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The tale of a date,Wanjala and Kakamega Forest.

My name is Prexidis, I live in Lubao. Lubao is about six Kilometers from Kakamega town. My little town is famed for being the largest auction market for dogs and cats in Eastern and Central Africa. I don’t like talking much about myself but following an experience I recently had, allow me this once to tell you a story.

My Fiancé’s  name is Wanjala. We went to school together at Muhonje Secondary School years back.He was two years ahead of me. He was a sharp guy and soon after finishing his O level education, he was admitted to Kaimosi Teachers Training College.I can’t wait for the day I will be called bibi ya mwalimu.

Last weekend Wanjala was in the village. What I like most about his visits is his love for travel and creativity in finding areas that we can spend time alone as we discuss intricate details of our future together. He is a wanderer. He also likes taking photos with ‘our’ mobile phone. Our Samsung Galaxy Pocket. This phone changed our status in the village. He promised to give me that phone in December when he buys himself a Tecno phone.

Our date was on Saturday. Venue, Kakamega Forest. I have never been to Kakamega Forest.But from what Wanjala told me, it is the only tropical rain forest in Kenya and is said to be Kenya’s last remnant of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned Africa.To add on it,it is home to about 380 species of trees,330 species of birds, about 27 species of snakes and 7 species of primates,more than 400 species of butterflies and several species of mammals.. Wanjala will make a brilliant teacher!

The map of Kakamega Forest.

I woke up early that Saturday Morning. I was told that it was the best time to see lots of birds. The sun was unusually hot that morning and Matendechere my bodaboda guy took so long. We had agreed to meet up at exactly 8:00 am. Wanjala was not going to be amused.

I decided to just walk to the main road, hoping to catch another rider coming from the south. Arimis and red clay soil don’t go so well, normally I’d wait for Matendechere but on this occasion, it was impossible,I had to get there quick.

Lady luck shone on me and in an hour I was right at the gate of Kakamega Forest National Reserve. Wanjala wasn’t so impressed. But he was happy to see me.

Dearest Wanjala;My heartbeat.
Entrance into Kakamega Forest.

He paid Ksh.600 park entry fee for both of us.

It was unbelievable that I hadn’t visited the forest despite being a local. We were assigned one guide whose expansive knowledge in plant and tree species amazed me. We never saw any birds though, just heard them chirping in the woods.I guess it was too late to bird watch.

Beautiful flora and fauna, cheeky black and white colobus monkeys, fresh air, breathtaking views and a general good feel in the air.

This was the first time Wanjala held my hands in ‘public.’ The feeling was magical.

Staircase to natural beauty.

Our first stop was the Udo’s Bandas. This is where their bandas and campsite were located. The accommodation had traditional huts and modern units.The bandas cost Ksh. 3000 per night while the traditional huts cost Ksh. 1000 per night.There was also another option of coming with your own tent and camp for Ksh. 500.

The next stop was Mukangu trails, along which were tens of labeled trees. We soon approached the oldest tree in the forest. I had never seen such a tall tree before. This was where our great great great grandparents use to pray to their ancestors and offer sacrifices.

Oldest tree in Kakamega Forest.

From there we did a steep hike to the view point of Buyangu Hill! The hike was exhausting but the view at the top was worth every drop of sweat. Wanjala promised to buy me a piece of land at the end of the forest. The furthest end where the horizon met the hills. The future looked so bright. He promised to bring me to Kakamega forest, why would I doubt that he will buy me that piece of land…

We were told that this is also the best location to catch the most breathtaking Sunset!

Wide view from Buyangu hill.

Somewhere beyond the hills,lies my piece of land.

The walk downhill wasn’t as tiresome as the way up. The narrow terrain opened up to the other part of the forest. It was picturesque.

There was a further ten kilometers to be covered to get to the small but lovely Isiukhu fall. I was getting thirsty and tired at this point. But the guide promised that a walk to Isiukhu will be the end of the trip. I couldn’t wait to see the water fall.Luckily,Wanjala had carried water in his backpack. It saved the day.

After about an hour or so, we could hear the sound of water gushing and falling hard on rocks beneath. I kept wondering how the sight was.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed when we got there.

Isiukhu fall.

Isiukhu fall.

Kakamega Forest has so much to offer.

Despite the exhaustion,this was one trip I wish I took earlier. I can’t thank Wanjala enough for making it happen. We spent quality time together, learnt new stuff and looking forward to spending more time together in this lovely County of ours. He even promised to take me to Lake Bogoria. I only read about it in GHC back in Primary school and sincerely I can’t wait.

If you have not been to Kakamega forest before, make a point to go. You will love It!

Till the next blog post…

Love and Itchy feet…

B on safari.

