Category Archives: Msafiri Guide

#BudgetTravel: 7 Ways To Save Money While Traveling In Kenya

Peak season is fast approaching. If you haven’t booked yet, Dennis Carruthers is happy to let you in on tips to help you navigate this beautiful country without breaking the bank.

#1. Don’t travel at peak season if you can avoid it.

So we know the mention of peak season would suggest that you get right on it and book your travel before you are left out of the action but to be honest, the best time to save money on travel to Kenya is off-season on the tourist calendar. The country has tropical climate throughout the year, so anytime goes. Unfortunately, this might also mean missing some engaging experiences. The peak season falls in mid June through October (The best time for safaris and the famous wildebeest migration takes place in July) and mid December to February.

#2. Travel with a group

Individual costs are higher when you travel solo. You will still pay the same for things such as taxi fares and guides. A shared tour also offers the advantage of shared costs. Service providers such as safari operators will still charge you for a dedicated guide and vehicle when you travel alone. You can save on the accommodation budget as well as meals when shared. Additionally, group tours carry more bargaining power even on the ground.

#3. Look for tour packages and special offers

Tour operators frequently run discounted campaigns and specially organized tour packages. Take advantage of these, as they are cheaper than standard rates. Expect minor sharing challenges. For example, a tour operator may decide to pack eight passengers in a van, the standard tour vehicle, instead of the usual six. This lowers the cost as you pay per seat and not for the whole car alone.

#4. Evaluate your accommodation options

zurukenya budget travel

Kenya offers excellent urban hotels such as the Intercontinental Hotel and the Nairobi Hilton alongside two and three-star establishments with elegant facilities and service. Additionally, there are numerous luxury camps and lodges, but since we are in the business of cost saving, why not book yourself a chic budget boutique hotel or better yet stay at a rental, shop at the farmer’s market, live like a local and save on your meal tab. Kenyans are also very hospitable people and if you are lucky, you might just land yourself a host for your stay – try couchsurfing. Feel free to also compare your dining options away from your accommodation.

#5. Plan your itinerary in advance

Which sights excite you the most? How do you want to get there and for how long? A layover of a few hours is different from a week’s safari. Some destinations require travel outside of the major cities e.g. Lamu, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, and so on; Batch together destinations within the same locality to maximize time and save on cost.

#6. Research pricing and costs in advance

Knowing the average price of key services will increase your confidence. In Kenya, you can bargain the prices on any product or service unless the provider firmly insists it is fixed, which is rare. Brush up on your bargaining and negotiating skills. For example, a day’s meals should cost you around a $10 or lower if you try local meals and double that for a day’s alcoholic drinks.

#7. Do as locals do

zuru kenya budget travel
Image credit: Modern

Hotel vans and tour operator services can get expensive. Although there is no government-run public transport system, locals use numerous alternatives. These include urban public transport vans, cross-country buses, and a revamped passenger rail service.

Things to note: The local currency is the Kenya shilling. One US dollar is roughly a hundred Kenya shillings.


About the author

D Scott Carruthers, a graduate of Western State University loves photography, exploratory travel and blogging about his adventures and journeys.

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7 Wildlife Photography Tips to know for Your Next Safari

There’s only one thing better than an actual wildlife safari adventure, and that’s going through all your photographs on your return. Shooting photographs of wild animals is an art form and it can be extremely gratifying when you get extreme close ups of the big five or an action shot of a kill. Not only is it cool to boast to your friends about what you’ve seen, but you’ll have all these amazing memories of your trip to look back on forever.

zuru kenya photography tips

Any African safari produces the perfect opportunity for memorable photo taking. Here are some photography tips for your next safari.

