Travelog February Issue: Discover Romance Unbridled

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Discover romance unbridled Follow us on: @TravelogKe @TravelogMag TravelogKe


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Find romance in travel



ULTIMATE ESCAPE Pg 8-9 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ochieng Rapuro GROUP EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND HEAD OF NEWS: Kipkoech Tanui MANAGING EDITOR: Denis Galava I EDITOR: Thorn Mulli SUB EDITOR: Sandra Mulluka EDITOR, PARTNERSHIPS AND PROJECTS: Andrew Kipkemboi MANAGER, PRINT CREATIVE: Dan Weloba DESIGNERS: Alice Ariri, Amusolo Odima, Benson Gathemia, Paul Ndiangúi, Tracy Bett, Virginia Borura, CONTRIBUTORS: Jayne Rose Gacheri, Josaya Wasonga, Jimmy Mwangi, Ivy Waridi, Sylvia

Tonui, Tamara Britten, Tony Mochama,l Travel Buff PHOTOGRAPHY: David Gichuru, Wilberforce Okwiri BRAND MANAGER: Seth Enos | DISTRIBUTION LEAD: Duncan Murei BUSINESS MANAGER: Francis Wambua Registered at the GPO as a newspaper. The Standard is printed and published by the proprietors THE STANDARD GROUP PLC Email: Follow us on Instagram: @TravelogKe Twitter: @TravelogMag Facebook: TravelogKe Website:

I bet that ‘romance’ will be the most uttered word this seasonafter ‘love’ of course. Kenyan men, unfortunately, have oft’ been accused of being adept at proclaiming the latter, but lacking in the former. From my observation, men fear this word because they attach a cost to it. The need to keep up with the Joneses with extravagant displays of affection has forced many to retreat fearing they will fall short. I have to admit that I have fallen prey to Valentine’s Day pressure more then once. This one time, racing against time, I made an impulsive online gift purchase to avoid looking bad. As expected, this particular outlet popular for His/her gifts was having a field day packed with last minute orders that they were understandably having trouble delivering. I cannot forget the flustered faces of the comrades-in-gifts, who had thronged the shop’s office, I met when I collected my order physically. While I do not beat myself for going the mile, I am miffed that I had to wait until the last minute to act. I am also not proud that my rushed gift was not the quality befitting the receiver. I reckon this tale sounds familiar and mirrors the attitude that causes anxiety every holiday season. A new year and are we wiser? After carefully analysing the meaning of romance “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love/ quality or feeling of excitement and remoteness from everyday life”, I figured that we

have been looking at this term all wrong. A well-thought out gesture away from regular life is a step in the right direction. As we planned for this Valentine’s edition, we sought to create a magazine laden with fine ideas of romance. Why don’t you look for romance in travel for a change? We have dreamy tales of people who found love on the road. To make it easy for you, we have travel recommendations suiting all budgets for your benefit. My personal favourite is a pukka gift idea that has been sitting right under our noses. In addition, ladies, remember that men too need love. You have exactly one week to think out of the box. If you have not made plans yet and in need of a fitting plan, I will start you off-consider attending one of the four Romeo and Julliet ballet performances at the Kenya National Theatre over Valentine’s Day Weekend. This promises to be a treat because Joel Kioko will be returning home to dance the role of Romeo. You can learn more of his inspirational journey from Kuwinda slum to a fullscholarship student the famous English National Ballet School in the short film Joel’s Story, which can be found on YouTube. Additionally, playwright and actor John Sibi Okumo will be performing as Lord Capulet, alongside Jazz Moll, director of the Youth Theatre of Kenya, playing Prince Escalus.

Thorn Mulli


The Standard [David Gichuru]


Kenya Airways cabin crew pictured with the event MC, Sheila Mwanyigha.

Marissa Alvarez,Daniella Perez and Anasoti Arechiga from Mexico

Chief Administrative Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife I.G (Rtd), Joseph Boinnet shakes hand with Chairman Radisson Blu Aboretum and Residence, Rasik Kantaria, as Director Radisson Blu Jayantilal Hindocha looks on.

Lawyer Stanley Kangahi, EABL Reserve Accounts Manager Anthony Owich and Radisson Blu Arboretum’s Marketing Manager Randy Ngala Keith Khoo celebrates his 47th birtday with Joyce Lin from Singapore during the launch ceremony

Radisson Blu & Residence client assistants Faith Alele, Melab Aseneka, and Sharon Abuonji

Callistus Lukuyu and Medrin Gitau with sample hors d’oeuvres for the evening

Roselynn Gatheru,Claire Gatheru and Joy Mumbi of Kenya Tourism Board.






Take a selfie with the February issue and share it on email or on our social media platforms for a chance to win a pair of Imax movie tickets. 50 pairs of tickets up for grabs.


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SPLENDID SPACES Follow us on Instagram: @TravelogKe Twitter: @TravelogMag Facebook: Travelog Ke Website:

A peek into KQ’s Premium Lounges Travellers on transit can enjoy the exclusive comfort of these lounges as they wait to catch their next flight. Pride Lounge, which is the flagship lounge, and Simba Lounge are both located at Terminal 1A of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The two lounges have a more than 300-seating capacity. The Kenya Airways Lounge is open to all SkyTeam Business Class and SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers, plus premium passengers on Air Mauritius, Precision Air, and RwandAir. The lounge is open daily from 5am until midnight. Travellers of economy class who wish to access the lounge can purchase a day pass at Sh4,000 for adults and Sh2,000 for children for a duration of eight hours. This is a day pass entry, as overnight stay is not permitted. Some of the amenities available • Wheelchair accessible • Flight display monitor • Free high speed Wi-Fi • Newspapers and magazines • Napping room • Smoking room • Hot showers • Complimentary hot meals • Afternoon snacks • Beer & Wine • Alcoholic Drinks • Soft Drinks


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Take a virtual tour of Kenya’s history Experience the country’s diverse cultures and heritage digitally By Caroline Chebet


magine taking a tour of Kenya from the Coast to the North Eastern desert in just one day. Sounds impossible, right? Well, Google Arts and Culture got your back. Traverse the country’s ragged terrains, meet people of different cultures and even step back into time to peek through the cradle of mankind, and onto the the rich landscapes by the click of a button. Through the recently launched large-scale digitisation project between the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage and Google Arts and Culture, enthusiasts can, in a less busy day, take this virtual journey by clicking on Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the Kenyan People under Google Arts and Culture.

‘Travelog’ takes you through Utamaduni wetu to explore and virtually interact with the legends who have the speed of cheetah, the agility of a cobra and even bravery of a lion. Meet the 21 Shujaas, the superheroes whose names stand bold in the Kenyan history, from Abba Gadas the ancient Borana leader to Cierume the Embu dancing warrior and even Lenana the wise Maasai and Luanda Magere the invincible Luo warrior. Meet Gor Mahia, the powerful Luo magician and learn why herbalists

still visit his grave. Talk about Hawecha the Oromo dreamer, one of the first women leaders who still reign with her story among famous ones told by Oromo people. Her legend has been kept alive after the first school built in Marsabit was named after her.

Feel inspired by Mekatilili Wa Menza, the Giriama wonder woman said to be one of Kenya’s earlies freedom fighters who still reigns history through Mekatilili wa Menza festival held every year in her memory. Ever wondered of the stature at new Syokimau Standard Gauge Railway Station? Look no further-

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meet Syokimau the Kamba Oracle who foretold the building of the railway with ‘unmatched accuracy’. The great Kamba prophetess and medicine woman predicted the railway near the skyscrapers and today, her sculpture grace Syokimau. Other superheroes that still rule history and are lined up include Mangeka wa Malowa, the magnificient Taita warrior, Nabongo Mumia, the Wanga noble, Otenyo Nyamanetere the Kisii warrior, Mukite wa Namene, Mugo wa Kibiru, Koitalel arap Samoei and many others. From meeting the superheroes, the virtual journey takes us to the roots, rhythms and records through music and dance. Feel artistic and hum to Maasai’s Engilakinoto as you peruse through, looking at the musical instruments that once united communities across. From the Kipgigis flute, Rabai whistle, Samia horn trumpet to Kikuyu witchdoctor’s horn, Kuria horn and dance mask, the Swahili siwa horn and many others, one can virtually bring to life ‘when music was music’ phrase to life. In this endless virtual thriller, you can literally feel the music of the Pokomo, the community whose lullaby inspired the Kenyan National anthem. Learn of how the national anthem was borrowed from the Pokomo lullaby and composed by Mzee Menza Marowa Galana of Makere village. One can also explore music of the Isukha community, discover traditional dances and costumes of the Turkana community, explore Kikuyu song and dance and even discover the traditional music and instruments of the Luo community. From traditional music and dance, one can also flip through the contemporary fun fierce and frivolous creatives. Virtual tours also lead us to fish with the Elmolo community, check out Ogiek traditional fashions, meet with Samburu the butterfly people, learn of Kuria marriage tradition and even get ‘healed’ the Pokomo way though their traditional medicine and herbs. Learn of the musical myths of the Kipsigis and check on the female potters of Digo and even journey though Kenya’s seven Unesco World heritage sites.


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Trends that will shape travel in 2020 and beyond SPORTS TOURISM

Kenya continues to dominate the global sports arena and particularl athletics. After the feat by world record holder Eliud Kipchoge to run a 42-kilometre marathon in under two hours, 1:59 to be precise, Kenya affirmed her position as undisputed champ. No doubt athletics scouts will troop to visit the “Home of Champions.”


FOODIE CRAWLS Imagine going on a trip just to sample different foods. Yes, this is the new fad – where you visit as many restaurants and/or eateries as you want sampling all manner of foods. A food crawl is the ultimate experience for a true foodie. In Kenya, such tours have been made popular by the Google Local Guides, who arrange for meet-ups just to scour the food scene and rate their experiences on Google Maps for other travellers.


CLIMATE CHANGE You must have heard of the Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg who has become a global sensation thanks to her aggressive campaign on climate change. More people now want to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible in their travels. Kenya has already jumped on this bandwagon by banning the use of plastic bags while legislation is being drafted to prohibit use of plastic bottles in all hospitality joints including the national parks.

Travellers are becoming more and more conscious about their eating habits. In addition to this, more people are now shunning meats, forcing hotels to adjust their menus accordingly. Recently, UK opened its first 100 per cent vegan hotel. Wildlife and beaches are no longer key selling points for tourism. Travel is now more experiential – it is about culture, local foods, and native language. A team of African Americans trooped to Ghana to celebrate victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave. Might they head to Kenya next to see the cradle of mankind or maybe one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the Mara? Who knows?

FLY IN STYLE Flying is meant to get you to your destination in the quickest way possible. Soon though, flying will become a lifestyle. Some long-haul flights will include yoga cubicles and communal dining. Some airlines are even proposing to turn cargo holds into rest rooms with bunk beds and children’s play areas. The sky, it appears, is the limit.




