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I received The Versatile Blogger Award!

I love travel.

I started this travel blog in February 2016 to document and share my travel experiences. Last month, I was honored to receive The Versatile Blogger Award nomination from Zoe of Zo Around the world.

Zoe a self confessed over-organised travel planner has been to over 20 countries and three continents so far.Her blog is a collection of her travel experiences that focus on providing budget travel advice together with off the beaten path locations and itineraries. Travel has become part of Zoe’s life and she hopes to show her readers how travel can be a part of their lives too.

The Versatile Blogger Award  is an award given to bloggers by bloggers as a fun way to discover new blogs.

As part of the rules of nomination, I am now sharing with you seven random facts about me.

  1. I started blogging seven years ago but brought down my creative writing blog to start this travel blog.
  2. I take an average of 15 photos a day.(Of everything else apart from Selfies)
  3. I have always wanted to be a lawyer.
  4. I enjoy being alone 90% of the time.
  5. I don’t like alcohol.
  6. I have never set an alarm to wake me up.
  7. I love electronics and I own a tool box.

I now nominate:

1. Elisabeth Bunch of Pages of my passport.

Libs as some people call her is originally from the Pacific Northwest.She began exploring the planet in the year 2012.Since then,she has been to 84 cities,18 countries and 4 continents.She speaks Spanish,Italian and some French. Her wish is to share her adventures and inspire someone to start their journey in travels.

2. Sarah Rbz of Wanderlust Vegans.

Sarah’s blog is about is traveling and all the wonderful vegan finds she  encounters on her  journeys.She currently lives  in South Korea and hopes to explore all vegan options around her.

3. Harsh of Wanderers Hub.

Wanderers Hub is a travel blog by Prerna & Harsh who are trying to make the most of their weekends and annual leaves to explore India and beyond. Their plan is to visit the less explored places, travel slow, get taste of the local life, and tick big adventures off their bucket-list.

4. Alana Mary of Family Bites Travel

Family Bites Travel blog by Mary was started to teach their kids to be socially-responsible, environmentally-protective and culturally-aware world citizens. Their aim is to broaden peoples minds with a slim wallet and open-heart!

5. Nathan of Foodie Flashpacker.

Nathan Aguilera is from Oklahama city. He has been away from home for nearly three years now and has since been to fifty countries, dove some of the best dive sites in the world, attended some unforgettable festivals, met some of the most incredible people from all over the globe and discovered his passion for food and wine.

6. Perrine Muller of Details of Perrine.

Perrine is a French girl who got bit by the wanderlust bug and fuses her travels with fashion!

7. Melissa Hamilton of Honeybadventures.

Melissa is the true reflection of everything and anything is possible if you put mind on it and trust God in all your doings. She has lived the expat life and her inspiration to travel comes from her past experiences,loss of her brother and the need to debunk the myth that travel is for the rich!

A big congratulations to my nominees and all the best as they share with us there random facts and nominate other bloggers.

 

 

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Emmanuel Jambo; The global traveler with a magic touch in photography

I got a chance to interview Emmanuel Jambo; a renowned  photographer whose work knows no borders.He has an extraordinary talent of  freezing moments and turning them into great memories.Emmanuel is also the official photographer of the current President of  the Republic of Kenya. To add to his impressive profile, he is well traveled and comfortably wears the crown of ‘citizen of the world.’

  • Best place you ever traveled to?
    Zanzibar.
    Why? Its beauty, captivating history and rich culture. It is one of my favorite Islands.
  • Do you always travel for work?
    Mostly. But I try as much as possible to travel for fun or in some cases I merge the two.
  • That means you love travel?
    So much… If I could, I would just travel for fun!
  • What is the first thing you do when you visit a new city?
    (Laughing) Look for the nearest brothel.
  • Three things you always carry during your travels?
    My music, camera and laptop. When I travel for fun I don’t carry my camera.
  • Worst country you’ve been to?
    Dubai. The racism, heat and ignorance puts me off! All roads in that country lead to a bad experience. It is the only city I have been to that makes one feel like an animal.
  • Which are your favorite African Countries?
    Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Ivory Coast.

    Statue of Nelson Mandela in Jo'burg
    Statue of Nelson Mandela in Jo’burg

    Why? They have a balanced combination of landscape, deep cultural roots, beautiful music, nice weather.