#1. Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

Having the right photographic gear while you’re on your safari is essential. You’ll want to capture a number of different shots, which will require a variety of lenses. You’ll also want to ensure that everything is easily accessible. If you don’t have a proper camera bag that fits your camera and gear, it would be a wise investment. Then you only need to remember to take one bag on the game vehicle with you and everything will be within reach. In your camera bag you’ll want to pack:

  •       Camera body
  •       Lenses with lens covers or caps
  •       Battery packs
  •       Memory cards
  •       Battery charger
  •       Cables for instant transfer to your tablet or laptop
  •       Camera cleaning equipment

#2. Zoom Lens Is A Must-Have

Make sure you have a great zoom lens on hand in order to capture shots that are further away from the vehicle than a standard lens can capture. You don’t want pixelated photos, but want to be able to enjoy every detail down to a lion’s whiskers. Anything from a 200mm to a 500mm is your most popular choice and is still manageable and easy to carry around.

Image credit: Dave Dugdale

#3. Pack Extra Batteries And Memory Cards

What could be worse than spotting an incredible sighting such as a leopard in a tree or a mother hyena feeding her young… and you realise that your memory card is full? Frantically trying to delete photos from your memory card could result in you deleting something worth keeping. A dead battery is the absolute worst and it’s totally avoidable. Ensure you have a spare, charged battery and memory card in your camera bag to avoid any missed shots.

#4. Use Your Guide’s Knowledge To Your Advantage

Your safari guide or ranger will have expert, intimate knowledge of the bush and will – in most cases – be able to tell when you’re about to encounter an animal. They can track animals from kilometers away and also hear or see them long before you do. Alert them to the fact that you’re seeking that elusive photograph and they can give you a heads up when the opportunity is approaching. They can also position the game vehicle favorably for your photographic benefit.

#5. Be Camera Ready At All Times

Make sure that the shutter speed and aperture are both ready and set for you to take photographs at will. Then when the moment arises, you simply need to perfect your composition, focus and snap the shot. If you’re not comfortable working with a manual setup then you can always set your camera to automatic and simply point and snap as and when you see the perfect moment.

#6. Avoid The Flash At Night

It sounds counter intuitive, but the flash can blind the animals temporarily, which can be really dangerous for prey and tame game. It also makes the animals eyes come out red or white in the photograph, which isn’t very appealing.

#7. Practice Before The Drive

Take a few practice shots before the drive at different angles and with the light coming from different directions. Make sure you’re happy with your setup and that you’re aware of how the direction of light and angle of the shot will affect your end product. The sun behind you will always produce the best shots, but isn’t always possible. Take full advantage when conditions are perfect and take as many photos as you can.

Of course you can always edit your photographs afterwards, but the best shots are those that require minimal tweaking.

Good luck!


Guest Post courtesy of  TourRadar, an online marketplace for travelers to compare and book multi-day tours.

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6 must-try indoorsy attractions in Nairobi

Nairobi is probably the most popular destination in Kenya, and with good reason. The city known as a place of cool waters is famous largely for blending the country’s largest urban area with the nature that brings so many tourists to this part of the world. As such, it’s known largely for outdoor attractions: the national park, the Uhuru Gardens, the giraffe center and elephant orphanage, and even some of the authentic markets. These are the main draws to the city.

If you happen to visit Nairobi, however, there’s always the chance that the weather will keep you indoors, or that you’ll simply be interested in breaking up your trip with a day away from nature exploration. In such a case it helps to know about the indoor attractions that are available, even in a city known largely for nature.

Banana Hill Art Gallery

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaBecause there are so many natural wonders to enjoy in Kenya and the surrounding countries, some might be surprised to learn that this country is actually particularly well known for its numerous art galleries. The Banana Hill Art Gallery in Nairobi showcases the work of over 70 artists and sculptors largely from Kenya and the East African region. Having been opened some 11 years ago, the art gallery makes for an excellent exhibition of contemporary African art. Paintings and sculptures alike show off some of the best tendencies of artists from this part of the world, and make the gallery a perfect place to explore on a rainy day (or otherwise!).

Panari Sky Center Ice Skating

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaYou don’t exactly think about ice rinks when you imagine a vacation to Kenya. Nevertheless, ice skating is very much an option, and can be a great change of pace from exploring the city and the surrounding country. Particularly if the weather is just getting a little too hot for you, you might want to duck in for a few hours of skating.

