HEMINGWAYS WATAMU KENYA COAST
What’s it really like at Hemingways in Watamu on the Kenyan coast? Read an honest account of a holiday at Hemingways with DoinDubai, a regular visitor !
An Honest Guide to Life in Dubai
What’s it really like at Hemingways in Watamu on the Kenyan coast? Read an honest account of a holiday at Hemingways with DoinDubai, a regular visitor !
A Kenya Beach resort holiday beckons but how to choose your resort? I’ve been to 3 luxe beach resorts in Kenya and can’t wait to go back. Read the honest detailed reviews here to help you make a more informed choice.
Msambweni Beach House is a stylish, private villa type resort with all the amenities and service of a well-run hotel.
Located on Kenya’s southern coast. Perfect for a group get together.
Msambweni Beach house is located in the Kwale province on the Southern coast of Kenya. As it’s name suggests it’s right on the beach.
Fly to Ukunda airport from Nairobi and expect a 45-minute or so drive to reach the beach house from the airport. The last part of the drive is along a dirt track that we hear is going to be built into a tarmac road by September 2019.
We flew out on Silvertone Air and back via Jambo Jet, ideally arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon to maximize your time there. Note that Silvertone Air doesn’t have any seat allocation.. so be prepared to sit wherever you get a seat.
When you arrive at the airport, stop off at Diani shopping centre or Foodplus (both about 5 minutes away) to pick up some food or drink you might fancy for your journey or while you’re at the beach house, we bought some wine and mixers for our drinks.
Each villa sleeps up to 4 people, 2 up and 2 down, but the upstairs bedroom is much more basic than the downstairs and is reached via a fairly steep set of steps.
Stay in a private villa or in the main house. I recommend Villa 1 or Villa 2. The Ocean Suite is great for glamping types though! Both Villa 1 and Villa 2 have their own private pools and terraces, so these are perfect for groups.
The property is located on the beach itself at a slight elevation, so you do have to go down some steps to get the beach. It’s a great beach to walk along and soak up the sun, but we didn’t swim in the sea while we visited. You can see the beach and sea from the moment you enter the property.
All meals are included at Msambweni Beach House and most meals do have some choice. But do let them know if you don’t eat particular foods or have any food allergies.
Do expect a lot of fresh seafood on the menu. We had one dinner that was crab themed and was delicious.
You need to order your breakfast after dinner on the previous night.
We all loved the fresh passion fruit juice at breakfast and our favourite meal for lunch was the stone baked pizza buffet on our last day. They tend to sensibly make use of whatever’s in season on the menu.
Expect avocados, pineapples, passion fruits and of course fish making an appearance on your plates.
Relax, kick back and soak up the vibe, I loved the atmosphere at Msambweni Beach House, and really appreciated the fact the area wasn’t at all built up.
So expect peace and quiet, take your favourite books to read.
Swim in the main pool and stare at the ocean or swim in your private villa pools if you’re in villa 1 or villa 2.
Go down and have a drink by the beach bonfire and stare at the little crabs that come out on the beach.
You can walk along the beach with a local guide, the hotel will organize for you. Just tip the guide and ideally buy some coconut water on the beach on the way back.
The big trip is definitely the excursion to the mangroves. It’s about a 35 minute drive to get the village where you take the boat. We were a party of 7 and we were on one flat, long canoe type boat, with one skipper.
This trip takes in all the mangroves and little houses on the riverside, but the highlight was definitely stopping and having some drinks and a walk on the magnificent sand bar! Tides coming in from 3 directions, a makeshift shade and not a soul in sight other than us. This is the stuff that memories are made of!
A good sun hat, sun protection, loose clothing, beach footwear and a good book. Also take some mosquito repellent although there are nets around the beds. Don’t bother taking anything designer in terms of clothing, jewellery, bags or footwear. No one is there to notice it anyway!
Room for improvement at Msambweni Beach House
The linen could be upgraded for sure and there also could have been a little more choice on the menu for some meals but the settings were all superb.
Access will be easier when the dirt track approach road is tarmacked.
But service overall is warm, friendly and above and beyond what we expected, and that makes all the difference.
USE CODE DOINDUBAIMBH FOR A HUGE DISCOUNT ON RACK RATES. Put the code into the booking section and see!
BOOKING SECTION OF MUSAMBWENI BEACH HOUSE.
Loving our blog and
not an email subscriber yet? Just click below.
