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17 Reasons why you should go Diani Reef Resort and Spa this Christmas.(Photo Essay)

Diani Beach Resort and Spa is located in  South Coast Kenya on the award-winning Diani Beach. I stayed there for three days and been itching to tell y’all about it. Here are more than enough reasons that should get you packing your bags already.

1.It is extremely easy to get there!

The trip is only one hour from JKIA to Ukunda Airstrip in Kwale County, south coast Kenya. From Ukunda Airstrip, the Resort will organize your hotel transfers. The drive from the airstrip to Diani Reef Resort and Spa is slightly over ten minutes. It doesn’t get Easier than that, does it?

JKIA

 

Ukunda Airstrip with Rayhab.

2.It is on Diani Beach: One of the top twenty five beaches in Africa.

Diani Beach is ranked 7th best in Africa. Diani Reef Resort and Spa stretches three hundred and eighty meters along this prestigious beach. What other best way would you like to experience Diani Beach apart from staying at this resort?

3. They have the warmest reception and a quick check-in procedure.

Right from the airport pick up, to the main reception of the hotel, the general feel is that of warmth and a feeling that the hotel values your presence. As a kind gesture, a bubbly welcome awaits you as you walk in to the tunes of ‘Jambo, Jambo Bwana, Habari gani…(You know the Hakuna Matata Song..) and sound of the African drums… You will shake a leg…and smile all the way through the check in process.

The warm welcome followed by a welcome chilled madafu (Coconut water), makes it difficult to take count of what just happened between alighting from the vehicle,your five minutes of fame and sipping your ‘madafu’.

The check-in process is fast and efficient and before you realize, you are torn between asking for another ‘madafu’ or checking into your room first.

4.Rooms with a breathtaking view.

From the balcony of the room, you get to enjoy a calming view of the sea, palm trees, the resort’s lagoon and swimming pool…You know you are at the coast when you finally see the beach and ocean…

5.Their rooms are always thoroughly clean and fresh

The rooms are exactly how a perfectionist would want. Neat as a button, everything aligned, cups and bottles of water properly arranged on the tray, with the label facing the same direction, all towels in place, and a nice welcome note properly placed on the table, when you look into the mirror you realize yours at home is a bit cloudy. Then nothing beats the scent of a flowery air freshener when it mixes with the salty-ish sea breeze…bliss. (These are photos of the presidential suite)

6.Their different restaurants that serve different dishes based on your preference.

You are guaranteed to get spoilt for choice I promise you. Ranging from coral rock café which is the main dining outlet.They serve buffet, live cooking and everything in between. I still can not get over the good morning messages on my plate whenever I went for breakfast.

To The Sake Oriental Restaurant.

This was the first restaurant I have been to and truly enjoyed a proper Japanese meal. You can read about my experience here. The specialty in this restaurant is Asian cuisine.

Right next to the beach is the Fins and grills restaurant. Do not look any further if you love sea food and grilled dishes. I kept going for more…you can also have a taste of Mediterranean cuisine at this restaurant.

7.Experience/eat Japanese Teppanyaki

I have never gotten over the theatrical Japanese Teppanyaki dinner I had at Sake restaurant. Click here to read about my detailed encounter of the entire experience. I am sure whoever came up with the phrase that cooking is an art had just experienced the making of a five course Japanese Teppanyaki meal.

8.Maya Spa that has experienced masseuse that will massage your stresses away.

A little pampering in the clean, spacious, fully equipped Maya Spa on a lazy afternoon might just be the best decision you’ll make during you stay at Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa. My recommendation is a hot stone massage. I know you’ll thank me later.

9.They have a man-made lagoon, fish ponds, fountains, trees,beautiful flowers and manicured lawns all over the property.

There is everything calming, therapeutic and charming about taking a lazy stroll around the property and taking time to appreciate the good work they have put in landscaping the entire place. Everything I looked at was photogenic. A retreat at this resort is a wholesome experience; mind body and spirit.

10.Believe or not they also have a movie theater! 

If I tell you that you can catch the latest movies while on vacation would you believe me? Well, you better believe me. :-). There is a mini theater at the resort that adds to the already full list of things to do.

11.Your kids will be perfectly taken care of at Coco Jumbo Kids club.

Here, your kids will be properly taken care of as you take the desired break. There is an animation team that ensures full entertainment for your little ones.

There is an adult section of the club especially if you enjoy snooker.

12.Connect with nature at their sea facing restaurant.

This an extension into the beach and ensures to have your cold drinks and your meals that ensures you feel the beach vibe without really setting foot on the beach.

 

13.Enjoy a 4 course dinner set up in Maharaja style at a makeshift gazebo.

This is one of the different types of theme nights you can enjoy while staying at the restaurant. Nothing beats a four course emperor meal under the coastal sky. This came as a surprise even for me the moment was right, the mood was perfect and the appetite was high.

 

14.Shed some of the holiday weight at their fully equipped gym. 

For those who worry so much about adding a little holiday weight, fret not…This is well covered!

15. They have two swimming pools including  one that has a pool bar.

Cool that body and sip you favorite drink as you enjoy your holiday from either of the pools.

16. You will enjoy entertainment at the fins and grills restaurant that is opposite the beach right during/after dinner.

Their animation team has the most energetic dances ever! How they do it effortlessly with smiles on their faces still puzzles me!

17.Last but not least, you will enjoy taking a trip around the resort and appreciate the art.

Hope you enjoy you trip down south!

