DISCOVER - EXPLORE - EXPERIENCE
VOL. 3 MAY 2017 Â· FREE COPY
EXTREME THE WILD OUTDOORS ISSUE
MT EVEREST CHALLENGE
A RITE OF PASSAGE IN ETHIOPIA
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MAASAI MARA The Wildlife Wonderland
The Masai Mara is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of East Africa’s safari destinations: vast numbers of game, high amounts of predators, the unique spectacle of its wildebeest migration and a varied landscape with a romantic feeling to it, as everyone can witness in the movie ‘Out of Africa’. The Masai Mara teems abundance all year round: the famous Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - plenty of predators and an unbelievable variety of animals from plains game to hyenas hippos, crocodiles and many more. The birdlife is equally impressive with over 470 species of birds recorded. The greatest show on earth The Great Migration is one of the most spectacular events: Millions of nomadic wildebeest migrate between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti along with thousands of zebras and antelopes. The spectacle is at its peak, when large herds of wildebeest gather on the shores of the crocodile infested Mara River in the Mara Triangle. Getting ready to
cross the river the herds grow more and more agitated, crocodiles move in place patiently while other carnivores stealthily wait on the other side for a meal opportunity. When the nerves become overwhelming, some wildebeest jump in the river, triggering a mammalian avalanche pouring down into the Mara River. Prey comes face to face with predator - survival for the fittest. Mara Siria Tented Bush Camp & Cottages is the perfect choice for an authentic safari experience. Perched on top of the Siria Escarpment the eco-friendly camp offers absolute unique and stunning views. With only twelve tents and two cottages individual service for every guest is guaranteed. The camp is not fenced and antelopes, zebras and others often wander around the premises to graze or to quench their thirst at the nearby waterhole. Facilities include a lounge, a restaurant, a wine cellar and a plunge pool. Guests can enjoy “Out of Africa”-style bush meals and sundowners with spectacular backdrops making your drinks and meals a memorable event.
Game drive activities range from early morning drives with breakfast out in the savannah (starting just before sunrise, enjoying the chilly air, the calm atmosphere and the opportunity to witness predators either hunting or feeding on their prey) to full day game drives - including a picnic lunch. The camp is located right outside the Oloololo Gate and offers a range of additional activities that will turn an already unique holiday into a once in a lifetime experience: Nature walks: Starting directly from the camp, guests explore the Escarpment guided by knowledgeable Masai Naturalists. Mountain biking: Guided tours range from gentle rides to challenging adventures. Horse riding: Encounter wildlife in a totally different way gives you a true feeling of being one with nature. Balloon safari or helicopter flight: View the diverse habitats of the Masai Mara the amazing wildlife from a unique bird’s-eye view. Visit a traditional Masai Village: Get to know the Masai culture and traditions first hand.
DEFINING ADVENTURE When I was an 18-year-old ingenue, my parents released me into the world. I headed to India, ostensibly to teach English, and tortured my parents by not calling home for weeks. Worse, I called them on the eve of a journey into Kashmir, mired in a long-running conflict between India and Pakistan. “Is it safe?” They asked. “Oh sure,” I replied airily. “And we’re hitching a lift with a guy we met last night.” It wasn’t just that I was living my life of adventure at that moment; I wanted others to live it, too, even if it meant having scant regard for their feelings. Kashmir was a ball. Our lift ditched us, and we caught the bus instead. We broke down on a mountain pass, before screeching down hair-pin bends, the burnt-out hulls of other buses a reminder of how treacherous these roads could be. We talked our houseboat owner, who hadn’t seen a tourist in months, into giving us full-board for $1.50 a night. India was the great adventure of my life. Mainly because we were young: like the child who jumps off a wall, ignorant of the dangers. These days, my idea of adventure is rather tamer. Kids came along, and it just wasn’t that easy to drop everything at a moment’s notice. It took me a while to realise that adventure doesn’t have to mean a thrill a minute. It could just be setting off on a road trip, not quite knowing what to expect. I marvel at those who have the appetite for true adventure, and it in this spirit that we bring you our adrenaline-fuelled May issue, where we catch up with those who like to fling themselves off cliffs, or barrel along roads in a rally car. Along the way, we’ve met some inspiring people: Michelle Morgan, who packs her saddlebags and gets on her motorbike every quarter; Geoffrey Langat, the Kenyan cyclist,
who hopes to represent his country in the Tour de France; the Pink Horns, the brave group of girls embarking on their first rhino charge to the bewilderment of their friends; and Saray Khumalo, the South African climber hoping to make history by being the first black woman to reach the top of Mt Everest. Closer to home, we sent Charlotte Beauvoisin down East Africa’s fiercest rapids in Uganda, Nathan Siegel to Hell’s Gate to try his hand at scaling real rock, and Harriet Constable off to camp in a suspended tent in the wilds of Laikipia. Meanwhile, I get to do what I have always wanted: a day’s off-roading course. Forgive us if we have gone too far; once we started thinking up adventures, we simply couldn’t stop. Our regulars are back: Morris Kiruga recounts his experience getting stuck in the Chalbi desert, while we head to Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb to challenge our preconceptions; we interview English cricketer Derek Pringle on a childhood in Kenya. Patricia Kihoro, Kenyan singer and actress, sparkles as she talks about her passion for getting on the road. With the last word is Frances Woodhams in a new column taking aim at different types of travellers. This month, travel bloggers are in her sights, and we only hope you don’t tear up your copy of Nomad in disgust. We’re back with a new photography competition (see last month’s winning entry from Jacqueline Herodek on Page 17), and this time this theme is, well you’ve guessed it, adventure. Enjoy the adrenaline rush.
Catrina Stewart catstewartuk
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
52 10. TOP SHOTS Photographers in the region capture an evocative village scene, a shot in the Mara, and a tranquil pre-dawn scene in Mtwapa. 14. NEWS It’s goodbye to the Lunatic Express, while Sudan, the endangered northern white rhino, joins Tinder. We head behind the scenes of the Rhino Charge, and bring you an interview with the newest girls’ team. 16. COMING UP A lecture on finding 3.2 million-year-old Lucy, and a silent retreat are some of the things on this month and next.
22 GLOBETROTTERS 22. INTERVIEW WITH PATRICIA KIHORO The singer and actress talks about gullible New Zealanders, and a hot and sweaty bus ride to join her new boyfriend in Lamu. 60. 24 HOURS IN DAR ES SALAAM Daniel Msirikale takes us on a personal tour of Tanzania’s biggest city, sharing with us his favourite hideaways. 61. INTERVIEW WITH DEREK PRINGLE The Kenyan-born cricketer shares memories of a childhood in Africa.
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPERIENCE
ADVENTURE SPECIAL FEATURES 26-49. ADVENTURE SPECIAL Our feature section on adventure brings you the thrills and spills on offer in the region from white-water rafting to the Rhino Charge. We interview bikers, rally car drivers, and draw inspiration from Saray Khumalo, the South African attempting to be the first black woman to scale Mount Everest. 50. TRAGEDY OF THE PANGOLIN INSPIRES BEAUTY Jeweller Patrick Mavros and Zimbabwean conservationist Lisa Hywood talk about how their passion for the most trafficked animal in the world inspired a jewellery collection. 52. A RITE OF PASSAGE IN ETHIOPIA Mike McCaffrey finds that a tribal test of manhood is child’s play compared to what the women must endure. 54. WALK THROUGH EASTLEIGH We head into Nairobi’s “Little Mogadishu” to experience a rather different side to the city 56. WEEKEND AWAY IN LUKENYA Experience the chilled surrounds of Swara Plains, or for something more adrenaline-fuelled, tag along on a quadbike adventure.
19. A MUSE IN THE DESERT The allure of the desert soon rubs off after Morris Kiruga gets stuck. 20.RAIN DANCE A traditional Maasai rain drance is an entrancing experience for Samantha du Toit and her children. 64. GLAMPING IN NANYUKI Laura Darby Singh feels the chill on a glamping trip to Nanyuki with the kids. 66. THE LAST WORD In her satirical column, Frances Woodhams delves into the world of travel blogging, where it seems to be all work and little play.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
COMPETITION! It’s time to go again. In keeping with the theme of this issue, we call for your best adventure shots. We leave the interpretation of adventure up to you! Upload your photos to our Instagram page, tagging nomadmagazineafrica with the hashtag #IAmANomad for a chance of winning a two-night stay at Distant Relatives ecolodge and backpackers in Kilifi, a true adventurers’ hideaway. Photos should be uploaded from the start date of the competition - May 16th - up to the closing date of midnight, May 31st. They should be original photographs, and be available in high-resolution for publication in the next issue of the magazine. Terms and conditions apply. See nomadmagazine.co for more details.
Edith Honan Riding High on Page 30
Wanja Wohoro Zipping Away on Page 46
Nathan Siegel Off the Scale on Page 26
Impressions of Iten: I was blown away by Iten. This was my first visit, and I was immediately struck by the incredible beauty of the place -- and of course the fact that you can’t help but bump into some of the world’s great athletes. In Iten, I was able to chat up superstars and locals and that made for a really inspiring couple of days.
Fears of ziplining I make it a rule when facing something frightening not to think about it until moments before. The fears I felt about careening down a 450 metre steel wire only occurred when I found myself sitting in my harness, looking at the distance between me and my destination. The fear dissipates as quickly as it comes with the thrill of the experience.
On rockclimbing: Since I’ve been almost exclusively an indoor climber for so long now, I had some underlying doubts when we arrived to the rock. There was something instinctual that made me think: “Humans aren’t designed to do this -only mountain goats are!” And then you surprise yourself.
My kind of adventure My ideal adventure is equal parts research and spontaneity. I love to go to an interesting place, and then get lost. Joy so often comes in the unexpected.
My kind of adventure The unexpected. All my fondest travel memories were impromptu and spontaneous experiences. Being kidnapped by friends and roped into their plans to explore a new place, getting utterly lost in foreign cities and finding my way around or meeting new people and being invited to join their activities.
My kind of adventure That’s the kind of adventure I’m interested in -- ones that aren’t organised and planned so much that there’s no space to breathe. Of course, I’m going to bring a rope to go rock climbing, but I prefer to be able to change plans and explore.
NOMAD VOL. 3 · MAY 2017 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CATRINA STEWART DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI, RACHEL MWANGI IT KELVIN JAYANORIS DIGITAL BENJAMIN WAFULA SALES, MARKETING & OPERATIONS GILBERT CHEGE, KUNALI DODHIA, YANIV GELNIK, DANIEL MUTHIANI, FRED MWITHIGA, SEINA NAIMASIAH, HADDY MAX NJIE, MICHELLE SLATER, DEVNA VADGAMA, JOY WAIRIMU, WINNIE WANGUI, VANESSA WANJIKU CONTRIBUTORS CHARLOTTE BEAUVOISIN, TAMARA BRITTEN, HARRIET CONSTABLE, LAURA DARBY SINGH, EDITH HONAN, RACHEL KEELER, MIKE MCCAFFREY, SAMANTHA DU TOIT, NATHAN SIEGEL, WANJA WOHORO, FRANCES WOODHAMS, RAKESH YOUNG CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS NEEMA JODIE, EMMANUEL FREUDENTHAL , TATIANA KARANJA, MWANGI KIRUBI, MORRIS KIRUGA, TREVOR MAINGI, MIKE MCCAFFREY, KAVIT MEDI, BRIAN SIAMBI, ADRIAN STEIRN, SEBASTIAN WANZALLA SALES INQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL INFO@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
TREVOR MAINGI Instagram @the_mentalyst I shot this image in the Maasai Mara, around 4pm after searching the whole day for a spot from which to view and shoot the wildebeest crossing. I used a Canon 6D and shot with a 24-70mm using a shutter speed of 1/400 at f11. I always try to look for the extraordinary and unique moments. And I always try to get closer to my subject, looking for patterns and textures. All this, of course, requires patience.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
NEEMA JODIE Instagram @thebongolese I took this when I was in Mtwapa, near Mombasa. The shot was taken early in the morning at 6.50 am. The settings used were ISO 400, F/11, exposure time 1/800. I used A Canon T5i Rebel with a 50mm lens. Regrettably, I didnâ€™t carry my tripod, so the shot was handheld. Iâ€™d recommend using a tripod to get better results as well as a good ND filter. You will love the results more if you use that. Carry a prop: it could be a person, it could be a thing. I was lucky to get the fisherman in the frame.
