Distance from Nairobi: About one and a half hours drive from Nairobi.(Approximately 120Km)
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).
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!)
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.
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.
This month Bonita On Safari is happy to feature Bien-Aime Baraza of Sauti Sol; one of leading Afro pop bands in Africa. The group recently concluded their nationwide tour to promote their third album: Live and die in Afrika, which was a huge success. I had a one on one with him and pleasantly learnt that despite his undying love for music he is also an ardent traveler.
Below is our conversation about his travel escapades.
Q. Who is Bien-Aime Baraza?
A. A musician who just wants to be loved, see the world and be understood.
Q. How old were you when you first traveled alone? A. I was 22.
Q.Which was the first country you traveled to outside Kenya and how old were you then? A. Ethiopia. I was 20.
Q.What is it about travelling that you like most? A.Meeting different people, learning more about other cultures, food and women.
Q. How many countries have you visited so far? A.I lost count. I’m on my third passport.
Q. Apart from music related travels do you take your time off and travel by yourself? A. Rarely. Music makes me travel so much i end up just wanting to chill when I have free time.
Q. What was the last city you traveled to and when? A. Jo’burg, a month ago.
Q.How does Kenya compare to the other countries you have been to in relation to travel and tourism?
I feel like Kenya has a lot to offer but we have a major branding issue. Kenya has the best of everything. We have wildlife, beaches, scenery, the Maasai (a symbol global of African heritage). Also Kenya is damn expensive as compared to other countries.
Q.Seeing as you have traveled widely, what would you suggest in regards to ways we can increase Kenya’s visibility as a tourism and business hub to the rest of the world? A. Better PR strategies must be implemented by government. Brand Kenya must market Kenya properly globally. I recently attended the world expo in Milan and the Kenyan stand left a lot to be desired.
Corruption needs to stop and proper budgeting and accountability must be done for the sector. We should invest in infrastructure and human resource for the betterment of the sector.Finally, the Government must assure security to our visitors. Kenya’s tourism industry has been hit hard by terrorism.
Q. What is the one thing you can never go one a trip without? A.Headphones
Q.What would you say has been the biggest culture shock during your travels? A. Watching the gay pride parade in Amsterdam. I was not ready
Q. What don’t you like most about frequent travel? A.I hate sitting down for long. It cramps my back.
Q. Have you ever lost anything important during one of your trips? A.All the time. I left my phone in a hotel room in Lagos, then I left my watch in america, my speakers! I just keep losing stuff.
Q. What has been your favorite travel experience so far? A. I cant really tell. Every destination has its own magic.
Q.How do you deal with language barriers? A.I just learn the core words; Hello? How much? What’s your name? Can I have your number? Are you single?…
Q. Do you ever find time to be a tourist during your official trips? A.Yes and No. Sometimes it gets a bit hectic. But usually I do get time to go out and sample the different cultures.
Q. Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share with other travelers? A. Yes. Just because a woman is not wearing a ring it does not mean she is single.
Q. What is your favorite travel destination and why? A. Diani for the amazing beaches and Durban for the strong mix of modern architecture and beach life.
Q. Where would you say is your dream destination and why? A. South America. It has a perfect cocktail of beach, music and beautiful people.
Q. Apart from Kenya… (hahaha) which other country would you say has beautiful women… A. Rwanda.
Well, there you go! Now you know Bien-Aime the traveler.
It will take you approximately an hour or slightly less to get to the lodge off the Nakuru Nairobi highway from a place called Kikopey, which is roughly 30km to Nakuru town.
The route to the lodge is a long, dusty meandering road. If you are not keen, chances of getting lost along the way are very high thanks to the not so good signage to the lodge. Also, a 4 x 4 wheel drive will be the most ideal to access the place. However, when you get to the lodge you quickly forget the bumpy ride uphill, thanks to the breathtaking view of the floor of the great rift valley.
Friendly. My favorite being the swimming pool attendant. You can tell he wasn’t trying so hard to impress clients. He is a natural. The owner of the establishment is very hands on too, interacting with the clients here and there, welcoming them and finding out if they are enjoying their stay.
The fact that we were not asked what we would like to eat was a deal breaker for me. However the explanation given was that we checked in late (4:00 pm) so we had to eat what the chef had prepared.
The three course meal was OK, nothing extra ordinary to write home apart from the soup that I thoroughly enjoyed, then waiters who were very attentive and within reach during meal time.
The dining area was clean, candle lit, and the tables were set appropriately. The fire place on a cold night made it more cozy,warm and homely.
Verdict: 5/10 for food.
7/10 for the attentive waiters.
The cottages were definitely up to my expectations. Spacious, clean, warm, well thought of interior decor, matching color scheme, comfy rags and throws, wide windows, strategic location to enjoy a panoramic view of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Elementaita from far, the sleeping warrior dormant volcano,and a magical sunset.
The only thing that I felt was a let down was the bathtub and lack of appropriate toiletries.. A modern ceramic tub with lavender(my favorite) scented shower gels,shampoos and soap would have given the cottage story a happy ending.