Finix Casino

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This is a casino just outside the main part of town that has it all: table games, slots, jackpots, roulette, etc. The slots in particular will be recognizable even if you’re not much of a casino person. This is because we’ve seen a lot of these slot games make a successful transition to smart devices, and therefore into mainstream gaming culture. At Finix, you’ll find some of these newest and most popular games, in addition to a generally festive atmosphere that’s always a nice break from the city. You don’t have to put much money down to enjoy the environment (and perhaps a few cocktails as well).

Nairobi National Museum

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaAs stated, the area is known for a lot of art galleries. But the Nairobi National Museum is less of a painting exhibition or a demonstration of contemporary art, and more of a tribute to Kenya’s history. There are outdoor attractions (a hiking trail and botanical gardens) for nicer days, but if you’re looking to duck inside for a few hours there’s a lot of fascinating art and history to be enjoyed. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and explanations of numerous pieces significant to Nairobi and Kenya as a whole.

Le Palanka

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaThis is a restaurant in town, but a very unique one that international travelers in particular will enjoy. That’s because the menu is very authentic, offering African ingredients and preparations done to perfection. A lot of guests rave about the environment, which makes for an experience that is fun and intimate. It’s a terrific place for a bite to eat, and for a prolonged meal if you’re escaping the weather for a little bit or for any other reason.

Brew Bistro

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaKenya actually has about as strong a reputation for beer as any place in Africa. Thanks to the famous Tusker Lager, one of just a few African beers that are well known outside of their home territories. It’s not uncommon to see pictures of tourists enjoying this beer, or even to run into people wearing Tusker shirts, having traveled to Kenya at one point or another. As a result of the much savored kenyan brew, the brewing scene in the country has garnered great recognition which has seen smaller more custom breweries crop up. All the more reason beer lovers will enjoy Brew Bistro;  a place where one can enjoy a larger range of Kenyan beers in a clean, modern, miniature brewery. It’s a very fun option day and night, and a nice way to enjoy yourself indoors.

——–

Tyler Martin

|Freelance writer and world traveler|

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What the tuk-tuk?: Mombasa’s Love – hate relationship with the little three-wheeled hardy vehicle

There are lots of things to expect once you land in Mombasa. Cultural diversity, a city rich in history, scenic beaches, a myriad of touristic destinations, warm people…

And then, there is the tuk-tuk.

There’s no missing the tuk-tuk.

tuk tuk zuru kenya
Source: thirdlocal.com

Swiftly maneuvering the old city’s narrow cobbled and congested streets, the little sputtering three-wheeled motorized vehicle has undoubtedly become very symbolic of Mombasa. They are everywhere! A multitude of them!

Preferred for their compact size and swift maneuverability, tuk-tuks make wheezing around Mombasa such a breeze. Their ability to negotiate tight corners and park almost anywhere is perhaps one of the reasons that locals favor them as a short-distance mode of transport which allows for convenient door-to-door service. Tourists would especially enjoy the tuk-tuk experience with their small canopy and windowless body providing for full view of the scenic sites while enjoying a breezy ride through the city at a much lower cost.

 tuk-tuk zuru kenya
Source: thirdlocal.com

This little three-wheeler with a capacity for three passengers (but just like a taxi, mostly boards one passenger at a time) has a little space at the back allocated for luggage and in case of bad weather, there’s a drop-down side flap that covers the windowless frame. You will also come to notice that tuk-tuks in Mombasa have a personality of their own, no two are the same. Well of course there are those drivers who prefer to stick with the tuk-tuks original outlook whereas others tend to get a bit more creative with their autos; tricking them out with bumpin’ speakers, flashing neon, graffiti amongst other forms of ‘bling’.

tuk-tuk zuru kenya
Source: travelstart.co.ke
tuk tuk zuru kenya
source: Graphic World

With the much expediency that tuk-tuks offer, why would anyone have a problem with them?