SEBASTIAN WANZALLA Instagram @wanzalla I took this on one of our One Touch [photography collective] trips. As much as we concentrate a lot on shooting landscapes, we try as much as we can to shoot portraits of the local communities we visit. This one was in a village next to river Ewaso Nyiro. There is no specific formula to getting a good shot: the more you shoot, the better you get and the more you start breaking the rules. Even cameras love bad boys. The picture was shot at around 8 am with a 5D MK III, 24-104 Lens. Exposure was 1/500; F4; ISO 100.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
SWIPE RIGHT TO SAVE THE RHINO Sudan is not your average bachelor. He’s a little long in the tooth, and his skin is kind of wrinkly, but he’s certainly “one of a kind,” being the last surviving male rhino of his subspecies. And now he’s on Tinder. Kenya’s Ol Pejeta conservancy turned to the dating app to raise awareness of the plight of the northern white rhino, poached almost to extinction. Two females of the species also live at the conservancy but efforts to breed from them have been unsuccessful. “I’m one of a kind,” Sudan says on his profile. “No, seriously, I’m the last male white rhino on the planet earth. I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on us getting together.” He adds: “I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. 6ft tall and 5,000lbs if it matters.” Readers who swipe right are brought to a page inviting them to donate to ongoing research into Assisted Reproductive Techniques, which conservationists hope could lead to building up a viable herd of northern white rhinos. For more information visit www.olpejetaconservancy.org
RIDING IN THE MARA In February, Ride Kenya opened its first permanent stables in the Maasai Mara, offering experienced riders the chance to view wildlife in a completely different way. Horseback safari is made for close encounters with big game such as elephant or lion. Or instead taste the thrill of galloping alongside plains game, such as antelope and zebra. Rides, lasting two to three hours, cost $250 per person. The closest lodges are Mara Plains Camp and Mara Expedition Camp. For more information visit www.greatplainsconservation.com
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT
PHOTOS: MWANGI KIRUBI
It’s farewell to the ‘Lunatic Express,’ the less than affectionate term for the relic of a train that plies the Nairobi-Mombasa route. In April, the train made its final journey on the line, built by Indian labourers in the late 1800s, to make way for the much-vaunted Standard Gauge Railway. Despite its notoriety for long delays, the old train’s passing will be mourned by those lucky enough to have experienced what must be one of Africa’s great train rides. The new train is expected to cut the journey to Mombasa by more than half, and President Uhuru Kenyatta is to declare the Chinese-built railway open in a formal ceremony at the end of May.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
SSHHH… SILENT RETREAT
If life is getting too stressful, head for a silent retreat at the gorgeous Manyika House in Thika. Escape the children, work, and turn off that phone. Over a couple of days, participate in silent meditation, enjoy head and shoulder massages, or while away the hours in the garden with a good book. And in case you think they’re kidding, silent really does mean silent. For the whole weekend. Price of Ksh22,750 includes all vegetarian meals. Mindfullivingkenya.com
As part of its lecture series, El Karama lodge in Laikipia has invited Donald Johansen, a paleoanthropologist, to talk about his 1974 discovery of Lucy, a female hominid, in Ethiopia’s Afar Depression. The unearthing of the 3.2 million-old skeleton changed understanding of human evolution at the time. She was so-named because the team is said to have repeatedly sang the Beatles’ song, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, after making the discovery. The talk starts at 5.30 pm. Contact email@example.com for bookings.
June 2-4, Thika
LEWA MARATHON June 24, Laikipia
Hundreds of runners converge on Lewa Conservancy in Laikipia in June for its annual marathon. It has fast become one of East Africa’s most popular endurance events, and slots go fast. The route takes runners on an undulating route through African bush, and there is a good chance of spotting the wildlife the funds raised go to protect. Since its inception, participants have raised $6.1 million, which goes towards various projects, including rhino conservation. Registration is now past, but contact firstname.lastname@example.org to put yourself on the waiting list, or simply cheer on the runners instead.
May 27, Laikipia
OUR WINNER IS... Congratulations to Jacqueline Herodek, the winner of last month’s Instagram photography competition with her stunning picture of a fishermen off Prison Island in the Zanzibar archipelago. She tells us: “Fishing is one of the traditional economic activities in Zanzibar and still today an important source of food and income for many families. This picture represents to me an important side of the island that oftentimes is forgotten.” She wins a two-night stay at Lantana Galu, a luxury beach villa complex on Diani’s secluded Galu Beach.
BOOKS WE’RE READING
LOVE, AFRICA: A MEMOIR OF ROMANCE, WAR, AND SURVIVAL
by Jeffrey Gettleman In his highly-readable new memoir, the New York Time’s East Africa bureau chief chronicles a career covering some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, but it is in Africa where he finds his true calling. A story of love, adventure and the kindness of humans, Gettleman weaves a compelling portrait of the Africa that he loves.
THE BAFUT BEAGLES
by Gerald Durrell. An oldie, but a goodie. English zoologist Gerald Durrell returns to the Cameroons in Western Africa in 1949 in this humorous account of an animal-collecting expedition, bringing him face to face with a hirsute frog, dancing monkeys and mice with wings. At the heart of the story is his growing affection for the eccentric, hard-drinking local chieftain, the Fon of Bafut.
WE NEED NEW NAMES
NoViolet Bulawayo This is 10-year-old Darling’s account of growing up in a tough neighbourhood in Zimbabwe, where she and her friends, with names like Chipo and Bastard, navigate a world of absent parents, abusive adults, and murderous vigilantes. When Darling moves to America to stay with her aunt, the country falls short of her imaginings, and she struggles to reinvent herself. But it is in Bulawayo’s account of a Zimbabwean childhood that her writing is most vibrant.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
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Email: email@example.com EXPLORE
Tel: +254 (0)701 665 775
A KENYAN TRAVELLER
A MUSE IN THE DESERT
Riding shotgun in the Chalbi desert lands Morris Kiruga in a spot of bother
he truth is, I think it was my fault. I wasn’t driving but I was riding shotgun. The rules of the road say that if you are in the number two seat and you get stuck, then it’s probably your fault. You should have warned the person at the wheel. I didn’t. Turkana’s Chalbi desert isn’t just an expanse of cakey mud with endless cracks in perfect symmetry. There’s a side of it that looks like any other desert, with sand dunes as far as the eye can see. There’s a road through it. The problem is, you can’t see it. The rookie in the desert was now riding shotgun. It looked like a normal patch of sand until the Land Cruiser hit it and skidded, then settled. Any attempt to drive out, Njoro sighed, would just be digging ourselves further in. Unlike mud, sand is easy to dig, but the more you dig, the more stuck you get. The secret is to dig and free the differential so the wheels can work together. Getting to it without a spade is impossible. The first brilliant idea, after we’d dug with our hands to no avail, was to use makeshift spades. So we cut bottles into two and use them to scoop sand. But that didn’t help much. So here we were: a team of scouts, models, photographers, producers, and a lone, skinny writer. Our skills were more suited to an art fair than a real-life situation such as this. We shouldn’t have been there actually. Njoro, our driver, had been trying to get us to leave the desert before it got dark. It was the only time in the 13-day road trip that I saw him flush with anger.
“Guys! We need to go!” Silence. He tried again. “The desert is not to be trusted, guys.” We ignored him. Halima, the model up there on the sand dune, with her dera blown by the wind and the sun setting in her background, was the perfect muse. The photographers were in love and wouldn’t stop clicking. I, on the other hand, was somewhere out there writing my name on the sand. At some point, when I’d walked far enough and couldn’t see the rest of the team, it hit me that this felt like the beginning of every survival movie – the sequence of little mistakes before the big one. As the sun dipped, we set off. We’d been on the desert road barely 20 minutes when we hit the patch of sand that would be home for the next few hours. Halima called home. Playing on our fears, she started talking about the animals of the desert. What if a scorpion were to come, she wondered. She’s heard of hyenas in these areas, she added. Then she laughed her head off and started singing. We dug faster. Two hours in, we stopped to rest. This magnificent car, built for ruggedness and survival, had become a slave to the desert. She was now lying even deeper in the sand than before. “Perhaps we should sleep here,” someone suggested. Njoro gave a bitter laugh. “Have you ever slept in the desert?” Without proper supplies, we knew, an entire night out in the desert wouldn’t be as romantic as we all thought. Meanwhile, Halima had managed to call
for help from her hometown in North Horr. Our saviours, all three of them, arrived on a motorcycle. Crucially, they were carrying spades. The mood finally lifted. We now had the right tool, and at least three people who understand how to beat the treachery of the desert. Still, the sand was refusing to let go of the Cruiser. We’d tried everything at that point, but someone had to keep digging. We took turns under the car. If we had to sleep in the desert, it wouldn’t be because we hadn’t tried. Then a spade broke. In such a situation, two things happen. One, a sense of curiosity takes over, making you want to see where this night goes, so you can write about it later. The second is that you finally start believing Halima. You don’t want to be the one dragged off into the wild by hyenas. Hyenas crush bones. Only your sand-filled clothes would be left. And maybe the notebook. As I thought about this, the car finally broke free. There was a glow in Njoro’s eyes, quickly replaced by the realisation that we weren’t truly free yet. There was still an hour of desert to go. Back in the car, my eyes were now fixed on the road, calling out suspicious sand surfaces as I saw them. I was finally the navigator I should have been when I claimed this seat. From the back, someone said: “Njoro, drive like you are alone in this car.” Without responding, he did exactly that. On the rooftop, our three musketeers screamed with glee as we cruised through the desert. Morris Kiruga blogs about travel, culture and more at owaahh.com
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
NOTES FROM THE BUSH
Samantha du Toit chances upon a Maasai rain dance, and reflects on the power of belief to bring change.
t first, I wondered what the sound was. It was faint but somehow familiar. I walked outside the cottage by the river and listened harder. And then I realised that it was Maasai women, many of them, voices raised in song. Hearing Maasai singing was not unusual for us, given our neighbours across the river often enjoyed traditional evening celebrations, but today something was different. For a start, I could only hear women, and it was the middle of the day. And the voices were moving, heading downstream, like the slow trickle of water left in the river. Curious, I persuaded the children into shoes and hats, and we headed off in pursuit of the sound. A few minutes later, we rounded a bend in the river, and saw them. Probably over 60 Maasai women, dressed in their traditional brightly-coloured wraps and beads, singing as they stood by the water’s edge. The sun’s direct heat was intense and beads of sweat framed their faces. As we approached, I saw most of our camp
staff, all men, watching. Nixon came over to explain. The rains had failed, and people were desperate. The women of Shompole had decided it was time to take matters into their own hands with a traditional ceremony to pray for rain. This was the first of many groups of women to sing today and in the days to come, journeying from the river to the swamp, to the open plains and back. The women saw us and beckoned us over. We were slightly overwhelmed by the greetings of so many people at once, and the children and I were adorned with beads and asked to join in with the singing, accompanied of course by the traditional dance moves. This gave cause for much merriment as the women watched me try, and fail, to replicate their shoulder and head gyrations. As ever, I was struck by the ease at which our friends and neighbours were able to laugh, even during the hardest of times. After a brief pause to cool themselves off in the shallow water, the women headed out through the trees to the plains. As they walked and sang, one elderly woman sprayed milk from a gourd on the ground as if as an offering to the parched soil and to the listening ears of
Enkai, the Maasai’s traditional god. Throughout the rest of the day, we heard the sounds of singing ebb and flow as they passed near the camp. I could not help feeling a sense of being transported back in time, to when I believe that more societies had faith that collective action could indeed have an impact on their situation. To my children, who know that I check the weather forecast on my laptop, I hoped that somehow this was a lesson in the power and value of both tradition and modern science in guiding our lives. Did the rain come, you may wonder. Yes, it did. In the days that followed, there were scattered showers around the ecosystem. The Maasai men at our camp were convinced that the showers fell in places where the women sang. As I write today, however, there has still not been enough, so I will continue to check the forecast, and the women will continue to sing. 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.
