Page 1


















FAMILY HOLIDAYS: TAKING THE ROUGH WITH THE SMOOTH Family holidays were for me a series of misadventures. I still remember the dreadful thirst after we ran out of water on a 12-kilometre trek back from some pyramids in Mexico. In Thailand, my parents herded us up mountains to remote hill villages, where my brother suffered crippling cramps all night because he was too scared to brave the wild animals to go to the loo. In Uganda, we were caught up in violent roadside riots during a particularly tense election season. Nor did things go smoothly closer to home. Our summer holidays were usually spent at an isolated shepherd’s bothy on a rain-lashed Scottish island, where we had to hunt for our supper, usually rabbit, and huddle around a meagre fire in the evenings to keep warm. Getting home was an exercise in dodging the tides, and more than once, our Landrover ground to a halt in sinking sands en route to the ferry. Sands would time and time again prove my parents’ undoing, such as the time they decided to risk the tides by making a run for it over the causeway. Inevitably, they ended up piling us on their shoulders, and under their arms, to keep us safe from the rapidly-rising waters. With the passing of time, those once-torrid memories have taken new shape. I marvel that I once walked 12 kilometres without water, and those family holidays on the Scottish island have taken on a decidedly rose-tinted hue. When my parents mooted a return trip last summer, I could imagine nothing more heavenly: a remote bothy, walks along the wild Atlantic coast, picking mussels for our supper. It’s the adventures of my youth that now stick in my mind, the times when things went wrong. With six mutinous kids in tow, it’s remarkable my parents got us through it unscathed. I would never have subscribed to this belief when I was young, but I think perhaps the more uncomfortable the ride, the more memorable and bonding the experience.

For this issue, we have undertaken some of our own explorations. We eschewed the idea of a traditional safari for a walking and camel riding experience in Laikipia instead; we swapped the pristine pools of the coast for the murky waters of the upcountry rivers. We sought out places where parents get to have a breather, too. But I wonder if it won’t be the camels of Laikipia that remain etched in my offspring’s minds. We’ve scoured the country for some of the best child-friendly experiences, and bring you our pick of upcountry and coastal retreats, whether it’s an all-inclusive resort, or just a simple cottage with its own private beach, or a private house in a wildlife conservancy. Not everyone has holidays on their mind, and for those of you who can’t get away, we’ve researched some summer camp ideas for your kids. In our regulars, the rains have arrived in Shompole, but Samantha du Toit writes about why the animals are still dying, and it’s probably not the reason you think. We catch up with Blinky Bill, the Kenyan singer, who raves about the cultural scene in West Africa, and laments Kenyans’ lack of pride in their own heritage. Robert Guest, foreign editor of the Economist, talks about a narrow escape in Congo. We head to the stunning Champagne Ridge, replete with clifftop holiday homes, for our weekend escape. Friday James, Rwandan TV anchor, gives us the lowdown on how he keeps his wardrobe looking chic in Kigali, and Edith Honan hops on the party dhow to Lamu for the Musafir’s maiden passenger voyage. We hope you will take heart that travelling with children needn’t always go to plan. Here’s to the adventures they’ll remember.

Catrina Stewart catstewartuk






48 10. TOP SHOTS This month, it’s all about simplicity. Our photographers capture a cyclist in the foreground of Mt Kenya, a fisherman with his nets, and a wild cliff scene. 14. NEWS Rwanda hikes its gorilla trekking permits, and Nairobi is on course to get Africa’s tallest building. We also feature Everyday Africa, a hugely successful Instagram project turned into a new book. Using their mobile phones, photographers challenge a common media perception of a blighted continent with snapshots of every-day life. 16. COMING UP The great wildebeest migration is back. Head to the Mara or the Serengeti to catch this extraordinary spectacle. Meanwhile, there’s a chance to get mucky in a mud run in Njoro.


GLOBETROTTERS 21. Q&A WITH ROUTES ADVENTURE The adventurous trio from Routes are on a mission to show Kenya in a different light and buoy domestic travel. We catch up with them to hear about their travels. 23. INTERVIEW WITH BLINKY BILL The Kenyan singers finds Kenya’s cultural scene wanting when compared to the vibrancy of West Africa. 58. 24 HOURS IN KIGALI Friday James, the smart-dressing TV anchor, shares his sartorial tips, and where best to romance a lady in the city. 59. INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT GUEST The Economist’s foreign editor recalls some hairy moments as a reporter in Democratic Republic of Congo, and a lemur with a dirty habit.






FAMILY SPECIAL FEATURES 26-45. FAMILY SPECIAL Our main feature on family travel brings you a safari adventure, complete with camels and rock climbing, from Laikipia. We also bring you our picks of the child-friendly spots at the coast, and upcountry, as well as some ideas for summer camps for your kids. And let’s not forget the pets. Coming with you, or staying home? Finally, for those seeking a total break, check out our spa guide. 46. SAVING OUR PRIDE Three photographers share their thoughts on threats to th Nairobi National park, and why it’s so special to them. 48. ALL ABOARD THE MUSAFIR DHOW Edith Honan jumps aboard the party boat for its maiden passenger voyage to Lamu, where they have to fish for their supper, and rely on unpredictable winds and a skittish crew to reach their goal. 50. WALK THROUGH TOI MARKET & ENVIRONS Our writer plunges into the chaos of Toi Market, the place for mitumba, to learn how to tell her Prado from her Phrado. 53. WEEKEND AWAY IN CHAMPAGNE RIDGE We bet you won’t do much at Champagne Ridge. It’s all about good food, good views and great company. But if you must, we have a few suggestions, not least what’s arguably the best nyama choma joint in Kenya.

53 COLUMNS 22. GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN Delays and a sticky gear shift frustrate Morris Kiruga’s efforts to get to Rusinga, but he finds that speed isn’t everything. 25. TOO SOON TO CELEBRATE The rains have come to Shompole, but Samantha du Toit writes that they’re not out of the woods yet.


62. THE LAST WORD Frances Woodhams takes aim at the time-pressed safari-going family, who are every bit as fascinating as the animals they have come to see.




A good read? Who’s that reading Nomad? Why, it’s Kenya’s very own Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Tourism Principal Secretary Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed. We wonder what’s grabbed their interest in last month’s adventure issue. The officials were attending a forum earlier this month to discuss change and innovation in the tourism sector.

Tamara Britten, writer A different kind of education on Page 40. Tamara is the author of Karibu Kenya, a guide to accommodation in Kenya. My kind of travel: Since my days as a backpacker, I’ve always preferred to travel by road. Turning down an unmarked track and finding a hidden cove, an unexpected viewpoint, a stark rock face - or, of course, a dead end - is part of the thrill of travel. Surprising finds: I travelled the length and breadth of Kenya while researching Karibu Kenya and the number of surprises was, well, surprising! My list of top sites is huge, but would have to include the oasis at Kalacha in the middle of the Chalbi Desert, the viewpoint over the Kerio Valley near Iten, and the rocky islet known as Gibraltar in Lake Baringo.

Rebecca Stonehill, writer Surviving Camping with kids, Page 38. Rebecca is the author of The Girl and the Sunbird, her second novel.

Allan Gichigi, photographer Top Shots, Page 12 Breaking into photography: I got into photography out of my love for storytelling, and I was also broke in high school so needed to make money on the side to buy the precious commodity called bread! Luckily, my old man is a professional photographer who used to work for Getty images (now retired), so there was plenty of support from family. I have now been shooting professionally from 2007. Every day is an exciting adventure waiting to happen. Favourite style of travel: When I’m on my motorbike. It gives me so much freedom, and it opens up to the great outdoors, I have discovered so many new places as a result of this. But generally I am open to any style of travel.

My ideal family holiday: An escape with a bit of everything so all five of us are happy: adventure, relaxation, nature and culture is a perfect mix for us. Too much time on a beach doesn’t work for us as my husband and eldest child hate sand! Inspiration for your latest novel: I thought it would be fascinating to rewind the clock and delve into what Nairobi was like in 1903, its early days as a small colonial township of the British East African Protectorate. I’ve always been interested in how different cultures clash and overlap and in this novel, I explore forbidden love and prejudice as well as the Mau Mau Emergency of the 1950s.











Where in Kenya are we? Guess where we are on holiday & win 2 nights for 2 at one of our 50 properties!

Like us on Facebook, find this image & guess where it was taken. @holidayhomeskenya



W: E: M: +254 (0) 722 360 111 T&C’s The competition will run from 5.6.17 to 5.7.17, You must be aged 18 year and over to enter this competition, The winner will be randomly NOMAD 2017 to 9 selected, The winner will receive a 2 night stay for 2 guests at Miti Mbili, The prize cannot be exchanged for cash,MAGAZINE Bookings JUNE are subject availability and is valid between 7.7.17 and 27.11.17, Winners will be selected after the closing date and contacted by Holiday Homes Kenya.

PETER IRUNGU Instagram @irungu_ I shot this at 7 am along the Kiganjo-Chaka road in Nyeri. I used a Nikon D7000 with a 50mm, f1.8 lens. My settings were 1/500, f8, ISO of 100. Be patient and always shoot after the shot you thought you wanted. It might be better than the one you wanted.








ALLAN GICHIGI Instagram @gichigi This shot was taken in the early morning around 7:30 am in Malindi. I had to light it as I was shooting against the sun. I also find water looks better when backlit. I used a Nikon D500, with a 16-35mm lens. I shot it at 20mm, shutter speed of 1/4000, ISO of 160. Go out and shoot with whatever equipment you have. You can achieve a similar shot even with a kit lens.Try and get various perspectives and angles, as you never know which one may work and it gives you options to work with.






SULEIMAN SOLZ Instagram @rootsofafrika I took this shot during a small but steep downhill descent on foot in Mombasa. I had my friend, Rey, stand at the edge of the cliff, exposed to rain and the humongous crashing waves. I used a Canon 6D with a Tokina 16-28mm, f2.8 lens. My settings were 1/250, f9 with an ISO of 400. Art is all about trial and error. Failure is a way of learning, so never stop pushing yourself.





A new super project is underway in Nairobi, with Pinnacle Towers set to become the tallest building in Africa when completed in 2020. In the smaller of two towers will be a 255-guest room and suite Hilton hotel, spread out over 45 floors. A taller 330-metre, 67-storey tower will house offices, a shopping mall and entertainment complex. The project, a co-development by Hass Petroleum and Dubai-based White Lotus Projects, is expected to cost Ksh20 billion ($190 million). There’s still some catching up to do with Dubai, however, which is building the world’s tallest tower (again), dwarfing the Burj Khalifa, which currently holds that title at 154 storeys, or 830 metres high.


Getting up close to gorillas in Rwanda is a magical experience, but it just got a lot more expensive. Rwanda last month doubled its gorilla permit fees from $750 to $1500. It prompted an outcry from many in the tourism industry, who condemned it as as a measure that would put it out of reach of most visitors. Rwanda’s chief tourism officer, Belise Kariza, justified the measure, saying: “The percentage of the permit fee that is returned to local communities, contributing towards the funding of schools, hospitals and libraries, has also doubled to ensure that tourism in Rwanda remains sustainable and gives something back to communities across the country.” For those unwilling to fork out the higher price tag, there’s always Uganda, where it costs $600, or Democratic Republic of Congo, a more affordable $400. East African residents currently qualify for a discount on Rwandan and Ugandan rates.






Sosian, a luxury tourism ranch in Kenya’s Laikipia region, has closed down indefinitely after a wave of attacks and killings in recent months, including the murder of co-owner Tristan Voorspuy in March. Voorspuy, who ran upmarket riding safaris, was shot dead by armed herders during an inspection of the ranch after part of it was burnt down The attacks came as desperate herders sought grazing for their animals during a drought, but local politicians have also been accused of inciting the unrest. CLARIFICATION In our short photo essay on the launch of the new Chinese-backed Standard Gauge railway last month, we said that the original Lunatic Express was built by Indian labourers. We omitted to mention that the British both conceived and funded the line. We apologise for any confusion that this caused.

Andrew Esiobo

Charlie Shoemaker


Last month saw the Nairobi launch of Everyday Africa, a book celebrating the best pictures of every-day life across Africa taken by mobile phone. The book is a collection of photographs from Everyday Africa’s hugely successful Instagram project aiming to show Africa in a more textured and nuanced light, moving the conversation away from a more clichéd one of war and famine. The book is available on Amazon, and is coming soon to Bookstop at Yaya Centre.

