Our recent trip to Kenya was a re introduction to what has to be one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in Africa . I had spent time in East Africa in the 1980’s but since then had not been back. So when we were sent an invitation to travel to a wonderful private estate on the foothills of Mount Kenya in the Central Plains we decided it was time to return. Having recently read West with the Night and Out of Africa my imagination was filled with visions of windswept farms and grandiose landscapes full of wildlife, I was not disappointed.
The best way to travel there is to fly in to Nairobi and then charter a small plane onwards. If you arrive at night you can stay in two or three charming hotels close to Wilson Airport and then jump on your charter the next morning. Should you land in the morning the best choice is to charter directly from the Nairobi international airport.
Nairobi is a very busy city but it’s not without a certain charm if you know where to look. It is essential to book a reliable driver before arriving as the traffic is very bad and driving is erratic at best.
Five things to do in Nairobi if you stay there :
Visit Giraffe Manor for tea or a gin and tonic:
Go to the Masai Market and stock up on kikoi’s
Buy colorful baskets from the street vendors near the German School
Climb up to the Longonot crater and spot some giraffe
Explore the area near Lake Nivasha
Once you embark on your charter or commercial flight to the north, away from the madding crowds of Nairobi you start to feel the expanse and grandeur of this ancient country. The short flight to Nanyuki takes about thirty minutes and should you charter directly into the private estate its about forty minutes. Nanyuki airport is small and sleepy but it has a great little airport cafe and gift shop and is well worth a visit.
The private estate we visited is set in a conservation area that has been privately owned by the same family for over one hundred and fifty years. Here you stay in the grand house which is one of the most luxurious and well run private homes we know. This is a luxury rental in the true sense of the term.
The staff greeted us with such enthusiasm and took us to one of the beautifully appointed guest bedrooms. Once we were settled in it was time for a swim in the pool which overlooks the estate and the bush beyond.
Every day before lunch the most excellent bloody mary’s are served on the dining terrace following a tradition started by early settlers here at the beginning of the last century.
Dinner is served every night in the dining room which has a large fireplace and roaring fire to keep you warm on cool Kenyan nights. The cook is very creative and the food and house wines were delicious.
There are so many daily activities possible here that it is hard to list them all. Suffice it to say you can do as much or as little as you like. Morning game drives or game walks can be done each day , rising before sunrise, you track lion, elephant or rhino through the bush which is very exciting! We were always accompanied by experienced game keepers and drivers on these excursions . Bush Breakfasts are set up by the watering hole and Sundowners are organized on hilltops with majestic views over the estate. For lovers of fly fishing it is possible to travel to the lakes on Mount Kenya spend the night in a cabin and fly fish in two different lakes. Short excursions in tented safari camps to other locations are also possible to organize from this property.
The big pull here is that you are staying in a conservation area which is extremely well organized. This is a not for profit organization whose main aim is to protect the endangered animals.
Never before has conservation in Africa been so critical, and never before have our iconic animals been so threatened with extinction. The conservancy is blessed with some incredible resources, but they still need your help to protect this wildlife for generations to come. Clearly tourism remains the single largest contributor to the cost of underwriting secure habitat and it is hoped that their commitment to cycling revenue directly back to the conservancy will guide peoples’ decision in choosing this location as a preferred destination. We are the generation that has the choice and responsibility to reverse the damage and therefore we also encourage any and everyone to get directly involved in the conservation effort.