Maasai Trails, Loita Hills
A WILD NIGHT OUT! Speke's Camp, Maasai Mara
Sabuk Lodge, Laikipia
Ololo Lodge, Nairobi National Park
Tawi Lodge, Amboseli
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
+254 202663397 / 3598871
PATRICIA KIHORO The Kenyan singer, actress, and world traveller, talks to Nomad about winding up New Zealanders, getting sweaty on the bus to Lamu and hot air balloons. By Rachel Keeler I ride a giraffe to school When I was 16, I got to visit New Zealand. First of all, there were no black people. At all. What was so interesting to me was that in school we were learning about the ratio of humans to sheep in New Zealand. That’s how diverse our education system was. In New Zealand itself, people would ask, “Ok, so is Kenya in South America?” Or someone would look at my camera and look at theirs and [see] they’re exactly the same and they’re like, “Where did you get that?” They were completely ignorant of us. So we had fun with it, you know, “Yeah, I ride a giraffe to school. I have a pet lion.” I gave the cockroach a name I touch down in Nairobi and as I’m driving out of the airport this person I’m seeing happened to be in Lamu to write, he’s a filmmaker. So he calls, he’s like “Come to Lamu!” But it’s the 30th of December, [and] all flights to the coast are fully booked. So I take an overnight bus to Mombasa. It’s delayed by two hours, and I get to the Lamu buses, they are run down, packed to the brim. I got the last seat, like right at the back. There are chickens in the bus, there are
people with crates so they can sit in the middle of the bus like jump seats. It’s a bumpy road, the drivers are driving like they’re high. At some point there was a cockroach next to me that I gave a name because I was like, “Hey buddy, we might as well get to know each other.” My face is getting dusty, there is water dripping down from I don’t know where. By the time we get to Lamu - I mean, I’m going to see this guy, he’s gonna be waiting on the jetty for me, and I’m thinking, it’s like a movie. I want to look beautiful. I want to look glorious! Do I do my makeup? What do I do? Lamu was beautiful. Once I got there. We spent New Year’s together. We went island hopping on the boats, going to find the next party in the middle of the night. And then coming back to land in the morning when the sun is coming up, and it’s a new year. That was an adventure. Living the best life Me and a bunch of friends took a road trip. We were staying at this camp site in Tiwi. We were camping by the sea and living the best life - going out at night, coming back at six in the morning, swimming when the waves were large and beautiful, and then taking a shower,
having breakfast, having a nap in the middle of the day. Then you go to a beach somewhere and you hang out, go jet skiing, get massages, and then do it all again. There were people there, you speak to them and they’re like, “I’ve been here for a year just living by the sea.” There was a couple that had a kid and that was their life. They were super tanned, and they’re just living their best life, which is by the sea in a tent. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with Trump, but this is my view I’ve learned not always to be filming. I went on a hot air balloon last year in Johannesburg. The most amazing thing ever. You have to wake up at four in the morning, so you get to watch the sunrise while you’re in the air. You take off before the sun comes up, but the light has started to break. It’s quiet. That was the morning that [Donald] Trump won. So I’m there trying to take pictures and talking on WhatsApp with my friends. I was like, “I’m sorry guys, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with Trump. But this is my view. Look at it! And I’m just about to have some champagne for breakfast.”
• Dubai is a city lucky enough to experience year-round sunshine. In the cooler months, head down to Kite Beach, put on some sunscreen and enjoy an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. • After a long shopping day at The Dubai Mall, take time to enjoy the performance of the world’s largest dancing fountains, in sync with classical, Arabic and world music. The evening show is repeated daily, every 30 minutes from 6pm to 11pm. • Take the Dubai Ferry from Jadaf Marine Transport Station and cruise along the new Dubai Creek extension and enjoy the city’s skyline views as you cross Business Bay to Dubai Water Canal. • Hop aboard a traditional `abra’ (water taxi), sail across the lake of the Dubai Fountain, with the iconic Burj Khalifa as your backdrop, and enjoy the breathtaking sights and sounds. • Visit THE BEACH at Jumeirah Beach Residence and enjoy the remarkable beachfront esplanade that offers everything from casual eating, signature fine dining, luxury retail, family entertainment and an outdoor cinema.
No trip to Dubai would be complete without a desert safari. Hop into a 4x4 and leave the city behind as you head into the wilds of the desert – go dune ‘bashing’ or camel-riding before sunset, then enjoy remote Bedouin-style camps with fireside tales and delicious dinners.
FALCON EXPERIENCE WITH BREAKFAST
Gain an in-depth understanding of the traditional and noble art of falconry with a chance to have a close encounter with hunting falcons in the desert. Learn more about a selection of falcon species and the art of falconry over breakfast at the desert campsite and enjoy a spectacular show of the latest falcon training methods.
For amazing travel packages to Dubai Holiday Bazaar have something for you. 14 Ring Road, Parklands, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 722 354 333 / 733 616 445 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.holidaybazaar.travel 24
TAKE THE FAMILY TO DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON City Max Hotel Al Barsha 3* - Standard room Valid 01 May – 30 Sep 2017 from only USD 845 per person sharing Hilton Garden Inn Mall of Emirates 4* - Guest room Valid 10 May – 30 Sep 2017 from only USD 1070 per person sharing Package Includes: 7 Nights’ accommodation on bed & breakfast in Dubai, return economy airfare on Emirates inclusive of taxes and airport transfers, 2 Parks park hopper ticket allowing you to visit: Lego Land Water Park and Motiongate Dubai . *Visa fee not included as it depends on the nationality of the traveller Terms and conditions apply 14 Ring Road, Parklands, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 722 354 333 / 733 616 445 Email: email@example.com, www.holidaybazaar.travel
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
OFF THE SCALE There’s no better time to experience Kenya’s burgeoning rock climbing scene. Organised outings are abundant but you’ll have the rocks all to yourself. By Nathan Siegel
consider myself a rock climber. I’ve spent countless hours climbing indoor rock walls since the age of eight. So I was thrilled when I moved to Nairobi and discovered BlueSky, the only climbing gym in East Africa. I have since been a regular at their bouldering wall and would even go as far as to call myself a good rock climber. That was until a recent trip to Hell’s Gate National Park, where I climbed outdoors for the first time in my life. Now I’ve had to reconsider. I went with the BlueSky team to take a lead climbing training for people who have no idea what they are doing. On a hot Sunday in March, our instructors, Meekeh and Naomi, a Brit named Magnus, and I made the two-hour drive from Nairobi to Hell’s Gate National Park near Naivasha. We ventured no more than 500 metres inside the park before stopping in front of a sizable cliff. I stared up at the sheer rock that we would soon attempt to hug, claw and scratch our way to the top with as much grace as we could muster. To warm up, not that we weren’t sweating already, we top-roped a few routes, meaning the rope is fed through metal rings at the top of the climb. It struck me that unlike an indoor rock wall where a human has created a route that is meant to be climbed, natural rock has no such intention. It’s just a rock and was not made with specific hand or footholds. Life-altering, I know.
The rock was smoother and gentler on my fingers than I expected. I was surprised when pieces of the rock didn’t come crumbling off under my weight. And even more surprised when perfect handholds seemed to appear just where I needed them. After wearing ourselves out on the easy stuff, we started to get serious and talk about lead climbing. Lead climbing is where climbers set their own anchors, or protection, on the rock as they are climbing up. The main distinction between lead and top-roping is this: lead climbing is more dangerous because the climber is using a piece of metal shoved into a crack in the wall to protect them from falling instead of an anchor at the top. If this sounds scary, well it is. And I was definitely questioning my judgement before starting off on my first real lead climb, despite two hours of solid instruction and demonstration from Meekeh. I started up the first few holds, my heart thumping and moving like a teenager sneaking out of the house and trying not to wake up his parents. I placed every hand and foot with exact precision on the rock, testing its grip lightly at first before trusting it with my whole weight. After climbing a few metres, it was time to put in protection. I shoved a metal wedge into a crack in the rock, yanking on it to make sure it would hold my weight. I tripled checked everything to ensure I wasn’t missing something painfully obvious. I climbed on. While the sun
cooked the valley, a slight overhang on the cliff provided the solace of shade on the rock. The wind swirled, kicking up dust. Nearing the top of the rock, I began to feel a sensation I had never experienced on the wall. Not only was I physically fatigued, but mentally as well. Climbing in the gym certainly requires thinking: “Where do I go next? Do I look good in these shorts?” A different kind of mental strain accompanies climbing outdoors, especially lead climbing: “If I fall, will this anchor hold me? Should I stop to put in an anchor or continue climbing, risking a bigger fall?” A few last moves and, finally, the top! I hooked myself into the clips at the peak of the rock and started preparing to lower myself down. Mind racing, blood pumping, I almost forgot to look around. The dry valley stretched to the horizon, interrupted now and then by impressive rock formations. Could I climb those, I wondered. Probably not. Basking in the glory of my climb, I felt like I could stay up there forev… “Are you coming down?!” yelled Magnus, my belayer, who was standing patiently on the ground, baking in the sun. Yes, yes, I guess I should, I replied. One last look and then a quick trip back to Earth. BlueSky Kenya runs the only indoor climbing wall in Nairobi and organises trips and training for all levels. Visit blueskykenya.org for more information.
HELL’S GATE NATIONAL PARK lies to the east of Lake Naivasha. Named after a narrow break in the cliffs, it is a climber’s paradise with its soaring cliffs and rocks offering some of the best climbing in Kenya.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
ON TOP OF THE WORLD South African Saray N’Kusi Khumalo is hoping to make history this month as the first black woman to climb Mt Everest, the world’s highest mountain. She has made two previous unsuccessful attempts. Will it be third time lucky?
Tell us about the first attempt in 2014. I was sleeping in my tent. It was 6 am. I heard a rumbling, it was too close for comfort, and all the tents were shaking. I heard people panicking. Base camp is normally full of people who are hopeful … but within an hour, everything was chaotic. Initially, they were not telling us anything about fatalities, but I saw helicopters picking up dead bodies. That season, I was very new to climbing, but there were lots of experienced climbers there. I could see everyone was afraid. I learned one lesson. Climbing is really a personal decision. You take care of yourself. A year later, you found yourself in the midst of Nepal’s worst earthquake. How did that feel? We were moving between Camps One and Two. When I was with my guide on the glacier, it started cracking. I have never been so scared. My Sherpa was so calm, he gave me confidence. It cracked a few more times, and then it was quiet. We raised our heads, and saw the mountains around us had started avalanching. He started praying, and I thought: ‘This is where I go to my God.’ When we tried to get back to Camp One, the ladders in the crevasses we’d crossed had all fallen in. We couldn’t get back. Our sleeping bags, and food were all at Camp One. We had to go back to Camp Two. I’ve never been
that cold. Nine of us slept in a big tent on the floor. It was real, real survival.
paid leave. I don’t have to worry about my bills when I am on the mountain.
How do you feel this time? If I think about 2014, I was nervous. I knew very little about mountains. The people who died … had 15 years’ experience. But it wasn’t my time. I believe I have got to do this because I can.
You had a serious accident last year. What happened? It was August 8th. It was a bike race, and on the second day, I was coming down a mountain, and didn’t realise I had lost my back brakes. I hit my head quite badly. I was in a coma for three weeks. The next month, I could hardly run, so I started walking. At New Year, I took part in a race, and the doctors said if I still wanted to go to Everest, I just needed to train.
You’re a black woman in a sport dominated by white men. Do most people you meet respect what you do? Not always. In 2016, I went to climb Acongagua [in South America]. I met a German guy, who said, “Should you be here? There are mountains in Africa.” But he didn’t summit, and I did. By proving them wrong, I am doing a favour to the people coming behind me. Have you received much support in South Africa for your climbing? Last year, the Ministry of Sports decided to put money aside to fund the first black female to climb Everest. When I got there, they told me the first [black] male has to go, too. If he’s not going with me, they couldn’t fund me. It’s ridiculous. I don’t need a man to climb a mountain. The [insurance] company I work for gives me
You have a husband and two boys. How do they feel about this? We talk. This time, it was quite an interesting negotiation, especially because of the accident. They believe in what I believe in because I see it as something bigger than just me. I’ve promised them I will not summit at any cost. What would you say to young girls in Africa? I come from the township. I was born into a family of seven girls, and raised by a single mother. If I can step on the top of Everest, then anyone can. I see girls looking hopeless, and I want to say to them: “It’s up to you.” Saray Khumalo is raising money to build libraries in South Africa. She expects to attempt the summit this month.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
RIDING HIGH The high-altitude hills around Iten are famous for running. But these days, you’re nearly as likely to meet a pro cyclist on its steep, winding roads and Kenya is now eyeing the big prize: to enter its first all-black team into the Tour de France, the most celebrated bike race in the world. By Edith Honan
How did you get into cycling? My first time on a bike was when I was in high school. It was the local, single-speed Black Mamba bike that’s mostly available in Kenya, and I used this bike to go to school.
I wasn’t really serious about cycling; I didn’t even know it was a sport. When I finished school, I started doing roller-skating, and going to conventions in Nairobi. And I would sometimes see cyclists go by and I really admired them and thought, I could also try that. There were races each month, and I started doing them and I kept on improving. Eventually, by 2013, I got selected to the team and I had to move to Iten and start doing serious training. What’s your biggest goal as a team? The Tour de France. I really hope that one day we can have an all-black African team. It’s the big dream for the entire Kenya Riders development team here. I’m not really sure when, but it’s going to take a couple of years – maybe three to four. And what do you think that will mean for cycling’s popularity in Kenya? It would be a revolution in cycling. I think it would make a really big impression if we went, and maybe it would even make the government really support this thing. That’s my hope.
How has the image of cycling changed since you got started? We have lots of guys riding in parts of Nairobi, and we also have many guys trying to join our team in Iten. People are getting the idea that you can do this sport – not just running – and that we can try to achieve our dreams together. But for many Kenyans, they see cycling as a poor man’s sport – like, someone is so poor he can only afford a bike. The mentality needs to be changed. I have a dream that in the future, we’re going to make cycling like how running is in Kenya. It’s not something easy, but it could happen. So, how scary is it racing on Kenyan roads? Yeah, it’s really scary. There is lots of crazy driving. Last October, I was in the last stage of the Tour de Machakos – it’s the biggest race in Kenya that happens annually – and I was trying to go for a breakaway and I crashed into a boda boda. He just turned without any kind of caution. That was a disaster for me. I fractured my left pelvis and I’ve been away from the bike since then - six months. I hope things are going to go well now, that I’ll be back on my bike again and I can continue with my dreams.