Tom Saater






July 1-2

July 8-16

If you like rolling in the mud, then this might be the race for you. Teams, with members as young as 14, can participate in a shorter fun run, or attempt a 9 km course of obstacles, hills and lots and lots of mud at Kenana Farm near Nakuru. For those who like to shine, there’s an individual gauntlet involving, we suspect, lots of mud. Budding photographers can enter their shots into a competition running alongside. The event is part of a wider craft fair, with a wide range of artisanal products on sale, tractor demonstrations, and archery. For more information, contact info@ 0722 -344885 or 0728 406 937

Zanzibar celebrates its 20th year of hosting this world-famous film festival, a showcase for cutting-edge movie-making talent from around the continent and beyond. The festival will premiere Africa’s newest films, as well as bringing audiences recent successes such as Kenya’s Kati Kati. The island will be in fiesta mode for the festival’s duration, with international acts brought in to perform to crowds, as well as musicians, DJs and dancers from all over East Africa. The event is capped off with an awards ceremony for the best films of the festival.


It is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles. Every year, over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope begin their annual migration north, braving the Mara and Grumeti river crossings where crocodiles, mouths gaping, lie in wait. It is by far the most spectacular part of the migration. No two migrations are ever the same, and choosing the time, or indeed the place, to go can be tricky. The crossings span a huge areas, and while you might stumble on a herd forming to cross, there’s no guarantee they’ll take the plunge while you’re watching.








By Chuma Nwokolo A dark, but very funny, comedy from Nigeria about a father and his two sons, one an aspiring conman, the other a failed writer. In the diaries, written by each of the three protagonists, Nwokolo takes readers on a merciless rollercoaster of a read, exploring their lack of means and usefulness to society. The perception of the hapless trio is reinforced through villagers’ eyes, whose view of the family switches with their changing fortunes.


By Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor Owuor’s dazzling first novel, shortlisted for the Folio prize, is set in Kenya during the postelection violence after the 2007 polls, but swings through the pendulum of recent Kenyan history. The novel starts with the death of young man, bringing his sister, who never really knew him, to Kenya, and to the Turkana region where family secrets are slowly and painfully revealed. The writing is beautiful, highly evocative and intense, reflecting her characters’ experience.


Charles Pye-Smith Superb bit of travel writing charting PyeSmith’s journey through Egypt and into Sudan, where he attempts to retrace his steps of an earlier journey, but is blocked from doing so by bureaucracy and civil war. Along with amusing anecdotes, the writer also rails against injustices where he sees them. Written in the 1970s, the account of his journey harks back to an earlier era of travel, pre-Internet, where, in Pye-Smith’s words, “travelling really meant you were a world apart.”

BEHIND THE SCENES Polka-dot rescue “A group of about 15 Buffalo had come to eat the grass around the pool and chomp down on my last remaining pot plant. It was not long before all hell broke loose and an unfortunate baby buffalo found himself swimming for his life. Clearly not aqua-dynamically built, his frantic splashes were accompanied by panicked sounds as his mother had no option but to look on. The wretched baby was trying frantically to reach her, taking him away from the steps at the shallow end. Within seconds, and much to my horror, Anthony had stripped down to his pink polka dot Marks and Spencer’s boxer shorts, and had flung himself into the water. My embarrassment and horror at his choice of underwear was huge, conscious as I was of the fact that our group of VIP agents were looking on with much interest. Mummy buffalo was not letting this pink polkadotted predator anywhere near her baby and, in her efforts to keep her mouth on the baby’s head, she very nearly fell in herself. Thankfully, Anthony had the strength to move the buffalo and try to get him out away from his mother.” Emma [and Anthony] Childs, Emakoko Lodge, Nairobi National Park

OUR WINNER IS... Congratulations to Zollo Nyambu, our winner of last month’s photo competition on Instagram. The theme was adventure. This photo, Zollo tells us, was taken last month in Sagana. “The heavy rains in the area at that time made rafting in the high waters even more fun and exciting.” She wins a two-night stay at Distant Relatives Eco Lodge in Kilifi.

Be part of One of Nairobi’s Finest residences Jade Residency - Luxury living within the City Prime Location: Kindaruma Road, Kilimani, Nairobi Boutique Development comprising of 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms units Modern Design. High Quality Finishes Facilities - 4 Lifts. Solar Water Heater, Sky Gym Area, Sky Bridge, Roof Top Social Hall To find out more about this exciting opportunity please contact

Jade Homes Ltd

+254 718 632 128 +254 780 522 522

Happy Living

“Particulars Not Warranted” EXPERIENCE This18 material isDISCOVER condensed forEXPLORE general marketing purposes only and may not be complete or accurate. Jade Homes Limited (including its employees and agents) will not accept any liability suffered or incurred in any way whatsoever (directly or indirectly) by any person arising out of or in connection with any reliance on the content of or information contained herein. Taibjee & Bhalla Advocates, P O Box 10161-00100, Nairobi


AMENITIES • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Roof top gym facility Roof top social hall with kitchenette Roof top open terrace lounge Sky bridge connecting both blocks High speed lifts Dedicated parking spots Generator for common areas Provision for Intercom, Internet and satellite TV Private balconies Provision for an Inverter in each apartment Perimeter wall with electric fence Solar water heating system This development by Jade Homes Ltd offers luxury living within the city.

Offering Luxury Apartments that are centrally located in Kilimani Area in Nairobi. • The Jade Residency is a close proximity to major Shopping malls, Schools, Hospitals and other amenities, all within a 2km radius. • This boutique development comprising of 2,3 and 4 bed luxury apartments has been tastefully designed with world class nishes. The well thought out spaces allow for natural light and air circulation and the interior design has been designed by an on board professional designer. Modern Interiors with tasteful finishes and colours to provide maximum flexibility.

• • •

The light, airy spaces are a breath of fresh air. Large windows for maximum light private balcony Fully tted Kitchen with appliances

*Mortgages available from Major banks and financial institutions

Jade Homes Ltd Happy Living P.O. Box 39224 - 00623 Nairobi, Kenya +254 718 632 128 +254 780 522 522

ZANZIBAR Spicy our

new destination

Direct flights from Wilson.


Ras Kitau Bay, Manda Island For reservations contact us on +254 20 712 3300/1/2 Email 020 669 0000


Road Tripping through


We meet the guys (and gal) from Routes Adventure, showcasing Kenya’s lesser-known treasures on YouTube. Sham Patel, Acacia Aggarwal, and Tony Njunguna have driven their car two thirds of the way up Mt Kenya, swum in Lake Chala, and traversed the Chalbi desert in the north. They’ve found themselves in a few tight spots, but that is half the fun. How did this all begin? Sham: When we started this, we wanted to change the way Kenyan tourism was perceived. It was all about the Maasai Mara and Mombasa. We wanted to show you can have budget trips, go camping 45 minutes out of Nairobi, and be in nature. You don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to enjoy nature, and that hasn’t been told very well. Acacia: Our production reflects our style of travel. We don’t want everything scripted, or more expensive cameras. We want to be on the ground. We want to keep it as personal as possible. We don’t want to spend Ksh30,000 a night for a short experience. We want different challenges. How did you go about it? Tony: At the beginning, we were aiming for television … but we opted to leave that for a while, so we went online. We started filming on vlogs. We had to buy a camera, learn how to edit and how to distribute. Acacia: When we go to a very remote place, we assume nobody knows about it. But when we post our vlog, people correct us on information that was wrong, or have additional information. A lot of travel around the country isn’t documented. There is this knowledge out there, but they don’t have the channel to share it. What’s the best trip you’ve done? Sham: Every time we go to a new place, we’re like: ‘This is the best place ever.’ We went swimming in Lake Chala. It’s a massive lake, half in Kenya, half in Tanzania. It’s supposed to

be run-off water from Kilimanjaro, but you get in and it’s really warm. Pristine beauty. Acacia: We all felt that was the best. Then we went to Mount Kenya, and drove up to 11,000 feet. It was just us, we camped by Lake Ellis. When we did that trip, that was the best. Another surprising place was up north. There’s a lot of build-up of anxiety when travelling in the north, but we as travellers on the ground didn’t experience that. They call it a different country because it’s nothing like the rest of Kenya. Tony: The Chalbi desert is something else. I felt like I was on Mars. You are so tiny, such a small organism in this world. Everything you think is a big deal is really not. Sham: Travel teaches you to remember your place in this existence. You get to lots of difficult places. But what about some of the challenges you’ve encountered? Sham: We bought a car. She was in bad condition. Her name is Freedee. Acacia: But we just took her up a mountain, and through two deserts. The difficulties are mainly things that go wrong with the car. We take challenges so well that we don’t consider it a bad experience. We took Miss Mandy (a Kenyan radio presenter) with us up Mount Kenya. The car didn’t start, so Sham walked down the mountain to get help. I think she was surprised we would let this happen. She had never gone camping in her life. It’s interesting to see how different people react. Sham: She fell in love with it.

What have you learnt from your travels? Sham: We met the El Molo community [in Turkana]. There are only 300 of them left in the world. We went with 30 other people, and they bought things from the ladies, probably each 500 shillings or less. They later told the guides the money would last them three of four months. Tourism is not only about taking care of the land, but also about taking care of the people. By taking care of them, they automatically take care of the places in which they live. If domestic tourism takes off, it would change the whole industry. People are struggling out there because people aren’t coming through. Acacia: Domestic tourism is what we need. It’s the only thing that’s going to drive us forward during difficult times. Sham: If you have 50 people travelling to the coast every weekend, they’re all posting about it. Their friends come, it grows. It’s a domino effect. What do you hope people will take away from your shows? Acacia: It’s about the vistas. When you see something from above [with a drone], you get to see the expanse. People saw the beauty of the Kenyan land. It’s not necessarily what we say to you on camera, but what we show to you as well. Sham: We want to create this sense of wonder, where people are like: ‘What did I just watch? I want them to wake up and say, ‘We’ve got to get five friends and go.’ Follow the trio’s adventures at or on Youtube: Routes Adventure






Delays and a heavy gear shift slow Morris Kiruga’s progress to Rusinga, but he soons finds that speed isn’t everything

t 11 am, my mechanic still wasn’t done. Ishmael, like most people in his trade, swore he was doing his best to finish with car. But it was a story I’d heard before. Three times, actually, in the preceding 24 hours. I was getting impatient. We all were. There were 408 kilometres between where we were, with fully-packed bags, and where we needed to be. From Google Maps, it looked like a long, winding blue line between the center of Kenya and its Western edge. To an island so beloved, its people named it twice-Rusinga Island (the base word for Rusinga in Suba means island). There were other reasons for my anxiety. The year before this trip, I’d hitched a ride with two fellow pens, Magunga Williams and Abigail Arunga. In a car blaring the new Sauti Sol album on repeat, we cruised past Nakuru with nary a care in the world. Then somewhere after Salgaa, on a straight descent, we got caught speeding. Abigail was herded into a tiny hut and we had to spend four hours waiting for the wheels of justice to turn. There are two ways of getting to to Rusinga Island, just off the mainland in Mbita. One goes through Nakuru and Kericho, and is one of the most policed roads in Kenya. The other, through Narok and Kisii, is slightly shorter. But it has an unfortunate history of flash floods making it at times impassable. Still, to ward off the bad vibes from the previous trip, I chose the latter. Thankfully, and in a macabre sense, I was at the wheel of a VW Golf with gear issues. Speeding was out of the question.





