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Flame up

the festive fervour


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Lessons from the world

specIal FeatuRe pg 10-11

Wellness Watch Pg 19

aBROaD Pg 23

Indonesia and Dubai both recorded roughly 16 million tourist arrivals last year. Visitors to Kenya over the same duration, on the other hand, barely crossed the two million mark. Visitors travel to Dubai primarily to see the desert, gawk at the amazing architecture and shop. Tourists visit Indonesia for a cultural immersion, sample its amazing cuisine and binge on its beaches. What puzzles me is that we have unrivalled touristic elements from both nations yet we are barely scratching our tourism potential. To add onto our portfolio of desert, beach and culture we are the country that gave the world Hakuna Matata and Safari. None of these nations, no offense meant, have contributed such catchy native terms to the touristic lingo. While many argue that we have over-sold our safari experience, fresh eyes inform me that we should capitalise on it even more by being innovative. How? Rwanda sells an ordinary permit for Sh150, 000 to see their

gorillas. Their neighbour Uganda sells a similar experience for way less, at an average Sh70, 000. The difference is in the packaging with the former employing flowery twists like a gorilla-naming ceremony. The result, most of the world only know of the Rwandan gorilla tour. Less highlighted win-the pristine habitat of the gorilla and in extension, humanity, is protected. I will not plead serikali saidia but will instead ask you to do your bit as an ambassador for this beautiful nation. For starters, kindly tick off your bucket list our seven UNESCO World Heritage sites: Lake Turkana National Parks, Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest, Lamu Old Town, Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests, Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley, Fort Jesus, Mombasa , and Thimlich Ohinga Cultural Landscape. And for crying out loud…serikali, fix these sites before they fall into ruin na si tafadhali.

Thorn Mulli

BuDget BReaks Pg 28-29 editor in chief: Ochieng Rapuro group executive editor and head of news: Kipkoech Tanui i Managing editor: Denis Galava i editor: Thorn Mulli suB-editor: Sandra Mulluka revise editor: Peter Ndoria editor, partnerships and projects: Andrew Kipkemboi Manager, print creative: Dan Weloba I creative designers: Lydia Amusolo, Alice Ariri, Gilbert Sigey, Paul Ndiang’ui I contriButors: Expat Mummy, Gardy Chacha, Caroline Chebet, Jayne Rose Gacheri, Jimmy Mwangi, Lubnar Abdulhalim, Ivy Waridi, Peter Muiruri i photographY: David Gichuru i Brand Manager: Seth Enos

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: @TravelogKe Facebook: Travelog Ke Website: take a selfie as a couple with the november issue of travelog and share it on any of our social media platforms for a chance to win three nights on full-board basis at either ciala resort Kisumu or diani reef Beach hotel. hottest couples with the most likes wins.

elsa ellIe, OctOBeR WInneR OF elementaIta mOuntaIn lODge gIFt vOucheR

3 [David Gichuru]


rosemary Muthoni of fairmount hotels and resort,stellamaris Kathomi of stejos tours and travel and daniel Mbugua of Bigfoot adventures

Maasai morans welcome guests

sharon ingari, trizah Mungania, Michelle ajema and perpetual Makani at the event.

Accor General Manager and Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi Country General Manager Mehdi Morad with staff.

FROM LEFT: Patricia Njeri, Stella Riungu and Sally Mbuiyu.


Myra Vinner and Fredericka Semyour sample some Ol Pejeta conservancy products.


elizabeth Kigen, wangare Mwihaki and anita Karanja of ol pejeta conservancy.

Ol Pejeta CEO Rchard Viene, Kenya Film Commission Chairman Chris Foot and Morne De La Ray.

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and his wife Maria with Stella Nasieku of Laikipia County

Ol Pejeta’s Rhino Caretaker Unit rangers protected and cared for Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino: James Mwenda (left) and Joseph Wachira (right) with the film producer David Hambridge.

4 SPLENDID spaces Follow us on Instagram: @TravelogKe Twitter: @TravelLogKe1 Facebook: Travel Log KE Website:

Lake Elementaita I Mountain Lodge

f new is your kind of thing then Lake Elementaita Mountain Lodge opening mid-November should tickle your fancy. Elevated above Lake Elementaita, a UNESCO world Heritage site, this property has 52 chalet suites with private balconies boasting unrivalled views and access to standard facilities. Diners can enjoy sumptuous delicacies from the Aerial View Restaurant whose menu is a cosmopolitan combination of European, African and Asian dishes. The lodge also hosts conference facilities that can accommodate up to 70 participants depending with the set-up and style. Other features of the lodge include, but not limited to, an infinity pool, children’s play areas, disabled access, as well as bike hire and horse riding.


About us: Kenya School of Adventure and Leadership - Kesal is a public outdoor training center established in 1990. Kesal has been offering unique and a high impact experiential-based training solutions since then. As a training institution Kesal can assist your organization not only in training but also at the strategic level.

Why Choose Kesal

What Kesal offers

• KICD approved training solutions. • Over twenty years of training industry experience. • Unique experiential training methodology. • The serenity of the natural environment of own training grounds. • Full circle 3-step Kesal training model.

1. Prescriptive corporate training solutions. 2. Functional Leadership Development Training. 3. Management challenge 4. Disaster Response-incident Command System (ICS). 5. Youth Development Training. 6. Adventure and Recreation.


Conquer thyself to lead!

Kesal shall be the venue for Mt.Kenya Mountain Running Championship MERU 2020 in February 2020!!

Bruce House, North Wing, 13th Floor P.O. Box 4055--00506, Nairobi +254 724 984 688 / +254 725 565 666 /


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Travel talk Follow us on Instagram: @travelogke Twitter: @travelogke Facebook: travelog ke Website:

Creative ways to save for your next vacation One of myths of taking that well-deserved holiday is that it is a costly affair. We debunk those notions by giving a few tips:

By Lubnar Abdulhalim


t’s expensive. This is the response most people give when asked why they don’t take vacations. There’s the misguided notion that vacations are only for a select few with financial muscle and deep pockets. Well, I have some good news for you, travelling doesn’t need to be a costly affair and with a little bit of saving here and there, the world is your oyster. A budget-friendly or lavish getaway is well within your reach. In fact, some of the most fulfilling and fun travels come at unbelievably low prices. Here are some creative ways to save for your next vacation:

Decide when to travel Start planning for your next vacation in the coming year by starting to save now. Wherever your dream destination is, it’s always cheaper to travel during the low peak season. You are also bound to make good savings if you book well in advance, therefore do your diligent research and start putting those coins away.

Travel wedding gift Are you about to say your vows, or know someone who is planning to? Jump on the bandwagon of adventure-seeking couples who are defying the norms by having guests contribute to their travel fund instead of buying conventional gifts. If you want to properly maximise this, select the destination and provide a proper breakdown of the intended trip, together with proposed activities, for example spa treats, massage, bungee jumping, game drive, etc.., and ask your guests to pick what they are able and willing to pay for. Give up expensive habits Think about ditching that habitual expensive long island cocktail and eating less take-out dishes. In order to make your travel goals possible, cutting back on spending money especially on leisurely activities will go a long way. You wouldn’t believe how much money can be saved when choosing a night indoors as opposed to eating out or going out clubbing. Fill up a Jar Find an empty jar, whether it’s an empty margarine container or a mason jar and put it strategically at


Number of months you have decided to save for the trip.


Amount in shillings that you will need to set aside every month to achieve your goal.


Total amount of money you intend to spend on the vacation

a place you can easily toss in coins at the end of the day. If you can get the entire family to follow suit, even better. By saving Sh100 daily, in just five months the kitty will have grown to Sh15,000. Depending on your budget, adjust your savings upwards to meet this goal. Declutter and sell Take stock of things you have that don’t have a meaningful purpose – old clothes, furniture, bicycle, old novel – things that you’re not using. It’s time high time to declutter your house by selling online or even having a car boot sale and make some money that you can add to your travel savings.

Rent Out a Room Another option is to rent out one room in your house on Airbnb or other similar sites. This is one of the best ways to quickly build up those savings. Have a savings goal If you budget for your trip in advance, you don’t have to spend time stressing over your spending while you’re on vacation. Carry out extensive research on your expected expenditures, such as transportation, accommodation, meals, souvenirs, special excursions and tickets to attractions or events. After combining those costs, you’ll have an estimation of how much you’ll need to save. Now work backwards to reach your savings goal. Divide your estimated vacation cost by the number of months you have before taking your trip to figure out how much money to save aside each month. For example, if you’re taking a Sh100,000 vacation a year from now, you’d need to save about Sh8,000 a month for your getaway. If you’re really determined to see the world, explore new cities while getting your well-deserved break, a little saving and sacrifice will be well worth it in the end.


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gueST house Follow us on Instagram: @travelogke Twitter: @travelogke Facebook: travelog ke Website: Kuwait ambassador H.E. Rashed Qushai documents his travels in Kenya. [Courtesy]

Kenya has stolen my heart: Kuwaiti envoy From his previous posting in Russia where temperatures would plunge to below-zero, Ambassador Rashed Qusai instantly fell in love with the warmth of the people and the country


enya has captured my heart. Having been here for close to five years, I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to live. My previous posting was in Russia, from where I came straight to Nairobi. The moment my flight touched down, I felt that this country was heaven on earth. The temperature in Russia was -14 °C, but when I arrived here it was in the 20s. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to wear layers of clothes anymore! I was beyond ectastic when I discovered that the weather stays in similar ranges all year round. On my first night in Kenya, I slept for a full seven hours; it was the best sleep I had in years. To me, that was a sign of how spectacular my time in Kenya would be. The first place I visited in this lovely country was the Masai Mara in August 2015. I went on a safari with my family for two nights during the annual Wildebeest Migration. I have never seen such an amazing sight in

my life. To this day, it still remains one of the highlights of my time in Kenya and I strongly recommend anyone who is planning a visit to the country to make this trip. What I love most about this country is the people – they are welcoming and very friendly. Kenyans have a very witty sense of humour, which blends very well with mine, making interactions quite interesting. The diverse and vibrant nature that exists in this country is unparalleled. The

different varieties of flora and fauna is what deepened my love for Kenya. The mountains, the ocean, the lakes, the forests, the animals, the sceneries are so picturesque, you can hardly believe what you are seeing. Kenya is truly blessed. Apart from Masai Mara I have also visited Mt Kenya, Crescent Island, Lake Naivasha, Mombasa, Lamu, Kilifi, Vipingo, Malindi, El Donyo and Elsa’s Kopje located in Meru National Park. Whenever I feel tense or just need an escape from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, I take a trip to the mountains or go on a safari to recharge and enjoy the quiet, peaceful atmosphere and the marvellous views. Barely scratched the surface My favourite destination of all of them though is the Coast. I have been to the North and South Coast at least 20 times. I enjoy taking vacations there because it is my preferred place to get rid of negative energy that tends to build up when work gets too hectic. I normally prefer the North Coast because it is easier to travel to Kilifi and Malindi from there. I have friends in Malindi so whenever I go to Mombasa I get to visit them as well. Although I have explored many places in Kenya, I still feel as if I have barely scratched the surface of the magical places that this country has. I have a few trips planned, the first being to Elephant Bedroom Camp in Samburu which I am quite excited for, then to Treetops Lodge in Nyeri and finally, a hiking trip to

the top of Mount Kenya which I have already started training for, I don’t want to be fainting on the mountain! I urge everyone, especially the locals, to travel and explore this gorgeous country. There is no shortage of places to visit, experiences to be had and adventures to cherish. You will be left with an enriched soul and a broaden mind which in my opinion is the most important aspect about a person. Only travel can gift you with these traits. So travel far and travel wide and KARIBUNI KENYA!