PHOTO: EDITH HONAN
or a decade, the 15-member Kenyan Riders development team has been working to raise the profile of Kenyan riders and attract new talent. But before its riders can hope to take on the world’s elite cyclists, they need to start winning races. As the team’s manager, Nicholas Leong, explains: “When people start coming back with meaningful amounts of money, that’s when cycling will start catching on.” One of the team’s star racers is Geoffrey Langat, a lithe 26-year-old. Langat is about to kick off a three-month training run in Europe, and hopes to be elevated to the German continental team Bike Aid, which works with athletes from Africa. Nomad caught up with Langat in Iten to talk about his hopes for the team and the scariest thing about cycling.
PHOTOS: BAISKELI ADVENTURES
BEST OF THE TRAILS Rakesh Young of Baiskeli Adventures takes every opportunity he gets to jump into the saddle. Here, he picks his five favourite spots to cycle in Kenya.
Swara Plains Just 35 km out of Nairobi, there lies a 20,000 acre wild animal conservancy at the foot of the Lukenya Hill – Swara Plains. With a dazzling diversity of wildlife, Swara Plains is perfectly set for a unique cycling safari for cyclists of all abilities. It’s not every day that you get to cycle with wild animals anywhere while enjoying the expansive views all around. The jumpy wildebeests may try to outrun you, making for an even more spectacular man versus animal showdown. Lake Victoria and the islands Mbita in Homa Bay county is the gateway to for all adventure seekers around the lake with cycling trails going as far up as the Gwasi Hills, past small fishing villages only a few kilometres from the Ruma National Park. A 40 km winding cycling trail along Lake Victoria provides stunning views of the crispy blue waters and its islands. For the more adventurous, Rusinga and Mfangano Islands offer additionally spectacular cycling trails. On Mfangano island however, the roads are a lot hillier and more rugged, but you can take some time out of the
saddle to wander through villages, explore the sacred forests and the rock arts on the hills. Kiambu Tea and Coffee Farms The Kiambu / Tigoni area is known for its extensive green tea and coffee fields, offering not only beautiful scenery, but also some of the most adventurous cycling trails in the country. Depending on one’s confidence and bike-handling skills, you can choose between tarmac roads, jeep and single tracks. The single tracks are the most tricky, and in most places you need permission from the farm management before riding through the trails. There are also public roads, however, that cut through these green valleys. Be prepared for some steep climbs and equally steep downhills for the most part.
Salama to Kajiado Cross County If you are all about rolling cross-country trails, a 75 km stretch from Salama town to Kajiado is ideal for you. You can do this trail in two days, depending on how you approach it and your level of fitness. From Salama, cross the newlybuilt Standard Gauge Railway line at Kiu. From the Kamba side in Salama, through sandy and dusty hard roads, you cross three seasonal rivers on your way to the Maasai side. Note as the landscape, the people, the language and the dress code change the further you go. This is a very remote area with limited phone reception, ideal for connecting with the surroundings. Karura Forest Trails Karura Forest is probably the most popular cycling spot in Nairobi, and rightly so. The forest provides an array of cycling trails for all cycling abilities; from easy 5 km loops to the more technical 15 km loops featuring steep ascents and single tracks. This is ideal for families and leisure cyclists looking for a few easy minutes on the saddle as much as for the hardcore cyclists aiming to tear the trails and break a sweat. Choose your trail wisely before heading out as it is easy to get lost for the first timers (despite there being clear markings).
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
RAPID DESCENT Charlotte Beauvoisin plunges into the Nile for a white-water rafting adventure and makes a few friends on the way.
PHOTO:NILE RIVER EXPLORERS, SAVAGE WILDERNESS
hite-water rafting had been high on my bucket list for years. When friends told me they were planning a trip to Jinja, Uganda, I was the first to say, “Count me in.” Thousands of people had safely rafted before me, I thought, so what’s to fear? “Bring it on!” I cried … until we neared the first rapid and the point of no return. There are six grades of difficulty in whitewater rafting, and I was going to attempt Grade 5. (Grade 6 rapids are deemed so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable.) On the riverbank, our guide Nathan reassured us that rescue was never far away in the shape of a flotilla of kayakers and the safety raft accompanying us over each rapid. Our first test was wading into the river, and hauling ourselves onto the raft, weighed down by a lifejacket and helmet, all the while carrying a heavy wooden paddle. As Nathan told us, our job was to paddle and to follow his instructions to the letter. Just as we were getting used to the raft, these cheeky guys flipped us over. And so it was that we had our first dip in the river, on the calm waters above the first rapid. What seemed easy-to-follow advice in the sanctuary of the upright raft was instantly forgotten as I snorted and swallowed bucketloads of river water. My helmet fell forward over my face and my lifejacket jerked me up underneath the upturned raft. I was safe of course, and able to breathe thanks to airholes in the bottom of the raft, but my head was all over the place. Before I knew it, one of the guides yelled
at me “Don’t panic!” and flipped the raft back up the right way. The ‘practice flip’ taught us to cling onto the safety rope that edges the perimeter of the raft, hold onto our oars tightly and shout out for our mates. Coughing and spluttering, I struggled to get back into the raft and was yanked from the water by my lifejacket to land face first at the feet of my fellow rafters. We were all laughing hysterically by this point. We also realised that there was going to be a little more to white water rafting than we realised. As we contemplated what lay ahead, Nathan sensed we weren’t quite ready to be thrown in the white water, so guided us gently down the first rapid. The speed of the river picked up and the raft pitched fore and aft as we slid over the top of the white water. “Do you want to go mild or do you want to go wild?” Nathan teased us, as we approached the next rapid a few minutes later. “Wild!” We cried as one. We grabbed our paddles, tuned into Nathan’s instructions and leaned back against the edge of the raft as we paddled straight into the rapids. We crouched in the bottom of the raft as the raging white water tossed us in all directions. With a big bump, we were ejected from the raft like popping corn. A kayaker whizzed over to me and told me to hold on to his kayak as our raft drifted onwards, devoid of its occupants. Rafters and raft were quickly reunited as our morning of excitement and apprehension proceeded downriver. Would I recommend rafting? Undoubtedly. I did experience a few scary moments but I spent far more time laughing my head off. It was a fantastic way to bond with new friends, too.
FOUR COOL RAFTING SPOTS IN EAST AFRICA Jinja, Uganda Look no further than the source of the Nile in Jinja for sheer thrill. Perhaps the premier rafting spot in East Africa, this river stretch offers terrifying Grade 5 rapids, as well as an array of other riverbased activities. Nile River Explorers and Adrift Uganda are both reputable operators.
Rufiji River, Tanzania Although said to be tamer than some, the Rufiji river leads rafters through the remote and littlevisited Selous Game Reserve, offering excellent opportunities to see wildlife, and camp in the wild.
Omo River, Ethiopia The spectacular Omo River, which races through canyons, forests and waterfalls, offers one of the world’s great rafting adventures. This southern Ethiopian river, traversing through some of the most remote parts of the country, plunges 6,000 feet, tipping into Lake Turkana. Contact local tour operators for advice on visiting this region.
Sagana, Kenya You don’t have to go to Uganda to get your thrills. Kenya, too, offers some fine white-water rafting on the River Tana, and elsewhere. Rafters navigate down Grade 3-5 rapids, dependent on the season. From Sagana, visitors can also opt for canoeing, bungee jumping and rock climbing. Savage Wilderness and Rapids Camp are both reputable operators at Sagana.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
THE CHARGE IS BACK
WHAT IS THE RHINO CHARGE? Sixty-five teams take part in the Rhino Charge every year to raise money for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust to fund its protection of the dwindling Black Rhino population in the Aberdares National Park. There is a minimum sponsorship requirement of Ksh1.5 million for each team taking part, although this amount reduces for later entrants if there are still places left. Competitors, who for the most part compete in modified off-road vehicles, learn the rough location of the upcoming Charge about a month before the event, but only
find out where they are starting from the night before. Teams must clock in at 13 checkpoints across roughly 100 kmÂ˛ of difficult terrain, usually comprising boulders, mud, rivers and much more besides. The Gauntlet, run between three checkpoints close together, is a particularly tricky part of the route designed to please the crowds, and is where most spectators congregate. It might be particularly rocky, or a mud or water obstacle. The winning team is the one that visits the most checkpoints in the shortest distance.
PHOTO: HELEN KINUTHIA
June 3rd 2017
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
David Lowe, Clerk of the Course and Chairman of the Rhino Charge Organising Committee, reveals some of the planning that goes into organising the Rhino Charge.
How do you choose the course each year for the event? It’s quite a time-consuming and involved process that draws on a combination of technology, physical look-and-see and gut instinct. Sometimes we get invited by local communities to assess their community land for suitability and at other times we simply fly or drive over areas looking for topography which lends itself to a Rhino Charge. Of critical importance is the community’s agreement and considerable time is spent sitting under trees, paying for and eating goat, and talking the event through with the elders and community leadership. Once agreements are signed off, we begin the course design. The “gut instinct” will already have picked up where half the checkpoints are likely to be. Using
unmodified Land Rovers, we drive through the bush to get to areas identified and marked on our GPS. Where we can’t drive, we walk. Often we will end up walking a round trip of 10 km or more to get to a possible checkpoint. Of course, it’s important that we have some action for our spectators to watch so identifying the three checkpoints that make up the Gauntlet is essential. We try to select a location that has reasonable access while also being as spectacular as possible with spectator safety in mind as well. It’s not an easy combination of ingredients as they all pull against each other. This year’s Gauntlet has the potential to be one of the toughest we’ve seen and I think the spectators will appreciate the courage of man and his machine when they see it.
What are the main features or challenges you require in a course? Clearly it must be challenging enough to be called a Rhino Charge – so we let the venue give us inspiration and, believe me, they are usually full of surprises. Every year, we get new entrants who have little or no experience. There are also chargers who want a challenge but are not extreme off roaders. Then we have the extreme teams who are also highly competitive. So we have to balance the course design to cater for a very wide cross-section of entrant so that everyone can be challenged and enjoy themselves. We love a Charge that has a lot of water, usually a rare occurrence – this year could be one if the rains decide to come late.
LOVE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY, PATRICK AVERY, PETER NGUNYI, BELINDA LEVITAN
BEHIND THE SCENES
PHOTOS: ANTHONY HAVELOCK, ASIM SHAH, ERIC KIHIU, HELEN KINUTHIA,
Why all the secrecy? It wouldn’t be a challenge if the competitors had ample time and information to scout the course. It has also become a bit of a game between the competitors and the organisers, which makes for good banter. Which are some of your most memorable courses? My most memorable is probably 2013 in Ol Doinyo Nyokie which will always be special to me as it was my first one at the helm and it was a really fun event, enjoyed by almost everyone and with one of the closest finishes ever, only metres separating the top five. Tell us about a memorable Rhino Charge. The 2005 Ol Kinyei Charge in the Masai Mara, where over 100 cars including
Charge cars were stuck trying to get to the venue. It had rained so much that the access to the venue was basically a swamp; that was a legendary charge by all accounts. Can anyone take part? As long as you’re over 16 years old (driver has to be over 18), medically fit and have the spirit, then yes. Very importantly, your team also has to be able to meet their minimum pledge (sliding scale over time). We opened entries at the Ksh1.5 million pledge level this year on July 1st, and were overwhelmed as all 65 entries were taken within one-and-a-half hours of the first. Demand to participate has been very high in recent years and nobody wants to gamble their first-come-first-served slot by taking the chance of waiting for a lower pledge to open on August 1st.