For further info contact Diani Reef Resort and Spa on: +254 0709481000 or write them an email on rsv@dianireef.com.

Check them out on Facebook as well!

 

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The Swan Place- Home away from home…

Times are changing and so is the travel and hospitality industry. Travelers are becoming more adventurous and open minded about new accommodation options while on the lookout for the best deals in town. Megan; One of the friends I met in last year’s KilifiNYE’s  was in town with her friends! She constantly inboxed me asking for places to visit and things to do during their much planned October East African trip. She was keen on  trying everything that would make them feel like locals.I still laugh whenever I remember how hard she tried to fit in by calling herself ‘dem wa Nai‘(A Nairobian chic) with a deep British accent.

Exactly a day after they arrived,she invited me to see where they were staying.

She earlier on had mentioned that they were not keen on staying at a hotel at all and had seen a homely guest house on airbnb which they all unanimously settled for. She couldn’t wait for me to check out what was to be their home for the rest of the week. Top of her requirements was a  place they could effortlessly access matatus or Nganyas

Getting to The Swan Place

A random web search and you find quite a couple of offers for home stays in Nairobi. There’s also quite a couple of airbnb listings. In most cases however, the listings hardly ever live up to what you see in their photos. So when Megan said she was checked in to a homestay, my ‘usual’ stereotype was instantly activated.

The Commute to The Swan Place was quite easy, took about 25 minutes by matatu from the city center. She picked me from the bus stop the we walk for about a minute or two to their home;The Swan Place. 

The Swan place.

Touch of elegance and class in furnishing

Walking through the doorway that led to the living room, I could have sworn my jaw must’ve hit the floor  from the pleasant surprise that awaited.Well maintained brown leather seats, matching throw pillows, a fluffy shaggy rag that sat comfortably on the polished wooden floor… and a naturally lit the room. The house was clean and fresh and had a simple artsy interior decor. The soft toned snow white walls and the rich toned art pieces created a sharp contrast that would make any interior designer green with envy. Meagan’s house tour immediately debunked my biased airbnb myth. If anything, the photos did a lot of injustice to the swan place.

Common sitting area.
Dining area.

A steady shift in travel conventions: Home the Swan way

Now more than ever, travelers are opting out of the routine lonely and often pricier hotels and checking into shared and social homestays. Preference is mostly for conveniently located listings near major shopping malls, recreation facilities, entertainment spots and a few minutes’ drive from the city centres. The Swan Place lives up to all these considerations.It is two and a half minutes walk from the Junction shopping mall. and a four minute drive from The green house shopping mall and a five minutes drive from Prestige shopping mall. For party animals, there are quite a number of night clubs and sports bars lined up along the same road. Meagan loved brew bistro from their previous night out. She also mentioned it took them forty minutes to get to the house from the airport.

The Swan Place offers a different kind of accommodation that is getting many peoples attention. It is a home away from home. Guests get to have a more authentic experience and a chance to live like ‘locals’.

One of the four bedrooms per house.

Get in the Kitchen: Put your African Cooking skill to the test

Fully equipped kitchen.

Meagan was thrilled that the care taker had agreed to get her someone to take her to the nearby Toy market to shop for green groceries. She wanted to learn how to make ugali. The whole time I did not realize that the sheepish smile on her face meant that I was going to cook the ugali.

In addition to guests cooking for themselves, there is a resident chef, who is always happy to make finger licking food and an info booklet with restaurants that offer food delivery services.

The place has a fully equipped kitchen with a full sized refrigerator, microwave, and cooker.

Home away from home

Many people suffer homesickness when they wander out too far from their nest. When you have free wifi 24/7 at The Swan Place, home is only a click away! At the guest lounge, the Swan place offers, cable TV and on less busy days, this can be the perfect place to curl up with a book.

 

If you live in Kenya and in search of a place to hide away for the weekend, the swan place is your best alternative.

We sat down to enjoy pancakes and coffee made by one of Megan’s friends as I helped them create their itinerary.

Well, thanks to Megan, now I know where to hide in this city!

Tell your friends to tell their friends of this small piece of goodness on Ngong’ road.

The Swan Place also can be rented out per room. So if you are travelling alone you can pay for your room and still access the common kitchen,dining area and sitting room.

The Swan Place has two houses with identical amenities, hence don’t ever fret if you have a bigger group of   visiting friends, family or business partners.

For more info on location, availability, booking and general inquiries, check out their website. or get in touch by calling direct on +254721 997 953.

Wishing you a lovely stay.

 

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Top 6 things to do during your stay at Salinero Hotels, Moshi

If you missed my post on how I traveled by bus from Nairobi to Moshi worry not, you can read it here.  After my arrival at the Salinero Millie Lodge, Machame, the next item on the list was to immerse myself in the fun things to do during my stay. To my surprise, the hotel had already planned all these activities out.

Here is a list of the places to see and the things to do.

1. Take a day hike inside the tropical rain-forest of Mt.Kilimanjaro National Park.

During my visit, the peak season of mountain climbing was almost coming to an end and groups of hikers were at the park for the six-seven days affair. The park was a bee hive of activities. Porters, tour operators, hikers, day hikers… The hike is about eleven kilometers to the first camp. The same route used to go up is still the same one used to come down.

Registration at the gate.
Starting point of the hike.
Dozens of hikers that make approximately 50,000 annual visitors who attempt to summit Kilimanjaro.
They make you think summiting is easy.
Well…now you know.
Mad respect to porters. They are the real winners in any expedition.