Since Airbnb hit the travel scene, more and more visitors seem to prefer this option rather than book their vacations in hotels. Imagine going on a vacation and on arrival at your destination, you are picked up at the airport by an entire family who then proceed to drive you their home via the local store to grab a pack of your favourite cereal. Nothing to imagine here since this is already the trend in places like Naivasha, Kilifi and Laikipia.


n the digital age, technology dictates how we travel for leisure. Traditional hotel stays may have to take a back seat as people seek out-of-the-box options. Read on and see how things we took for granted such as climate change might just influence your next holiday.

That baby you carried in your arms some years back is now the new age traveller – a tech-savvy youngling calling the shots on the family’s vacation choices. A stay in a hotel in keeping with the family’s age-old tradition is not their idea of fun. One key requirements of these young travellers is an reliable internet connection to keep abreast of the outside world. A good Wi-Fi connection tops the list of ‘luxury’ items in any hospitality facility. This is the generation that inquires about internet connectivity when they check into a hospital!


CARE FOR A SPACE TRIP? British billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic hopes to start a 90-minute hop into space this year. Looking for a tipple in space? Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a ride of your life.

Packing essentials for a two-night vacation may seem ridiculous, but it is very doable. A basic backpack has ample space for for a week away from home. After all, the early explorers and missionaries travelled from far and wide and for days with only a few accessories. Carrying less gives one the mental and physical freedom to manoeuvre around in a quest to explore and connect with nature.


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Kenya got a Chile hold on me Guerra Ferraz De Andrade

The moment she set foot on Kenyan soil, Chilean envoy loved the place and asked that she be posted here By Nadine Hosney


efore being posted as an ambassador, I had visited Kenya quite a few times and fell in love with it; so much so that I actually requested to be posted here. It’s only been ten months since my posting to Kenya, but it feels like home. When I arrived for my posting in March last year, it took me nearly three hours from the airport to my house. The traffic jam was horrendous! Despite that, however, I was able to enjoy the drive through the city and remembered why I had wanted to come here. The first places I ever visited in Kenya were the National Park, Giraffe Centre and David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage where I even adopted an elephant! I went on a tourist tour with a friend who came to visit me, and we spent a whole day exploring the wondrous places that this country has. One thing I absolutely love about Kenya is the friendly people. People here greet you so warmly and are always willing to help. It’s very rare to see that in this day and age. The landscape is another aspect about this country that I adore. There’s everything in Kenya – forests, mountains, beaches – anything you could ever wish for, you can find it here. I know many people have said this before, but I will say it again: the climate here is to die for! While there are no actual seasons here, I would classify the Kenyan climate as eternal spring. The


flowers are always blooming, the grass is always green and the air is full of scents of the earth. In my short time here, I have been to Mombasa, and gone on safaris to Maasai Mara and Elephant Bedroom in Samburu. It’s difficult to choose a favourite spot from the ones I have visited because all of them are unique in their own way. It depends on where you go, with whom you travel with and what you see in that particular trip. However, the one experience that stands out for me is the hot air balloon safari in Maasai Mara. I have never seen such exquisite beauty in my life as when I was gazing at the landscape of Kenya from high up that balloon. I was blown away, literally. To be in a place where you can stretch out your arm and almost touch the wild animals is beyond magical – it’s nothing like I have ever experienced before. There are so many places that I want to visit and explore here! Top on my bucket list is Mount Kenya and Northern Kenya. I have also heard raving reviews about Diani beach so I plan to tour the area very soon. For anybody planning on visiting Kenya for the first time I would highly recommend that you make Maasai Mara your first stop. It is a truly enchanting place that leaves such an imprint on you that you will end up going there more than once. Travelling by road is my preferred mode of transport because I get to enjoy the scenery and the spectacular landscape. Of course it takes longer than other means, but you get to interact with more people and also get to see so much more, especially during the stopovers where you can make impromptu sleepovers. There’s no place like Kenya, and I hope to be here for some more years.

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HIDDEN GEMS By Tamara Britten


BETTY’S SUITE Overlooking the shimmering sea, Betty’s Suite in Lamu offers complete privacy with breathtaking views. The spacious deck ends in an infinity pool that drops off into the ocean below. The bedroom opens onto the veranda and the inviting bath has a view across the channel. The suite is designed in sleek Swahili craft and furnished with antiques that evoke the times of the trade routes. Sample the seafood and take a dhow cruise along the channel.

DESERT ROSE Sweep your true love to the far north of Kenya for a stay at the exquisite Desert Rose. The camp situated high on Mt Nyiro, is miles from civilisation and has sweeping views over the dramatic deserts of northern Kenya. With only five cottages, each entirely secluded from the others, the camp offers complete privacy to residents. Meals crafted from organic produce can be served on the deck of the guests’ cottage. In the event guests can tear themselves from the incredible views, activities include safari drives, nature walks and visits to Turkana and Samburu villages.

Fall in love with Kenya’s most romantic camps ELSA’S KOPJE Named after Elsa, the lioness of Born Free fame who was raised by Joy and George Adamson, this camp evokes romance and legend. Set on Meru’s lush forested slopes, this collection of exclusive cottages is a haven of peace. Each of the eight designer cottages has complete privacy and arresting views. This winner of multiple awards is surrounded by giant baobabs and doum palms. For an ultimate romantic experience, why not take Elsa’s Honeymoon Suite?

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OL DONYO In the heart of the Chyulu Hills, peaks so loved by Ernest Hemmingway that he named them the Green Hills of Africa and penned a whole novel about them, is ol Donyo Lodge. All six suites and one villa not only have their own private plunge pools, but have roof terraces where romantic starbeds give guests the chance of sleeping under the stars. Meals can be served in the privacy of the guests’ suite or in the expansive dining area. The wealth of activities includes game drives, hiking, horse riding, mountain biking and animal tracking. There’s even the option of fly camping for those who want a truly secluded experience.

BORANA Set amidst the rolling hills and sweeping plains of Borana Conservancy on the edge of the Samangua Valley, Borana has views of the glaciers gleaming on the peaks of Mt Kenya. The eight cottages are individually designed and totally secluded, giving the guests much-needed privacy. While a holiday here would be impeccable enjoying the views from your cottage, there’s lots of things to do. Activities include game viewing, mountain biking, horse riding and entering into life on a functioning ranch.


LENTORRE Head across the sleek salt plains of Lake Magadi, continue southwards to Kenya’s dusty swathes of arid lands, and you’ll find Lentorre. This secluded oasis of luxury has six expansive cottages ensconced on the escarpment with views all the way to the horizon. The bedroom, lounge and even bathroom of each of these spacious cottages open up to the views of the plains. The expansive decks have a private plunge pool where you can wallow in while watching the plentiful game strolling across the lodge.

This camp, designed as a dreamy private home, spares no attention to detail. Set in the game-rich Mara North Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the camp overlooks Njageteck River and the tents serve as viewing sites for animals that come to drink water. The seven spacious tents are adorned with handpicked furniture. African antiques, local art, and the décor all adorn this wilderness paradise. For the ultimate indulgence, go for a game drive as the sun sinks in the horizon then treat your loved one to a candlelit dinner in the bush under the expansive African skies.

SASAAB LOISABA STARBEDS For something completely different why not treat your loved one to a night under the stars? Loisaba’s starbeds are exquisite four-poster beds raised high on platforms under the starry skies. The attached sitting area has a thatched roof and bathroom. Imagine lying high above the bush listening to the coos of nightjars, the howls of hyenas and the hooting of owls as you sink into plentiful pillows and gaze into the night sky.

High above the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, Sasaab commands breath-taking views across Samburu’s arid yet stunning landscape. Apart from luxury of the nine open-plan cottages designed in sophisticated Moroccan style with whitewashed arches and sleek furnishings, treat your loved one to an afternoon at the the lodge’s spa that indulges you in Liz Earle’s organic skincare products.

SARUNI SAMBURU This camp has jaw-dropping views across Samburu’s stark red rocks to the snowy peaks of Mt Kenya and sacred Mt Ololokwe. The four spacious houses open onto formidable views that tempt guests to loll on the plush four-poster bed or sip a gin and tonic on the expansive deck and gaze across the savannah. Each house is designed for elegance and exclusivity, and decorated with antique chests, Afghan rugs and handcrafted furnishings.


Love kindled

on the road By Jayne Rose Gacheri


hen your first date is spent ziplining and the next one skydiving, naturally, your love journey will be dotted with escapades and adventure trips, some of them extreme exploits,” Wamuyu Kariuki, 45, tells me. We’re having lunch

at Sacho, one of the better-known eateries at the Tanzania-Namanga border. That is how Wamuyu begins her story of what it is like being a Kenyan couple travelling the world on motorcycles. As we settle down, she tells me that she is married to Dos Kariuki, 34, “the wheel spanner of my life”. They have been travelling together for one year and six months, and will be doing this for the next three years. I inquire from her how workable the prospect of an African couple spending every day in each other’s faces is. She beams and whispers, “We rode into each other’s hearts – that is the

best place that the bikes have taken us. The sweetest part of our love story is that we have been riding together ever since we met for our first date.” Wamuyu explains that they are on a four-year mission to conquer the world riding motorcycles and to discover couplehood as well. Wamuyu and Dos’ (which means two in Spanish) love story was brewed at a bikers’ event in January 2016. “We met, our eyes locked, we were love-struck and the rest is history,” says a grinning Wamuyu. The openminded couple enjoy travelling, especially on – no surprises for guessing this one – motorcycles. “We want to explore and see the world with our own eyes, make our own experiences, savour foreign countries, cultures, and traditions, and tell the story of our beloved country to the world. We want people to hear the story of Kenya from Kenyans,” says Wamuyu. How it all started In 2015, three months before they met, Dos rode from Kenya to South Africa and back on his 180cc bike, covering 12 countries. In July 2017, Wamuyu took up a challenge from Dos and went on a

solo adventure riding a motorcycle to Tanzania through the Namanga border. “I rode across Tanzania to Kigoma, Lake Tanganyika and on to Mwanza and then through the Isebania border before detouring to Kisumu and back to Nairobi,” says Wamuyu. In 10 days, she covered a distance of 3,100km. It was then that the couple discovered they shared a passion for travel beyond the Kenyan borders, beyond prejudices and the usual comfort zones. “We wanted something that would cement our relationship,” emphasises Dos, adding

