Friday, October 16, 2009
Soon after my graduation, my mother decided to take me to visit the place where she grew up. It is right at edge of the border of Kenya and Uganda about 8 kilometres from Busia town.
What I'm talking about is actually my mother's homestead that spans to about 100 acres of land. It has a lot of vegetation and indigenous trees which provide the aesthetic value that our environment is in dire need of.
You might be thinking that you are going back in time right? Well,true and false. True to the extent that you get to enjoy a scenic view that which I guarantee you have never seen. And this is because the ecosystem is intact. It has not been tampered with,meaning you get to see lifeforms that you would ordinarily not see in your day-to-day activities. You are woken up by songs from birds which thrive in the environment created thus.
On the other hand, there are six self-contained,fully furnished cottages for your accomodation. There is a catering unit that sees to it you have the best African meals that include roast chicken, roast goat, fresh farm milk, fish and basically everything else you could crave for. My grandmother(and great grandmother) see to it that you are taken good care of so that should you want to visit anywhere in Kenya,you have an easy decision to make.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This past weekend I went to my home town of Kogelo in Siaya a district in Nyanza province of Kenya and I could not believe my eyes. Our little sleepy village has been turned into a tourist site! For those not in the know, the US President Mr. Barack Obama has roots in Kenya, Kogelo village specifically. I’m sure there are a billion blogs dedicated to this great man so I will move along swiftly and talk about my village instead.
Kogelo is like my ancestral land since my father and his father and his father’s father all come from there. We are from the Luo community, a Nilotic community that is said to have migrated from southern Sudan many centuries ago. I digress we were talking about Kogelo village. So since my father comes from that village it makes it my homeland. For as long as I can remember we have been going to Kogelo to visit grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and numerous other relatives. Life in the village is awesome, fresh milk straight from the cows, lunch is chicken chased down and prepared in minutes and supper is fish straight from Lake Victoria. Life is easy, the air fresh and the people friendly.
Some of the fond memories I have are of going to the river with cousins to fetch water. They would balance the pots of water on their heads, a task I could never muster being from the city. I also remember sitting down by the fire while my grandmother told us interesting folk tales.
I’m glad tourists are flocking our village to experience the amazing culture, the people, the food and the history. The main tourist attraction is Mama Sarah Obama’s homestead, here the visitors have a chance to have a talk with the US president’s grandmother and get a glimpse at Obama’s roots. For those interested in being more than a tourist and experiencing more of the Luo culture, Siaya town is about 45 minutes away where you can walk to the market and buy some African artifacts or enjoy local delicacies such as osuga, ojuri, aliyah... Maybe one day I’ll tell you more about these :)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Lake Nakuru is an alkaline lake located along the Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru was first gazetted as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and upgraded to National Park status in 1968. The national park is known as a bird sanctuary for the vast birdlife that resides there with over 400 species available on the lake and in the surrounding park. The most common birds have to be the flamingoes.
There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip. Lake Nakuru is an ornithologists' paradise offering the spectacular view of up to 2 million flamingos at one time during season. Usually, the lake recedes during the dry season and floods during the wet season.
Flamingoes are not the only avian attraction, also present are two large fish eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. Thousands of both little grebes and white winged black terns are frequently seen as are stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter the migrant waders. The park hosts several picnic areas and some hides have been erected nearby the lake for bird observation.
Lake Nakuru National Park, apart from being a bird paradise, is also a black rhino sanctuary. The park is home for a large number of mammals such as zebras, giraffes and carnivores such as lions and leopards.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My father comes from the Western part of Kenya, my mother from Eastern Uganda and I was born and raised in Central Kenya. It's not that confusing just means I have many places to call home and go to when city life gets too much. There is a saying that only a fool forgets where he came from and I do not intend to forget my heritage.
Of all these places my favourite and the place I identify with most is Central Kenya. That's why whenever I get the chance, I go back to visit. My latest visit was in Nyeri, a very pleasant town that's about 2 and a half hour drive from Nairobi.
