi taking photos before a hoard of security officers descend upon you to ask what you’re doing, or, if you’re feeling fancy, stop by the Sheraton for a seven-dollar bottle of water. You could also go scuba diving from a liveaboard ship; swimming with whale sharks and experiencing the thrill of a military helicopter fly-by courtesy of bored French airmen. Neither experiences are, however, guaranteed. Years ago, my friends from the Nairobi Dive Club and I would frequently go diving off the Kenyan coast; usually hiring a leaking dhow from a local Kilifi fisherman named “Captain Shallow” and praying that this time, he used the petrol money we gave him to actually buy petrol, thus alleviating the need to paddle the small boat back in from the Indian Ocean (this happened at least once). In November 2011, we were returning from an exhausting trip to Vuma Caves
in Kilifi when my friend Henrik yelled out, “whale shark!” Instantly, everyone in the boat was grabbing whichever fins, snorkels and masks they could find and leaping into the water. By the time I managed to get my gear on and jump off the boat, I was nowhere near the giant creature’s head or enormous mouth. Yet, I still remember how awestruck I was to be swimming next to it for even a few seconds before it disappeared into the murky blue. With an average length of between 5.5m and 10m, the whale shark is the biggest fish in the sea. Its color pattern is magical; white spots and stripes embellishing a grayish to brown background, giving an illusion of a sparkling glow. Fortunately for us, the docile filter feeding whale shark eats plankton and small fish through its mouth, not humans. Seeing that gigantic mouth up close is a surreal experience nonetheless. More than one diver has made the biblical Jonah reference when discussing it, nervously laughing about what it would be like to get caught in there. For these reasons, spotting a whale shark is one of the most exhilarating experiences one can have underwater. Thus I found myself in Djibouti in January, one of the best times to spot whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura where they come to feast in nutrient-rich waters. I did my research and decided to book a liveaboard, whereby, as the name suggests, you live aboard the ship. It’s the perfect option for maniacs who enjoy
cramming as much diving into their holiday week as possible. The first five days followed a predictable schedule: wake up very early, dive, eat breakfast, dive, eat lunch, take a nap, dive, take another nap, dive, eat dinner, go to bed, repeat. The other 16 passengers and I spent most of our time underwater in a chain of islands called the Seven Brothers with the “usual” cast of sea creatures: turtles, eels, crabs, a lobster or two, lots of colorful fish and even a pod of dolphins who showed up on two separate occasions. Under normal circumstances, this would have been considered good diving, but without seeing the much-anticipated whale shark, we were left a bit disappointed at the end of each day. When we arrived in the Gulf of Tadjoura on the sixth day, however, our luck was about to change. The dive leaders gave us a morning briefing that focused on the whale sharks’ safety: keep a good distance, don’t impede their movements, don’t touch them. We would only need our mask, snorkel and fins – not the full scuba kit – since they could be spotted so close to the surface. We then cruised around the gulf in two smaller boats to find them, to no avail. As we focused on finding whale sharks, a helicopter carrying French airmen buzzed above us, presumably doing training exercises (several countries’ militaries operate in Djibouti). Nothing seemed strange until we noticed it
PHOTOGRAPHS: JILL CRAIG
Jill Craig goes diving with whale sharks in Djibouti
Seeing that gigantic mouth up close is a surreal experience nonetheless. More than one diver has made the biblical Jonah reference when discussing it, nervously laughing about what it would be like to get caught in there.
aligning itself behind our boat, then quickly picking up speed as it zipped over our heads with an overhead clearance of what seemed like only a meter or so. It reminded me of that scene in Top Gun when Maverick illegally buzzes the tower, causing the air traffic controller to spill hot coffee all over himself. Hilarious, yet terrifying. After lunch, we tried again for whale sharks. This time, it only took about ten minutes before one of our guides yelled out, “there!” and the boat captain zipped over to the spotted bubbles. Having learned my lesson from our previous sighting in Kilifi, I was already wearing my snorkeling gear and was able to leap off the side in no time. I found myself swimming in front of what I estimated to be a seven-meter long whale shark, with those almost iridescent spots glimmering from its sides. I was quickly panting into my snorkel, trying to keep up, as it glided through the water. Soon, this one was gone, and I noticed our group splitting up; some approaching a baby whale shark, while others made the more adventurous decision to swim out farther after seeing bubbles in the distance. It was a whale shark extravaganza. We spent 45 minutes like this, searching for whale sharks, spotting one and then quickly swimming over for a closer look. The question was not if we would see a whale shark; it was how many. This experience of a lifetime is why I would recommend that tourists visit Djibouti between November and January, the peak season. Look at the bright side: even if you don’t see any whale sharks, you’ll still have a chance at your own (French-style) Top Gun fly-by – a most unusual item for that bucket list.
