Author: Yellow Duckie
Having visited the Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo, the only National Park I wanted to tick off my list in Kenya is Samburu. Although Samburu is not as well known (or rather not well publicized) like the Mara, if you have the chance, I strongly recommend you to pay a visit to this National Park.

First lesson I learnt from this trip was the difference between, National Park and National Conservancy. A National Park is the government’s responsibility and the national conservancy is the local Government’s.

Unlike the Mara, I was more keen to see the “northern hemisphere” animals such as the Grevy Zebras (where the patterns were so well defined that the made the usual zebras looks quite horrendous), Gerenuk (Giraffe antelope) , Oryx, Somali Ostrich (Blue neck and legs instead of pink), Vulturine Guineafowl (Blue lined feathers instead of dot, again made the usual guinea fowl we see quite ugly), reticulated Giraffe (apparently the patterns are larger but I fail to notice) and many different kinds of colour birds.

Grezy Zebra


Somali Ostrich

The landscape is completely different from Mara where large plains are not seen at all. Instead, it is hilly and dense with scrubs/tree. Similarly in Shaba, the whole area looks extremely dry, despite the fact that the Ewaso Ngiro river cuts through both of these two parks. The interesting sight I caught was that there seems to be an oasis in the midst of the dryness where you can see a lustrous green patch of tree and grass right the in the middle of the vast brown scrubs.

Green pasture in the midst of the "drought"

We decided to lay our heads at Joy’s Camp which is situated at the Shaba National Conservancy. The torturing rocky ride from the smooth main road to the camp site was all worth it. The camp site has only 10 luxury tents so you can imagine the pleasure of being a guest in this place. I have absolutely no complains about the food (desert was to die for) and for the first time, the packed lunch is not in paper box but a picnic with proper cutleries and mugs for your hot coffee. That was such a treat!

Joy's Camp

Although the road trip from Nairobi to our camp in Shaba was about 7 hours but the long and tiring journey was compensated with a scenic drive (especially around Mt Kenya region) and the comfort of the luxury tent.
Author: Yellow Duckie
Tucked away from the hustle bustle of the busy city of Nairobi, there is a place where local artist (which includes the neighboring countries) store their masterpiece for exhibition and for sale.

This art studio is found along the way to the Tigoni Tea Farms and to be honest one would not even think that there is an art studio in this town called Banana Hill.

From Village Market, on Limuru Road (opposite direction from the UM) and go towards the direction of the tea farm. Watch out for the signboard.

Reason for them setting it up here is because of the cost. There are quite a few nice masterpiece in the stores behind the main exhibition hall and requires some patience to run through each paintings. There are on going exhibition most of the time and you can sign up to receive their news and upcoming events.

Tanzanian Artist's work on exhibition
Author: Yellow Duckie
Nyama Choma (Roast Meat) is a common and well-liked meal kenyan loves to have when they eat out. What I found special about this Nyama Choma place in Thika town is that they do roast pork and not the usual goat or beef.

Close to what the chinese have, this roast pork is season with nothing and only season with some salt before they slipped the steaming hot piece of meat into their mouth.

It doesn't look that appealing but trust me it is yummy!

One odd thing pointed out by my dad is that they seems to charge the same price for cooked and uncooked meat...I guess it's more worth it to get the cooked meat!
Author: Yellow Duckie
All those with the dream of creating your very own little indoor safari by carrying home a 3 ft, 4 ft and 5 ft (even 6 ft) giraffe and don't want to pay more should make their way here. Machakos is often made as a reference where this place is however, the specific town is known as Wamunyu ( which is in the Machakos district). This place, I was told, is one of the source of the wood craving handicraft you see in the Masai Market in Nairobi.

Co-op Wood craving center

The drive itself is generally pleasant if you minus the heavy traffic that you'll have to go through the CBD of Nairobi and the pot holes at certain part of the area. Try to avoid peak hours and give yourself an allowance of 2 hours to get there.
The landscape here seems to be dry however, flourishing mango trees are found around this area and we were informed that mango is one of the production from this region.
The first stop we went to was the Co-op wood craving center. The warehouse is just a simple tin roof store house where the heat is quite unbearable when the sun is at its full blast (like the day we were there) and the workshop is just a simple shack. Inside the warehouse, there are a great variety of wood cravings found at quite a reasonable price.
After hanging around long enough, finally another room next to the warehouse was revealed to us where the items in that warehouse is what I would call "wholesale" price. Although the items are not as refine as those in the other room but some of them are just as good at just a fraction of the price! We suspect that these are the rejects but I am happy with the 3 wooden bowls I bought and to me, it is flawless.

