Marta's Photo Album of Kenya - October 2006

Kenya
October 2006

Getting there
Kenya AirwaysKenya Airways flies direct from Johannesburg to Mombasa and back every Sunday. After drinks and snacks in the Premier Lounge, we departed Johannesburg at 13h30. The flight duration is 4 hours and the view coming in to Mombasa is spectacular! Since Kenya is 1 hour ahead of South Africa, it was 18h30 local time when we landed at Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

We departed Johannesburg on the services of Kenya Airways at 00H50. After a short while we were well on our way towards Nairobi. We were served refreshments, followed by dinner. We had a choice of pasta or chicken and the food was freshly prepared and most tasty. There was a good selection of drinks including the famous Kenyan beer called Tusker. The crew were very helpful and had a happy disposition throughout the flight. It was clear that they enjoyed their work and the service they provided was excellent which contributed to an enjoyable flight.

We landed at 05H30 in Nairobi. Upon arrival we changed money at the airport and got a favourable rate and proceeded to immigration control. After collecting our luggage we crossed the road and entered the domestic airport for our flight to Mombasa. Our flight for Mombasa took off at 08H45. On board we were served a light breakfast of muesli and a croissant with coffee, which was a really nice touch. The crew were really delightful and smiling at all times. We landed in Mombasa in an hour. We were met by a representative of Mnarani Club Resort and were transferred in an air conditioned bus through Mombasa town and past the scenic countryside to the resort where we arrived after an hour and a half.

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Mnarani Club Resort

The hotel is built on the cliffs of Kilifi with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean and the Kilifi Creek. The entire property is surrounded by lush tropical park like gardens, which have a variety of colourful indigenous plants and a resident monitor lizard. On first impression, the tranquillity is what strikes you most. Some of the rooms face directly onto a large lush tropical garden and others all have a sea view. We met Nanette a South African, who is the operations manager of Mnarani. She instantly made us feel most welcome and served welcome drinks. Our check in was efficient and our luggage was taken to our room.

Our room was spacious and our verandah overlooked the creek and the ocean in the distance which made for a gorgeous view. The beds were decorated with fresh flower petals and the sheets were turned down each evening, with the mosquito nets closed. Our room had an air conditioner and a mini safe. The hotel provides a complimentary bottle of mineral water in your room each day.

We went out to the open air dining area which has a one hundred an eighty degree view of the creek and the ocean with the infinity pool in front which is surrounded with a colourful variety of indigenous flowers. The lunch menu offers a good selection of food and includes the catch of the day served with a ginger and coconut sauce. You can choose between fresh calamari, steak, hamburgers or light snacks such as toasted sandwiches. The prices are very similar to those in South Africa. The waiters are very friendly, kind and always have a smile on their faces. After enjoying a great meal we made our way down to the beach and boarded the Mnarani boat for our creek safari. We travelled north along the estuary passing mangrove swamps and thousand year old baobab trees. This area is fantastic for bird watchers. We were able to spot black kite, great white pelican and the black heron egret, whilst passing breath taking scenery. There are interesting caves that are hewn into the mountain side which can be seen along the way. The locals hold ceremonies and have prayer meetings in these caves. Later on the crew served us a selection of samoosas, spring rolls and fresh cashews which we enjoyed a Tusker beer and soft drinks.

Later that evening we had a buffet dinner with the tables set around the romantic pool area. The dinner consisted of a variety of Kenyan dishes which included grilled goat steaks, chicken masala, spinach, freshly grilled fish, and delicious fresh salads. This was followed by desert and cheese and biscuits. Later on we enjoyed traditional Kenyan tribal dancing and acrobats. The entire evening was fantastic.

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Scuba Diving

The resort has a dive centre down at the beach. We had booked a two tank dive with Baracuda Diving. The centre is run by a German lady with an instructor and dive master.

They are well equipped with all equipment being in good condition and have steel tanks. Our diving was arranged for 08H00 and the crew carried all our kit to the hard bottomed 10 man twin engine boat. The sea was a little rough that day and it took us around 45 mins to reach Mlangoni. The topography of the reef is very interesting with 5m high pinnacles and many small overhangs. Five different species of fire fish were spotted and the larger devil fire fish ( Pterois miles ) was hovering over the reef. There were other interesting fish including scorpion fish, leaf fish, stone fish and the fascinating frog fish that were spotted. We decided not to do the second dive due to the rough sea conditions.

Later that afternoon the wind had dropped and we dived at Kilifi Bay reef. The reef was between 12 to 15 meters and there was a slight current so we did a drift dive. This reef has a great variety of hard and soft corals and because the reef is so shallow the corals really stand out. The reef is full of healthy amazing overhangs and column like structures, with no sign of damage from fishing. We were accompanied by a pair of rainbow runners at the safety stop. Our third and final dive was at Bofu reef, where the maximum depth is 24 meters which gradually inclines to 12 meters. The current was slight and we did a multi level drift dive. The crackling of the reef could be heard which indicates the healthy state of the reef. Bofu reef like the others in the area has a great diversity of hard and soft corals and spectacular plate corals. We found the reef teeming with small bait fish, moray eels, sting rays and crayfish. The cost of a two tank dive is around $ 80 and $ 45 for a single dive.