UPDATE AUGUST 2021 sadly The Kiangazi House hotel in Kenya is now CLOSED BUT we would highly recommend the Chui Lodge hotel a few minutes away, same ownership and very good.
It’s not easy finding good boutique hotels in Kenya, but we think we’ve found 2 of the best. Kiangazi House and Chui Lodge both in Naivasha are gorgeous boutique hotels in Kenya and make for an amazing stay. Read our real experience of a 2 night stay summer 2017.
Kiangazi House is a beautifully kept, colonial style, boutique hotel in Naivasha, Kenya. You can get there in about 2.5 hours by road from Nairobi, most of the road is pretty good, so it’s not a difficult journey.
The advantage is you don’t have to pay steep park fees if you’re staying at Kiangazi House or it’s sister property Chui Lodge. There is plenty of game to be seen so it’s akin to doing a mini safari without the need and expense of flying to the Masai Mara.
We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days in late June 2017 as part of a large group celebrating a family birthday.
All the rooms at Kiangazi house are, without exception, gorgeous! They are very tastefully furnished, beds and linen are of a high quality and all rooms are ensuite. We stayed in a room called Roller, which is about a minute’s walk from the main house, with fabulous views overlooking the private conservancy.
There is an almost identical room next door. Both these rooms had their own patios too. The common parts at Kiangazi house are warm and very inviting at all times of the day with beautiful fireplaces and comfy furniture.
Food is of a very high standard indeed here, and this is one of the reasons we chose to host our event here. We loved our vegetarian and non vegetarian meals alike. We also requested a birthday cake that was exceptionally good. Meals are usually included in your package and well worth it. The settings simply add to your enjoyment.
I suggest you definitely do the game drives on offer and see what wildlife you can spot. Coming to the sun dowers in the bush is a magical experience that I highly recommend.
You can also ask to see a nearby flower farm too. That’s where all the fresh roses in the rooms come from!
We also did a short boat trip around the lake, but I don’t suggest very small children do this activity.
Eating and drinking at Kiangazi House in the perfect settings are an activity in themselves too!
Breakfast by the lakeside is really special, so do try and organize that. Do also go for a short lakeside walk after breakfast. You’ll share your walk with giraffes and zebras! A very unique experience that’s quite different to seeing them from a vehicle.
Yes absolutely, it’s a great break from Nairobi and a very easy way to experience the Kenyan bush especially if you have a multi generational group as we did! Food is amazing, and the rooms verging on luxurious! Service is efficient, friendly and competent.
Geoff the manager and his partner Susannah went over and above the normal call of duty for our group and I’m sure they would for you too. Kiangazi House and it’s sister property Chui Lodge are both great for any kind of celebration, big or small or just if you want to get away for a special treat from Nairobi. Try them and tell me I’m wrong! We loved our experience and will be back…
We also spent 2 nights at Little Governor’s Camp in the Masai Mara on the same trip, another awesome experience!
Chui Lodge (sister property to Kiangazi, same owners)
We’ve been holidaying in Watamu Kenya off and on for 20 years now, even staying at the same hotel. Despite travelling to more luxurious places the world over since moving to Dubai, I’d still go back to Watamu on the Kenyan coast and choose to stay at the same hotel! Around 5 hours away and SO MUCH cheaper than the Seychelles or the Maldives.
We stayed there most recently for 5 days over the Christmas break in 2015 and loved it. Find out why I think you would too.
Watamu is located on Kenya’s coast about 100 km north of Mombasa and the nearest airport is Malindi. The signs now say Malindi is an International Airport, but I don’t think international flights have started just yet (January 2016) We flew from Nairobi airport direct to Malindi and it’s about a 50 minute flight.
There are a number of internal airlines that fly to Malindi, we flew on Kenya Airways from the domestic terminal at the International airport Jomo Kenyatta.
We’ve always stayed and still recommend you stay at Hemingways in Watamu and opt for rooms in the North Wing right in front of the sea (and next to the bar!) They have also just launched a scheme of apartments you can buy or rent, but won’t be ready for at least a year. Hemingways isn’t a posh resort but is perfect for a family holiday and the standard of food is good.
The staff are very professional and it’s a real treat to have any fresh fish that you’ve caught made into sashimi for your lunch – at no extra charge.