Salinero also offers packed lunch for its clients(On full board basis). So hunger should not stress you one bit!

Ze lunch box 🙂

2. Visiting Bonde la Huruma to understand the history of the Chagga people better

The hotel can organize a trip to one of the most interesting places within Machame;Bonde la huruma, which is a 180m deep valley that has a waterfall, geometric volcanic steep cliffs and caves. The curator at Bonde la huruma; mzee Dickson ,is deeply knowledgeable about the history of the Chagga people.

History has it (From mzee Dickson) that the caves at the bonde la uhuruma have an interesting story that dates back to the colonial era when Germans colonized Tanzania. The Chagga people of Machame used to hide their chiefs, wives and children in the caves as they went to fight. After the colonial era the war shifted to the Maasai and the Chagga. Across the river, there was yet another cave. This was used as a ‘cell’ to instill discipline to the villagers who went astray. For example, in the event that someone was caught cheating on their spouse, they were put inside the cave and given only a banana that was meant to last them for seven days. The cave was heavily secured with the village army. If the perpetrator survived the seven days, they are integrated back into the society. If not, they were thrown into the river, wrapped in banana leaves! Interesting huh…..

Mzee Dickson driving the point home.
Bonde la Huruma waterfall.
To the caves.
Inside the caves.
The river across which the ‘cells’ are.

3. Take a coffee tour

This by far was the most interesting part of my trip (well, coming from someone who hadn’t seen coffee beans before except in text books). In this trip the host takes you through the process of roasting coffee, crushing it and making a hot cup of black coffee for the guests. The whole process is done locally. The beans are roasted in a sufuria with firewood and crushed with pestle and mortar. While having coffee mzee takes you through the history of the people,their sub-tribes, cultural practices etc.

New skills learnt.

4. Drink ‘mbege’ at a local shopping center or village

Mbege is a traditional alcoholic brew made from banana and ‘ulezi'(finger millet).The whole process is through fermentation, preparation then filtration/mixing. Mbege is then served in large yellow plastic  containers called chibuku. Initially it used served in guards.

Mbege O’clock.
That is just some kind of froth at the top, it is not as thick as porridge.
Chibuku. They are sold in the supermarket.

As you travel across Moshi, you will notice locals drying the finger millets in the field for this process .The spirit of unity is propelled in the evening as people sit down to enjoy mbege. This can be an equivalent of Muratina in Kenya.

Ulezi or finger millet. This is how they dry the ulezi.

5. Take a two hour trip to Marangu to check out Kilasiya water falls…

This is a bit similar to the bonde la huruma trip, only that the water fall here is bigger, more scenic and dramatic. Also, you will get the see the second of the six routes used to summit Uhuru peak of Mt.Kili.

Spoilt for choice? well, we also were…
To good friends along the way. Babu from Kilasiya waterfalls.
The furious Kilasiya waterfall.
Hey…let me go!

6. Take a dip in Kikuletwa  Hot Springs

Kikuletwa is the most beautiful natural swimming pool I have ever seen and swam in. It is nestled in the middle of a semi- arid land and is naturally fenced with fig trees. Contrary to popular belief, the water is not hot, just warm. It is the underground caves that supply the pool with lots of water that gives it the bubbling impression that many locals liken to boiling water hence the name hot spring. Never before had I ever seen crystal clear, still, blue waters. As you step into the water, tiny fishes tickle your feet while giving a natural  fish pedicure. The water gets deeper as you swim towards the center. There is yet another end of the pool that is more chilled. Most swimmers choose to swim the front side.Dunno know why…

The semi-arid route to Kikuletwa Hot Spring.
More lone trees and dry land.
Approaching Kikuletwa.
The fig trees behind which the best kept secret lies.
Doesn’t get clearer than this…
Best feeling in the world…

 

Dreamy…
Heading to the abandoned end.
Let us stay here forever…
Well, hide and seek perhaps?

All the magic unravels when you wear diving glasses .The water has small fishes, turtles, bigger fishes and deep caves from where the waters come in. It is only then that one can comprehend the depth of the waters.

You have to visit Kikuletwa to understand what I mean!

 

Get in touch with me today to get a package to Salinero and experience these and more.

Like my facebook page and lets keep the conversation going!

 

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Salinero Millie Lodge-Machame,Tanzania

As earlier mentioned, apart from Duncan telling me I would like the hotel, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. The drive from the Machame road junction preempted nothing either.

Location

The lodge is strategically located twenty kilometers from the Machame road junction at 1,800 above sea level. The drive uphill, paves ways to cooler temperatures, greener banana plantations, tiny streams of waters, a few bridges and gentle bends and turns. As you approach the lodge, there is a huge concrete stand-alone signage of the hotel on the right side of the gate then  a smaller gate that opens up to a grey pebbled drive way that goes all the way to the main entrance and parking.

You can’t miss the turn…

 

Nature at its best.

Palatial lodge

The palatial lodge almost looked like the state house(Kenya), only smaller. The lawn was carefully manicured that it almost looked and felt like a good painting, the stack contrast with the white pillars of the front porch and the brick red roof against the blue sky effortlessly put my color-matching skills to shame! The feel at the lodge is that of a chilled, sophisticated carefully selected design that appealed to an audience that valued some quiet, relaxing and exclusive getaway. This was tranquility at its best.

Nature doesn’t get better than this.