Ishmael finally called at midday, just before my company and I gave up on getting to Rusinga on time. The Rusinga Island Festival, a fervent two-day event that takes place every year, would start the next morning. It is a celebration of Abasuba culture, one so misunderstood that it is often just stacked up with its neighbors, the Luo. To get to Narok, you first have to descend the precarious escarpment towards Mai Mahiu. There are a few roads like this one in Kenya, carved onto the side of the hill so perfectly that you feel l’appel du vide - the call of the void. The first pit stop was in Narok, just 142 km in. It is a town defined by its many nyama choma meat stops; so popular in fact that you can buy and be on your way in under five minutes. From Narok, the road weaves into an endless play of turns and long straight stretches on hilly land. It feels like a rollercoaster at times, and even in a faulty car, I was still paranoid of speed guns lurking behind the bushes and shrubs. At least thrice between Narok and my next major destination, Kisii, I found speed spots, and drove past them with a smug smile. Somewhere between Bomet and Kisii, my safari buddy was a white pickup driven by a man who doesn’t like to lose. The problem is that even a Golf with gear issues is beautiful on the turns, especially in places where speed matters less than stability. As we entered Kisii, the man drew level with me to get my attention, then his friend passed a note with a phone number. If I ever want to sell the car, he shouted, I should call him. I was still smiling about this when I realised that we still had a long way to go. Darkness

was setting in and my shoulders were cramping up. On the other end of this trip would be one of the most fascinating places in Kenya. Set on Lake Victoria, Rusinga Island is an elongated stretch connected to the mainland by a new bridge. At night, if you look out into the lake, it looks like a city has sprung out of nowhere. An endless city of flickering lights as fishermen camp out in the lake. In the morning they’ll make their way to the beaches, dragging with them the night’s catch. From Rusinga, you are just a short boat ride from Birds’ Island, a mound of rock rising out of the lake that’s home to many bird species. Then there’s Takawiri, the images of which tend to look unbelievable. Its white sandy beaches and lush palm trees look misplaced in these parts. There’s also Mfangano, the second home of the Abasuba, descendants of exiles from a dynastic war for the Buganda throne on the other side of the lake. Two centuries after that war, I am driving towards the islands at night, with Diamond’s Salome Wangu blaring in the background. It’s a smooth stretch of road with proper markings and reflectors, on an otherwise totally dark night with little traffic. In the back, three tired people are singing to the chorus, “Unanitekenyaga ukinyonga Salome/ Unanitekenyaga ukinyonga.” We finally get to Rusinga Island at 9 pm, tired and famished. Our home for the night is a place called Blue Ridge Hotel. After a shower, we head downstairs for dinner. As we sit down to eat, someone combs through our bags and makes away with our electronics and money.


Interview with

BLINKY BILL Rachel Keeler catches up with the Kenyan musician, producer and DJ to talk about his travels, a mind-blowing necktie exhibition in a Dakar living room, and an appreciation for his Kenyan roots. “Man, how did a band from Kenya get to play in a place like this?” Travel has definitely become a big part of my musical journey. Even with Just a Band, we travelled to so many different places - to Africa, America, Europe. There are places we went to where I was just like, ‘Man, how did a band from Kenya get to play in a place like this?’ Maybe it’s because of the sound itself - it’s a very open and diverse sound. And music is a language, so people don’t really need to know the language that you’re speaking as long as it makes them feel something. “The audience is just ready to take whatever you’ve planned” I was surprised by Jinja [Uganda]. There’s a festival called Nyege Nyege. It’s next to the river Nile. The festival itself is just very free. You can do whatever it is you want to do. I think the audience is ready to take in whatever it is you’ve planned for that day and I really enjoy those kinds of shows. I love playing in Nairobi because I don’t have to explain myself too much. It’s the city that I make all my music in and it informs a lot of my writing and thinking and how I see the world and how I express myself. “I want to make music that respects what I’ve grown up with” I’m working on my new album, so I’m gathering inspiration from a lot of people. There are a lot of contemporary artists who are making dope [cool] stuff now. But I’m also kind of ‘old school’ in the sense that I want to make music that pays respect to some of the things I’ve grown up with. Old Kenyan music has a lot of [brass] horns. And the horns sections were [just] bananas. It’s called Benga. There is a song called African Sunsets, by the Bata Shoe Shine Boys. This song was such a big influence. If you grew up in Nairobi in the 1980s, and you played this song and someone doesn’t know it, you might question if they really grew up here. There’s also a band called Balla et ses Balladins. They were a dance music orchestra from Guinea formed in 1962. My personal sound is a mix of electronic music meets African music meets hip hop meets funk and jazz. I might be confusing for some people, but it’s fine for me. I just want to make music that I care about.

“He’d arranged a lot of neck ties around the house, that was his thing” I love Dakar. I went there during the Dakar Biennale. I love that the whole city. Regardless of whether it was the rich or poor side of town, everyone knew that it’s a time when the city pays respects to the arts. We went to this place and this guy had an art exhibition in his living room. He’d arranged a lot of neck ties around the house, that was his thing, and then you come check it out and it’s arranged in order of size and colour and design and patterns. It just blew my mind. West Africa has really strong cultural roots and I think in Nairobi we are not as stuck to our roots. When you listen to most radio stations here, they either play very new stuff or pop from elsewhere but not a lot of old Kenyan music. In West Africa, I heard so much of their own stuff, it made me happy. “Tanzanians love what is theirs, whatever it is” One of the biggest challenges with being an artist in Kenya is that people have never really respected artists. Not just with music, it’s with a lot of things where we have never taken the time to appreciate what we have. So it’s always like ‘what’s next and what is everyone else bringing here.’ You look at Tanzania and Uganda and it’s still very different from Kenya. Tanzanians love what is theirs, whatever it is. And then Uganda, I really hate their music, but they love it. If you’re in Kampala, you’ll hear the sound so much that you kind of start to like it because it’s everywhere, it’s so pervasive. In Kenya, it’s an advantage and a disadvantage because we are not stuck to, ‘Oh I [don’t] have to like this because it’s Kenyan, I know better.’ Kind of. But then that knowing better makes it very difficult for you to just sit down and appreciate where you are and where you’ve come from.








Rains bring relief to parched lands, but a hidden menace lurks within the young grass, writes Samantha du Toit


here is a rather large hedgehog in the sitting room darling,” whispered my husband as he shone the torch around, trying not to wake up the sleeping children. “Come and see it.” “Wow,” I said, “that is a large hedgehog, don’t let Diesel [our Jack Russell terrier] chase it.” Apart from the nightly genet who comes to finish off Diesel’s food, and the occasional spitting cobra, we have never had a porcupine visit before. He had pipped the genet to the post in the dog dish, and then lumbered, with surprising silence, down the steps of our cottage and off into the night. He was lucky to have been there actually, given that his cousin had been killed and eaten by a lion a few months or so before, just outside the bush kitchen tent. The children had a great time collecting all the quills with which to decorate the cottage. The onset of the long-awaited rainy season has arrived with mixed blessings. On the one hand, we have had some unusual wildlife knocking on our doorstep, such as the porcupine in our cottage, elephants feeding off a fallen fig opposite our cottage and a leopard relaxing on a dead log across the river from the dining tent. But on the other, there have been strange tales of poisonous grasses killing off cattle in the community conservation area.

It is common knowledge among the local Maasai that when young, certain species of grasses can be poisonous to cattle. Curious about this, I tried to read up on the subject and discovered that indeed some of the larger grass species, particularly after a heavy grazing period such as a drought, can harbour high levels of cyanide in their leaves, presumably as a defence mechanism against grazing animals. In a typical year, Maasai and their cattle stay well away from such grasses, only coming back to graze on them later in the season when they have grown and lost their poison. This year, it has been different. Severe drought forced cattle to have little option but to eat the young poisonous grasses, as they were the most plentiful food to be found. And many died as a result, adding insult to injury for Maasai who had already lost cattle to disease and other drought-related conditions. I sit and watch my children playing in the river late one afternoon, in turn watched by our resident troop of baboons, and wonder at the extremes of nature. She can be so cruel and yet so beautiful, all at the same time. The people who live closest to her feel the cruelty perhaps more than the beauty, while those who can take a step back see mainly the beauty. As the light fades and I persuade the children out of the river and into a warm

We never had a porcupine visit before. He pipped the genet to the post in the dog dish, and then lumbered, with surprising silence, down the steps and off into the night. bucket bath, I hope for their sake that their understanding and love for nature can encompass all the emotions that come with her. Samantha du Toit is a wildlife conservationist, working with SORALO, a Maasai land trust. She lives with her husband, Johann, and their two children at Shompole Wilderness, a tented camp in the Shompole Conservancy.





When we think of travel in the bush, safari is often the first thing to spring to mind. But it’s not for everyone, particularly those with younger kids. Catrina Stewart heads to Nanyuki and Laikipia for an altogether different child-friendly experience. 26







ust feet away from where we were standing, a grazing herd of elephants meandered from scrub to shrub, snorting, chomping, stamping. Our guide again motioned to us to be silent. But my five-yearold wasn’t listening, engaged as she was in a monologue about a favourite television series. She seemed less than enthralled by the proximity to these great beasts. Eventually the message, accompanied by violent hand gestures, appeared to penetrate, and she burrowed her head in my top and blew raspberries. I briefly wondered if my child was getting much out of this. We had vetoed a traditional safari, the prospect of trying to keep a lid on five and three-year-old emotions a seemingly

Sisyphean task. But the idea of introducing our offspring to a more offbeat experience was appealing. Even if elephants seemed to leave my children cold, Laikipia was proving a surprising hit. Earlier, I had suggested camels to my husband, and, with a raise of his eyebrows, he had agreed. So here we were with Karisia Walking Safaris, watching the elephants. While the emphasis at Karisia is on walking safaris, the camels serving as pack animals, we chose to ride for some of the time, given our offspring’s muted enthusiasm for walking. We had been introduced to our camels earlier in the day - Hashem for me, and Chapatti for my husband. 19th century traveller Amelia Edwards once wrote: “You know that he hates you, from the moment you



FAMILY first walk round him, wondering where and how to begin the ascent of his hump.” These words seemed to ring particularly true as my youngest extended her fingers towards the camel’s snarling snout, prompting a warning from its handler. Her sister, seeing this, refused to go anywhere near it. Realising she might be left behind as we moved off, she finally acquiesced, and was hoisted up. We set off, swaying, the lopsided saddle threatening to tip us into the dirt at any moment. We plodded for an hour on camels that were more obliging than they first seemed. In the early morning light, giraffe galloping in front of us and dik dik cavorting through the scrub. Camels are, though, inherently uncomfortable, so after an hour we descended with relief to continue on foot, until an evillooking cobra slid across our path. Our youngest wanted to get closer, but was fortunately securely strapped into a toddler rucksack, gallantly lugged around by Gabriel, our long-suffering guide. Reaching a cluster of rocks, our oldest was initiated into the art of rock-climbing. She’s much too young, I thought, when the suggestion was first mooted. She’ll be afraid, she’ll get little out of it.. But by the fifth ascent of the same cliff-face, she was shouting, “Easy, peasy!” My normally risk-shy daughter was loving it. She must have climbed up the same rock, her harness rope attached to Gabriel, about 10 times. By the end, she was bouncing down. Then it was our turn. My husband made it to the top, much to the admiration of his daughter, but I found myself hanging in terror to a sheer bit of rock face with no obvious foot or hand holds. “Don’t look down,” my oldest, who now considered herself a veteran climber, shouted. “You’ve nearly reached where I got,” she added. “You just need to practise more, Mummy,” she said finally. We arrived at our riverside camp, erected that morning, just in time for lunch. The girls delightedly surveyed their accommodation for the night - a real tent, bedding laid out on a ground sheet, a second tent for the children behind. As we drank our tea in the early evening light, a herd of elephants waded across the river in front of us. “Look,” I said to my elder daughter, waiting expectantly for her to say something profound that would make good copy. “Yeah, cool,” she said. “Mummy, can I have another piece of cake?” In the space of a few days, our girls were barraged with an onslaught of experiences. First time camping, first time on a camel, first time on a rock. Whichever experience was their last was their favourite. At Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, a storied resort with a magnificent location at the foot of Mt Kenya, it had been the maze. Then the kid’s club. Then the horses. Once owned by actor William Holden, and his partners, oil billionaire Ray Ryan and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann, the resort was at one time the most exclusive private members’ club in the world, with a stay by invitation