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The expansive arid north eastern town is resplendent with magnificent wildlife

Wajir’s dry delights By Gardy Chacha


long time ago – no one knows when exactly – a group of men was sitting under a tree; sheltering from the harsh afternoon sun in a town in the semi-arid North Eastern part of Kenya. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they heard a rustling noise. Terrified, they all scampered for safety, screaming at the top of their voices. After a brief moment, their elder, who was deemed to be the bravest among them yelled, ‘Wa-jeer!’ that loosely translate to mean, ‘It’s a rat!’


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That is the legend of Wajir town. You are likely to hear different versions of this story, depending on who you ask. Or, you could be told a completely different one. Another common tale here is that the word ‘Wajir’ means coming together in the local Borana dialect. According to this tale, Wajir was the point of convergence for many pastoralists; where they watered their animals. Whichever one you choose to believe, the reality is that Wajir exists in the present age and is predominantly occupied by members of the Somali community. Available data shows that the distance by flight from Nairobi to Wajir is about 493 kilometres, while by road, it is 625.2 kilometres, with large untarmacked sections after Garissa. A typical journey by bus lasts 12 hours. We opted for a flight and landed at Wajir International Airport shortly after 9am. A cold dreary wind blows across the lobby at the airport’s arrival section. From 21,000 feet above sea level, Wajir exudes a rare kind of beauty. Vegetation is scarce and sparse; consisting of rotund shrubs and hardy twigs. History Wajir, like any ancient town, has a very rich history. What is on record is that, in 1912, the British established the town to serve as a colonial headquarter. During World War II, Italian soldiers from Ethiopia invaded the town, seeking to oust the British. To repulse the Italians, the British built bunkers from which they launched retaliatory attacks. Those bunkers are presently located at different points within the town and make for enjoyable underground tunnels. On the ground they look like protruding walls. You enter a tunnel at one point and exit at another; a kilometre (or so) away.

These bunkers are famous sites that have attracted students of war who have camped in Wajir for weeks on end. Served by wells It is not known why the British decided to set camp in Wajir. Maybe they had travelled for a long time and just needed a semblance of normal life. But whatever their reasons, water could not have been one of them. Wajir is as arid as it can get. You can see and feel the dryness of the area even before the plane touches the ground. The town has no lakes, rivers or streams. It is said that the British dug out wells at different focal points around the town from which they satisfied their water needs. The situation is the same to date; locals still use the wells to get water for their domestic use. The wells, about 10 in total, are also a tourist attraction.

1. Giraffe roaming freely in Wajir 2. Traditional manyatta for the local community. 3. Aerial view of Wajir from an aircraf 4. One of the bunkers built and used by the British Army during the colonial era 5. The camel is the most dominant domestic animal in the area. [Courtesy]

Facts about Wajir Wajir is located in an arid area prone to drought Wajir is mainly inhabited by Somalis. The 1999 census reported a total population of 661,941 inhabitants Wajir has a hot desert climate Flying distance from Nairobi to Wajir is about 493 kilometres, while by road, it is 625.2 km

A lake in giraffe country On the outskirts of the town is a KWS game reserve. The most common animal you are likely to see here is the giraffe, as well as unique species of birds


hovering around. I am told that the big cats like cheetahs, are also sighted regularly. Often, they are found on the edges of Lake Yahud in the afternoon. Yes, Wajir has a lake, but it is not what you are thinking. Lake Yahud it is not a real lake: it came into being as the airport was being built. Water began seeping into the excavation, from where material to build the runaway was collected, until the crucible left behind filled up. The water in this body is salty. From the sky, Yahud looks nothing much than a gigantic swimming pool. Neverthe-less, tourists love visiting the lake – perhaps to satisfy their curiosity as to how such a phenomenon happened. Camel delicacy Culinary specialities in Wajir include camel meat – boiled, roasted or fried. Tradi-tionally, women prepare small pieces of dried, spiced, salted and fried camel meat locally referred to as nyirinyiri. The Somali cherish camel milk – fresh or fermented (susac). You are also likely to eat arosto, which is roasted goat meat with spices, accompanied with rice too whether as biryani or pilau. Not to forget the much famed eggless Somali pancake, anjera. All these are available at eateries and at hotels around the town – but they are few. Wajir Palace Hotel served us well. It could as well be the ‘five star’ of the town; we learnt that nearly all tourists settle for it. You will find two or three other hotels with similar standards.


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special feature By Thorn Mulli

Overlooking a natural waterhole fed from a mountain spring, this lodge offers some of the best game viewings in Africa.


his is a triumphant tale of enlightened conservation. The success that has enabled the re-creation of one of the most romantic spots on earth is proof that many hands make work light to achieve the seemingly impossible. Beginnings The first part of this tale begins in 1922 with a privately-owned cattle ranch on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya (Laikipia). Its founder, Alexander Douglas, who had served in the King’s African Rifles (KAR) in Tanganyika gradually grew a holding that came to him as part of a soldiers’ settlement scheme; purchasing surrounding farms when available including the swamp area called Lewa Downs. It is during Douglas’ daughter, Mary Fidelia Douglas, popularly known as Delia, (married to David Craig who had also served in the KAR) time running Lewa that the ranch began moving from commercial ranching into full-fledged conservation. In 1983, David and Delia Craig converted 5,000 acres of their ranch into a rhino sanctuary. This they achieved working with conservationist Anna Merz who on her part had plunged into conservationafter witnessing wildlife annihilation in West Africa. This preserve became the first of its kind to host visitors who came in to see how livestock co-existed with wildlife. As all noble initiates go, the concerted effort paid off and the entire Lewa Downs Ranch eventually turned into a fullfledged refuge for wildlife covering an esteemed 62, 000 acres encapsulating Government-owned Ngare Ndare Forest. Today, endangered species including rhinos and Grevy’s zebra roam free here. And come they have in record numbers, tourists that is, with one of the famous visits resulting in a princely proposal. Before Lewa Wildlife Conservancy reached its current enviable state, however, a relatively small yet critical piece of the jigsaw had to be accommodated. Road to success The second part of this tale draws in a barely-in-teens William Roberts (now

Sirikoi: A peek into ‘world’s best resort’ deceased) who is forced to think and act beyond his years after losing his father. This, mind you, was during an age when the family based in Baringo had to plan and endure a journey to Nakuru, the nearest commercial centre, just to purchase basic supplies. Time and tide wait for no man and this Nairobi School alumnus got tired of playing truant in school and waded in tailor-making safaris extending to most of Kenya’s unbeaten track as an edge few could match. Ingenuity extended into self-taught construction that resulted in one of Kenya’s first tented camp-Island Camp Baringo. This was in 1972 and Willie, then aged 19, would run this camp for 13 years before selling to Lonrho group. It is at this camp that he met his wife Sue and together they built a family house on Samatian Island that is presently a lodge. Willie would also be responsible for helping establish the first conservancy on public land or what you might call tribal trust land (some private conservancies like Lewa were already running) re-converting a wheat farm to its original state. He helped marshal Ol Choroi Land Owners Association in the Masai Mara to change laws of the day to establish Mara Wildlife Conservancy in an area known as the “Mara Triangle”, one of the most visited and well-known protected areas in the world. Back at Lewa, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) was about to embark on an ambitious eucalyptus tree farming project on a chunk of land at its heart totalling 7, 500 acres. The fast-

growing trees were intended to provide energy to heat furnaces for drying tea leaves. 4, 000 families would also be settled in the semi-arid chunk effectively signalling the death of the fragile eco-system. The conservation exertion roped in Willie who helped initiate a land swap deal that saw the project and the families settled in a more farming conducive patch in Timau. The year was 2000 and in 2002, Sirikoi Lodge was put up. My Sirikoi Experience I opted for a 50-minute flight from Wilson Airport to Lewa Downs. Should you choose the scenic road option, then you should make for Nanyuki from Nairobi on a journey that takes around three hours on an all-weather

road. Now, I had been to Lewa before for its equally famous marathon. While the experience had its highs, animal sightings were minimal and the marathon campsite basic. There are safari tents then there are luxury safari tents. Sirikoi crows the latter. This rating is based on a personal evaluation of its bathroom. Sirikoi truly impressed. The roomy en-suite bathroom has both a shower, a freestanding bath (with views), WC and a double sink with gold finishing that creamed heaven in the light. Each tent vaunts a viewing deck with incredible panoramas of the waterhole fed by the Sirikoi stream. When it comes to experiences, try beating an hour-long massage in this serene environment only broken by


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special feature The Sirikoi fairytale Sirikoi Lodge is ranked best in the world in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards by Conde Nast Traveller, a luxury and lifestyle travel website. This safari camp located in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a World Heritage Site on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya, beat more than 10,000 other hotels to take this year’s crown in one of the biggest travel awards, which were announced on Monday. A US resort, Horizon Resort and Spa, was ranked second, while Zambia’s Chindeni Bush Camp was third in the competition to pick the top 50 resorts. “For our 32nd annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey — yes, more than three decades — a record 600,000 registered voters weighed in on their favourite resorts in the world,” Conde Nast Traveller noted. According to the travel website, this year’s travel award was the biggest since it was first held in 1998 as it ranked thousands of favourite, tried-and-tested hotels, destinations and travel fixers – from cruise lines to tour operators. Travellers rated more than 10,000 hotels, resorts and spas.

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Activities to do in Lewa •


chirping from birds and later sipping tea draped in an afro-chic robe that you work hard not to pinch. If you have the taste for more solid accommodation, away from the luxury tents, then the two-bedroom Sirikoi cottage designed with families or friends traveling together in mind, should do the trick. If exclusivity and ostentation is more your cut then Sirikoi House should knock you off your socks. Sirikoi House is only sold on an exclusive use basis and comes with its own private safari vehicle and guide, as well as chef and team of staff. Apart from exquisite furnishings drawn from all over the world, guests at the House also have access to a private wooden deck built overlooking the wetlands; perfect for private sundowners and meals. Whichever your fancy, all options are exquisite depicting Willie’s architectural essence and tasteful interiors by cele-brated American interior designer, Suzanne Kassler.

