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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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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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Litare Fishing Village-Litare Island,Homabay Kenya.

Rusinga Island Lodge is a luxurious, lake front private lodge in one of the Islands of Lake Victoria called Rusinga.

In my recent visit to the Lodge after several recommendations and months of drooling on pictures of the lodge I saw online, I finally got an opportunity to spend a few days there.

Intrigued by the manicured lawns, indigenous trees, lake breeze, an extended pier into the lake, delicate and tasty exterior design and the cosy rustic interior design, I was more than excited to call this my home for the next few days.

On the second day of my stay, the Lodge organized a day’s excursion to a neighboring fishing village called Litare.

Rusinga Island Lodge so far tops in my list of the most organized destinations I have been to.

By 9:00 am in the morning, the speed boats used to ferry us to the fishing village were already on location. Traditional boats can also be used to get to the village but for that superstar feel, the speedboats are the best. They also navigate better when the tides are high.

Litare Fishing Village is located on a nearby Island, approximately thirty minutes away.

As you approach the village, you will spot many fishing boats docked during the day because the fishermen mostly fish at night.

Little egrets can also be seen in their numbers neatly perched on the boats. Our guide was quick to point out that they  were the laziest bird on the island. They patiently wait to eat the tiny fish brought in by the fishermen.

During the day, it is difficult to see the men of the village. We were told that they only get to catch their sleep during this time of the day, after a long night out in the cold fishing.

The women can be seen drying the fish in large mats outside as a method of preservation before vendors and buyers come for them after a day or two.

There are three types of fish caught by the fishermen. Nile perch, Dagaa(Omena) and Fulu (Similar to Dagaa but bigger in size).

Most of the fishermen leave their homes and come to rent houses in the fishing village but they get to visit their homes from time to time.

Our guide told is that the fishermen are nomadic in nature and the follow the fish patterns as they migrate.

Fishing is the main economic activity in this village.There are so many fishing villages in Homabay County alone.

The fishing boats used by the fishermen are made from Mahogany and Mvuli hardwoods. This wood is imported from Uganda. The approximate cost of wood for one fishing boat is approximately Ksh.30,000(USD 300).

Boats

Fishing is done at night using locally hand-made traps. The traps are anchored into the water with the upper side floating on water, then a lantern lamp is attached at the top and the other side is tied to the boat.

The lantern lamp attracts insects such as lake flies at night. When the insects get in touch with the lantern lamp’s hot surface, they die and fall into the water then are used as bait to attract the fish.

As we left the fishing village, the women were busy cooking for their hungry men to get them ready for the next fishing trip.

Did I mention how thrilled I was to ride in a speed boat?

Have you been to a fishing village before? Which one did you like most? Is it similar to Litare? I am curious, let me know!

To enjoy an experience like mine reach Rusinga Island Lodge via;

E-mail : info@rusinga.com

Tel: +254 20 2531314 / 5

Cell: +254 716 055924 / +254 734 402932

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rusinga-Island-Lodge-899854163421465/

Twitter: @RusingaLodgeKE

 

 

 

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Takawiri Island, the most beautiful island on Lake Victoria,Kenya

White sandy beaches,palm trees, cool breeze and turquoise waters are synonymous with the Kenyan coastline only…Well that is what I thought until recently when I visited one of the islands of Lake Victoria that is on the Kenyan side.

Lake Victoria(commonly known as Nam Lolwe in Dholuo) was named after Queen Victoria by John Hanning Speke in 1858 who was on a mission to find out the source of River Nile;the Longest River in Africa.

The characteristic feature of most of the small islands are narrow brown silt beaches where fishermen dock their boats during the day,narrow foot paths that go up the gentle slopes to the fishermen villages, women washing clothes and utensils on the shores,young girls fetching water for home use,children swimming at the shallow end of the waters and  occasionally separate groups of men and women bathing.

With more than nineteen islands on Lake Victoria that have been well documented, very little information is available on Takawiri Island:the unique island with a white sandy beach and palm trees.

A boat ride from Rusinga island takes about an hour to get to Takawiri Island. During the hour long ride, we spot a few fishermen casting their nets and our guide advises us to greet them. Most of them gladly reciprocate, a few did not. They looked unhappy. It is easy to spot different species of birds as they lazily glide above us.

