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The Swan Place II: Nairobi’s best choice for a staycation

It is less than a dozen days to Christmas. I have exhausted all my annual leave days… we’re in the tail end of the year and virtually everyone at work has shifted their normal programming to holiday mode. This means off days too are a rarity at this juncture… But for some strange, but really pleasant reason, I strike upon luck and get me a Friday off of work. As fate would have it though, there’s always somebody lurking on the other  side of your off day… just waiting to hook you up with some other plan you’d clearly not do voluntarily. So this past weekend, I just had to sneak out… dissolve… disappear, from anyone and everyone… because a girl’s got to have some ‘me-time’ some time.

Fidget no more! The Swan Place needs no Introduction

One would think that finding a place to hide away for a weekend within the city is a breeze… but strangely, it is nothing close to it. While juggling through posts on my blog, I stumbled upon my ‘introductory trip’ to The Swan Place, courtesy of my friend Meagan’s (from Kilifi NYE). I liked the place and had promised to book a stay with them.Without hesitation, I made a call to reserve a room for the weekend.

The Swan Place I
The Swan Place I, Sitting area.
One of the bedrooms.
The Swan Place I

Twin Residence: A home experience at The Swan Place II

Surprisingly, even with most hotels and airbnb’s reporting low to zero occupancy due to the prolonged political standoff in the country, The Swan Place was fully booked for that weekend and hence they had to refer me to their other space know as The Swan Place II, on King’ara Road, Nairobi,Kenya. I needed to finish a book by Adam Grant and to just have quality personal time. Being a light traveler, all I carried with me was my backpack and my camera… Just in case I get a Kodak moment.

I did not know what to expect on the other side, but the fact that both places are under the same management, I was pretty sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.Getting to the Swan Place from the Nairobi CBD was as easy as boarding any matatu plying the Ngong Road route and alighting just before the Junction. After about a three minutes walk down King’ara Road and turning left to King’ara close, I was at the gate. Security was tight in the premise, and shortly after I was shown to the place.

This was it! The magnetic allure of a homely staycation reeled me in so defenselessly like a fly to a drop of honey…

Peacefully private and elegantly beautiful: Home away from home

The one thing I loved most about The Swan Place II was its ambiance. We all have those books, assignments, proposals, moments and things we were want to do  in absolute seclusion and privacy, but can’t do them in our own shared spaces or homes probably because there’ll always be someone giving you ‘the look’… At the Swan Place, I enjoyed the serene privacy of my  room without a care. In fact, I can’t remember a single time when a call or knock at my door interrupted my weekend apart from scheduled house keeping.

What  stood out for me was the option to book my own solo room or the entire space and to make my own food any time I wanted. Given that I missed out on Ugali making classes, my moments with the phone-call-away chef was a good encouragement in my three days… What and where to eat while staying at swan should be least of anyone’s worry.  It is located at a vantage point on Ngong Road where anything and everything is accessible.

My short stay was the much needed breathe of fresh air.

Nothing beat the calmness, freshness and quiet of the place.Walking bare foot on the neatly polished wooden floors, the feel of the fluffy rugs in between my toes… reading my books at the carefully accessorized balcony…was all the rest I needed. Well, and the deserving glass of wine.

Interior decor…

A naturally well  lit space with a wall to wall and floor to roof sliding glass door is always highly welcomed.

The Swan Place II

A rustic wall clock, cascading wall hanging, potted succulent  plants, colour blocked seats pillows, coffee brown furniture and an expensive looking glass coffee table made the beautiful ensemble of Swan Place II living room.

The Swan Place II
The Swan Place II

Delicately hanged right behind the L-shaped seat is a rich art life size wall hanging that sharply but elegantly contrasted with the off white wall paint colour.

A distant rosy scent lingers softly in the house imbuing an inviting urge to stay longer.

The wooden floor of the house freshly glossed gives a playful reflection of everything on top of it tickling every cleans freak’s fantasy.

A six chair dining table to the left of the sitting area, was nothing short of appetite inducing with its strategic location right in front of the fully equipped kitchen.

The hallway doesn’t disappoint either, beautiful wall pieces carefully hang on either sides of the wall,and nice animal print painted flower vase thoughtfully placed at one corner at the furthest end of the hallway.

The bedrooms, all with white bedding and a little colour splash of orange sausage pillows, and fluffy white bedside rugs sums up the basic recipe for a good night sleep.

The Balcony

I knew there was something about the colour green, but it never occurred to me how calming and relaxing it made me feel. A perfectly installed turf grass, twin clay pots of a set of three aesthetic cypress tress and grey outdoor plastic woven seats made up my best hangout place of my weekend.

I could say so much about The Swan Place II, but like they say, seeing is believing. My very first blog about The Swan Place was in the eyes of a stranger… but now, I must admit, my undisturbed weekend was something to relive… If I’m lost, missing from your radar, you now know where to find me. In as much as a picture say a thousand words, nothing beats a first hand experience. Some experiences are meant to be seen, felt and touched!

