You know how you wish for an epic road trip, and the opportunity just about falls into your lap? No? Then take a seat and let me tell you about that!
I’m on an epic journey with the Tusker Twende Kazi team, traversing through 8 countries and many cities, towns and villages to bring a bottle of Tusker Lager to Humphrey Kayange. Africa is stunning. I’ve not been around much of it, but if the pictures are anything to go by, this land is magical. Our journey this week took us through the savannahs of Amboseli and Taveta to the coastal towns of Malindi and Diani. This is the long way down to the coast of Kenya.
We started off in the good old green city in the sun, Nairobi where you quickly learn that to get anywhere in the morning in time, you have to make it in or out of the Central Business District (CBD) before the traffic rush hits. Nairobi’s traffic is just like any other city’s – maddening, but giving pulse to the city. To get to Amboseli, you need to drive down Mombasa road and take the junction at Emali, a bustling roadside town that thrives on the traffic driving to and from Mombasa, or diverting to the national park and beyond into Tanzania. Take a break and buy some ripe fruit – the mangoes are d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. Or maybe I was just super hungry. Lunch is best served with a cold beer, preferably Tusker, synonymous with the country’s heritage.
Amboseli is famed for its abundant herds of pachyderms ambling about in their slow gait. You’ve got to catch a sunset in Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro standing tall in the background. It’s breathtaking, and a welcome sight for sore eyes.
From Amboseli, driving down to Taveta via Voi can be a challenge for those not inclined to sit in a car for hours. The dusty, sleepy roadside towns might fool you into thinking Taveta is just another boring town, but once you get there you realize it’s quite a busy town, with trade encouraged by the presence of a border point with Tanzania. Backtracking to Voi, you get back down to the Nairobi – Mombasa highway and drive on to Kaloleni, where the shorter route to Malindi exists. Thankfully, this road is now under new construction and will soon be a quicker route into Kilifi to Malindi. The towns of Kilifi and Watamu are now thriving due to the new found water sports thrill. If you love water adventures, these two towns were made for you.
Once you get to Malindi, you’ll realize on close inspection that the signs and anything printed is translated into Italian. Welcome to Little Italy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started teaching Italian as an essential language in the schools there. This exotic coastal town is the home to the exclusive resorts where the world’s famous people such as the F1 boss Flavio Briatore, Supermodel Naomi Campbell and Football Manager Mourinho choose to holiday once a year.
The beachfront is lovely in the early morning – most people seem to be out to work, and so less leisure. As with any other Kenyan beach, the place abounds with beach boys selling all types of wares. Later on in the evening the place is packed with revelers. However with a quick sunset, the darkness settles in and the cool breeze takes over. It’s lovely to walk along the beach – just be careful on what you step on and how far you go. Carry a flashlight if you can.
The town of Malindi is full of surprises, such as this cat called Jennifer, who led me to a cheese shop on a previous visit. Drop by and try some of the home made cheese – I particularly loved the onion flavor, great to cook with.
Where to Stay
We stayed at three campsites: Masai Simba Campsite (Amboseli), Voi Campsite (Voi) and the Mida Eco Camp (Malindi’s Mida creek). As with most campsites, I didn’t expect much luxury. We provided our own tents and food, so all we needed was space and bathrooms.
Masai Simba is accessible and close to the main Emali-Amboseli road. We pitched tents quickly and settled in for the night. The weather is warm, so all tent windows were open, and it felt good to sleep with the fresh air blowing in. however, the bathrooms were lacking – ran out of water, and the showers are old, with the heads full of crust. I ended up using a tap since the water didn’t have enough pressure to run up to the shower head.
Voi Campsite was good too – the coastal heat starts coming in and the windows stay open too. They have bandas that you can rent as opposed to setting up tents. Watch out for the rhinocerous beetles creeping into your tent.
Mida Eco camp was great – good, large bathrooms, clean toilets and plenty of water to wash with. With the sound of water lapping at mangroves nearby, you get a good night’s rest. Watch out for mosquitoes and other bugs though – they love the mangrove area. The area is warm and humid too, so another unzipped tent window came in handy.
Travel tip: Always wear comfortable clothes when travelling. Slip on shoes are when driving long distances. That way, when your feet start to swell from the heat and long periods of sitting, you can slip them off. Avoid tight clothes too.