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that her solo long-distance ride gave her confidence to buy into his idea of riding together across countries and continents. After several deliberations, Dos and Wamuyu decided to risk everything for this lifetime dream. They moved in together and began preparations. Wamuyu, who worked in human resources, took up the task of planning while Dos, a finance person, took up the task of financial matters. The couple spent two years saving and researching on how to go about a world tour using motorbikes. The planning took into account the types of bikes that they needed and their maintenance. “Some motorcycles are expensive to buy but cheaper to maintain, while others are the exact opposite,” explains Dos, noting that they also had to look at the types of routes that would work based on the terrain and visa restrictions (the Kenyan passport is not very strong, even when travelling to other African countries). “We realised that our path was unique since similar journeys rarely begin in African countries,” says Dos. Everybody, they read about, had started in Europe, the USA and Australia. Other considerations included the weather, their two teenage children, the luggage to carry and how to deal with emergencies. “The beauty about planning this venture together is that it enabled as to grow as a couple as our dating and marriage happened during the planning of the world trip,” explained Wamuyu. From the onset, the couple knew

that the success of the undertaking depended on their being together and so far, they have kept it that way – glued to each other. “But first things first, we had to take our vows,” says Dos, adding that he wed the love of his life on April 2, 2017. The following year, on July 2, the couple departed for the unknown after an emotional send off. Taking the plunge Decision made, a budget, money saved (Sh26 million) and information in hand, now wedded, the couple did what they had postponed – letting their loved ones know about their upcoming world expedition on motorbikes. It was not difficult for Dos’ family (three sisters), who live abroad and are well travelled. The challenge was Wamuyu’s family. “We thought the hardest to deal with would be our two teenage children (daughter aged 19 and son aged 16 years), but on the contrary, they were very supportive. It was my mother and sisters who had a difficult time dealing with our news,” Wamuyu narrates. The couple was, however, intent on their decision and eventually won over the hesitant family members. With their blessings, they sold everything they owned and were ready to take off. The first leg through the African continent saw them bike through Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. They have been on the road on their bikes for 18 months now. “We are stronger, our energies are enormous and we are more determined than ever to keep on track,” says Wamuyu. And they epitomise their love in their smiles, the way they look at each other, their shared jokes, and the special bond and warmth they express.



Tracking the Tsavorite tale By Thorn Mulli

Looking for the perfect gemstone for your bejewelled trinket box? Try a little something that will leave them green with envy


diamond is forever. The phrase coined in the 1940s epitomises the place of gemstones, promising endless romance and companionship. Gemstones have long held cultural significance in the fashion world as dazzling accessories and signifiers of important milestones. From classic sparkles to exotic hues, gemstone jewellery can amplify personal style, perfect an outfit, and make a meaningful gift or keepsake. It is worth noting that while diamonds are probably the most coveted gemstones, there exist rarer gemstones of higher value like the black opal, Jadeite, Alexandrite, Red Beryl, and Taaffeite. Kenya boasts 10 known naturally occurring gemstones – from pink rubies in the Baringo area, colourchanging garnets in Taita Taveta to the spectacular yellow sapphire mined in the remote Garbatula region. February holds claim to being the month of love, courtesy of a Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome. In honour of the month, we set out to find the perfect Valentine’s Day gift from the navel of Kenya’s gemstone capital. Mining in Kenya dates back to 1954, but

no other region has owned the gem narrative more than Taita Taveta County. With the help of a local-based tour company, we embarked on a safari like no other. Essence of the Tsavorite Experience tour Mined only in Kenya, Tsavorite is an ancient gemstone that is exceptionally rare. Also known as the green grossular garnet, Tsavorite boasts a vivid radiant green that makes it so desirable. Trace amounts of vanadium or chromium provide the green colour. Tsavorite is neither burnt or oiled and does not need any treatment. Only a small amount of fine Tsavorite crystals are found each year and many of these are no more than chippings. Good-sized one to two-carat fine stones are difficult to get and two-plus carat fine Tsavorites are very rare indeed. Still, this beautiful green January birthstone is used for heirlooms and unique souvenirs, making it a must-have for any jewellery lover’s collection. As expected, this gem does not come cheap with good-quality pieces costing up-

Inside the dark Mkuki Ranch mines.



wards of Sh800,000 a carat. The Tsavorite Experience in Taita Taveta County is a full-day tour that introduces the history of this magnificent mineral, including how it was discovered and first mined. You get to see for yourself how each precious gem is graded and cut, and can ogle the Tsavorite up close by handling rough and polished stones. Once you have a true appreciation of this gem, you can spoil yourself by purchasing a genuine, well-cut and certified piece. Tsavorite origins Scottish-born Kenyan gemologist Campbell Bridges came across the Tsavorite in 1961 in Zimbabwe. In his words: “So one Sunday, when I was off duty, I set out to explore an area near the top of these hills. As I was making my way up the edge of a steep gully, an old rogue buffalo charged out of the bush at me. I jumped down into the gully. The buffalo followed me in a menacing manner along the edge of the ravine for a while, then gave up and went off into the bush. I continued upward, inspecting the rock exposures in the bottom and sides of the gully. Where it neared the top of the hill, I found an outcrop that contained small bright green crystals. This was my first encounter with green garnet.” Campbell would later encounter the gem in 1967 in Tanzania, 100 kilometres southwest of Kilimanjaro near an area called Komolo. He would later move to Kenya after losing his claim following nationalisation of mines. In Kenya, he encountered similaroccurring hills to those of Komolo and continued with his mining exploits. According to Campbell, Henry B Platt, then the president of Tiffany & Co, had taken a keen interest in his discoveries and figured time was ripe for its naming. Since modern mineralogical nomenclature dictates that the naming of a mineral must end with ‘ite’ and Tsavo the obvious locality choice, the duo named the magnificent fiery green gemstone ‘Tsavorite’. The year was 1973. But as is the case with most novel ideas, the romantic tale of this find more or less ended with the naming of the gem. What followed in the following halfcentury is stuff of the movies. We are talking a rags-to-riches story punctuated by chilling undertones of witchcraft, vested political interference, and forceful gangland-style takeovers of mines that culminated in the murder of Campbell on August 11, 2009. Voi gemstone cutting and value addition centre Voi town hosts its very own gemstone centre. While the Sh50 million facility is yet to officially begin operations (it was scheduled to launch in May 2019), it welcomes visitors who are keen on learning more about gems mined from the locality. Once fully operational, the centre is to offer stone cutting and polishing, a gemstone laboratory, an exhibition, as well booths where buyers and sellers can trade safely under the watchful eye of Big

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Brother. It is important to note that this is the only public centre in the country where value addition will be done before the sale of minerals. Certification, as well as transport services, will also be available. The centre’s director is Edward Omito, a geologist who explained the facility’s mandate and took us round. According to Mr Omito, the centre is the government’s way of lawfully recognising small-scale miners who have in the past received little support. Their exclusion has come at a steep price as the nation has lost significant tax revenues from the gem that is shipped out of the country in illicit trade, he says. It is not strange to find other nations passing off as theirs a gem that could only have been in Kenya. As Travelog would learn from the chair of the Taita Taveta Artisanal Miners Association, David Zowe, there exists three categories of miners in Kenya. You have your large-scale miners who are often giant multi-nationals, small-scale miners who have been running the Tsavorite trade since its discovery, and artisanal miners who employ rudimentary techniques for mineral extraction and often operate under hazardous, labour-intensive, highly disorganised and illegal conditions. What we laypersons considered small-scale miners were, before the Mining Act of 2016 came into effect, considered illegal miners. This group, consisting mostly of peasant miners termed offensively as ‘mazurura’, bore the brunt of the law for engaging in mining without permits. But that was nothing compared to how they were systematically ripped off by brokers who were their only link to the market. A new dawn awaits with this centre that is in talks with markets like Alibaba who will stock the precious com-

modity. The centre, with the help of volunteers drawn from the gemstone world, are already training women on jewellery making for free, as well as youth interested in cutting and polishing. The highlight of the trip was the cutting room where faceting, tumbling, cutting, heating treatments and related activities fashions raw stones into valuable pieces ready for setting on jewellery. Daring into dark mining pits The current blanket of green enveloping the landscape from Voi to gemstone-rich Mwatate can be deceiving because Taita Taveta County is largely semi-arid, with the exception of a few highland patches like Wundanyi and sections of Taveta where farming is conducted. As a result, extensive ranching of camel and beef cattle, wildlife tourism and the blessing of the Mozambique Belt are the viable economic activities. Thanks to the persistent rains these last few months, the only evidence of the situation on ground is the ubiquitous sisal plant that dots the landscape. So inhospitable is the region that our guide musingly announced that no sane Mtaita willingly worked in the area. Indeed, a majority of workers working in the sisal farms are drawn from other parts of Kenya, as are the miners and herders. One wrong turn and 43 kilometres later, and we arrived at our destination – Mkuki Ranch – where innumerable mines are based. Our interest was the Mkuki Mine where several hundred artisanal miners eke out a living under a community-based organisation called Chawia Minerals Association. After introductions, the organising secretary, Stephen Mwadime, went on to explain the kind of gemstones mined in the area, as well as helped us appreciate the uphill process of retrieving them from the pits.

Some of the gemstone processes at the Voi town cutting centre.

After the theory lesson, it was time to find out if I was claustrophobic by daring a tour of one of the mining pits stretching 200 metres underground. ‘No human is limited’ immediately came to mind as I stood in the belly of this marvel fashioned entirely by human hands. Chisels, headband lights, hammers, mattocks and spades are the tools of trade here. Maize and beans-based meals are the choice food to supply the energy needed to cut into stubborn rock following the ‘eye’ that leads to pockets of the precious stones. Clearly this line of work is not for the faint-hearted because apart from the pipes feeding oxygen into the pits, I could not help but notice the lack of safety equipment, such as helmets, gloves and breathing apparatus should the miners dig too deep and encounter poisonous gases.



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Countries visited so far 1. Uganda 2. Tanzania 3. Zanzibar 4. Rwanda 5. Malawi 6. Zambia 7. Zimbabwe 8. Botswana 9. Namibia 10. Lesotho 11. South Africa 12. Antarctica 13. Argentina 14. Chile 15. Bolivia 16. Peru 17. Ecuador 18. Colombia 19. Panama 20. Paraguay

Travelling together as a couple “We can wear the same T-shirts for an entire week, wash our underwear every night and as long as our bikes are running and our passports and finances are in order, we are barely alarmed,” says Wamuyu. Through travelling with her husband, Wamuyu has learned lessons that have made her a better person. “Before I met Dos, I had a fear of heights and my personal growth was limited by fear. In our travels, my husband has been a source of great inspiration,” says Wamuyu, adding that some of the things that he pushed her to do include ziplining, skydiving and of course long-distance biking through difficult terrain. “Now I am confident and I believe everything is possible,” she says. One of the most challenging and toughest experiences, she says, was crossing a wooden bridge on a bike in Malawi. When she saw the timber was on its last legs, fear paralysed her, she says. Her husband rode over and asked her to come over on the intercom but she could not. In the meantime, traffic was building up, so she moved off the road. “I realised that I had no choice and Dos was


not going to come for me as he knew I could do it,” Wamuyu reminisces. She finally did it, and that action, she says, took away her fear forever. Thanks to her husband, she can now face anything. Wamuyu also notes that she has learnt to be patient and calm because with her husband as her only companion and relative on the road, she has no other choice. “If I get annoyed, I have no option about who to turn to and if I have to release stress and deal with anger, it is just him around. I do not have space or any other person to go sulk to – there is only him 24/7, so I have to know and

deal with my emotions. I have learned to say sorry more times than I have ever said in my life,” she says laughing. Travelling with Wamuyu has given Dos insight into women’s emotions and taught him how to deal with them. “I do not run away when my wife becomes emotional but instead give her space,” he says, and by so doing, he has learnt how best to cultivate companionship and enjoy life with the love of his life. He adds that doing things together and sharing chores, as well as spending more quality time together has helped strengthen their relationship.