Book your next stay there, then come tell me about it.

Call +254721997953 to reserve a date.

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The #TurkanaOdyssey: 8 days of Xtrym fun, travel and Adventure!


Since the medieval days of the Greek empire, men have been going on voyages and unpredictable journeys. One such trip was that made by the warrior Odysseus in 10-epic years, trying to make his way home from Troy. In his tales of triumph and obstacle during the Trojan war, the warrior overcame the challenges of war, and the 10-year long journey to eventually get home. His epic journey begot the beginnings of the word ‘odyssey’, and true to its form, Xtrym Adventures has quite a plan up their sleeves for your holidays.

Why Turkana? why go Xtrym?

Just like the Greek predecessor, the #TurkanaOdyssey is bound to be a tale fit for legendary folklore. Xtrym Adventures has a reputation to go beyond the conceivable ordinary to create out-of-this-world experiences. Duncan, the congruent brains behind this outfit is arguably one of the most experienced adventurer south of the Sahara in the modern-day. His exploits include summiting  the highest peaks in Africa, having set foot on Mount Kilimanjaro more than nine times. This only translates to unmatched experienced in hiking, and the best part is, he has a sixth sense in identifying strain during the trip. This ensures all travelers of their utmost safety in the entire period. I remember summiting Mt. Kenya with Xtrym, I must attest that it hardly anything close to easy! But Xtrym made it doable.

Turkana: Rich in culture and captivating landscapes.

Categorized among the little explored Northern tourism circuit of Kenya, the Lake Turkana region is virgin territory for your #Wanderlust. The rhapsodic satisfaction yielding from the sights and sounds of this

Rendille Warrior from Turkana Region

region is unmatched and innumerable! The lake is home to three National Parks that serve as a pit stop for the migrant waterfowl. These also form major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. Turkana isn’t shy to boast of its rich cultural heritage, stemming from the prehistoric years. The Koobi Fora region bears rich fossil deposits of Fossil remains and is home to ‘The Turkana Boy’s’ final resting place. Being the largest desert lake in the World, Lake Turkana is home to a number of breathtaking Islands and beaches, some of which will leave you feeling like you’re lost in an exotic location only seen in movies the beaches and springs are to die for.

Turkana is also home to a good number of nomadic pastoralist communities that are rich in culture and heritage including the Rendille, Samburu and Turkana peoples.

8-Days of Xtrym sights and landscapes

We all have this indigenous instinct to travel, wander, to disappear… however, on most occasions, we hardly ever get the time to do it. The timing of the #TurkanaOdyssey cannot be more opportune than this. Placed right after the Christmas festivities, this is bound to be the front-runner for the ‘road-trip of the year’ award. After spending your Christmas dining with family and friends, there’s nothing better than a good 8-day getaway in the outdoors.

The odyssey is not a point-A to point-B affair, Xtrym adventures has an intricate plan with scenic stops at various points including Kitale, Lodwar, Kalokol, Eliye springs, Eldoret and Baringo. This is more than a bargain, more than fun… I can’t help but want to fast-forward to the day for departure.

Going Xtrym: Teamwork means fun

Unlike your regular hotel holiday experience, the #TurkanaOdyssey is an outdoors camping experience. The best part about camping is putting heads and hands together to try and accomplish various tasks. My weak point is usually cooking ugali for a large group over the fireplace… so y’all better count me out! The trip is going to be broken down into various tasks and challenges which will be equitably allocated on a rota. As you get yourself ready for this epic trip, here’s a few things to bring with you:

  1. Large “Backpack or Duffel bag” (avoid suitcases)
  2. Swimming costume
  3. Head lamp
  4. Sleeping Bag or sheet set
  5. Personal effects (wash kit, sun-screen, slippers, soap, tissue paper, tooth brush + paste)
  6. Small day pack (bag) for excursions
  7. Hike & walking gear
  8. Camera (extra memory cards) spare batteries
  9. Clothing (for warm and cold zones)
  10. A hat and shades to shield from the sun
  11. Mosquito repellant
  12. Cash for personal use
  13. Anti-Malaria tablets (take before trip as well)
  14. Board games & Card games
  15. Power Bank and USB cables (phone charging etc)

For more details on the trip, Check out Xtrym Adventures’ facebook page.

Or call : Duncan on 0717261033 Or see the poster below…

#TwendeTurkana!

*images courtesy of the internet.

PS: Only six (6) slots remaining!

 

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Top 6 things to do during your stay at Salinero Hotels, Moshi

If you missed my post on how I traveled by bus from Nairobi to Moshi worry not, you can read it here.  After my arrival at the Salinero Millie Lodge, Machame, the next item on the list was to immerse myself in the fun things to do during my stay. To my surprise, the hotel had already planned all these activities out.

Here is a list of the places to see and the things to do.