It was almost impossible to believe our guide who kept assuring us of the island with a white sandy beach ahead of us. Call me a doubting Thomas but with the islands and beaches I had seen in the area,there was no way I could believe a white sandy beach existed on these sides.

Typical beaches in the region.
Typical island forms.
Typical beach. Usually a bit rocky.
Most beaches are characterized by children swimming,women washing and docked boats.

About forty minutes into the boat ride,the guide announced we were approaching Takawiri Island. The doubting Thomases stretched out their necks to catch a glimpse of the ‘promised land.’

At first, I thought my eyes were playing games on me. But as we approached the island all doubts were thrown out into the lake! I was speechless. Were those palm trees, white sand, and blue waters? Hold up, we must have used a different route to get to Indian ocean! but which one? This was too good to be true.

Takawiri from a distance.
Well yes…They were palm trees.

Was that sand as well, like white sand?

The Phelps in me wanted to dive into the lake and swim to the beach but I remembered the boat was faster and calmed down.

On getting to the beach, we all jumped out of the boat in excitement just to have a feel and touch of the beach before it ‘dissapperared’ in case it was just a dream.

The hot crystalline sand between our toes, the cool breeze on our faces, the whistling palm trees, the calm birds and the soothing sound of the gentle waves crashing on the shore. I think whoever said dreams come true had us and Takawiri in mind.

Palm trees sashaying to the rhythm of the cool breeze,turquoise waters and a beautiful shade.

 

Easy birds.

 

Other birds chose to glide.

On the other side of the island the view was to die for again!

The other view of the island.

What we did not know was that there was also a resort at the island called Takawiri Island Resort. Please note that on getting to the beach, the hotel charges five hundred shillings per person because it is private property.

The resort has cottages, a restaurant and construction of camping grounds was underway at the time of visit. I will make a point of staying at the hotel the next time I visit Takawiri and share a review.

 

 

Everything in Takawiri is refreshing. The location, ambiance, nature and the people. For the first time ever, I felt as if my photos were doing the place injustice.

Takawiri is the master of all fine things. ‘Coastal’ feel at the lakeside, bird watching paradise, photography grounds, beach hotel, perfect place to catch the sunset, fishing grounds and generally a place to just chill, read a book, meditate and see life in its natural,pure form.

Takawiri turns even the most basic of photos to a masterpiece.

 

The back side of Takawiri from which you can see the sun set.

 

Best location to just sit and and relax.

 

Birds everywhere.

 

Who cares about city life when you have Takawiri?

Finally as I always say, pack your bags already. Visit Takawiri before everyone finds out this hidden gem.

Till next time!

Love and light.

 

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The 5th Edition of Rusinga Cultural Festival

Every last Thursday and Friday before Christmas, a colourful event dubbed the Rusinga Festival takes place in Rusinga Island,Kenya.

Rusinga Island is one of the numerous islands on Lake Victoria and is approximately six to seven hours drive from Nairobi the capital of Kenya.  The other alternative routes from Nairobi is by flight to Kisumu then connecting to Mbita by road through Ahero-Katito-KenduBay-Homa Bay then to Mbita or use a ferry direct from Kisumu to Mbita.

The Island  is one of the important archaeological sites in Kenya where fossils and the skull of Procunsul  Africanus was found by Mary Leakey.

The Island is an ideal bird watchers paradise with one hundred species of birds having been recorded with a good number of them termed as endangered. It is also the best place to see giant monitor lizards;bigger in size than most seen in the entire region.

The Suba people.

The Abasuba are a sub-tribe of the Bantu people of East Africa. It is estimated that there are just about  a hundred thousand (100,000) Subanese left.The shrinking of the Suba culture is attributed  to cultural blending from the larger Luo tribe through intermarriages and interactions.

History has it that the Suba were kicked  from Uganda and settled in the islands of Mfangano and Rusinga in Kenya by the then Kabaka   (King of the Kingdom of Buganda) because of witchcraft. According to one of the curators  at the Abasuba Community Peace Museum, witchcraft and rainmaking are still practiced, however at a small proportion.

The Festival.

The Rusinga Cultural Festival is a story, a journey and a celebration of the Abasuba people who use this platform to tell the world who they are and the need to preserve their already endangered culture.