Know your birthstone

<<CONTINUED FROM PG 12 Mr Mwadime, who says that he cannot imagine himself doing anything else apart from mining, highlights the successes of the project that in its heyday earned at least 3,000 thousand youth an honest living. The area was also self-regulating, requiring no police intervention, with drug and alcohol abuse prohibited. So successful was the initiative that the area did not require propping up from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), as residents catered for the fees of needy students from among themselves. While he insists that mining is not seasonal, Mwadime admits that they have fallen on hard times because the depth of the mine is harder to deal with manually. While mining is ongoing, they are keen on drawing investment to modernise their operations. The miners’ only plea is that more Kenyans show interest in mining and that the value addition centre devolve its operations to cut out the brokers, or ‘papa’ as they are referred to in street lingo. As we left the mines, I could not help but wonder why Taita Taveta County has a zero mining budget while other counties that have little

Dos says riding being a predominately male domain, especially in Africa, and many people address Wamuyu as ‘sir’ when she is wearing her helmet. He gets thrilled and excited when women get inspired once they find out that she is a woman. “It makes me appreciate my wife and I have learned to honour her,” he says. Dos notes that many women have started riding because of her. “Such an achievement makes me proud of my wife and I get the urge to encourage, love and commit to her more,” he says.


Vacani Resort in Voi town.

to no mining activity have plumper budgets. So, before you walk into a jewellery store in search of a Valentine’s Day gift or the perfect engagement ring, why not consider this tour to appreciate the process and settle on an ethically sourced jewel.

Where to stay During my two-day tour, I stayed at Vacani Resort located on the highway, close to the turn off into Voi town. The 40-room resort in its third year of operation.

January – Garnet: For safety during travels – also a second-year anniversary gift February – Amethyst: Represents courage –sixth-year anniversary gift March – Aquamarine: Healing power – 19th-year anniversary gift April – Diamond: Enduring symbol of love – 10th and 60th-year anniversary gift May – Emerald: Love and fertility – 20thyear anniversary gift June – Pearl: Purity – third-year anniversary gift July – Ruby: Wards off evil – 15th-year anniversary gift August – Peridot (also called ‘evening emerald’ due to its light green colour): Strength – 16th-year anniversary gift September – Sapphire: Associated with royalty and guards against evil, especially poisoning – fifth-year anniversary gift October – Opal: Faithfulness and confidence – 14th-year anniversary gift November – Topaz: Love and affection – fourth-year anniversary gift December – Turquoise: Luck and success – 11th-year anniversary gift


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In search of the elusive

elephant shrew

Scurrying on the forest floor of Arabuko Sokoke is an animal whose chance sighting is worth the trouble By Jayne Rose Gacheri


efore embarking on the excursion to the famous Arabuko Sokoke Forest, I didn’t know what to expect, except that we were going to see a rare creature that is only found in this indigenous forest. In my mind, I had already envisioned how this animal would look like. I arrived at Mnarani on a late Thursday evening for a three-day back-to-back visit of Kilifi. “You cannot visit Kilifi and miss the early morning walk of discovery through the Arabuko Sokoke forest,” Ludi Mwalimu, my host, tells me. He further explained that if I wanted to see the elusive elephant shrew, then I have to be up by 5am! What an incredulous offer, I thought to myself. I arrived at the reception some minutes to 5am and to my surprise, there were already a handful of people ready for the morning excursion to Arabuko Sokoke forest. The brief We set off shortly after a briefing about our mission. A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) guide meets us on arrival at the Arabuko Sokoke station. However, if you would rather discover things without a guide, you are free to do so. There are detailed maps and signposts in the forest to help you navigate your way. During the brief, I learn that

there’s over 40km of rough driving tracks intertwined with a network of walking paths for exploration purposes. I feel fully equipped and ready to track down the elusive creature. The shrewd shrew After driving for slightly more than an hour, we leave the car and set off on foot. A short walk brings us to an open path and our guide signals us to be silent and look at the path ahead. The silence that follows this order is deafening! Suddenly, the guide points at a black object some 200 metres ahead. There in front of us is the famous elephant shrew! I am baffled at the diminutive creature – the elephant shrew is no bigger than a mongoose. I thought that what I had seen earlier in pictures was a scaleddown image. And immediately, the cameras start clicking away. The miniature creature must have a strong sense of hearing as it quickly dashes back


into the forest. For the next 20 minutes, we wait with bated breath but the animal does not come out again. Our guide beckons us to continue exploring the forest – maybe we will be lucky again. The next destination is the Tree House. We take the main route that leads us to the Elephant Track (the trails are labelled), a sandy path that goes between some wooden posts and leads to an open sandy area of a quarry, completing the walking loop. About 100 metres beyond the posts, we take another narrow marked path to the right that leads us directly to the Tree House. From the viewing platform, I savour the splendid the scenery

spreading out over the old quarry and onto the adjacent forest. Normally, the pools are filled in the rainy season and provide an ideal habitat for a variety of water birds as well as over 17 species of frogs. Arabuko Sokoke Forest is the largest surviving coastal forest in East Africa, covering an area of about 400 square kilometres and is composed of three distinct forest habitats: mixed lowland forests, open woodlands, and dense forests. The forest provides a unique and important habitat for endangered birds, insects and mammals. There is also a small population of elephants, buffalos and six species of small antelope, aders’ duiker - a globally endangered species, mongoose, genet cat and bush baby, all of which are resident in the Arabuko Sokoke forest. Birds are a plenty here with over 260 species recorded, out of which six are globally threatened. The forest is critical to their survival and conservation. Many coastal bird species, including Fisher’s Turaco and Southern Branded Snake Eagle thrive here. Butterflies are also bountiful in the forest, especially during the rainy season, with one-third of Kenya’s 870 species found here. On the way back to the station, luck is on our side as we encounter a pair of elephant shrews. According to our guide, many people who have taken these excursions have never had a chance to spot this rare creature, even after multiple visits. Back at the station, we watch a documentary about this unique and rare creature after which Matthias Mwavita, a warden, gives us a brief on the animal. Read up on this strange-looking animal, considred to be distantly related to the aardvark and elephants, hyraxes and sea cows.

Experience 2 days of

food, culture & adventure. 14th & 15th February, 2020 Hell‘s Gate National Park, Naivasha

The region was always known as a place of transition, whether as a staging area for safaris, a key to the Trans-Africa Highway, or the first airline flights into Kenya. Of late, the area is exploding with development, from its burgeoning population to the production of the largest percentage of Kenya’s electricity - and nearly one in four of the world’s cut flowers. But there is much more to Naivasha than hospitality, commerce and culture, factors that make the area already ideal for this historic event. It has also played a key role in regional peace initiatives that established agreements such as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending the Second Sudanese Civil War, and the Kenyan Constitutional talks resulting in the Naivasha Accord. Now, Naivasha’s reputation for peace, diversity and flowers is in focus as it prepares to host the first Naivasha Love Festival from February 13-15. Scheduled for Valentine’s weekend and produced in partnership between the Private sector and the County Nakuru the festival’s conservation & sustainability conference, food, Government of Nakuru, cultural exhibitions and music take centre stage in what is planned to be an annual event. Naivasha Love Festival is structured into three themed days of activity: Green Love, a sustainability conference on February 13; Red Love: Love in Paradise on February 14 and Love for Culture and Art on February 15. Naivasha Love Festival is striving to be the First Green Festival in Africa and will kicks start activities on the 13th of February, 2020 with a Sustainability Conference with stakeholders discussing challenges and come up with a plan that will support the green city efforts by the County Government. Red Love on the 14th of February, 2020, the signature date of the event will showcase a morning hike on Mount Longonot, Lake Naivasha clean-up and tree planting followed by evening entertainment from various artistes organized by the Koroga Festival team who are having their first ever performances out of Nairobi dubbed Naivasha Love Edition. Music forms an integral part of a festival and the Naivasha Love Festival have the right partners. A blood donation drive will be running during the day through a partnership with the Red Cross. A Global Village will be open during the day at Hells Gate where exhibitors from various sectors ranging from Hospitality, Floriculture, Cultural and Trade will be showcasing their products. 15th February, 2020 will prove to be a jam packed day starting with an Eburu Forest Hike, Cycling Race to be flagged off from Hells Gate and a Boating Competition at the Lake Side. Hells Gate will be alive with cultural performances from various Kenyan Tribes, exhibition and musical performances with the highlight of the day’s performances Diamond Platinumz and Mike Rua amongst others. The Festival is aimed at showcasing the natural wonders of Naivasha and having activities that have a direct impact on our communities. The team is working with local youth to offer them skills development and employment opportunities during the festival in addition to offering exposure to local artistes. The inaugural Love Festival is targeting a huge audience regionally and internationally with the first event targeting 15-20,000 people within the month of February in Naivasha and Nakuru County at large to experience a delightful mix of fun, culture, food and music. This will position the destination as the home of love in Africa. In future, we anticipate that we shall host a 4 day event in the destination. Our partners – hotels and tour operators have offered special rates during the month of February 2020 specially for you. Spread the Love on Social Media by Tagging NAIVASHA LOVE FESTIVAL on Facebook and Instagram and NAIVASHALOVEFEST on Twitter.

Feel Love, Think Naivasha

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Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

Nikon D5600 24MP, ISO range of 100-25600 and 5 fps burst shooting, while the 39-point AF system can track subjects in ‘3D.”3.2 inch touchscreen LCD with, 1080/60p video, and Wi-Fi with Bluetooth for a constant connection, plus NFC for quick pairing with Android devices.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a premium compact camera with 20MP and a stabilised 24-120mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens. Has 3inch touchscreen display, which can flip upward by 180° for selfies and vlogging, The camera captures cropped 4K/30p and, the G5 X III can shoot raw images at up to 30 fps with focus locked and Raw+JPEG with continuous AF at 8 fps. The camera can be lowered over its USB-C port and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Good for vlogging.

Don’t lose focus: take a shot and freeze the moment Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV This is a compact camera with Sensor CMOS Exmor RS BSI de 20.1 megapixels y 1. Its optically stabilised 24-600mm equiv. lens and 20MP sensor combine for outstanding image quality, 4K video is top quality, and the camera offers a laundry list of video-making tools and features. It has a touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity.

