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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 rooms. 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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Japanese Teppanyaki at Sake Restaurant;Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa

Japanese Teppanyaki is a culinary performing art.

The first time I tried Japanese cuisine I did not like it. The honey glazed chicken didn’t go well with my taste palettes especially because whoever prepared it put too much salt in the chicken, so it was more like eating salt mixed with sugar.To make matters worse,the meal cost me an arm and a leg. Since then,I decided to go slow on experiencing foreign cuisines.

During my recent visit to Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa, my previous not so good experience with Japanese Teriyaki chicken was thrown out of the window.

The Sake Oriental Restaurant.

The restaurant offers Japanese, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Inside the restaurant,there are two Teppanyaki tables. There is also another set of normal dining tables and a floor sitting arrangement synonymous with the Japanese dining style. The set-up of this restaurant is personal and intimate.

Inside Sake Restaurant.
Japanese Chabudai table.
Teppanyaki dining table.

When we walked in, we were told we would be served a Japanese Teppanyaki dinner. I did not know what to expect. I was not sure whether it was alacarte,buffet or something else.However, I was curious to know what teppanyaki was and on enquiring, I got to understand teppanyaki is a technique where food is cooked and served on an iron ‘table’ where the customers are dining. ‘Teppan’ means (iron plate) and ‘yaki’ means (grilled/ pan-fried), so teppanyaki means meals grilled in an iron griddle. The interesting performance during the preparation of the dish is called ‘Hibachi.’

The Teppanyaki experience and Calvin, the chef with culinary theatrics.

We were shown to a window facing table at the furthest left of the restaurant. A few moments later, Chef George(the culinary arts guy) who welcomed and walked us in,handed us safely to Calvin and stepped aside. Calvin; the Japanese cuisine specialty chef, took over. He looked shy at first, while the rest of us seemed unsure of what to expect. Little did we know the performance that was coming our way. He was exceptional at Hibachi; you’d think he was born and raised in Japan.

The Food entertainment in the making of  Emperor course.

The Emperor course is the five-course teppanyaki meal served at Sake Restaurant .

It basically consists of an appetizer course consisting of vegetable salad and/or sushi,followed by seafood.

Vegetable starter…
Sushi.

The seafood of choice that paired nicely for this meal was lobsters followed by prawns, both of which were prepared separately.

Lobster.
Fried lobster.
Prawn.

Cooked Prawn.

The third course was meat. He made chicken followed by beef fillet with steamed vegetable mix.The vegetable was also pan-fried and then covered to steam for about two minutes.

Chicken fillet,garlic,mushrooms and butter.
Frying the chicken.
Beef fillet chunks.
Smaller pieces of beef cooking.
Vegetables.
Beef and vegetables served.

The fourth course was vegetable rice.

Boiled rice,carrots,onions and green pepper.

The rice was pan fried with garlic, carrot and green pepper.

Finally, the soup was served. It was made of chicken soup as the base, mixed with miso paste and beef dash.

Soup.

The whole time, watching Calvin skillfully flipping, turning, cutting, stirring and setting flames to the grilled meat added more excitement to the suspense in the air. Almost a nail-biting experience.

Flaming up the grill.

Speak of meals with an adrenaline rush.

My recommendation

Book your next stay at Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa. Ask for Japanese teppanyaki, and thank me later.

Contact Diani Reef on facebook, twitter, instagram.

Check them out on trip advisor for great deals as well.

Alternatively, you can call them on: +254 709 481 000.

 

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Voyager Beach Resort-Nyali

‘Jolly Evenin’ ladies ‘n gentlemen.Me moniker be cap’n Ndeithi ‘n I gunna be th’ cap’n ‘o ye ship. Me shipmates ‘n I gunna be at ye service to ensure ye heartly enjoy ye cruise. In case ‘o any questions, queries or assistance, kindly come to th’ quayside ‘n get help from th’ foul blaggart on call…’

This was the opening speech of Captain Ndeithi to the passengers aboard the Good Ship Voyage!

Well…I guess this is the closest I have been to a cruise ship. Technically, it is a cruise ship the only difference is that it  is permanently stationed on land.

Voyager Beach Resort is an old fashioned ship themed luxury hotel at the Kenyan Coast,located ten kilometers from Mombasa town in Nyali. I spent a weekend in this unique resort and the only recommendation I have is; pack your bags already!

