Something old, something new

TravelCarole Argwings-Kodhek makes her recommendations for visiting Kenya in 2016

From the silky white sands and clear aquamarine waters of the coastline to the soaring majesty of Mount Kenya, stunning landscapes and the unmatched bounty of its fascinating wildlife, Kenya has much to offer. The East African nation is the world’s preferred safari destination and enjoys global renown as the Cradle of Mankind… but there is so much more to discover. Here are some ideas for old favourites as well as something new to do during your visit.

Bird’s Eye View
For sheer self-indulgence, nothing beats a luxurious helicopter ride to appreciate Kenya’s beauty and diversity. As you glide across the sky, the transition from skyscrapers in the garden city of Nairobi to the unending expanse of the Great Rift Valley and the shimmering lakes is truly breathtaking. Corporate Helicopters’ pocket-friendly flight share service starts at US$400 to Naivasha, but they also offer private scenic tours around the country.

Tropic Air has many options, including flying over the peaks of Mount Kenya at dawn followed by a picnic breakfast on the shores of a pristine turquoise lake, or flights through wild and spectacular land-scapes to the southern shores of Lake Turkana – the ‘Cradle of Mankind’.

Corporate Helicopters – Email: heliops@corporatehelicopters.co.ke Tel: (+254) (0)707 777 100/735 777 100
Tropic Air – Email: info@tropicairkenya.com Mobile: (+254) (0)722 207 300/734 333044

Mara Engai
The award-winning and distinctive Mara Engai Wilderness Lodge is perched on the Oloololo (Siria) Escarpment, with unbroken views across the vast savannah. Fine wine and fine dining are defining features of this new property nestled in a leafy forest. The luxury tented accommodation is spacious, with private viewing decks to provide seclusion and intimacy.
Email: info@maraengai.com
Tel: (+254) (0)20 8155281

Lake Victoria, Kisumu
Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers and rediscover Africa’s largest lake, placid Lake Victoria. Nestled on its shores, Le Pearl is an intimate hideaway just minutes away from Kisumu and close to the Impala Sanctuary. Le Pearl is renowned for its fish delicacy – traditionally prepared Tilapia. The boutique hotel offers relaxing day trips by canoe (including drinks and snacks) and spectacular views of the sun setting on the lake.
US$70 per night B&B Email: info.lepearlhotel@gmail.com Mobile: (+254) (0)722 924 475  Lake trip US$100, Taxi Titus Mobile (+254) (0)727 120 166

Stay in a treehouse
The endangered sable antelope roams the Shimba Hills National Reserve, located just over 30km south of Mombasa Island. The reserve is one of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Visit Sheldrick Falls and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary nearby while staying at Shimba Lodge. It’s nestled atop the trees in an indigenous forest and overlooking a lily pond where fish eagles swoop in search of fish.

If you seek luxury in a romantic setting, the Ndovu Bonde Treehouse is hard to beat with its four-poster beds, butler service, private chef and a huge private balcony where you can sleep under the stars or encounter bushbabies.
Shimba Hills/Ndovu Bonde Treehouse Email: info@holidaybazaar.com Tel: (+254) (0)722 354 333/733 616 445

Hemingways Nairobi
Nairobi isn’t all business: snuggle up with a loved one at the iconic, plantation-style Hemingways Nairobi. Here, old world charm (complete with a designated butler) meets contemporary standards of comfort and luxury in spacious rooms with a private balcony overlooking a silhouette of the Ngong Hills. Four-poster beds swathed in diaphanous netting offer blissful seclusion on sun-kissed mornings, while haute cuisine and exotic spa treatments cater to your finer senses.
Email: centralreservations@hemingways-collection.com Tel: (+254) 20 2295 020

Bubble Bath in the Bush
Getting close to nature takes on a whole new meaning while bathing au naturel in the wild under the Kenyan sun! In the Masai Mara National Reserve, Mara Explorer has luxury tents overlooking the river where hippos wallow. A bubble bath following a day of viewing lions, cheetah, elephants and gazelles is a life-affirming indulgence.

Cottages at multi-award winning Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park feature a private deck overlooking the plains, and an outdoor bath that fills like a waterfall from open ducts carved into the rock, from which one can gaze upon the spectacular views.
Mara Explorer: Tel (+254) 20 444 7259 Email: sales@heritagehotels.co.ke
Elsa’s Kopje: Email: info@chelipeacock.co.ke Mobile: (+254) (0)730 127 000

Prehistoric Site, Olorgesailie
You will be awed by the display of magnificent skulls of early man and stunned by the age of this ancient lake basin located just an hour’s drive from Nairobi. Baking hot, primeval Olorgesailie is surrounded by mountains revered by the Maasai as home of their ancestors and world-renowned as the ‘factory of stone tools’ – establishing it as a campsite of early man and providing evidence that humans had a tropical origin. The museum is small, but packed with million-year-old fossils, while the site walk takes you past excavated hand axes, fossilised remains of ancient zebra and giant prehistoric elephant. If you have time, climb the mountain or traverse a boulder-strewn dry riverbed to Baboon Camp a kilometre away, where baboons congregate and chatter in the evening. Take a day trip or spend the night in a simple thatched banda. Take picnic food, or, if you want authenticity, ask the local Maasai to prepare something traditional for you.
Deluxe banda, US$20/camping US$3 per night for non-citizens Email: publicrelations@museums.or.ke Tel: (+254) (0)20 3741424/20 8164134/35/36

Brainy Blu, Nairobi
The latest word in Nairobi conferencing is Radisson. The new hotel in Upper Hill is just ten minutes from Nairobi city centre, and offers a health club, spa and extensive conference space. Radisson Blu’s exclusive meetings concept, ‘Experience Meetings’, is based on three elements: Brain Food – low-fat, low-sugar items developed to aid concentration; The Brain Box – a breakout room designed to elevate efficiency and stimulate creativity, such as special tools like plexi-glass walls, to write on. The third element is free, speedy Wi-Fi.

Coast 101
If time is short, do the south coast in one day: a dhow trip to Wasini Island and the marine park. The trip includes dolphin spotting, snorkelling (equipment provided) and a sumptuous seafood lunch at the restaurant on Wasini Island. After lunch, laze by the pool or visit the ancient village (the fee goes to the Wasini Women’s Group).
Charlie Claw’s, Email: enquiries@wasini.com Mobile: (+254) (0)722 205 155/722 683 860

Must Do in Nairobi
1. Safari Walk & Animal Orphanage – lion, cheetah, hyena and others at the gates of Nairobi National Park.
2. Sheldrick Orphan Project  visit playful orphaned elephants and rhinos before they are returned to the wild.
3. Giraffe Centre get kissed by a long-tongued giraffe!

Must Do in Mombasa
Haller Park  The only wildlife park in Mombasa is a reclaimed quarry turned nature trail featuring hippo, giraffe, crocodile and antelope among other animals. Aim to be there at feeding time!

Whet your appetite
No matter where you live in the world, whet your appetite for a Kenyan safari by logging onto a site developed through Google’s partnership with Save the Elephants. It is the ultimate window into the lives of lions, leopards and other wildlife while learning about the majestic Samburu elephant families.
Live site: http://www.google.com/maps/streetview/#samburu-kenya
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJeD603mqSY

How you can help
Give hope to a baby elephant orphaned by poaching by adopting your own for as little as US$50 per year (www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/fostering.asp)
Make a donation to Save the Elephants. The charity supports over 50 projects aimed at stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking and ending the demand for ivory (http://savetheelephants.org/get-involved/donate/)