Later, we moved further into the town to some of the privately own workshop where the selection is not as huge and often not displayed on the shelves, hence making shopping there is a little unpleasant. Prices are reasonable and of course some bargaining is required.
At work

Ready for new home... for only 1000 KSH :) .Good buy
Author: Yellow Duckie
Looking for a relaxing weekend away from Nairobi and yet not willing to travel too far? Look no further. Tigoni has got just what you need, away from the busy Nairobi. Just about 30 mins from Village Market will take you to the beautiful landscape of tea plantations in Tigoni. Just by driving in this area itself is therapeutic.
As to my knowledge here are the 3 places where you could choose to enjoy this area:
Kiambethu Tea Farm
Personally I have not tried this but did drop by one time to find out what this place offer. For 1,700 KSH per head, you will get a tour of the 1-acre virgin forest , a short lecture on roasting tea and home-cooked lunch by the owner with the ingredients fresh from her garden. After lunch, you are more than welcome to hang around her garden which I have to say, that it is really green and neat.

Please take note that one day notice is required and that you will have to be thereby 1130 am.
For reservations, please call 0733 769 976 or 0729 290 894.
Directions: From Village Market, continue on Limuru Road (with Village Market on your right). You will pass a little town known as Banana Hill. Once you pass Banana Hill, watch out for the Kentmere Club (take note there are ALOT of sign boards at this junction). Take right at this junction and travel down this road until you reach the sign for Limuru Girls School on your right. Take this right turning and drive along this road pass the Kenchic factory, Lumuru Girls school which is about 100 m from the tea farm.

This place is more flexible (no fixed time) in comparison to the Kiambethu farm where you are free to turn up anytime and still have food served. However, this is a seminary and which also has conference facility. Selection of food here is quite good and reasonably priced. There isn't nothing much on the ground but loads of greens and a children's playground.

Thanks to my friend's determination to find a tea plantation around Brackenhurst where she can run freely in between the tea bush, we actually found it. Just about 5 mins walk from the Brackenhurst main gate, you will find a beautiful vast tea plantations where you can roam freely at your leisure.

There is also a 1-km running trail where the starting point is jut right in front of the main gate.
Directions: Same direction as to Kiambethu Tea Farm except that you DON'T turn into the Limuru Girls school junction, you carried on until you see the Brackenhurst sign on your left.
Waterfalls Inn
This place could have been better but the owner did not bother to up keep the place. There is small waterfall in the area. The view in this area is nice however, the whole place look run down and pretty much abandon. A picnic and camp site is also available in this area.

There is a 250 KSH per pax chargeable at the entrance.

Directions: The entrance to the Waterfall Inn is before the Kiambethu Farm.
Author: Yellow Duckie
Hidden in the heart of Langata somewhere opposite the Nairobi National Park, there is a magical fairy land where all used glass are recycled and turned into something beautiful: The Kitengela Glass Factory.

The road leading to this glass factory is deceiving. The dusty and bumpy dirt road actually takes you to the factory where the ambience transform into a magical kingdom. Pieces of artwork are found all over the place. A mosaic path will lead you to the cute little cottage where the glass are melted and make into various shapes and you will have the other workshops spreads all over the place in the compound.

For more information, you can visit their website:
Author: Yellow Duckie
There is something which I really miss after staying in Kenya is the nice pastries and cakes. It is not that Kenya doesn't have it but you can only get it from places like Art Cafe, Java, Dorman or Savannah. I was looking more at those lovely bakeries that bake good cakes, bread and assorted buns. Finally, I found one, Cake Plaza.

Owned by a Korean couple, who heard that there is a demand in Nairobi and took the challenge to start their bakery business here. Just about a month old, this place is cozy when a couple of tables for people who wished to dine. They do serve sandwiches, burgers and some quick meals.

When I saw the cream filling buns, I was truly happy to feel at least close to home. I can foresee myself a frequent patron there :)

Cake Plaze @ Ngong Road
(Opposite Nakumatt Prestige)
Tel : +254 (0)732-567 332
Author: Yellow Duckie
In additional to my last trip to Lake Baringo, I did see something different. I guess it never hurt to visit one place twice.

This time round, I got the chance to visit one of the Pokot tribe family. Like the Masai, their livelihood depends pretty much on their live stock, goats and cows. This family which we visited has got a husband, 6 wives (of which 4 is out in the field hearding their live stocks) and countless number of children.

The man's second wife outside her hut. The Bangle on her left wrist is her "wedding ban" and the girdle she had on her waist is the tigthen the loose belly after child birth. She has a four-month old baby.

Baby Milk bottle
In the Pokot culture, the wives of the man does basically EVERYTHING except hunt for animals. So the wife is expected to build the hut, cook, wash, clean, take cares of children, tend the herd, etc. We were also told that circumcision for both young girls and boys is still practised. Uncircumsized girls are not allowed to get married and as for boys, it marked their manhood.