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Activities

Our last day was at leisure. Some of the group hired a dhala dhala into Kilifi town for shopping whilst others arranged an excursion to Malindi further North. On route to Malindi you pass the Sabuku rain forest which is the second largest rain forest in Africa. At Malindi one can experience the old buildings with interesting sprinkling of colonial style architecture, as well as visit the famous butterfly park. Next on the list was snorkelling with Ali in his glass bottom boat. A great variety of fish including parrot fish angel, nemo fish and tetras were spotted by the snorkellers . This was followed by a delicious lunch of tender steak, skewered chicken and beef served with a variety of vegetables. The curio shops were the next stop where souvenirs can be purchased with some good bargaining skills. A visit to the Guedes ruins built by Arab invaders in the 14th centuary,consists of a mosque and a palace and is an interesting excursion.

Some of the group enjoyed the canoeing, tried out the wind surfing and had fun jet skiing.

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Captain Eissa

Asher and I enlisted the famous and experienced Captain Eissa for an afternoon traditional dhow excursion. The two of us hopped on with a crew of 6 including drummers and singers.
Our mission was to set sail to see the pure white sand beach at Copacabana on route to Kilifi Bay.

The atmosphere was festive with traditional Kenyan singing and drumming as we sailed out to the great ocean with Captain Eissa at the helm. We stopped after a good 45 minutes of sailing at Kilifi Bay. The dhow anchored and we waded through the shallow water and had a lovely walk along a nearly deserted white sand beach.
We had to cut our excursion short due to a strong South Westerly wind. We set sail for Mnarani and used the engine this time. We enjoyed and loved every moment of the trip and felt this should not be missed by anyone.

Captain Eissa is famous in the area for his dhow excursions which include snorkelling trips to Copacabana white sand beach where lunch consisting of fresh crayfish, coconut milk and fruits is provided on the way in a cave. He also does dolphin excursions where dolphins are guaranteed to be sighted during September, November and January. Sunset dhow cruises to the creek to view the bird life with a stop at one of the islands for snacks and drinks are amongst one of his famous trips. He can be contacted on mobile 0720 767038 or just asked for by name on the beach or booked at the resort for any tailor made excursion you request.
A visit to the little curio shop on the beach is a must and is run by a man named John. He has some interesting little artefacts and is a delight to deal with.

Our last night was festive with an Italian buffet dinner. They must have an Italian chef, the lasagne and pastas were fabulous. The tiramisu was the best I have had ever and I was amazed how good Italian food in Kenya could be.
The entertainment that evening was bingo. This was great fun with a first prize of a bottle of wine and a second prize of two Tusker beers.

The wake up call was at 04H30 the following morning and we were able to have breakfast in the restaurant before we embarked on our one and a half hour transfer to the airport.
The drive was pleasant and we caught a glimpse of the true African sunrise along the way.
We checked in at Mombasa Airport without a hitch and waited for our flight departure at 09H30 to Johannesburg. On board we were served snacks and a delicious lunch along with a selection of drinks and the time passed quickly. Once again the crew of Kenya Airways were outstanding and very festive in mood, and this made the flight really enjoyable. We landed at Johannesburg International at around 13H00 which meant we had the rest of Sunday to relax before work on Monday.

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Conclusion
Kenya offers the tourist a variety of accommodation options from rustic to five star luxury resorts and you can easily combine a beach holiday with a safari. Mnarani Club Resort caters well for all ages and offers a wonderful variety of activities for everyone. The staff are wonderful, the food and entertainment are really great. The surrounds and rooms are well kept and very clean. We thoroughly enjoyed the short time we spent there and felt that you could easily stay for at least ten days without a problem.

General Info and Tips
Visas are currently not required for South African passport holders. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the return date. Yellow fever vaccinations are compulsory for re entry into South Africa after visiting Kenya. These vaccinations are valid for 10 years and can be obtained at a travel clinic, along with advice regarding malaria and other recommended precautions.

Money changing facilities are available at most hotels, but the rate is better at the airport on arrival. Travel with US dollars cash as these are also accepted for payments at hotels.  Some of the hotels including Mnarani do not accept travelers cheques. Do not convert more money than you need as Kenyan Shilling cannot be exchanged for dollars or rands.

Special Thanks
A very special thanks to Nanette of Mnarani Club Resort and all the wonderful people who made our stay in Kenya so unforgettable.

Kenya Airways – Sponsoring our flights
Mnarani Club Resort / Act Travel Delia – Complimentary accommodation, transfers and meals
Baracuda Diving – Sponsoring the scuba diving