There is another hotel almost next door called Medina Palms, well worth having a look at and a completely different style to Hemingways. I prefer the wide ocean front set up of Hemingways despite it being an older hotel. You could also investigate renting a house in Watamu in the 7 Islands area (30 mins walk from Hemingways through 2 sandy bays)
We visited friends who were on a long diving holiday staying at a rented house in this area. A very upmarket house (we didn’t visit this time) called Bahari House.
Watamu Kenya is known for it’s wide, powder soft, white sandy beaches which are great to take long walks on. But it’s also well known the world over for it’s incredible Deep Sea Fishing opportunities. It’s easy to hire a boat from Hemingways, I suggest a half day session to begin with, 4 people in our party went and it cost around USD 500. That included everything even our freshly caught fish being made into lunch! The boat leaves around 7 am (from the gantry which is 2 minutes walk from your door) and returns around 12pm. A series of flags indicates which fish have been caught and there is a standard protocol of which have to be tagged and released.
More and more people are also kite surfing in Watamu and it’s easy to book lessons either from the hotel or a school very nearby. Watamu also has a turtle conservation program, a yoga scene and some very good Italian food!
Watamu village (5 minutes by taxi from Hemingways) is a simple couple of roads filled with interesting cafes, restaurants as well as arts and crafts shops. We loved Hosteria Romana that serves authentic pizzas and Italian dishes, perfectly washed down with a glass of cold Tusker beer. Try the Malindi sailfish carpaccio too. This is a basic cafe run by an Italian couple who moved to Watamu in 2006 from Rome.
The gelato shop next door – Bahati – run by Andrea, is good too but so is the one run by his now ex partner Anna, called Non Solo round the corner! They were delivering proper Italian gelato and desserts all over the Christmas holidays to regulars in Watamu!
We had lunch at Kobe one day about 15 minutes drive from the hotel, I suggest you have drinks and take in the view here. Affogatos were nice but overpriced at USD 5.00! It has a gorgeous setting.
Obviously try the local eateries in Watamu village as mentioned above but do a half day trip to Malindi as well. The hotel can organise for you, take in Malindi town, buy some kikois for souvenirs and eat wherever you like the look of.
Check out Flavio Briattore’s Lion and the Sea – once a favourite haunt of Naomi Campbell. Apparently there is a branch of this establishment opening soon in Dubai under the name of The Billionaires Club!
You could also take a cruise on the Mida Creek on a dhow and enjoy sundowners and deliciously grilled seafood on the boat. You must take a ride on the snorkelling boat even if you don’t snorkel! It’s a 2 hour trip into the Marine Park and crew on the glass bottomed boat have all the equipment you need. The sea is glorious to swim in and the fish are spectacular to watch. The trip is free if you’re staying at the hotel but you do have to pay the USD 10 for Marine park fees
Between November and April is what we’ve been told. Else you’ll get lots of seaweed washed up on the beach.
If you’re in Kenya and you have time, try and combine your trip to Watamu with a look around Nairobi, plenty of information on that trip in these earlier posts on Visiting Nairobi and a Nairobi Safari. The deal for the safari still applies. This December we went for the first time to a restaurant called Taisman in Karen (of Out of Africa fame) and highly recommend it for lunch with a visit to Karen Blixen’s house.
Then contact Rahul at Merlin Safaris, he can help you organise your whole trip. Mention you came from DoinDubai for a 10% discount. Link to Rahul via his Facebook page or email him on:
Thanks and enjoy the beach! Lots more on Watamu on DoinDubai’s Instagram and DoinDubai’s twitter list Kenya Confidential.
P.S Local sims with companies like AirTel are FANTASTIC value!
DoinDubai has managed to secure a set of special safari packages to Kenya with Gamewatchers offering subscribers to DoinDubai savings of around 30 % on list prices.
Find out more about the safari we actually experienced at the Nairobi Tented Camp in August 2015. Visit Nairobi while you’re there.
A one night safari at the Nairobi Tented Camp in the Nairobi National Park would cost USD 290 per person as opposed to a rack rate of USD 370 per person, saving you, our subscribers a substantial USD 80 per person.
Here’s a breakdown for a stay at the Nairobi Tented Camp property for September (per person sharing a 2 person ensuite tent)
|Do in Dubai||Rack Rates|
Bed n Breakfast
|KWS Park Entry and camping fees|
This fee goes direct to the Kenya Wildlife Service and cannot be discounted.
|Full Board Package|
Lunch & dinner, drinks, 2 game drives or one drive plus Elephant orphanage visit plus 2 airport transfers
A much more affordable way to experience a safari without the extra hassle and EXPENSE of flying to the Masaai Mara!