A herd of elephants waded across the river in front of us. “Look,” I said to my daughter, waiting expectantly for her to say something profound that would make good copy. “Yeah, cool,” she said. “Mummy, can I have another piece of cake? only. It became a mecca for the glamorous Hollywood set, and a meeting place for Western spies. I imagine those former guests would recoil at the thought of the kids’ club, where the young charges run sack races, bead necklaces, and hare about on the bouncy castle among other things. But for stressed parents wanting a break, it is bliss, and for a heady moment, I considered leaving them there for the day in the capable hands of Joshua, the ebullient manager. Instead, we mounted the girls on horses, and went for a half-hour lead-rein ride in the shadow of Mount Kenya. Later, the children raced giggling through the maze, and a teenage boy took it upon himself to lead my oldest deep into the labyrinth, and jump out at her, screaming, every few paces. She was delighted. Our final stop before heading north was the animal orphanage, where visitors can see rescued bongos, cerval cats, baboons, and myriad other creatures. While some are in enclosures, the tamer bongos, llamas, baby buffalos and giant tortoises have the run of the orphanage. From behind bars, a baboon with a broken arm screeched at my youngest, and she chortled in delight. She sat down next to a llama, sitting nonchalantly on the grass, and stroked its fur, saying, “This is a funny one.” On the road to Laikipia proper, my oldest chattered ceaselessly about the kids’ club, and I wondered if Laikipia would live up to the attractions of the Mt Kenya Safari Club. Our first stop was Laikipia Wilderness, an eco lodge where we were greeted by Penny, the vivacious manager, who was standing in for the owners while they were away, with two young kids of her own. After lunch, we retired to our rooms. The silence was absolute. A handful of tents, furnished in comfortable style, overlook the Laikipia plains. Absolute, that is, until the

children came screeching down the hill, looking for more entertainment. We headed out of camp out on a game drive for a sundowner, although one with a difference. Within moments of stopping on the riverside beach, the children had stripped down, running into the Ewaso Narok river, up to their necks in murky water with only a few boulders separating them from humphing and snorting hippos. For one normally so diffident towards ‘natural’ water, my five-year-old appeared to be having the time of her life. My three year old looked on longingly, nursing a bandaged broken thumb. When she did venture in, she held her thumb carefully aloft. Meanwhile, Penny’s son had caught a catfish, an alarmingly malevolent looking creature with giant whiskers. We joked about serving it up for tea, for it was fish fingers and chips on the menu. As the children munched contentedly on battered fish, we relaxed over a gin and tonic to the hippos’ soundtrack. Similarly to Karisia, you’ll often have the place to yourself. The lodge is family-owned and family-run, with a variety of activities on offer, such as tubing or boating on the river when it’s in spate, archery, or bush walking with guides, identifying bugs and scorpions, or studying animal tracks. This is not mere tolerance, but a genuine embrace of family life. Our final stop before heading back to Nairobi was Sutton Hoo, an English country house outside Nanyuki transplanted onto the Kenyan landscape. Even the chill in the air, the wind gusting off Mount Kenya, reminded me of the British countryside. The house is the dream of Dicky and Amelia Leach, who built the house over five years. Wisely as it turns out, they were advised to build the swimming pool first lest they run out of money and energy to do it at the end. We were quickly plunged into the Leach’s family life, their two young twins a subject of fascination for my younger child. A kids’ tea was whipped up, and my children delved into the toys of their younger peers, before lounging in front of Nanny McPhee, part of a movie library courtesy of a sister working in film. As Amelia readied her twins for kindergarten on our final morning, we were treated as more a part of family life than a guest. And that’s just how I would have wanted it. Their home is a handy base for exploring nearby attractions, such as Ol Pejeta conservancy, and Ngare Ndare forest with its waterfall and canopy walks, but also provides a comfortable break in the journey for a family on the way back from the north. Before returning to Nairobi, we decided to try Ngare Ndare, but somewhere beyond Timau, I drove the car off the road. Standing at the side of the track, the children considered my driving abilities - unfavourably - until some passers-by stopped, and heaved our car back onto the road. It might have been the last straw had the children not taken it so in their stride. I had been underestimating them, I know. But if there’s one thing I can be sure of, it’s that our holidays will never be so tame again. The writer was a guest of Mt Kenya Safari Club, Laikipia Wilderness and Sutton Hoo.












Kenya, Laikipia – map

WHERE WE STAYED Laikipia Wilderness, a serene eco lodge owned by Annabelle and Steve Carey, is a 11/2-hour drive from Nanyuki, some of it on graded rough roads. It is a beautiful drive, and you’re likely to see game on the way. The eco lodge offers double and connected family tents, and meals are taken communally in the main mess tent. Activities for children include swimming in the river, rafting, fishing, rockclimbing, bush walks with rangers to uncover bugs and animal tracks, and archery. Resident rates on full-board start from Ksh20,000 per person. All activities are included.

Karisia Walking Safaris is a roughly one-hour drive east from Laikipia Wilderness (or 90 minutes from Nanyuki), and guests have the option of setting out on a walking safari when they arrive, or spending a night or two in the well-appointed base camp. On safari, adults mainly walk, while camels carry the luggage and tents, but it is also possible to ride them for a while to enjoy the view. Activities include game walks with sundowners, swimming in the Ewaso Nyiro river, beading jewellery, and rock-climbing with an experienced guide. Karisia’s safaris, offered on an exclusive basis, can last up to several days, with a camp set up in a different spot every night. Rates start from $240 per adult per day for a lighter trekking safari using dome tents with separate toilets, to $300 per person with bigger tents for the full experience.



ok N


Ew a s o Ny i r o




o as

El Karama Eco-Lodge

K a r i s i a Wa l k i n g S a fa r i s DOL D OL ●






O l Pe j e t a Bush Camp


Borana Lodge Sirikoi Lewa House









Solio Lodge

Map of Laikipia © Expert Africa. Expert Africa is a tour operator specialising in tailor-made safaris in east and southern Africa. Visit www.expertafrica. com for detailed advice and itinerary quotes from experienced travellers.

10 miles

An 90-minute drive back to Nanyuki from Laikipia brings you to Sutton Hoo, a private house located close to the airstrip in Nanyuki. It is the very comfortable English-style family home of Dicky and Amelia Leach, who have young children of their own. Their home has a pool, sand pit, swings, and plenty of indoor entertainment, too, such as a kids’ movie library, and games. It is a good place to break up a long journey whether going to or from Nairobi. B&B rates start at Ksh6,500 for a single, Ksh12,000 for a double. Contact



L e w a S a fa r i Camp



10 km






Kicheche Laikipia Camp


Sweetwaters Serena




Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge

Ta s s i a Lodge Laragai House


Po r i n i R h i n o C a m p





Laikipia Wilderness

Eng are







As many readers will know, Laikipia has suffered security problems in recent months. During our most recent visit to western Laikipia, the situation was calm and safe, but always contact the lodge before travelling to enquire about the situation on the ground.

From Nairobi, it is a roughly three-hour drive to Nanyuki. Mount Kenya Safari Club is located about 20 minutes from Nanyuki, and is set in beautifully-manicured grounds at the foot of Mount Kenya. A children’s club runs from 10 am to 6 pm, and offers a range of activities, including lego, playstations, a bouncy castle and trampoline, and activities with group leaders including sack races, beading and painting. Horse-riding is available for a range of abilities, with lead-rein rides around the grounds for younger guests, and rides into the countryside for experienced riders. A major attraction is the animal orphange, wher you can expect to spend an hour or more. Older children can also make use of several segway boards.The safari club also has its own golf course, and families can book bush breakfasts, and trips into nearby game reserves. Resident rates for a double start from Ksh22,000 full board.

© Expe





Want to take the kids on safari? Not everyone is geared up for your little darlings, but some just revel in it. Here, we profile five of the best upcountry holiday spots for children in Kenya.


This private conservancy a short drive from Nanyuki is perhaps the destination for families seeking an active, upcountry break. It hosts a variety of properties to suit every budget from the swankiest house to the most rugged campsite. Families can bunk down in the self-catering Pelican House, particularly well situated above a watering hole, or head to Sweetwaters, with its luxury tents and pool. The conservancy offers a range of activities for children from a ‘behind-the-scenes’ visit to its chimpanzee sanctuary, to petting Baraka, the blind rhino. Its newest offering is the junior rangers club, where 4-16 year olds can work through a set of questions and games before taking the ranger oath and receiving an honorary pin. Prices vary.






While the parents head on safari, it’s nice to know the kids have something to do. Basecamp’s family appeal is in its young explorers club, where children as young as four years old learn about nature, track butterflies and animal footprints, and learn how to make bows and arrows, before getting a chance to use them. Another popular activity is a visit to a Maasai workshop, where local women give the kids a go at making their own beaded jewellery. The camp has staff who can watch the children while their parents are out of camp. Babysitting is limited, but staff can watch children until early evening. Sister lodge, Wilderness Camp in Mara Naboisho conservancy, offers the same. Prices start from Ksh8,000 pp per night full board, excluding game drives.


PHOTO: andBeyond



Sometimes, taking a private house is perfect for a family retreat. Acacia House in the much quieter, yet animal-filled, conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara, makes for a homely stay, with a warming hearth for fireside games. It’s a pretty family-friendly destination, especially for younger kids, with a ‘kids-only’ loft bedroom, a DVD room with children’s classics, a toy room, and pool, including a baby pool, shared with neighbouring Mara House. Kids also have the chance to get mucky in the kitchen and cook with the chef. Or they might enjoy moulding safari animals out of termite clay, and then bake them in the fire. Sleeps four adults, plus kids. From $210 pp per night on a full-board basis.

At the pricier end of the spectrum is this andBeyond camp in the Mara, but it does offer a superb range of child activities with its WildChild club, an additional charge. Among the activities children can do are nature walks, playing football with the camp’s team, dancing with the Maasai, and making rudimentary bead jewellery. For the enthusiastic cooks, there’s the chance to run up a Ranger’s omelette breakfast out on a game drive. On the accommodation front, families can take advantage of its interconnected tents, which sleep two adults and up to three children. Rates start from $330 pp per night. Children under six go free.


Whether you opt to take over the campsite or take a family room, this is a great family offering not too far from Nairobi. Giraffe and wildebeest and other characters wander over the grounds, and there’s horse riding, cow-milking and boat rides over to Crescent Island on offer, where visitors walk among the giraffe and antelope, amoong other animals. It is also a great base for exploring what Naivasha has to offer beyond the lake, including the owl sanctuary, or Hell’s Gate national park, whether it’s for a dip in the steaming sulphur pools, trekking through the gorge, or heading out on a mountain-bike adventure. From Ksh16,500 pp on halfboard; camping starts at Ksh2,000 pp.





Children love a holiday at the coast. There’s minimal need for clothes and shoes, and plenty of sand and swimming time. Alternatively, take a dhow with a picnic for a spot of snorkelling. There are lots of great places at the coast where parents can sit back and relax, too, whether it’s all-inclusive that’s your bag, or a little hideaway on the beach. Here are our five picks.

TURTLE BAY, WATAMU This all-inclusive resort in Watamu, one of Kenya’s most picturesque beaches, is great for parents who need someone to keep tabs on their tearaways, and don’t want to worry about the rising bar bill. For kids, this place has it all. Supervised activities for 4-12 year-old children include swimming, arts and crafts, cookery classes and beach games. Children can vie for mega points, which are converted into donations to local charities. It’s not the most luxurious of the coastal resorts, but it’s pocket-friendly and pretty chilled. Starts from Ksh7,400 pp on an all-inclusive basis.





VOYAGER BEACH RESORT, NYALI This is another beachfront favourite with families. The attractive, nautically-themed hotel (think blues and stripes), is all-inclusive and offers a kids’ club, Adventurers, from four years and up, with an animation team and energetic supervisors. For older kids, there is the Young Rangers’ club, with activities such as canoeing and windsurfing. The resort has three pools, including a whirlpool, to choose from. Meanwhile, historic Mombasa city is on Voyager’s doorstep for those looking for a more cultural experience. Starts from Ksh12,200 per person, all-inclusive.


KINONDO KWETU, GALU BEACH This Swedish-owned boutique hotel offers a more luxurious familyfriendly experience, with two houses, perfect for big families looking to be under one roof, and five cottages. It has additional rooms within the main house itself. Activities include snorkelling, sea kayaking, and dhow sailing, and the hotel has its own tennis court, and riding stables. It’s an altogether more upmarket place than the other hotels named here, its price reflective of that. Resident rates start from Ksh13,000 per person on half-board basis.

LANTANA GALU, GALU BEACH If all-inclusive resorts or a hotel environment doesn’t quite do it for you, try Lantana Galu apartments on Galu Beach, the quieter and largely beachboy-free sister beach to Diani. The resort offers modern, large and well-appointed family-sized apartments with lots of privacy. The kids can paddle and potter on the beach a short walk away or take a dip in a choice of pools. Apartments are taken on a self-catering basis, but the resort also has its own coffee shop and a good restaurant. Prices start from Ksh26,900 for a twobedroom suite, and from Ksh20,900 for a penthouse.

SANDS ISLAND BEACH, TIWI If you’re looking for something very affordable and a little lowkey, then head to Sands Island Beach in Tiwi. This cluster of rustic cottages, sleeping between two and eight, is ideal for those just wanting to potter about from the comfort of their cottage or explore the nearby reef for starfish, crabs and other sea life. It has its own private beach, a big draw for those looking for some privacy or something a little quieter. They are self-catering but cooks are provided on request. The smallest cottages start at Ksh6,000.