Here’s why,

The tuk-tuk invasion if you like, has primarily been a thorn in the side of the county government for a while now with several attempts to steer them clear of some parts of the central business district having been futile. Not only are they noisy but they are also believed to be a major contributor to the congestion of the city’s main streets. Getting rid of them has however not been an easy feat. This is especially so when a large number of passengers utilize them to traverse from one point to another within the CBD itself.

tuk-tuk zuru kenya
source: Daily Nation

Did I mention Noisy? Many residents tend to fume about the noise pollution and rightly so! The puttering noise that these hardy vehicles make is simply unbearable! Especially if you have to listen to it every second of every day bearing in mind that Mombasa city is not only a business area but also a residential area that houses a large number of locals. Sound proofing makes for a good investment if one resides within the city.

In case you are yet to embark on your own tuk-tuk experience within Mombasa city, we’ve listed some tips below to help smooth along your first encounter.

tuk tuk zuru kenya
Source: monitor.co.ke

Things to note:

  1. Don’t just board and pay at your drop-off point.  

Have you ever boarded a tuk-tuk only to be asked to pay an outrageous amount upon alighting?

Unless you are aware of the tuk tuk fare, do not attempt the “board and pay later” tactic. As you will learn fast, locals have a way of sniffing non-locals so to be safe, always settle on the fare before you climb aboard, otherwise you will find yourself having to shell out a hefty charge at your destination. Please note that some drivers will tend to note give out the rate firsthand after you ask, responding with “just get in” instead.  Be persistent and ask again until they respond with a satisfactory rate.

  1.  Familiarize yourself with route fares.

Find out the local rates before hailing a tuk-tuk. It shouldn’t be so difficult to realize the appropriate price by asking the locals – of course some of them will give you rates above the norm but mostly you should be able to get the correct price point. Be careful not to ask the driver the distance or duration of the destination, if they see that you are new to the area they will definitely lie and overcharge you for a distance that you may not have needed to get a tuk-tuk in the first place to get there. It’s also good to note that the locals of Mombasa are majorly friendly and readily willing to assist (unless of course for some elements whom I can neither confirm nor deny to be native locals), so plenty of times responses given should be pretty legit.

  1. Its ok to negotiate!

Familiarizing yourself with the price-points gives you a good advantage at bargaining where you can easily talk the drivers down to a certain level that is satisfactory to both of you. It’s also okay to walk away if you feel the fare is super high. There are plenty of tuk-tuks lined up so if one driver doesn’t budge another one will.

  1. Where to hail a tuk-tuk? 

Certainly, not in front of a fancy restaurant or resort I can tell you that much. Some tuk-tuk drivers have a habit of sizing people up and if they pick you up at a somewhat upscale location then that is some extra change for them. If you intend on using a tuk-tuk and are staying at a hotel, do not let the driver pick you up from the hotel’s entrance instead walk to the main road which shouldn’t be very far away. This will give you a better chance of striking a good bargain.

  1. The destination

There’s one thing in Mombasa that highly differs from Nairobi and probably other cities and towns, locals familiarize themselves with places and not street addresses. Do not expect an accurate response when you ask for Moi Avenue, Haille selassie, Nkurumah road, Nyerere Avenue or even Tom Mboya Street only a people few can pin-point that out for you if you are lucky. Instead ask for Ambalal, Posta, Nawal centre, Fort Jesus, Ferry and so on…

It is therefore more convenient to tell the tuk-tuk driver the name of the place you are going to instead of the address. The drivers have familiarized themselves with most of the hotels, touristic attractions, market places, office buildings and so on. If you give them the address, you will definitely get lost. That’s a  guarantee!

  1. Enjoy your ride!

Once you’ve gained the confidence and are now familiar with the tuk-tuk ways, just hop on, tell the driver where you want to go, give the fare and hop off. It’s that simple. We do not however promise you of a smooth ride all the time; some streets tend to be bumpy, sometimes with potholes and never ending stream of pedestrians. Just hold on tight when the tuk-tuk bounces from one lane to another as some drivers tend to be oblivious of the fact that they have passengers on board.