Last but not least…
4.The infinity Swimming pool.
If you ask me the one reason that would make me want to go back to sleeping warrior…then that will be the swimming pool. It might not be as big as it appears in the photos, nor warm (at the time I was swimming, however, I am told they usually heat it up on request) but the feeling you get of swimming on top of the world can not be compared to anything else at all. Every other thing stands right beneath you!
I can’t possibly put a number to that amazing feeling you get when up there. It is priceless.
Verdict: 8/10 purely because of the location ,shape of the pool and the priceless feeling derived from the swimming experience.
The food could be better followed by an option to choose what you would like to eat, a warmer pool would be best,proper sign posts for directions to the lodge would make the ride to the lodge even better for first timers.
“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be” These are the famous words of David Wolfe.
Distant Relatives is home away from home. I spent one of my holidays there and I can strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to visit in Kilifi.
Here are my ten reasons why you should be on your way there already!
They have a wide array of accommodation to choose from depending on your budget. My favorite of course being the tent.It has a capacity of two. They will charge you slightly over a thousand shillings per person sharing for a night.
2. Environmentally Friendly.
The Cape Town Declaration of 2002 defines responsible tourism as making better places for people to live in and better places to visit.It pushes for tour operators and other stake holders to take action and make tourism more sustainable.Distant relatives has by all means walked and talked the gospel of the responsible tourism. So if you are keen on environmental conservation then you will have a field day there because almost everything is recycled. From the tumblers used at the bar, to the manure used at the farm.
It is also the only place in the world that you can find Viceroy old liqueur growing on trees! lol
Just on your way to the farm, is a common shower inside a tiny bamboo forest. You can occasionally see tiny frogs and other harmless reptiles as you enjoy your showers under the bamboo canopy. The water is then recycled for farm use!
3. Meet the world.
Visitors at the Eco Lodge come from all corners of the world as observed.Listen to music from different countries, have a good laugh and learn from the different cultures represented here. All you need is a rapport with people you are genuinely interested in learning from.
I tend to think if a good number of young people took time to travel and understand different cultures, perhaps half of the world problems caused by ignorance and in-exposure can been solved. As Mahatma Gandhi said…”Travel is the language of peace.”
4. Chill and enjoy your ‘you’ time.
If there is one thing I totally appreciated about distant relatives is the space and the interior decor. It is so natural, laid back and inviting. You can have a quick afternoon nap, read a book, lazy in a pod or just relax and enjoy the cool music in the background.
5. Discover your talent or lack of.
It is one thing to know that you can not play the guitar, darts or even pool then, it is another thing to have it confirmed by trying and failing horribly…
At distant relatives, you are sure to spend your afternoon perfecting your skills in these and other games or just having a good time as you learn or compete with other travelers.
6.Go on a fishing trip with local fishermen.
Isn’t that what everybody who visits the back packers does? Coast is generally hot, and naturally, the body will try to regulate it’s temperature back to normal. This leaves swimming as the most viable idea.
8.Party inside the Musafir.
I am meant to understand there is a story behind Musafir the dhow… luckily during my stay at Distant Relatives,I was privileged to go to a party held in the Musafir deep inside the creek at night.. Ha ha ha talk of culture shock with all this foreign music and dancing styles! Were it not for Bob Nesta Marley’s Redemption song and get up,stand up, I would have completely floated. . but as I always say, we travel to learn and appreciate our differences.
Enjoy the best view of the magical sunset as sip you favorite drink!
The delicious hand made pizza,that is well cooked in a wood-fired oven,boasts of its thin crust coupled with generous toppings making Fridays at Distant Relatives a day worth looking forward to.
Other things to do…
Go to the beach.
Visit the beach any time of the day or night!
Last but not least…
Shop at their boutique for unique African wear and a host of other stuff. If you want to buy your friends and family gifts, this is the perfect place to.
Have you ever fallen in love, so hard, so bad and so desperately?
I know you probably want to know if I have, and the answer is yes. I am in love. With a guy I met, just last weekend. He is rich, quiet and shy. Very little is known about my Mr.
He is surrounded by the big, popular and loud guys, but my man chooses to be quiet. I like it that way, I want him to maintain a low profile. Haha competition is real you know… and a girl must protect her own…
But wait a minute, I am already talking about him here, so I might as well just spill it…
This guy lives in Naivasha.
His name…(drum rolls)…. is ….(Faster drum rolls.) Lake Oloiden. hahahaha! Gotcha!
Lake Oloiden is a small salt water lake in Naivasha just next to Lake Naivasha. My tour guide, a local, told me that a long time ago it was part of the larger L.Naivasha but a hill(s) grew in between and/or Lake Naivasha ‘moved’ away… (I wish I could get a researched version of this theory. (If you have any valuable info about this lake, please share with us).
Lake Oloiden is along South lake Road, about 27Km from the start of the road. As you approach the lake, there is a small shopping center called Kongoni which is about 800m to the lake. The lake is on the right side of the road. ( see who tried to give directions there!)