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
CHUI LODGE, OSERIAN Lake Naivasha
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Tara Elliot drives down to Chui Lodge in Naivasha, a slice of tranquility merging bush and lake to create a peaceful getaway from the bustle of Nairobi. PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY CHUI LODGE
et between Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidien, Chui Lodge is a slice of tranquility merging bush and lake to create a peaceful getaway from the bustle of Nairobi or a gentle safari introduction for foreign visitors. The Zwager family, long-time owners of neighbouring Oserian flower farm, Ranch House Bistro and Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary, originally built Chui as guest accommodation for the flower farm, naming it after the area’s healthy leopard population. June Zwager, wife of the late patriarch Hans, designed the lodge as a homage to indigenous Africa. Her passion and interest in African art and craftsmanship underpins every corner; walls curve and bend to create private dining nooks and comfy hideaways made cosy with fireplaces. June’s collection of West African artifacts are carefully placed on the dramatic sculpted central fireplace. The intricately carved wooden pillars, like every piece of furniture in the lodge, were designed by June and carved by a local carpenter from indigenous leleshwe wood. Even the upholstery is handmade on the premises, and this is why Chui is so at home with itself. Today, under the management of Suzanne Zwager (June’s granddaughter) and boyfriend Geoff Mayes, Chui’s homely feel sets it apart from most bush lodges. It is only 90 minutes from Nairobi and we arrived to freshly squeezed watermelon juice, a eucalyptus-scented washcloth, check in formalities and a briefing from Chef Bernard on his planned evening meal, after which we were ushered to our cottage, Oloidien. A welcoming fire crackled in the grate and the king-sized, four poster bed enveloped with romantic netting impressed. Stepping into the bathroom we gasped over ingenious treebranch framed windows painted by artist Mary Mazeras, and the enormous rose-petal strewn bath. Revitalised, we popped across to the Ranch House Bistro which provided exactly what we needed – delicious fresh food under the trees with a view of Lake Oloidien. A weekend of relaxation had began. Chui is not short of activities and we hopped on board Safari Land Cruisers for an afternoon game drive through Oserengoni
Wildlife Sanctuary, home to endangered Grevy’s zebra. Revenue from Chui and its sister lodge, Kiangazi House, support the sanctuary which has an abundance of leopard, hyena, jackal, buffalo and plains game. Our afternoon of wildlife spotting which included both Maasai and Rothschild giraffe was crowned by sundowners on a hillside with an excellent view of the western wall of the Rift Valley. Here we were joined by other lodge guests and over bitings prepared on site coupled with chilled drinks in front of a blazing log fire, we learnt that the couple from Nairobi were enjoying their third visit to Chui. “We come here to get away from our children,” they explained. “It’s close enough to home to get back if needed, but we need the break and Chui is perfect.” Our night drive back to the lodge was met with a roadblock of two heavily pregnant hyenas, and when we eventually got back, Chef Patrick was waiting with a beautifully presented four-course meal which we struggled to finish after the bitings we’d overindulged in. The following morning our guide Bernard collected us for a lakeside breakfast, a rather magical experience. Tables were set up on the shores of Oloidien, coffee brewed in a French press and chilled bubbly popped as the chef whipped up pancakes and a full English breakfast while a crackling bonfire kept the early morning chill away. Tummies full, we sat back to watch the lively birdlife, listening to the cormorants and fish eagles throwing their melancholy call into the sky. Afterwards, all we could manage was a dip at the pool, keeping an eye on the game ambling to the waterhole before we embarked on an afternoon boat ride. This is great for bird photography – the skilled skipper got us close to pelicans, fish eagles, hippo and numerous other birds warbling and fishing away. While a little disappointed that our bush dinner was obstructed by a downpour, the opportunity to snuggle in front of the fireplace with Geoff, Suzanne and a guest couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, swapping stories over bitings and glasses of red wine, suited us perfectly. Sadly, as with all getaways, you have to leave at some point, although generous bouquets of Oserian roses presented to guests on departure ease the leaving pangs. Just a little. www.oserengoniwildlife.com
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
COMPETITION At the beginning of this year, the Angama Foundation, in partnership with Nomad, launched a competition to find the best images from the Maasai Mara. Here, we showcase the first of the monthly winners. From 10 monthly winners, one lucky photographer will take home $10,000 in cash and win a five-night stay at the Angama Mara. For details on how to enter, see opposite page.