#Stargazers: Chasing the African Night Sky

City life tends to get us engulfed in so much that we forget to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life. One such little thing is simply looking up at the African night sky, undoubtedly one of the best things you could ever take time to do.

The city robs us of this experience, what with huge skyscrapers, light pollution among other distractions. To be honest most of us only get to appreciate the existence of the moon let alone the stars when power goes out no?!

If you are yet to marvel at the beautiful African night sky, your best bet is to travel to the remote country areas. Something the  astrophotographers below got to appreciate. We are just glad they got to bring back souvenirs from their Kenyan stargazing adventures courtesy of their night captures.

Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Turkana – ©2008 Jon Warren/World Vision
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Amboseli night sky – Nick Saglibeni
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Amboseli National Park, southern Kenya ©Tunc Tezel
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
African night sky – @deadmau5
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Babak Tafreshi/National Geographic Society
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
The Mara night sky – Mark Gee
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Milky Way over Mount Kilimanjaro – Dale Johnson
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Kenya Stargazing – image via flickr user Weldon Kennedy

Did you Know? Northern White Rhinos in the Brink of Extinction

Are you aware that there are only three Northern White Rhinos left in the world?

yes! one, two, three! They all reside in a natural habitat in Kenya.

The three;  one male, Sudan and two females, Najin and Fatu, live under 24-hour armed protection at  the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. In addition to round-the-clock security, the conservancy has also put radio transmitters on the animals and dispatches incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather intelligence on poaching.

Keeper Mohamed Doyo leans over to pat female northern white rhino Najin in her pen where she is being kept for observation.— AP
Source: dawn.com, Keeper Mohamed Doyo leans over to pat female northern white rhino Najin in her pen where she is being kept for observation.— AP

Round the clock surveillance is vital for these animals as conservationists are running against time to ensure that this subspecies does not go extinct.  Seeing as Sudan is quite old, beside the fact that he is Najin and Fatu’s father and grandfather, respectively, his sperm, even if it was viable, risks the problems associated with inbreeding. Experts are now looking into alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) to try ensure that come the next decade Northern White Rhinos still roam this earth.

This is the sad reality for the subspecies who’ve been driven to near extinction by money hungry poachers. The poaching is fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments and the trade is believed to be very lucrative.

ANGA AFRIKA: BRINGING THE BACK OF BEYOND TO NAIROBI

Whenever one is picking out camps and lodges for their next safari in Kenya, Nairobi as a destination barely comes to mind. Never mind the fact that Nairobi is the only city in the world to host a national park, many travelers hitherto only view the city safari  experience merely as a transit option to the real bush experience.

What if we told you though that the much sought out Hemingway bush and tent experience is right here at your doorstep? That you don’t have to go the extra mile, leave Nairobi, that what stands between you and your much desired safari is a mere 20 minutes or so?

Because many safari lovers only use Nairobi as transit, not much effort has been put into establishing accommodations that offer these enthusiasts a full safari experience right within the city. One family is however trying to re-write this script.  Launched early this year, Anga Afrika, a family owned and run establishment, seeks to ensure that you don’t have to leave for upcountry into the back of beyond in order to experience life under the sun and the stars, to experience the story of Africa in the wild that is much told.

Sidney Trompell, one of the owners of Anga Afrika introduces us to the whole idea behind the establishment and fills us in on why it would be such a shame if you missed out on the experience offered.

  1. How long have you been open and what was the inspiration behind owning Anga Afrika?

We opened in the beginning of the year, although it was already years in the planning. The special thing about Anga Afrika is that every little detail was very thought through. We took our time.

My family and I always liked Karen because we are generally people who prefer peace and nature over the noisy turmoil that is often Nairobi. After we had finished building our home we wanted to share our little ‘island’ with people who share our mindset and philosophy. That is how Anga Afrika came to be. We feel that luxurious tented camps embody the Kenyan holiday experience the best and we wanted to provide our guests with the most authentic “out of Africa” experience.

