A loud screech of our car wheels and the scrunching of gravel beneath it announced our arrival. The sun settled on the manor draped with ivy. With a name like ‘Giraffe Manor’ you expect a more African décor, but it looked straight out of a Scottish folk tale, and only the red dust betrayed its Scottish charm and lent it an African touch. It has nothing of an African appeal, except for the name which it lives upto. Giraffes are not hard to find, looking at you with a friendly gaze. Giraffe Manor lives in the Langata area, a bit outskirts of Nairobi, amid an area of 12 acres, bringing the African safari experience live in surreal charm of English architecture. It is a perfect stop-over after a long flight, to lull the heart and prepare the mind for coming wildlife adventures in the country.
With a name like ‘Giraffe Manor’ you expect a more African décor, but it looked straight out of a Scottish folk tale.
I was greeted by the punctual warthogs, who had arrived at dot five’ O clock for their share of free snacks, scurrying past me with their tails held straight, like lightning conductors. Continue reading
From the beginning, I was sure, day 2 was going to be as exciting as day 1. We had by now, tick marked three of the #bigfive of Africa and we prefixed our agenda to first lookout for the remaining two of the big five and then try our chances on the migration yet again. And to a certain degree both looked achievable. We soon added a third wish to this list – spotting a Cheetah. And James smiled, the sort of smile only Gods or elves are allowed to have.
Confession: Two of our wish were fulfilled.
So we filled our tummies to the extent possible with left-over fruits and sandwiches and every variety of edible thing available with us and set off to second round of our incredible journey. With full day in hand, we were pretty confident of having all our boxes tick marked.
James wanted to start the morning with Rhino spotting or else we would miss the habitat. We spent almost an hour in the morning to spot a rhino but we weren’t just getting lucky. We however, spotted a big herd of hundreds of buffaloes; the day before we had mostly spotted lone buffaloes. Driving through the grass as they stand mooing was a sight.
Off in the distance some figures in bright green coats and crumpled safari hats were calling out names in high, shrilling tone: ‘Kitirua’, ‘Alamaya’, ‘Reo’ ‘Lasayen’ and slowly one by one, baby elephants emerge out of the bushes in a single line, trolling and trumpeting, but never forgetting to follow their keepers – a straggled procession of brown faced eager elephant orphans, flapping their ears, wearing a hypnotic grace and fiddling with their curious long trunks.
A quintessential tropical paradise; with thousands of palm trees leaning out across broad, white, pristine sand beaches merging with turquoise waters like inseparable lovers, canoes anchored in crystal clear lagoons and odd coral islands embellished with large swathes of sea kelp in low tide – Oh! These are the places you see in exotic travel magazines. And beyond the beaches is a Kenyan village, in all its noisy muddle, slow paced life, huts of mud and thatched roof and children calling out Jambo. And then at affordable distance is one of the last surviving coastral tropical forests and the vestiges of an old swahilian civilization standing in eerie ruins among the tropical forests.
White, pristine sand beaches merging with turquoise waters like inseparable lovers
Welcome to Watamu, a small sleepy town, where number of resorts could outnumber the houses, located some 100 Kms from Mombasa, Kenya’s second biggest city and an important trade center. Continue reading
This is like going through pages of history books; every building has a story; trysting with the first police station and post office of East Africa, century old buildings still retaining the old charm, wandering through the remnants of the bygone era when Mombasa used to be the center for slave trade, spying on the local life which carries an air of cultural confluence and breezing the scent of antic spices. The entire tour, covered entirely on walk, will bring you up close to the perfect intermingling of cultures as it happens in the narrow lanes of the old town.
There’s as such no official ‘to do’ list in Mombasa, infact there isn’t much to do there. The beauty of the place is just existing there, beauties that are better explored in conversations and stories than in pictures.
Ever imagined a place hugged by grassy banks and interrupted with cacti and sand olive trees, with a sunlit lake tugged in between these two contrasting landscapes. A lake of unimaginable dimensions, multitude of water birds, elusive water bucks grazing by the side of the lake and pinkened ears of hippos peeking out of water like periscopes and if it is not enough, the majestic tawny eagle darting over your head. Isn’t it what dreams are made of? Walking by the turquoise blue waters, with its inhabitants exhibiting a surprising nonchalance towards the visitors and with every step you might be filled with more shock and surprise finding yourself walking by the riverfront among the wildlife so undisturbed.
Welcome to the beautiful Nakuru county of Kenya and this is the first hop – Lake Naivasha, the second largest freshwater lake of Kenya, at a comfortable distance of about 120 Kms from Nairobi. Frankly Lake Naivasha wasn’t on our bucket list, we were off to Lake Nakuru before taking a detour to Naivasha to discover that it is one of the best birding sites in whole of Africa. So what it takes to have a kaleidoscope of birds flying above you occasionally diving into the cool waters to cool off the sweltering heat or hiking among herds of zebras and wildebeests joined by occasional giraffes, impalas, gazelles, elands with mighty buffaloes also joining the chorus. Continue reading
Photograph by Mutua Matheka
Nairobi had always been a place in between. It started out as a stop-over on the Mombasa – Kampala railway route (for the Lunatic express); and is still being taken the same way by tourists, as a stop-over for the resupplies before leaving for the safari or pristine beaches of Mombasa and Malindi. But this capital city of Kenya, and the financial capital of East Africa is a destination in itself. Attributed the sobriquet ‘Green capital of the sun’, Nairobi has endless bounties to offer. An African city, known for great music and carefree lifestyle, carrying the whiff of old colonial charm, doling out dreamy moments like feeding baby elephants, hanging out with giraffes, riding an ostrich and endless options to shop African souvenirs; Nairobi gives tourists all reasons to tick all the checkboxes of a good travel destination.
A big board reading ‘Hakuna Matata’ (‘No problem’ in Swahili) welcomes you as you come out of Airport. Clear, azure blue sky, soft breeze and songs of countless birds, all out to greet you, sets the pace for a good travel days ahead.