• Keen on souvenirs? I own a leather, beaded belt I purchased at the gift shop. The best part for me, however, was the mealtimes served on a deck shaded by a canopy overlooking the waterhole inches away. Just like wildlife, only the freshest of ingredients make the cut. If lucky, you could just share lunch with Nditu, a five-year-old orphan giraffe, who found refuge in Sirikoi and has formed the oddest of friendships with the establishment’s horses. Gold eco-rated Did you know that you could grow most of your dietary requirements on one acre? Sue’s pride and joy, an organic veg-

etable and fruit garden, free range chickens, and a crystal clear mountain spring providing all the lodge’s water farm is testament. This organic farm augmented by environmentally friendly practices in camp and community support and development have earned Sirikoi an Ecotourism Kenya Gold Eco-Rated certification; one of the few lodges in Kenya to have one. It has been ages since I saw lions up close let alone a crash of rhino. I confidently reckon that the probability of encountering the Big Five in Lewa rivals even the world famous Mara. As the conservancy has grown, the amount of wildlife it supports has increased and now you can enjoy some rewarding game viewing here. Both Grevy’s and common zebra can be found on the open grass plains alongside Grant’s gazelle, buffalo, reticulated giraffe, Beisa oryx, eland and impala. Black and white rhino can also both be viewed here and predators are well represented with lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. During the heat of the late morning many of these animals converge at the swamps to drink. Large elephant herds are frequent visitors so sometimes it is possible to see hundreds of animals all in one spot. If that does not impress you then spotting the rare swamp-dwelling antelope, the sitatunga,

Enjoy horseback or camel safari taking you through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy with its abundant wildlife and their habitat is surely an experience of a lifetime. Comfortable camping facilities, excellent cuisine, and experienced guides will ensure your wellbeing on your safari. Climb Mt Kenya and visit Lake Rutundu on Mt Kenya for a fly-fishing excursion and stay at the rustic and ultra-private Rutundu Log Cabin where Prince William proposed. Day trips to the adjoining Ngare Ndare Forest to look for the elusive colobus monkey population and to learn about the indigenous flora and its local uses. The shimmering blue pools and the only canopy walk in East Africa should also impress. Lewa Wilderness hosts and flies the only open cockpit biplane in East Africa which will take you around the conservation areas of northern Kenya. It is a truly magical experience and very much returns you to the “Out of Africa” era. The pilot, Will Craig, has over 5,000 hours experience flying mostly in the Lewa area and can show you how the conservation project is improving and positively affecting the local communities. Educational Tours on the History and Day-to-Day Operations of the Conservancy: Whether it’s a visit to the pre-historic archaeological site, a local school, water project or feeding a baby rhino there are plenty of activities that will peak your interest for a behind the scenes look at the conservancy operations. ·A helicopter Ride to Mt Ololokwe for Breakfast.

The African Heritage House, near the Nairobi National Park.


Inset and below: Some of Donovan’s African artefacts.

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By Peter Muiruri

One man’s fight to preserve African art against all odds


he sound of thousands of wildebeest hooves hurtling down the AthiKapiti plains reverberates for miles on end. A cloud of soft, red dust hangs in the air, partially blocking out the rays of the African sun. The animals pluck every visible blade of grass, transforming the lush green plains into a dirty brown carpet. Nearby, an old train known colloquially as the ‘Lunatic Express’ makes its way to the coastal city of Mombasa with tourists craning

their necks to see the wildlife spectacle. That was Nairobi National Park 50 years ago. A young American, full of vigour and ambition witnessed this scenario almost daily from his home at the edge of the park. Alan Donovan, a bureaucrat, had quit his job as a relief officer in Nigeria during the Biafra War in order to tour the African continent by road. After a brief stopover in Kenya, he intended to buy himself a boat in South Africa before returning to America. I met Donovan, now 80, in the impressive house he built close to 30 years ago. A modern cargo train heading to Mombasa sped by, mocking the adjacent 100-year-old railway

line that used to drop guests right at his doorstep. He gazes over the plains that he first saw 50 years ago, recollecting the sights and sounds of the park with nostalgia. “These plains used to teem with wildebeests when I settled here, similar to what we see in the Mara during the Great Migration. The herds are now gone, perhaps forever,” he said wistfully. Africa’s wildlife might be vanishing, but Donovan is more concerned about African culture and the arts, the very things that made him “stop over” in Kenya – for 50 years now. These too are on the verge of extinction if nothing is done to preserve what we have left. Throughout these years though, Donovan has been

13 CulTure quesT Follow us on Instagram: @TravelogKe Twitter: @TravelogKe Facebook: Travelog Ke Website: Part of Alan Donovan’s African art collection.

Alan Donovan, the founder of the African Heritage House. [Photos/Peter Mururi] Ostrich egg shells

collecting and preserving art from nearly every country in Africa. It has been an arduous journey. Donovan came to Kenya in March 1970 together with a bunch of other travel enthusiasts in a Volkswagen van. All he wanted was to visit a ‘virgin’ part of Kenya where modern civilisation was a rumour before continuing with his African trip. Turkana became an easy pick due to what he had read in books. It was here that he started collecting Kenyan artefacts. And then he went back again and again in search of more. He even sold the van in order to buy more artefacts. Using the cultural items from Turkana and Maasai, he set up a jewellery workshop called Nala (his name, Alan, spelled backwards). He jokingly muses that Disney Films, the creators of the movie Lion King, used this name, Nala, for one of the main lionesses in the set. Donovan would not be in Kenya this long had he not met Joseph Zuzarte Murumbi, Kenya’s second Vice-President, who was also an ardent art collector. “Murumbi attended one of my exhibitions and afterwards asked me if I could go back to Turkana to gather some more artefacts. The only issue was the assignment would keep me in Kenya for a year. Well, I agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history,” he says. While in Turkana, Donovan became engrossed by how the local community eked a living with very meagre resources. “How could these women carve out the akarum, a milk storage jar from mere wood while other communities used the gourd?” he wondered. Then there was the ekecholong, a wooden headrest carried by men whenever they walked. “Again this brought to the fore how skilled the community was in making practical items in a very harsh environ-

ment.” Together with the abiro, the Turkana walking sick and the abarait, a sheathed wrist knife, these items became part of his early collections. In following decades, Donovan scoured the continent, collecting every cultural item worth keeping. With the help of Murumbi, Donovan opened the first Pan-African art gallery in Nairobi that they called The African Heritage. This gallery became a meeting point for artefact dealers from all over Africa. “Even when we moved out of the city centre, the traders kept coming. We had unknowingly started what people today call the Maasai Market,” he recalls. In 1973, Donovan moved to a small house near the Nairobi Park owned by one of his employees. “Her parents had built the house for her but she got married to a man who supposedly

A guest room decorated in West African fabric.

owned an island in the West Indies. I slept on the floor for a year with a coffee pot as my only companion,” he says. It is in this area that he began to construct what is today the African Heritage House in 1989. The design itself was borne from the large mud mosques of West Africa, notably the Grand Mosque in Djenné, Mali. “I was mesmerised at how such huge structures with elaborate designs could be constructed out of mud. If they could do it back then, why not today?” he poses. The house is a

mosaic of what makes Africa a beautiful continent and has become a sort of shrine for art lovers globally. In 2015, the house was declared a national monument. Walking through the house is taking a step back in time, to see Africa through arts, culture and customs, and travel – from nimba the great mask from Guinea, the smallest beads from Masailand, the Ghanaian Kente to the kingly Nigerian Agbada, the house has them all. In fact, art enthusiasts can sample this cultural journey by booking themselves a night or two here. African heritage has survived because people like Donovan were courageous enough to defy all odds to pull together artefacts that would otherwise have been lost. Like the proverbial Phoenix, he literally rose from the ashes when his gallery in downtown Nairobi burnt down in 1976. In its place along Kenyatta Avenue now stands I&M Bank Building. He has lost priceless collections through floods and theft and stood his ground against armed policemen on a mission to evict him from his house to make room for the new standard gauge railway. In his twilight years, he has watched helplessly as parcels of land on adjacent properties being forcefully grabbed by private developers – land which could have been used as additional sites for the African arts and culture. What a journey to save our heritage!

Africa’s wildlife might be vanishing, but Donovan is more concerned about African culture and the arts. Throughout these 50 years, he has been collecting and preserving art from nearly every country in Africa. It has been an arduous journey.

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Panari Nyahururu through the lens of a teenager By Toya Njeri Chege


y escapade trip to The Panari, Nyahururu started from Meru. The journey from Meru to Nanyuki was exceptional with pleasant views of Nature and man-made landmarks – captivating sceneries of hills and mountains including spectacular snow-capped Mt Kenya. The drive is fairly long and dusk is already setting in. Shortly it is night time. Suddenly we come to a stop and the driver tells us we are at Nyahururu. We jump into a colourful golf cart (the mode of transport within the Resort) that takes us to the reception. Within minutes we are checked in and take another golf cart to our rooms, a short distance from the reception. The rooms are gorgeous and I immediately fall in love with them. Thankfully there’s a fireplace which is a welcome treat since the area is quite chilly. Under the bedding of my expansive double-bed, I find two hot water bottles that encourage me to take a hot shower – it’s been a dusty drive and the linen is snow-white. I fall asleep in minutes.

I am woken up by the melodious chirping of birds and the sound of the Thompson Falls not too far off. I open the sliding doors leading to the balcony and I stop in my tracks. The view is amazing. I can see the Thompson falls gorge and the hills beyond; the view is to die for. I head out to the dining area for breakfast and I’m met with an array of various cuisines including continental, Indian, and African. There is a live cooking corner where you can order your desired meal. Meals are served against a backdrop of soft jazz music. After breakfast, we are taken on a tour by the hotel’s General Manager, Mr Martin Mburugu. As we walk around, Mr Mburugu explains about every spot, landscape, view, the sight and sound of The Panari! Highlights of my stay My cook-out experience It is sunny and pleasant outside as I head out for a cookout with Chef Joel. He tells me that we will be cooking a Panari signature recipe – the South Indian breakfast at the courtyard. We were making Masala Dosa which is an amazing vegetarian pancake wrap with authenticated vegetables. The meal is served with sambar and coconut chutney. It is a unique meal as it caters to vegetarian clientele. The step-by-step instruction by Chef Joel is quite exciting and memorable for me. Due to limited space, I regret not to share it with you but will

do so sometime in the future. Watching for Elephants: Believe it or not, elephants visit this place. To make viewing easier and comfortable, an elephant platform deck has been installed. It is raised a few meters from the ground so you can see over the fence. I wasn’t lucky to spot them along the perimeter wall during my stay. During the guided tours with our guide, Samuel Lopeto, I got to learn many things about wildlife and bird species. Lopeto is a nice person who tells you stories that are educative and makes you laugh. He told me about Turkana, his birthplace and how he was a cattle rustler at age 12 but is now happy that he went to school and has a job. He touched my heart by asking me to work hard in my studies. Thompson Falls I visited The Thompson Falls, a walking distance from the resort. There are curio shops at the entrance where you can buy hand made souvenirs. The descent to the falls is amazing. It gives you a chance to exercise and have fun at the same time. Hanging out with the Hippos Just a few metres from the hotel is

Toya Njeri basking at a fountain in the hotel a hippo swamp where the animals hang out. Viewing these herbivores is tricky as they are submerged , cooling thmeslves off as they rest. The best time to view them is early in the morning or just before dusk. From our guide, I learned a few facts about hippos, for example: hippos stay in the swamp throughout the day and graze at night; they are semi-aquatic; can weigh up to 3000 tonnes; and they are generally harmless creatures they just don’t like people in their path so if you happen to come across one just let it have its way. Biking and Quad driving I had a chance to ride the quad carts and bikes around the hotel grounds where I went for a tortoise hunt. I was unfortunate in my hunt for the resident Mr Tortoise but I had lots of playtimes with the peacocks and rabbits. My encounter with fellow teens During my stay, I got to meet two girls from the US. Sophia Andrews and Kharonay Brown, both aged 17. I learned that they were from New Jersey and were travelling with their parents in a global organization that is supporting girls. They shared their experiences in Kenya which they had visited twice before and I got a chance to tell them what I knew about my country.