Don't be fooled to think that the drive is somewhat drab; it is the opposite infact, with scenic landscapes just begging for a kodak moment and I believe if you are not focused you will find yourself making unplanned-for stops to take photos of the countryside.
While in Nyeri I stayed at the brilliant Outspan Hotel with its veiws of Mt. Kenya and the Chania River flowing nearby. It is near the Karua Falls in the Aberdares. Outspan is also known for having accomodated famous visitors such as Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell and his wife Olave Baden-Powell from 1938 until Baden-Powell's death in 1941.
From the Outspan one can book a night at the Treetops lodge which is nearby to view wildlife from close proximity. If camping is your drink of choice there are various campsites in Nyeri specifically the Aberedares where one can camp and bond with nature.
Monday, August 31, 2009
I have been to Kakamega Forest. Probably one of the most unique places I have visited in recent years. No kidding. You might be wondering,"um forest,trees?". Well Kakamega Forest has more to offer than just "um trees". It is under strict management and conservation by the Kenya National Forest Reserve as the only mid altitude tropical rainforest in Kenya. Being a walk through park,we went on self guided nature trail with my father who raked his brain as hard as possible to wow us with made up names for each and every single tree and beautiful vegetation that surrounded us. I have to hand to him,he did a pretty good job. The names were too hard to commit to memory though. At least I remember river Isiukhu,one of the two rivers that flows through the forest.
Did I mention there is a campsite and cottages just in case you decide to spend sometime in a forest.:) If you ever get the urge to get in touch with nature, well, Kakamega Forest is your ideal place to visit.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Treetops is tree house lodge in Aberdare National Park in Kenya where you can watch wild animals in their natural surroundings without going for a game drive. The lodge overlooks two waterholes which attract a great variety of animals. There are viewing decks on ground level and on the rooftop where one can observe animals in safety and take close up pictures of the animals as they come to the watering hole. This tree house is best known for its connection to Queen Elizabeth II who ascended to the crown after her father died while she was on vacation at the lodge.
I remember my visit to the lodge a few years back. The rooms were nice and cozy, the food great and the animals so close I felt I could reach out and touch them. They do not allow loud noises as this can frighten the animals and this paused a challenge to my friends and I as we were having so much fun watching the animals and would scream every time we heard a lion growl in the distance. The lodge has 50 rooms designed like cabins in a ship and at the lounge there are trees growing through the building.
One can only stay at the lodge a night so only overnight baggage is allowed. The lodge is part of the outspan hotel in Nyeri where you have to book before gaining admittance into the treetop lodge. I loved my stay at treetops, the view is amazing and on clear days you can even see the snowy peaks of Mount Kenya.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Our friend has a visitor who’s on some exchange program from China staying at her house and she asked me for fun activities to do before she goes back. She’s done the usual wildlife safari, weekend at the beach and now she’s looking for some adventure. I had the perfect place in mind. Bungewalla.
Bungewalla is a site on the banks of Tana River which is near Nyeri town about 95kms from Nairobi that offers camping, white water rafting and last but definitely not least bungee jumping. Now what can be more adventurous than jumping off a tall structure while connected to an elastic cord? It is the only bungee jumping site in Kenya and I recommend it every time to all adventure seekers. Adrenaline enthusiasts can get a fix jumping off the 60 meter high steel tower into the river below. As if that’s not quite enough you can go white water rafting afterwards.
I don’t just recommend places I know nothing about. I’ve actually bungee jumped and all I can say is it was an experience to remember. It is totally safe and the guy who runs it is really friendly and helpful – he’ll push you off if you chicken out :) no really he is nice. Bungewalla rigorously conforms to standards and guidelines governing jumps therefore it is totally safe. There are ankle attachments and body harnesses as backup so there’s nothing to worry about.
I hope she does take my advice and go bungee jumping. There is something for everyone in Kenya from relaxing seaside holidays to adrenaline pumping safaris.