MAY WINNER COALITION WATCH BY HARMAN SINGH HEER “A storm was approaching as we followed the five cheetah musketeers one afternoon. They were on the lookout for a meal and provided us with so many photo opportunities. I wanted to incorporate the storm clouds in the background and have the cheetahs look like a powerful force in the foreground. I placed the camera on the ground and used a remote shutter to capture images. As luck would have it, I got a shot of one of the cheetahs framing another, alongside the approaching storm. It is always worth trying new perspectives.” Camera Settings: Canon 7D Mk2 | Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM | F/5.6 | 1/160sec | 100 @hshphotos
JUNE WINNER DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES BY KETAN KHAMBHATTA Wildebeest & Zebras Crossing the Mara River. “River crossings in the Mara are a spectacle that sometimes reveal a lot of behaviour and habits of animals. While the wildebeest follow that one leader who checks for everything then jumps in, the zebras take small steps and do their own risk assessment before slowly starting to cross the river. This particular moment shows that typical behaviour.” Camera Settings: Nikon D500 | 200 - 500 | F5.6 | 1/2000 | 200 @ketankhambhatta
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
MSAMBWENI BEACH HOUSE Ami Doshi Shah reflects on the true meaning of luxury after a blissful coastal family getaway. PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY MSAMBWENI BEACH HOUSE
have a somewhat cynical relationship with the word ‘luxury’. It is a word that is thrown about with reckless abandon, used to describe things from handbags with stroke-worthy price tags to hotels and resorts that have more puffy bathroom accessories than is necessary. There is a genuine discomfort with just how fleeting and fickle everything that word represents can often be. It is a word. A word so loaded with opportunity for subjective interpretation. I thought really hard about this when watching our two boys repeatedly cannonballing into the pool at Villa III, Msambweni Beach House. I was forced to count the number of knee-hugging dives my younger son made. Twenty minutes and around 30 cannonballs later, I gave up (but like any self-respecting parent, pretended I hadn’t).
We made the 25 minute drive from Ukunda Airport in Diani to this remote spot along Kenyaâ€™s south coast. Meandering sandy murrum roads led us to an imposing lyme-white two story house capped with a traditional Swahili makuti roof. Walking into the ornately carved and weather worn doors leading into the main resort, we were confronted by intense light. The sun reflected off the shimmering white terrazzo surrounding the infinity pool as well as every surface in the entrance, that is the bar and white walls, as though creating a gallery space to frame the most perfect picture of all. The palms fringed the view of the sea. The only concession to this were salt-tarnished brass vases stuffed with vibrant fuchsia bougainvillea and frangipani. A colourful punctuation to an unabbreviated space. Our three bedroom villa boasted a private infinity pool and a four storey high makuti roof and much the same aesthetic
fingerprint as the main house - white with hints of azure and shades of green. For two days and nights, we left our villa briefly to walk on the rocky coral pools at low tide, searching for sea urchins and seashells or to the main house for a drink at the bar and wood fired pizzas. Most meals were served in our villa and like little hermits, we feasted on tempura and line-caught grilled fish. Every dish was freshly made from local produce and served with warmth and discretion. The remainder of our time at Msambweni Beach House was spent jumping and emerging from our pool like shriveled prunes. Days here were spent in almost perfect isolation. A time to reflect. To appreciate. To be patient with time and love. Strange how it is alway when things are stripped away and life is less distracting that you can focus. For us, it was two days of quiet, hysterical laughter, sublime nourishment and time with our growing boys - a real luxury.
We left our villa briefly to walk on the rocky coral pools at low tide, searching for sea urchins and seashells or to the main house for a drink at the bar...
NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
Giant tortoise weighing about 400 pounds on Changu Island, opposite Zanzibar town. These amphibians were probably imported from Seychelles at the turn of the century. Shot in1984. This photo forms part of a retrospective series celebrating the work of renowned Kenyan photographer Mohamed “Mo” Amin, who died in 1996 when his Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked and crashed into the Indian Ocean. Photograph courtesy of Salim Amin.
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What I pack … for my travels Patricia Kihoro is the host of Afrocentral on Homeboyz radio, an actress, singer, youtuber, traveler and avid lover of brands made in Kenya. Instagram: @misskihoro DRUNK BY JACKSON BIKO I always carry books when I travel. In my purse, on my bedside table...I like to have one around, and this happens to be what I’m currently reading.