15 Take the trip

Floating on the seven islands of Lake Baringo

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Endangered Rothschild giraffes roam free on this conservation area. By Caroline Chebet


eauty and splendour served in magical paradise spring to mind when one thinks of the intriguing features of the islands nestled in Lake Baringo - one of the two fresh lakes in the Great Rift. It is here that seven magnificent, lush green islands thrive, spewing unsullied grandeur. It is here within the islands that little-known hot springs spurt to life, and where locals go fishing. Still, it is only in the of Lake Baringo’s unique islands that endangered Rothschild giraffes roam freely. “In these islands that you can step out at night to the pristine views that make Kenya magical,” says Perrie Hennesy, director of Island Camp Lake Baringo. We set out to tour the scenic views strapped on Lake Baringo Conservation Area and explore the little-known gems. Our first stop, along the shores of the lake is a snake park, which according to the curator at the facility, Willy Limo, has about ten snake species as part of raising awareness in the county that registers high cases of snake bites. From the venomous carpet viper, sand boa, black mamba to deadly puff udder, spitting cobra and the non-venomous red-spotted beaked snake, the facility serves as an education centre. “Here, tourists get to see the different species of snakes within this region. They are sensitised on how to deal with snake bites, learn about venomous and non-venomous snakes and also their behaviour,” Mr Limo explains. From there, the next stop was at

Soi Safari Lodge on the shores of Lake Baringo. The heavy breakfast went a long way in cushioning us for the daylong expedi-tion to the seven islands. The boat ride expedition to Samatian Island is nothing short of blissful as the boat soars far deep into the horizon. The only sound that disrupts the natural calmness is the loud purr of the motorboat. Savouring the therapeutic breeze in the vast mass is breath-taking. Devil’s Island The seven islands namely Ol Kokwe, Samatian, Devil’s Island, Longcharo, Lekorosi, Lempakany and Island Camp, each have its own unique features. At the entry of Samatian Island, a floating restaurant sways lazily on the vast mass of water as cormorant birds sunbathe by the decades-old stumps of trees. The island boasts a single hotel, Samatian Island Lodge that exudes modesty in the most natural form. On the highest peak of the island, is a watchtower, a perfect spot to gaze into the horizon of the vast lake. A quick peek into Samatian Island and we are off to Longcharo Island, home of seven Rothschild giraffes, also known as Baringo giraffes. The voyage to Longcharo takes barely 30 minutes. The island, as the story goes, got separated from the main land after the lake burst its banks, leaving the giraffes trapped on the island. By then, the giraffes were about ten but others died due to diseases and adaptation challenges. Visitors are treated to a rare fete of feeding the giraffes with pellets supplied by wildlife wardens. From Longcharo, our compass points to Island Camp, some 30 minutes away by boat. Visitors can spend a night here watching the waves rise and fall, fishermen casting nets and

crocodiles yawning by the shores. Lake Baringo has hot secrets just like Lake Bogoria. At Ol Kokwe Island, one of the largest inhabited islands with close to 1, 000 inhabitants. The ‘hot secrets’ are the bubbling hot springs - hot enough to boil an egg. The jetting springs, are part of the geological phenomena in the rift. Close by is the Devil’s Island - a name so-coined due to the inaccessibility of the island. Lekorosi and Lampakany islands also make perfect spots to visit, serving nature’s best in its rawest form. And as the waves slowly ebbed away, we wrapped up our journey in a rather rough yet exciting ride back to Tumbili Cliff Lodge, on the shores of the mainland facing the islands. The rooms give an excellent view of the lake where one can sit by the window

of the top floor and watch the sun setting. You can also wait for nightfall to watch the universe in one of the latest telescopes known as Celestron 14. You can lull the night away watching the Milky Way, shooting stars, planets, the moon and the entire solar system in a single night in one of those rare technolo-gies that draws in tourists across the world trooping by just to experience a feel under the African moon.

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36 ‘unplanned’ hours in the land of sun and lake Throw caution to the wind and take a trip using Google as a virtual tour guide By Ivy Waridi


ave you ever gotten up, boarded a car and selected your destination as you go along? I haven’t yet but it feels like something I should. We tend to plan our trips so meticulously that we miss out on moments because they have deviated from our plans. Travelling is about seeing new and old places with new eyes. Google Maps were my new ‘eyes’ as I recently explored Kisumu. This trip was my way of finding a different narrative for my Kisumu story. I spent 36 hours in Kisumu using Google Maps to navigate my way around the town and its environs. My phone was my virtual guide to my first stop; the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. The task was to get there using Google maps, a 10-minute walk from the Sover-eign Hotel in Milimani Area. I was able to rate and review the sanctuary through the app. Through the ‘Explore’ but-

ton I was able to discover the Impala Eco Lodge that is inside the sanctuary. It has one of the best views of Lake Victoria that I have ever seen. Through Google Maps you can become a local guide and map the world around you. As a guide, you can help other people find their way in different locations. Also, you earn points while you at it. I started my trip as a level 1 local guide but I ended it at level 4. Being a local guide has its perks that you can only enjoy as you go along. You get to test new products from Google Maps have depending on how active you are. Activities that earn you points include posting pictures or writing reviews. We headed to Lolwe Estate to learn the art of making bracelets and anklets. The area is known as the High Point Tourism, by using Plus codes. It addresses the issue of unnamed roads or places that lack street addresses. With plus codes, you can express the location of your home or

work, wherever they are, to anyone, with just a short address, and make it so anyone anywhere can use them. We did this at Jackson’s Beadwork, and other many shops in the area, making it easier for the next traveller to navigate their way in that area. There are only 10 countries in that world that have a street name for more than 80% of their listings. Plus codes make finding the right place easy. Mapping the area around means putting unknown places on the map. When it comes to food the stereotype here is that the only thing you can eat is fish. We debunked that theory by using the ‘Explore nearby restaurant’ options and ended up at the Laughing Buddha Lounge and Café, a vegetarian restaurant. This information was displayed on the app but we learnt that you can edit and ensure places have accurate information. The menu did not have a wide variety so we opted to explore other options. We made a detour and headed to

Roan Club and restaurant for dinner. Google Maps, like your travel companion, can keep track of your favourite places by making, saving and sharing the list with people. I have never taken a boat ride so I decided to do it and tick it off my bucket list. We head to Dunga Beach to enjoy the waters of Lake Victoria. It is said there is something calming about water but I think it would have been more enjoyable for me if the boat was a bit bigger. The ride back to the shore was slightly better because I could see the end in sight. We’ve all heard about Kit Mikayi and the stories around it. It is said that a woman whose husband married a second wife was mistreated by her husband and she turned into stone. The water that comes from the rocks is her tears flowing. Kit Mikayi has now become a place of worship for the Legio Maria sect, who spend night vigils at the rocks worshiping. As expected, we decided to experience nightlife in this colourful city. We enjoyed live band performances at the Dunga Hill Camp, this is the perfect place for a sundowner. The ‘Explore’ section on Google Maps helps you discover new places and learn what is on offer. The diversity of Kisumu city makes it a thrilling place to experience and debunk assumptions that have been made about the city. It has sights that need exploring and all you need are “new eyes” to help you along the way.



the the standard standard

The Standard

wellness waTch

Take a hike - it’s all downhill from here With more people adopting different fitness regimes, one of the activities that has gained traction is going for walks on rough terrains for recreational purposes and overall health By Travel Buff


here’s here’s a a new new buzzword buzzword in in town town in in as as far far as as lifestyle lifestyle habits habits are are concerned. concerned. FitFitness ness enthusiasts enthusiasts are are now now bandying bandying around around the the term term word word ‘wellness’ ‘wellness’,, which which is is interpreted interpreted differently differently by by different different people people –– some some think think it it is is joining joining a a regular regular fitness fitness regime regime in in the the gym gym and and others others believe believe it it is is adopting adopting healthy healthy eating eating habits. habits. Yet, Yet, to to some some wellness wellness is is synonymous synonymous with with yoga. yoga. Whatever Whatever your your definition definition is, is, it it is is important important to to note note that that wellness wellness is is more more than than just just being being free free from from illness. illness. It It is is an an active active process process of of becoming becoming aware aware of of and and making making choices choices toward toward a a health health and and fulfilling fulfilling life, life, encompassing encompassing all all aspects aspects of of the the human human being being from from physical, physical, mental mental and and social. social. One One of of the the activities activities being being adopted adopted towards towards achieving achieving wellness wellness is is hiking. hiking. Unlike walking that entails the Unlike walking that entails the eveeveryday ryday movement movement within within shorter shorter disdistances, tances, hiking hiking is is usually usually an an extensive, extensive, vigorous vigorous walk, walk, usually usually surrounded surrounded by by nature for recreation-al nature for recreation-al purposes. purposes. From From the the sedate sedate hill hill walks walks to to the the snow-capped snow-capped peak peak of of Mt Mt Kenya, Kenya, to to high high altitude routes on alpine slopes, altitude routes on alpine slopes, Kenya Kenya is is blessed blessed with with superb superb terrain terrain where where trekkers, both beginners trekkers, both beginners and and experiexperienced enced ones, ones, can can have have unforgettable unforgettable experiences. experiences. So, So, why why go go on on a a hike? hike?