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  1. Why the name Anga Afrika and what should people expect when they get here?

Our place in Karen is 1850 m above sea level; therefore relatively close to the stars, hence the name Anga Afrika. Also, since our tented suites are made up of canvas, which really gives our guests the feeling that they are truly sleeping under African skies. The view of the stars on a clear night is breathtaking.

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  1. The sort of experience you offer is rarely found in Nairobi, why set up away from major safari destinations, why Nairobi? What is unique about Anga Afrika’s location?

The special thing about our location is that it feels like you’re 100’s of miles away from Nairobi, but really you can be in the city centre within 20 minutes. It’s ideal for people who want to be immersed in nature as well as for Kenya first timers who want to experience Kenya in the most authentic way before embarking on major safaris to Masai Mara, Amboseli etc. Also, since our home is literally next door we try to connect with our customers on a personal level, build relationships and make sure that if they need anything that there’s always someone they can talk to. We also enjoy meeting new people from all around the world and exchange experiences and stories with them.

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  1. What authentic local experiences will guests have access to here and what types of guests do you expect to attract?

First off, the experience of living in a tented camp as opposed to a hotel. This is a huge deal. I remember the first time I went glamping in the Masai Mara with the family and it was an unforgettable experience. Therefore we think that this type of accommodation will be very memorable for a lot of people. We also organize tours for our guests to local attractions such as the Giraffe Centre, Nairobi National Park, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Karen Blixen Museum.

To maintain a certain standard of exclusivity, we hope to attract people who have a strong appreciation of nature, peace, and the love for Kenya. Profit maximization isn’t our first priority, but maintaining a certain standard, living by our values and providing the best possible African experience is. We truly enjoy what we do here!

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  1. If you could describe your property or the glamping experience you offer in three words, what would they be?

Modern. Authentic. Africa.

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  1. What makes Anga Afrika a destination in itself?

Definitely the altitude…The cool temperatures in the morning, the fresh air, jogging in the morning fog, enjoying a cosy campfire in the evening…it literally gives you the feeling that you’re living in the African mountains such as Mount Kenya or Aberdares.

Anga Afrika zurukenya

anga-single-room-5

  1. A stand out meal in your restaurant, what would you recommend?

We have a lot of outstanding dishes at our restaurant, but George, our chef makes sweet potato bread that is to die for. A lot of our guests go home with the recipe because it is simply that good!

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  1. Any other experiences you can recommend in the area for a combined trip when staying at Anga Afrika?

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a must. Seeing orphaned elephants taken care for and interacting with them gives you such a fulfilling experience. You can even adopt one if you are committed to support it for a long amount of time. Otherwise Karen Blixen Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Karen and how it came into existence, Giraffe Centre, where you can ‘kiss’ Giraffes on the mouth. Literally. There’s quite a lot you can do in our area and we are always more than happy to provide our guests with help and guidance to make this experience as memorable as possible.

Location: Karen Area

Establishment Type: Luxury Tented Camp

Contact for Bookings: http://www.angaafrika.com/

Attractions around: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Centre, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi Animal Orphanage.

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Let’s go Glamping!

Camping, this is one of those travel experiences with no in-betweens; you either simply love it or hate it.

If in incase you lean towards the latter because of the back-to-basics nature of camping, a new trend has emerged that might just be the reason you come around at least before ruling it out completely.

Glamping” or rather, glamorous camping resorts are sprouting up rapidly, with the makeup of extremely spacious luxury tents that come with a personal chef and butler to boot! Nothing basic about that!

Travelers keen to get off the beaten path are best suited for this new form of travel and Kenya has not been left behind in terms of serving you with some of the finest glamping destinations.

Kenya gives you a glamping experience with no barriers; wide, scenic views of the plains and colorful sunsets from your deck with a couple of wildlife looking to make a friend or two popping up at your doorstep to say hello. Here you are immersed in nature with high-end comfort.