Entrance

A warm reception from the staff, quick brief from the manager and check-in kicked off what was to be a memorable stay in the beautiful country side of Machame.

 

I knew Mt. Kilimanjaro was in the vicinity. However, I didn’t imagine it was only two hundred meters from the Salinero gate. The weather was a bit chilly and the sky was cloudy, I didn’t think in my wildest imagination that I could see the roof of Africa from the hotel. After a short walk to Machame gate of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, an unexpected golden sunset cleared the clouds at the peak of the mountain and rendered a view that was nothing short of beautiful. A breathtaking spectacle!

Rooms

The rooms at the lodge are spacious, well ventilated with large windows, they have a modern fully equipped bathroom with wide shower heads. The sink and mirror area are made of top quality grayish-black marble tiles counter tops. All rooms have expensive looking hard wood furniture, flat screen televisions, wardrobes, round coffee table with a set of two set comfortable seats, a telephone and burglar proof doors with modern locks. The beds have large black head boards giving the rooms a classy modern contemporary touch.

The bed…
The coffee table.
Large windows.

Restaurant

The restaurant faces the tropical rainforest of the national park from one end and the snowy peak of Mt.Kili on the other.It is spacious, tastefully furnished with a bit of a minimalist touch. There is an open balcony, huge windows, a small bar on one end of the restaurant which side that sums up the intricate design.

Meals

The restaurants have set menus, the chef’s delight (or chef’s choice), buffet and al a carte: all dependent on the number of guests and their preferences.

Dinner is served.

The compound

Right outside the entrance, there is an artificial fountain, to the further left, a pool table, as you walk down the stairs, it is evident that so much thought was put in the general landscaping of the property. The vibrant green perfectly cut grass and the colorful exotic flowers created beautiful magic.

 

 

There you have it!

Reach them on Facebook and book your stay.

Stay tuned for part three of my stay at Salinero Hotel in my next post…

If you missed how I got to Salinero read that post here.

 

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Getting to Salinero Millie Lodge, Machame;Moshi(Tanzania)

…via road from Nairobi

A small getaway out of town during the Mashujaa weekend sounded like a good plan. Following a recommendation by Duncan of Xtyrm Adventures,I was ready to stay at Salinero Hotels and explore Tanzania.

The ritual when it comes to places I am visiting, is that I have to get as much online reviews from other travelers as possible before setting out. But on this occasion, I did not find it necessary. Duncan’s word was final.(I trusted his judgement when he took us to Summit Mt.Kenya, and it turned out just fine. I couldn’t doubt this one.)

Getting to Salinero Millie Lodge from Nairobi

To get to Salinero Millie Lodge in Machame,you leave Nairobi using Mombasa road,branch to Kitengela; Kajiado, then straight to Namanga; the Kenya-Tanzania border. After clearance at the border the next town is Arusha followed by Moshi which is the destination. However just before getting to Moshi town there is a stop at the Machame Road Junction that is just a few Kilometers to Moshi Town Center. The whole trip takes about six hours,depending on the time taken at the border clearance.

Tahmeed the bus

I got in touch with my host from Salinero Hotels who advised that I travel with Dar Express(A bus company that plies the Nairobi-Dar Route). However when I went to book, the first bus company I saw was Tahmeed and well, I did the complete opposite. Besides, I was once told that Tahmeed buses were comfy,modern and  just like Dar Express they also use the same route.

Check-in time at the bus station was 5:30am and departure was 6:00 am, I was impressed with how they kept time because by 6:10am we had already left the city center. The bus stood out for a number of reasons: It had functional air conditioners, enough leg room,its reclining seats almost promised a flat back,the inside was spotless, adjacent seats were made to give passengers sufficient space because the design was that of tiny private compartments. Their entertainment was on point as well, each passenger had a small screen at the front all supplied with movies,music and games.

AC and lights…
Spacious compartment.
Leg room.
Space.
Entertainment.

Apart from a few security checks along the way and a burst tyre, the trip to Moshi was smooth. It took us three hours to get to Namanga.

Tahmeed crew fixing the burst tyre.

Long queues and two annoying Maasai herdsboys at the Namanga border point

One of the most frustrating experience during my trip was being cleared to enter Tanzania in Namanga. At the time, more than ten bus companies had arrived and released their passengers  for clearance. It took a whole one and a half hours before I could be attended to.

Namanga border

Just when the lady who was right in front of me went to the counter, two  Maasai herdsboys boldly and unapologetically came right in front of me and forcefully refused to line up like the rest of us. I tried talking to them and explained to them that the least they could have done is ask politely but they couldn’t hear any of that. When I discovered I was fighting a losing battle, I kept my cool and waited patiently for another 25 minutes, immediately after they were served,the officer in charge decided to take a short break. Yep!

The Maasai herdsboys

Scenic Namanga-Arusha-Moshi route.

After the hiatus, the journey towards Moshi kicked off smoothly. The air was cooler and purer;maybe the hilly country side made it better.The green rolling hills, the low hanging clouds that hugged the series of mountains along the way, the healthy cows, sheep and goats that grazed cheerfully, clusters of the Maasai Manyatas, livestock markets, dry pebbled  riverbeds of seasonal rivers and happy country men made the ride lively all the way.