Burns Burns calories calories When When it it comes comes to to gains, gains, there there are are many many reasons reasons why why you you should should emembrace brace hiking hiking as as a a form form of of wellness. wellness. Apart Apart from from being being a a fun fun activity activity that that

one one can can engage engage in, in, hiking hiking is is a a great great workout workout for for the the body. body. The The fact fact that that you you stop stop to to catch catch your your breath breath as as you you climb climb that that rugged rugged hill hill and and later later on on nurse nurse sore sore calf calf muscles muscles after after the the whole whole affair affair is is the the evidence evidence that that it’s it’s a a serious serious affair. affair. Studies Studies have have shown shown that that hiking hiking builds builds stronger stronger muscles muscles as as well well as as improves improves cardiocardiovascular vascular performance. performance. Factors Factors like like the the speed speed at at which which you you hike, hike, however, however, the the weight weight of of your your pack pack as as well well as as the the type type of of terrain terrain can can influence influence how how fast fast and and how how much much calories calories you you burn. burn. Boosts Boosts mental mental health health Hiking boosts Hiking boosts your your mental mental health. health. Imagine Imagine walking walking in in a a serene serene location location surround-ed surround-ed only only by by trees, trees, rivers, rivers, other other natural natural resources resources with with the the only only sound sound audible audible is is the the melodious melodious chirping chirping of of birds? birds? II can can bet bet that that this this is is an an experiexperience ence of of a a lifetime lifetime that that is is bound bound to to stimustimulate late all all your your senses senses as as you you take take in in deep deep breaths breaths of of fresh fresh air. air. Nature Nature has has a a calmcalming ing effect effect and and makes makes one one forget forget about about the the stresses stresses of of life. life. Through Through solo solo hiking, hiking, one one is is able able to to build build their their self-esteem self-esteem as as walking walking along along the the trail trail gives gives you you time time for for reflections reflections and and meditating. meditating. Hiking Hiking affords affords us us the the chance chance to to temtemporarily porarily forget forget the the stresses stresses of of our our daily daily routines routines to to rejuvenate rejuvenate and and reenergise. reenergise. There There is is also also the the fact fact that that our our bodbodies ies produce produce vitamin vitamin D D while while we we walk walk under under the the sun, sun, which which is is said said to to have have a a very very positive positive impact impact on on our our moods moods and and outlook outlook by by activating activating the the hormone hormone that that safeguards safeguards from from mental mental illnesses illnesses like like depression. depression. Bonding Bonding sessions sessions When it it comes When comes to to social social wellness, wellness, hiking hiking is is a a great great opportunity opportunity for for individuals individuals to to reconnect reconnect with with their their spouse, spouse, family, family, friends friends and and even even colleagues. colleagues. MaintainMaintaining ing meaningful meaningful relationships relationships in in a a very very fast-paced fast-paced and and dynamic dynamic world world can can be be quite quite challenging. challenging. Hiking Hiking offers offers a a platform platform to to iron iron out out differences differences and and talk talk

Where Where to to get get a a ‘high’ ‘high’ A A moderate moderate hike hike can can burn burn between between 300 300 to to 400 400 calories calories per per hour. hour. Some Some common common places places in in KenKenya ya where where you you could could for for a a hike hike include include Ngong Ngong Hills, Hills, Mt Mt Elgon, Elgon, Mt Mt Longonot, Longonot, Loroghi Loroghi Hills, Hills, FisFischer’s cher’s Tower Tower at at Hell’s Hell’s Gate, Gate, KereKereita, ita, Gatamaiyu, Gatamaiyu, Suswa Suswa Crater Crater as as well well as as Menengai Menengai Craters Craters in in NakNakuru. uru. Mt Mt Kenya Kenya is is considered considered one one of of toughest toughest trails trails in in Africa. Africa.

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about about issues issues we we may may otherwise otherwise fail fail to to address address in in our our daily daily routines. routines. Before Before going going on on a a hike hike always always ensure ensure that you begin at a slow that you begin at a slow pace pace to to allow allow your your muscles muscles warm warm up up gradually. gradually. You You should should also also slow slow down down towards towards the the end end of of the the expedition expedition to to allow allow your your heart rate to return to its heart rate to return to its normal normal pace. pace. Additionally, Additionally, gentle gentle exercises exercises will will asassist sist in in relaxing relaxing the the muscles. muscles. Always Always ensure ensure that that you you stay stay well-hywell-hydrated drated all all through through while while on on the the trail. trail. This This is is because because your your body body requires requires plenty plenty of of water water to to maintain maintain optimum optimum functions. In addition, functions. In addition, water water assists assists in in cooling cooling down down the the body body when when you you are are hot hot and and it it will will keep keep your your muscles muscles and and joints joints working working properly properly thereby thereby preventing injury. Remember preventing injury. Remember to to carry carry some some hand hand sanitiser sanitiser to to use use for for hygiene hygiene purposes purposes as as water water may may not not be be readily readily available. available.


The Standard

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When all else fails, go on vacation To make your trip a success, ensure you put more effort in preparation and plan to enjoy By Peter Muiruri


ith the long school holidays here with us, many parents are scratching their heads wondering what to do with their kids. Whatever your plans are, a well-deserved holiday should be on the cards. Where do you start? What are the priority areas in planning for a holiday? Here are some pointers when preparing for that dream vacation.

Prepare, prepare, prepare – Most family holidays go awfully wrong due to inadequate preparation. Herding the family into the car and setting off without proper research is a sure recipe for disaster. It is important to know more about the location and the best time to travel. Go through online reviews to see what other guests have liked (or complained) about the location. More importantly, find out about their policy on children. Go a step further and involve your children. They are more likely to enjoy a trip that they were involved in planning. Write down the essentials – Have you ever found yourself on your perfect holiday destination minus one thing that sours the whole stay? It could be as ‘simple’ as a phone charger but that small oversight may drain the juice out of your vacation. While this may look like a mundane exercise list all the items you intend to pack, including clothing. Assign one family member to cross check that all the items in the list are ready and packed.

Issue a travel alert – While you may not inform your entire neighbourhood of your travel plans, it is wise to let a friend or neighbour know of your plans. Ask them to conduct regular checks on your home for you. How to get there – What mode of transport will you use to better utilise the time? This will depend on your pocket. There are cheap flights from Nairobi to most holiday destinations in Kenya. The train to Mombasa runs twice a day from both destinations. Early bookings will spare you last minute headaches and also save you a few coins. Of course if you are thinking of a holiday abroad, then flying might be the only option. Still, airfares vary from airline to airline. Check out for special offers. Special needs – Might you be travelling with small children, the infirm or elderly? These constitute a special needs group. If you are driving, small children will need a change of diapers and feeding. This group will need periodical bathroom breaks, while the some may need to take medication at certain intervals. Factor these in your travel times. Expect the unexpected – What happens when you lose some luggage or cash during travel? How do you plan to mitigate such incidents? For foreign travel, having some travel insurance may come in

handy. However, it is easier to prevent such scenarios in the first place. Some families split among themselves crucial documents, cash, and credit cards for safekeeping to reduce the chances of one person losing all such items. Beware of fraud – In this era of cybercrimes, take precautions to avoid falling victim. Some banks require their clients to inform them if they are planning to use their credit or debit cards away from their usual location. You do not want your cards blocked while abroad because you failed to notify your bank. On the other hand, your bank will flag off any unusual activity since you have informed them of your travel plans in advance. Holiday activities – What do you once you get to your destination? Have you thought of family activities? At the coast, swimming seems an obvious choice. Still you can in-

corporate other fun activities such as hiking, sightseeing, or attending concerts. Remember to have some toys for small children if you want to have some peace during your vacation. Create some ‘me’ time – While family activities may be fun, each member needs some time to unwind. Create some time without any activities for relaxation and introspection. This could also be time for the couple to take a retreat away from the prying eyes of the brood. Enjoy your holiday – This is the key reason for the nine points above!


The Standard

culinary escape

Homely dimension to African dining Tucked away in the heart of Nairobi is a restaurant famed for its fish dishes

By Ivy Waridi


here to eat and what to eat are matters very close to my heart. There are certain meals that I believe are just meant to be made at home and sometimes I tend to believe that my mum is the only one who can make the dish. This was before I ventured out to 3 Dee restaurant, and my perspective changed. Located along Elgeyo Marakwet road is 3 Dee Apartments that houses the 3 Dee restaurant. It is accessible by Uber or alternatively you can take a matatu Number 46 and alight at the Habesha and walk to 3 Dee. The restaurant has been referred to as a good accident because when it opened it was meant for in-house guests only but now it serves a larger clientele including walk-ins. It is an African-themed restaurant from the décor to how the staff are dressed. I quickly discovered that 3 Dee is fondly referred to as the ‘fish place.’ The whole idea of dining is for the experience; 3 Dee offers you home-style dishes with a twist. I wanted to try their fish but I knew I was not going to have it with ugali. I asked the waiter to surprise me with the starch options that came with my fish. When I tell people that I know the difference between fish from the lake, river or the fish ponds they think it is a joke and that is one of the reasons I do not like eating fish from Nairobi but I was willing to try my luck with 3 Dee. They would not call it the fish place if it did not live up to its expectations. Their menu features a myriad of dishes with African influences, so much so that they serve all the meals with different vegetables such as mrenda and managu charged separately from the main meal. 3

Dee starts to fill up pretty fast during the lunch hour. I had the fish choma with plantain, sautéed potatoes, and kachumbari. The juices and tenderness of the fish was a remarkable treat. It is one of the better prepared whole fishes I have ever been served. Each morsel flaked off the bone easily and they had they have a spicy sauce that pairs well with the fish. Part of the experience is in how you eat the food; I was encouraged to eat using my hands as opposed to the cutlery provided. I understand that if they do not get fresh fish from their suppliers, they will not serve fish during that period. They make their fish in seven different ways and you just have to pick what works for you. I am not a big fan of soup in any of my food so the fish choma was the perfect meal for me. The portions are equivalent to the pricing, I thought my fish was meant for two people yet it was there smallest fish. My companion had the mum’s chicken which is one of the restaurant’s famous dishes. If you take the full mum’s chicken, it can feed up to four people. It was served with chapatti, rice, and roasted potatoes.

The chapatis were a bit too dry for my liking but the kienyeji chicken was tender and fell off the bone easily. The area around the restaurant can be quite noisy because it is next to the road and construction of the road is ongoing but it is mellowed down by the background music played in the restaurant. You have the option of custom making your meal but you would have to call in advance and give them about 50 minutes to prepare. The normal wait time for the food is around 30 minutes. My day ended with freshly brewed lemon tea, which was a plus because it tasted divine.

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20 the mixologiST

The Standard

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‘Death by Ruthie’ By Anjellah owino


he name of the cocktail might send a chill to some but ignites curiosity in others. It has become a popular drink with frequent visitors at Herbs and Spices restaurant at Nairobi Serena

Hotel. Ruth Nzau is the brains behind the cocktail. A spontaneous road trip provided her chance to invent the drink. Her companions relied on her to come up with a plan and fast. Ruth went to her house to pick Star Anise syrup. They set off their journey and on the way, stopped by a supermarket to get Don Julio tequila, orange and peach juice. And voilà, a cocktail was born! Everyone seemed to enjoy the taste so much that they kept saying, “Ruth, you are going to kill us.” The Food and Beverage Management alumna introduced the cocktail to the menu and named it ‘Death by Ruthie’. “The key ingredients to the cocktail are tequila and syrup, which has a natural and traditional flavour. I feel blessed that I get to decide the specials we are going to serve,” Ruth says. Ruth curates her own recipes, she imagines herself mixing different ingredients to come up with the unique blends. “When coming up with a cocktail, I first mix non-alcoholic ingredients. If it doesn’t taste good, then it won’t be any better with alcohol,” she says.

second ShoT

Ruth has been a mixologist for 7 years now. She started out as a bartender in banquet functions then a waitress before she applied for a job at Nairobi Serena Hotel. Cilantro, mint and basil herbs are Ruth’s favourite ingredients. In incorporating herbs and spices in her cocktails and mocktails, Ruth has carved a new interest. “I am working towards creating cocktail recipes for the approaching December festivities and the cold weather. I have also been thinking of ways people can drink cognac as a cocktail,” she says.

