Posts tagged ‘Kenya’
Located over 400 kilometers from Nairobi by road, Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is between five to six hours’ drive from Nairobi. The amount of time you will spend on the road will depend on a few factors such as; the time spent on the Namanga border crossing, this is the Kenya–Tanzania border point, the vehicle you are using to ply from Nairobi to Lake Manyara and the traffic along the Nairobi-Arusha road.
Getting there – Different Options
If you intend to use public means, there are a number of options to choose from, but the shuttles which operate between Nairobi and Arusha are the safest bet of getting you to Arusha. These shuttles can be accessed on Monrovia Street, opposite Jevanjee Gardens and for our trip we used Riverside Car Hire and Shuttle Services.
Most of these shuttles leave Nairobi at 8 am in the morning or 2 pm in the afternoon. It might be a little difficult to get a public service vehicle past 2 pm because on the Tanzania side, they do not allow PSV’s to operate at night.
The other option to get you to Lake Manyara would be through air, for this you would have to connect via Kilimanjaro International airport from either Wilson, through charter flights, and/or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Once you are in Kilimanjaro you can either connect by road or through a connection charter flight. Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge has an airstrip which operates only during the day time.
If this is your first time in Tanzania, you will need to have a yellow fever certificate and your travel documents, either a passport or temporary permit for Kenyan’s. No visas are required for Kenyans to enter Tanzania.
Once you cross the border, it will take you almost one and a half hours to reach Arusha town. Arusha is a diplomatic hub since it hosts the secretariat of the East African Community and as such there are a number of nice places to visit. However, in our case we had a scheduled entourage to Lake Manyara, which is 124 KM’s from Arusha City.
The journey to Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge by road is quite fascinating, this is because you get to see, feel and experience the different landscapes. The road is quite impressive and as such, if you have some time, this mode is highly recommended.
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge, Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is located on the edge of a towering terracotta escarpment which gives it, spectacular if not, panoramic views over the glittering alkaline waters of Lake Manyara.
The Lodge is grouped around a central ‘vanishing horizon’ pool, this highly unusual lodge features a simple timbered reception area, built in traditional African style, which is accessed via a bridge over a small stream. Beyond reception, lies the central dining room, bar and veranda, below which lies the pool. Perched on the very edge of the cliffs, with stunning views of Lake Manyara National Park is the pool bar and observation point. Dotted around the grounds, all with views over the lake, are a series of circular two-storey ‘rondavels’, which house the rooms.
Designed, by PTA – Peter Thomas Associates, to reflect the brilliance of Lake Manyara’s unique birdlife, the architectural motif melds swooping avian curves with the gentle concentric patterns of traditional Maasai ‘Bomas’ , while the vibrantly coloured wall frescoes depict the colourful intricacy of bird migratory patterns.
Activities and Cultural Interaction
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge offers a unique blend of safari opportunities, peace and tranquillity, wildlife discovery, and ornithological richness. There is an unprecedented range of high-adventure sports, which include mountain biking – arranged/indicated in advance, archery and high altitude nature walks, while cultural activities include tours of the neighbouring villages and dance displays by the local Iraqw and sukuma people.
There is also a dance troupe that comes to the lodge every day in the evening to entertain guests from 6 – 7.30 pm
a) Guided Nature Walks / Bird Watching
If you love nature, then a nature walk with Yotham – the resident naturalist should be something on your cards if you are visiting Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge. These walks normally take place early in the morning from 9.30 am after breakfast and usually take two hours. During this nature walk, you will see unique flora and fauna found in that part of the world and Yotham will keep you engaged by asking you questions before sharing the facts. You will learn the history of the rift valley among other things.
The nature walk transverses around the Lodge and you will be able to see the airstrip, the escarpment and the lake from the edge of the escarpment.
b) Viewing the Lake / animals from the Swimming Pool Lounge
The swimming pool is the central and unique feature of the Safari Lodge and from the lounge pool you can view the landscape below, where you can view the Lake using the string binoculars available at the lounge area.
The pool also attracts a wide range of birds, which come to quench their thirst there and as such if you are a bird watcher, this is a unique place to view birds from.
c) Visit to the Lake Manyara National Park
A visit to Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge would not be complete without a visit to Lake Manyara National Park. The Park is synonymous with tree climbing lions, something that the lions adapted to due to the terrain over time. However, apart from the tree climbing lions there are other animals to view as well from a manmade viewing point, the hippo pool.
d) Visit to Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge sits on the northern tourist corridor and one of the top destinations by tourists from across the world is usually the Ngorongoro Crater. This is primarily because it has been listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
If you visit Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge, and wish to visit Ngororo crater, a day trip can be organised for you by Mustafa – the Lodge Manager and his team, and Tarangire National Park.