Similar discounts available at the gorgeous Porini Lion Camp. Here’s the DO IN DUBAI SHORT PACKAGES pdf that explains all the details you need to book your safari.
In order to book you need to be an EMAIL SUBSCRIBER TO DOINDUBAI (it’s free) and contact Gamewatchers using the CONTACT FORM below.
You will receive the UNIQUE OFFER CODE in your DoinDubai newsletter that is sent directly to all email subscribers.
Gamewatchers will then reply back to you with any queries you have about visiting Kenya and going on safari directly. Please note this offer is only valid for people who are residents of the GCC.
Please note that the posts reflect DoinDubai’s experience of Nairobi and the Nairobi Tented Camp in the national park. Please remember to do all your research regarding visas, personal safety, medical and any other needs specific to you and your families before you go.
DoinDubai cannot accept responsibility beyond introducing you to the very reputable and well established Gamewatchers Safaris company.
[contact-form-7 id=”17182″title=”NAIROBI TENTED CAMP”]
More about getting to Hemingways :
Apparently an international airport is currently being built but for now, Malindi is an easy one hour flight from Nairobi. We flew 540 airlines but you could choose Air Kenya from Wilson airport instead. Or if you are lucky enough to know someone with their own plane take that, as it seems a popular option judging by the number of private aircraft on the field!
We flew Emirates from Dubai to Nairobi and that was an easy 4 hour 10 minute flight. Nairobi has a temperate climate and is only one hour behind Dubai.
A tip about rooms :
My tip would be to opt for the newer rooms on the ground floor near the bar with doors that open straight out onto the sea and you can look forward to waking up to a delicious view of tiny boats bobbing along next to giant turtle shaped rocks. Let time stand still for a few moments and then force yourself to have a swim in the sea and pool before ordering fresh fish cakes for breakfast.
More about the Dhow Cruise :
The Mida Creek area in Watamu is home to 6 out of 8 of Kenya’s mangrove species, as well as abundant birdlife. The area covers 32 square km and the Dhow Cruise starts at Hemingways own private boatyard. The cruise itself takes a leisurely 2 hours from start to finish and you can watch the sky change colour over time from brilliant blue to calming night violets with sprinkles of stars.
Hemingways Watamu Kenya.
firstname.lastname@example.org (ask for Melinda Rees )
Their big game fishing site is www.big-gamefishing.net Do mention Monica from www.doindubai.com when you book.
Do leave me a comment if you need to know about anything else and let me know if this post has inspired you to go to Hemingways in Watamu.
Hemingways fishing centre | Mida Creek Drive | Postal Address: P.O Box 267 – 80202 – Watamu, Kenya | Tel: (254) 042 2332724/0722 205917/0733 411112 | Fax: (254) 042 2332256 | Email: email@example.com |
Another tip, I haven’t been but have heard great things about Hemingways camp in the Mara, Ol Seki
by monica 4 Comments
HEMINGWAYS is now closed and will re open in December 2015. DoinDubai will keep you posted about What’s New! But if you still want to visit Kenya then check out these links:
Glamping In the Nairobi Tented Camp
30% off safari packages to Kenya from Gamewatchers
Our family went Deep Sea Fishing at Hemingways at 6.30 am as part of a beach holiday in Watamu. Sea sickness pills, snacks, fishing equipment and local knowledge of where the big fish live – all supplied courtesy of Hemingways fine and experienced crew. Five hours later and a triumphant team returned with a 6kg Dorado Falusi fish the colour of iridescent quicklime and 3 yellow fin tunas with piercingly bright eyes dripping with blood. Order your sashimi here on the gantry and look forward to eating it at lunch or with evening drinks at the bar. Whoever said beach holidays are boring was wrong.
We visited Hemingways in Malindi during the recent Easter break but it is from November to March that’s best for Billfish, that’s Black Marlin and Sailfish to the unitiated! Despite being there in April, plenty of Dorado Falusi, Yellow fin tuna and Wahoo were evident throughout our stay. The African Billfish Foundation works to promote and protect the species and Hemingways follows it’s guidelines.