Pokot Children spending their leisure time
Below is a local fisherman showing us his catch of the day and eventually draw close to our boat to ask for some "kidoko" (tips or money).
Catch of the day: Cat Fish
Author: Yellow Duckie
Lake Nakuru is famousfor its massive population of Flamingo, however, lately most of them has migrated to Lake Bogoria which is slightly further up from Lake Nakuru. About 3 (plus) hours from Nairobi, this place is extremely worth the visit. When i was told that we will be heading to Lake Bogoria (as part of our trip to Lake Baringo), I was kind of expecting that it was just another lake. I was wrong and I am glad I was.

The pink shoreline was visible the moment we got closer to the shore of the lake and the amount of flaminoges found in this place was simply amazing! Honestly I have not seen that much when I was in Lake Nakuru last August.
The other highlight of Lake Bogoria is the geyser. Hot steaming water spurting out from the ground. The sight was amazing but the heat was quite untolerable. It would have been much more appreciated if it was in Nairobi (as it is getting colder nowadays at this time of the year).

On our way in, we spotted a Spa Resort in which out of curiousity we stopped by to check it out. The swimming pool of the resort is filled with the natural hot spring water which is coincidentally at body temperature. Apart from that , they do have daily morning trips to the hot springs for sauna. The place quite a nice place for a quiet and relaxing weekend.
Our trip to Lake Bogoria was part of our over night trip to Lake Baringo. You can spend a quick one night getaway to these two lakes. So if you want a "short" trip just over the weekend, you can consider these two destinations.

Local Honey: Can be found around this area. Buy atyour own risk. These local honey are stored in recycled alcohol bottles.
Author: Yellow Duckie
This tiny little gem is found at Lake Naivasha. The Crescent island is a preserved sanctuary for Wildlife. The most interesting part about this island is that you get to do your safari on foot. Yes, that means you'll get to walk among the animals instead of enjoying them from the car. Of course, you will never be too close as they will probably start avoiding you even when you are miles away.

To get to this place, you park your car at the Naivasha Country Club and get a boat ride from the country club. You can buy the ticket from the reception. Alternatively, you can also drive to island by passing through the "Horse Riding Complex" (keep right). Park fees will be charged.

Boat Docking at the shore of Crescent Island

Entrance into the Island

We were there on a beautiful sunny day, perfect for picture but I really wished we were in the car instead of walking as it was scorching hot!

For some reason, this island is really calm. If you are worried about your safety, fret not as there is a station right on top of the hill where a ranger sits and keep watch on the surroundings. He will alert you if there is danger. However, always remember, you are in the wild so DO NOT provoke the animals...
Author: Yellow Duckie
As I was about to enter the bathroom this morning, i was greeted by the cleaner sweeping out a bunch of insects, and brown in various sizes.

I am not sure what is the relation between the rain and these greenhoppers. Of late I have seen one or two at the bathroom but this morning was exceptional, it was all over the floor and the though they were in the midst of invading the earth (at least the bathroom).

I was told that it's the season and nothing unusual. Strange, could it be a warning of a great storm heading towards here? I wonder...
Author: Yellow Duckie
What I find fascinating in a foreign country is the Supermarket. If you want to get a glimpse of the local life...supermarket would be the best place (apart from the local Market).

Madazi flour: Use to make those doughnut-like pastry which is usually taken for breakfast over a cup of Milk tea.

Ugali: Kenyan staple food (a replacement for rice). Made from Maize.

Kasuku: Refined vegetable fat. The kenyans use this to cook in replacement of oil which is more expensive and less healthy.

Wimbi Porridge: Sourish porridge which is made out of millet (a type of brown grain). To be eaten with anything you like, such as sugar, milk, etc.
Author: Yellow Duckie
After you have settled in Kenya for slighlty more than a year and safaris no longer has the strong hold on you, a short day trip to the outskirts of Nairobi would be just the perfect
weekend plan.

I was quite reluctant initially when I was asked to join my friends for lunch at the Tree Trout Restaurant somewhere near the Nanyuki airstrip. The journey takes about 2.5 hours from Nairobi city center and the thought of a 5-hour return journey just for lunch was not that inviting. However, I did enjoyed my lunch and the serenity of the environment.

The restaurant is situated 100m off the main Kiganjo -Nanyuki Road on the Burguret River. Look out for the huge fish bone signboard.

The interesting part of this restaurant is that, it is actually built around the huge sacred fig tree (which is more like top of the tree) and fresh grilled trout from the trout ponds beneath the tree will be served for lunch.

After lunch you could move up to the patio and enjoyed the environment over a cup of coffee or tea which I find it extremely relaxing.
There you go...another pole-pole (slow) relaxing weekend...