Your perfect family holiday WITH


CostSaver is the perfect holiday for all travellers who are looking for consistent quality at the best value that is truly budget friendly. Offering included hand-picked accommodation, many included meals, perfectly planned itineraries that offer the must-see sights, airport transfers and the services of a qualityassured Trafalgar-trained Travel Director CostSaver is hassle-free and flexible.

The 11-day Wonders of Turkey, from $1315 per person sharing, showcases how East meets West. This Turkish extravaganza explores the Byzantine and Ottoman past of Istanbul with its colourful street markets and beautiful Blue Mosque. You’ll also visit the underground city of Sarhatli, Pamukkale’s cotton fortresses and the ruins of Ephesus.

Choose from the 7-day Jewels of Italy, from $1140 per person sharing and you will explore Italy’s sophisticated capitals of Venice, Florence and Rome. From the beautiful cobblestone squares, centuries’ old tradition and historic highlights to the highlights of the mighty Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa and the spectacular Duomo. On your tour of Venice you will enjoy a private boat cruise to St Mark’s Square before watching a glassblowing workshop on Guidecca Island.

A full day’s tour of Istanbul will uncover the Topkapi Palace Museum, the Blue Mosque and the world’s oldest and largest covered market ranging over 60 streets. On the trip to Cappadocia you will visit the underground city of Sarhatli and the dervish lodge of the Mevlevli order. We welcome children onboard our tours from the age of five and above making CostSaver perfect for families who want to explore the world with ease and fun.

CostSaver is operated by Trafalgar, a trusted name in the travel world that has nearly 70 years’ knowledge and expertise. CostSaver provides value that their guests give them a 97% satisfaction rating. This uncurated rating is provided by Feefo and is unedited.







Phone: +254-20-375 33 33 / +254-722 354 333 / +254-736 250 260 / +254-733 616 445 EXPERIENCE




Camping with kids can be tough. We asked Rebecca Stonehill, something of an expert when it comes to bedding down in the wild with her children, how to do it. e


moved to Kenya in 2013. The transition wasn’t easy for my youngest, who was very unsettled. Remove him from our Nairobi surroundings and the confines of four walls, and, as though by the flick of a magic wand, he settled. Tantrums ceased, tears dried up and he didn’t need to come to us at night because he knew we were just a couple of sleeping bags away. Camping in Kenya was nothing like our experience of camping in the UK: invariably cheek to jowl with other campers, soggy fields and noisy, crowded (though undeniably fun) festivals. Suddenly, we found ourselves very often alone with no other tent in sight, beneath star-studded skies, sitting around campfires listening to the whoop of hyenas and even the distant roar of lions. Now, if we ask all our children (currently aged 6,9 and 10) what they love most about living in Kenya, their answer without hesitation: Camping.


Sometimes you can return more exhausted than when you set out. True, there’s lots to remember, but don’t make life harder for yourselves. Be organised! There are few more annoying things than making coffee then realising you’ve left the mugs behind. We have a tried-and-tested checklist for what we need, including food and drink essentials. Don’t forget to find out if there is a water point where you’re going. You may even need to bring your own.





Make sure you have plenty of snacks. Camping – I feel – is a time for letting go of eating habits you may require of your kids back home. If you have a long car journey, kids are bound to start getting edgy so story CDs are also a winner. If you don’t have any, you can download them through Audible. At the point when the kids are starting to whack each other over the head, how about I Spy (for younger children, I spy with my little eye something the colour of…works equally well), or Animal, Mineral & Vegetable or Car Snooker (spotting cars of different colours with each colour representing a certain number of points).


Children love helping to set up tents, so give them jobs such as attaching poles together or banging in the pegs with the mallet. If they’re too small, send them round the campsite looking for sticks for firewood and marshmallows later.


A great idea is to bring kebab sticks and a small knife and get children to chop up vegetables, halloumi cheese, small chunks of meat, whatever you want to cook over the fire. Kids love being able to slide the raw food onto sticks and watching as they cook and bubble over the fire, then eating ‘their’ creation. Delicious!


It can be fun to let children have their own small fire, separate from yours, but obviously nearby so you can keep an eye on them. Like it

or loathe it, kids are fascinated by fire, and by helping them to look after it responsibly, you’ll be imparting a lifelong skill to them. Fire aside, there are two magical qualities to camping by night that we don’t get in our everyday lives: The first is stargazing. Lying on blankets with a vast cosmos spread above your head like scattered salt is humbling, fascinating and awe-inspiring for children and adults alike. Not only can I guarantee every child will be enthralled, but it will also throw up some interesting and often unexpected conversations about other worlds, cosmology and life itself. Secondly, there’s storytelling. Even if kids are read stories back home, creative storytelling comes into its own whenever we camp. Either we take it in turns to tell stories (my three love ‘spooky’ tales round the campfire) or, try a chain story where somebody begins a story, speaks for a few minutes and then passes it on to the next person, and so on, around the campfire.


I don’t know what your children are like, but no matter how late mine have gone to bed, they’re up at the crack of dawn when we camp. Fine, if you’re a morning person (my husband) and a little less fine if you’re not (me). For those mornings when you don’t relish the idea of rising at 6 am, have a bag of playthings they love at the ready and make sure they know where to find it. Hey, it might not work. But, it may give you an extra half hour. That being said, there are few more awe-inspiring sights than watching the sun bursting its way over the African savannah. Happy camping!

Packing list


CAMPING WITH KIDS A torch each Small camping chairs Snacks galore! Extra blankets

Balls, skipping rope, cricket bat etc Games e.g. card games Binoculars identification A bird and / or animal book for Stor y CDs / Audible books Lots of paper & crayons s Marshmallows, smokies or sausage Hammock, if you have one jamboree Musical instruments for an evening FIrst aid kit






t’s fun,” a boy shouted as he shot past me, navigating his bike up a steep ramp. “You should try it!” A girl, her rope attached to an instructor on the ground, was the first to make it to the top of the climbing wall. “It was tough,” she said, after abseiling down. “But I loved it.” The school kids had travelled from a school in Arusha, Tanzania, to Rift Valley Adventures’ camp in Ol Pejeta Conservancy outside Nanyuki for one of its tailor-made adventure holidays. With activities as diverse as climbing Mt Kenya, mountain biking through game-rich savannah, or kayaking down a frothing river, the trips are designed to inspire and delight the children. With children these days spending more and more time hooked up to electronic devices such as iPads and laptops, getting them out of the city into a challenging outdoors environment, where both their initiative and courage are tested, is more important than ever. It’s far from a new idea, of course. Britain’s Duke of Edinburgh Award, established in 1956, was the first of its kind, and became the model for schemes that assess adventurous endeavours around the world. Incorporating rescue and public service, expeditions, projects, pursuits and fitness, the award scheme aims to instil important life skills and





ethical values in the children who participate in the progressive award levels. In 1966, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s postindependence president, launched the President’s Award, which is overseen by the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association. And the scheme must be doing something right: over 40,000 young people around Kenya now participate in it, and many university admissions departments favour students who have excelled at its awards. It’s not pie-in-the-sky stuff. These types of schemes develop children’s decision-making skills, improve their attention span, and build their integrity, all vital in later life. Peponi House, a private Nairobi prep school, is one of several Kenyan schools to embrace the idea of learning away from the classroom. It has incorporated outdoor education into the curriculum, preparing kids for life beyond its confines. “Education is not all about textbooks and academic success,” says Mike Peck, a deputy head of Peponi House. “Independence and strength of character, alongside teamwork and collaboration, come from those experiences that push children beyond their comfort zones.” At Ol Pejeta’s famous chimpanzee sanctuary, the school children learned the hard way what the day-to-day job of a conservationist entails: they had to pick up all the sticks in the enclosure.

“It’s because the chimps have learned how to use the sticks to touch the electric fence,” one of the kids explained. “They can move the wires with the sticks, and climb through to explore the wild.” “When we finished, the rangers threw food to the chimps,” another told me. “They eat oranges and bananas and avocado and papaya. For dinner they get ugali and eggs and sweet potatoes.” At the rhino enclosure, the children were expected to shovel rhino dung into a truck. “It’s heavy work,” one complained. The ranger laughed, saying, “It’s all part of a day in the life of a conservationist.” RVA puts children in charge of their own activities. “This is not just adventure,” says Dipesh Pabari, RVA’s general manager. “It’s walking the talk, not just talking the talk.” Nothing is fixed or static and the kids are behind every challenge they take on, giving them a sense of achievement to which no organised activity comes close. For example, should they choose to zip-line down a waterfall, they – under the eagle eyes of their instructors – find the site, set up their ropes, zip-line through the gushing water, then take the ropes with them when they go. “What we do is very different,” says Pabari. “We don’t do game drives – you won’t see nature from behind the windows of a bus. You’ll experience it first hand from the end of a rope, the bottom of a canoe or the back of a camel.”


Tamara Britten sets out to see how outward bound-style adventures can get children out of their comfort zone, and finds there’s a whole lot more to learning than sitting in a classroom.

SCHOOL’S OUT! The school holidays are here, but some of us still have to work. We’ve compiled a list of holiday camps, from residential camps to dropin courses, in and around Nairobi that will keep your young ones entertained. Camp Blue Sky is a Christian American-style summer camp for 7-18 year olds. The week-long, residential camps take place at Lukenya Getaway just outside of Nairobi, and offer a host of outdoor adventures, from camping to rock climbing, as well as drama and swimming. Kids are split up into groups by sex and age, and an adult camp counsellor is attached to each group. Ksh35,000 per week.

Travelling Telescope offers Star Camps, a must-do for budding stargazers. Though not strictly a holiday camp, Travelling Telescope joins existing camping groups of up to 10 families at various stargazing spots around Kenya where they set up their enormous telescope, and use a laser-guided pointer to bring the galaxy alive for children and adults alike. Ksh60,000 per trip, excluding transport and food costs.

3rd JuLY to 25th AuGuST AGE 4-11 y.o

Little Einsteins is hosting several week-long camps in Lavington in July and August where even the most science-shy kid will be intrigued by activities, which include making snot recipes and ketchup volcanos. Aspiring scientists can also try their hand at the underwater telephone, pinhole cameras, computer gaming, and boiling water without heat. Ages 3-12, two sessions daily. Ksh6,600 a week. Call 0729715622 or email

Nairobi Art Centre in Lavington is running week-long art camps in July and August. Younger children (3-11) can take part in pottery, drawing, printing, canvas painting, the interchangeable themes being the environment and Star Wars. Older kids (12 and up) will learn fine art and design technique, including graphic design by hand. Half and full-day workshops are available. Half-day is Ksh2,200, and Ksh10,000 for the week; full-day cost is Ksh3,500 and Ksh15,000 for the week. Contact


Rates are per person sharing, Excluding flights. Valid until 31 Oct 2017

Offers are subject to availability & can be withdrawn without prior notice. Nanny & Me runs holiday camps in July for kids aged six months to Terms & Conditions Apply three years old in Westlands and Lavington. Children take part in a range of fun activities from art and messy play, music and singing, to science and nature. Mornings only. Prices start from Ksh5,400 for two Nairobi: (+254) 733 606 617 • 721 763 949 sessions for two weeks. Nanyuki: (+254) 724 792 505 • 735 854 423 HALF DAYa week 9am-12:30pm FULL DAY 9am-3:30pm

2,200/- per day (4-11y.o)

Machakos: (+254) 736 601943 3,500/- per day (4-11y.o)


Website: Snacks Included | Bring a Lunch | Wear Old Clothes All Materials Included | Ask About Our Weekly Discounts




WOOF WOOF! DID SOMEONE SAY ROAD TRIP?! Dee Sangale looks at the upsides of travelling with pets, and how to make it a pleasurable experience for all.


aking the family out on a road trip is one of the most remarkable ways to create unforgettable memories. It is also a wonderful opportunity for family bonding outside of the normal daily routine. But sometimes, our most loved family members get left behind – the dog. Not only do our pets notice when we are packing up and getting ready for a trip, but they also feel left out of the family circle when we leave them at home with carers. Dogs do have a hard time adjusting to change and this can affect their eating habits or even bathroom behaviours. You may come back from your trip to find your favourite pair of shoes chewed up, because your dog missed you. Going for a road trip with a dog may sound stressful, but it need not be a traumatic experience for you or your dog. There are a few things you can tick off your ‘packing list’ when you do decide to travel with your dog. Belt up Let your pawed pal travel in style with a car seat. Just the same way you belt up when you drive, so should your dog. There is a wide selection of car seats for dogs of different sizes online and also in select pet stores. These will not only ensure the safety of your pup while out on the road, but it will also help your pet settle in and get used to road trips. The more they use the car seat, the better they will adapt to it. Do not let your dog stick his head out of the window as this may cause eye damage from particles like dust flowing into their eyes. Another way to ensure their safety, especially for small breeds like Yorkies, is to put them in a travel crate. The crate should be almost two sizes bigger than the dog. It should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably without





its nose or tail touching the sides of the crate. The crate should have enough ventilation and a proper lock on the door. Food for thought On the day of your trip, DO NOT feed your dog for at least three hours before you start your journey. It is very common for dogs to get car sick and you don’t want to be cleaning up after your dog every 10 kilometres. Pack plenty of water for them so they do not get dehydrated and you can pack some treats for them. Biltong is a great for a road trip treat because not only will it keep your dog occupied, but it also strengthens and helps clean their teeth. Comforts of home When packing for your road trip, remember to pack for your pup too. If your dog has a bed or specific blanket that he loves, bring it along with you. This will help settle your dog when you arrive at your final destination. If he has a toy that he likes to play with, bring it along. He will relax and feel comfortable with familiar objects from home. It’s great to have your dog on a lead while you are out, but for extra handling confidence and comfort, a harness is highly recommended. Ít offers a lot more support than a lead, and as a handler, you can fully control your dog, especially when going for walking adventures over rough terrain. Pick up after your pup Poop bags are a must have on any road trip and they are available at most pet stores. While in the car, plan for regular toilet breaks for your dog so they do not mess up the car or their travel crates. Dee Sangale runs a boarding facility and grooming service for pets at Very Impawtant Pets Spa (VIP) in Kitisuru, Nairobi.

