The road to the border town of Namanga is a worthy stop-off in its own right, with a selection of unusual and quirky holiday stays in and around Kajiado. All of the places mentioned are under two hours from Nairobi, traffic permitting. Many who stay in the area take the opportunity to visit Amboseli national park, a 90-minute hop on. More off the beaten track is Ol Doinyo Orok, a beautiful forest reserve on the Tanzanian border.
WHAT TO DO
1. MAASAI OSTRICH FARM
Maasai Ostrich Farm (Brian Siambi)
The first thing you do at the ostrich farm, south of Kitengela town, is handle an egg, and it’s heavy! It’s just one of the many revelations about these fascinating birds you’ll learn on a tour of the farm, the only commercial ostrich farm in Kenya. From chicks to great giant birds, with a hefty kick, you’ll see every stage in their development. After the tour, visitors can take a short ride on an ostrich round an arena if they wish. But sadly, you won’t be able to have an ostrich steak lunch as the restaurant closed down some time ago. But there are plans to reopen it in the autumn, which will make it more of a day trip. Ksh300 per person for a farm tour; Ksh500 for a short ostrich ride.
2. FRED’S RANCH, ISINYA
Fred’s Ranch (Brian Siambi)
There are a few places down this way to get a bite to eat, but Fred’s Ranch in Isinya (look out for signs on the left as you head south from Isinya) tries hard to make itself appealing. Everything is ranch-style, right down to the waiters toting rancher hats. Tables are set out in a pretty garden, with a kids’ playground within shouting range. They offer lead-rein pony rides, too. At weekends, it can get busy, and is a good place to grab some nyama choma, but worth ringing ahead to make sure it’s not booked out for a wedding.
WHERE TO STAY
1. NYUMBA ERIKO
Nyumba Eriko (Brian Siambi)
Between Kajiado and Bisil is this rustic bush home, once the weekend escape for the owners, who now live in the UK. It was built in stages, with the kitchen and the living area the first to go up with a roomy tent, with a double and two twins, for sleeping. Later, a permanent room was added up the slope, now the master bedroom with colourful furnishings and an en-suite twin for kids. The tent, too, is a little more permanent, and it’s a great weekend retreat away from
the stresses of daily life. There’s no pool, but ample walking in the area (it’s all plains game). Ksh12,000 for the whole house. Sleeps four adults comfortably, but takes up to eight.
2. SARAMBALA BUSH COTTAGE
Sarambala Bush Cottage (Brian Siambi)
Next door to Nyumba Eriko is Sarambala. As manager Melinda puts it, this is camping without having to put up a tent. This quirky little cabin has two double beds, although probably more comfortable for a couple with children, or very close friends, and a veranda with a splendid view over the Malepo Hills towards Kajiado. There’s no plumbing, so it’s all bucket showers and drop loos. There’s a separate kitchen with gas rings, but bring your own cool box to keep things cold. It all requires a bit of planning, but it’s a cosy and cheap retreat in a beautiful spot. Ksh4,000 for the whole cottage.
Love has been poured into this Bisil home, a rambling villa perched above a waterhole, luring in buffalo, elands and the resident tame warthogs. It’s all the personal touches added by the owners that make it so charming. With four bedrooms, three of them facing out towards the waterhole, a lengthy veranda for outside dining, and a pool, this is a perfect group getaway. On chillier evenings, enjoy a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire, before sitting down to a candlelit dinner. Ksh5,950 per person, children under five go free. Self-catering with a chef provided.
4. LERUAT LOG RESORT
Leruat Log Resort (Brian Siambi)
This is a bit of an unusual find. On the Namanga road between Kajiado and Bisil, take a very steep road to this Swiss-style cabin hotel. The location is extraordinary, with one of the best views we’ve seen in the area. Accommodation is in cottages or rooms, either with their own or a shared outdoor deck. The interior decor, though, is a little unimaginative – gaudy wallpaper, brown bed throws and tiled floors. Nevertheless, it’s a fun place to visit, even if just to ogle the view, and the unlikely logpile structure. Restaurant open all day. Rooms start from Ksh16,500 full-board.
For more weekend escape ideas, contact us at Nomad Travel Club