The older members of our party (grandparents) accompanied us on a Dhow Cruise through the mangroves in the evening in the Mida Creek area of Watamu, a much more gentle boat ride this time with a feast of expertly prepared seafood cooked fresh to order. Drinks of all kinds are included; the local Dawa cocktail made from a Kenyan liqueur, lime juice and brown sugar seemed the most popular.
We also took a morning out to explore the fascinating old town of Malindi which still retains some of it’s Islamic influence and reminded me a bit of Zanzibar. Buy exotic vanilla pods, colourful kikois and Malindi Mozzarella while you’re there..Hemingways has a free shuttle service from the hotel.
Watamu is based on the edge of a marine park and boats go out to Snorkel everyday from Hemingways jetty (a 30 second walk from our room) Guests only pay the $15.00 marine park fee (kids are $10.00) to take the boat. Snorkels and masks are on board so you don’t have to buy or bring your own. Be amazed at the variety of life in an underwater world called the Coral Gardens about 15 to 20 minutes out to sea from your door. We saw striped sergeant fish, translucent angel fish and a myriad of other species. Apparently the predatory lion fish was lurking low but I didn’t see him ! The corals themselves spread out like loose meringue mixture that seems to be overflowing from an ocean bowl!
The hotel has a small herb garden which is regularly raided by the head chef who can spice up salads with mini pili pili chillies full of fiery heat or temper pasta sauces and salads with sweet marjoram and bulbous fennel. A beguiling number of plants with exotic blooms are also grown in a mini forest like area next to the herb garden. Ask at reception for a behind the scenes garden tour.
Hemingways was opened in 1988 and we have visited many times over the last 15 years or so and still haven’t tired of the place. It seems a couple of employees can’t bear to leave either, both George and Benson have been there since the hotel opened ! While all the staff are exemplary and do everything to help make your holiday special, Hudson really does live up to his namesake (from Upstairs Downstairs), with no request seemingly too awkward to deal with. Go to Hemingways for some peace, nature and fresh fish served by caring staff in delightfully charming surroundings. It’s not 5 star luxury as we know it but you can expect a hugely relaxing holiday in a gorgeously natural setting.
Click here for what you NEED TO KNOW about holidaying at Hemingways and do mention Monica from DoinDubai when you book !
Click here for Kenya covered in Travel Arabia May 2013 edition and if you fancy a Safari in the City then check out the 30% discount offered by Gamewatchers.
by monica 7 Comments
Kenya for Christmas maybe ? Only four and a half hours away from Dubai, but avoid the beaches at this time as it’s so hot, try a quick trip out to Browns Cheese Factory in Nairobi, Kenya. Organised days out at Brown’s Cheese Factory are quite new, the owners Delia and Andy opened their home for cheese tastings and factory tours in March 2011 and currently run a maximum of 4 tours per week.
We were a party of 8, accompanied by a group of 12 Singaporeans visiting Kenya and 3 resident Austrians, kids are welcomed, there were a couple of toddlers and we had our two teenage girls with us.
While the tours are relatively new, Browns Cheeses have been around for almost 30 years. Delia’s parents pioneered the cheese making process in Kenya when Delia’s father wanted to eat Brie, a few trials later, the Brown brand was born…
Currently the factory produces 17 different kinds of artisan cheese, many of which have won awards in South Africa and Europe. The factory now provides employment to 45 local people who help look after the 25 Fresian cows, 2 pigs (Bacon and Mildred) their 10 newborn piglets, 2 rabbits, numerous chickens and some roving guinea fowl !
The tours start with a Welcome Drink which can be whatever you fancy from wine to fresh coffee, herbal tea or a much needed honey and lemon for someone with a sore throat in our party. The welcome drinks are accompanied by the first cheese of many eaten that day, a plump halloumi delicately flavoured with thyme and shallow fried till golden brown on the outside and almost melty in the middle. The fireside setting (July and August, Kenya’s wintery months) in the almost Tuscan rustic farmhouse completes the picture.
A brief cheese making demonstration by Andy follows and we’re told the main ingredients of any cheese are milk, bacteria, enzymes and salt. Next we put on our lab coats and head off with non slip footware to the factory floor. The factory really comprises of one large room where all the scientific processes required for making cheese happen, we went on to linger for a while in 2 maturing rooms where racks of cheeses sit in chilly temperatures. Some cheeses sit for a couple of months while others like the Parmesans stay put for almost 2 years. The Brie and other more mouldy cheeses are looked after by one person in an isolated area to minimize the risk of any contamination.