    Perfect weather, beautiful beaches...
    Perfect weather, beautiful beaches…
  • You have a unique fashion style…What is the inspiration?
    I like unusual wear. It is better classified as Rebellion Mentality ;not following trends, a mix of vintage African and European wear.
  • Who is your favorite photographer?
    Richard Avedon.I admire how he revolutionized photography from a lifelessness and indifference with the camera during shoots, to capturing full emotions of models in a more relaxed outdoor setting!
    The other one is Annie Leibovitz. She is phenomenal woman who is adventurous and a risk taker. Most female photographers are very safe. They wouldn’t dare take risks compared to their male counterparts. Annie Stands out.
  • Biggest risk you’ve taken in life?
    Quitting my career in I.T to start photography about ten years ago. Also,relocating from the States to come to live in Kenya.
  • Did you go to school to study photography?
    Everything I know is self taught. School doesn’t teach you anything. It is all passion, hard work and talent. The closest I got to being taught was a week with my mentor.However, he had to go California for treatment.
  • Highlight of you career?
    I have a number but most notably;
    Shooting my first ever cover of Drum’s Adam Magazine.
    The day Francis Okomo-Okelo The then Chairman of Barclays Bank Kenya told me he was excited to have a black photographer take the Board of Directors photo for the first time in twenty five years.
    During Zambia’s Fredrick Chiluba’s funeral when the current president pulled me aside to introduce me to other African presidents in the presence of hundreds of presidents.
  • You are the official President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Photographer. How did this happen and how is it like working with him?I have previously worked with the president and his family on several occasions and covered his nephew’s and niece’s weddings.During the previous political campaigns I did shoot of him and the current deputy president and that is how it all started. It is very easy to work with him. He is a simple man.
Emmanuel with the President.
Emmanuel with the President.

With Mr. President

    With Mr. President
  • Is Jambo your real name?Yes. Haha. (Pulls a picture of his Great grandfather) I was named after my Great grand father.
  • What is your worst travel experience?The first one was during Fidel Odinga’s ( The former Prime Minister’s son)burial in Bondo. All my equipment was stolen from the hotel room. This included all the photos I took from the start of the ceremony at the Capital of Kenya in Nairobi. I lost everything.The other one was in Mogadishu! I was taking pictures as usual. Unfortunately we hadn’t noticed the presidential convoy that was ahead of us. In the blink of an eye, there was a huge confrontation and a fully loaded technical with countless AK47 rifles right where we were! A few slaps were exchanged as the aide-de-camp kept shouting…”Kill Picture!” “Kill picture!” “Why you take picture?” I was scared stiff! The whole time, another senior officer kept stroking his beard (When an Elder in Somali strokes your beard, they are simply trying to calm you down) but he couldn’t hear any of it. It was terrifying.
  • Best traveling experience?Watching my first NBA game in Africa. It was held in South Africa. I travelled through Addis Ababa, Senegal to South Africa. It was fun. Everything I like all combined in one experience. Basketball, travel and good friends.
NBA game in Africa
NBA game in Africa
  • What do you think about Photography in Kenya?

An evolution has definitely happened. In the past, photography was controlled by expats.Nowadays, parents     are embracing photography and there is a growing number of photography schools. On the other hand, there is also a section of the population who view photography as a social trend. Most people buy cameras because they can afford it and call themselves professional photographers by Opening Instagram accounts and posting substandard photos just for the likes. Not for the passion or career.

  • If you are not shooting or traveling what do you do?Sleep.
  • What is your dream destination?Cuba!Why? Cuba is vintage, photogenic and has been isolated for fifty years, rich culture and nice music.
Cuba. Photo credit: Michael Petit.
Cuba. Photo credit: Michael Petit.

che

  • Who will shoot your wedding?

(My clever question to find out whether he is taken!)I have a whole community of expert photographer friends who would be willing to cover my wedding.I just haven’t decided when or if I will get Married!

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Romain Angelo Mari

Meet our travelpreneur of the month-Romain Angelo Mari

This month on Bonita on Safari the spotlight is on Romain Angelo Mari.

Romain is a French Travelpreneur and a globe trotter. He co-owns Distant Relatives Eco lodge and Back Packers Kilifi with Thomas Atkinson. You have probably read the post I wrote about this little paradise. If not, kindly check it out here.