Lake Duluti Serena Hotel, Arusha
On our way back to Kenya, we passed by Lake Duluti Serena Hotel for Lunch. The Hotel is 20 kilometers from Arusha and 60 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
The Hotel currently stands in what used to be coffee plantation and very impressive landscaping with a magnificent view of Lake Duluti which can be viewed from the main hotel and cottage-styled rooms.
If you are flying into Arusha through Kilimanjaro International airport, this is a perfect destination to cool off as you wait to transact business in Arusha and/or if you are on a layover.
The main attractions/activities one can indulge in, while at the hotel include; walking, mountain biking, canoeing on the lake, and trips to the nearby Arusha and Mount Meru national parks.
1. Information on the issuance of temporary pass, for those without passports to travel to Tanzania, from the directorate of immigration’s, Kenya.
2. Location of shuttles to Arusha, on Monrovia Street opposite Jevanjee Gardens.
3. Download Tanzania Road and Air Packages.
Disclosure: This trip was facilitated by TPS Serena Kenya and Tanzania
Nairobi Festival of Performance and Media Arts, Nov. 13-15 2015 @ Goethe Institut, National Museum & Oshwal Academy
This is a three day dance and music festival, with performances at Goethe Institut on Friday the 13th, Leaky auditorium at the National Museum and a music concert at Goethe Institut on Saturday and a final family evening at Oshwal Academy, on Sunday the 15th.
Come and see amazing performances from Kenya, Spain, Germany, Rwanda, Tanzania, Netherlands, Belgium and Madagascar.
To book your tickets: CALL/ BOOK AND MPESA TO: 0706607306/ 0726394565 or EMAIL: email@example.com
Download the 2015 Storymoja Festival Programme [pdf]
Visit http://storymojafestival.com/ for more information.
Exhibition: Sudanese Vision by Yassir Ali, Fawaz Elsaid & Magdi Adam, Sept. 8 – 30 2015 @ National Museum
Once again the Nairobi National Museum hosts the exhibition Sudanese Vision. In 2013 Sudanese Vision highlighted artists Yassir Ali and Fawaz Elsaid. This year they are joined by Magdi Adam. This colorful new exhibition of paintings by the trio from Sudan tells a story of life; dialogue, history and identity.
Yassir Ali, Fawaz Elsaid and Magdi Adam exhibit regularly, locally and internationally. They are currently living and working in Nairobi.
Exhibition Dates: Until September 15, 2015
* Sarnevesht is a Farsi word meaning ‘Destiny’.
This exhibition is curated by Danda Jaroljmek of Circle Art Agency.
Located 193 kilometres, which is slightly under 3 hours’ drive from Nairobi, Serena Mountain Lodge offers a unique getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. The fact that Sagana State Lodge, which has been dubbed as Kenya’s own version of United States reclusive Presidential getaway Camp David, is located a few kilometers from Serena Mountain Lodge speaks volumes about the ideal settings of the lodge. It is no wonder that whenever the President is conducting official business in that part of town, most of his guests end up staying at Serena Mountain Lodge. A few notables have spent the night there which includes, the current Deputy President, the former Chief of the General Staff and the current CS for Devolution and Planning who coincidentally happens to come from that region. Other guests who have found it fit to unwind in the reclusive and tranquil lodge are the British Army soldiers who happen to have a base in Mount Kenya region.
One of the things that immediately hit you as you approach the lodge is the clear fresh air, this is because the lodge is located inside Mt. Kenya Forest and it is located at 2,134 meters above sea level. The other laudable thing about the lodge is the all tarmac road up to the lodge. This is something you get to appreciate especially if you are driving yourself to the lodge as was the case with us in a small salon car.
The other interesting observation made about this lodge is, unlike others Serena properties which I have visited in the past, the Mountain Lodge is operated by Serena Hotels not owned by the Chain.
The lodge is built in a location which was identified by a game hunter who noticed its uniqueness in in the 1950’s since animals would always come to the present day watering hole to drink water. It is with this in mind that he suggested this location as a prime place to set up a lodge and in immediate post-independence period the lodge was put up. It was initially run and operated by a separate entity before the Serena chain took up the management.
The architectural style of the lodge is cabin styled and timber-built, and it has 42 rooms with private balconies overlooking the watering hole. The interior décor especially of the lobby echoes Kikuyu Culture with pictures of the community which date back to pre-British colonial settlements. The rooms have hand woven hangings which one would presume have been done by the surrounding community.
The lodge has high speed free Wi-Fi, which as you would expect seems like a basic need in this times we live in, so even if you take your holiday or getaway, you can still be in contact with the rest of the world. The location also has clear Safaricom coverage, which is what I use and as such you can still receive and make call, if you wish to be in touch. Otherwise, you can choose to switch off, relax and enjoy your stay at the lodge. As you would expect the place to be cold by the day and even colder by the night, the lodge provides hot-water bottles.
