Il Ngwesi is a beautiful eco-lodge run by the local Laikipiak Maasai tribe in the breathtaking Savannah north of Mount Kenya. It is very remote. We went for our silver wedding anniversary and flew in over Treetops Lodge in a three-seater plane. We were the only ones staying and were met on the air strip and taken to our accommodation, the Prince William Banda, overlooking a waterhole. It was open plan in every sense, including the toilet and shower! We did sleep under the thatched roof the first night, but after that it was under the stars. We were superbly looked after by the Maasai; the walking safaris, sundowners and bush breakfasts were superb and the horizon pool looking over the savannah and back drop of hills was divine. A truly romantic place as I am sure the previous residents, William Wales and Kate Middleton, would concur.
Wildfitness run fitness holidays in a number of locations including Watamu Beach in Kenya. If you are looking for an challenging active holiday that will really get you on the path to getting fit and changing your lifestyle this is the one. Fantastic trainers, wonderful food (all very healthy but no limit on how much you can eat!) and lovely accommodation in a beautiful location. A great choice for a holiday on your own or with a friend or partner (I went with my husband but everyone else there at the time was on their own). Not cheap but worth it for a truly life changing experience.
+44 (0)20 3286 4886
Tiwi Beach lies on the coast of Kenya between chaotic, crushed Mombasa (less than 20km to the north) and the over-developed package tour destination Diani Beach (about 10km to the south), but it is a universe apart from either. It takes a few moments for your first glimpse of the beach to register: it’s hard to believe that the wide expanse of pure white sand lined with tall palm trees leaning gently out towards the Indian Ocean is real, and not a computer enhanced image. At Twiga Lodge, you can camp on the edge of the beach, beneath the shady branches of enormous tropical trees frequented by silvery-cheeked hornbills and thieving monkeys. It’s easy to spend hours lazily staring out to sea, with only the occasional distraction of a languid youth selling key-rings carved from coconut shells. At low tide, the water recedes as far as the eye can see, leaving a vast expanse of squelchy mud popping with the air bubbles of buried molluscs. At high tide the sea is calm and shallow, and families wallow in the water for hours, watching the creamy-sailed dhows on the horizon, or the progress of clutches of local women carrying enormous sacks of brightly coloured kikois across the soft sand. As the sun sets, you can head over to the lodge bar for a cold beer, where you might be approached by a fisherman on an ancient bicycle, the basket between the handle bars crammed with just-caught red snapper. Later, you can bake your fish on coals buried beneath the sand while you contemplate the star-crammed African night sky.
Most visitors to Mombasa don’t head into Mombasa town itself but tend to stay in their resort and only venture out of the confines of the hotel to go on safari. If more tourists headed into Mombasa town they will be in for a treat if they go to New Chetna restaurant.
This Gujerati vegetarian restaurant has been dishing out no nonsense veggie meals for years. The lunch thali buffet is great value at £2.50 and seems to get better each time I go there. I first ate here in 1990 and was last there a couple of weeks ago and it was as good as ever.
Haile Salassie Avenue, Mombasa
Karen Blixen Museum at the foot of the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.
Once was the house of Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) famous for her autobiography 'Out of Africa’ She lived here from 1917-1931.
Karen Blixen Museum
10kms from centre of Nairobi on the way to Ngong.
Google map: bit.ly/hoNUIZ
It is 45 degrees and the gale force winds that began when we crossed the northern end of the Chalbi Desert three days ago are still going strong. The view makes up for it all - 'The Jade Sea'. We are at Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, the largest desert lake in the world. The blue-green comes from algae and keeps altering with the light. Getting here we came through some amazing scenery, including some sections of volcanic desert that reminded us of Iceland. This morning the wind caused white caps which meant we could not take the boat out (fine by us as this is the home of the largest concentration of Nile Crocodiles in the world) so we went by land to an El Molo village. These are the smallest ethnic group in Kenya and live by fishing with a lifestyle hardly changed by the 21st Century. They and the Turkana people appear to be dressed up for the 'tourists' - but there are no tourists. Gametrackers have their own camp beside the Lake where accommodation is in the traditional igloo shaped palm huts of the Turkana. If you want to go where few do, this is the safari for you. One day we traveled for five hours without seeing another vehicle.
I was recommended this company through a friend. The owner's name is Isaac and with his help I organised a safari to beat them all. We chose our own itinerary and found Isaac to be totally honest, advising us when he thought we could do something better, and he gave us an excellent price. The best money ever spent and best holiday I've ever had. Email Isaac, you won't be disappointed. Ask for David to be your guide.