Apart from being a businessman and traveler, Romain is a scientist and has Masters Degree in Marine Biology/Ecology and Natural Resource Management. His speciality is in ecotourism,responsible tourism,permaculture,Eco friendly building ,marine environmental consulting and community/conservation project management.(When you go to Distant Relatives, you will definitely see all of these in practice!)

I spoke to Romain about his business, travels,goals and so much more…Enjoy the interview.

1.Out of the 196 countries in the world why Kenya?

Hmm you know what, the more people ask, the less I know what to reply! When travelling down from Ethiopia to Cape Town with friends, we loved the people in Kilifi. We loved the emerald waters, the traditional boats, the beach life, the great fishing and fishermen’s love for reggae! I also felt very free there and everyday was a new and awesome adventure. It just felt like a healthy place to be and Kilifi really needed a place for travelers to stopover. To be honest, also, I wanted some kind of headquarters in the world. And I am not very proud of France, the growing racist conservative right wing, I don’t really feel at home there. I am increasingly ashamed in fact of how many shallow-minded people come from these “developed” countries. So Kenya ticked a lot of boxes basically!

Kilifi
Kilifi
  1. How did you settle on the name Distant Relatives, any meaning behind the name?

Haha! Well Distant Relatives is of course a nod to Nas & Damien Marley. The words “Distant Relatives” struck us with Tom (the other half of Distant Relatives) one night in Cape Town as the most appropriate definition of how a traveler wants to feel when he heads off into the world. You don’t want to feel like a foreign tourist, you want to feel welcome, you want to be part of the family – whatever your age, colour, religion, nationality – we’re all distant relatives! I love the name more than ever!

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives.
  1. Kenya has been hit hard with major security concerns. How has that affected your business?

True… 2012 was an unfortunate time to launch a new tourism business. It’s been sad for Kenya and for Kenyans. So many have lost their jobs on the coast, so many hotels have shut down and this all had further giant ripple effects on the rest of the economy. We were not spared. But to be honest, we can’t complain, we struggled a lot for sure, but not as much as others. We managed to keep all our employees and we are still in operation so could have been much worse.

Most security problems in Kenya seem to be a straight symptom of corruption, a much bigger problem. I am quite sure that reducing corruption would be most central to tackling security problems. I cannot even start to imagine a solution though seeing the scale of the monster in Kenya though… it’s very scary… but I find it a most interesting topic.

  1. You have practically traveled the whole world, Tell us a bit about that.

I have actually nearly not visited Asia, South America, Middle East, West Africa … there is still so much to see! I was born in the Alps in France and grew up in Paris mainly. Then I lived in the US with my family near Philadelphia for 3 years and moved back to France. Then I moved to Townsville in Australia as an aquarium diver and finished my Bachelor in Brisbane for 2 years after which I did a Masters in Tasmania. I then moved to Galway in Ireland and with Tom, my partner at Distant Relatives in Kilifi, and few other friends, we traveled from Ethiopia to Cape Town for a year overland. Then I lived and worked in Cape Town for while before coming to Kilifi.

Otherwise, I have travelled in Spain, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belize, UK, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Mauritius, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Germany, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Réunion, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, most islands of Caribbean, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and just came back from Norway and Portugal.

The highlights? Uganda, Kenya, Corsica (French Island in the Mediterranean), New Zealand and Norway I would say!

Travel and adventures
Travel and adventures
  1. Tell us about the most bizarre travel incident you’ve ever experienced.

Hmmm… There’s a few… Perhaps this time when we were sleeping on the floor with friends on a street by the sea in Croatia waiting for a morning bus, when I woke up with my girlfriend to the sound of a waterfall right by my head. Turned out to be one of my best friends sleep walking who’d decided to urinate on our pile of backpacks! He went back to sleep as if nothing had happened. Haha, just couldn’t believe it really! We woke him up and he wouldn’t believe us either! Haha it was indeed … bizarre!

  1. Does your frequent travels help improve your business? If yes…tell us how.

Oh for sure… I need the perspective. It’s like oxygen to me, I die slowly otherwise. I need this fresh inspiration and this magical feeling of culture clash. I feel alive and thinking finally again, comparing two different worlds, meeting these radically different people, they fascinate me! Sometimes it’s a bit scary when you realize how many options and lifestyles there are out there in the world. But it allows me to better understand people. I come back full of fresh energy, lucidity and new ideas. Lucidity is very important to me, it makes life so much easier and pleasant for everyone.