The 5th edition of the festival attracted a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic participants, exhibitors, organizers and attendees. Driving through Rusinga island, it is almost impossible to imagine the entire population seen at the festival were from the neighboring villages that seemed scarcely populated…well from an outsiders eyes.

The event held at Kamasengre Primary School grounds was full of sparkle, fun and zest.

At first when I visited the grounds on the eve of the event, I went to bed convinced that there wasn’t really much to see at this festival. I doubted I was going to even enjoy myself.

Fast forward to the festival date… a massive transformation had taken place! There were people everywhere trying to catch a glimpse of the main event, music, entertainers, media from all corners and generally good vibe in the air.

Then there were a particular group of dancers that definitely stole the show with their energetic dances. Their traditional costumes,sunny smiles and coordinated moves pulled everyone to them every time they performed.

 

The curious crowd.

 

Energetic traditional dancers

While the traditional dances songs and story telling sessions went on at the main arena, exhibitors showcased Suba culture at different levels in the white tents at the peripheries.Food,fashion, literature and traditional artifacts like pottery,woodwork,basketry were exhibited.

As the program would have it, the dance groups were to lead the procession to a nearby beach called Luore to witness the boat race. This was most irresistible part of the entire festival. In no time I was part of the group singing and dancing through  the villages calling on more villagers and visitors to join us.

Swelling crowd.

 

Calling on villagers to join the procession.
Crowd waiting for the boat race.

The Rusinga Cultural Festival’s boat race is an event on its own that attracts an even larger crowd. Dozens of people joined the procession as we traversed through the villages. In a few short minutes,as everyone else approached the beach, there was yet another larger crowd patiently waiting for the race to start.

It is all song and dance as the competing groups prepare to start the race.

Lakeside entertainment
More entertainment

The most impressive attribute of the organizers of Rusinga Festival is time keeping.Events ran smoothly and within the scheduled time. The boat race was not an exception either.It started on time.

Never in my life have I ever seen so much vivacity. During flag off, loud cheers and clapping filled the air as the teams put their best paddles forward. Defeat was not an option here… evidently.Especially when there was money to be won.

Boat Race

The adrenaline, sweat and determination yielded narrow wins and worthy losers. Everyone broke into dance and jubilation again, singing traditional songs  of victory in favor of the winning teams and their boats.

After the exciting boat race, the crowd then matched up again to Kamasengre school grounds where wrestling ,tug of war, ajua and other teams were preparing.

It was during the Rusinga Festival that I watched a live wrestling match. Nothing compared to what we see on TV.The heart beat that comes with watching a live match in action is uncontainable. There is a mix of fear and thrill all in one. It is a nail biting experience.

The Suba men have energy and endurance. I also discovered that wrestling  is a mind game.

Wrestling

As wrestling went on, the older men were battling their wits with Ajua; a popular gambling board game that originated in Kenya and is played in some parts of East Africa as well.

Tug of war was drawing up a crowd and so was the fashion show. After the wrestling matches, fashion show seemed more appealing to me. It was wonderful to check out amazing designs from the designers who did a good job telling the evolution of African fashion.

Fashion show.

Before I knew it, the sun was already casting its orange rays signaling the end of yet another day at the island. Most of the days activities had come to an end,but the locals stayed behind to enjoy tunes from their favorite local musicians.

The event definitely lived up to its name. I cant wait to attend the 6th Edition of the same,but next time I will register as a wrestler or a dancer.Maybe.

Long live Rusinga Cultural Festival.

Long live Rusinga Island.The beautiful island with a breathtaking sunset.

Photo contributor: Antony Muwasu Ochieng

 

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Fort Jesus

Facts about Mombasa Old Town that will make you want to visit

Mombasa old town is believed to be the first place at the Kenyan Coast to be settled by the Swahili ethnic group.

At the mention of this old town, the first thing that crosses ones mind is the view of an old quiet town located at the edge of the sea that boasts of rich culture,ancient architecture,a diverse community and deep history.

In my recent trip to the old town that was organised by my host,Voyager Beach Resort,I got to experience the old town’s warmth, interacted with locals,visited Fort Jesus;a Portuguese fort  that was built between 1593 and 1596, by order of King Philip I of Portugal  to guard the Old Port of Mombasa and has since been declared by UNESCO as a world Heritage site.