Can you tell us anything about this year’s event to tantalise the spectators? The kids will love it. There’s going to be a lot for them to get their hands dirty with. We’ve brought the spectators’ camping right next to the competitors and if all goes to plan (and it doesn’t rain), then they’ll be within walking distance to the HQ and bar area. The sunset views from the bar area are to die for. And the course makes for some great action this year, not just at the Gauntlet.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
THE GIRLS IN PINK
New to the Rhino Charge this year is the Pink Horns, an all-female team. We talk to two of their members - Glena Jiwani and Nili Dodhia - about how they go about preparing for the race of their lives. What will be your respective roles? Nili: I’ll be one of two running in front of the car about a kilometre ahead, and scouting the terrain. For instance, do we go left or right? We run in different directions to see which is the best terrain for the car. We want to avoid punctures. We don’t want to go through a river that’s super deep. We need to be able to say, “It’s a no-go zone.” Glena: I’m the driver. I’ve been taking part in mini 4x4 challenges for nearly eight years now. The driver has to make the final decision. We don’t want to exert the car so much that we can’t fix it. Nili: Everyone is telling her what to do, but she’s patient and goes with her gut. When you’re in a situation where you’re about to tilt over, she’s so calm. That’s the key thing for a driver. How do you train? Glena: The guys we train with [including Glena’s husband] have done the Rhino Charge before. They train us in winching, the mechanics of the car, what the car can do, changing tyres in the bush and the heat. My
husband and friends say: do take the shortest route, but also the wisest and safest route. Tell us about the car. Glena: It used to be a short-wheel base Land Cruiser. It’s my husband’s car, built by Hans Kenya. It used to be yellow. He changed it into a Land Rover 90, and added Unimog axles and changed the engine to a Lexus. What equipment will you be carrying, and will you know what to do if you break down? Nili: Spanners, a spare tank for the differential lock, a prop shaft, spare tyre, waffle boards, and what’s that thing you tie around the tree? Glena: The winch strap. Nili: A jack, a spinny one, a pipe to help unlock the bolts. Glena: We have the basics in mechanical know-how, but I think we need to up our game. Nili: We do know when the gearbox is not working, and what we need to do. If the fan belt breaks, that’s it. We don’t have a spare, nor do we know how to change one. We know when the radiator is not working, and
what to do. If we blow our gear box, then we won’t be able to continue. Glena: Or if we break an axle. What are your concerns going into the race? Nili: You need to be able to run in the heat. Heat is the one thing we’re worried about. Glena: Or something going wrong mechanically with the car, and we can’t finish. Or being bitten by a snake. A friend of mine was running [in front of a car] two years ago, and saw a leopard. What do you do? Nili: Keep running! What do your friends think? Glena: They’re not taking us seriously. They say, “You girls are just going to look pretty in a big car.” Nili: Our friends think we’re a joke. If we did win the ladies’ category [there are four female teams taking part], it would put us on the map. But even if we don’t win, but finish, that would be a challenge in itself. The team members are: Glena Jiwani, Nimmi Chauhan, Fatima Sidi, Glaiza De Guzman, Nili Dodhia and Emmy Bisley
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
THE FEMALE NOMAD
Female adventurer Michelle Morgan, co-founder of the Alchemist bar in Nairobi, and co-presenter on the XOA adventure show, talks to Nomad about her passion for motorcycling, and solo riding across Kenya. How did you get into motorcycling? Growing up, I went to a motocross event, and came home and said, “Mum, this is it. I need a motorbike.” My Mum said, “Absolutely not. You’re going to go to ballet school and will learn how to be a goddamn lady.” At university, any opportunity I got to ride a bike, I took it. When I got back here [to Kenya], I saved up and got a Puzy 200cc off-road bike. That was the beginning of my lust for adventure.
only a couple of kilometres into the sanctuary. Embracing the thrill and sheer terror of the experience, I forged on as we trekked through thickets of bush until we emerged at the frontier of a lush green oasis. Towering before me stood the beauty of this hidden waterfall. I soaked myself in the gushing waters of this magical place knowing this was exactly where I was meant to be. Travel is my vehicle of selfdiscovery, of connection to all that is. It is what makes me feel alive.
A memorable ride? My solo biking adventure trips feel like somewhat of a calling. My soul stirs for the feeling of the road less travelled. Setting off not knowing when I’ll be back. On my last solo motorbike escapade, I decided to discover Shimba Hills 40 km from Diani beach. After rearing off onto a dusty track of red earthy sand for several kilometres, I found myself at the gates of the elephant sanctuary. One of the rangers told me there was a waterfall
Ever find yourself in a fix? A friend and I went to Champagne Ridge, and on our way back, she was going really fast and went over a rumble strip, flew off her bike, and landed on her head. We were in the middle of Kikuyu Forest, and she was completely delirious. While all this was happening, in the distance I see three men approaching. I was like, “Get on the bike. It was just a tiny fall.” But she was still not 100%, and I looked at the guys, trying to sus
them out. They were teenagers, and I thought I could deal with this. One of the guys got on my friend’s bike and I yelled at him. He got off, and at that point, my friend started the other bike, and I told her to ride. We rode to hospital. She had a slight concussion. Do you ever worry about the dangers of biking? You take a responsible risk. You have to have all the gear. I don’t make assumptions that anyone will stop. But it’s not as terrifying as people think. What’s the attraction of motorcycling for you? It’s freedom. It’s so liberating, it’s like my meditation. Just being able to pack my life into two saddle bags is the most rewarding activity I do. A lot of aspects of my life I do for other people, but this is like my ‘me-time.’ Michelle Morgan also blogs about her adventures at thefemalenomad.co.ke or find her on Instagram @thefemalenomad.
Some might find throwing themselves off a cliff attached only to a contraption of wires and wings a step too far. Here, Hunter Marrian, Kenya’s only Fédération Aéronautique Internationale record-holder, gives us some paragliding tips. How did you become an FAI record-holder? We got two world records in one flight. This was by flying a total of 212 km - out and return - in a tandem paraglider, on a route that we declared before we took off. Sticking to a declared route is tricky, as you don’t know what the winds will be like. Finding a willing passenger took some time. The flight was going to take over nine hours, most of which would be spent turning in circles within thermals, so I needed someone with a strong stomach. Evans Kerich, a local boda boda driver from Iten, turned out to be the man for the job. It took us four attempts. On one, we landed only 10 km short after flying for eight hours because the wind died on us. It wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped, and we had a couple of close calls towards the end. But on the fifth attempt we did it. Did you get a Guinness World Record for that? No, because I wasn’t balancing chickens on my head. When is the best time of year to paraglide? The few months after the rains are the best. So December and January, and again in June and July. But it very much depends where in the country you’re flying. Where’s the best place in Kenya to paraglide? Kerio Valley, in the Rift Valley, is by far the best place in Kenya. The site currently holds six world records, and is well known in the paragliding circuit as a place to munch kilometres. Other good places are Kijabe, Mt Ololokwe and the Ndoto Mountains in northern Kenya. What are the best conditions for paragliding? We usually hope for blue skies and small white puffy clouds. But it depends on what you’re after. Too much wind is never good, but if you want to fly cross-country, you need thermals to get you high enough. What advice would you give novices? Take it slow. Paragliding is extremely good fun and addictive, but it can get nasty. Get some good safe kit and get properly trained. Once you’ve done that, you can fly anywhere in the world. As told to Tamara Britten. Hunter Marrian runs Paraglide Kenya, which offers tandem jumps on the Borana Conservancy on the slopes of Mt Kenya. To book a jump, visit www.borana.co.ke
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
THE VIEW FROM ABOVE
Despite troubles in the north, Harriet Constable finds Laikipia is still now open for business. And how better to see it than from a hanging tent during a night in the wild.
hese are the last campers,” joked my friend, Ruthie, motioning towards the dusty, cracked jawbone of a zebra lying discarded on the ground. We’d been strolling across the parched Laikipia landscape for the past two hours with our guide Joseph, and couldn’t help noticing that the remnants of prey seemed to increase as we approached the camp where we were to spend the night. Joseph chuckled at our observations. In his 20 years working at El Karama Lodge, many of them as a guide, he hasn’t used the gun he carries. So it can’t be that dangerous, I reassured Ruthie. We dashed enthusiastically toward our tents, suspended between a few trees about a metre off the ground, and jumped in to test out the bedding and bounciness of our floating accommodation. Verdict: comfy and bouncy in equal measure. Looking back, I think I should probably have been a little more nervous. After all, there was just a thin strip of canvas separating us from the cackling hyena and low rumbles of lion we could hear in the distance. But it was far too exciting to be worrying about all that. We were in this area of Laikipia for the weekend to go fly camping, which involves hiking for a couple of hours to a temporary camp in a remote location. El Karama keeps the set-up pretty simple – the suspended tents, a barbeque fire, a few safari chairs and Masaai blankets and a couple of askaris to ward off those howling beasts. The adventure began earlier that day, when we turned off the main tarmac road from Nanyuki and began the final 40 km drive to El Karama, a private 14,000 acre ranch in
central Laikipia. Our first sightings of wildlife came as we neared El Karama: baboons sitting in the shade, nonchalantly inspecting their fur; gerenuk grazing on the trees, necks outstretched for the greenest, juiciest leaves; a solitary hippo wallowing in the shallow, muddy waterhole. After lunch and showers it was time for a short safety briefing (avoid the puff adders, stay in line, listen to Joseph, try not to get eaten - that sort of thing) and then we were off in the vehicle to the start of our walk. On the way we passed a herd of elephants, who seemed a little skittish. “Many have come from the north and west of Laikipia because of the troubles,” Joseph explained. Laikipia has been beset by disturbances through a combination of complex issues including drought, lack of sustainably-managed grasslands and population growth. The wildlife has come into the crossfire, and is understandably nervous. El Karama Lodge owner Sophie Grant explained that while travel to some pockets of Laikipia is not advisable currently, visiting this region is still possible as long as you travel responsibly. “Contact the lodges and operators before travelling and ask them what the situation is on the ground” she suggested. The elephants eyed us warily for a few moments and then turned their backs, heading for the river. As we began our walk, Joseph was up front, armed and on the outlook for wildlife that might not appreciate our presence, and we fell into line behind. Silence was everywhere, but for the sounds of dry grass crunching beneath our boots and weaverbirds tweeting in the trees. Mighty
shards of light filtered through the clouds, and as the sun began to diminish we watched a giraffe gallop across the horizon, silhouetted against the vibrant orange glow. After a hearty dinner around the fire, it was time to retreat to our hanging tents for the night. With no moonlight, the night sky was out in its full glittery splendour, visible through the translucent tent tops. The homely smell of burning logs filled the air as we lay back and gazed up at the universe from the comfort of our beds until our eyelids could stay open no longer. The night’s sleep was sporadic. I kept waking to mutter “ooohhh … ahhhh” at the stars before dozing back off. Naturally, no adventure is complete without a hair-raising trip to the toilet in the middle of the night. I crept along in the darkness, wondering what lurked beyond the glow of my lantern, and dashed back to the tent when my imagination got the better of me. As night turned to day, the sky changed colour – black to navy to dusky purple to orange and eventually to pale morning blue. Bleary-eyed but happy, I unzipped the tent to watch a herd of zebra meandering across the horizon. The beauty of Laikipia is in these camping adventures. Hiking with expert guides, “seeing the story of an animal encounter in the dust, appreciating the value of the natural world and the fragility of the ecosystem, and getting away from the fluff,” as Sophie puts it. Besides which, there is little that is more thrilling than venturing into the wild. Harriet Constable was a guest of El Karama lodge in Laikipia. www.laikipiasafaris.com
SPINNING IN THE MUD
Catrina Stewart is ready to take on the dirt after she’s put through her paces in a 4WD training course. and I’ve been pretty rude about it these years of owning it. But as it tops the crest of the hill without any input from me, I find myself giving it a grudging respect. On a daily basis, instructors at the Glen Edmunds Advanced Driving School in Ongata Rongai put drivers through a rigorous set of obstacles. Their clients might comprise a ladies’ team preparing for the Rhino Charge, or an ambulance driver practising their slalom skills that come in handy on Nairobi’s gridlocked roads. Most drivers, says Edmunds, drive at 30 percent of their capabilities. By the end of a typical course, it’s more like 80 percent. I abandon my car for the centre’s Nissan Patrol, and we move on to winching. It’s like changing a tyre. I know how to do it in theory - I just hope I never have to put it into practice. We try hefting up the car with the high-lift jack. Before the wheel is even off the ground, I’m gasping with the strain of it. Then the mud. But Mario’s disappointed. If only it would rain. “Driving in the mud is
terrible,” he says. “Terrible fun.” As it is, the car slides and skids through the mud obstacle with no real difficulty, but I wonder how we’d cope after the rains. We finish with the bump, but it’s no ordinary speed bump. I get the car’s underside stuck on top, leaving two wheels spinning in thin air, and Mario asks me how I’m going to get it out. Push it, I reply, at the same time knowing a feeble push from me would make little impression on the Patrol. Instead, Mario wedges a flattish stone under the rear wheel, giving me purchase where before the wheels had none. After a day’s training, I feel ready to take on the worst roads Africa has to offer. But, for now, the closest I get is the pot-holed dirt road leading me back towards Ongata Rongai. A 4WD training course with Glen Edmunds Performance Driving School costs $250, comprising a theory course followed by a day’s practical training. www.glenedmunds.com
PHOTO: BRIAN SIAMBI
’ve never slalomed in a car before, but I’m about to do it. In reverse. First, Mario wants to check something. “Can you reverse?” he asks. “I think so,” I say. The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in reverse is parallel parking, and it’s not my strong suit. But here we go. Backwards. Through a slalom course. At speed. As we screech to a halt the other side, Mario says wryly, “Only four cones down out of six. Not bad.” Next up is the hill. It’s the kind of hill I’d probably avoid if I was driving it without Mario. I push the car into low ratio, and off we go. No feet on the pedal. The car just goes. Incredible. We stall at the top, but it’s intentional. And we’re off - into a reverse stall procedure. I’ve driven a four-wheel drive car for four years now. But I’m one of those who rarely take it off a gritty dirt road. And frankly, I’ve no idea what this car can do. It’s nearly 20 years old,
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
HOOKED ON SPEED
Nomad talks to Manvir Baryan, rally driver and managing director of Porsche Centre Nairobi, about his passion for fast cars. How did you get into rally driving? The business I’m in, I like cars. Fast cars. It was something I always wanted to do. I started by looking for a good used rally car which I found in Finland. The next thing was to look at a rally school. Instead, I found Tapio Laukkanen [the former Finland, British and now Kenyan rally champion]. He has a different approach, he comes to you, and gives you one-on-one training in your own car in own your type of terrain. My first rally was at the end of 2011.