Scenic countryside

No communication,unsure of my exact stop

The reason my host recommended Dar-Express was because they knew the exact time the bus would be passing the Machame Road junction where we were meant to alight and they could also track and see where we were along the way. I did not remember to buy a local SIM card and that meant trouble. I made many trips to the conductor just to remind him to stop at that junction. I kept reminding him because at some point I felt like he just wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying. Surprisingly when we got the junction, he called out. When we got out of the bus, one taxi driver came to us to ask  for business, but I told him I needed to speak to my host to get more info first. He was kind enough to lend me his phone.

He was so keen on my conversation that by the time I was handing back his phone, he told me that he saw the hotel van at the junction, and even one of the staff asked him whether he had seen us. We headed to a kiosk, ordered for soda and decided to wait patiently to be picked in about twenty minutes as agreed.

The Machame road junction and our helpful taxi guy
One soda down…next?

 Pick up by a jovial staff

In less than the stated 20 minutes, two gentlemen came straight into the kiosk where were waiting from. One wore a white half sleeved shirt, beautifully branded with the words Salinero Hotels, the other wore the warmest smile I have ever seen. They introduced themselves as Moses and Mudi. They explained how they’ve eager to meet us since noon. They showed us to the hotel’s Land cruiser.

Just like that, I felt an instant connection and true to my own persuasion, we become family. I didn’t understand the magic, but hey, it happened! From the Junction, we started our 20km stretch to the lodge…

 

 

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The K’Osewe Delight: Homely meals in the heart of the city!

There is quite a bit happening all around us that is spilling all over my mind up to this very minute… trying to make sense of it all seems to be a tough task. Your typical Nairobi day never lacks intrigues, theatrics and challenges, and it could take a couple of days trying to make sense of everything.

With all these happening,why immerse yourself in a never ending thought juggling exercise yet you can sink your fingers into a juicy broth of African delicacies, forgetting all your day’s troubles? I could talk about the annoying Nairobi traffic; but at this moment, I’m pretty sure talking about some steaming brown Ugali; kuon bel as the luopeans call it, and fried fish; rech is much more interesting and delicious!

In the thick of a buzzing city: Getting to K’Osewe

Nairobi’s mid-mornings are usually a beehive of activity, walking through the busy streets with the hardworking citizens marching to their places of work can be quite choreographed. The rhythm of the steps and speed along the streets is somewhat synchronized and you’d quite easily be singled out as an ‘outsider’ if you can’t keep up! Hidden in one of the most enterprising streets, K’Osewe muffs you from the heat and noise of a buzzing city to give you the tranquility of home away from home.

Getting to K’Osewe’s is as easy as knowing where Nairobi’s iconic Nation Center building is. Two blocks up from Nation Center, just past the Cooperative Bank Kimathi, you’ll find K’Osewe’s Kimathi outlet. You can’t miss it because a huge sign sticks out, hanging from the roof of the street’s walkway. If your eyes fail you, your nose wouldn’t, as the tantalizing aroma of authentic Kenyan dishes start their onslaught on your senses.

An Island of peace: Checking off your Nairobi food bucket-list.

If you thought K’Osewe is only ‘your regular walk-in bar and restaurant’, you are wrong. K’Osewe is that and more. It is your getaway, your hiding place even in times of turmoil you get comfort in their food. Best of all, at Kosewe, you get to eat and drink yourself to happiness to the enchanting tunes of  the African rhumba and benga music.

Kosewe’s food ranks very high on every traveler’s bucket list. I have dozens of foreigner friends who must tick off having an African meal at Kosewe off their bucketlist when they visit Kenya.

 

Breezy, transitional decor and  musical goodness at Kosewe.

The restaurant sits on the entire first floor of the building, and also provides access to a sunlit gazebo. As you walk in, with whispers of benga music politely oozing from speakers in the near background. The ambiance of the restaurant almost feels like a tiny oasis in the middle of a big concrete desert that is this city.It’s an experience that can not be limited to just a few words on a blog post! You’ve got to see it to understand..

On this Thursday lunch hour,I quickly secure a table under a parasol that is at one end of the gazebo. On my far right I spot a mzungu who is devouring his plate of fish with the respect and meticulousness a fish from the Lake Victoria deserves. There’s this joke boasted to a large extent by the Luo community of Kenya; where you gobble up a bony chunk of fish into your mouth, and only spit out the spines and bones from your lips! Highly tricky maneuver, a preserve of the experienced, but clearly, this mzungu knew his fish eating skills from the experts!

In less than a moment, a charming waiter attends to me and takes my order, promising the very best rech and kuon bel. The restaurant can easily host about 300 people and still have room for everyone to do the YMCA dance!

It is only authentic Kenyan if you boycott the fork and knives… Dig in!

Within minutes my fried tilapia is served piping hot garnished with Kachumbari;tasty slices of tomatoes and onion rings sprayed with coriander. My fish is accompanied by a side-dish of greens and steaming hot Ugali.

Before the waiter is done setting up my small ‘feast’, my glands can’t hold themselves together; the sight of everything got me salivating with expectations.If you truly want to enjoy any African dish, dig in with your bare hands! I truly was delighted at my very first bite! But did I start too soon? Before downing my first mouthful the waiter is back with Mor alenya (ghee) that I am supposed to ‘anoint’ my veggies with. Mor alenya loosely translates to ‘Shining happiness’ in the Luo dialect; and shine it did… to my senses and taste buds.

Should you find yourself at Kosewe, ensure to ask for ‘Mor Alenya’… that simple addition made my first instance of delight seem like nothing compared to the ‘shining happiness’ that followed.

Fresh off the boat to your plate.