Large Weekender bag Ksh21,900
CANON 600D I’ve had this for six years. I also have a tripod mount which I actually use as a stand, and it can actually also hold my phone. I use it for videos and photos.
BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES FROM PACE KENYA They are such good quality. I’m always listening to podcasts, music or having conversations with people on the phone.
POUCHES I have some from Sandstorm, Nakumatt and Miniso. They are convenient for organising skincare, makeup, electronics, jewellery and more. TOTE BAGS These tote from Blackfly designs acts as my carry-on while the other from Peperuka is great to carry while exploring my destination or running errands.
PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI
ACCESSORIES Watch from Sued watches, rings from Kipato Unbranded, Maasai Market and Adele Dejak. I haven’t bought any jewellery from an international brand in so long because I am happy with the quality of what we have here, and I like to show that off when I travel.
MAKEUP Oil-infused Micellar water from Garnier, MAC Prep and Prime as well as The Balm Voyage travel palette are essentials. The palette has several stamps on the case which is like a mood board because I’d like to visit them all. As soon as I saw it, I bought a ticket to Costa Rica whose stamp is also featured!
NAIROBI: The Hub, Junction, Sarit Centre, Village Market, Yaya Centre, Westgate DAR ES SALAAM: Slipway NOMAD MAGAZINE JULY/AUGUST 2018
All aboard the SAFARI AIR EXPRESS
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make way and the hapless ostrich standing sentry on the door has no choice but to let him through. Once on board, little Johnny hippo stresses about the prospect of squeezing past sleeping lion in order to get to the bathroom. “I’m frightened Dad,” he says. “Don’t worry son, he won’t wake up,” papa hippo reassures. “Just be quick.” Elephant is over-spilling onto two seats much to python’s chagrin. The snake attempts to reclaim his arm rest but to no avail, hence coils dejectedly up against the window. A pack of laughing hyena giggle noisily at the back and baby warthog is doing laps of the aisles, tail up, at top speed. Giraffe peers over at her neighbour’s screen to make sure she’s watching the best movie. A pair of decorous flamingos arrange bags in overhead lockers and encourage passengers to settle down and take their seats. Captain buffalo coughs down the intercom system, flexes his muscles then takes the aeroplane controls. A semblance of order descends and they’re off. Lights dim and the cacophony quiets, albeit briefly. A little later and the in-flight meal is
served. Billy baboon pours drinks expertly from the trolley without spilling a drop. Vultures are the first to tear into the meal packaging and finish their food, before eyeing fellow passengers’ trays menacingly. Elephant grumbles that his bread roll is stale and there’s a bit of whining from the cheetahs who have just woken up and not received any food yet. Apparently the meat option has run out. The hippo kids are lying all over one another’s laps, upsetting the tray tables. Papa hippo harrumphs and disappears under his airline blanket. Lazy lion chews on a chicken bone while the warthog baby has passed out on the floor, fast asleep. On landing, the guinea fowl flap and bustle their way to the front of the queue to disembark first (after rhino of course). There’s ruffling of feathers, shaking of fur and a flurry of movement throughout the cabin. At the back of the plain, tortoise has to be woken by a flight attendant and the laughing hyenas prove to have made a terrible mess. Just your average flight with Safari Air Express. Frances Woodhams is author of the blog: www.africaexpatwivesclub.com
SKETCH: MOVIN WERE
he hippo family arrive at their boarding gate juggling carry-on luggage and airline pillows. At the checkin desk, an authoritative secretary bird scans their passports with a sideways eye. Her headgear quivers while she taps on her briefcase computer. “Welcome aboard Safari Air Express,” she squawks. “Next please.” Once through to the waiting area, the hippos find a row of spare seats amid a flock of noisy guinea fowl dashing about in circles, heading back and forth to the bathroom and squabbling over snacks. At the back of the room, a pair of snoozing cheetah are laid out horizontally, limbs falling awkwardly off rigid seats, in transit from a connecting flight. A meerkat wearing headphones chatters to a faceless friend while holding up a smart-phone screen. Johnny hippo runs to look out to the waiting planes. A voice chirrups out to passengers to embark. “We are now boarding rows 35 to 23.” All passengers leap to their feet and rhino barges through, boarding pass in hand, insisting on being first onto the plane. The herd of zebra and wildebeest part to
By Frances Woodhams
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