Canon EOS M50 The Canon EOS M50 is a midrange mirror lens camera with a 24MP has a fully articulating 3” touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots OLED electronic viewfinder with 2.36M dots record 4K UHD video at 30p connectivity options include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The camera is good for vlogging with interchangeable lenses. Uses EF-M* lenses are compact, lightweight and made just for Canon EOS M series digital. good travel camera has a good zoom range, portability, versatility, and can record videos of good quality. Features in these cameras also are similar to the digital single reflex cameras for high quality photos in any kind of environment especially in low lighting. The choice of camera varies with the traveller as some have professional photography features, which are connected with various sizes of lenses depending on the range of shot while others are compact cameras whose lenses cannot be changed but have inbuilt lenses that can zoom to a fixed range, an advantage to a traveller not carrying many lenses. Most of these cameras have WiFi, bluetooth and NFC connectivity but some without.



Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II 20MP camera with 28-100mm equivalent stabilized lens with F1.84.9 aperture range, RX100 II features a tiltable LCD,1080p60 video quality, multiaccessory hot shoe, and NFC-enabled built-in Wi-Fi for wireless image transfer. The camera has a good zoom range compact and easy to carry in your pocket.its has features controls for low light photography.


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Spoil that loved one with more under 10K By Ivy Waridi

Wigot Gardens Hotel, Kisumu Book a standard deluxe room on full board basis at Sh9,000 at this hotel located on Kajulu hills, about nine kilometres from Kisumu City. The standout feature is an infinity swimming pool overlooking Kisumu city. Dreamy from a dip and savouring the beautiful sunsets, couples can enjoy a safari-like experience at their luxury tented cottages. Do not miss out on the bird-watching experience at the gardens.

Swara Acacia Lodge-Athi River Swara Acacia Lodge is located 36 kilometres from Nairobi in Machakos. The lodge boasts traditional thatched roofs, rustic décor as well as a glamping experience. . The restaurant is a la carte, and the Hop Inn bar is fully stocked with different brands. You can explore the facility via bike rides and hiking. Have an unforgettable experience in the wild with rates rates begining at Sh9, 182 for a double room


hen you have the right budget and the right mindset, you can make your travel dreams a reality. You have so many options to choose from that are easier on the pocket you just have to look in the right places. Here are selected spots across Kenya you can whisk your loved one to at just Sh10,000 a night.

some 16km from Eldoret town. The resort is a rich mix of traditional architecture with a touch of modern-day luxury. Legend has it that the resort is built on tribal land of the ancient Sirikwa tribe. Take your pick from the various accommodation options ranging from camping, dorms, log cabins and executive suites. Laze around at the swimming pool or take a walk in the forest and in the evening, wind down at the fireplace. The adjacent forest is home to over 250 species of birds as well as the elusive Colobus monkey.

Thomson’s Falls Lodge, Nyahururu

Naiberi River Campsite and Resort, Eldoret

One of the most famous tourist attractions in Nyahururu is the Thomson’s Falls, and what better way to catch sweeping views of this site than from the Thomson’s Falls

What better way to sample nature than hibernate in Naiberi Resort located



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Lodge? Book a standard room with a queen bed or two beds at Sh8, 000, inclusive of breakfast. Cozy up with your partner at the fireplace after visiting the hippo sanctuary, a walk at the nature trails or a thrilling game drive.

Dovenest lodge-Naivasha Dove Nest Lodge located in Naivasha Town is a serene destination for a weekend getaway with your partner. Take your pick of the budget suite at Sh6, 500 or the deluxe suite at Sh7, 500 on full board basis. They offer a diverse menu ranging from African, Indian or continental. Enjoy the bonfire as you sip your cocktail or wait on your barbeque. It can be quite cold, so pack your warm clothes. Dove Nest Lodge provides free prebooked shuttle services to the nearby Naivasha Wildlife Sanctuary for their guests.

CityBlue Creekside Hotel and SuitesMombasa This franchise hotel has various destinations across the continent with the Kenyan option perched in Tudor creek Mombasa. The architecture and design of the property is heavily influenced by Moorish architecture. There is also a pool garden that overlooks the estuary of a river into the Indian Ocean. The rates vary according to the rooms selected; a Double Deluxe Room Garden View is priced at Sh7, 500 inclusive of a buffet breakfast, or you can opt for the Deluxe Room Garden View at Sh6, 000 that does not have a meal plan. The hotel’s by the sea restaurant offers you Swahili and continental dishes, and has one of the best views in Mombasa. Femember also that you are in the hub of street food, so why not step out and try different cuisines you have never tasted.


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WELLNESS Follow us on Instagram: @TravelogKe Twitter: @TravelogMag Facebook: Travelog Ke Website:

Flex in 2020 like a boss Follow our nutrition and workout solution guide for successful new year resolutions By Jeff Anthony


he importance of good nutrition and a daily workout regimen cannot be underscored for anyone seeking a healthier look. Self-discipline and matching resilience is key if one is to achieve their target. For starters, an advanced nutritional diet of sweet potatoes and arrow roots is essential for those who possess a desire to grow lean or bulky muscles. Another effective nutrient to continuously feed the active body is a good supply of amino acids. These can be found in dairy products like milk, poultry products like eggs which are very effective for lean and larger muscle growth and chicken from the Kroiler and indiginous breed and not

the broiler type. An array of nutritious protein can also be consumed from plant products like green and red beans, Green Grams, numerous local lake fish and unprocessed sea foods. The secret superfood There is also an array of fungi products that can be consumed by people with exercise goals. Oyster, Button and Shiitake Mushrooms contain a high amount of Protein, Calcium to strengthen bones in the course of a pre workout period, together with mineral substances of magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Mushrooms are the perfect organic medicinal alternative for vegetarians, vegans and anyone who are trying to resist the temptation of red meat protein. Another highly important food group that has to be included in the diet of a regular fitness individual is vitamins. They help with speedy digestion of proteins and carbs, can be the difference in the rapidity

of the muscle growth and assist in the elimination of unwanted flabby parts of the body that are stubborn to eliminate. How to burn fat To go about the achievement of quick workout goals, its important to exercise on a daily basis for a start, but with lighter weights and shorter sets, but higher repetitions. If your main purpose is to simply burn fat, you can quickly develop a daily home workout routine of 45 minute intense cardiovascular exercises of rope skipping, jogging outdoors, jogging in-place, swimming or cycling. These can be combined with a 15 minute body tonning and ab excercises of three sets of five push-up repetitions for a start that can advance to five sets of ten push-ups after the first two weeks of introduction. You can also have alternative 15 minutes squat days of three sets of ten squats without weights to begin with and advance to two sets to ten squats with weights. The same range of sets and reps can be used on exercises like, sit ups, the ab wheel, the Russian twist, flutter kicks, leg raises and planks. If you don’t possess weights at home, you can work on lunges after the cardio sessions. Lunges can be

used with the same sets and repetitions as the ones mentioned for squats, but there should be rapid increase of repetitions as the strength of the legs quickly advance. Looking to buff up? If your intention is to gain a buff swollen muscular figure, there is a dedicated regimen to be followed. Nothing makes the body stronger, bigger and filled with confidence than bench presses, squats and dead lifts. With the availability of a fitness centre, the weights of these

“Mushrooms contain all vitamins except A and D and are essential in preventing ailments like colon cancer, because of their detoxification attribute...” three paramount workout methods can be mathematically increased to ascertain faster muscle growth. The sets in all the three effective workouts can be kept constant or in the range of three to five for a start, but what really peaks expansive muscle mass growth is a high number of reps. Continuous repetitions are

what makes the arms chest and legs bigger. Therefore instead of going for ten repetitions in whichever weight you begin with, you can push your endurance to 15 then 20 reps. This will tax your muscles to grow larger and more defined. Another faster way of achieving results is to make the interval rest between sets very short. Reduction of rest time between set intervals speeds the results between all types of exercises. A similar home workout regimen for larger muscles can be developed for those without gym access. Decline push-ups using a strong chair of 15 to 20 repetitions combined by dips of several reps and shorter intervals achieve equal results. When achieving all the workout goals, it’s important to consume six daily small portion meals of the aforementioned proteins vitamins and carbs, every three hours. The continuous desciplined consumption of the right foods, are what consistently instigate the muscles to grow and prevents the void of hours of starvation that very often slows down massive gains in muscle growth.

Jeff Anthony is a novelist, a Big Brother Africa 2 Kenyan representative and founder of Jeff’s Fitness Centre


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*Encocado de pescado* fish with coconut sauce Country of origin: Ecuador INGREDIENTS (SERVES FOUR) • White fish: four fillets of 150 g each (mahi mahi, kingfish, barracuda or similar fish will do) • Prawn or fish broth, two cups • Orange juice, one piece • Lemon juice, one piece • Cumin, one teaspoon • Vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons • Two ripe tomatoes without peel and seeds, chopped in brunoise squares • One white onion chopped in brunoise squares • One yellow pepper chopped in brunoise squares • One red pepper chopped in brunoise squares • Two cups of coconut milk • One tablespoon of grated ginger • One teaspoon of minced garlic • One tablespoon of minced coriander leaves • One spoon of corn starch diluted into two spoons of water • Salt and black pepper

PREPARATION: 1. Marinate the white fish fillets with cumin, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper for at least 20 minutes. 2. In a hot pot, add oil. When hot, add the minced white onion, peppers, tomato, ginger and garlic. Cook for five minutes or until ingredients are soft. 3. Add the broth and coconut milk and stir well. Reduce for ten minutes. 4. Add the white fish fillets to the sauce and cook for 15 minutes in low fire, covered with lid. 5. Add the diluted cornstarch to thicken the sauce and softly stir for five minutes. 6. Add minced coriander leaves, salt and black pepper. 7. Serve with green plantain chips and white rice side.