K’Osewe prides itself in serving freshly produced, authentically Kenyan dishes that are whole and organic.I sat there wondering, if their fish is that good, how good can their grilled beef, fried liver or chicken be?Well,that’s for you to find out and let the rest of us know.

Fresh juices, packet juices and sodas are also available as accompaniments with your meal, but I just had to wash down my scrumptious meal with a cold freshly blended mango.

K’Osewe’s delicious fish stew and millet Ugali

It’s almost noon, patrons are trickling in, in the likeness of the ritual pilgrimage to Mecca and gradually, the almost empty halls fill up. From the smiles and warmth in their diverse faces, you could tell they know what they are in for.

The diverse menu,the chefs treat.

K’Osewe serves first class traditional Kenyan cuisine – whether you order coconut fish stew,

 

deep fried fish,

free range chicken, Athola (Roasted then cooked meat),

Aliyah – not the musician – (sun dried then cooked meat),

or Aluru (quail). You can also enjoy fresh fish stew,

 

Fried Liver,

Fried tripe,

After trying any one of these delicacies,you’ll always find yourself redoing the pilgrimage to try something new. Their prices are pocket friendly and each meal has the real value for every cent spent. If you are in town and haven’t tried them,trust me,you do not know what you are missing!

Occasionally Local bands play and diners simply relax and soak up the in the ever present good vibes all in a bid to enjoy a little musical pleasure. It is for sure a local hangout for many residents, K’Osewe is all about good home-style cuisine and a welcoming ambiance.

In a nutshell K’Osewe is a touch of simplicity, affordable, stripped-down, straightforward and damn delicious.

Dial a dinner.

You can’t make your way to the restaurant? Fret not K’Osewe’s got you covered. You can dial a delivery and your fish will be on your desk before you say Jack Robinson.

Fun fact: It is believed among Luos that their ‘superior’ intelligence derives from the consistency at which they eat fish, especially the head/Gills. If you were wondering why you got that ‘odd’ look after leaving the ‘gearbox’ (Head) intact; there’s your answer!

 

 

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Soaring High! The Maasai Mara Ranks Top among Travel brands feted in the World Travel Awards

Home to the 8th wonder of the world, and one of the last few sites your can experience the Big Five in their flesh, the Maasai Mara continues to thrive as a top travel destination in the world. Located on the South-western wildernesses of Kenya, The Mara spills over with an endless diversity of incredibly intriguing plants, animals and ecosystems. The main highlight of the Mara is the spectacle of the annual wilderbeest migration which peaks in the months of July to October. With quite a number of hotels, game lodges, and camping sites, the Mara is a traveler’s haven… so much such that it was named the top national park, beating hundreds others from across the continent, in the 2017 World Travel Awards.

Curious Wildebeest in the Mara (Image source: Pixabay)

The World Travel Awards is an annual events gala, started in 1993 to celebrate the excellence in all key sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality. This awards gala is currently on its 24th anniversary, which is marked by a Grand tour across the world, honoring and rewarding top brands across the continents.

My homeland, Kenya… The home of champions… bagged quite a number of categories in this year’s World travel Awards Africa, held in Kigali, Rwanda. Among the Kenyan brands honored in the awards gala include:

  1. Kenya Airways – Africa’s Leading Airline 2017
  2. Kenya Airways – Africa’s Leading Airline – Business Class 2017
  3. Diani Beach, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Beach Destination 2017
  4. Port of Mombasa, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Cruise Port 2017
  5. Destination Kenya – Africa’s Leading Destination Management Company 2017
  6. Leopard Beach Resort & Spa, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Family Resort 2017
  7. Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Hotel 2017
  8. Sirikoi, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Luxury Lodge 2017
  9. Finch Hattons, Kenya – Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp 2017
  10. Kenya Tourism Board – Africa’s Leading Tourist Board 2017
  11. Bonfire Adventures – Africa’s Leading Travel Agency 2017

These tourism/travel service providers must really have hacked their ‘How to be top’ assignments… and I’ll make it my next goal to experience every single one of them for all your sakes.

If you’ve had an experience with these legendary brands, tell me about it in the comments. Dont forget to spread the word.

Victory is super sweet!

 

 

 

 

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Mikoko Cove Ecolodge-The perfect Funzi Escape

Masked in the mangrove forest of Funzi Island, lies Mikoko Cove Ecolodge, the ultimate hideaway for a once in a lifetime getaway. Mikoko Cove is a little holiday/vacation destination that appeals to an adventure-loving holiday maker.

I came across Mikoko Cove on Facebook and I did not need a second chance to make up my mind on whether I was going or not. Funzi island is in South Coast; Kwale County. There are two ways to get to south coast from Nairobi; one is to go to Mombasa Island the head via the ferry, the second one is to fly direct to Ukunda. As usual, my more-than-ready-to-travel sister and cousins were already on board!

I was not sure of what to expect at all. But if the photos they had posted on their website was anything to go by, then we were in for a real treat. The furthest I had been in south coast was Golini, so it was exciting to go and figure out what lied ahead.

I wish I remembered how long it took us to get to the end of the road, blame it all on Sophia; Our host. She was really pleasant and happy to host us for the weekend.

End of the road, preparing for the boat ride to Mikoko Cove Ecolodge.

We got right into a village road that led us to the Mangrove forest. From there, we took a boat ride to Mikoko.