By Alex Kavita travelog@standardmedia.


ast month, I travelled to the Netherlands and Scotland for a beverage adventure like no other. World Class-Diageo’s global luxury beverage programme had its annual meet and brand ambassadors, commercial leads, distillers and beverage gurus converged in those two cities for a week of amazing experiences. This event also marked the finals of the World Class Bartender competition where 55 contestants battled for top honours. There can only be one winner and this year, Bannie Kang from Singapore won best bartender in the world title. The world-class journey has been a part of the Kenyan bartending scene for

the past five years. It’s not just about making drinks – it’s about making drinks right. It is part reason why the Kenyan beverage scene has tremendously improved. I know chaps who were chasing dreams three years ago, but are now creating remarkable menus. World class is also an educational platform – not just a competition. It takes bartenders through

bespoke training sessions known as the ‘world class studios’ and this actually informs this week’s recipe. I shall put myself to the test and use one of the studio sessions called ‘single ingredient’. There is so much wastage in bartending today. A lot goes into the bin and that costs businesses money. How do you formulate ways of extending the use of one

ingredient to add more flavour to a drink, ensuring lesser costs and better tasting drinks? My challenge will use Ketel One Vodka, a pure wheatbased vodka from Holland made by a family that has been distilling for over 300 years! My single key ingredient – Lemon. The ingredients · Coconut fat washed Ketel One Vodka · Rinsed preserved lemon – I will use leftovers from juicing · Black pepper corns · Tincture of lemon pith/ seeds and anise · Reduction of lager and orange zest denatured, and fennel infused. · Blueberry and honey syrup · Hydrosol of citrus peels · Egg white -Alex is a hotelier, award winning bartender, & brand ambassador for Diageo luxury spirits portfolio at EABL.


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meet the CheF

What’s Cooking?

Grilled roast chicken

How long have you been a chef? I have been on this journey for about 10 years. What drew you to the culinary world? I enjoyed helping my mother as a young girl, with cooking at home. It was more than a passion. So it was no surprise to anyone when I joined Utalii College. How many people work in your kitchen? We are a brigade of 56 members and my key motto is teamwork. What is your favourite cuisine? Italian dishes are my favourite. I find them easy and simple to make, especially pastas.

Chef Fedelis Mercy Jerono

Do you have a guilty food pleasure? I am in love with braised beef. What do Kenyans order most? That would be roast chicken. The glazed sizzling roast chicken is also the dish that gets the most likes on Instagram. How do you come up with new ideas for the dishes? I am inspired by positive feedback from guests. When a client gives such feedback, it motivates to do even better so that they can come back again. What is your go-to meal when you are low on time? Fillet of salmon steak served with creamy mashed potatoes and leafy spinach. Have you worked in any other country? Yes, I have worked with various Dubai-based establishments like including Jumeirah Residences, Hilton properties, Mövenpick, Kempinski, and Hyatt property. Is there a chef you truly admire and why? My former Executive Chef Abdullatif Wissam at Radisson Blu hotel is a great leader, mentor and motivator. What is the craziest recipe you have ever tried? An egg stuffing. To do this, I removed the egg yolk, stuffed it with vegetables and steam-cooked. Easiest meal to impress someone? Buttered fish and chips. Tell us about your family. I’m married with two children. My husband loves cooking even though he is not a chef. Since most of the time I am running late from work, I find that he has made family meals for the children. What is you must-have kitchen ingredient in your kitchen? Whole garlic, fresh ginger and aromatic Indian spices. Besides being a chef, what else do you do? I am a nutritionist who advises people on healthy eating and options as well as food risks and diseases.

Recipe ingredients for two portions: • One capon • One sprig of rosemary • Five sprigs of thyme • One onion • Three cloves garlic • Dark soy sauce • Salt • Black pepper • Oil pRoceduRe preparation: 1. For the marinating. Wash all the herbs and rinse off. 2. Remove the rosemary stalks. 3. Blend a bit of oil, chopped onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme into a paste 4. Cut your chicken in half from the neck down and remove the back bone. 5. Season with salt, a pinch of black pepper and soy sauce. 6. Pour your marinade over the chicken and rub in properly. 7. Place in a clean container and cover in cling film. Chill for 30 minutes for

it to marinate. 8. Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. 9. After 30 minutes place your chicken on a greased baking tray. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes 10. You can slice a bit of the thigh to check if properly cooked. Make sure it is not pink or red in the inside. It must be well done.

-Fedelis Mercy Jerono is the Executive Chef, Park Inn by Radisson.

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Shrines of Kenya By Ivy Waridi

Understanding a people‘s way of paying homage to their deity is an important part of travel


shrine is referred to as a holy and sacred place because of its association to a deity, object or a person that one would like to commemorate. The word ‘shrine’ is derived from the Latin word ‘scrinium’, which is a case or chest for papers. It is not necessarily defined by a permanent structure; a shrine can be a corner of a room where you set up some candles and a pho-tograph of someone you love. They usually house relics, idols and objects of the person or deity being recognised. In this era, shrines are usually associated with different religions: Tradition-al, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Here is a list of shrines that embody different ideas, customs and social beliefs: MIJIKENDA KAYAS Kaya shrines were very critical to the Mijikenda community and are revered as sacred sites. I visited a Kaya model in the Lola Rako community in Kwale county. The Kayas were a focal point for religious practices for the nine tribes and only a select few had access to it. Women were not accepted as part of the leadership. It was assumed that women could not keep secrets and what happened in the Kaya’s was to be handled with discretion. When you visit the coastal region you should try and experience this. RESURRECTION GARDEN This is a great place for those seeking spiritual nourishment. You alight at the Karen shopping centre and take a 20-minute walk to access the prayer grounds. Resurrection Garden is unmatched when it comes to serenity. It presents an artistic chronology of the life of Jesus Christ from birth to

death and resurrection. Many Christians come to experience the way of the cross and hold prayers, especially Catholics. During the Christmas and Easter season, you will find scores in the garden, which has a memorial chapel dedicated to Cardinal Otunga who died in 2003. As you walk through the garden you will encounter various inscriptions such as Parables of the Kingdom, Last Judgment, the Silence of God and various bible quotations. You also get to read the Lord’s Prayer in different languages. The walk is quite extensive and comfortable hiking shoes are highly recommended. KIT MIKAYI These unusual stones along the Kisumu-Bondo highway have a lot of his-


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THE STORY BEHIND torical meaning behind it. When translated Kit Mikayi means “The stone of the first wife”. It is associated with a man known as Ngeso who spent a lot of his time in the cave that was made by the stone. When elders came to visit his home the wife would tell them that he has gone to visit his first wife. The locals of Seme village in Kisumu county where Kit Mikayi is located consider the stone a sacred place to hold prayers whenever the village is troubled. It is now a place of worship for different denominations, top being the Legio Maria who hold their vigils in the caves. EL MOLO SHRINES The El- Molo have four shrines located at the Lorian Island. They represent the four clans of the tribe and each clan is believed to have a specific power that they bring to the com-

“The shrine overlooks the Ruma National Park and it is a major tourist attraction in the area. The premier league football club Gor Mahia is named after this legend. munity. It was a patriarchal society hence the prayers were led by old men who are said to be powerful in the community. Each shrine has a specific purpose. The first shrine is for barren women in the society. The second shrine is dedicated to young men who would like to get married, the young men were prayed for before they headed out to kill a hippo as is the requirement to get married. The third shrine is where they prayed for rain. The fourth shrine people who were considered evil in their community this is where their judgment was passed. GOT KWER Got Kwer is short for Got Kwero richo (Dholuo for “Hill of Repentance”) and this sacred place is set

on top of a hill. Members of the Legio Maria sect refer to Got Kwer as Calvary, this is where their founder Ondeto is buried. It has become a religious tourist attraction in Migori county. Many refer to this shrine as the headquarters of the Legio Maria sect. You will find different shrines at the site each with an altar for worship, this is where the members of the group go to repent. You are not allowed to wear shoes as you approach the site as this is considered taboo. GOR MAHIA The legend surrounding this shrine varies, depending on who you ask but the fact remains that this is an integral part of our history and culture. The shrine is named after a powerful paramount chief Gor Mahia Ogada who died 90 years ago. Gor Mahia was believed to have magical powers and they were not limited to the Nyanza region only. This shrine is located in Ndhiwa and this is where the legendary man was buried. You are not allowed to pick a stone or pluck a leaf where the shrine is located without getting permission from members of his family. The shrine overlooks the Ruma National Park and it is a major tourist attraction in the area. The premier league football club Gor Mahia is named after this legend.

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wellness waTch

Take a hike - it’s all downhill from here With more people adopting different fitness regimes, one of the activities that has gained traction is going for walks on rough terrains for recreational purposes and overall health By Travel Buff


here’s a new buzzword in town in as far as lifestyle habits are concerned. Fitness enthusiasts are now bandying around the term word ‘wellness’, which is interpreted differently by different people – some think it is joining a regular fitness regime in the gym and others believe it is adopting healthy eating habits. Yet, to some wellness is synonymous with yoga. Whatever your definition is, it is important to note that wellness is more than just being free from illness. It is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a health and fulfilling life, encompassing all aspects of the human being from physical, mental and social. One of the activities being adopted towards achieving wellness is hiking. Unlike walking that entails the everyday movement within shorter distances, hiking is usually an extensive, vigorous walk, usually surrounded by nature for recreation-al purposes. From the sedate hill walks to the snow-capped peak of Mt Kenya, to high altitude routes on alpine slopes, Kenya is blessed with superb terrain where trekkers, both beginners and experienced ones, can have unforgettable experiences. So, why go on a hike?