 

  1. Does running Distant Relatives as an Eco lodge minimize your operational costs?

Hmm… I have wondered this. To some extent I am sure that yes it does, as we spend less water and hopefully less power than an equivalent hotel our size. We also up cycle and recycle everything we can. But we mainly have the same costs (salaries, taxes, purchases, maintenance, etc). To some extent also, as much as we can, everything is either home-made, eco-friendly and/or on a budget – and such things often require a lot of maintenance and that becomes expensive over time. But I am happy that we never gave up to less Eco-friendly solutions!

Eco friendly bathroom.
Eco friendly bathroom.
Rooms build from locally available materials.
Rooms built from locally available materials.

 

  1. Do you have plans to go for adventures in other counties within the country?

Sure! I am very keen to head back to the Mt Kenya region – hiking along the mountain rivers, lakes, and forests. Otherwise also very keen to go back further explore Kiwayu Archipelago and further up North towards Somalia. I have never been to Lake Turkana otherwise and hope to go there soon with Iolaus (http://www.iolaus.biz/), some awesome Kenyan fishing guides I can only most highly recommend!

  1. What is your favourite local meal?

Beef fry, chapati & mchicha? Or mandazi with mnazi maharagwe? Oh no! Grilled “Giriama Kwesa” (octopus) rolled around a stick above the fire! Kabisa!

  1. Does your business give you a feeling that you are constantly on holiday?

Hah! That’s what people think! Those who know me well know it’s really quite the opposite. I find it hard to feel on holiday at work… It’s a bit annoying but I imagine it’s every caring business owner’s problem!

  1. What projects are you currently working on?

All kinds really, an endless list! Right now we are planning all the details of our big event Kilifi New Year (https://www.facebook.com/events/504864269719570/). I am also working closely with Barefoot Solutions (http://www.barefootsoulutions.com/) on our soon upcoming Permaculture Design Course from 17th to 29th October (https://www.facebook.com/events/293687144314591/). Otherwise nothing very exciting – searching for a new silent generator, hiring new staff, learning how to use InDesign, trying to get through mountains of emails, plenty of marketing and new partnerships, accounting… It really feels like there is no end!

Permaculture Design Course
Permaculture Design Course.
  1. Are you a bathroom singer?

Haha! I am bathroom beatboxer! Honestly, the world’s much better off without me singing!

  1. What do you do when you are not running your business?

Often it’s sailing, but ideally? I try to go into the wild. To find the deep pure wild… with whom harmony feels like the ultimate fulfillment. I have only found it once, in northern Finland, 300km above the arctic circle, on a hike for a week with a friend… pure magic!

Sailing...
Sailing…
  1. How many pages does your passport have? How many times have you renewed it?

Not as many as you think! I had one page left on my last one before it expired. Recently I have actually become really good at losing passports which keeps them nice and stamp-free!

  1. Toughest business decision you’ve ever made.

I can’t remember any decision tougher than another… Maybe they’re all a bit tough? Signing the sales agreement for the property in 2012 was like signing-up for a monumental debt as well as being officially anchored and tied to Kilifi – that was scary. Thanks to George Gasston for the daily bear hugs I needed to be reassured!

  1. What are you reading now?

Haha – I am reading an awesome book “Mes Bateaux et Moi”… Actually quite sad to be finishing it tonight. It’s the autobiography of Eric Tabarly, a French sailor whom I have always admired, I have known his boats since I was a kid – he revolutionized the world of sailing between 1960 and 1998 when he sadly fell overboard in the Irish Sea and drowned. That guy never gave up, always pushed his limits beyond the imaginable, he had so much hope in the boats he designed, built and sailed, in his team and the new sailing techniques he was developing. He never had any money because his decisions and inventions were too radical, too revolutionary. But he beat every sailor of every nation at all the competitions he joined – solo around the world, transatlantics, you name it. He beat the best and the richest passing the finish line once 10 days before the second boat in the race. What he invented/ developed singlehandedly were some of the most central elements of modern sailing. He even built a trimaran that would lift itself above the water on foils, the “Hydroptere”, the world’s fastest sailing boat – it can sail faster than 100km/h… imagine! I love these stories of people that remind you to always believe in your dreams, never give up, and give it 200% of your energy! Don’t let anything discourage you. Forward!