What’s the rally scene like? It’s very competitive. When we started, it wasn’t the case, but when we brought Tapio here [to drive on Baryan’s Multiple Racing Team], he upped the game. Even the top guys were being beaten by minutes. Now it’s down to seconds. Have you won any of your rallies? I won my first Championship rally this year. It was a new car, a new year and a new championship and to make it even better, I had just come out of a roll [in November]. So it was amazing. How risky is the sport? It is dangerous like any type of motorsport
but the good thing is, you’re in a roll cage strapped into the seat with a six-point harness and wearing fireproof race wear, a Hans device (head & neck support) and, off course, a helmet. So it isn’t all that bad. Can anyone take up rally driving? It depends on your budget. It is definitely a costly sport, but you could start off with a cheap road car and build it up into a rally car. You’d need to add all the usual rally car requirements, such as the roll cage, bucket seats, six-point harnesses and body reinforcement. At the top of the game, people are spending a lot of money, but there are not many of them. You just have to be able to afford it at your own level and, most importantly, have a passion for it.
PHOTO: KAVIT MEDI
What was your first car? It was a Subaru Hatchback. It cost about 60,000 euros. It was used, but a high-spec rally car that was totally rebuilt and ready to go. Later, I bought another Subaru, but this time it was new. I then upgraded to the M Sport Ford fiesta R5 and now I have a Skoda
Fabia R5 which I purchased at the beginning of this year.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
ZIPPING AWAY Wanja Wohoro conquers her fears to go ziplining, all in the name of research
s you wend your way up the narrow country roads of Kimende towards the Forest, you could be forgiven for forgetting which countryside is whirring past your window. The purity of the air, the feeling of height and space and the sea of lush evergreen trees that surround your vehicle as you ascend the escarpment make the hectic Nairobi streets you left behind just 50 minutes ago seem a world away. The Forest is a new and beautifully-maintained outdoor centre, its main facility perched on a hillside, boasting clear views of the Aberdare ranges. Since opening at the end of last year, it has hosted roughly 10,000 visitors. Hiking, paintballing, archery and more are part of the draw, but it is the adrenaline-pumping zipline experience that is arguably the main attraction. I sat there drinking masala tea and appreciating the wonder of peripheral vision that allowed me to soak in 180 degrees of exquisite, lush Kiambu countryside. I tore my eyes away to consider that in a few short minutes, I would be coming into much closer proximity to the forests that stretched out below me by experiencing East Africaâ€™s longest zipline tour with a combined length of 2,200 metres. After a brief, but thorough, safety demonstration, I teetered on the first platform looking out at 450 metres of zipline, connecting this hill to another. The quiet, isolated and serene atmosphere of the hills suddenly seemed quite menacing. My heart raced at the prospect of putting my life at the mercy of a steel line. As adrenaline coursed through my veins, I was pushed away from the platform, and sent flying along the line. As I sped across, the the thick forest opened up, revealing some of the most beautiful and expansive views I have ever seen in Kenya. Once the initial fear and necessary screams had melted away, I was able to enjoy those brief moments of weightlessness, of flying and pure ecstasy as the cool air rushed into my lungs and every shade of green passed beneath me. The second line, though shorter, was equally, if not more, enjoyable. Realising that a premature death was perhaps not on the cards for me on this particular day, I was able to appreciate more fully the sensation of release and slight recklessness that only these kind of activities can give. The residual adrenaline leaves me wanting to fly across the entire country clinging to a harness. Ziplining starts at Ksh1,500 per person. For more information, contact www.theforest.co.ke
OLDARPOI MARA CAMP
Oldarpoi Mara Camp is a social enterprise based in Maasai Mara. The staff is made up of local employees, and profits go towards initiatives aimed at improving education and reversing poverty within the Maasai tribe . Oldarpoi Mara Camp offers guests the chance to bed down in 11 mid luxury tents and four cottages, all designed in the style of the local Maasai community . The tents have double beds and mosquito drapes and they are also fitted with bathrooms ensuite with flush toilets and hot showers near the camp . Situated just 2 Kms from the entrance of the Mara, the camp is located within the newly created Nashulai Maasai Conservancy. Oldarpoi Mara Camp is the ultimate chance to get to know the unforgettable Kenyan people and the idyllic spot they call home. Stay here and help support the Maasai community as this is the only locally owned camp in the whole of Maasai Mara !
DONâ€™T MISS!! Newlyweds should be sure to receive a traditional Maasai elders fertility blessings ! Contact us for best fullboard or the All inclusive rates! Tel: +254721731927, +254726210282 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.oldarpoimaracamp.com
Ras Kitau Bay, Manda Island For reservations contact us on +254 20 712 3300/1/2 Email email@example.com www.majlisresorts.com
TOP FIVE SCARIEST THINGS TO DO IN KENYA
Kenya is justly famous for safari but don’t let that blind you to the fact that there’s much more to do in this land of contrasts. Test your nerve with five of the scariest things you can do here. By Tamara Bitten
BUNGEE JUMPING If you’ve ever fancied tying yourself to a large elastic band and flinging yourself from a metal crane towards a river filled with crocodiles, this is the sport for you. You start by strapping yourself into what appears to be a straight-lace, then clambering up an 80-foot high crane. As if that wasn’t terrifying enough, you’re then clipped onto an elastic cord and told to jump.The rush of exhilaration you feel when flying through the air is second to none. And the best thing is that on the rebound, you get to feel the sensation of free-fall all over again. www.raftinginkenya.com, wwwsavagewilderness.org
CLIFF JUMPING Should you like throwing yourself from on high but would rather not be attached to an elastic band, this one’s for you; the cliffs and rock-pools of Ngare Ndare Forest provide the ideal location. First, climb to the top of the cliff. Second, look down if you dare. Third, jump! This sport not only gives you the exhilarating sensation of free-fall, but also the shock of plunging into freezing water and sinking deeper and deeper while your fall decelerates, and finally the excitement of shooting up through the water again and breaking through the surface of the pool. www.riftvalleyadventures.com
SKYDIVING Should free-falling from a cliff or a crane not be quite scary enough for you, why not try flinging yourself from a plane? The 15-minute flight over Diani gives you enough time to tighten your nerves to their tautest – and of course to enjoy the view of Kenya’s most popular beach – before you plunge from the plane. You experience about 35 seconds of rushing towards the earth, reaching a velocity of up to 200 km/h, before your parachute opens. You then drift through the air – heartbeat hopefully slowing – before you land on the beach. www.skydivediani.com
FLY BOARDING If you fancy being shot out of the sea high into the sky, your best bet is to try the new sport that’s taken Kenya’s coast by storm. Flyboarding was invented in 2012 by Franky Zapata of France and introduced to East Africa only last year. Madcaps wearing boots with jet nozzles beneath them stand on a board on the sea and are propelled into the air. Depending on your level of zaniness, you can plunge back into the sea feet-first, or flip over in the air and dive into the water. Offered at Pinewood Beach Resort in Diani and English Point Marina in Nyali, this new craze is sure to get your heartbeat thumping. www.raydonwatersports.co.ke
ROCK CLIMBING Should you get your kicks by hanging from a sheer rock-face by your fingertips, look no further. Mt Kenya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ‘rugged, glacier-clad summits,’ provides just that. With more than 25 routes to the peak, eight of which are ice routes, and the easiest of which are grade IV on the International Union of Alpine Associations scale, the mountain has more than enough challenges. Should you wish to practise before you attempt this feat, there are good climbing rocks in Hell’s Gate National Park (see page 26), and a climbing wall at Diamond Plaza in Nairobi. www.mck.or.ke, www.blueskykenya.org
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
TRAGEDY OF THE PANGOLIN INSPIRES BEAUTY By Catrina Stewart
rescued in a distressed state from the illegal trade. “By the time we get many of these pangolin, they have been kept in captivity from a week to 10 days,” says Hywood. “The poachers put them in these barbaric containers, lined with diesel and oil. They don’t offer them even water. The pangolins are forced to defecate and urinate on themselves, they have terrible wounds on their hands from trying to escape, together with multiple skin burns from being in their own urine.” Hywood helps them recover, before releasing them back into the wild. Every pangolin has its own human minder, who teaches the animal to forage for ants and termites, scrabbling in the dirt, and opening up termite mounds, sometimes for several hours a day. The idea for the pangolin jewellery range came, Mavros recalls, after sitting down with Lisa, where she told him she was being “swamped” with pangolins. “I said, ‘Let’s offer the best collection we’ve ever done,” recalls Mavros. His father, and founder of the Patrick Mavros brand, created a small pangolin jewellery collection after someone brought him a pangolin in the 1980s. His father took it to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, as it is the highest honour you can bestow, with only a chief allowed to decide what should become of it. The gesture awakened a storm of publicity, and a rush to protect this strange, little creature. The plight of the pangolin is now receiving increasing international attention. Last autumn, 182 nations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreed to a total ban in trade of all species of pangolin. In Zimbabwe, Hywood has been instrumental
in working with the government and the judiciary to treat the trafficking of pangolins as a commercially-motivated crime, carrying with it a mandatory nineyear jail sentence. In 2016 in Zimbabwe, 114 pangolin poachers were arrested with 52 convicted to the minimum term. But in many countries, including Kenya, which has the ground pangolin, poaching of the animal has historically been treated less severely, those apprehended in practice likely to receive a small fine and a warning. If the recoveries of pangolin scales are anything to go by, thousands are being killed every year. Just one kilogramme of pangolin scales (20-30% of the pangolin’s weight) can come from two or three dead animals, and can fetch up to $3,000 on the black market. Last December, Chinese authorities confiscated 3.4 tons of illegally-trafficked pangolin scales imported from Africa, representing between 5,000-7,500 pangolins. Little is known globally from its territorial habits to reproduction, even to how long they live, making it hard to protect. Moreover, nobody is sure just how many pangolins exist in Africa or Asia, their other main habitat. “It is a silent war,” says Hywood. “We don’t how many we have, so we don’t know how many we have to save.”