Burns calories When it comes to gains, there are many reasons why you should embrace hiking as a form of wellness. Apart from being a fun activity that

one can engage in, hiking is a great workout for the body. The fact that you stop to catch your breath as you climb that rugged hill and later on nurse sore calf muscles after the whole affair is the evidence that it’s a serious affair. Studies have shown that hiking builds stronger muscles as well as improves cardiovascular performance. Factors like the speed at which you hike, however, the weight of your pack as well as the type of terrain can influence how fast and how much calories you burn. Boosts mental health Hiking boosts your mental health. Imagine walking in a serene location surround-ed only by trees, rivers, other natural resources with the only sound audible is the melodious chirping of birds? I can bet that this is an experience of a lifetime that is bound to stimulate all your senses as you take in deep breaths of fresh air. Nature has a calming effect and makes one forget about the stresses of life. Through solo hiking, one is able to build their self-esteem as walking along the trail gives you time for reflections and meditating. Hiking affords us the chance to temporarily forget the stresses of our daily routines to rejuvenate and reenergise. There is also the fact that our bodies produce vitamin D while we walk under the sun, which is said to have a very positive impact on our moods and outlook by activating the hormone that safeguards from mental illnesses like depression. Bonding sessions When it comes to social wellness, hiking is a great opportunity for individuals to reconnect with their spouse, family, friends and even colleagues. Maintaining meaningful relationships in a very fast-paced and dynamic world can be quite challenging. Hiking offers a platform to iron out differences and talk

Where to get a ‘high’ A moderate hike can burn between 300 to 400 calories per hour. Some common places in Kenya where you could for a hike include Ngong Hills, Mt Elgon, Mt Longonot, Loroghi Hills, Fischer’s Tower at Hell’s Gate, Kereita, Gatamaiyu, Suswa Crater as well as Menengai Craters in Nakuru. Mt Kenya is considered one of toughest trails in Africa.

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about issues we may otherwise fail to address in our daily routines. Before going on a hike always ensure that you begin at a slow pace to allow your muscles warm up gradually. You should also slow down towards the end of the expedition to allow your heart rate to return to its normal pace. Additionally, gentle exercises will assist in relaxing the muscles. Always ensure that you stay well-hydrated all through while on the trail. This is because your body requires plenty of water to maintain optimum functions. In addition, water assists in cooling down the body when you are hot and it will keep your muscles and joints working properly thereby preventing injury. Remember to carry some hand sanitiser to use for hygiene purposes as water may not be readily available.


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After years of being ravaged by war, this Horn of Africa nation is rising from the ashes

By Fardosa Hussein


hen I decided to relocate to Somalia I knew that I was moving to a country that has been ravaged by war and is still under constant attacks from armed militias. The reality is that most parts of the country are stable and well-developed, including Mogadishu. Traditional livelihoods are shaped by geographic and climatic conditions: while northern Somalia is mainly arid and semi-arid land, southern Somalia has higher agricultural potential, due to higher rainfall and water from two rivers: the Juba and the Shebelle. These rivers, rising in the Ethiopian highlands, underpin both crop and livestock production systems in southern Somalia – but irrigation and flood control infrastructure are in very poor condition following years of neglect and conflict. Livestock production systems are a core economic activity, requiring mobility to exploit seasonal pasture across vast areas of rangeland.

Today, livestock production and marketing – mainly to the Gulf – provides around 85 per cent of Somalia’s export earnings. However, lack of environmental and rangeland management makes the sector highly vulnerable to drought. Areas far from the coastline experience harsh climatic conditions especially during the dry seasons. Migration in the rural area is high during these season as pastoralists move from one area to another with their livestock in search for water and pasture. They use camels as a mode of transportation in the long arduous journey ensuring they carry everything they need including temporary shelter. Stunning beaches Strategically positioned in the Horn of Africa, Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa. Though still underutilised, the country’s coastline is home to numerous valuable species of fish and other marine life that could support commercial offshore fishing as well as inshore fishing for local food and trade. This long strip of stunning beaches such as Lido Beach or Jazeera in Mogadishu. There is a vibrant night life in major urban centres where hundreds of people flock cafés and restaurants to chill and socialise. Lido beach is one of the popular spots where families and

It’s not all doom and gloom in Somalia


young couples flock on weekends to have a good time. In major urban centres like Mogadishu, Kismayo, Garowe, Baidoa, the Bajaj also known as Tuk tuk is a popular form of transportation. It’s cheap, accessible and convenient for most people. It is also a major source of employment for youth across the country. In the rural areas, weaving and basketry is a common practice among girls and women. They make mats, baskets and brooms to earn a livelihood. On the other hand, pastoral communities still practice wood-carving, which largely supports their lifestyle. The pastoralists also make their own shoes from camel and goat skin. The shoes are comfortable enough for them to trek for long distances. Unlike Kenya’s famous mobile money transfer service Mpesa, Somalia’s transfers are available in dollars and can be used to purchase anything from a sweet in the shop to a car from a dealer. Mobile banking is also available and offered by most of the banks in the country including Dahabshil, an international money transfer company. Lastly, daily life in the street of Mogadishu is vibrant and chaotic at the same time. On one end of the streets customers are busy haggling while the other side of the streets, a group of men are sat in circles enjoying a cup of sweet tea while making small talk.


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Fairytale memories from an alpine secret

Castle Forest Lodge is a mountainside retreat in a centuries-old rainforest

By Expat Mummy travelog@standardmedia.coke


he anticipation is nothing compared to the shock I feel as the cold water pours from the heavens and soaks me to the bone. The roar of the waterfalls is deafen-ing as the deluge pounds my shoulders, and spray fills my nose and mouth. For a moment I am numb, before my body explodes to a hot flash. Chilly needles prick my skin and exhilaration surges through me as I scamper back through the mountain pool to the relative safety of the fern and moss-covered stones. We are at the foothills of Mt Kenya; four hours from Nairobi but a world of difference from the capital city’s dusty dry summer. Castle Forest Lodge is a fairyland idyll. A secret forested place of waterfalls and mist. Of elephants and snow. The perfect escape Castle Forest Lodge, as the name aptly suggests, is a mountainside retreat in a centuries-old rainforest. Alpine air has an ethereal quality, things are clearer, brighter and more magical on the mountain. The sun shimmers off the snow on the nearby peak of Mt Kenya as

horse and buck graze on emerald grass. We arrive and are taken to our cabin, a wooden house with unfiltered views of Africa’s second-highest peak and the Laikipia plains. Rustic in appearance from the outside, the cabin has designer bathrooms, soft high thread-count cotton sheets and a huge open fireplace that makes me long for winter and rain. Hide and seek with beasts Outside the sun slowly fills the sky and we throw on boots for a lunchtime hike. We steer clear of the Maasai guide and decide to head into the forest alone. After 10 minutes of walking with five small children in tow, we realise that these woods are anything but serene. Buffalo, leopard, elephant and hyena live here. This is an ancient place of impenetrable bush. Vines as thick as my torso wrap around trees that climb into a canopy and lets in no light. We follow a path but it pushes deeper into the woods. Suddenly we don’t feel so brave. I summon my inner girl scout and start to mark a path with arrows, doubting our return. We hear a tree fall nearby, certain it is the elephants. We crouch in fear, shushing the children but there is no evidence to justify our racing hearts. Spider webs sprinkle our hair, monkeys cackle in the foliage. I am convinced I see a parrot. Does Kenya have parrots I ponder? Lizards clamber up the side of colossal trees, which are green with moss and damp. Butterflies flitter in huge numbers and sometimes other flying things that I can’t give names to, but definitely don’t wish any closer. After an hour, we appear on a track and breathe a little easier shouting out insincere bravado and pretending away the nerves. We walk to a small waterfall and fall into the icy pool. It’s hot now and the rocks make perfect sunbathing spots for tired limbs. The small waterfall is right inside the camp, so it’s just five minutes to the ‘pub’ in the grounds. The pub takes me back to England - its dark smoky bar serves

Interior of the luxurious hotel. [Expat Mummy]

beers, ciders and sparkling gin and tonics. We order an adventurer’s platter of crisp samosa and spring rolls with big fat chips, which we eat with huge dollops of mayonnaise. The afternoon is for the freshwater pool. Sharing time with the goats and tame ponies, chasing butterflies and drinking more gin until the sun starts to set. We head to our cabin where a huge fire pit has been set outside. We eat nyama choma and roast marshmallows until the stars come and fall asleep shortly after the children, worn out by the fresh air and exercise. It is the perfect day. End of the earth In the morning it’s time for the big waterfall. A seven-kilometre hike feels too far with a bunch of five-year-olds so we channel the Rhino Charge and take our car into the bush. Over rotten wooden bridges, steep tracks and muddy

roads, until we reach a pulling over place. Once more we find ourselves in single file in the forest, but this time we are following the rush of a waterfall, after 20 minutes we catch a glimpse of it far down in the valley. The kids rush at breakneck speed down a cliff edge that the adults take with trepidation, twisted ankles and broken necks never far from our minds. But the effort is worth it. The waterfall is majestic, a sweeping mane of water falling into a crystalline pool. Enclosed in a sparkling valley of dewdrops and climbing plants, we have made it to the end of the earth. We enjoy our picnic and drink fresh water from the pool. The question remains unasked; instinctively we all know we want to stand under that waterfall even as the spray dampens our clothes and goose bumps form on our arms. Then we are plunging in and it is the best and worst thing that has


The Standard Perfect base from which to hike Mt Kenya Climbing Mt Kenya through the adventurous “Kamweti” route starting from Castle Forest Lodge will lead you on old elephant pathways through dense rain- and bamboo forests to the highland swamps and moorlands of Mt Kenya. At McKinders camp the route meets all other routes for the final climb conquering point Lenana. On average you will walk 5-6 hours per day and guides will prepare a camp in the evening either in the bush or in the neighborhood of a cabin. The “Kamweti” route will take you 5 to 7 days depending on the route descending. Whilst highest mountain tops of the Mount Kenya Batain and Nelion - can only be climbed by experienced mountaineers and using the right gear, Point Lenana, the third highest summit, can be climbed by anybody provided you are in the right condition for climbing. Although the mountain top can be reached relatively easily, you should be well prepared, not only for varying weather conditions, like cold, snow and rain, but also for problems, like altitude

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The question remains unasked; instinctively we all know we want to stand under that waterfall even as the spray dampens our clothes and goose bumps form on our arms. Then we are plunging in and it is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. ever happened to me. Castle Forest Lodge at Mount Kenya offers rustically luxurious cabins for up to six people as well as smaller huts and camping. Set near the tea farms of Laikip-ia, it offers horse riding, swimming, and guided tours of the inhabited forest. It’s a true break unlike any I’ve experienced in Kenya and an unmissable treat.