Returning to the main house for the cheese tasting is the highlight of the tour and places are already set out at the large farmhouse table. Guests are encouraged to sit anywhere they like to try their 10 types of cheese beautifully and professionally displayed from mild at one end to more mature at the other, going in an anticlockwise direction. Helpful information sheets explaining a little about each cheese and it’s main uses are laid out for guests who can also add their comments or favourites on the page as they taste. The cheeses ranged from plainish Provolone to full bodied Parmesans and creamy bries.
Homemade bread and an impressive selection of crackers accompanies the cheeses including an unusual (I found subsequently at Selfridges at £4.50 for a small packet) black charcoal cracker, apparently helpful for digestion.
There is also a sophisticated range of homemade organic chutneys to try with the cheeses, I had grape, mountain papaya jam, honey and caramelised onion in front of me.
The trick though is not to fill yourself up, as a sumptuous organic lunch follows after the cheese tasting, roasted duck salads, fresh tomato soup, fennel and cheddar cheese tart and spinach ravioli were just some of the things on the menu. Dessert was a fresh apple and mountain papaya pie with cream.
There is an obvious need to walk off all this food and Delia doesn’t disappoint with a fabulous walk around the organic farm and gardens next on the itinerary. This part of the tour is a delight and great hit with the children, I really think they forgot facebook, bbm etc for a short while at this point. The sheer variety of vegetables and fruits grown on the farm is very impressive and unusual, I particularly liked the cherry guava which we tasted as we went along learning about tomatillos, green beans, flowering courgette, sweet potato, cabbage and fennel.
While we traipsed around Hugh Fernley Whittingstall style, Andy was busy packaging up and invoicing guests for whatever cheeses they decided to take home with them. All in all this was a fabulous day out and although it’s not something you’d usually associate with Kenya, I’d say it was a must do activity for anyone visiting Nairobi.
About an hour’s drive outside Nairobi city past Village Market. You need to book before hand and it helps if it’s a nice day so you can enjoy the walk around the organic farm.
Prices are Kenya Shillings 2500 (AED 100) per adult and Kenya Shillings Dhs 1000 for children, toddlers are free of charge but welcomed.
Delia and Andy are very low key people who don’t aggressively promote the tours, you need to call them to book a tour or it may be easier to do via a travel agent who knows them.
Try Rahul at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.merlin-travel.com
He can organise all your Kenyan trip requirements.
Let me know if you’re inspired to go to Brown’s Cheese Factory by leaving a comment in the box below….and be sure to leave your email address in the subscription box to get the next post from DoinDubai.com and if you want to read about another great day out in Nairobi, this time a visit to the Sheldrik Elephant Orphanage, click here
Price: Ksh 500 per person (20 AED), regardless of age or residency status.
Location and Timings: Daily from 11am to 12pm lunchtime.
Located in Karen, in the National Park area of Nairobi.
Wear comfortable footwear and bring your cameras.
Combine the trip with looking at some other bits of Karen such as Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and Kazuri Beads Workshop.
For help organizing your trip contact:
at Merlin Safaris in Kenya.
by monica 3 Comments
The Nairobi National Park is about a 20 minute drive from Nairobi airport slightly to the South of the city. It’s an ideal way to experience a taste of life in the bush without having to buy expensive internal flights to the Masai Mara and pay quite steep lodge rates. Having said that you’ll save money entry fees to the park are not cheap. It costs US $ 40 (AED 150) per adult and US $ 20 (AED 75) for children aged between 3 and 18 if you’re a non resident. Children aged 2 and under are free. However this fee doesn’t give you access to the animal orphanage just inside the park, this costs a further US$ 15 ! Of course resident rates at KSh 300 (AED 12) per adult are significantly cheaper but smart cards are required. We also had to pay Ksh 1000 (AED 40) for our car, a four by four off roader, saloon cars are cheaper. If you aren’t with a guide (not necessary) it’s a good idea to buy a map of the park in the shop at the entrance area, priced Ksh 250 (AED 10)
Apparently the park has 43 lions in it’s 117 square km but they aren’t easy to spot, there are plenty of giraffes, gazelles, zebra and some buffalo. The park doesn’t have many vehicles in it so you can observe the wildlife fairly peacefully, that said there are some people who play loud music in their vehicles even while observing the animals, obviously this creates a disturbance, but the park doesn’t issue any guidelines on etiquette before you go in.