Your accommodation tents are a far cry from the poles in the ground you might be picturing; they feature hardwood floors, private bathrooms, and four poster beds, in room Wi-Fi in camps situated in massive acres.

Say goodbye to pitching tents, unrolling sleeping bags, and building fire. There’s nothing like the allure of a luxury experience in the wild taking you back to Ernest Hemingway days.

So, if you really didn’t like your last back-to-basics camping experience, it might just be time for an upgrade. You might consider these destinations for instance;

Ashnil Samburu

zuru kenya glamping

Ashnil Samburu Camp sits in Buffalo Springs Game Reserve which takes its name from an oasis of crystal clear water at the western end of the reserve. It is separated from Samburu National Reserve by Ewaso Nyiro River and is less hilly and dense yet equally very attractive.

Sanctuary Olonana

zuru kenya glamping

This award-winning tented camp in the Masai Mara, is one of the best places in the world to see the annual wildebeest migration. This natural spectacle happens on the camp’s doorstep and you may catch glimpses of it from the private verandah of your tent!

Sasaab Lodge

zuru kenya glamping

Sasaab is a stunning blend of Moroccan and Swahili style, located in the heart of the African bush. Each individual cottage is designed to offer majestic views of the landscape and offer a cooling retreat from the African heat.

Mahali Mzuri

zuru kenya glamping

In Swahili, Mahali Mzuri means “beautiful place”, just one glance and you know it indeed is a beautiful place. It is also right in the path of the annual great migration. The stylish and luxurious tent suites are made to blend in with its surroundings and designed by borrowing elements of regions traditional architecture.

Lewa Safari Camp

zuru kenya glamping

This tented camp in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, overlooks Mount Kenya and the reserve. The conservancy is a terrific place to view the endangered black rhino as it is home to about 10% of Kenya’s rhino population. The game viewing in Lewa is excellent.

Jambo Mutara Camp

zuru kenya glamping

This elegant safari camp is located just west of Mount Kenya, North of Aberdares Forest. The camp is the only accommodation found in the Mutara Conservancy and it offers the best of safari accommodation in a luxury style.

Mara Bushtops Luxury Tented Camp

zuru kenya glamping

Set amid the 60,000 hectares of the Mara Siana Wildlife Conservancy, directly bordering the Masai Mara itself, Mara Bushtops boasts a sensational location. Set in its own private conservancy, the camp has been designed to blend in with the natural habitat to ensure minimal impact of the environment. No expense has been spared on the fittings provided in the 12 spacious and fabulously appointed luxury tents, open on three sides to the great outdoors and each with its own special view. Featuring beautiful interiors solely designed for ultimate comfort and convenience, the camp’s private accommodation has everything you need for a luxurious stay.

Sand River Maasai Mara

zuru kenya glamping

This classy tented camp perched on the banks of the Sand river in the Mara is a winner. Located in a quieter area of the Mara the camp has outstanding resident wildlife and is brilliantly located for the migration before it re-enters the Serengeti. The layout of the camp lends a sense of privacy & the decor is relaxed yet luxurious.

‘Shetani’ Lava Flow

‘Shetani ’ means ‘devil’ in Kiswahili: The Lava flows are said to have been formed about 500 years ago. When the locals first saw ‘fire’ erupting and ‘flowing’ on the ground they believed that it was the devil himself emerging from the earth – hence the name “Shetani” Lava Flow.

Want to envisage how the world was like when it was “formless, dark, and void” before God said “let there be light” (Genesis 1:1-3)?? ‘Shetani’ Lava Flow in Tsavo West is the place to visit. God’s wonders are all around us take sometime to appreciate them.