And when you have to leave them behind It can be tough on your pet when you go away. But it needn’t be a traumatic experience, either for your or for your pet, with several good boarding options available in Nairobi. Here are three kennels that come recommended. Yaoni Yappaville, located down Mombasa Road about 80 km beyond the airport, offers boarding for dogs and cats. Dogs are housed in a biggish fenced run-around area with a rondavel kennel, housing up to four dogs. Handlers take the dogs for a long walk in the morning, off leash. Boarding fees vary from Ksh700-1,200 a day, including food. Collection from Nairobi once a week, with meeting points in Karen and Karura, costing Ksh2,500 one-way. Very Impawtant Pets Spa (V.I.P) offers both indoor boarding and outdoor kennelling for dogs. They are located on 2.5 D Kitisuru Road. Dogs can either stay inside the main house for Ksh1,300 a night, or in kennels in the garden for Ksh1,000 a night, including food. The dogs have plenty of opportunity to run around the garden, and are taken on regular walks. Crystal Boarding and Pets Just 10 km beyond the airport, this is handy for those wanting to drop off their pets before jumping on a plane. Dogs have use of a compound and playpens to run around in, and are, at request, housed in stone kennels at night. Collection can be arranged from Karen at no extra cost. Depending on the dog size, a day’s boarding costs between Ksh500-1,000, and includes food. See Crystal Boarding and Pets on Facebook, or contact


Forodhani House, Shella Beach, Lamu, Kenya For reservations: Tel : +254 718 407 480, +33 612 548 184

Yoga & Fitness Weekend Retreat with Tina & Thule 23RD TO 26TH JUNE 2017

Renew your resolve towards a healthier lifestyle through YOGA, FITNESS and HEALTHY NUTRITION In a stunning, serene location overlooking the beach and the Indian Ocean

3 NIGHTS BOARD PACKAGE Package FULL for 3 nights Ksh 40,000 KSH 40,000 PER sharing PERSON full board per person Includes: • Healthy vegetarian full board menu including a Swahili or Continental breakfast everyday • Unlimited participation in daily Yoga and Fitness sessions • A choice of health juices after each Yoga or Fitness session • Afternoon breakout sessions with Tina to delve deeper into the origins of yoga and the meaning of significant Asanas • One 30 minute massage at our 5enses Massage Studio • One evening tapas sundowner • Shared accommodation in one of our extremely spacious 2 or 3 bedroom suites * Offer subject to availability. Terms and Conditions apply. Offer based on shared accommodation in 2 or 3 bedroom suites. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers or specials.




Lantana Galu Beach | Diani Beach | Kenya Phone+254 (0) 714 315 151, +254 (0) 711 767 272 |




Travelling with kids is great, but sometimes it’s nice to get away for a spot of pampering with friends, or your significant other. We’ve compiled a list of five wonderful spas for some “me” time.


KAYA SPA, NAIROBI If you are short of time, and don’t want to leave Nairobi, then there are several fabulous spas that you can visit for a quick pick-me-up. One of the best is Kaya Spa at the posh Tribe Hotel behind Village Market. Its has lots of blissful-sounding treatments from hot stone massages to karma correction - a blend of Shiatsu and Thai stretching - to reflexology. Pregnant ladies can also enjoy a full body massage along with a tummy ‘facial.’ Sounds like the bigger your bump the better!

catch the sea breeze offers fullbody massages using rose quartz crystals, shea and water jets, as well as a range of deep facials. They even offer spa treatments for children, but you left the kids at home, right?



ENASHIPAI RESORT & SPA, NAIVASHA Not far from Nairobi is Enashipai on the shores of Lake Naivasha. It’s a great base for exploring the lake, and also for relaxation. Its signature treatment involves a rasul (mud wrap), a waterfall treatment (sounds interesting), followed by a calabash instrument massage (more interesting, still). If you must bring the kids, it’s pretty well set up for them, too. There’s a staffed play room and soft play area, giving you the opportunity to nip away for that massage.



MEDINA PALMS, WATAMU No spa listing would be complete without the thoroughly relaxing combination of sea and pampering. Spa seekers are spoilt for choice along the coast, but Medina Palms receives consistently good reviews. Its rooftop, open-air Sakina Ocean spa designed to ENASHIPAI RESORT & SPA, NAIVASHA


SEGERA RETREAT, LAIKIPIA Segera on the Laikipia plateau offers a beautiful setting from which to enjoy one of the most serene wellness experiences in Kenya. Combining an African game experience with a luxurious spa, Segera is a retreat in more ways than one. The spa is elegantly-designed, and guests can enjoy full-body treatments, and the use of the rasul steam house. The home of entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz, Segera also hosts the world’s largest contemporary African art collection.


WHITE SAND LUXURY VILLAS & SPA, ZANZIBAR If you can escape the household chores for a little longer, then consider heading down to White Sand Villas in Zanzibar, a holistic wellness experience on the beautiful spice island. Part of the attraction is the use of local ingredients sourced from the island, including seaweed, coconut and spices. Guests can enjoy the steam room and sauna, or indulge in body wraps, spice massages or the African rain foot massage, a variation on reflexology techniques.



CONSERVATION PARAS CHANDARIA “The park’s future is at stake right now. There is the immediate threat of the Standard Gauge Railway. Building [the extension to Naivasha and Kisumu] will probably destroy a lot of the habitat. Then there is the shut-down of corridors. Some of the park is not fenced, allowing animals to move freely all the way to Amboseli. Slowly, all of these corridors are being shut down by development. It is special because it has unbelievable wildlife. Nairobi is the only capital city in the world with such a wildlife park. It’s a breeding ground for endangered rhino, a breeding ground for endangered vultures. It has lion, leopard, so many cats, and more than 400 bird species. It’s a very unique park.”

SAVING OUR PRIDE Nairobi National Park is one of the world’s most accessible parks, but it is also one of the most endangered. Three photographers, who spend much of their free time in the park, talk about its attraction for them, and why protecting the park from myriad threats is so important.





EVANS OGETO “This park is a treasure. We have all these animals within our vicinity, and then are people who don’t have them. Animals really need their space. At the moment, we’re moving closer, and messing up their space. Animal numbers are growing, while the park size is reducing. For me, it’s special because it has the big animals. It’s a premium park. There are parks you’ll go to, and never see a lion. We have to find a way of keeping this. It’s unique. The capital city’s in the background. It’s magical.”

ADITYA SHAH “The park is a really therapeutic and meditative spot. Over the years it has become a happy place where I can disappear at a moment’s notice and almost instantly feel nature’s energy flow through me, recharging and revitalising me. I can spend hours there just on my own with my camera, observing each animal’s unique behavior and learning from nature. It is quite frankly an incredibly beautiful oasis stuck smack bang in the middle of a crazy hectic city. “






orado! Dorado!” One of the fishing lines had gone taut and the Musafir’s sailors dashed to the stern of the dhow. A few metres away, the fish, nearly a metre long and as brilliantly turquoise as the sea, struggled in vain to break free. A minute later, the dorado was lying dead on the stern, felled by a few swift blows to the head, and all six kilos of him would soon find their way into a coconut and tomato curry. During the 24-hour journey from Kilifi to Lamu, the 31 crew members of the Musafir, a 23-metre dhow making just the fourth sail of its life, would live off of the sea. A tug on those fishing lines meant lunch. The story of the Musafir began six years ago as the wild and beautiful dream of Paulo Rodo. Born in Rome, Paulo, now 34, had spent a decade travelling the world and relying on the generosity of strangers. Once, he travelled across Southeast Asia using a bicycle he’d found abandoned at a hostel. Another time, he walked 5,000 kilometres from South Africa to Zimbabwe with no money - and set fire to his passport along the way. Around 2010, he was working in a restaurant in Berlin when he met a fellow cook who came from Lamu, the ancient Swahili trade post. “Lamu, Lamu, Lamu... that’s all I heard for months,” he said. So when it was time to begin a new journey, he headed to Kenya’s coast. There, he got the idea to build a dhow – to travel the world without thinking about borders, and to help revive a dying tradition. “I had been living thanks to the kindness of the people,” he said. “I was thinking, how can I keep on travelling but also give back?” A few centuries ago, the distinctive wide wooden boats were a fixture of the East African coastline, and traders relied on them





to ferry spices and other goods to and from East Africa. These days, they’ve mostly been replaced by much larger and faster container ships and, for shorter trips, fiberglass. There are only about six large dhows left in Kenya – and all but the Musafir use an engine.

To be able to sail what we’ve built over so many years, it’s just like waiting for a pregnancy and then getting to hug the baby.

Paulo went to Australia to work as a fisherman, and within a year returned to Kenya with $35,000 to begin financing the building project. He ended up in Kipini - an isolated town south of Lamu that is one of the few active dhow-building centres on the Kenyan coast. There, he lived for two years with three dhow builders and a team of volunteers. “We cooked around a fire, and our neighbours were a family of hippos. Anything we needed - nails or tools or an ATM - was six hours away,” he said After two years, the boat was sufficiently sturdy to survive a sail to Kilifi - a far more convenient, and much more fun, base of operations. Volunteers flowed in, totalling maybe 80 over the next four years. “People were inspired

and curious and wanted to be a part of it,” Paulo said. Early this year, the Musafir made its first official voyage to Shimoni, near the Tanzanian border. Then, over Easter, it took on passengers for the first time - sailing first to Kilifi, then on to Lamu. “To be able to sail what we’ve built over so many years, it’s just like waiting for a pregnancy and then getting to hug the baby,” Paulo said. Setting off from Kilifi, the crew included five sailors, all Lamu natives, and travellers from Germany, Sweden, Italy, France, Paraguay, Poland, Australia, the United States and Kenya – a mix of long-term backpackers and Nairobi professionals. The crew passed the time chopping vegetables for meals and playing cards. And then there was the incident of the man climbing on board: in the middle of the night, the Musafir nearly collided with a small fishing boat; no damage was done to either but the ropes from each boat got twisted together and, fearing he was about to capsize, one of the sailors came onto the bow of the Musafir. “In this part of the world, your mind goes immediately to pirates,” one crew member said with a laugh, explaining the commotion. Rasta, one of the Musafir sailors, grabbed the intruder by the scruff of the neck and returned the frightened man to his boat. The voyage continued. As the dhow pulled into Shela, the crew danced with excitement, calling out “Karibu Lamu!” One of the sailors suggested everyone pose for a picture. Drunk with excitement, the crew rushed to the stern and formed a couple of rows, looking ahead with beatific, if slightly sea-weary, smiles. Suddenly a laugh broke out: everyone was posing and there was no one to take the picture. Contact for information on future trips.


Edith Honan jumps aboard the Musafir for its first passenger trip, travelling from Kilifi to Lamu. A motley crew rely on their fishing skills for food, and the winds to sail, and a maverick skipper who they hope won’t burn their passports.