Dining, Bar and Hospitality
The lodge has a central dining room which is raised to tree level offering long views over the forest canopy which is ideal especially as you take your lunch or breakfast. The hotel offers personalized meal experience with a 3 course menu to choose from as opposed to Sweetwaters Serena Tented Camp which we visited next during the course of our itinerary. The diner also has a wide range of red and white wines to choose from offering an assortment of both local wines and South African wines.
At an extra cost, the lodge offers rooftop candlelit dinners and sundowners. We were able to experience the former, a candlelit dinner in the presence of Mr. Kathurima Mbuguru, the Lodge Manager, who was an outstanding host during our say at the lodge.
Adjacent to the main dining room is an exceptionally well-stocked bar; mind you they have Remy Martin and Napoleon Courvoisier! The bar has its own private game-viewing terrace which is similar to private box stands you would have in a stadium. This is an ideal location within the lodge for a delegation on hang around and for business delegations; this is an optimal place close a deal or two.
Activities and Cultural Interaction
There are quite a few activities that one can indulge into while at the lodge;
a) Guided Forest Walks
The lodge offers a guided forest walk under the leadership of the extremely well versed resident naturalist, Mr. Benson Maina. These walks normally begin at the lodge by being given the correct set of clothing, gumboots and raincoat followed thereafter by small induction of what to do and what not to do in the forest by Benson.
Thereafter, Benson takes visitors to the Kikuyu heritage Museum he is trying to set up which has items and artifacts from the Kikuyu community. Here he offers a brief overview of the community, to some of the cultural practices, that were observed by the Kikuyu people in the pre-colonial period. After this rather interesting encounter with some of the Kikuyu community customs and practices, the nature walk gets in Mt. Kenya Forest under the escort of 2 armed rangers, one in the front and the other at the back of the line.
During the 2 hour walk, one is able to observe, different bird species, come across interesting flora and in between Benson Maina would give lectures on different facets of the mountain ecosystem. Also, during these stop-overs, Benson would be able to respond to any queries such as, ‘what do you do when you come across a charging buffalo?’
What do you do when you meet with a charging Buffalo? Serena Mountain Lodge naturalist expounds your best options.. pic.twitter.com/Bl8o95uSfx
— Robert Njathika (@Njathika) August 15, 2015
In between this afternoon walk, which usually takes place between 3-5 pm, there is a tea break smack in the middle of the forest. The lodge has a prime picnic location in which one has tea, seated on a fallen log of wood with ‘tables’ made of vertical rounded timber trunks. The tea comes with the option of milk (white tea) or with ‘elephant milk’ (which is black tea with Napoleon French Brandy).
b) Trout Fishing in Mountain Streams
The lodge is located near a trout hatchery, which is the biggest trout hatchery in East and Central Africa. One of the quintessential things to do while at the lodge is to visit the trout hatchery. Here you will be shown the whole process that goes in the hatchery, from the harvesting of eggs to seeing the fully grown trout that are sold in the fish market in a nearby town centre at KES 600 per Kilo. While at the hatchery and with enough time, one gets to fish for their own lunch (that is if they want to have fish for Lunch!). However, in our case due to a tight schedule, no one in our delegation was able to capture a fish in the over 30 minutes fishing 101 we had with Benson.
c) Walking on the high moorlands and Luxury ascent of Mount Kenya
For visitors that have an itinerary that is more than five days, the lodge offers luxury ascent to Mt. Kenya. This package includes potters, and all the necessities that will make your scaling of Mt. Kenya easy and memorable.
For the guests that might not have the time to scale the mountain, walks to the moorlands can be organised by the lodge.
d) Viewing animals overlooking the Lodge’s water hole and Mount Kenya
In case you do not have the time to venture outside the lodge, special cases and circumstances where you have a conference in the lodge, then worry not about missing our since the lodge’s watering hole attracts a wide variety of game during the day and you can sign to be woken at night should an animal of your choosing be spotted at the watering.
Also, if you wake up very early in the morning or on cloudless days, one is able to view the peaks of Mt. Kenya from the balcony of your room.
The lodge offers a tranquil environment which is ideal for either an out of town getaway, wedding and honeymoon destination, and conference and event facilities. If you are planning a family getaway, please note that the lodge does NOT permit children under 7 years of age.
1. At the time of writing the room rate was $221, however, you can get in touch with the hotel through firstname.lastname@example.org to get the prevailing best rate.
2. Most of the photos are by Niazaro Kala
Disclosure: This trip was facilitated by Serena Hotel (accommodation).
Panel Discussion with Bankslave, Kerosh Swift, Stacy Gillian, Ruganzu Bruno and Wearevisual