Most importantly I had a better understanding of the history of one of the most visited places at the Kenyan coast.

Inside Fort Jesus…

The architectural layout.
The architectural layout.
Fort Jesus
Fort Jesus.

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Curio shops inside the fort.

 

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Mombasa Old Town Brief History.

In the 12th Century, Muhammad Al Idrisi, a geographer and cartographer gave the first published reference of Mombasa.In the 13th Century: Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta traveled along the East African coast and claimed Mombasa among other Islands along the Swahili Coastline.15th Century: A standard map of Africa was drawn and the town of Mombaza is clearly Indicated.16th Century: The now old Port(Mombasa) was notably the docking place for Arabian, Indian, Persian and Somalian traders. During the annual monsoon winds, the traders would dock their dhows at this port and bring porcelain,textile, oils,silk and spices. During this period after the monsoon winds, some traders would stay back and settle in the old town. This settlement led to cultural blending that allows Mombasa to crow of diverse people, cultures, cuisine, architecture and languages.18th century: Kenya was declared a British protectorate and it proposed the construction of a new port with a deeper water harbor,to handle larger ships that brought in building materials and workers for the new railways, hence the construction of Kilindini harbor. This saw the moving of most activities from the now Mombasa Old port in Mombasa town.

The Old Town:

Architecture..

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The buildings are conveniently located opposite each other and separated by narrow streets.

They are a mix of old Arabian, Portuguese,old British and Asian architectural designs, characterized by raised balconies, wooden windows, large Arabian doors and white coral walls.

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Large Arabian doors...
Arabian doors…
More doors.
More doors.

They also have curved windows and narrow verandas if any.

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Mombasa Old town houses the oldest mosque in Kenya, the first hotel in Kenya and the first post office too!

First Mosque in Kenya
First Mosque in Kenya

 

First Hotel in Kenya
First Hotel in Kenya

History lovers will most definitely have a field day at the Old town.

Along the narrow streets of Mombasa Old town, is Ali’s Curio shop. This is where you get tangible pieces of history in form of  Arabian vases, treasure boxes, Aladdin lamps,  rags, utensils amongst others.

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After a long sunny day, the only place to go to is Jahazi Coffee HouseThe coffee house has been designed to be a meeting place where people of all walks of life can interact, share ideas and basically catch up over tea,coffee, juice and food.

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As you wind up the tour of the old town, just a few meters from the main entrance and opposite Fort Jesus, lies the graveyard of the family of Ali Al’amin Mazrui who was an academic professor and a political writer on African and Islamic studies. He was born in Mombasa.

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Checking Out:

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Beautiful place to visit no? As I always say…Pack your bags already.

Important tips:

  1. Carry bottled drinking water, dress for the coast and do not forget your sunscreen.
  2. Have some cash with you, it is more convenient than swiping your card.
  3. Have a guide with you during tours, tourists can be easy targets to thieves and con artists who masquerade as locals.Learn to bargain, unscrupulous traders usually take advantage of visitors and charge them exorbitantly for goods and services
  4. It is not mandatory to tip in Kenya, but a little appreciation goes a long way for proper services rendered.

Appreciation:

Heritage Hotels with their Mombasa Resort;Voyager Beach Resort for organizing the trip. You can also have a tailor made tour to the Mombasa Old town and other must visit places in Mombasa when you book your stay by dropping them an email at sales@heritagehotel.co.ke you can also read more about Voyager Beach resort here.

Thee Agora: A blog committed to the preservation of  Kenya’s rich history and culture by covering various aspects of our diverse history.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hotel Review:The Panari Resort Nyahururu

When you mention a daycation,weekend getaway or a holiday in Nyahururu Kenya, the obvious suggestion that usually pops up is ;The panari Resort Nyahururu. I recently returned from a weekend getaway from the resort and have not been able to keep quiet about it. My social media pages have been awash with stories from Panari and I am not about to stop.

The Panari Resort elegantly sits on a twenty acre piece of land against a backdrop of the scenic Thomsons Falls  that waters the surrounding Marmanet Forest as it makes its way effortlessly down stream as Ewaso Ng’iro river.