Carlos Espindola, 35, is Head Chef of Mawimbi Seafood Restaurant located at the corner of Kijabe Street How long have you been a chef? I have been a professional chef for close to 17 years. Like most chefs, my passion was nurtured at home with particular inspiration from my grandmother’s prawn soup. I trained at a culinary college in my home country Ecuador for two years before pursuing an intensive three-year pastry course in Bogotá, Colombia. Before coming to Kenya, I had a stint in the Bahamas. How many people work in your kitchen and what is your philosophy? As you know, we are the newest restaurant in town and currently consists of 15 team members even as we seek to grow as we get busier. I strive to use the freshest ingredients possible. As such, all seafood we serve is flown in daily from the Kenyan coast. The plight of small-scale suppliers is close to my heart and I ensure that my kitchen uses as much produce from the ‘ground’ as possible. On a grander scale, I aspire to create more consciousness for the planet. I, for instance, feel personally feel evil wasting food. To prevent this, I try to use all parts of an ingredient to avoid wastage. I am also keen of passing my knowledge, even as I learn, with the next generation of Kenyan chefs. My sous chef Judy, for instance, promises to be the next big thing. Do you have a guilty food pleasure? Yes. I enjoy burgers. What’s your favourite dish on the menu and why? Ceviche is a classic South American raw fish dish (but ‘cooked’ a different way). It uses raw fish and or seafood that has been marinated in lime juice and mixed with veggies and other ingredients. It is very popular throughout Central and South America. Here we use king fish using a recipe from my home town of Jipijapa (pronounced hipihapa), located in the Manabí Province. My

interpretation features avocado, citrus juice, and peanuts. What do Kenyans order most? Kenyans love for beef steak is legendary, but our flamboyant seven day aged ostrich offering matches up to their taste. What inspires you? How do you come up with ideas for the dishes in your restaurant? The ocean inspires our menu, which is fitting for a seafood restaurant. Our working space, for instance, is inspirational. The first thing you notice when you walk through our doors is the crudo bar and a wash of coastal ambience. I mean the Swahili door and white washed walls as well as the décor. I am especially proud of the ceiling of our three distinct eating areas carry this theme across; from the foam formed at the beach, fishing boats and the crashing waves of the ocean. Besides this, I was raised on the beach and the sea is all I know. How do Kenyan ingredients compare to those in South America? I am still in awe at how similar our food is. Even the fruits available in East Africa are similar. Who do you look up to in the culinary world? I am a great admirer of David Muñoz, a Spanish three Michelin stars chef who is internationally recognised for his cooking and famous restaurants. What is your must-have kitchen ingredient in your kitchen? That would have to be love and teamwork. Besides that, my kitchen never lacks coriander and limes, and chili. Besides being a chef, what else do you do? I am an electronic music disk jockey and football enthusiast. I am a keen supporter of Liga de Quito, LDU, an Ecuadorian professional football club based in Quito. Manchester United is my choice in the English Premier League. Family? I am currently single and happy.


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Allure of majestic Morocco Former French protectorate is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, and one of them is its capital, Rabat By Silvia Tonui


orocco is a northern Africa country riddled in a lot of myths and misinformation. One such misconception is that its capital city is Casablanca, an asumption partly fuelled by the 1940s movie Casablanca set in the famous Rick’s Café. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many know little about the country’s administrative capital, Rabat – a city so charming with many architectural masterpieces. A compact manicured city seemingly made for pedestrians with palm trees lining the major highways and orange trees lining the inner city streets. Morocco is home to nine United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) world heritage sites, one of them being the entire city of Rabat. It’s little wonder then that King Mohammed VI made it his permanent home. It is a history lover’s ultimate dream, effortlessly blending French, Arabic and Maghreb cultures. Morocco became a French protectorate between 1912 and 1930 so the country’s architecture, food and fashion are a synthesis of visual, culinary and cultural mix.

Sights of the capital city Rabat

Safe for solo traveller’s Rabat is considered one of the safest cities in Morocco. Walking around, you will see heavy police

presence, perfect for solo travellers like myself. Transport to take you around is also fairly accessible as you can flag down metre taxis anywhere at relatively affordable costs. The bus system is also reliable and there’s a tram that runs through the city. A word of advice though: I highly suggest downloading Google translate to help you navigate your way around the city, as much as the people are friendly and willing to help, most can only speak French or Arabic. In order to truly immerse myself into Moroccan culture and understand the history of its people, I decided to stroll through the city, beginning in Chellah, a beautiful well-preserved realm of ancient Moroccan history which dates back to 40 AD. The fortified city is located on the banks of the Bou Regreg River, first built as a fort to guard the city and has changed hands from the Phoenicians to the Romans and later to the Arabs. It houses ruins of a Madrassa (a Quranic school), royal tombs and a mosque whose only remaining piece is a minaret. There is a fresh water pool called Bassin aux Anguilles where women come to feed eels with boiled eggs, a superstitious belief that the practice brings fertility. The magical ruins also serve as a perfect setting and venue for the annual Jazz au Chellah music festival that happens in September. I then headed out to the Hassan Tower, a minaret of an incomplete mosque, a visual masterpiece made of red sandstone. Construction of the tower started in the 12th century with the intention of making it the largest mosque in the world. However, it was not completed due to the


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death of Moroccan ruler Yacoub al Masour. The tour stands at 44 metres high, half of its intended height and makes for a beautiful backdrop for taking pictures. Rabat’s most beautiful gate For those whose vision of Morocco is the blue walls and ornate doors of Chefchaouen, Rabat offers a smaller version of this at Kasbah des Oudaias, a citadel at the edge of the city by the sea. This is where the original city of Rabat was built in the 12th century by the Almohad Caliphate as a fortress. The city sits on a cliff overlooking the point where The Bou Regreg River meets the Atlantic Ocean with the most beautiful view of Rabat. At the entrance, The Bab Oudaia, is a massive ceremonial gate said to be the most beautiful gate in Rabat and marks the entrance to the Kasbah des Oudaias or Kasbah of the Udayas where one gets lost in time, immersed in ancient architecture

“It’s no surprise, therefore, that many people know very little about the country’s administrative capital, Rabat – a city so charming with many architectural masterpieces...” and culture. FYI, a kasbah was a place for the local leader to live and a defense when a city was under attack. It’s feature main feature is high walls, usually without windows. The small city hosts houses, little shops selling local souvenirs, restaurants serving local food, an art gallery and a quaint library, all interconnected by narrow blue walled alleys. The tranquility is occasion-

ally broken by beautiful music by Gnawa musicians in street corners playing a local version of the harp called Guembri. The ancient city is visually appealing with photogenic doors, walls and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. It also connects to the Marina Bay Plage so it’s a gentle walk to a promenade lined with a wide selection of restaurants. For lunch, I picked Le Dhow, a replica of an old Moroccan merchant vessel. The boat has a most ornate interior with richly coloured velvet cushions, Moroccan tapestry and intricate wooden fixtures. It serves delicious Moroccan-French cuisine and I got to enjoy mint tea on the deck with a view of the sea. My final stop for the day was the old market, locally known as the Medina. Morocco is famous for its porcelain pieces, high quality leather products and Argan oil. I can’t think of a better place to buy local products. The medina is a sensory feast with vibrant colours, exotic aromas and noises. The market is brimming with beautifully laid out spices, carefully piled up tea, perfumes, street vendors selling local food, especially meats roasted on charcoal grills. The coble stoned pathways suck you into a labyrinth of shops selling everything you can think of from food to rugs to fashion items to jewellery-the list is endless. I walked in with the intention of buying some spices and argan oils only, but ended up walking out with bags full of all sorts of local goodies including fragile porcelain pieces that I had to cradle like a baby on my flight back home to ensure they get home in one piece. After a full day of walking a bath was a welcome relief. I realise Moroccans go for hamams not because they need a good scrubbing to get

How I did it:

A stoll through Medina market.

Getting there: I flew Egypt Air, with a 12-hour-long layover in Cairo. Egypt Air provides a room and transit visas for layovers longer than seven hours. Ask for a tour of the city at the hotel lobby and spend the day at the Pyramids Where to stay: has many options from budget to luxury options. I was there for a conference booked at the Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses

clean, but because of the relaxation a full body scrub and massage brings. My memories of Rabat are filled with kind people, beautiful architecture, clean streets, manicured walkways and delicious food. I’m currently working on my French as I plan to return to Morocco, hopefully making my way to Marrakech and Fez.

Eat local food: Eat the most delicious Tagine in a traditional Moroccan restaurant at Tajine Wa Tanjia on 9, Rue Baghdad, Hassan, Rabat Moroccan Bath/Hamam: Point Beaute on Patrice Lumumba Street.


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Save, Spend or Splurge – 48 Hours in Dubai By Thorn Mulli

Dubai is a great stopover for all budgets. We’ve put together an itinerary that will give you a glimpse of what the city has to offer.

Day 1


ravelling to a foreign country can be challenging for most people. I have to admit that I am in awe of travellers who venture into the unknown driven solely by curiosity and adventure. Despite the fact that technology has made travel choices much easier, I reckon that having an agent customise your visit saves you the headache. I am fresh from a second trip to Dubai and as such have been turned into a designate tour guide by those known to me.

Morning Activity

Save: For a cheap and cheerful, simple breakfast that will only set you back approximately Sh300 head to Raju Omelet. This Dubai favourite serves a variety of Indian street food alongside delicious cups of tea in a cute café environment – and all at very wallet-friendly prices.

Save: Take a little tour of the Dubai Creek via an Abra Crossing, on a traditional boat that glides across the water for a mere Sh29! Once you’re done, head to the souks in the Al Fahidi and take your time perusing the colourful offerings, or even snap up a bargain. (souk = an Arab marketplace)

Spend: Al Quoz haunt Tom & Serg has become something of a breakfast institution, with its ever-changing menu of healthy and wholesome dishes with a unique twist – offering up everything from smashed avocado on toast to Vietnamese breakfast baos. Couple this with stellar coffee and freshlymade baked goods lovingly crafted in-house and you’ll see why this place has become a favourite for locals and tourists alike.

Spend: Check out The Dubai Frame, this jaw-dropping landmark offers stunning views of both old and new Dubai in a building boasting spectacular architecture at only Sh1,381 for adults (and Sh552 per child from 3-12 years old, while children under three and the elderly enter free).

Splurge: With its beautiful light interiors, the rotation of fresh and flakey items churned out of their in-house bakery, and selection of high-quality, beautifully-presented breakfast items, starting your day at La Serre will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to a sun-drenched Paris in the summertime. It’s no wonder that it often has queues snaking out the door.

Splurge: Make sure you’re in full vacation mode, by treating yourself to a massage at one of the many spas! From the hammam experience at Talise Spa at Zabeel Saray on the Palm Jumeirah, to the rose petalinfused massages at the Saray Spa at the JW Marriott, there’s plenty to choose from with the promise to leave you blissed-out by lunch.


Afternoon Activity

Gastronomy tour

While it is easy to describe the places I visited and experiences I had, fate handed me yet another challenging twist when a relative who is planning a girls’ only trip tasked me with making sense of several tour packages she was considering to pick. Her greatest concern was whether she would deplete her savings in the name of visiting this popular gulf destination. The task: “Your mission, should you accept it, is to come up with a save, spend or splurge itinerary for 48 hours in Dubai.”