A walk through…


Toi Market is a maze of tiny stalls, and where most of Nairobi comes to hunt for stylish treasure among the second-hand clothes and shoes (mitumba). Here are six ways to kill time at Toi Market and discover much more than mitumba. By Mutio Keli

Suleiman scrolls through his Instagram feed, pointing out his clients: this celebrity; that presenter; and even that famous pastor’s daughter. His shop, Tonnie Blanks, sells trainers just like the intimidating pair of red Pumas that he’s wearing. He sneers when I suggest that perhaps his shoes are knockoffs. Some Toi Market vendors take pride in selling only genuine brand names. Martin, who specialises in leather bags, takes 10 minutes from his miraa-chewing break to give me an education in telling Phrada from Prada: look at the zips, look for the place of manufacture, smell the inside of the bag. Using some dubious maths, he estimates that knockoffs make up no more than 10 per cent of the Toi Market stock. I do not trust his calculations, but armed with this newly-found knowledge, I head off determined to not leave until I turn myself into a mtumba Carrie Bradshaw.



I feel as though my tongue has been stripped raw. Lydia, who sold me the drink from her stall on Suna Road, watches me with barely-veiled laughter. She warned me against ordering this specific drink— a sugar cane, Aloe Vera, garlic and ginger concoction that is the colour of oxidised avocado. I gulp the rest of my drink and crow with pride that I didn’t shed a single tear throughout. As soon as Lydia’s back is turned, I rush to neighbouring Adams Arcade in search of proof that my taste buds can still function. I find it at Mapelibe, a little juice bar that suits less adventurous tastes. The family that owns the shop wanted to Make People’s Life Better (Mapelibe). This juice bar is the foil of Lydia’s stall. It has a clean, lime-coloured aesthetic, mangoes that always seem to be in season, and not a whiff of crushed Aloe Vera.







In the cool gardens of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I forget that Toi Market exists within smelling distance. I sit at a grotto on the edge of the church compound letting the sounds of bubbling water and mass wash away the chaos of mitumba shopping. I find spots like these all over the gardens. My favourite is a bench hidden under a canopy of bougainvillea. On the other side of the church, children as young as seven and as old as 17 shriek across a basketball court in a game whose only rules seem to be “don’t get hurt.” Eventually, I wander into the church proper, built in 1973. The building is a mixture of minimalist lines and bursting colour. Evening filters through a grid of stained-glass windows. On murals high up near the ceiling, Jesus lives and dies in ripe oranges, fertile greens and ocean-deep blues.



Ask Idris has a distinctive smell— something akin to paraffin mixed with age and incense. I will later discover that the first scent is brass polish, used liberally to bring the shine back to old pressure lamps. Every corner of this antique shop is occupied by some knick-knack that might yet reveal itself to be treasure. Idris’ father, Kasmani, started the collection more than 40 years ago as a hobby. Today Kasmani tries to sell me on chests from Zanzibar, Chinese porcelain vases, copper pots from India, and cupboards with distinctive Lamu craftsmanship. I find the history of East Africa narrated in an album of stamps and there are old railway lamps which, I imagine, must have lit the way north for the first riders of the Lunatic Express. Looking around this shop, I can’t help but think that the Indian Ocean has somehow washed up on this corner of Nairobi.



I stumble onto Toi Market’s fresh produce section hidden away behind piles of charcoal. Here, the mitumba smell, which can become nauseating after more than two hours of exposure, is replaced by the sweet smell of ripe fruit and the burn of onion. I came for a banana but by the time I finish talking to Justina, the mama mboga who commands my attention, I am loaded down with a kilo of groundnuts, a vague knowledge of how to turn them into a sauce and undeserved confidence that I am about to wow my whole family with my new culinary expertise. This culinary confidence will later compel me to buy a large jar of locally-made mango chutney (no preservatives!) at PemaFarm, a grocery shop at Adams Arcade. That evening, I experiment with an original recipe that combines both groundnuts and mango chutney with disastrous, perhaps even poisonous, results.



The buzzing and popping of Funscapes above Adam’s Arcade should be enough to distract children (and adult-children) for at least an hour. My spaghetti arms let me down when I test my strength at one of the machines. After 10 minutes of hitting everything but the target on another machine, I learn that I should never be allowed near a gun or an arrow or darts or really anything sharp and pointy that can be thrown. When I try to sneak into the bouncing castle, the five year-old that is lording over that kingdom gives me a nasty look and I rediscover my adultness and walk away, feeling chastened.




Martin, who specialises in leather bags, takes 10 minutes gives me an education in telling Phrada from Prada: look at the zips, look for the place of manufacture, smell the inside of the bag.



Your travel dream experience just got better


Email for more information


Weekend in

CHAMPAGNE RIDGE The thing about Champagne Ridge is that you don’t come here actually to do anything. It’s all about taking in the glorious views with a sundowner, and relaxing with friends and family. But the area around Champagne Ridge, a roughly 90-minute drive out of Nairobi on the way to Lake Magadi, offers plenty for the more active, whether it is a visit to the archaeological dig at Olorgesailie or a hike in the Ngong Hills.







This archaeological dig is a little further down towards Lake Magadi, but an easy enough trip from Champagne Ridge. It’s a fairly low-key dig, but interesting for the number of handaxes found here, some dating back 1.2 million years, offering insight into how early human toolmaking evolved. Among the finds is an elephant butchery site, where fossilised bones showed cut marks, and were surrounded by 2,300 stone tools. First discovered in 1919 by British geologist John Gregory, excavation only really got underway with Mary and Louis Leakey, helped by Italian prisoners of war, in 1943.

Yes, you can enter from this side too - from Kona Baridi to be precise. It used to be the spot where you could sneak up the Ngong Hills without paying, but they’re now erecting a spankingnew rangers hut. On the plus side, you’ll be able to pick up a ranger guide for added peace of mind. Within a few moments of walking, you get breathtaking views of the surrounding Champagne Ridge, and Nairobi in the distance. The entire length of the Ngong HIlls comprises seven knuckles, and will take three to four hours to complete. Grab a taxi, or arrange transport the other end, if you don’t fancy walking back.






This is perhaps the best-known nyama choma joint in all of Kenya, and that’s saying something. It’s a short drive along the Magadi road beyond Kona Baridi, and the kind of place you’ll while away more than an hour or two with friends. Huge chunks of meat, usually goat, sizzle away on a row of barbeques in front of your eyes. After an hour or so (good food can’t be rushed), the chef solemnly brings it to your table, expertly cutting what seems at first glance to be an inedible joint into bite-size succulent chunks. Dab it in the salt, add a bit of spicy kachumbari (using your fingers, of course), and, mmm… delicious!






For those who know Champagne Ridge well, this house has a bit of the ‘wow’ factor. It’s smarter, and sleeker than anything else we’ve seen. Balconies and seating areas overlook a stunning bit of ridge. There are two cottages, a larger three-bedroomed one with a kitchen and living area, and sunken outdoor seating area. A smaller property with two bedrooms and its own outdoor bath is a short walk away. Although often rented on its own, we think it’s better when combined with the larger one as it lacks a sitting room or kitchen, although it has a small kitchenette in one bedroom. Self-catering from Ksh19,800 per night, or Ksh12,500 for the smaller cottage.



This quirky property is magnificently located on a cliff top, with the master bedroom perfectly positioned to catch those views. There are four main bedrooms, one a twin, with overflow for kids in the more cramped loft above. Guests can enjoy the built-in barbeque area and even a squash court. There’s an outdoor one-up, one-down tree house for kids, and a small cottage nearby for overflow. Ideal for three or four couples, but the whole property sleeps up to 12. For those looking for a writing retreat, a modern office overlooks the ridge. Try working, though, with those views. Ksh17,000 a night. Contact the owners via Airbnb.


This charming, rustic cottage is a weekend favourite. Small and cosy, this property is ideal for a small group, and affords great views over Champagne Ridge, with a good sundowner spot to boot. Its selling point is probably its large verandah, where you’ll probably spend most of your time. Inside, its bedrooms are attractively decorated - cheery and simple, like any self-respecting cottage should be. This is Champagne Ridge living as it used to be before more luxurious properties started popping up. Sleeps six. Ksh17,000 per night.



THE LONG WAY HOME o East - Nairobi Nairobi - Watamu - Tsav

Rachel Keeler avoids the airport for a family road trip to Malindi on the Mombasa highway. On the way home, they take a shortcut through Tsavo National Park. But is it any quicker?







o this is how you get to the coast in under six hours.” I’m having beers with friends at a bar in Nairobi, sitting next to a chainsmoking British film producer who hears I’m plotting an Easter road trip. He takes a drag and switches my Google map into satellite view. “That’s my land,” he says, pointing somewhere near Kitui, not far off a reassuring yellow line road. “You drop down from there and cut through Tsavo, then straight east to Malindi.” No problem - looks easy enough. Our friend had taken the Manyani road recently and reported a seven-hour journey from Nairobi to the north coast. Certainly more fun than battling rush hour to the airport. NAIROBI - WATAMU Departure: 4.33 am My husband, Chris loads us half asleep into the car: me, our five-year-old daughter, Mac, and our good friend, Mark. Westlands is quiet and dark, lit only by the neon signs of new skyscrapers. It takes 16 minutes flat from our house to the turnoff for JKIA, a distance that can take three hours in traffic. We’re making such good progress! No need to trek through the bush, I think. 5.24 am. We have lost considerable speed. The lorry ahead of us is going 15 kp/h. Mark looks for coins to chuck at the windshields of oncoming trucks. Chris rages against the hulking machines, racing up behind and dipping into oncoming traffic to pass, one after another. The new US$3.8 billion Chinese standard gauge railway rises up alongside us with a sign saying, “Here we are building a better Kenya”. Passenger cars, we’re told, will take just over four hours to reach Mombasa from Nairobi. What a prospect! 8.11am. By the time we arrive at the turnoff into Tsavo, we’re all exhausted. Chris declares we will take the highway and cut through Kilifi to Watamu. That road is wonderful - a perfectly paved oasis free from speed bumps and trucks that winds through ancient lava rock piles - but still puts us at nine hours upon arrival. We resolve to take on Tsavo for the trip home. WATAMU - NAIROBI Departure: 7.54 am The C103 heads straight west from Malindi through villages of cobbled-together mud and stick houses. Outside, men tie goats to grazing sticks and crouch in the shade of community awnings. It is over 28 degrees Celsius at 8 am. For about 15 minutes, the tarmac is Kenya’s best. And then the road turns to car-sized piles of construction dirt, coating the northern edge of the Arabuko Sokoke coastal forest in red dust. As the road drops down through an elbow of the beautiful Tana River delta, brush and cactus take over and dirt turns to rocks. In Nairobi before we left, Chris had spent a small fortune replacing car parts, tightening tie rods and fastening shocks. The Volkswagen Touareg is promoted as one of the best off-road SUVs in the world. On these roads, it sounds like it is falling apart.

We pass a termite mound as tall as the house next to it and made from the same dirt. Kilifi County is one of the poorest regions in Kenya. There is little sign of wealth - not a storefront or a herd of cows. Only barren, treacherous land. Aggressive little white trees coated in thorns growing upon thorns line the road. Why do people come to Tsavo, I wonder. Suddenly, a troupe of kids rushes into the road, scrambling on top of one another to create an acrobat tower. The pyramid collapses as quickly as it had formed, the kids beaming and giggling as they run off with our 50 bob notes. The road here resembles a riverbed, littered with stones and snaking lines of silt. We crawl over a jagged gully patched with just enough slanted rocks and sticks to support a car tyre. At a muddy stretch, the car fishtails and I grip my seat, but Chris just smiles.

I peed next to lions! Oh my god, I could have been eaten! “If I told you every road was like this in Malindi when I was a kid, would you believe me?” I shudder to think what this place might look like in the rain. 10.32am. We arrive at the Tsavo East gate and head into the park. Google Maps estimates two hours to the A109 Manyani exit. Mercifully, the packed dirt road is better inside the park than out. Chris punches it, and the landscape rustles to life. I spot a pair of ostriches, their bushy black butts silhouetted against savannah grass. Warthogs and antelope bounce by. Rapids flow over broad tawny rocks, and we stop to photograph a lone giraffe. Tsavo isn’t so bad, after all. The park road follows the wide brown river, supposedly full of giant crocodiles. I consider the crocs as I realise I really have to use the bathroom. I ask Chris to stop, and hop out of the car. The air is thick and silent all around. So peaceful here, I think, climbing back in. We drive on 30 metres or so until Mark screams, “Lions!” “Come on, dude.” “No seriously, back up!” And sure enough, there, lounging languidly on the edge of the road, are three lionesses, close enough to spit on. “I peed next to lions! Oh my god, I could have been eaten!” “Well duh,” Chris says. “Haven’t you heard of the man-eating lions of Tsavo?” 1.11 pm. We reach Manyani famished to learn that the only attraction is a prison once used to detain the Mau Mau. It does not serve lunch. Facing another endless queue of lorry traffic to Nairobi, it begins to rain. In all, it takes us 12 hours to get home. Next time, I think I’ll take the train.