PHOTO: ADRIAN STEIRN
he first pangolin Lisa Hywood ever saw was handed to her in a smelly sack. It had been rescued from traffickers, and was in a distressed state. “I saw this most amazing eye looking up at me,” Hywood, a Zimbabwean conservationist, recalls. “It was a real, live pangolin, and I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with it.” It was the beginning of her decadeslong journey to save the pangolin, and raise awareness about the animal that most people have never heard of. This scaly, nocturnal creature is rarely seen, yet its scales, and even its foetuses, are highly coveted in Asia, particularly China, for their supposed healing properties. Now, her efforts have received a stimulus in the shape of support from Patrick Mavros, a luxury jeweller that has its roots in Zimbabwe. Earlier this month, the jeweller launched its Pangolin Collection, with 10 percent of all proceeds going towards the Tikki Hywood trust, the conservation organisation set up by Lisa in memory of her late father. “Most of our jewellery is very literal,” says Patrick Mavros Jr during the recent launch in Nairobi. “But pangolins are weird-looking animals, so if you design a bangle with its funny head, big claws, beady tongue, not many will like it. I took the more defining characteristic, which is the scales.” Hywood adds: “The pangolin is being pushed to extinction because of their scales. That Patrick is creating something beautiful out of the very subject that is the cause of its demise seems rather fitting. It is now a part of saving the animal.” Since the mid-1990s, Hywood has taken 141 pangolins into the Tikki Hywood Trust’s sanctuary in Zimbabwe. The majority are
FIVE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE PANGOLIN: 1. A pangolinâ€™s tongue can be up to 40 cm long. The tongue, which starts deep in the chest, is sometimes longer than its own body. They use their sticky tongues to gather up insects. 2. Pangolins are the only animals in the world covered in scales. Their scales are made out of keratin, the same material of which our nails and rhino horns are made. 3. They protect themselves by letting off a foul odour. Threatened pangolins roll up into a ball - handy for fending off lions, less so for deterring humans - and give off a skunklike smell. 4. They are very maternal. Females carry baby pangolins on their tails for their first three months of life, and when they roll up into a protective curl, the baby is embraced within. 5. There are eight different types of pangolin. Four of them - the giant pangolin, the white-bellied pangolin, the ground pangolin, and the long-tailed pangolin are found in Africa.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
A RITE OF PASSAGE
he bull-jumping ceremony in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is a rite of passage for every young man in the Hamar tribe. In a test of his bravery, the young man must strip naked, and run across the backs of bulls in front of his village. Strangely, it is not the most impressive part of the ceremony, nor the most intense test of courage that day. As villagers finish their chores, and the midday heat dissipates, they start emerging from the bushes into a clearing, coming to sit together on the sandy banks of the Kaske river. The women have tied bunches of small bells to their calves which jingle with each step. Their hair is matted red with ochre like the muddy waters of river, and each one carries a gola, a brass horn. The men are regal with long ostrich feathers stuck into their hair. They sit quietly together, snorting snuff, and waiting. More women arrive, trumpeting their horns, chanting and dancing in circles. The sounds flow up and down the river valley like a magnetic force, drawing more people out of the bush. The mood becomes playful. The only one who seems solemn is the boy who is to jump across the bulls. He is surrounded by a handful of male relatives, and left alone with his thoughts. He is 18, but you can see the stress on this face, making him appear younger and timid. The energy starts building up. The women start making more noise with their horns, jump higher, and their smiles become wider. Each time someone is spotted approaching the river valley, the women charge over in a frenzy to see who it is. They are waiting for men to arrive with metre-and-a-half long whips made from young vine-like branches. Two young men are spotted trying to slink closer undetected, but the women ambush them. The men have an armful of switches. Carrying them like a football, they dodge women who scream and grab for them.
Arriving in the clearing where the boy is sitting, the women finally surround them, wrenching the switches from their hands, and then fighting each other for control of them. The women form a disorderly crowd in front of the two men, viciously taunting them. The men stand stone-faced for a while, and then finally accept a switch from a woman. The other women move back forming an audience,
Rivulets of blood flow down her back, and onto her kudu-skin skirt. She shows no pain. He shows no joy. I am stunned. and the selected woman continues viciously insulting the man, purposefully provoking him. Facing him, she holds her horn proudly above her head with one hand, and starts jumping up and down. Her eyes glaze over and bulge out as she goes into a trance, the bells jingle rhythmically from her calves. The man raises the whip high over his head. He strikes hard, curling the whip over her shoulder, and across her back. The tip of the whip makes a piercing crack as it breaks the sound barrier, splitting open her skin. Rivulets of blood flow down her back, and onto her kudu-skin skirt. She shows no pain. He shows no joy. I am stunned. I had not realised what was going to happen until it did. We had been told there
would be “weeping” before the bull jumping ceremony, and now I understand the cross cultural miscommunication. They meant a whipping ceremony. It is brutal and raw, and I feel uncomfortable witnessing such violence, especially to a woman. I feel like I have been transported to the Sparta of Ethiopia. The battered woman is almost immediately pushed aside as other women jostle to take her place. It is not only their chance to show their courage to the village, but also their opportunity to show how loved the boy is by the village. The more women willing to be whipped at his ceremony, the greater the level of respect he has from them. It is a ceremony that is designed to state that before you can show us you are strong, the women must first demonstrate that you are loved. As the whipping ends, cattle are brought out from the bush and lined up side-by-side by men. The boy appears from the bush wearing just a thin reed across his chest. The village gathers around, and the boy leaps across the backs of the bulls, landing barefoot on the ground and turning to repeat the feat. The women cheer in support, and the men struggle to hold the cattle as they try to escape. It all seems something of an anti-climax, however, after the performance of the women. The boy is now a man. He can now seek a wife. The bull-jumping ceremony is a testament not only to his courage, but to his kindness. Ironically, in proving his kindness, the women of the village demonstrate the greatest courage of all. The boy smiles, unburdened of the pressure of his performance. The women walk confidently with the children, bleeding and chatting. They still have a 25 km walk back to the village, and it is obvious that just like in most villages around the world, the real strength comes from the women. A version of this story first appeared in Mike McCaffrey’s blog, Nomadic by Nature www.nomadic-by-nature.com.
PHOTOS: NOMADIC BY NATURE
Mike McCaffrey travels to Ethiopia’s remote Omo Valley to witness a boy’s journey into manhood, but finds it is the women who must show the greatest courage of all.
Clockwise from top left: - Hamar women with ankles tied around their calves arrive at the ceremony - A Hamar man carries whipping switches. - A woman jumps with her horn as they wait for the boy. - The energy builds up as women become more frenzied. - The boy becomes a man. - Woman with matted red hair
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
A walk through…
Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighbourhood, dubbed “little Mogadishu” for its large Somali population, doesn’t make many “must-visit” lists. But perhaps it should. With its thriving marketplaces, miraa kiosks, and frenetic gold souk, it is the side to Nairobi that you rarely see. By Catrina Stewart
areas of the city. He has kept his standards and prices high, however, to ensure a classier kind of clientele. He proudly states that the chicken he sells come from his farm, and he changes the chip oil every day. Shopping. Forget Biashara Street, Eastleigh’s where it’s at. If you’re in the market for curtains, textiles of any kind, or discount clothing, this is where you’ll find the cheapest bargains in Nairobi. The market area, known as Garissa Lodge, is loosely organised by product. Curtain sellers - and makers - crowd together, while it takes some dodging to navigate through the textiles, where great piles of material are scattered all over the shopping hall. Traders assure me that what you buy in Biashara Street came first from Eastleigh, and is simply marked up. From the outside, the gold souk looks nondescript. Inside, however, dozens of shrouded Somali women, hissing and clacking to potential customers, cluster behind glass display cases of gold bangles, necklaces, earrings, and pendants. Money changers buzz around us, waving calculators. A man offers to check my gold wedding ring for authenticity. I watch nervously as he rubs it against a black stone, and pours acid over the mark left. He smiles: It’s real. At the silver shop, the shopkeeper points again to my fingers, and I start to pull off my ring. But no, it’s my pen he’s interested in. Is it a hidden camera, he wonders, peering at the lid. With so much gold, silver and cash on site, it’s little surprise that traders here are twitchy.
A few hundred yards further on, I see a group of women gathered around yellow drums. What is it, I wonder. Camel milk, Clive tells me. It is shipped in every morning from the northeast of Kenya. Go on, try some, he says. I reluctantly take the proffered cup, and take a sip. It tastes smoky — thanks to the charcoal the vendors use to keep it fresh — but not unpleasant. Clive takes the cup from me and polishes it off. It’s like a laxative, he says. It cleans your system out. A short while later, he is looking distinctly queasy. We dive into KFC. No, not Kentucky Fried Chicken, but the Kilimanjaro Food Court. Somalis gravitate towards this very popular dining area for Somali dishes, such as tender young goat meat, camel stew, as well as the ubiquitous pizza. Women are encouraged to eat in the family area to the back of the restaurant. As we leave the restaurant, Clive points out a building across the road, where I glimpse a cauldron-like vessel belching out steam. It’s a home brew, he says. Shall we take a look, I ask. Better not, he warns. It would be inviting trouble. There’s quite a lot of dubious business down here, I suggest. “Illegality,” says Clive, “is just a way for the police to get more money.” Safety: Eastleigh has a reputation for insecurity, and we would recommend visiting the neighbourhood with a guide who knows the area and the locals well (Clive Wanguthi is a knowledgeable guide, and can be reached on: +254701573192). Taking photographs inside the gold souk is strongly discouraged.
PHOTOS: BRIAN SIAMBI
St Teresa’s Catholic Church. A popular meeting spot, St Teresa’s is a sanctuary from the chaotic environs of Eastleigh. It is here I meet my guide, Clive, an Italian-Kenyan, and a Catholic priest turned Muslim. He invites me to photograph the church, an act that has surprising repercussions. When we return here after a two-hour walk around the neighbourhood, the priest has called in extra security in response to the threat potentially posed by the lone white woman taking photographs. But a quick grilling later, we are allowed to continue on our way. Miraa, anyone? It’s mid-morning, and the miraa and mbere traders are out, spreading out their produce, and fanning it to speed the drying process. A few customers idly wait. By mid-afternoon, this area will be crowded with men - it’s usually men - chewing. This natural stimulant, also known as qat in the Middle East, is popular among Somali communities across the world, the men chewing for much of the afternoon. It has proved so destructive to family life that is banned in some parts of the world. Residents here, not all of them Somali, gravitate towards mbere, which comes from Embu. It is cheaper and more potent. Sunset Takeway. This little fish and chip shop, with its low-key dining room with formica table tops, is one of the most popular cafes in Eastleigh. Jamil, a Kenyan Indian, has been running Sunset for 36 years. During that time, Eastleigh has moved from being a gentrified suburb of Nairobi, popular with the Italian community, into one of the most run-down
PHOTOS: BRIAN SIAMBI
Money changers buzz around us, waving calculators. A man offers to check my gold wedding ring for authenticity.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
LUKENYA Less than an hour from central Nairobi is Lukenya, an adventure playground for climbers, mountain bikers and rhino chargers out for a practice. The Athi plains sport a surprising number of good accommodation options, and a place such as Swara Plains makes for a good day trip. Pick your time carefully, though, lest you find yourself caught in the quagmire of Mombasa Road traffic. PHOTOS: BRIAN SIAMBI
DISCOVER EXPLORE EXPERIENCE
We thought quadbiking in Thika was cool, but the motorcross in Lukenya is the real deal. Although the venue offers a bunch of activities, such as hoverboarding, or a pool for the more sedentary, it’s the quad biking that’s the main draw. Riders kit up in jump suits and helmets, entirely necessary to keep the dust at bay, and a guide leads riders on a thrilling ride through countryside trails that wind through farmsteads, dunes and up and down hills. An hour’s ride costs Ksh5,000, and half an hour Ksh2,500. It’s advisable to book ahead. lukenyamotorcross.co.ke
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
This 20,000-acre ranch belonging to the Hopcraft family is a tranquil spot just a short drive from Nairobi. Acacia Lodge offers a range of accommodation in bandas and permanent tents, a bar and restaurant, but it’s just as easy to come for the day, and drive or walk through the vast property, spotting plains game, such as wildebeest, impala, hyena and giraffes. Those with their own rods can fish for tilapia in the dam. The lodge itself is an oasis set well back from the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway, and the camping is in an attractive acacia-ringed clearing. www.swaraplains.com
PHOTO: EMMANUEL FREUDENTHAL
Lukenya is famous for its boulders, and the Mountain Club of Kenya has its own site in the Lukenya Hills, with members travelling here most weekends for a spot of rock climbing and camping. For those not quite ready to hit the great outdoors, MCK members meet fo regular indoorclimbing events at the wall in Diamond Plaza in Nairobi. Before you know it, you’ll want to graduate to the real thing. Yearly membership of MCK costs Ksh4,000. There’s a joining fee of Ksh2,500. www.mck.or.ke
This old-style property just beyond Malili is not strictly Lukenya, but it’s well deserving of inclusion. The old house has been beautifully preserved, and the main bedrooms open out onto a verandah overlooking a pool and the plains beyond. It’s at the pricey end of the scale, but it is all-inclusive, with activities such as horse-riding and biking offered free. Included in the full-board offering is afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream. www.kilimakiumanor.co
Just beyond Lukenya Hills is the Maanzoni estate, a private estate with a difference. No picket fences here, but open plain with wildebeest scattered across the ranch. There are a couple of accommodation options on Maanzoni, but we liked Koppie House, a three-bedroom property perched on a hill with expansive views over the plains. The house sleeps six adults comfortably, and costs Ksh20,000 a night. The owners also have two small cottages, but they are quite basic for the Ksh10,000-12,000 nightly charge. Contact Franco Mwema on 0724154389 for bookings.
A short hop from Koppie is the Amazing Kenya retreat. Sold by its Dutch owners, it is now Kenyan-owned, and has undergone a refurbishment. This small property offers attractive two-person rondavels overlooking the hills and plains below, while there’s a pool for when the going gets too hot. There’s no big game in Maanzoni, so if you fancy a walk, just wander out the gates for a stroll. But at Ksh12,000 per person on full board, it seems a little expensive for what you get. Visit www.amazingkenya.nl for more information.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
GLOBETROTTERS EARLY BIRD
I’m not much of a morning person. However, on the few occasions I manage to haul myself out of bed, it has been to go to the seaside (which is where I’m writing this piece). On the edge of the heart of the city is the Kivukoni Fish Market, which is nothing short of breathtaking at dawn. Perched on a rooftop above, I like to watch the hustle below: the docking of the dhows with fresh catch, the fishermen and customers bargaining, and the fish “auction.”