'Mes Bateaux et Moi'
‘Mes Bateaux et Moi’     (Image courtesy:Internet)
  1. What is the worst client experience you’ve ever had?

Racist people? And violent people? But violent people are usually drunk and dumb. Racist people are just disgusting… I have a deep hatred for racism. Luckily we have only had two incidents in 5 years but that’s the worst for me.

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Good question… I’m not too sure exactly yet. I’d love to show people a bit of light on how backwards everything is in our world. From environmental issues to social acceptance. It feels like people are going blinder everyday. They’re all such basic simple things and they do have very simple solutions. I’d love to do something that goes far beyond running a business. Distant Relatives does go beyond that but I would love to be part of something a bit more meaningful, let’s see! I definitely want to live somewhere wild, with awesome people, and believe in our craziest dreams, however naïve or impossible!

 

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Awesome people

 

lamu2-063bw
Awesome people.
  1. Favourite part of your current job?

Sitting in the garden after work, after the first rains, watch the plants take off, breathe and grow! Otherwise, in the lounge or garden, I love seeing the magic happen, when everyone mixes, gets along, people who didn’t know each other one hour ago – like distant relatives meeting for the first time! That’s always a real pleasure!

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives.

 

Distant Relatives.
Distant Relatives.

 

  1. Who is the best in the world at what you do?

Woohoo! This is a great question! It’s a very easy one too. Her name is Kim Whitaker. She initially founded 33 South Backpackers (http://33southbackpackers.com/) and recently very successfully founded a mighty new project: a series of “All-Star Hotels” across Southern and Eastern Africa with 4 other clever and creative young entrepreneurs. Once in Cape Town (http://onceincapetown.co.za/) opened in 2013 and Once in Johannesburg (http://onceinjoburg.co.za) is opening November 15th this year. She won the Entrepreneur of the Year in South Africa in 2015! But beyond the awards and successes, she has this rare and rather unique blend of lucidity, creativity, boundless energy and simple logic that never quite ceases to amaze me! She’s a queen!

 

 

Well…There you have it! Don’t you feel like stopping over at Distant Relatives to say hi to this great guy!

Here are some beautiful pictures of Distant relatives and Romain…

Distant Relatives by the night.
Distant Relatives by night.

 

The inside of one of the bandas.
The inside of one of the bandas.

 

Gift shop.
Gift shop.

 

Oh you should taste the food from Distant Relatives!
Oh you should taste the every chef’s delight from Distant Relatives!

 

We are all Distant Relatives.
We are all Distant Relatives …aren’t we?

 

Romain the minister!
Romain the Minister!

 

I know who will officiate my wedding :-)
I know who will officiate my wedding 🙂

 

Check out Distant Relatives facebook for the biggest New year celebrations! you can't possibly miss out on that.
Check out Distant Relatives Facebook page for more details on  the biggest New year celebrations! You can’t possibly miss out on that.
Creek love!
Creek love!

NB: All photos used belong to Romain Mari.

 

With love…

Bonnita-logo-revised-350px

 

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Golini Resort-Diani

Golini Resort-Diani

Diani in south coast Kenya is one of my favorite coastal destinations in East Africa. The long strip of white sandy beaches, clear blue sky, chilled weather, turquoise waters with small patches of sea weed here and there, the sound of sea waves crushing against the shore, not forgetting the humidity that gives a sauna feel makes the haven irresistible.

In Diani, everything is  stylish and elegant. Five star hotels, perfect infrastructure, stylish villas, international cuisines prepared by renowned chefs and world class water sports only to mention a few.

Standing majestically in the midst of all this magic is the chilled Swahili styled Golini Resort comprising of two cottages sitting on a two acre piece of land. The compound boasts of pedicured lawns, trimmed hedges, scented flowers, mature trees and a swimming pool. The resort is nothing short of beautiful.

Checking In:

Just as a home should be,warm clean and welcoming, the resort is all that and more. Graveled driveway, chlorophyllated grass, colourful flowers and an aura of comfort and calm.

The cottage.

compound2

The general plan has the master en suite, living room, well fitted kitchen, and a guest washroom  on the ground floor.

Master bedroom
Master bedroom.

 

 

kitchen 3
The Kitchen.

A personal chef is available on request. This makes for a perfect opportunity to sample coastal dishes and to maximize on that vacation feel when away from home.

 

sitting area
Living room.