28 Budget BreakS

Discover Nanyuki Our pick of pocketfriendly places By Ivy Waridi

Sample our hot list of spots in the heart of Laikipia from where you can savour the charm of this county


he town of Nanyuki is the capital of Laikipia County. This gateway to Mt Kenya is also an important wildlife conservation area. It hosts a training facility for British Army soldiers and Kenyan Air Force pilots. Visitors can use this town as a base to explore the various touristic interests especially the numerous conservancies and protected forest areas like the Ngare Ndare. The spectacular and varied scenery provides the perfect backdrop for a helicopter excursion. Here are some of the spots that one can put up in when in town. el karama eco-Lodge If your idea of getting away is to enjoy nature, then this is the place for you. The award-winning eco-lodge is set on 14,000 acres of private land. They are invested in preserving the wildlife, birds, insects, plants and trees in the area. There are 6 accommodation options each varying in size and style. You can choose to stay in the Bandas, Rondavel, Hobbit

House or the Little River Camp. Due to their com-mitment to preserving the environment the lodge runs on solar power. They use locally-grown ingredients from their garden and locallysourced meat for their food. If you have special diet requests, this information will be needed as you make your reservation. They have a fully-stocked bar. Cost: From Sh15,000-18,500 Spice Garden Three things best define this property, which lies on the equator with a backdrop of Mt Kenya: space, nature, and tranquillity. Take your pick from the furnished tents and wooden huts on offer or pitch your own tent. Spice Garden offers a fullyfledged kitchen with a diverse menu but special arrangements can be made for you to have a cookout. Excursions can be arranged for those who would like to indulge in activities outside the facility. Cost: From Sh7,000 - 9,600

Soames Hotel and Jacks Bar This hotel, located 7 kilometres from Nanyuki town on the Nanyuki-Naro Moru highway, is named after Jack Soames, a European settler. The hotel has 12 double en-suite rooms in 6 cottages. Each room boasts a deck where you can relax and enjoy the garden views as well as the peaks of Mt Kenya. Dining at this facility guarantees a homemade appeal with cuisines from all over the world. Wind the day down at Jack’s Bar with freshly brewed coffee and alcoholic beverages from their extensive selection. Cost: From Sh8,000 - 17,600 One-Stop Nanyuki You will find this little gem on the Nanyuki-Nairobi highway opposite the Nanyuki airstrip. This convenient overnight-stop is like a self-reliant community with everything a traveller could need. Shop, dine, pamper yourself and sleep. The Shepherd Huts at One-Stop are

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an à la carte menu and offers self-catering facilities as well as a well-stocked bar. There is a central fireplace where guests can relax at night. At the lodge, enjoy game drives, fly fishing, mountain biking, forest walks or simply take a walk by the river. Cost: From Sh1,500-6,000 Storms resort This is an eco-friendly camp set along the Nanyuki River, 16 kilometres out of Nanyuki town. The hospitality facility has three and two-bedroomed cottages, 17 spacious permanent rooms, 4 exclusive tents, and 6 luxury mud-thatched rooms. Of note is their African-themed dining area that claims to serve the best beef cuts. You can also rent a bike from the facility and explore the region. Cost: From Sh8,000-15,000 based on a traditional English design and can accommodate up to three people. There is a double and a single bed in each of the huts and enough space for you to pitch a tent. You can eat at Little Barneys restaurant located inside the facility. The facility is currently working on restoring a three-bedroom 106-year-old wooden house that was rescued from destruction in Parklands Nairobi. Cost: From Sh5,500-6,000 The Old House This family-owned business has been in existence since 1995. The facility has 38 rooms hosted in villas christened ‘The

Villager’, ‘Explorer’ and ‘Local’. With 20 acres of land to spare, The Old House also offers camping conveniences and grounds for hire. They have conferencing and grounds to hire options at the facility. Enjoy leisurely nature walks on this riverfront facility before savouring the authentic menu. Cost: From Sh4,000 Le rustique Located 800 meters from Nanyuki Sports Club is this offering of luxury cottages at a reasonable budget. The spacious rooms are well-equipped for professionals, lone travellers, couples and families. They

have a fitness studio and a spa for your relaxation needs. Le Rustique pride themselves in being food connoisseurs offering the best Mediterranean cuisine in Nanyuki. Cost: From Sh9,500-13,000 ragati Lodge Ragati Lodge is located 5 kilometres from Nanyuki’s CBD and offers a range of accommodation options including cottages, bandas, and a camping site. The bandas are ideal for backpackers and can accommodate up to nine guests. The cottages are ensuite and can accommodate up to four guests. The hotel serves

kongoni Camp Situated 22 kilometres from Mt Kenya National Park Kongoni Camp offers standard rooms, five traditional round huts, and a fully self-contained cottage. Kongoni Camp is famous for its homemade pizzas cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven and their tender steaks. The facility has an extensive menu ranging from grills, vegetarian dishes to homemade bread and cakes. They pride them-selves in using fresh local ingredients. There is a natural tented spa set on the grounds and a heated pool. Cost: From Sh8,000-19,000

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THe COnnOISSEUR By Peter Ndoria

The Irish brew master has been creating new flavours and experimenting with recipes for one of the world’s most recognisable brands


In the footsteps of Arthur

hen Peter Simpson graduated from university in Swansea with a degree in chemical engineering, his mind was set on joining the petrochemical industry. But brewing was not far off the radar; of his five siblings back home in Ireland, he was the one that helped his father

in brewing. His father had this barrel at home and that fascinated the young Peter. After graduation, he became friends with a couple of brewers after going back home looking for a job and quickly found one at Guinness. Initially, he was a technician at the plant, handling beer in the hectolitres (a unit unique to the brewing industry, equivalent to 100 litres). Like most brewers, he started studying long-distance

“Whenever I am creating a new product and I get to the point of saying ‘that’s the recipe’, I always think, “would Arthur (Guinness) be happy with it? Because we are putting his name on it” -Peter Simpson, Head Brewer, Open Gate Brewery in Dublin.

at the Institute of Brewers and Distillers in London. While there are universities that offer courses in brewing, notably in Berlin and Edinburgh, most brewers learn on the job through mentorship and then pursue a diploma from the Institute of Brewers and Distillers. Brewing is an open community where people talk, exchange ideas, mentor each other and even hold conferences. Currently, Simpson is the Head Brewer of the Open Gate Brewery in Dublin, a job that encompasses all the beer development at Diageo with a primary focus on Guinness, which is why he was recently in the country for the launch of Guinness Smooth. For 12 years, he has been at the centre of innovation and product development, a major aspect of life at the House of Guinness with a dedicated brewery that has been set aside for experimenting since 1960s. Innovation is a culture that has been promoted from 1902. “Like Arthur Guinness, there has always been an element of innovation, and taking bold steps,” he says of his daily routine. Like everyone else at the time, Guinness had been brewing ale until the 1890s when they made the audacious decision to focus on their signature stout. This innovative spirit is in the DNA of Guinness and in Dublin, there is a bar where people come and try out the experimental beer that is often available for six weeks. There are at least three experimental beers every month. Recently, they released a beer made with herbs only and no hops. This was a trip down memory lane to the years, many centuries ago, before hops were the standard bitterer in beer and herbs were used instead. The scientist in him appreciates that brewing is a balance of art and science, with the craft of creating the perfect flavour need-

ing the science when it comes to large-scale production and maintaining the consistency, so that all the beer tastes the same. Having gone up the ladder to Head Brewer, his role is at the centre of all the beer development. While chefs have a signature dish, brewers have a style and Simpson knows his. “I prefer hoppy beers and I also enjoy creating stouts - you can be quite bold and adventurous with a lot of flavour,” he says, adding that he particularly liked the recently-launched Hop House 13.

GUINNESS: JOURNEY IN A BOTTLE The distinctive taste of Guinness the world over comes from their roast barley, which they manipulate through the process of fermentation. “At Guinness, we control our roast barley. We produce our own so that it’s the same everywhere in the world. Every drop of Guinness in the world has roast barley from Dublin,” Peter Simpson reveals, adding that they are one of the biggest producers of barley in the world. In the 1800s, Guinness created the recipe for a beer to be exported to the West Indies, The Foreign Export Stout, which is their biggest brand globally. While one is likely to enjoy a Guinness Draft in Europe, it is the FES that is easily recognisable across Asia, Caribbean, Africa and the United States. Since the initial recipe was designed for export, it had more hops to act as a preservative while shipping and this made the drink more bitter and have a higher alcoholic content. The brewers intended for this to be diluted before consumption, but the flavour stuck and became the popular Guinness that we now know.


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Raising the bar in soap making

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Nanyuki-based company carves niche in eco-friendly personal care products

made in kEnya simple line of products that we introduced to environmentally conscious safari destinations. This was the beginning of Cinnabar Green. The reputation of the products spread from camp to lodge by word of mouth and we then introduced the products to retail outlets around the country. Our product line expanded in line with the requests of our customers. However, we have always been careful to keep our product line as simple and natural as possible.

Where it’s made:

By Jimmy Mwangi


tep into the bathrooms of many Kenyan safari camps and hotels and you will be greeted by naturally-scented products labelled ‘Cinnabar Green’. Travelog tracked down Penny Horsey and John Horsey, the founders of this natural cosmetics company based in Laikipia, for a chat about their journey to creating an exemplary range of eco-friendly personal care products.

Brand Inspiration: In 2001 we established organic herb gardens on the lower slopes of Mt Kenya growing a range of aromatic and medicinal herbs as key ingredients for the international cosmetic and nutraceutical industry. Having battled a very uneven playing field where organic Af-

rican products compete with heavily subsidised European products, we soon realised that the optimal endpoint for high quality therapeutic African ingredients was in local products.

All of our products are made in our workshop, a 40-minute drive out of Nanyuki, near Matanya. The workshop is located on the farm where we grow a large range of aromatic plants such as Bourbon Geranium, German chamomile, lavender and thyme which we harvest and distil on site.

The Product: Cinnabar Green has since developed its own range of natural products from face creams through to aromatic room sprays and body wraps where the goal has been to supply a simple but exemplary range of products for the personal care market formulated from the best available home-grown and locally sourced bio-ingredients and to make these available to our customers in eastern and southern Africa.

Where it’s sold: Our products are available in various retail outlets in Nairobi including The Banana Box, Game, Healthy U, Lang’ata Link and Kalimoni Greens, The Organic Produce Shop, and in Mombasa from Shoprite City Mall, Nyali.

The Beginning: Once we had sourced a nice palette of essential oils, therapeutic cold-pressed oils and butters from the region, we enlisted the help of a natural cosmetic formulator who assisted us in developing a

Top: Sample products from Cinnabar Green range Below: Penny Horsey tending to her organic herb garden. [Courtesy]

Impact: Environmental: Cinnabar Green’s approach to sourcing our inputs combines the wish to use the best naturally active ingredients available with a desire for practicality and simplicity. Each ingredient is also individually assessed for its environmental and social impact. Furthermore, we focus on local market development in order to avoid the weighty carbon footprint associated with export. Packaging: After a series of analyses, we opted to package most of our products in easily recyclable, light-weight aluminium containers. We offer and encourage the use of larger refill options to all of our customers. Social: Our aim is to ameliorate unemployment levels in the community where we are located and to set an example as to how to care for, preserve, and indeed restore, the environment. We support our local girl’s school with funds and practical assistance and are involved with a variety of environmental projects.

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Photographer: Rich Allela

After a successful exhibition, ‘30 at 30’ which showcased various parts of Kenya, Rich Allela will come together with Nelson Ijakaa for an Immersive art experience ‘African Heroes and |Heroines’, to run from November 12 to 30.



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