Nerding in Nairobi

A few months travelling, living and hacking in Kenya

Weekend in Emali

Ella invited me to get out of Nairobi for the weekend with a group of their friends. Driving on the Mombasa Road was CRAZY with overloaded buses passing trucks on the wrong side of the highway, shanty town truck stops and all surrounded by green plains. It’s a bit like driving to Tahoe though – stress goes down as you get farther out of town and into the clean country air.

  • Overloaded buses at the rickety stops along the way
  • One of many freshly crashed trucks and containers
  • Tea and lunch at the Sky Hotel
  • Future home of KweKwe and Jeremy’s rooftop restaurant
  • At KweKwe’s family farm outside of Emali
  • Racing the sunset with Kilimanjaro in the background
  • Pre-dawn light across the plains below
  • Followed by a spectacular orange sun
  • Looking at the lodge from my water tower perch
  • Down to the lodge for breakfast
  • Out on a hike in the surrounding hills
  • That’s a grasshoper with crazy camouflage
  • Looking back at the group from a rock ledge
  • Stunning rainbow to take our eyes off the traffic back to Nairobi

Sky Hotel Emali

Our first stop was the Sky Hotel, run by their friends KweKwe and Jeremy. They moved back from Canada, took the half finished building over from KweKwe’s parents and are in the process of finishing the job. They have big plans to grow into the first real 3 star hotel chain in rural Kenya.

For now, they’ve opened the restaurant downstairs to make some money while they finish the upper floors (active construction does not preclude occupancy here). We had a nice tea and lunch at the restaurant followed by a tour of the hotel-to-be. It’s a pretty awkward building (unless you like standing on the sink to shower) but they’re making the best of it and planning an awesome restaurant on the roof.

Kivutha Farm

We followed lunch with a short(ish) detour down a rough road to KweKwe’s family farm. We got a lot of attention from kids herding their cows and goats down the road – probably not a lot of Mzungu’s over their way. The farm itself is an unassuming place with a nice grove of mango trees, some cows and corn. Her parents put out a nice spread of fruit for everyone and joined us for the snack. Her father is the newly minted governor of the county and well-known constitutional lawyer in East Africa. It would have been interesting to stick around and hear more from him but we had to hit the road to make the lodge.

Oloosikitok Hill View Lodge

Cutting south towards the lodge pointed us straight at Kilimanjaro down a rough red dirt road. We even saw an impala grazing on the outskirts of the pastures! Our little SUV struggled into the night through water, deep sand and steep bits up to the lodge. We missed the sunset but arrived right in time for dinner in the main thatch-roofed cabin. We turned in early after a long day of travel and a few of us resolved to catch the sunrise.

I awoke at 6AM and found a little ledge on the water tower with a view to the east. The bright orange sunrise over the hills and plains was almost impossible to fully capture on camera. As was the strange effect of all the cows moo’ing when the first sliver of sun crested the horizon. I climbed down, took a morning tea service and walked over to join Ella and Ken in the main lodge.

The rest of the group straggled in far after sunrise but in time for breakfast. We spent the morning hiking around the hills before lunch at the lodge and a loooong drive back into Nairobi.