 

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Dion Van Aardt- The Travelpreneur who tells his travel stories with pictures.

This month on the traveler, I spoke to Dion Van Aardt. Dion is an avid traveler with stunning travel pictures that ignites the wanderlust bug in all of us. He shared his travel experiences, how it all started and his travel goals.

Who is Dion?

I am a thirty six year old Kenyan,but was born in Zimbabwe. My family fled from Europe in the 1700’s for Southern Africa in search of a better life and we are all still here!

 

What inspired you to start traveling?

My family has always been quite nomadic and in fact my great grandparents came to settle in Eldoret,Kenya during the great trek from South Africa.It took them 3 years to get here. So I think it is in my blood to always have an itchy foot!

Again,my parents used to take us on lots of camping trips and mountain hiking adventures in Zimbabwe and encouraged us to make life exciting.

Are you a solo traveler?

I prefer to travel with a few friends because it is more fun.Moreover, it helps with cost sharing making the trip cheaper!

Do you travel full time or part time?

I travel part time

Are you a photographer as well? You have nice travel photos in your social media pages!

I started taking photos the time Kenya suffered security issues both in Lamu and Nairobi – my intention was to shift focus from the problem at hand and just showcase Kenya as the stunning place it is.Then three years ago I decided to take up photography as a hobby.I have since practiced taking photos.As of last year I had already taken slightly more than 38,000 photos. From those, I always get a few nice ones that I use on my social media pages. I am getting better at it and I hope one day I will call myself a photographer. As at now, it is  a hobby because I still have so much to learn.

I love Instagram because I have learnt a lot from other people, while having a platform to showcase the photos of the different places I have been to.

How old were you when you went for your first solo international travel? 

I was nineteen. I went to the UK to work and become rich and famous. However,I ended up living in a tent in Henley on Thames waiting on tables for 6 months!I moved around UK working and living in all sorts of places from the lake district to Suffolk where I worked as a tractor driver.

How many countries have you been to

Twenty four.

What is the longest time you’ve been away from home during travel?

Three months – I had traveled to the USA.

How do you finance your travels?

When I was younger I did odd jobs in the UK to save money to go away over the weekends.Then I moved to Kenya where I ran Kizingo;a small lodge on Lamu island. When it closed because of the rains for 3 months, I spent all the money I had saved from the trade on the island to go abroad.Now I am older and I prefer traveling around Kenya and Zimbabwe because we have so much to see and do so close to home.

What is your favorite extreme sport?

I love Rock climbing!

What has been your lowest moment during travel?

I had driven from Harare to Johannesburg when my car got stolen with all my luggage and passport in it!

What do you like most about travel?

I love getting a tiny taste of what it feels to belong to another place that is not familiar to me. I also like tough hikes and adventures that takes one off the beaten track and from the comfort zone. Such experiences makes that glass of wine and hot shower feel so much better when you get home!

Which of the countries you have visited so far that in your opinion has the warmest people?

I am a biased man so I will say Kenya and Zimbabwe but other than these places,I have to say the other friendly place I have ever been to is the USA. It is  the best country as far as I am concerned for solo travelers. People invite you to stay in their homes after just meeting you.

Are you luxury or budget traveler? 

Budget! Always.

Would you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler?

I like to think of myself as a traveler but when I start taking pictures I probably look very much like an annoying tourist!

What is in your bucket list?

I really want to climb the Ruwenzoris, explore the Mathews mountains in Northern Kenya and see the Gorillas in Congo. I would also like to Visit and hike in Northern Greece.

Can you share with us some of your travelutions for this coming  year?

I plan to hike the Ruwenzori’s, do a walk from Mount Ololokwe to the Mathews mountains, then Cherang’any Hills and visit Eldoret where my granddad and my parents were all born. I am also keeping an open mind for other adventures. Any suggestions are always welcome!

Best travel moments in the past year?

I did a wonderful five day hike in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe called the Turaco Trail. I enjoyed hiking to the top of the Mount Ololokwe recently well as.My latest Trip was a visit to Isaqbini in Garissa County to find the Hirola Antelope!

Best life lessons you’ve picked from travel? 

Try to always keep an open mind and everywhere has something to offer even if it is just to provoke you to think differently. Adventure is a mindset.

You don’t need to travel to the other end of the world to have a great adventure.

If you are not traveling what else do you do?

I have to sadly work!I run Kizingo lodge in Lamu part time and as a project manager in Ruiru.

Have you checked out Dion’s photos on Instagram? If not, check here.

Do you any questions you’d like Dion to answer about travel? Hit him up on the comment section below.

Who else do you want to talk about their travels, let me know on the comments section as well!

Happy reading!

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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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