The Thomsons falls that forms the scenic backdrop of the Panari Resort.
The Thomsons falls that forms the scenic backdrop of the Panari Resort.

Checking In:

There is an aura of class, peace and tranquility as you drive into the resort. The security detail at the entrance gives a clear confirmation of  guaranteed security during the stay.

Entry.
Entry.

On arrival, you are received by the resort’s manager who cordially welcomes you to the establishment as the porter takes care of your luggage that will be taken to your room as soon as you are cleared.

I got there at around lunch time and was directed straight to the restaurant for lunch.

Dining
Dining.

The dining experience was exactly what I imagined and more. The dining room was exquisite with white walls adorned with expensive wall hangings,big windows, sliding doors, black polished tables with cream and dark brown seats that had bits of gold undertones. On one side of the room was an ancient statue made from Plaster of Paris and delicately placed on top of the fireplace.

The tables were set with snow white table cloths, polished silverware that could pass for mirrors and matching table mats. At every corner of the dining room stood attentive waiters and waitresses.

Finally the sumptuous buffet meal was cleverly displayed with the sole intention of spiking one’s appetite. Bliss.

 

Dining table.
Dining table.

 

Interior decor
Interior decor.
Wall Hanging
Wall Hanging.

The Dining Experience.

Chicken and Vegetable soup for the starter.
Chicken and Vegetable soup for the starter.
Red Snapper, Chicken, and carbs for the main dish... Haha I know.. I was hungry stop looking at the size of the portion.
Red Snapper, Chicken, and carbs for the main dish… Haha I know.. I was hungry stop looking at the size of the portion.

When it comes to the dessert, one is definitely spoilt for choice! So much to choose from.

Dessert
Dessert.
Had to settle for something..
Had to settle for something…

Accommodation:

Transport to the room was by these clean,colorful and classy buggy cars. They are available on request. The signage to the different areas  of the resort has been properly done and hence no unnecessary confusion considering the size of the resort and the identical buildings.

colourful buggy cars.
Colorful buggy cars.

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Proper signage.
Proper signage.

A welcome note neatly placed on the hardwood table from the manager of the resort was one of the highlights of my experience.Every guest wants to feel welcomed,taken care of and assured of a comfortable stay…Well done Panari.

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As the warmth of the welcome note sipped through my system slowly, something else caught my eye.The room. It had a queen size bed,with white covers and lemon lime pillow sets, a huge floral wall painting with a corresponding colour scheme,an African themed bedside lamp, roof to floor window with drapery curtains that complemented the bed and wall colours. It had a polished wooden floor, furniture made from Mahogany wood (haha I guess) and a beautiful modern fireplace. On top of the table was an electric kettle, bottled water and an assortment of beverages for a quick fix.

The room
The room.
Hardwood Furniture and a fireplace.
Hardwood furniture, polished wooden floor and a warm fireplace.
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Thou shall not be thirsty in the hotel room.

 

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Modern hair drier.

 

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Sliding doors that lead to a panoramic view of the Marmanet forest.
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Details….

I love wall hangings. There were two high quality canvas painting  carefully and thoughtfully placed on the wall facing the sliding door. Products of fine art. Art that takes you back into time.

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The room is self contained and  has a modern bathroom that is well stocked with towels and toiletries.

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Clean tap and sink.

 

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High quality Shampoo and shower gel.
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The H tap actually gives instant hot water…no stories…
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Abundant supply of white, fresh fluffy towels.

There was yet another surprise that awaited me when I opened the sliding door that led to the balcony. The panoramic view of Marmanet forest,The gushing water from Thomson’s falls as it furiously made it way down the gorge and the wide angled clear horizon.

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The chirruping of birds and the gentle breeze in the valley added flare to the already perfect picture that nature had painted.

The front porch of the room paved way to the other side of the hotel giving a sense of direction and bearing in case one felt lost.

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One view of the resort from the room.

 

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Views from the front porch.

Fun things to do:

In case you are wondering what else there is to do in the resort then wonder no more. The resort houses a fully equipped gym, a heated indoor swimming pool that is right opposite a small bar, Eucalyptus Spa and Salon, aerobics and yoga studio. There is a trained instructor on site just in case you need assistance

Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool.
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Poolside restaurant.

