What Tim forgot to tell you in his story is that he had been asleep for part of the drive, and when we discussed $500 shoes, he literally woke up midway into our conversation. But that’s another story for another day. I’m waiting to get into my Bata Kenya kicks for the hike in Shimba Hills.
Day 1 of Tembea Kenya and we were at Finch Hattons, having been welcomed into a gem in the bush. After the long drive down the smooth Mombasa Road, our grateful lot were thankful for the little things – the fresh towels to wipe off the dust, the drink of fresh juice to water down the throat, and a staff that is so jovial and helpful. Checking into our rooms, we were amazed at the least. A tent that overlooks a pool of water flowing downstream, hippos and crocs wandering out in the open, and birds singing their joy with cicadas rounding it off. After a filling lunch (we ate like little piglets), we then went off to rest and chill by the poolside, dipping into the refreshing cool waters. You wouldn’t believe there were other guests in camp, we only bumped into them at mealtimes. A haven; that’s what Finch Hattons is.
After sleeping off our tired bones, we woke up to a lovely morning. The rains had come down in the area and everything was blossoming and blooming in beauty. The previous night’s singsongs of cicadas and night birds, the splashes and the grunts of the hippos and occasional croc had lulled us to a blissful sleep. Even the cool shower conspired with everything else to wake us up to a refreshing start. Magical Kenya is exactly that. Magical and awe inspiring.
As everyone turned up for breakfast, the one thing we were wondering is if we still had any space for breakfast! The staff at Finch Hattons have a mission – to feed you and fatten you up! Breakfast was a sumptuous spread, irresistible fresh food. I squeezed in every little morsel that I could.
The entire staff was welcoming and overwhelmingly helpful. They ensured that we had nothing to want, and all our questions were answered. Dinner the previous night was particularly informing and eye opening. When Jonathan, the manager, told us of the resident rates, you would not believe it! for Kes. 20,000/- a night, a couple can experience Finch Hattons incredible hospitality. And trust me, for 20k, that is a drop in the bucket for the return on value (subject to change on season, of course)
After managing to get up from the table and feeding Finch the Pet (Tim will explain that story another day), we made our way out of the camp to drive through Tsavo and to Mzima Springs. Tsavo West is one of Kenya’s splendid national parks, and makes about 30% of the total of parks in the country. A large savannah spans out from Mtito Andei through to Mombasa/Nairobi road, and further towards the Tanzanian border. Mzima Springs is one of the amazing features. A natural spring, the water flows from the Chyulu Hills reserve and gushes through the natural lava rocks, filtering the water to a pristine, cool clarity that pops up at Mzima Springs. The same water actually feeds the supply of the entire coastal city of Mombasa. So you can just imagine how much water flows out of the springs per day! When I tell you it is crystal clear, it is exactly that.
Taking us round the springs was our KWS guide, Eli. Eli hails from Western Kenya, and has previously worked at Lake Nakuru National Park. He was a great source of information on the springs and the ecosystem that feeds it. Telling us stories of the animals and the area, he kept us on a steady stream of information as we wandered around Mzima Springs walkways. At the lower pool, we were able to watch fish swimming and gazing back at us through the glass. Sadly, the hippo and crocs were too shy to come to us… or maybe they were just full, and we weren’t willing bait. Being a KWS warden isn’t easy – you have to love the wild and the wildlife, and be ready to live out of contact with the rest of the country for months on end. These are the heroes of our everyday lives, and we salute them!
From Mzima we left straight out of Tsavo West park and back onto Mombasa/Nairobi road, heading to Voi for a pit stop. The drive down from Nairobi to Mombasa is amazing, with the great road network. Yaani, nyweeeeeeeeee! I haven’t enjoyed a drive this much in a while. Until we hit a traffic snarl up at Mariakani… those in buses and trucks must have stayed there a while. Thank God for Cruise Control, for off-road driving!
Checking into the Severin Hotel was… well, a let-down. We expected faster service, especially after our Finch Hattonss Experience. Oh well, the rooms weren’t too bad though, given that the hotel was almost full. However, Aheshy did get a splendid room with a great view. Our plans of having a party there went down the drain though, after we hit Swing Bar, where the sound of the waves crashing against the hotel’s barriers were soothing to the ear. Sitting on the swings at the bar, and 2 or 12 cocktails later, our exhaustion caught up with us and we all crashed.
Waking up in a coastal city is nothing short of blissful. The smell of the sea, the pristine beaches after the tide has cleared, and a general feeling of utter laziness drew us to another sumptuous meal. It was all I could do not to head down to the beach and just lie there. But, of course, our schedule awaits… and now we’ve checked out of the Severin Hotel, driving out through the city and out to Shimba Hills … another adventure awaits!
Thank you MagicalKenya!