No one thought there was a boat ride in the journey! The girls were so excited. I thought I even heard someone even say they can’t wait to experience sea sickness. lol. The boat ride was anything between 20-30 minutes. We requested our ‘captain’ to ride slowly. Nothing beat the views along the way. A photo at a time, and salty air after the other.

Selfies, then some more selfies.

 

On arrival, the staff from Mikoko were waiting for us. We loved their beaming smiles and their warm reception. We felt at home. We were then taken straight to the old fashioned Arabic/Swahili restaurant where we were served with freshly squeezed, chilled fruit juice.

Arrival…
Welcome juice…

Thereafter, we were taken to our rooms. The different accommodation units are spread across the area, as self-contained loft styled house characterized by a makuti roof, Lime/coral walls and large Arabian doors. The room we were shown to had five beds inside; just enough for each one of us. After freshening and getting some rest, we were notified that a quick snack had been prepared and we should also place our order for dinner.

The rooms.
Checking in to the room.

Masked in the mangrove forest of Funzi Island, lies Mikoko Cove Ecolodge, the ultimate hideaway for a once in a lifetime getaway. Mikoko Cove is a little holiday/vacation destination that appeals to an adventure-loving holiday maker.

One of the five beds.

Let me just make it clear from here hence forth that, the best food I have eaten away from home ,is at  Mikoko.I lack words to decorate the food experience, but all I remember, is that we kept asking for more unashamedly. The barbeque sauce, coconut rice, marinated red snapper, assorted sea food platter and the entire coastal delicacy was finger licking good!

Dinner…No one does it better than Mikoko.

It mostly felt like a culinary trip. After dinner, there wasn’t much to do and the almost cold weather did not make the situation better. It was drizzling on and off.

I had spotted a swimming pool on arrival, and hence did not worry much about what to do the next day. Lazing by the pool has never been a bad idea.

When you pay for accommodation at Mikoko, breakfast is complimentary but any other meal is charged separately. Eggs, toasted bread, sausages, tea or coffee and fruits.

Despite the sun playing hide and seek with us, that dip couldn’t wait any longer.

We have to swim/Lazy around.
Or buy houses…These girls love Monopoly.
Best feeling ever.

Moments later, Sophia told us they needed to show us some place. Mohammed was the one taking us.

Remember the previous day when we got to Mikoko and the tide was high; an interesting phenomena had taken place, the whole area was dry, no water at all, apparently the waters had taken a ‘walk’.

Heading to the surprise destination.
Even the water took a break and went for a walk.
The Mangrove roots exposed in low tide.

 

We curiously followed Mohammed, who was carrying a cool box as he made way into the mangrove forest. Following closely from behind was another lady, who we hadn’t met carrying a set of clean towels. It was hard to guess where we were headed but man, we were already excited.

Following the icebox man 🙂

We walked through the forest and got to another beach. Upon getting there, there was another boat waiting. The lady handed over the towels and in no time we were being whisked away to an undisclosed destination.

Approaching the next beach.

Hopping into the next destination.

I swear this is how surprises are meant to work. As I was busy snapping the forest away, I heard the ladies scream with excitement. When I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes either. The coolest sandbank ever! Completely empty at the time. The temporary traditional shade was the icing on the cake.

See this! I mean…

I still don’t know what had excited me most. I cannot tell whether it was the photogenic nature of entire set up, the powder white sand, the contrasting pillow throws, cool box with soft drinks, or just the peace of mind. Generally, no one was able to kill the cool vibe that was in the air. This was the ultimate surprise.

Who wouldn’t get excited about this?

We jumped crawled, slept, swam, danced and everything in between at the sandbank.

Let the games begins…

I must confess that the photos we took there could make anyone who loves travel, beaches and exclusive locations green with envy. We could have stayed there forever had it not been for the high tide that was coming hard and fast hours later. Mohammed and the captain were watching from a distant the whole time; far enough to give us privacy yet close enough to attend to us of we needed help. Leaving the sandbank brought forth mixed feelings .One of thorough excitement and satisfaction, the other of separation anxiety.

Mohammed being attentive as usual.

The sandbank was the highlight of the trip.

The waters are back!

By the time we were heading back, the tide was high again and walking through the mangrove forest was not an option.

We were welcomed with hot Swahili snacks as we waited for our late lunch.

 

Chapati and beans have never tasted as heavenly as that one did.

Best chapos ever!

At the time of visit, it was me and my cousins birthday week. We went back to the rooms to rest after an eventful day.

Mikoko is generally quiet, but occasionally you will hear music from the bar on request. On this day, other islanders had come to chill and dine at Mikoko there was a bit of music, dance laughter and good company. When dinner was served, there was a beautiful banana cake that was baked to celebrate our birthdays. How thoughtful can a host be? Like I always say, the little things make a whole lot of difference. As usual, meals were out of this world!

Our stay unfortunately had to come to an end on the third day, because some of us needed to be in Nairobi same day. After breakfast and some few games, we headed out..

There is more than enough board games to keep you busy/entertained.

I will choose Mikoko again to fully explore the fun activities they offer. In the meanwhile, check out their Facebook page and website to book your next stay.

I promise you will thank me later.

NB: This post is not sponsored. Enjoy. Tupatane Mikoko.

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Attempting the unthinkable! The Daring Double that Conquered Mt. Kenya in Half a Day

Please, don’t try this at home“, was a common catchy phrase synonymous with Tuesday Kenya nights when wrestling used to air on TV. Two friends of mine recently took this phrase to a whole other level… 4,985 metres (16,355ft) above sea level to be precise! PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT ALL!

