Off the beaten track
2015 has been a challenging but interesting year for travel and that has been no different in Kenya. World travel trends are changing across all sectors of the travel industry mainly due to the state of the ‘weakening’ global economy. The ability to travel is a privilege afforded to a few of us and the state of the world should not change that. It may mean we have to redefine our tastes, but all that really means is you get to explore new countries OR explore your own country from a whole different perspective.
Kenya has so much to offer, something we as citizens and residents can often forget. It doesn’t always have to be the extreme high-end that always appears unaffordable, or the cheap and cheerful coastal resorts that lack any character. If you’re up for a bit of adventure and new experiences, Kenya is your oyster.
Located on Mt. Kenya, Ragati is 2 hours drive (maximum) from Nairobi on the Nairobi side of Karatina. The roads are good, though busy, but the distance is not far. Ragati is actually one of, the various routes used to climb Mt. Kenya, though since the area has been a conservancy, it offers a lot more.
You can: go fly-fishing in the pristine Ragati River; climb Mt. Kenya; go hiking around the conservancy that is home to Bongo research and various other mountain species (Mountain Elephant…).
Initially, the only option was to camp on Ragati, either in your own tent, or one of their sky tents, suspended in the canopy of the forest. The campsites are well arranged with a mess tent, chairs… so you don’t have to worry about somewhere to keep dry or hang out if it rains or get’s a too chilly. Coupled with their friendly, knowledgeable team of guides and Gilly’s, everything other than your cooking is taken care of. There is a log cabin under construction, which will only enhance Ragati as a destination.
Ragati is great for a weekend getaway. Close to Nairobi and very reasonably priced if you’re up for some adventure.
SIRIKOI on Lewa
Sirikoi is a high-end property located on the world-famous Lewa Conservancy (A World Heritage Site). Though the property is high-end, it has more reasonably priced options for Kenyan citizens/residents, which are a lot better than most ‘high-end’ properties in the market.
Along with the tents, Sirikoi has 2 stunning safari houses. Sirikoi House has been awarded Safari House of the Year on various occasions and Sirikoi Cottage simply a cosier version of the house.
The houses can be taken on self-catering basis, which makes visiting Sirikoi and Lewa very attractive and possible.
Located near a marsh on Lewa Sirikoi is always cool, green and lush and the constant supply of water makes it a magnet for animals. If you don’t feel like a game drive, you might get lucky and see it all from your veranda or from the common areas.
Leave behind any false pretenses you have of ‘high-end’ and visit Sirikoi.
MT. ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Mt. Elgon is one of Kenya’s hidden gems that never appears to be busy, unless you come across the odd school group on a tour. Tourism is not very well developed around the park, however KWS have some rustic bandas and guesthouses that are highly recommended for those open to the idea of self-catering accommodation. The KWS accommodation is well-maintained, clean, easy to book and well equipped with everything you will need for your stay.
Game viewing is challenging but so rewarding when you do have an encounter with a Mountain Elephant in complete tranquility. If you don’t get lucky with the game viewing, there are a host of other adventures to be had on the mountain: hiking around the forest and visiting the infamous Kitum Cave and Makingeni Cave; hiking to one of Mt. Elgon’s peaks; horse riding through the forest; and if you’re just looking to relax The Elephant Bluff offers expansive views out East over Kitale, the Cherengani Hills and if you’re lucky, Mt. Kenya (on a very clear day/morning). If you’re in Western Kenya, make sure you don’t miss the chance to visit the mountain with the biggest base area on our continent.
WATAMU – MEDINA PALMS
The Kenyan Coast has been and is still in need of diversification of the products they offer to tourists. Not many properties have been able to break the mold of the classic all-inclusive resort (that still has it’s place), however, along with a few other properties; Medina Palms is succeeding in doing that and much more. From the style of the architecture to your experience at Medina Palms, there are not many places along the Kenyan coast that rival Medina Palms.
The misconception that visiting such properties is expensive and unaffordable is not always true with Medina. You have various options of accommodation from the apartments and penthouses to the beach villas and houses. If you’re not interested in eating at the restaurant, all accommodation has the option of being self-catered, so you are in control and that feeling of being at a typical coastal resort never crosses your mind.
Along with the beauty of Medina Palms, there is a lot to do in and around Watamu as well as the various watersports and water activities offered by Tribe Watersports at Medina.
ABERDARES – FISHING LODGE
Going up the Aberdares is like visiting an entirely new country, in Kenya. The mountain vegetation is different to the stereotypical savannah that most of the world associates with Kenya and the climate would give you the feeling you’re in the Scottish highlands. The drive from Nairobi is not too far and along with the moorlands, the salient of the Aberdares offers good game viewing where you regularly see Buffalo; Elephant and if you’re lucky a Leopard and Wild Dog.
There are hotels in the Aberdares: The Ark; Treetops… However there are nicer ways to experience the Aberdares. KWS have bandas and fishing lodges, as they call them, that are self-catering accommodation that, like Mt. Elgon, are well maintained, well equipped and complete with fireplaces for those cold nights. During the dry seasons, camping up the Aberdares is a very enjoyable experience and incredibly tranquil.
If you’re will to be adventurous and travel off the beaten track, Kenya has so many hidden gems to visit and explore. Keep exploring, that is what conserves those hidden gems and ensures they remain the gems that they are.
Visit our website http://bunsontravel.com/ for more information about the Places We Love or visit our office at Village Market and enquire.