In one of my trips to the western region of Kenya, I stopped briefly at Acacia Premier in Kisumu City. It had been a bumpy drive and the only thing on my mind was freshly squuezed orange juice and samosas.
When I stepped inside the hotel, my jaw almost dropped! The hunger suddenly disappeared as my eyes wandered around looking for the manager to ask for permission to take photos.
At the time of visit there was an international conference going on in one of the conference rooms and upon inquiry of the availability of rooms, the manager told me they were fully booked!
You know that feeling you get when the initial intention was a quick stop for a snack then on taking note of what a hotel offers you change your mind? Well, that was the story of my life then.
I bet anyone would be excited to book their stay at Acacia Premier after seeing these photos!
I am yet to spend a night at Acacia Premier,but I promised as soon as I do, you will get it all fresh here. Better yet, why don’t you let me know of your experience when you get to visit?
For more info about Acacia Premier, Contact them here.
Located only five minutes away from Lake Bogoria is Lake Bogoria Spa Resort.
I had a short stay in the Resort and took amazing shots to give you a glimpse of what your stay will be like when you visit. They have a wide array of accommodation options to choose from ranging from executive suites, cottages, junior suites,standard rooms and camping.
The key attractions to enjoy during your stay its proximity to Lake Bogoria, the unexploited rich cultural heritage of the nilotic people including the Njemps, Tugen, Turkana and the Pokot and finally a natural heated pool from the hot water geysers that is said to be therapeutic.
Accommodation at the resort starts from Ksh.17500 for a standard double room for residents and USD 311.00 for a standard double room for non-residents.
Here are some photos of the Resort to help you plan for your visit and stay in Baringo.
Back porch of a room.
There you have it!
For more information about Lake Bogoria Spa Resort, contact them on +254727925397 or check out their website here.
Domestic tourism in Kenya has been on the rise in the past five years. As an ardent local traveler,affordable domestic tour packages provided by local tour operators are the best things to happen in these wanderlust corridors.
Day tours or one to two nights out of town have gained popularity amongst Kenyans because of their affordability and the fact that they are mainly held over the weekend hence no interference with normal work week schedule.
Last Sunday, Xtrym Adventures one of the leading organizers of adventures, safari and hikes in Kenya hooked us up with yet another group that was going to Mt.Longonot.
The cost of hiking the mountain, park entry fees, half a litre of water and transport to and fro Nairobi was all valued at Ksh.2,199 (Approx USD 22)
Mt. Longonot is about 60Km from Nairobi,Kenya. It located inside Mt.Longonot National Park. A trip from Nairobi will be slightly less than an hour to the gate of the park. The scenery as you descend Maai-Mahiu road is breathtaking. This is where you get to see the floor of the Great Rift Valley and even appreciate the mighty Mt.Longonot as is rises majestically to a thick cloud above.
Once we approached the park’s gate, the mountain looked like kid’s play.Easy stuff. Our guide mentioned we will be back to the gate after approximately six hours. Honestly we did not understand why… I mean seriously this hillock shouldn’t be a hard nut to crack.
Time is an important factor to consider when you are planning this hike. The earlier you begin the hike the better.Because then, the sun won’t be so hot. I guess the toughest task would be hiking with a heavy bag in scorching sun.
When we got to the gate, we stretched (vital to avoid muscle pull), paid at the gate then proceeded.
There is a stretch that leads to the foot of the mountain. Zebras and Impalas can easy be spotted grazing.I did not see any monkeys though…I assumed they were still asleep.lol.
The initial stages of the ascend were effortless. But the events to unfold later made me want to take back my words. The trail slowly but surely became steeper and thinner and the peeping sun finally come out strong. The terrain was dusty but we soldiered on. I asked how long before we got to the peak and everyone burst out laughing. I needed no answer clearly. We were no where near the peak.
Well, I guess sometimes you only need someone to laugh at you to ignite the fire inside.
The steeper the terrain ,the tougher I became. I had to prove a point you know…(Wrong mentality…but it was fun…)
Eva, my pal, did exceptionally well too. It was hard to imagine we were sweepers at some point.
Truth be told,hiking is not for the faint hearted and has nothing to do with physical strength. It all about attitude and mental strength. It is also not about competing with the rest, but just finding your own way to get to the top. Sometimes you lead, other times you are led.
After about an hour or so, we were told that the peak was a few meters away. That statement gave us a little more energy to soldier on. There was apparently a small hut at the top of the hill. Once you begin to see it, then be sure you are almost there. The hut is the first place you can sit and replenish.
A few minutes later, not only did we get to the hut, but also to the first peak!
We were allowed a ten minute break to breath and grab something. Be advised to carry some lucozade, a banana, apples or grapes. You will thank me later.
The next phase was a trek around the rim of crater. The view was encouraging. This was the point where Naivasha,Lake Naivasha and its environs could be seen in perspective. The Rim of the crater is said to be 7.2km. However it felt like 14.4km ?.
Phase two started out well. We were energized and excited to go round the rim. The excitement was soon to come to an end when I was told there is yet the highest peak of the mountain that we were to cover. This only meant, twice the initial effort and thrice the attitude.
The slopes were steeper here, the loose volcanic gravel beneath the feet proved difficult to just walk. Then there was a thick layer of dust. In my opinion, that was the toughest part.
In about one and a half hours we reached the second peak. Well the highest. It is called Kilele Ngamia. It was completely worth the effort. The view was so refreshing that any pain and struggle experienced earlier is quickly forgotten.
Nothing happens here apart from photos. From Kilele Ngamia, the rest of the hike was easy. It was mainly descending.
In about an hour, we were back to the little hut. Which has notoriously been named the ‘watering hole.’
Nothing feels as good as ascending and going round the rim!