This Resort is a popular destination for Kenyans and foreigners alike, so bookings should be done in advance. On the weekend I was there, the resort was a buzz of activities. All rooms were fully booked. Roads and flights were all leading to Voyager.  I had accompanied Team Twende Mara; a team of bloggers and photographers that was selected by the Kenya Tourism Board to take over its entire social media channels. Apart from us, there was Capital FM (Kenya)  that turned twenty and flew all of its staff over for the weekend, the crew and fans of celebrated musicians; Nigeria’s Wizkid and America’s Chris Brown and then the other guests who were just either on holiday or business.

Arrival:

As earlier mentioned, everyone was headed to Voyager that weekend. All flights were fully booked and the only option left was to travel by bus which I grudgingly agreed to. We got to Mombasa late at night and found a driver from the resort waiting for us at the bus terminal. (To facilitate transfers, share your ETA and respective pick up point with the hotel early enough). On arrival, we received a cordial welcome from the captain of the ‘ship’, who quickly gave instructions to his shipmates and in no time we were well fed and already headed to our rooms.

The room.
The room.

The Resort and Stay.

One thing I like about the Kenyan coast is the spectacular sunrise and sunset. My room was situated right opposite the sea front overlooking an infinity pool. The sound of sea waves crushing against coral reefs,the gentle whistle of the wind as it blows kisses to the graceful palm trees, who then sashay shyly from side to side, to the golden streaks of the early morning sun rays usually make for my alarm when I’m down at the coast.

View from my room.
View from my room.
Waves crushing on reefs..
Waves crushing on reefs…
Waiting for the sun to rise
Waiting for the sun to rise on a cloudy morning.
Good things happen to those who wait... haha for the sunrise.Photo credit:Wathanga photos
Good things happen to those who wait… haha for the sunrise.                                                                   Photo credit:Wathanga photos 
Sea Front Rooms
Sea Front Rooms
Seafront Rooms
Seafront Rooms

Breakfast is served at the main restaurant from 0700 hrs to 1000 hrs. Room service is also available on request. Meals are served buffet style.

There are three accommodation packages one can choose from; bed and breakfast, half board and an all-inclusive package. With an all inclusive package, there is an advantage of complimentary services and discounts,I had an all inclusive package and would encourage anyone to go for it. It affords one a-drink-all-you-can selected local alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, snacks served from 1000 hrs to 1800 hrs at the Kaskazi Bar, meals at Smugglers’ Cove (the seafood restaurant) at discounted rates and finally Italian cuisine at the Minestrone Restaurant.

There are four food outlets at Voyager; Mashua, Smugglers Cove, Minestrone and Kaskazi Snack Bar. Mashua is the main food outlet for all passengers on board.

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Breakfast at Mashua with team Twende Mara.

Smugglers Cove, the sea food restaurant.

 

Kaskazi Bar
Kaskazi Bar.

Voyager is one of the destinations I have been to that has almost everything under one roof. There really is no need of looking for amenities or ‘fun things to do’ on a lazy day.

There are three swimming pools to begin with…

The Sports pool is best for energetic swimmers or fitness lovers.

The sports pool. Best for energetic swimmers.
The sports pool.

The fun pool is the entertainment pool, perfect for water sports like volleyball,polo, amongst others. It also has water slides.

The fun pool. This is the entertainment pool, perfect for water sports like volleyball,polo, it has water slides.
The fun pool.
Aerial View of the fun pool
Aerial View of the fun pool.

Then finally my favorite, the relax pool! This is specifically designed for peace and quite. If you have that book you have been reading for months…then this is the one place to finish it.

The infinity pool.
The infinity pool.                                                                                                                                                                       Photo credit:Wathanga photos

After a nice swim, a snack from Kaskazi bar then a lazy walk down to the beach is always a good idea.

Sea front of the hotel.
Sea front of the hotel.

 

An afternoon walk along the beach...
An afternoon walk along the beach…

When on vacation, relaxation should be top of the list on the to do things. At a roof top right opposite the Indian ocean and behind the sports swimming pool sits the cozy Swahili Lounge. It is ideal for an afternoon siesta. The Swahili seats, swinging beds and panoramic view of the ocean made it my favorite hangout area in the entire hotel. Nothing beats the chilled voyager’s cocktail in the afternoon and a backdrop of the ocean breeze.

Swahili Lounge
Swahili Lounge.

 

Swinging beds
Swinging beds at Swahili Lounge.
Cocktails at the Swahili Lounge
Cocktails at the Swahili Lounge.