Breaking conventions: Are rules are for sissies?

When Ephraim Kihia and Willy Sise told me that they were going to climb Mt. Kenya in one day, I was utterly gobsmacked! I’ve been up Africa’s second highest peak and, I must tell you that it is not only treacherous, it is deadly! If you read my post about the climb, you’ll see from my face that it isn’t quite a smiling game. Summiting such a rocky mountain, with steep cliff faces requires a lot of planning and preparedness, and nobody should ever be in a rush!

However, the duo was having none of that! They actually did a trip from Nairobi, to the mountain, and back in just about one day! To be precise, the climb from the base of the mountain to Point Lenana (4,985 metres) took them a record 14 hours 8 minutes, a total distance of 43.63 kilometers! Can I get a confetti explosion! Damn! These men are made of valerian steel! Thrashing all rules about mountain climbing!

Dare-Devil climbers: Who are they?

Well, my dare devil friends never shy away from a challenge. They are professional Mountain guides, sought from two different mountaineering companies. Unless disputed by fact, these two chaps are the first to ever summit the mountain in a record 14 hours 8 minutes!

 

And if you thought climbing Mt. Kenya in a day was the ultimate challenge, they say they still have Kilimanjaro and Rwenzori on their platter! Go for it boys! You can follow Ephraim on his facebook page, and Willy on his website too!

What are the risks of climbing a mountain too fast?

Conventionally, it is recommended that you shouldn’t climb higher than 300-500 meters/900-1500 ft per day. Doing a climb in a hurry carries its own share of risks. If you are an adrenaline junkie, here are a few reasons to shoot more adrenaline into you:

  1. Acclimatization – Marked by headache (relieved by aspirin), irregular breathing at night, rapid breathing at day, increased urine output.
  2.  Altitude sickness – also called Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is marked by dizziness, vomiting, losing your balance, persistent coughing, sleepiness.
  3. Lack of orientation/Awareness – Going through a climbing track too fast makes it harder for your to keep track of your path, and make it more likely for you to get lost.
  4. Accidents – Rushing too fast up or down a mountain slope, especially at treacherous as Mt. Kenya, puts you at risk of slipping, falling and severe injury.

If you need plans on you next climbing expedition, reach out to these daredevils… with this achievement, you’ll always be in safe hands!

The hike in photos…

There you have it! Summiting Mt.Kenya in 14 hours and 8 minutes!

Get in touch with Ephraim on Facebook here and Willy on Facebook here!

Challenge yourself!

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Relax,Renew,Refresh at Maya Spa in Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa

They say there is nothing a massage can’t fix.

Wellness tourism; a multi-billion dollar global market, is on the rise in the tourism industry. Wellness tourists, who are big spenders, are now traveling in search of spas and fitness destinations.

The facilities they are in search of are; jet lag recovery, express grooming, in-room technology (where you get 6 hours sleep in 2 hours).

The growth of wellness tourism is set to rise and outstrip growth in global tourism eventually as the world’s population ages and the obsession with eternal youth, health, and beauty keeps growing.

With this development in mind, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa has largely invested in a serene, invigorating  spa that is so exquisite and will appeal to those who demand excellence.

Maya Spa is a self-contained wellness center that has a sauna, Jacuzzi, spa bath, and a flotation pool. It also offers hydrotherapy and rhassoul mud treatment. The essential oils and skin care products used by the aethesticians and massage therapists are specially formulated to bring out the youth in you.

They offer different types of massages based on the client’s needs. Some of them include traditional Swedish massage, Maya aromatherapy massage and reflexology. They also offer skin therapies, beauty treatment including hand and foot treatment. The services at the hair spa are also splendid.

The hot stone massage experience; my best pick

My appointment started at around 11.00pm. Booking is done in advance because the spa gets fully booked.The moment I opened the door, I had no doubt that the spa is where I wanted to spend the better part of my morning.

We were cordially welcomed by the receptionist who briefed us of their services. I was spoilt for choice, I wanted to try everything…the Jacuzzi spa bath, the floatation pool their Maya aromatherapy massage and the traditional Swedish massage!(I know haha)

After a careful consideration, I settled for a hot stone massage, only because I had a busy afternoon, otherwise I would have devoted my entire day at the spa…

We were then shown to the spotless changing rooms. Soothing Chinese melodies played along the corridors.It felt so right. I can swear I was taken to Asia for a moment.

The Sauna and the bath spa located three doors away was our little haven for the next thirty minutes, as they set up the  different massage rooms.

After the dry heat session and quick shower, it was showtime!

Sophia, my masseuse, was a crackerjack. You’d be forgiven to think she had magic in her hands. The massage oil was all sorts of calming. The gentle caresses of the heated stones all over my body was heavenly. It was almost difficult to tell what time Sophia swapped from the massage to the hot stones it was seamless. She was keen and tactful. Feeling the tensed muscles relaxed was the best feeling was otherworldly.

Faint whispers of my name woke me up an slightly over an hour later. I was in deep sleep, I think I even snored…

Looking outside the window the Spa feels as though it is floating on an artificial lake in the resort.

In a scale of 1-10, I would definitely rate my experience at 11.

The next time I visit, I will have to try the floatation pool and the detoxifying seaweed wrap.

If you are looking to pamper yourself and just feel good about yourself, wait no more… call them on   +254 070948100, or drop them an email; rsv@dianireef.com.

I promise you will thank me later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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