Going down using the same route was at that point easier… Did I mention were were leading the pack that whole time?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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?
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!
During my recent trip to the coast for my birthday, I had a unique opportunity to meet Laura. How we started off was simple, we were cooking up a storm with our new friends J and Ferdinand. Ferdinand was so curious about the octopus meal that everyone was so excited about. Ugali was also in the menu.Across the swimming pool at Distant Relatives rumours quickly spread that we were preparing octopus meal and ugali. Soon after our guest list swelled. Part of the guests was one Laura. As we got to know each other and shared our travel experiences, one of my friends called out my name to ask what amount of water was enough for our Ugali…Quickly Laura picked the name and asked with a lot of excitation, “Is this Bonita? Bonita on Safari?” She went ahead to say how she found the blog useful especially a blog post I wrote about Kilifi and Distant Relatives, as they say, the rest is history…
We caught up again during her stop over in Nairobi with her boyfriend Juan as they headed to Nyahururu and here is how our interview went as she got to tell me more about herself and her travel experiences across the globe.
Me: Who is Laura?
Laura Lazzarino (31) is an Argentinian travel writer and the free spirit behind www.losviajesdenena.com; a personal travel blog which has been active online since the year 2008. My adventures across 50 countries has inspired a new generation of independent travelers. I am also a National Geographic Viajes Magazine contributor and author of two travel books, including the best-selling Caminos Invisibles. Right now I am crossing Africa overland, from Cairo to Cape Town, looking for new stories to be featured in my next book.
Is this your first time in Kenya?
Me:How does Kenya compare to your country? What are some of the similarities, and obvious differences?
L:Well…some landscapes remind me a lot of Argentina, but only for a moment. When a colorful bird or a giraffe appears in the picture, then I know I’m not home! Nature is overwhelming here, people and their traditions are different too. But I think we have something in common; we are friendly and we love visitors.
Me:How do you decide on the places you visit when you go to foreign countries?
L:We read a lot. We investigate, surf the web for hidden spots, plan an itinerary. But we are flexible too and always open to last-minute changes, or recommendations on the spot.
Me:How many countries have you visited so far?
L:Fifty, including Antarctica.
Me:How long have you been travelling for?
L:I started travelling eight years ago, but it was not full time. In 2010, I decided to make my passion my lifestyle. I’ve been traveling and writing ever since.
Me:How do you afford your travels?
L:Mostly, by selling my books online. In 2013, I self-published “Caminos Invisibles” a book about our 36,000Km hitch-hiking trip through South America. After that, I published a Hitch-Hiking Guide to a Spanish publishing house and other projects. Also through collaborations with travel magazines like Revista Viajes de National Geographic.
Me:What inspires your travels?
L:Cultural differences,their challenges and new scenarios, I like how every travel changes me and the lessons I pick on the road.
Me:Did you plan to travel the world and write about it or it just happened by chance?
L:I never really planned it, but I would be lying if I said I have never dreamt about it. I just did not think it was possible, at least for me…a simple girl from the countryside, with no contacts, no influences and no experience. It was not easy at first. I had to knock on so many doors, to learn a lot and work for free. But it was totally worthy it! I would have missed a lot if I never gave it (and myself) a chance!
Me:What are some of the highlights in your travels?
L:Before visiting Africa, sailing to Antarctica was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. Now I have to say that watching free wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania is also something I will never forget. Hitchhiking in Iceland, getting lost in small Colombian villages in the Coffee Axis and looking for my great grandfather’s town in southern Italy would complete the list.
Me:Do you have any life lessons picked along the way?
L:One of the first times I hitch-hiked in Argentina, I met a truck driver who, after carefully listening to my story (I had just given up my job to start traveling and was so full of doubts) told me: “Never regret what you have chosen for your life”.
Me:Do you ever get homesick?
L:Who doesn’t? But tech has shortened distances, right?
Me:What is the longest you have stayed without going home to your family?
L:Fifteen (15) months. It was too much. Not only because of my family, but also for myself. I learnt that after one year of traveling, I lose interest. I get tired and I get to appreciate more a good kitchen and a hot home shower than a new adventure, landscape or story. This is when I go home to get the travel excitement back.
Me:Have you ever been in a situation abroad when you feel like your life is in danger? If yes, how did you overcome?
L:Not really, but I got robbed in Venezuela and was harassed in Egypt. It was not nice, of course, but I always keep in mind that those are random situations which can even occur back home and that if I leave, then I will always have a bitter memory that might be unfair judgement to the people of that country. So I taught myself to get over it by taking time off,chilling out, not thinking about it and then go for that adventure again.
Me:What are some of the challenges you’ve gone through as a foreigner abroad?
L:I think that interacting with cultures where women take up most responsibilities in the society is always a shock. I can’t help but wonder why I, on the other side have so many opportunities and choices yet they don’t…if we were to be the same.The other Challenge is learning how not to judge,especially when you are confident with your principles.However, I think it is good practice.What we consider “normal” is just a convention. I have learnt to appreciate what I have more and also to question some statements that I have always considered to be true.
Me:What is in your bucket list?
L:I have a bucket list of over 50 items! Just to name some: Fly in a hot air balloon, participate in a flash move dance, camp in Lake Turkana, visit Christmas Island and live in Colombia for a season.
Me:What are some of the things you’ve checked out of your bucket list?
L:Cutting my hair drastically (I even wrote a post about it, it was so empowering) and paragliding (so exciting)!
Me:Do you miss normal life?
L:Not at all. This is the best I could do with my life, the best decision I have ever made. I don’t regret it, not even in the bad moments of traveling, not even for a single minute.
Me:Airbnb or couch surfing?
L:Both. I like balance. Please add camping to the list too!