Save: Brush up on your history and knowledge of local culture by exploring what the Al Fahidi Historical District has to offer. There is plenty to see, learn and do at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (Sh200), with the Coffee Museum and the Dubai

Lunch Save: • Whether you’re on a tight budget or you just want to grab a quick bite on the go, why not pick up a shawarma as little as Sh138 from one of the many Eat & Drink Restaurant outlets around town? The restaurant has been in the city for decades and is a familiar sight to many residents. Spend: With such an idyllic atmosphere reminiscent of lazy days in the Greek Cycladic Islands – the Arabian Tea House is a hidden gem of the Al Fahidi district, offering food at a reasonable price and an excellent tea selection. Splurge: One of the most iconic restaurants in town, At.Mosphere at the Burj Khalifa also offers one of the city’s most stunning – and highest – view. While it’s great spot for dinner, why not consider it for a luxurious lunch? If you’re looking to make the most of lunch while treating yourself to a stellar view and high-end meal and budget isn’t a concern, this is the place for you! Museum (Sh100) just down the road. Spend: Beat the afternoon heat by heading to the new VR Park at The Dubai Mall, where you can enjoy 18 virtual reality experiences at different thrill levels, from dune bashing in the desert to encountering wild creatures

Dubai Marina

(some that will leave your heart racing!) and even scaling a building. Entry to the park is free, and each experience costs Sh400- Sh1,000, so you can pick and choose experiences depending on what the wallet will allow. Splurge: Head to one of the UAE’s amazing amusement parks, such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, or Dubai Parks and Resorts featuring Motiongate, Bollywood Parks and LEGOLAND (or why not visit all three of the last ones with a Dubai Parks and Resorts multi-pass!). Here, you’ll be transported into a fantasy land of fun and entertainment for the entire family.


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Stay and Sleep Save: Set right in the heart of Dubai’s historic Al Fahidi district, just steps away from some of the city’s best attractions, from Dubai Museum, to the Creek and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (not to mention within walking distance of a metro station), the Orient Guest House is a tranquil – and affordable – hideaway. This little boutique-style guesthouse has ten rooms decorated in a traditional Arabian style, and the entire house feels like a home from a bygone age – complete with a majlis area and courtyard for weary travellers to relax in. Nearby, the XVA Hotel offers a similar feel with a more artistic slant – it’s connected to a gallery – whereas if you’re looking to stay in the busier parts of the city, the Rove Hotels are an excellent option that offer contemporary surrounds at affordable prices in key areas across Dubai.

Desert safari

Evening Activity Save: Take a walk along Dubai Marina and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city (and some of its most beautiful evening views) entirely for free – and walk off your dinner while you’re at it! Bonus: It can be uniquely romantic, and if you’re inspired to, there are plenty of places to stop at and grab a night cap along the way. Spend: If you’ve ever wanted to watch a movie in an environment that feels like dinner theatre, why not catch one at the Guy Fieri Kitchen & Bar and Dine-In Cinema at Jebel Ali Recreation Club? It’s also a licensed venue so you can just enjoy a drink there if you have overindulged at dinner! Dubai Frame


Save: One of Jumeirah’s most well-loved and longstanding seafood institutions, Bu Qtair restaurant is a musttry. It’s the very definition of cheap and cheerful – they only have two key options, but their fried fish and fried shrimp are simply epic – and hardly make a dent in the budget as well. Spend: It’s not often that you’ll be able to enjoy a to-diefor steak dinner at around Sh8,000 for two people, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Le Relais de l’Entrecote at Downtown Dubai. Located on the beautiful Emaar Boulevard with the beauty of Downtown Dubai around you, this famous restaurant has been transported to the city straight from Paris and is famous for its delicious steak frites with secret sauce, for which you’ll get not one but two servings. Splurge: Dubai has no shortage of fine dining options, but considering how many international awards it has won, La Petite Maison is a must-visit – this French restaurant’s food is to-die-for, the service is impeccable, the beverage list is exceptional, and it makes for a beautiful evening in the DIFC art district.

Splurge: Dubai’s jaw-dropping original show, La Perle by Dragone, is an absolute must-see for both tourists and residents alike. The acrobatic feats of its performers, the original music, and the spectacular set design will leave you truly wowed.

Rove City

Spend: Whether you’re looking for beach vibes, city living, or a spot of tranquility, Dubai has it all – and there’s no shortage of hotels to choose from. If you’re looking to stay beachside, Fairmont The Palm, Jumeirah Al Naseem, and The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi are all excellent choices, whereas those seeking a stay in the busier parts of the city wouldn’t go wrong with the Vida Downtown, La Ville Hotel & Suites or The Address Dubai Marina. For a quiet escape within the heart of the city, The Conrad Dubai, Anantara The Palm, and the Waldorf Astoria The Palm, are all little pockets of sheer tranquility nestled within minutes of the nearby buzz. Splurge: Close to the action, the St Regis, The One & Only Royal Mirage, and the Park Hyatt all offer the pinnacle of luxurious living, while if you’re really keen to splash out on an utterly decadent escape, Al Maha Resort & Spa, The Bulgari Resort & Residences, Jumeirah Dar Al Maysaf, and the Burj Al Arab promise unforgettable stays that will give you memories to last a lifetime.

The One & Only Royal Mirage


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Dinner Save: Ravi Restaurant is one of Dubai’s most famous destinations for Pakistani food, yet it’s not costly at all. The food here is delicious, affordable, and always reliable. It’s a must-try. Spend: Peruvian food has found firm footing in the Dubai dining scene, and there are few better places to enjoy this cuisine than at Coya at the Four Seasons Jumeirah. Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere of this restaurant is celebrated by all those who visit – and the décor practically begs for an Instagram photo. Go for dinner, and we suspect you’ll be tempted to stay for some evening beverages afterwards. Splurge: Dubai has a penchant for Asian-inspired fine dining, and Zuma is one of the city’s must-visit venues if you’re a fan of Japanese or Asian food. Not only is its sushi simply unforgettable, its miso black cod has made the restaurant famous, its drinks list is spectacular, and the rest of its menu is equally as impressive. It’s no wonder this place has won so many international awards over the years.

Day 2

Important tips

Morning Activity Breakfast Save: For an affordable breakfast that boasts large portion sizes, and organic, local produce wherever possible, head to the Surf House Dubai, where breakfast is kept casual but the food quality (and smiles!) are taken seriously. Spend: Clinton St. Baking Company is famous for its stacks of incredible pancakes, and its fried chicken and waffles that feature on the all-day breakfast menu – and if neither of those float your boat, the eggbased dishes will leave your mouth watering too. Bonus: Everything here is also organic and of the best quality. Splurge: The Farm at Al Barari is arguably one of Dubai’s most beautiful settings in which to grab breakfast. While it may cost you a little bit more to get out there, since it’s not in the town centre, it’s absolutely worth it. The beauty of the garden and lake behind it, not to mention the quality and freshness of the food, will leave you glowing inside out.

Save: Rent a stand-up paddle board from the Surf House Dubai for just Sh2, 000 and head onto the water for a light workout that also promises you one of the best views of the Burj Al Arab and some unforgettable holiday snaps on the beach Spend: The Burj Khalifa isn’t just beautiful from the outside – it’s also absolutely worth seeing from the inside and heading into the building is a memorable experience for the viewing deck alone. Ticket prices for At The Top range from Sh5,000 to 15,000 depending on which package you choose, how old the guest is, and how you book (online vs in person). Splurge: A visit to Dubai would not be complete without a chance to indulge in a little sunbathing, and there is nowhere more luxurious to do this than at The Terrace at the Burj Al Arab. The venue and its two stunning infinity pools is now open to non-guests, with a day pass rate starting from Sh50, 000 per person. Lunch Save: One of every Dubai residents go-to’s, Zaatar w Zeit restaurants, are found all over town and are a quick, cheap, and easy way to pick up a delicious (and relatively healthy) meal.

Spend: Head to Jones the Grocer for a tasty, healthy, and delicious meal that uses the best and freshest ingredients they can get their hands on, in a glamorous café setting that goes far beyond the average. Splurge: Consistently voted one of Dubai’s most romantic restaurants, Pierchic offers amazing over-water views and the chance to enjoy the finest seafood.

Afternoon Activity Save: Rent a car (many companies offer options for Sh1,7002,200 a day) and drive out to Hatta for the afternoon. It’s only an hour away, and once there, it’s abundant in stunning natural beauty. Spend: Curious about what it might be like to experience a rainforest in the desert? Head to The Green Planet, for just Sh2,700 for adults and Sh1,900 for children, you’ll get to explore three storeys of this green paradise, home to more than 3,000 different flora and fauna. •Splurge: If you’ve ever wanted to check “skiing in the desert” off your bucket list, a visit to Ski Dubai is a must-do. If you’re already an experienced skier or snowboarder, you can rent the equipment and just hit the slopes, otherwise if you’d like a lesson, you can book in an instructor to teach you the

• We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance in case of illness or emergency during travel. • The average flight price for tickets from Nairobi to Dubai is Sh36,300 with Emirates and Kenya Airways flying from Nairobi daily. • The distance between the two cities is 3,556km and flight just over five hours long. Nairobi is an hour behind Dubai so be sure to adjust your watch in case you have an important meeting when you arrive in Dubai. • The primary languages spoken in Dubai are English and Arabic. All shops, restaurants and taxi drivers speak English. However, if you’d like to learn some Arabic greetings: Hello = Ahlan and Thank you= Shukran • The currency of Dubai is the dirham (AED). Presently 1 AED = Sh29. Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted in all regular shops, restaurants and banks. • Dubai City is sunny throughout the year. The best time to visit, however, is November during winter when the weather mimics our own. If you are lucky, you might and you might even encounter rain in a desert. Trust me. This is a spectacle where pupils get a day off schools. • Dubai taxis have a government-standardised fare system that uses a taximeter based on distance. The base fare depends on the time of day and pickup location. • An adult tourist can bring alcoholic beverages and beers that do not exceed four litres or two cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355ml for each can or its equivalent) into the UAE. Thank me later for this particular trove of information. ropes. You don’t even need to have packed your gear, either – you can rent literally everything you need, or if you’re keen, you can buy some to take home with you. Evening Activity Save: The Dubai Fountain at the Dubai Mall is among the city’s best attractions, and not only are the worldfamous, unique, choreographed displays held during regular intervals throughout each evening, but they’re also free for everyone in the area to enjoy. Spend: Dubai is famous for its beach clubs, and they’re not just covetable destinations during the daytime. Heading to one for a few post-dinner drinks in the evening typically promises

an excellent evening of people watching, dancing, and good tunes, and two of the best places to enjoy this are Zero Gravity and Nikki Beach, both with mid-to upscale crowds who are well dressed but there to enjoy a good time. Splurge: The Dubai Opera has made waves since it first opened its doors, and for good reason. Not only has it brought some of the world’s best attractions to the city, offering a truly memorable way to spend an evening, but it’s also a great place to grab a drink (or a bite, if you’re still hungry) with awardwinning restaurant Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera having made its way onto the list of the city’s best venues.


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1 Our take at the elements that makes a city dreamy

By Tony Mochama

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Most romantic cities on earth Venice



Like Lamu, Venice is an island with no cars. You walk everywhere over little bridges – or else you ride its endless canals on ‘cheap’ vaporettos (water buses) or expensive water taxis. The ultimate romantic ride is the classic gondola, which is manned by a skilled boatman called a gondolier.





spent last August in Venice – or Venezia, in local Italian dialect. Alas! I was all on my own on a writing project, which is a dreadful pity because Venice is one of the most romantic cities on the planet. But what is it, exactly, that makes one city romantic as opposed to another? Nairobi, for example, may be many good things – but no one will ever accuse it of being ‘romantic’. The elements that make a city romantic, I have discovered on my travels, are architecture, the presence of water bodies – whether sea, lake, and ponds, or continuous canals à la Venice, which is really a city on water. A romantic city must have lots and lots of little places to get ‘lost’ in, and to wine and dine.