1. Take a day hike inside the tropical rain-forest of Mt.Kilimanjaro National Park.

During my visit, the peak season of mountain climbing was almost coming to an end and groups of hikers were at the park for the six-seven days affair. The park was a bee hive of activities. Porters, tour operators, hikers, day hikers… The hike is about eleven kilometers to the first camp. The same route used to go up is still the same one used to come down.

Registration at the gate.
Starting point of the hike.
Dozens of hikers that make approximately 50,000 annual visitors who attempt to summit Kilimanjaro.
They make you think summiting is easy.
Well…now you know.
Mad respect to porters. They are the real winners in any expedition.

Salinero also offers packed lunch for its clients(On full board basis). So hunger should not stress you one bit!

Ze lunch box 🙂

2. Visiting Bonde la Huruma to understand the history of the Chagga people better

The hotel can organize a trip to one of the most interesting places within Machame;Bonde la huruma, which is a 180m deep valley that has a waterfall, geometric volcanic steep cliffs and caves. The curator at Bonde la huruma; mzee Dickson ,is deeply knowledgeable about the history of the Chagga people.

History has it (From mzee Dickson) that the caves at the bonde la uhuruma have an interesting story that dates back to the colonial era when Germans colonized Tanzania. The Chagga people of Machame used to hide their chiefs, wives and children in the caves as they went to fight. After the colonial era the war shifted to the Maasai and the Chagga. Across the river, there was yet another cave. This was used as a ‘cell’ to instill discipline to the villagers who went astray. For example, in the event that someone was caught cheating on their spouse, they were put inside the cave and given only a banana that was meant to last them for seven days. The cave was heavily secured with the village army. If the perpetrator survived the seven days, they are integrated back into the society. If not, they were thrown into the river, wrapped in banana leaves! Interesting huh…..

Mzee Dickson driving the point home.
Bonde la Huruma waterfall.
To the caves.
Inside the caves.
The river across which the ‘cells’ are.

3. Take a coffee tour

This by far was the most interesting part of my trip (well, coming from someone who hadn’t seen coffee beans before except in text books). In this trip the host takes you through the process of roasting coffee, crushing it and making a hot cup of black coffee for the guests. The whole process is done locally. The beans are roasted in a sufuria with firewood and crushed with pestle and mortar. While having coffee mzee takes you through the history of the people,their sub-tribes, cultural practices etc.

New skills learnt.

4. Drink ‘mbege’ at a local shopping center or village

Mbege is a traditional alcoholic brew made from banana and ‘ulezi'(finger millet).The whole process is through fermentation, preparation then filtration/mixing. Mbege is then served in large yellow plastic  containers called chibuku. Initially it used served in guards.

Mbege O’clock.
That is just some kind of froth at the top, it is not as thick as porridge.
Chibuku. They are sold in the supermarket.

As you travel across Moshi, you will notice locals drying the finger millets in the field for this process .The spirit of unity is propelled in the evening as people sit down to enjoy mbege. This can be an equivalent of Muratina in Kenya.

Ulezi or finger millet. This is how they dry the ulezi.

5. Take a two hour trip to Marangu to check out Kilasiya water falls…

This is a bit similar to the bonde la huruma trip, only that the water fall here is bigger, more scenic and dramatic. Also, you will get the see the second of the six routes used to summit Uhuru peak of Mt.Kili.

Spoilt for choice? well, we also were…
To good friends along the way. Babu from Kilasiya waterfalls.
The furious Kilasiya waterfall.
Hey…let me go!

6. Take a dip in Kikuletwa  Hot Springs

Kikuletwa is the most beautiful natural swimming pool I have ever seen and swam in. It is nestled in the middle of a semi- arid land and is naturally fenced with fig trees. Contrary to popular belief, the water is not hot, just warm. It is the underground caves that supply the pool with lots of water that gives it the bubbling impression that many locals liken to boiling water hence the name hot spring. Never before had I ever seen crystal clear, still, blue waters. As you step into the water, tiny fishes tickle your feet while giving a natural  fish pedicure. The water gets deeper as you swim towards the center. There is yet another end of the pool that is more chilled. Most swimmers choose to swim the front side.Dunno know why…

The semi-arid route to Kikuletwa Hot Spring.
More lone trees and dry land.
Approaching Kikuletwa.
The fig trees behind which the best kept secret lies.
Doesn’t get clearer than this…
Best feeling in the world…

 

Dreamy…
Heading to the abandoned end.
Let us stay here forever…
Well, hide and seek perhaps?

All the magic unravels when you wear diving glasses .The water has small fishes, turtles, bigger fishes and deep caves from where the waters come in. It is only then that one can comprehend the depth of the waters.

You have to visit Kikuletwa to understand what I mean!

 

Get in touch with me today to get a package to Salinero and experience these and more.

Like my facebook page and lets keep the conversation going!

 

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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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Nanyuki, Storms Resort : Amazing trips in Kenya

Its Friday, I am bored.

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

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