Located between the Master bedroom and the living room is a stylish spiral staircase that leads to the other rooms upstairs.

Spiral staircase
Spiral staircase.

The rooms upstairs are nothing short of amazing, discreet and spacious. The snow white walls, huge bathroom and walk-in closet, large windows and a panoramic view of the compound  make the rooms upstairs standout.  This kind of set up is ideal for families with kids or  a small group of friends touring South Coast.

Bedroom one with two single beds.
Bedroom one with two single beds.

The other bedroom that has a single bed.

Upper bedrooms
Bedroom two with one single bed.

Bathroom and Closet…

bathroom 2
Bathroom with an excellent view of the compound and pool.

 

Clean tiles...
Clean tiled floors…

The other fabulous feature of this house that is impossible to ignore are the windows. Wide louvered windows  run from wall to wall ensuring natural light and fresh air in the house effortlessly.

Large windows
Large windows..

The front porch of the house opens up to a beautiful garden of flowers, trees and a pavement that leads to the swimming pool. Hanging delicately from the ceiling in the veranda is a unique hand crafted African lampshades that emphasizes the existing  sense of panache.

beauty
Front porch.

 

compound
Barbecue grill in the garden

 

butterfly
Colourful butterfly in the garden.

 

Peace and tranquility
Of shade and shadows.

 

The best part of Golini Resort is the fact that it located exactly two minutes from the sea front of Galu beach.What more could one be looking for in a coastal  holiday destination?

Diani
Galu Beach!

Golini Resort is available for both long and short stays. The property is also on sale.(If interested drop me an email at bonnita@oldsite.aluochbonnita.com for more details ).

General info:

  • Golini Resort is approximately thirty kilometers from Mombasa island via Likoni Ferry.
  • It is adjacent to Ukunda town.
  • A small airstrip called Ukunda Airport connects travelers and tourist to Mombasa, JKIA-Nairobi and Wilson airport(Nairobi). The drive from the airport to Golini Resort is approximately twenty minutes.

Places to See:

Things to do:

  • Enjoy a fresh platter of seafood at Mvureni Fisherman restaurant right at the beach front of Galu Kinondo beach.
  • Go for a dhow safari, snorkel and  scuba dive. This can be arranged by operators who are easily available at the beach.
  • Kite surf, Windsurf, SUP, kayak and try many other water sports  at H2O extreme, Kenya’s biggest water sports center.
  • Go for sky diving at Skydive Diani. Best way to overcome acrophobia.

Recommendation: Pack your bags already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet Laura Lazzarino,The Argentinian Globe Trotter.

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?

Yes!

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!

Me:How do you balance life and travel?

Laura!

L:Traveling is my life…

Open post

Bofa Beach-The Most Underrated Beach at the Kenya Coast.

Last week was my birthday.

I took two weeks off my busy schedule to relax and rejuvenate. It was a tough choice to make between going to the Masai Mara for the great wildebeest migration and going down to the coast to enjoy a dose of vitamin sea.

Tough as it was, the thought of turquoise water, serenading sea song, sashaying palm trees, powder white sand, jewel blue sky and a silver nickel foamy horizon gave me all the valid reasons to book my next flight to the coast.

Allow me to introduce you to Bofa Beach in Kilifi.

I have never seen so much white sand in my life before. Strips of immaculate green palm trees doing their charismatic dance, coral reefs standing majestically at the beach front, jewel blue cloudless skies…I mean I could go on and on and on.

This is the first beach I have seen with no beach shacks, beach boys or crowds! I mean what more would you be looking for in a beach?

Sand...
Sand…
More sand...
More sand…
IMG_20160723_151535[1]
I see blue everywhere…
White,blue and more blue.
White,blue and more blue.
Bike at the beach too...
Bike at the beach too…
More reefs...
More reefs…
Immaculate palms trees...
Immaculate palms trees…
Peaceful beach walks with no interruptions.
Peaceful beach walks with no interruptions.
Sanddd!!
Sanddd!!

This is Bofa beach for you!

Have you heard of  Bofa beach before?

Have you been to Bofa beach?

Do you know of a beach that people haven’t heard of and is worth a mention?

Tell me about it.  Hit me up in the comment section! Let’s get talking!

 

 

 

 

Open post

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open post

Bien-Aime Baraza- The Traveler.

 

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.

Bien-Aime

 

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