 

Aerobic Studio
Aerobic Studio.

 

The lemon water at the gym entrance.
The lemon water at the entrance to the gym.

 

Gym
Fully equipped gym.
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Eucalyptus Salon.
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The Spa.

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As you walk away from the utility complex, there is a site to behold. Manicured lawns, no stray grass, an artificial water fall, lovely benches,swinging seats, fresh air and a few ornamental canons.

Manicured lawns.
Manicured lawns.
Swinging seats fro relaxation. Ideal for reading.
Swinging seats for relaxation. Ideal for reading.
Waterfall.
Waterfall.
Do not step on grass :-)
Do not step on grass 🙂
Benches.
Benches,aren’t they cute?
More benches.
Then more benches.
Ornamental canons.
Ornamental canons.
more buggy vans...
More buggy vans…
Kid's play area.
The well equipped kid’s play area.

After a stroll around the resort, I ended my evening at the Silk Oak bar. This is where style meets class. Enough space at the counter, leather lounge seats and a sufficiently stocked bar!

Silk Oak Bar.
Silk Oak Bar.
Hanging wine glasses.
Hanging wine glasses.
Spacious round table and seats.
Spacious round table and seats.
Thirsty merchant making his way to the bar.
Thirsty merchant making his way to the bar.
More space.
More space.

It is true what the say when you are having a great time…Time flies.

It was a memorable stay at Panari Resort Nyahururu and will definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For more information about the resort, visit their website here.

Or drop them an email on…reservations@panariresort.com

With Love…

Bonnita-sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Friends,Music,Dance and Swimming at Stanley’s Haven Murang’a


I went to Stanley’s Haven earlier in the year with my production team and it was all shooting and  work.(See the post here).

I promised myself that I would go back there with my friends. They needed to see this little paradise. There was  this particular family house with a capacity of eight and from the onset, I knew this was perfect for  us and just like that …we had a weekend plan!

Checking in:

The family house
The family house, our home for that weekend.
Restaurant and pool
Restaurant and pool.
The house
The house
Veranda
The veranda.

We spent one night at Stanley’s.

Accommodation included:

  • Unlimited access to the swimming pool for residents.
  • A DJ on request(The speakers provided was something else!)
  • Barbeque grill on request too.
  • Full Breakfast the next morning

Here are pictures of our stay.

Friends that eat together stay together.
Friends that eat together stay together,breakfast the morning after.
Breakfast.
Doesn’t Juliet have that colgate smile :-)…
Whatever Sue was saying...
Whatever Sue was saying…
Sly the cool one
Sly the cool one

 

Myra the Diva...
Myra the Diva…
Beryl and Annette ...
Beryl and Annette the cool kids…
Lazy Sunday Afternoon..."beating" stories by the pool.
Lazy Sunday Afternoon…”beating” stories by the pool.
Davy, hard to believe he is hydrophobic! The man who carried the day.
Davy, hard to believe he is hydrophobic! The man who carried the day.
Joe.The Quiet one.
Joe.The Quiet one.
A little dawa goes a long way.
A little dawa goes a long way.
For the first time Chege Voluntarily got into water... Miracles do happen my friends... they do.
For the first time Chege Voluntarily got into water… Miracles do happen my friends… they do.
Getting my tan on. :-)
Getting my tan on. 🙂

Checking out:

Stanley’s was kind enough to let us extend our stay to about 4:30pm. This was possible because we took lunch served from their restaurant and there were no guests checking in that Sunday afternoon.

The girls
The girls.
From us at Bonita on Safari we say asante for your hospitality and we will come back again.
Checking out.

From us at Bonita on Safari we say asante for your hospitality and we will come back again.

Important info:

Cost of Family house: Ksh 20,000.00 a night. This fee includes:bed and breakfast and unlimited access to the swimming pool. It can house eight  people.

A cottage costs Ksh.5000.00 a night.

Double rooms costs Ksh.4000.00 a night.

Meals: You can choose between self catering or order your meals from the restaurant at an extra cost.

*Please note that the prices I have quoted were as per my  the last visit.It is important to call the Hotel and find out whether there are changes before you travel.

Tag your friends along to Stanley’s Haven, you will thank me later.