The landscape in the park is quite varied from flat, yellow and green arid savannah grass land to quite dark green, dense, lush foliage all within 20 minutes slow drive. There are even some drives called Forest Glade. Go slowly and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be amazed at what you see.
There are no cafes in the park so you need to take your own packed lunch, there are however a couple of designated picnic sites, we opted for the Impala Point site which had basic toilet facilities, a few shaded picnic tables and benches and a fantastic view of the valley below with herds of buffalo. However the facilities are not well kept and despite there being areas for rubbish, empty bottles and cigarette ends were thrown on the floor near the picnic tables.
If you want to know what it really feels like to go on safari, you could opt to stay a night or two in the first tented camp set up in the park, the Nairobi Tented Camp.
This is the first of a few posts about Nairobi in Kenya, a great different destination to visit from Dubai, especially at this time of year, keep watching for the next posts or subscribe so you don’t miss out, and do tell me whether this post has whetted your appetite for a visit to Kenya, an ideal short break destination from Dubai.
by monica 2 Comments
We’re regular visitors to Kenya from Dubai, it’s only a 4.5 hour flight and there’s just a one hour time difference but it’s a whole world away from Dubai Life!
We recommend you visit Nairobi, the capital of Kenya for a short break. But don’t do those typical touristy things, read our account of how to savour the city like a local.
Karura forest is a protected natural area in Nairboi that has clearly marked walking and biking trails with beautiful, mature trees and woodland terrain. You can choose from 5/10 or 15 km trails. It’s very safe, you meet people walking alone, in groups or with their dogs.
It’s a regular activity for many people who live in Nairobi. There is a little animal life in the forest, the occasional monkey, plenty of birds and sometimes you see baby antelope. But you’re mainly here for some glorious forest bathing, with no sounds of cars or sites of any type of city life.
Lap it up and build up an appetite for a meal or snack at the River Cafe at the Limuru Gate entrance to the forest.
Non residents pay around US $5.00 to get in to the forest. NOTE you can’t take in any plastic water bottles. Scroll down for the Karura Forest official website.
We recommend pizzas at Solo Grano at the Gigiri Courtyard in Gigiri. A vibrant, buzzy but laid back outdoor area with a variety of casual but very good eateries. We also had oysters from Gropper Seafood across the carpark, they come to you with the menu. Super value at $5.00 for 6 Kilifi oysters.
The pizzas are so reasonable too. We hear that a new BBQ place called Chop It has just opened there.
We also liked the tapas and cool terrace vibes of a restaurant called Tapas, on the ground floor of Westgate Mall.
For really casual Indian kebabs and bbq type food try the newly opened Rozina near Runda. Next to On The Way supermarket that has a super bakery at the back!
Rozina is the name of the grandmother of the owner and it’s her original recipes that are still used today. This is the 4th branch of this brand. It does have a full service bar as well, not too great for vegetarians, apart from their egg chappati which is MUST TRY. A sort of masala omlette encased in a crispy, flaky parantha type pastry case.
If you know someone that can sign you in the Muthaiga Country Club in, then go to Pinks and pick anything from the menu, lovely for breakfast or a snack, avoid weekends when it gets busy!
And if you’re in the mood for a snack lunch, or very late breakfast type then we loved the Art Caffe quiches at the Village Market branch. I wouldn’t recommend the side salads though!
First check with your home country that you’re allowed to bring flowers back! Not possible in London I know! But totally fine in Dubai via Emirates at least.
I like the Tambuzi roses best, sometimes available from Art Caffe Market branches. Thank you to my friend Firoza for that recommendation.
We like the Art Caffe Market in Runda. Else just buy your flowers from any roadside stall.
You do need to source a box to transport them in though.
Usually a good florist will sell you one or give you one for free if you buy flowers. Try Village Market or Sarit Centre depending on where you’re staying.
Nairobi National Park is a great way to experience a safari in the city. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the city and then you can spend most of a day there in a vehicle spotting animials.
There’s no guarantee you’ll see lot’s of wildlife but you may get lucky and see lions, buffalo, rhino and more.
Karura Forest official website
If you fancy the Kenyan coast, again, super cool and nothing like our Dubai beaches, then check this post out.
We loved Milan, now over 20 flights a week now from the UAE!
Do also check our Monica’s Travel Tips page for new destinations and routes from Dubai. New routes being added all the time! You may also like the prints for sale at KAPILA GALLERY here.