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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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Climbing Mt.Kenya, attempting Point Lenana (4985M): The story behind the glory

As I had previously mentioned in part one of my Mt Kenya experience, I suffered from a terrible stiff neck on the first night of the hike which messed my whole experience-ish. The nights were severely cold and at some point I felt like I wasn’t going to make it.

I was so tired of this mind game, the never ending rocky slope, the kilometers that kept piling and a tough journey that came with no title! I was done. Completely. I wished everyone the very best and decided to just make it to the T- junction that led us to Lake Michaelson; our next camp.

Several attempts to start summiting proved futile until something strange happened.Determination.

I started walking slowly following the other guys footprints. There was no one in sight. The only option I had was to keep going.

I was barely moving, but I covered some distance.

After about an hour, I saw the first lot from our group crawling back. They had summited!They had an accomplished look on their faces but the exhaustion was evident as well. They were not talking much.

Somehow discouraging but I never gave up hope.I kept at it. It was probably going to take me three hours to go up,come down and catch up with the rest.

They were not sure I’d make it back on time with the moody weather. I was not sure either.

As I made the second turn up behind a huge rock, I saw Abbas; the leading guide. He was carrying two bags and encouraged me to go up. I mean if Abbas cheered me on, it was doable.

I crawled, sat, walked, stood but pushed on.

As I made it to the second turn, I saw Charles.

Charles was the other guide. He gave me painkillers the day I could barely walk. When he saw me, his eyes lit and he gave the warmest smile ever, stretched out his arm took my bag and held me.

‘I have met a guide who’s told me they left you struggling to come up, but they are not sure you’d make it past the fifth step! That you’ve struggled to make it this far, I will take you to the summit. I don’t mind going up for the second time. You are truly resilient.’ He told me.

Who wouldn’t get renewed strength with such encouragement? I had to make it.

Surprisingly enough, I did remarkably well thereafter.

Charles was heaven sent. I don’t know how he did it but the next thing I saw was Lewis glacier which is the largest remaining glacier but is quickly receding, I could see the Austrian hut; the camp set up by the Austrian Alpine Club, clouds, Batian and Nelion peaks stood there majestically as well, then alas! a ladder that led to Point Lenana! I instantly forgot everything else. I no longer had the neck and muscle pain. I smiled sheepishly at myself. If only I was this patient with myself always.

The fast receding Lewis glacier.
One moment there are no clouds, the next time its clouds all over.
Still can’t figure out where all this strength came from…

Snow 🙂

Batian checking me out…

At this point, I cared less about catching up with rest. I mean, I was at the summit, the view was breathtaking, Charles was there with me, I was the highest standing Kenyan in Kenya on both feet at that time and I had my camera! What more could I had asked for?

The final climb…
Well, seems like the victory pose world over…
The Bible at the summit.

Never seen such beauty before.
….Go where eagles fly…
The most deserved break!

I went, I saw, I conquered. Victory tasted so good!

Were it was not for Charles, I probably I would not have summited.

Me and Charles!
Charles…the friend with a golden heart.

There you have it! Summiting wasn’t easy, but I did it anyway.

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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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Stanley’s Haven, Murang’a County,Kenya.

Stanley’s Haven; a holiday resort tucked neatly on the leafy suburbs of Murang’a County in an area called Mukuyu, is about one-and-a-half-hour drive from Nairobi, the Capital City of Kenya.

As you enter Stanley’s Haven, it is difficult not to notice the picture perfect lavish green gardens, perfectly manicured lawns, brightly coloured flowers, delightful fragrances emanating from exotic trees and bushes and the serenading minstrels of the male weaver birds as they try to attract mates who are busy repairing their nests that hang delicately from the tree branches.

Beautiful gardens at Stanley's Haven.
Beautiful gardens at Stanley’s Haven.

 

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One of the houses surrounded by beautiful gardens and sweet scented flowers

 

garden
Trees with hangings bird’s nests, colored petals and lush green gardens

In the early in the morning, dew on the trees form tiny drops of water as the golden sun rays seductively caresses the leafy branches of the trees which then majestically roll on the blades of the leaves and dance gracefully at the tip of the leaf before dropping on the ground below. What a sight to behold.

The general service at Stanley’s Haven is impeccable, right from the gate man who warmly welcomes you upon arrival, to the main reception then the restaurant all the way to the room service.

customer service
Impeccable customer service

As the old adage goes, ‘there is no love that is sincere as the love for food’ the restaurant at Stanley’s Haven is big on delicious African dishes together an assortment of any kind of meals you might like. The meals are prepared on order. Peter the chef is a maestro.

food

Yummy food prepared by the chef

The restaurant area is adequately spaced, elegantly furnished and dotted with eclectic wall paintings that imbue emotions of travel and adventure. On the background, the sweet ballad of soft jazzy music endlessly serenades you giving you a sense of abundant relief.

Directly opposite the restaurant is the swimming pool. Nothing beats a cool dip in the evening after a long tiresome day of driving and sightseeing. At night, the pool is lit from under the water with special LED lights that create a glittering impression as the water is swayed side by side by the gentle breeze caused by the wind. The supply of big clean and fluffy towels is equally delightful.

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The very clean swimming pool

If you have kids, the more you should have a weekend getaway at the Stanley’s Haven, a well thought out play site fully fitted with all kinds of playing equipment is present in the premises dubbed the kids’ corner.

Kids corner
Children’s corner

Make sure to check it out during your visit. The management quipped to me that they are putting up a hammock and an adult swing very soon. SHHHH! It’s a secret!

They also have a modern conference room that is spacious and fully equipped with stationary, sound system, projectors, proper lighting and white board. A definite perfect choice for strategy, committee or family meetings.

 

conference
Conference room

Finally, to the icing on the Cake-Accommodation! One immediately gets spoilt for choice. It is difficult to decide under which roof you’d want to sleep. The rooms are spotlessly clean, brilliant comfy beds, peacefully quiet, well packaged products like shower gels, shampoo and body lotion in the bathrooms, large plasma TV, free Wi-Fi and cable TV and an ever ready staff on standby to help with room service. I could go on and on but let’s sum it all up and say it’s an experience you want to have for yourself.

Accomodation
Wide array of accommodation to choose from...

 

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Clean,modern amenities in the rooms…

There is a four bed roomed bungalow on self catering basis, but you can request for a chef, self contained spacious cottages, single and double rooms. With all this, there is always enough room for you and many more of your friends and family.

Stanley’s Haven comes in highly recommended to anyone who wants to experience luxury and relaxation at the country side for about just an hour self drive from the hustle and bustle of city life. Go give it a try and thank me later!

 

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