 

With Love…

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Olkaria Geothermal Spa-Naivasha

Location: Floor of the Great Rift Valley inside Hells gate National Park.

Distance from Nairobi: About one and a half hours drive from Nairobi.(Approximately 120Km)

Accomodation: No

Restaurant: Yes

Public transport:No

Tour guide: Necessary for first timers.

Main attraction: The natural hot water spa.

Other attractions/Activities: Game viewing, camping,bird watching,sight seeing, cycling,hiking and rock climbing.

Charges: There are two charges:One is for accessing the National park as follows: Citizens;Ksh 350 for adults and Ksh250 children,Residents Ksh 700 adults and Ksh350 for children,USD 30 for adults and USD 20 for non residents.The other charge is for accessing the swimming pool area. Which is about Ksh 400.00*( please confirm with them on this).

Olkaria geothermal hot spa is a unique destination for a days trip to Hells Gate National Park or Naivasha.The facility is owned by Kenya Electricity Generating Company and is located inside the Hells gate National Park.

It is called a geothermal hot spa because of the hot water(hot steam that cools in the collecting pipes) that is collected from the various wells within the plant and emptied into the pool.The temperature of the main pool ranges between 30-40 degrees centigrade.

There is an apparent smell hydrogen sulphide gas(the smell from rotten eggs) in the pool area mainly assosiated with sulphide gas emitted during the drilling process that combines the hydrogen in the atmosphere . This however should not be  a deal breaker (hahaha because fresh air is in abundance too!)

The pool.

The hot water spa.
The pool
A closer look …

Other Pools…

Other pools, but of higher temperatures.(Not open for swimming)
Other pools, but of higher temperatures.This is where water collects and cools before it drains in the larger pool.(Not open for swimming).

 

The pool is big enough to accomodate people in their hundreds :-)
The pool is big enough to accomodate people in their hundreds 🙂

 

The restaurant.
The restaurant.

If swimming and water isn’t really your thing then no worries… you might as well take a nap and  enjoy the warm humid air from the hot steam that is vaguely in the atmosphere.

Chill and nap.
Chill and nap.

Recommendation:

The management should have a cleaner on standby or constantly ensure that the changing room and shower’s floor is dried after use to avoid minor accidents caused by slippery/wet floor.

Also, a few minor repairs like fixing the towel holders would be great.

Overall verdict: Nice place to unwind. A must-visit destination when you visit Naivasha town or Hell’s gate National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things you should know about the wildebeest before you head down to Maasai Mara.

One  of the greatest wildlife spectacles of the world is under way. This is the annual migration of the wildebeest from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara as they cross Mara river.

But what exactly do you know about this phenomenal animals called the wildebeest or gnus(pronounced as ‘news’) or Nyumbu in Swahili?

Here are quick facts about the wildebeest.

  • They are in the family of antelopes. (Shocked huh?)
Wildebeest
Wildebeest
  • They can live to up to twenty years.
  • Their mating period is seasonal and usually timed so that the young ones are born close to the beginning of the rainy season when pasture is in plenty.
  • During this period an average of half a million calves are born. ( Half a million!)
  • Their gestation period is about eight months.
  • When a calf is born it is able to stand and run within five to fifteen minutes of birth.
  • The young calf starts to eat grass at about 10 days but continues to suckle up to about 5 months.
  • Within a few days a young calf can run as fast as the adults in the herd.
  • Young males are driven away from the herd when the next calf is born while the females stay on.
  • They are grazers and can not do without water for more than a few days.
  • They have a migratory cycle each year in the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem covering up to around 2000km. This is dubbed as the great wildebeest migration.The great wildebeest migration.
  • A single herd of wildebeest can have up to about one million of them.
  • During the great migration about two million wildebeest cross the Mara river.
  • These animals are a reliable source of food to the predators of the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem.
  • Predators follow the wildebeest as they move. Their main target being the young and weak.
  • Other territorial predators like lions will only attack the wildebeest when they cross their territory.
  • Wildebeest are active both day and night!
  • They are also generally noisy.
Yo.. whatchu looking at?
Yo.. whatchu looking at?

What more do you know about wildebeest? Have you already gone to see the migration? Share with us your experience.

With Love,

Bonita!

PS:The photos used in this post belong to their respective owners.

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