French capital is considered the number one most romantic city in the world. The writer Ernest Hemingway described Paris as a ‘moveable feast’ and with its famous restaurants, faultless cuisine and restaurants and the Eiffel Tower, it would be effed up to disagree or dispute. I’m told having wine facing the Seine River will have the lass in love for life.



Many Kenyans only go to China on business; the leaders to get big loans and the mwananchi to import cheap goods to resell. But our people would be well advised to visit the city of Hangzhou, the honeymoon capital of the East. ‘In heaven, we have paradise,’ said Marco Polo. ‘On earth, Hangzhou.’

Seeing as he himself was a native Venetian, this is high romantic praise for this Chinese city.


Udaipur, India

In contrast, Kenyans and their families only go to India seeking medical treatment. Before we are on death bed travel, however, something we should put on our bucket lists is to go to Udaipur, whose romantic gem is Pichola Lake with its fairytale palace, the temples and mosques.


San Francisco

We talk of Los Angeles, the city of angels. But for humans in America, nearby ‘San Fran’ is the sang-froid city of romance, especially for the sporty and active folks like bikers and hikers. Its charm is its outdoor ambience, with the marine drives and waterfronts.


Montreal, Canada

Laid back, lazy and Eurocentric, I found Montreal most romantic in a charming and old-fashioned manner.


Lisbon, Portugal


For people who like port wine and bourbon, or chemical romance, there’s no city quite like Lisboa. It has picturesque old buildings,

you walk up and down gradients (it is built across seven hills) and has marvellous arches. I recall falling for a San Fran poetess called Constance Bachelor in Lisboa years ago. Seeing as we never spoke after leaving Lisbon, came to the realization it is the city you actually fall for.


Saint Petersburg, Russia

If Venice is a postcard, then St. Petersburg is a long and meandering romantic poem. This ‘Venice’ of Russia has the canals over the Neva River, and moreover, a true heart of romance. I never quite got used, on the underground train, seeing so many men carrying bouquets of roses home. Here in Kenya, we only see guys with roses on Valentine’s Day – and they carry them like dirty tampons.


Cape Town, South Africa

Closer to home, one can fly to Cape Town for a romantic weekend getaway for Sh100,000 a couple. Throw in another Sh50,000 for a great hotel, and Sh50,000 to spend over the weekend. Go!



Like the name suggests, “from sweetness” this is without doubt the most romantic location in Kenya.


By Jayne Rose Gacheri

How far will you go for love and what lengths will you go to get it? “Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent” – Frederick Buchner


istory is riddled with tales of the great lengths people in love will go to for their lovers. In celebrating Valentine’s Day Travelog takes a trip down memory lane to bring you some these great love stories, which have left world acclaimed memoirs and mementos showing the indomintable power of love.

The power of love A modern day fairytale love story from the British Monarchy The monarchy of the United Kingdom has its fair share of stranger than fiction love stories. None, however, beats that of Edward VIII, the King of England, who met and fell head over heels in love with Wallis Simpson, an American socialite divorcée. But what made their story adorable was because the King renounced the throne to marry her. When making the announcement in 1936, the Duke of Windsor proclaimed: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” He spent most of his life outside the royal family as the couple married and settled in France. In a similar gesture, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, in January this year announced that he was “stepping back” as a senior member of the royal family and was moving to Canada with his bride of two years, Meghan Markle – all for love.

The Taj Mall, a symbol and monument of love Their names may largely be unfamiliar to most people, but their love produced a monument that is one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Taj Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal were a Mughal Royal couple whose love is the stuff fairy tales are made of. Mumtaz died while giving birth to their 14th child. Devastated by his wife’s death, Shah Jahan was consumed by intense grief that inspired him to build one of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces to serve as the final resting place of his beloved wife. Shortly after completing the Taj Mahal, Emperor Shah was overthrown by his eldest son and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Shah was buried next to his wife.

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An epic journey of 10,000 km from Cape Town to Egypt – all for love Ewart Grogan, an English explorer in the 19th Century became the first person on record to have walked from Cape Town to Egypt. He embarked on this arduous journey to win the heart of the father of his sweetheart Gertrude Watt, so that he could be given her hand in marriage. An epic journey which he trekked some 9,650kms across Africa to prove his love. However, his hopes were dashed by Gertrude’s father. The crestfallen 24-year-old man set out to prove himself again by constructing the Grogan Castle in Taita Taveta, but this still bore no fruit. Finally, he won her heart and went on a construction spree and put up landmark buildings like Chiromo House and Torrs Hotel (modern day Stanbic Bank). After the death of Gertrude, and in her memory, he donated towards the construction of Gertrude’s Hospital.

Artist paints portrait of love from India to Sweden

Lord Egerton’s dramatic shift from love to loathe Another Kenyan colonial settler, Lord Maurice Egerton, also went to great lengths to prove his worth to a woman that he had fallen deeply in love with. The Baron of Egerton was determined to marry an unnamed woman from Austria and in 1927 invited her to his newly constructed six-bedroom house set on a 22, 000-acre land at the present day Nakuru.

It is said that without batting an eyelid, the lady told Egerton that she could not sleep in a chicken coop. An infuriated Egerton then built a 52-room mansion complete with an escalator, with the finest materials shipped to Kenya from Italy and England. Upon completion of the castle in 1938, Lord Egerton invited the mysterious woman, but once again, she turned him down, comparing the castle to a dog kennel. The lady who had stolen Lord Egerton’s heart then left and got married to another British Lord in Australia. Lord Egerton never recovered from this rejection that he developed an intense hatred for women to the extent of barring them from setting foot on his estate. Whenever he visited neighbours, he requested that the women depart before his arrival. Lord Egerton spent the rest of his life in solitude, until his death in 1958.

Despite the social stigma that famed Indian artist Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia faced of being born into the “untouchable” caste, he earned a place as a student at the College of Art in New Delhi where he excelled in painting. He became popular after his painting of then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi went public and he became sought after by many people who wanted him to draw them. One of them was a wealthy woman from Sweden, Charlotte Von Schedvin who was visiting India at this time.

Consumed by the fire of the Red Dragon Liang Yongyu and Karen Ngunjiri’s story is exciting to Kenya because it is a unique union of love just like that of Sirika and Khamala. However, interracial families in Kenya have never been a big deal, especially among the white and indigenous Kenyans. This is because they have been around for long and their liberal Western culture and English language, Christian religion and general demeanour attributes have made it easier for Kenyans to bond with them. This is quite the opposite of the Orientals whose language (Mandarin), religion and unusual cuisines would make the taste buds of even the most love-stricken Kenyan give up on love. This is why Liang’s and Karen love got the attention it did beyond the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet. Liang converted into Christianity

They fell in love and got married in 1977. Charlotte, however, had to return home, and although she offered to pay for her husband’s plane ticket, he had too much pride to accept. He promised her that he would make enough money on his own to enable him pay for his transport to Sweden.

while Karen took four years course to learn Mandarin. In December 2018, the two got married before Hong Kong pastors in a Christian ceremony against the backdrop of Mt Kenya. There lies the novelty of a Kenyan woman marrying a Chinese man who embraced a new culture 8,758km from home gripping a nation’s attention.

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Elephant Man‘s 17,000km trek to raise awareness about world‘s largest land animal on the path to extinction By Tamara Britten


im Justus Nyamu, aka the Elephant Man, has walked over 17,000 km in Africa, UK and USA raising awareness of the decimation of our elephant population. He founded the Elephant Centre, a non-profit organisation designed to protect the African elephant and safeguard landscapes for elephants outside protected areas. He is the author of Towards a New Conservation Model, and he walks under the banner Ivory Belongs to Elephants. In January 2020, he set off for the Horn of Africa Walk across Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea, trekking a distance of about 3,600 km in around four months. We spoke to Jim about his life, his passion for conservation and his plans for the Horn of Africa Walk.

TCB: What started your interest in conservation? JJN: When I was 12, my uncle, who was only five years older than me, introduced me to the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. There was no club in my school so with his help I founded one. After that, I got a scholarship to study wildlife conservation at Mweka College of African Wildlife in Tanzania. When I graduated, I came back to Kenya and joined the Kenya Wildlife Service.

TCB: Why elephants? JJN: I don’t just speak about elephant conservation, but for all species since they are all dependent on each other. However, I decided to focus on elephants because they’re a key-stone species. If you conserve elephants, then

you conserve other species. Elephants are heavy feeders, and consume more than 300 kilos of food and drink over 240 litres of water per day. They also need an expansive area. If you conserve them, you’re conserving all the species in that area.


TCB: How is your conservation model different from previous efforts? JJN: In whose custody are the animals? The communities. Who is vulnerable? The communities. I find this quite unfair. For many years, conservation has been promoted through tourism. What motivates communities is incentives, but asking communities to conserve the land for tourists doesn’t give them the benefits of that conservation. We need communities to

replicate conser vancies: to conserve areas for the landscape, for habitat, for water catchment, for river sources. Land is the focus here: not animals and not tourists. Then we need to build communities’ coexistence with wildlife, to be proud of the indigenous species in their localities and keep wildlife on their land as well as livestock. Only when we’ve done all that should we encourage tourists to come; when they come, they’ll find a well-established conservancy. The primary focus shouldn’t be tourism. If tourism doesn’t pay, communities still have the benefit of conserved land.

TCB: How can we make Kenyans interested in conservation? JJN: Consistency, advocacy and awareness. Use social media, public meetings, journals and magazines, host

conversations on TV. Don’t start by discussing conservation. First show Kenyans the animals. Many Kenyans haven’t been into our national parks. Give them access to the parks and reserves, museums, snake parks, bird sanctuaries, and animal orphanages. When they see the animals, they become interested – they start asking questions. In April 2019, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala gave free access to the Nairobi National Park for one day – but that was both good and bad. Some people who had never been to the park to see the animals got a chance to go there, but the challenge was the unprecedented congestion in the park. I would suggest that this initiative be extended to once a month, or on public holidays – not just in Nairobi but all over the country. Also, entry fees to parks should be waived for schools. Conservation and the environment need to be incorporated in the school curriculum, and it’s imperative that all Kenyan children see wild animals. Read the full interview on www.


Details: Nikon D850, @ 300mm, ISO 450, f/5.0, 1/800 Photographer: Philippe Henry de Frahan Instagram profile: @philippehenrydefrahan Guided by: Johnmark Kisemei Image courtesy of The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year

You can be forgiven for thinking that this a scene from Disney’s animation The Lion King when Simba and his childhood friend, Nala reunite after many years.