Dawn to dusk in
DAR ES SALAAM Daniel Msirikale is the Jameson Whiskey Brand Ambassador in Tanzania and a freelance travel photographer. His Instagram handle is @that_tanzanianguy ART & CRAFTS LOVER
Nothing beats the fresh aromatic coffee of local coffee vendors to kick start your day. Grab yourself a local espresso and a kashata (groundnuts and sugar pastry), then conquer the city maze where the old surviving architecture meets the new in this modern metropolis. Visit Askari monument right at the centre, the Old Boma House (built in 1866-67), then take a walk through the Indian quarter and have a cup of tea at KTea Shop.
On your way to the Tinga Tinga market in Oyster Bay, stop by the side of the road and grab yourself a fresh coconut, fruit or delicious barbecued corn (mahindi). Explore the Tinga Tinga market and be mesmerised by the Makonde carvings and the stories each painting narrates. Edward Saidi Tingatinga started this style of art in the second half of the 20th century in Tanzania before it later spread to East Africa. So grab yourself a souvenir while you’re at it.
GET IN MY BELLY
PHOTOS DANIEL MSIRIKALE
Definitely, definitely try the local food. You can choose to go for zege (an omelette made from fries and egg), or mishkaki (barbecued goat), or my personal favourite, kitimoto roast, the best roast pork you’ll find anywhere in the world. Try Edo Chips on Kimweri Ave for the zege and Container Bar on Lulukedi Street for the roast pork.
Fancy watching the sunset while sipping on a boozy cocktail? Then Slipway Hotel is the place for you. There are a few restaurants overlooking the ocean such as Alcove, Waterfront and my personal favourite, The Terrace, at the Slipway. Nothing beats that view. Another great place to have sundowners with a view is Capetown Fish Market, which is on the same coastal strip.
A young Pringle on his travels
The former Test cricketer for England talks to Nomad about the sounds and smells of his youth in Kenya, and roughing it in the Kalahari desert. By Catrina Stewart
What was it like growing up in Kenya? Early memories of Kenya fall into the three categories which stimulate them: sight, sound and smell. So, watching the Nairobi-Mombasa road unspool behind me as we drove to the Coast is one. I’d have been about five or six years old at the time and looking out from the back cubby hole of Dad’s Volkswagen Beetle. Mum says I used to sing most of the way (five hours in those days) but I don’t recall that. Then there are the smells, two in particular. First, the mineral whiff of raindrops on parched, red soil. It is so distinct and will never leave me. Then, the heady scent of the bush, especially the pungent perfume of wild lantana under a hot sun. Similarly unforgettable. Finally the sounds of cicadas during the day and the cacophony of pings and chirrups you hear around dusk. An atmospheric symphony you don’t really get in the UK. Your last trip? I don’t travel as much as I did when I was cricket correspondent of a national newspaper, but the last place I visited, which required a flight, was Sardinia for a charity golf tournament. Hot and dry, it could have been
the hills south of Machakos were it not for the luxury super yachts of [Russian] oligarchs moored nearby. Prior to that, I visited Oman, where the mountains give the country a grandeur missing in places like Dubai. The place you’ve felt happiest I’ve just read a book which reckons happiness is nearly always fleeting and that it has little to do with place, job, salary and everything to do with biology. I recall being happy in Kenya as a child but my dad was killed in a car crash there, so there is a sadness attached to the place as well. I live in Cambridge now, which is a beautiful city and feel reasonably content. But it has none of the thrills of Kenya at its best, even if I do prefer the beer! Describe a memorable holiday Holidays in Kenya were always with my parents and usually to the Coast. Under my own steam, I recall two memorable trips; one to South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela); the other driving around Botswana and Namibia, and the Kalahari desert, with my sister and her friends (they were teaching in Gaborone at the time). Neither journey
possessed an iota of luxury but both enriched the soul. Favourite hotel I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels, mostly through my jobs as a cricketer then as a journalist, and most blur into a generic idea of a room in a four-star hotel. Ones that stand out, for whatever reason, are the Sunhouse and Galle Fort Hotels in Galle, Sri Lanka; Peponi in Lamu; Taj Mahal Palace (old wing), Mumbai; and the Vineyard in Cape Town. Favourite view The view of King’s College, Cambridge from the Backs and the sight of Mt Kilimanjaro, snowcapped, on a cloudless day from Amboseli, preferably with a big tusker (the pachyderm, not the beer) in the foreground. What do you never travel without? A corkscrew cum bottle opener. Guilty pleasure? My guilty pleasure is an ipod with some of my favourite music on it. At home, I listen mostly to vinyl records but the digital revolution does have its conveniences.
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
What I pack … for the beach Sunny Dolat is a Kenyan fashion stylist and creative director. Days on set can be intense, and holidays are an opportunity to switch off completely. He tells us what he never travels without.
Large Weekender bag Ksh21,900
Cotton silk kikoy. I got this from Biashara Street in Mombasa. Kikoys are incredibly versatile. They can be worn like a scarf, or tied round like a wrap
Wooden sunglasses, by Swedish designer Carl Oaks. I don’t think there’s anything that says “holiday” like sunglasses.
Iphone. I always make a playlist before I travel. My Lamu playlist for instance, is a whole lot of stuff from Little Dragon, Meklit Hadero, Fatoumata Diawara and Habib Koite.
Kaftan by Afrostreet Kollections. I’ve been wearing kaftans for a long time, and enjoy the freedom of a kaftan. Sometimes I’ll pack nothing else but three kaftans, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
Eau de Cologne. I take Grey Vetiver and Noir by Tom Ford. I have a terrible habit of travelling with two. I like something light and fresh during the day, and something spicier and darker for the evening.
NAIROBI: The Hub, Junction, Sarit Centre, Village Market, Yaya Centre, Westgate DAR ES SALAAM: Slipway
NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
TWINS GO GLAMPING Laura Darby Singh takes her twins to a luxury camp in Nanyuki but soon feels the chill.
enya is brimming with places an easy drive away, and having friends in town was the perfect excuse to bring our twins north to Nanyuki. The roads are paved, and, on a good day, one can get there in less than three hours. We had learned from our most recent trip to Watamu, and this time packed the baby monitor, with the hope of eating at least one dinner sans babies. By driving, we weren’t limited in our packing of everything else, too, a fact easily evidenced by the boot of our van. With four adults and two babies, it felt like we had enough luggage for two weeks instead of two days. Car seats are built to keep babies safe. They are not built to fit easily into awkward spaces, and most “rugged” Kenyan vehicles, with their haphazardly-placed seating and absent seatbelts, make the process of installing said car seats rather stressful. I use a friendly taxi company to get to Nanyuki because it is cheap, but it’s a mistake I don’t think I’ll make again, post-baby. But the ride north was uneventful, as the twins have inherited my husband’s knack for falling asleep in any moving vehicle. Our journey dragged on, thanks to our discount jalopy, but the twins slept all the way through to our lunchtime stop, Barney’s, at the Nanyuki airstrip just south of the town. Nanyuki is in the shade of Mount Kenya, and that shade lent a chill to the air even as we alighted from the van for lunch. But I
had packed their little hoodies, and we ate delicious pizza, laughing at the expressions the twins made upon hearing their first plane land. We planned to spend our time at Sweetwaters Tented Camp inside the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Sweetwaters is one of my favorite places in all of Kenya, not only because it offers the chance to see chimpanzees, but there is something really special about pulling open your curtains in the morning and seeing the wildlife outside your front door. We requested the tent closest to the main house, hoping to be within range of our baby monitor when in the dining room. I felt like one of those old steamer trunk grannies as we were escorted to our tent. Perhaps I had been able to hide our vast quantities of stuff by squeezing it into the boot, but the inefficiency of our packing could not be disguised by the long line of porters bringing our abundance of things to the tent. Sweetwaters was incredibly helpful, comforting since it was the first destination in our post-baby adventures we had visited that was without easy access to our own kitchen and laundry facilities. They offered to bring a mini fridge for our baby bottles, and sterilised our used bottles and pump parts in their kitchen. And, when we realized that the range of the baby monitor didn’t quite reach the dining room, they sent someone to our tent to monitor the boys while they slept so we could eat. Everything seemed perfect, and, filled with delicious food and the calm that comes from
being well cared for, we crawled into our large bed, finding lovely hot water bottles nestled within the sheets. I soon realised that a luxury tent is sadly still just a tent. The same cold breeze that had greeted us at Barney’s gusted through the edges around the closed panels at the sides of the tent, and I woke constantly, worrying about the babies being warm enough. I had packed so much, and yet had neglected to bring baby hats. A parent is constantly warned against babies smothering in the night, so, each time I awoke, I added another layer of frugal protection over my little twins, starting with their crocheted car seat blankets, transitioning to bathroom towels, and finally, fretfully, at 2am, putting our own hot water bottles next to them in the bassinet. At 4am, we gave up and brought them into bed with us, holding them close to share our body heat, trying to forget the hundreds of warnings we had heard about co-sleeping. Morning came and we opened our curtains to a procession of zebras and giraffe marching gracefully across our vista. We held the boys close and pointed out all of the animals to them as the cool morning dew touched our skin. They smiled – one of their new tricks – and we felt so grateful to be in Kenya with them. We thanked Sweetwaters for taking such good care of us, but booked our second night in Nanyuki at the Mt Kenya Safari Club, and set the in-room fireplace with excess wood for the evening. Sometimes, African splendour is easier to appreciate from a cosy room.
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NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017
The tough life
OF A BLOGGER By Frances Woodhams
ravel and lifestyle blogger Angel is planning to make it big. It’s just that the journey is proving a little hard. After weeks of outfit preparation and planning, Angel’s domestic flight to Kisumu is delayed. She is seen pacing the departure lounge, complaining loudly on the phone to her bestie, bemoaning the fact that the flight is so late that she’s going to miss the sunset (the Holy Grail of instagrammable posts). Stakes are high. Angel wants to be nominated for a blog award so she needs good content. “This travel post is, like, the whole reason I booked the trip!” Later, Angel enters the hotel juggling suitcases while taking pics and recording selfie videos on her smartphone. Fellow guests vaguely wonder if she’s a celebrity but if so, where is her entourage? At the front desk, Angel insists on a room with a view. The receptionist explains that this is a budget hotel with no views to speak of, yet Angel is undeterred. “Don’t you know I’m a blogger, with 20k followers? Just one post on my website would blow this place up!” The receptionist looks alarmed before Angel adds, “Like, in a good way.” There’s a lot of unpacking and organising to do in the room. Angel checks the likes on all of her channels and throws a few back at her fans. She falls asleep cocooned in full face mask and hair wrap. Tomorrow will be a big day. At breakfast, Angel balances on a chair to take an overhead shot of her food. A waiter hovers, ready to catch her when she falls. She’s wearing a floaty dress and gladiator sandals and has already taken 20 toe selfies against a blue sky. She may still change her nail varnish to see if a different colour works better with the day’s vibe. Angel’s friend, Tony, comes to the hotel to meet for lunch. They greet one another amid a flurry of hugs and air kissing. However, the mood doesn’t last long when Angel balls him out for biting into his burger before she had a chance to photograph it. He hesitates before taking the next mouthful. “I could order another,” he offers. Before he knows it, Tony is roped into an impromptu photo shoot. Angel orders white wine so that she can take a photo of the sky through the glass, then proceeds to carry it around as a prop. Next, she splashes in the
hotel pool while Tony is relegated to dry land with the camera in order to take the perfect hair flick, bikini, belfie pic. After an hour and much discomfort, Angel is still unhappy with the pictures and suggests a change of venue. “I don’t like that view of my butt, my hair is not on fleek, my makeup ran.” Undaunted, Angel is keen to keep going. “Let’s head into town for a street style feature?” Tony, downing the warm glass of wine, suggests that Angel goes solo into town and, after another of her outfit changes, pushes her into a waiting tuk-tuk with a smile and a wave.
“Gotta catch up with some friends,” he says. “Sorry I didn’t get the pics you wanted.” Angel seems unfazed. “I’m definitely going to profile you in my next post,” she says between takes of live vlog recording. “It’s okay, really, I’m good.” Tony says. The noisy tuk-tuk engine starts up. Angel is arranging her hair and looking at her phone as the vehicle lurches forward. “Thanks so much, Tony. Oh, and don’t forget to vote, like, share, subscribe...” Frances is author of blog www.africanexpatwivesclub.com
Forodhani House, Shella Beach, Lamu, Kenya www.forodhanihouse.com For reservations: email@example.com NOMAD MAGAZINE MAY 2017 Tel : +254 718 407 480, +33 612 548 184
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Our third issue of Nomad Magazine, we bring you a fun and adventure packed issue. From quad biking, white water rafting, Rhino charge and so...