P.O Box 78104
00507 Nairobi Viwandani
Asha Cottage at Diani, south of Mombasa is a mini-paradise. Built right on the beautiful white beach the ever-changing sea is the back-drop to a small hotel which is more like a family home. The owners, John and Dominique, are highly aware of the responsibilities of tourism and can advise guests interested in supporting the local people or environment in a practical way. They are attentive to detail and comfort and have provided an atmosphere in which their guests can relax - whether by the pool, in the small health spa or in the lovely gardens surrounding Asha Cottage where you are likely to see the rare Colobus monkey. As frequent visitors we could not recommend it more highly.
Asha Cottage, Diani Beach, Ukunda, Kenya
Asha Cottages is a small hotel right on the glorious sandy beach an hour south of Mombasa. Run on eco-friendly lines and set among a veritable arboretum of native trees and shrubs, it offers a relaxing tropical seaside holiday with plenty of activities for those who prefer snorkelling, SCUBA-diving, sailing or fishing to sunbathing. There is also bird and animal life aplenty. We were well looked after and entertained and the facilities are excellent and family friendly. Strongly recommended!
Asha Cottages, Dinai Beach, Ukunda, Kenya
I spent two weeks in Asha Cottage and I can confirm it's really an incredibly beautiful place owned by a very nice family. John, Dominique and Anthony Owen, their cute little boy, are the type of people who are not easy to find. I spent days snorkelling (the reef is wonderful with a lot of incredible fish) having massages, drinking fresh fruit juices on the nice beach terrace watching the beach. The food is good and the location is wonderful, very romantic during the night with candle light. In Diani the beach is white and very long and wide, and I was able to take long walks every day.
Asha is a family owned and run boutique hotel with a socially responsible heart in Diani Beach, Kenya. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, where you totally relax in an intimate setting (only five rooms), eat great food, read loads of books, and pamper yourself. But of course if you really must do something more active snorkelling, diving and safari are also very close at hand.
As far as I know, if you want to go snorkelling you will have to take a boat. I did at Watamu. There is some snorkelling in large rock pools (Tiwi beach, south of Mombasa), which can be better than it sounds, but the reef is (as usual) a way off shore.
Very simple and beautiful, go to Watamu, near Malindi in the north. It has the best easily-accessible marine park in the world, which you can swim out to from the beach or take a small boat. The reef is not far and you can swim beyond if your a good swimmer, the rest you just flow with the current.
There are great reasonably priced hotels and resorts and white coral sand beaches, no chavs from down south and you can get in a short safari as well. Should cost about £1,000 for ten days. Family friendly.
If you want something at medium cost, family friendly, snorkelling from the beach (or from plentiful cheap boats). Simple. Turtle Bay Beach Club, Watamu. Don't ask me, ask my kids! It's like their second home.
There are several places that offer great snorkelling opportunities along the Kenyan coast. Choose your time of year carefully though, to avoid the rainy seasons, which can adversely affect conditions and visibility.
My first ever experience of reef snorkelling was at Watamu; a small, laid back and relaxed village about two hours drive north of Mombasa. The snorkelling here is excellent. There is a nice hotel on the beach called Ocean Sports, or for a more Swahili feel, try Marijani Hotel in the village itself. It's less than two minutes walk from the beach.
Alternatively you could head south of Mombasa, to either Diani or Tiwi. Diani is a bit more developed, whereas Tiwi is very chilled out. It may be tricky to get to Tiwi Beach without your own transport, but there is snorkelling available off the beach there. There are various accommodation options in the area.
Near Tiwi and Diani there is also a Colobus monkey conservation project and a very large, community-run elephant sanctuary, which are also well worth a visit.
Snorkelling is also pretty good in some spots just north of Mombasa. There are some big hotels in this area, but they are generally quite expensive.
You could also try scuba diving while you're in Kenya, with it being one of the top-rated dive destinations in the world!
Manda Bay is a beautiful luxury lodge in an idyllic setting just 20 minutes boat ride away from the main Lamu Island.
We left our shoes on the beach when we arrived at the island and had no cause to put them back on until the day we left!
Fishing and water sports are their speciality, and the waterskiing and fly-fishing was a great experience.
The wonderful friendly hosts make you feel so welcome and part of the family, and the food is superb.
It's an amazing experience and well worth it for that bit of island paradise luxury.
Not a place you ever want to leave!
Small B&B (only two double rooms) run by British/Kenyan couple. Close to Nyali beach and cinema complex. Smart apartment, very comfortable and secure. Local knowledge, private parking.
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