I didn’t realise a profession could so transform your life and routine until joining the media seven years ago. I work late nights and have to wake early, so a good breakfast always does the job. I enjoy a caffé latte at Bourbon Coffee, Rwanda’s homegrown solution for coffee addicts. Camellia Tea House and Brioche are good alternatives for a healthy breakfast and sometimes lunch.

Dawn to dusk in


Friday James is a Rwandan TV Producer and news anchor. He works for the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency ( Follow him on Facebook - Friday James or Instagram and Twitter @fridayjames_ GETTING OUT OF THE CITY


Talking of lunch, I have adopted a ‘cut-thefat’ scheme to stay in shape in front of the cameras, though it’s hard to be consistent. Some restaurants in Kigali do have healthy options. You could try Africa Bite. They have good sombe (cassava leaves), sweet potatoes and ugali on request. Ethiopian restaurants Lalibela and Habesha have a good buffet and, of course, the famous injera. I drink milk with most of my meals. Don’t judge.

New hangouts are always opening up in Kigali, from bowling to poker, from salons to clubs. However, I prefer spending most my time with friends in the outskirts of Kigali at Rugende Recreation Centre. It’s a great place for horse riding and only 15 minutes’ drive from town. The food isn’t anything fancy, but it’s a perfect spot to bond with friends. Once in a while, we go to Gahembe, approximately 40 minutes away. They have the best barbecue in Rwanda. It’s a very local place but you must taste their meat.


My subtle ‘night’ personality has attracted me to soft music at BougainVilla in Nyarutarama. I also like SoleLuna, an Italian restaurant. They have a very classy European cuisine and the classic and soft pop music means I go there more often than I should. If you want to have some time alone with that special one, this is the place to go. Rwanda is very safe, so we go home when we want. Cabs or SafeMoto bikes will get you home without security concerns or fear of being swindled. Or you could just walk. BougainVilla


Finally, as a TV personality I have to make sure my wardrobe is legit. For those who like African attire like me, then House of Tayo has you sorted for casual and corporate wear. Their male accessories such as ties and pocket squares, made from African fabrics, go well with their customised suits (as my Instagram testifies to). Other options include Moshions and Tanga Design for custom shirts and T-shirts for both sexes. They are slightly expensive, but worth it.






Interview with

ROBERT GUEST The veteran Africa reporter, and now foreign editor of the Economist, talks about mock executions and being stranded in Kinshasa. On a lighter note, he recalls a lemur with a penchant for itching his balls with a fork. Impressions from reporting in Kenya? I love visiting Kenya, though it’s always complicated and hard to keep up with what’s going on. I’ve met a lot of really smart Kenyans, and a lot of brave ones, too. I’ve watched the way Kenya has been transformed by technology, for example, leading the world in its adoption of mobile money. I was last in Nairobi a few months ago, talking to a telecoms executive who explained to me how incredibly useful it would be if Kenya was able to process and analyse all the data produced by people paying for things with M-Pesa, which is a very exciting idea. On the same trip, in marked contrast, I also interviewed humanrights campaigners in Mombasa who were worried at the number of Muslim youths who were being “disappeared” by the police. If you could pick out one anecdote from your time in Africa, which would it be? My wife Emma and I were on a scuba-diving holiday in Madagascar. We were eating bananas flambées, a scrumptious dish of bananas swimming in rum and set on fire. Our guide book told us that a banane flambee is the local slang for a ladies’ man, which amused us. As we were eating, a tame lemur jumped onto a nearby empty table and started vigorously scratching himself with a fork. He scratched himself all over, and I mean everywhere. Then he put the fork back down and hopped away,

leaving it for the next unsuspecting diner to use it. Hairiest reporting trip? I got stuck in Kinshasa [in DRC] in August 1998, just as the great Congo war was starting. I came in across the river by boat from Brazzaville [in neighbouring CongoBrazzaville]. I was only planning to spend a week there, but Rwandan-backed rebels attacked the airport just before I was supposed to fly out, so my flight was cancelled. The atmosphere in the city was pretty grim. There were bodies in the street of suspected rebels who had been doused with petrol and set alight. The radio urged locals to “bring a machete, a spear, an arrow, a hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, electric irons, barbed wire, stones, and the like, in order, dear listeners, to kill the Rwandan Tutsis.” I wasn’t a Tutsi, but I was still scared. A couple of my colleagues were put through mock executions by Congolese soldiers. I got out after two weeks, back over the river by boat again. I had run out of money, so I borrowed $1,000 from another journalist and booked myself onto the first flight out of Brazzaville, regardless of where it was heading. What do you never travel without? Something to read. I used to lug around stacks of paper books, to make sure that I was never

stuck on a bus or in an airport with nothing to read. Now I just load books into a tablet. The latest books on wherever I am travelling to, plus all the past issues of The Economist and a crime novel or two. Wonderful. Favourite hotel in the world The Victoria Falls hotel was lovely when I went there in the late 1990s. Emma and I spent an idyllic weekend holding hands and admiring the “Smoke that Thunders.” The only downside was that virtually no one else was there - recent footage of police beating up protesters in Harare 700 km away had convinced all the tourists that Zimbabwe was too dangerous to visit. Favourite view in the world I love the view over Lake Kivu from the Orchids Hotel in Bukavu. But if it’s jacaranda season in Johannesburg, you can’t beat the view from the Four Seasons at Westcliff. You’re looking down on one of the biggest cities in Africa, but all you can see is a carpet of purple blossoms stretching for miles. And if you look closely through the trees, you can just make out the tigers in the zoo. Robert Guest is the author of the Shackled Continent, a book on how Africa can prosper





What I pack … for my travels Catherine Mahugu is a techpreneur, digital nomad and a sustainable luxury enthusiast who founded Soko, an ethical, fashion brand. As an avid traveller, she uses it as an opportunity to rejuvenate, learn about new art, culture, history and people. Instagram @katemahu

‘Go Travel’ handheld digital weighing scale For international flights, a handheld, portable digital luggage scale comes in handy. International airlines have different weight limits for carry-on luggage. It helps me keep the weight of my suitcases manageable.

Nikon Camera S9900 I love this camera because it can fit in my purse. I use it on safaris, vacation and social outings. It takes greatquality photos for wide and close-up shots without the need to have a DSLR camera and a number of lenses. Coco Chanel and Jo Loves-Pomelo perfumes For everyday occasions, I use Jo LovesPomelo. It has a citrus fragrance with a refreshing and energising scent. For special and evening occasions, I use Coco Chanel Eau de Parfum.It has an oriental, spicy fragrance with a bold scent.





Black heels by Wendy Williams with Soko Jewellery I have used my versatile pair of black heels by Wendy Williams for a fun night out, dinners and business meetings. On numerous occasions, my black, cowhide, leather heels and Soko jewellery have transformed my casual outfits into a stylish look.


Large Weekender bag Ksh21,900

Galaxy Note phone I use the Galaxy Note for my business meetings and conferences, which conveniently avoids the hassle of digitising my handwritten notes by using the S Note feature. Fantastic for listening to music on a road trip and convenient when I want to read an e-book on a long-haul flight.


NAIROBI: The Hub, Junction, Sarit Centre, Village Market, Yaya Centre, Westgate DAR ES SALAAM: Slipway




The Safari Guide ALL IN A DAY’S WORK


By Frances Woodhams

t’s 6 am and still pitch dark but to enjoy prime game viewing, the vehicle should be on the road by 6.30 am. Jonathan, dressed in branded uniform of khaki slacks, collared shirt and matching fleece jacket, waits patiently. He checks

his watch. At 6.50 am his clients, a motley family group, shamble toward the car half asleep, spilling cups of hot chocolate and wrapped in Maasai blankets. Dad has a camera, his son is armed with a smartphone and Mum carries a heavily-stuffed bag and sports a red, broad brimmed hat. The family climbs aboard. Little Sammy complains about having to sit at the back, so swaps with Mum. The sun is now up and the radio message that Jonathan received an hour ago about a leopard sighting down by the river is a distant memory. Jonathan smiles resignedly. “Everybody set?” He turns the ignition and the car engine bursts to life in a cloud of diesel fumes. Once out on the plain, and when mum has finished distributing packets of biscuits and extra warm layers from her bag with the professionalism of a Red Cross volunteer, Jonathan slows the car to point out some wildlife. “Ah, a lilac breasted roller,” he gestures to an iridescent blue bird perched on the branch of dead tree. “So when will we see the big stuff?” Dad asks, shifting forward in his seat. “The Big Five?” Little Sammy does not look up from his digital game. Mum is moisturising her arms. “There’s a place a couple of K’s from here where we may spot a pride of lion if we are lucky,” Jonathan says. “Right, well, if we could get over there ASAP then that would be great,” Dad says. “I have an important business call to take in an hour and Sammy will want breakfast.” To stick to the schedule, Jonathan speeds past a pack of hunting dogs with their young, decides not to point out a rare Martial Eagle nor the unusual herd of long-necked gerenuk. “So Sammy, do you know what the correct collective noun for a herd of zebra is?” Jonathan tries to engage with his clients. No answer. “Anyone? Well, it’s a dazzle.” “Oh how fancy!” Mum says. “I like that.” Meanwhile, Dad mutters, “I’m not sure that’s right”. The vehicle starts to pitch and roll as it heads off road. Sammy complains because he can’t focus on his tiny screen. Jonathan spots a magnificent male lion on a grassy mound and edges the car as close as he dares. A mother with three cubs approach from behind the car





then settle down to doze next to the male while the young play. There is an initial ripple of excitement while photographs are taken but the visitors’ attention is not held for long. “Are there any more lion?” asks Sammy, before stating, “I’m thirsty.” With a clatter, Mum reaches into the cool box, helping herself to two bottles of Fanta and removes the caps. Sammy drops his glass bottle, sending sticky liquid across the car. Dad, splattered from the spill, rises from his seat and shouts, “For goodness sake, stupid child.” Mum starts dabbing at the spill with her Maasai blanket. The male lion lifts his head and fixes the car’s occupants with a steely, yellow stare. Jonathan indicates with his hand for the family to sit down but it’s no use. Dad’s phone starts ringing. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this.” By now the male lion is on his feet and squaring up to the car. Jonathan turns on the

engine and decides to reverse away to safety. “I think it’s probably time that we headed back anyway,” suggests Mum helpfully as Dad bellows down the phone above noise from the car engine. Half way home and Jonathan encounters a colleague passing in the opposite direction. They pause to enjoy a short exchange in Maa. “Looks like you have your hands full there, mate,” says the guide. Passengers in both opensided cars are eyeballing one another with more interest than they’ve shown in any wildlife. “Definitely going to try to swerve the evening drive with this lot. Mum’s scaring the animals with her red hat and the little one’s a handful.” The other guide laughs. The vehicles go their separate ways. “What did he say?” asks Mum. “Has he spotted a leopard, or cheetah?” “No” says Jonathan, “he was looking for the lion. Oh, and he’d spotted a family of buffoons.” Frances is author of blog



Security at the highest level Man Security Services is a leading and preferred supplier of security solutions using only the most highly experienced and professional security personnel for any occasion. Man Security provides complete turn-key security solutions for demanding clients who require exceptional quality and outstanding service - We create and maintain lasting successful working relationships. - We provide only the best and most importantly, a quality service each and every time. Man Security would like to form partnerships and not just work for you, but to work with you. - We strives each and every time so that trust is built with us and that our reliability is exceptional - Man Security aim to provide the most professional, unique and outstanding service to our clients. We truly believe that our workforce is the key to our continuous growth and that if we look after our personnel, they in return will look after the best interests of Man Security Services and its clients. Services we provide: 1. Security and safety management 2. CCTV 3. VIP protection 4.Event Security


P.O.Box 28062-00100 G.P.O Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-722 397 698 / 0787 601 490 Email:, 64




Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.