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“Formless Earth” with Chyulu Hills – the youngest volcanic range of hills in the World. Estimated to have been formed about 500 years ago
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Shetani Lava against the background of the scenic Chyulu Hills
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Klipspringer – an inhabitant of the Shetani Lava’s rocky terrain
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Chaimu Crater
Wish you all a Great Weekend.
Location: Tsavo West

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LITTLE TRAVELERS CHAPEL ON THE HILL

Just as it is with any historical site that has stood the test of time, the four walls of the “Travelers’ Chapel” are shrouded in a lot of mystery and myth. Word goes round of a ticking clock that can be heard but is never seen. It has even been said that those who erected the structure hid their jewels and wills in the church concrete columns setting enthusiasts on a hunt for the ‘hidden treasure’. Perhaps it is these great tales – amongst others, that make this landmark of sorts intriguing. Or maybe the fascination is purely based on its miniature build.

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Listed as the smallest church in Kenya (and possibly Africa), the “Travelers’ Chapel” which is commonly referred to by its alias ‘Msikiti – mosque’ by the locals sits pretty along the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha highway. Its story dates back to the Second World War where we are told that British and imperial forces captured more than half a million Italian soldiers, sailors and airmen. Whilst having these prisoners of war (POWs) around as a symbol of military success was all good, The British soon realized that in as much as their ‘symbols of victory’ brought high standing for their ranking in the war, they also posed a few complications as they came with needs as well; one of them being having a place to worship. Seeing that the Italians were Catholics and the British Anglicans, the two parties could not worship together and so they were allocated land to build their own place of prayer.

Under the strict supervision of British colonialists, the construction of The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church popularly referred to as the “Travelers’ Chapel” came to be in 1942. The Italian Prisoners Of War (POWs) would take turns to erect the structure during breaks from the construction of the road. The building of the church was however not without any setbacks. For instance, a number of Italians succumbed to diseases and attacks from wild animals, which included poisonous snakes that allegedly live in the area to date. Several graves lie outside the church compound where the deceased were laid to rest. Thanks to well wishers, a mausoleum has since been erected in form of a cemented cross in honor of the fallen Italians.

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The Design

The pentagon-shaped church interior has four small wooden pews and an altar with a pulpit. Measuring 15 by 8 feet, it has a capacity to sit 12 people during mass. Just like its bigger counterparts, the church has three normal doors for access.

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Source: mywalkabout.net

The inside walls are decorated with inscriptions in Latin. Above the stained glass windows and the entrance doors are painted the words, Venite Ad Memone (Come to me my people), Haec Est Victoria Quae Vincit Mundum Fides Mustra (This is the victory that has won the world by our faith), Benedicite Coeli Domino Benedicite (Blessed be the sky and blessed again) and finally Universa Germinatia In Terra Domino, which translates to, everything will germinate in the sky and also on the earth.

travelers chapel zuru kenya
Source: mywalkabout.net

Behind the altar is an old mural of the nativity scene (baby Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph) surrounded by angels thought to have been created in early 1943. It is not very clear who painted the mural but it is nonetheless credited to Navitatis NDJC. The reason behind this lack of clarity is that “Navitatis” does not seem to have done any works of art before or after the mural at the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church. There is, however, a name inscribed on the mural that refers to Pittore R. and the date 25.02.1943. All that this confirms is the date the mural was painted – 1943. It could as well be that Pittore did the mural – this is still subject to confirmation.

The church has three steps at the entrance that according to Ann Nyakio, a caretaker, symbolizes the Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are also two crosses on the roof and a compass that symbolizes that the church will stay as long as the world will turn around it.

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Source: geocaching.com

Today, the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is management by the Italian Embassy, the Kenyan government and well wishers who pump in their resources to conserve this religious historical site. The “Travelers’ Chapel” is open to all members of the public free of charge. Interestingly though, Christians and Hindus are allowed to worship, whereas Muslims can only visit.

Fun Facts:

  • The Travelers’ Chapel is commonly referred to as msikiti – mosque by the locals because it resembles one. Furthermore, prior to the four pews, worshipers used to pray on their knees.
  • Different communities and dominions conduct their prayers here.
  • The chapel is a popular venue for weddings and photo shoots because it gives off an antique feel.
  • Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is a favorite among truck drivers on transit from Mombasa to the landlocked central African countries.

Getting There:

The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is located on the busy Mai Mahiu – Rironi road.

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