If you love nature photography, water bodies, land forms, amazing landscapes, peace, quiet and tranquility then this is the place.
This lake is hidden and that is why very little is known about it. However, I can confidently say that never in my life have I ever had a mix of awe, thrill, fear and amusement in just under an hour.
As you drive in towards the lake, the road is a bit curved so you just don’t know what to expect. Then Alas! the curtains are drawn and you get to see the secret nature has been keeping from you. Bliss!
The boat ride.It will cost you Ksh.2000 to rent a boat for about 30 minutes. The boat carries a maximum of 7 at a go. The thrill about this ride is debunking of the myth that L.Oloiden is tiny.What you see with your eyes when standing on the shore is not what is actually experienced when you go for the boat ride! It is fairly big.
Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a tiny hill across the lake then only to move closer and discover it is actually huge.
What would you do if you see a huge hippo a few meters from you, then at the blink of an eye it is not there. You quickly open your eyes and now it is just centimeters from you.You swallow hard and open your eyes wide while murmuring incomprehensibles…the next thing you know it has swam right beneath your tiny boat to the other side only to resurface with its mouth wide open!!! The questions that go through your mind suddenly are… where is the mother, father and siblings? How fast can I swim to the shore(Swim? to where?) Am I at peace with my maker? Jeez! It is scary. I wont talk about the confessions I heard from my pal Myra… (hilarious)
Peeping giraffes, ducking dik diks, grazing zebras, grooming birds, cheerful fishermen, croaking frogs,old cabin houses, rolling hills, green campsites and so much more… I could go on and on and on and on but no. I will stop at that.
See why I fell in love and why I will go back again when the sun shines?
What if I tell you that you can go to the coast for three days and spend about Ksh 10,000 on transport, food, accommodation and still have some loose change to keep while at the same time having a lifetime experience?
Yes…then move closer and allow me to fill you in on this hole and corner deal. As we always say here at Bonita on Safari, it’s about traveling as often as you can on a budget and enjoying yourself to the fullest.
Transport to and fro is very affordable and comfortable.
A comfortable ride to Mombasa will cost you approximately Ksh. 3,200 for a round trip. There are many bus companies that ply the Nairobi-Coast region, but I have to admit I’ve had an exceptional experience with Dreamline buses. I recommend you book a return ticket to avoid disappointments on your way back.
2. Cheap and healthy dishes.
A proper meal in Kilifi County will cost you on average between Ksh 200-250 in the many eateries that serve delicious hygienic meals. Breakfast will not cost you more than Ksh 50 this will constitute of Chai ya tangawizi, yummy mahamri and some coconut mbaazi on the side, for instance.
3. Readily available and extremely affordable transport in form of Tuk Tuks.
If there is one thing I miss about the coast in general is tuk tuk rides! It has a capacity of three passengers and charges Ksh. 100 within the town center and Ksh 150 outside the town center. For convenience, if you move around a lot, outside the town center you can have one tuk tuk driver’s number for easy pick and drop services.
4. Affordable Accommodation
Kilifi County boasts of so many tourists hotels. While on a budget, I strongly recommend Distant Relative Eco-lodge and backpackers. Accommodation here starts from Ksh 1,250 a night. They have very nice dorms,tents, and bandas. You can also come with your own tent and pay only Ksh. 500 a night!
5. You can check out Kilifi Creek
When you come from Nairobi, the closest you come to a water body is Nairobi river, then why not visit Kilifi and enjoy this peaceful, beautiful scenic view of Kilifi Creek.
6. Enjoy an evening Sail
An evening sail on a boat will take about two to three hours into the sea. You can carry your book, camera or drinks and sail your worries away as you enjoy the scene and appreciate the marvels of nature.
7. Visit Watamu
Watamu Marine National Park is about an hour and a half drive from Kilifi. This is where you get to swim with the dolphins and beautiful colorful fishes,snorkel, wind surf, sunbathe, water ski or just enjoy the cool ocean breeze. If you do not like swimming, a nice glass bottomed boat ride will definitely awe you.
8. Enjoy the street food culture
The streets of Kilifi are dotted with street food vendors. One thing I particularly liked about them is the level of hygiene even as they prepare their delicacies by the road side in the open air. When you visit Kilifi, make sure you try out deep fried cassava and ‘viazi karai’ served with tamarind sauce otherwise known as ‘ukwaju’.
9. Learn about the Agiriama people and culture.
Nothing gives so much pleasure as traveling to a new place and learning a thing or two about the inhabitants of the area.I was in luck to visit a neighboring village. Had my new friend Mozda plait my hair at only Ksh. 80.00. She told me about their cultural practices and beliefs, and even invited me to spend a weekend with them…he he he I guess that means no paying for accommodation the next time I go to Kilifi…:-)
10. The breath taking Kilifi sunset
Last but not least…This by far is the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The calmness, cool breeze, golden sky,orange sun, gliding birds, and sounds of laughter from friends just sums up a perfect evening in Kilifi.