Other drinks of choice can also be ordered from the Light House Sports Bar.

Light House Sports Bar
Light House Sports Bar.

Lunch is served from 1230 hrs to 1430 hrs. It is important to observe the preferred dress code at the restaurant during meals. It’s so tempting to go to the main restaurant with swimwear but it’s not allowed. All other forms of casual wear are however allowed during the day. Mashua serves a variety of cuisines in buffet style.Each day has it’s own theme and during my stay, I experienced the African theme. The various themes are taken quite seriously. From how the tables are set with African table mats and lessos, to African cuisines and entertainment by an African music band.

This Maasai-man sculptured from a water melon caught my eye.

African themed meals.

Information on entertainment and activities around the resort are always on notice boards. In case you miss the notice boards, the same info can be given at the reception…or better known as the quayside in Pirates English.

Notice board with Entertainment info.
Notice board with entertainment info.

It is almost impossible to get bored at Voyager, just spot someone in a bright yellow tee written A-Team, ask about the fun activity of the day. They are a friendly lot. I joined them for volleyball in the fun swimming pool and as expected it was simply fun-filled! There are many games to choose from…The choice is all yours.

Animation Deck
Animation Deck.

 

Checkers!
Checkers!
Pool!
Pool!

Kids are also well taken care of at Voyager. The adventurers’ Club located besides the animation deck has all it needs to keep the babies busy. This ranges from games like snakes and ladders, books, and toys all the way to the  to sleeping area.

Adventurers' & Young Rangers Club
Adventurers’ & Young Rangers Club

Toys for the kids.

Colourful painting to keep them busy...

Sleeping beds.
Sleeping beds.

If you are not an adrenaline junkie, then treat yourself to a deserved relaxing massage. The massage room has a beautiful view of the ocean which complements the relax mode.

There are five bars at the resort; Harbour Bar-open twenty four hours, Look Out Bar,Kaskazi Bar and the Light House Sports bar  which all close at midnight then Divers’ Bar that closes earliest, at 1800 hrs.

I liked the Look Out Bar a lot.I guess the name has a lot to do with its location. From the bar, there is a watchtower kind of view and you get to see most parts of the resort from a corner.

Breath taking view from the Look out bar.
Breath taking view from the Look Out Bar.

Don’t the cocktails taste way better with this view?…

Cocktail at the Look Out Bar
I think the cocktails tasted better from this side of the resort.

In the late afternoon, I recommend a good read. The Treasure-Trove Boutique houses one of the best bookstores I have been to. Magazines, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, self-help books, poetry, Africana and host of many other genres. In Neil Gaiman’s words, “What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

Boutique
The boutique that houses the bookstore.
Entrance to the Bookstore
Entrance to the Bookstore.
One corner of books.
One corner of books.

As the sun crawls into its nest and ushers in a blissful night…the smooth baritone of the lead vocalist of the Jambo Africa Band singing to the famous ‘Hakuna matata’ song, sophisticated laughs and low toned conversations thickens the air, followed by civilized cheers and claps at the end of every electrifying performance. Some of the cabin crew members could be  spotted here and there picking orders as the dining area filled up with passengers on board. Everyone dresses up for dinner.

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Jambo Africa Band performing.                                                                                                                           Photo credit: Life in Mombasa

The band will then give a powerful performance with a maintained tempo leaving the passengers begging for more. I remember being so consumed in their music to a point of having a minor heartbreak when the said they were done for the night at 2300 hrs.

It was hard to believe I was checking out the next morning.

Well if you are like me and saying goodbye to a Fantastic Voyage becomes a problem, worry not. There is an option to request for a late check out and schedule your departure for later in the evening then get to spend a full day in the ‘ship’!

A big shout out to Uber Kenya for sponsoring Team Twende Mara to the Chris brown’s/Wizkid’s Concert and facilitation of our movement to and from Mombasa Golf Club.

I hope you get to visit Voyager Beach Resort and have a taste of relaxation in a ‘ship’!

 

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Nanyuki, Storms Resort : Amazing trips in Kenya

Its Friday, I am bored.

The only thing that is on my mind is to go away for the weekend. So I am here trying to see where I can dash to for the weekend. I look around the office and realize my laptop back is there. So best thing to do is to empty my handbag, leave it in the office Continue reading “Nanyuki, Storms Resort : Amazing trips in Kenya”

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