The mystic rolling plains of Nanyuki induce trance, a sort of spell that seems to knot its bind with an unexpected steep rise into what makes Kenya’s highest mountain peak, Mount Kenya.
Both my previous experiences of Nanyuki definitely called for a third, to what has come to be referred as the millionaire’s playground – for its ability to attract the well-heeled from all corners of the world. Probably for its exclusiveness, maybe for its leading claim on Kenya’s eco-tourism front but definitely for its diverse offerings.
Century old stories of victory and defeat, blooming romance and wrenching heartbreaks co-exist in the whispering winds of the charming landscape. My most nostalgic Nanyuki memory was a bush breakfast at the historical Fairmont Mount Kenya Club, soaking in the morning dew, smelling fresh elephant dung from the surrounding bush, yet keen enough to catch a retreating hyena’s wail.
Picture a ride up the steep slopes on horseback, trotting through the thicket and wading through several streams with such expertise. This experience definitely rings fresh the romantic foundations of the Safari Club; a (New York) holidaying millionaire’s wife who, literally found love in the middle of nowhere. Rhoda Lweinsoin as told, met her young aviator lover Gabriel Prudhomme here and settled on the lush green stretches, long before current day legend, William Holden and his big cat hunting crew knocked in for a flame of the log fire and irrevocably fell in love with the charm. Fast forward to the modern day prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement at the Rutundu Log cabins.
Spoilt for choice!
For the romantic at heart, Nanyuki offers the perfect setting; early breakfast to catch every photographer’s dream shot of the sun’s first morning rays. The sunrise is epic, showing up in half Monalisa sort of smile before exploding into an orange ball above the snow and summits, a real fire and ice effect. A brunch especially over weekends will also make for great family time.
For the adventurists, branch off at Bantu Lodge, and kick off your walk back in time to catch the haunting memories of Kenya’s struggle for freedom.
The Mau Mau Caves along the clear waters of Burguret River puts this area on the world map; as one of the locations where a 1959 bombing claimed about 200 lives – local men and women who stood against the colonialists during the highly volatile period of emergency. A non-dramatic nine kilometer walk from Bantu Lodge is evidently ruled by herbivores such as elephants, gazelles, and other grazers, owing to the pastures and the accessible water source. You may consider a group hike, maybe even a picnic.
If you fancy some deeply healing, one-with-nature experience, then drive a little further (40 minutes) and set camp at Ngare Ndare forest. The only indigenous forest in Kenya, spotting trees as old as 200+ years. You’ll need to call ahead and make arrangements so as to organize for a guide, camping space, fees and any further assistance.
The highlight of this weekend, will be a very special entry into your journal; one of Africa’s only three indigenous forest canopies, pools and streams leading you straight to the source and several parks of friendly forest elephants. If your Easter egg hunt has anything to do with the big five, then an African Jumbo, and the raging buffalo will be a sure check-off.
If camping is not your idea of an Easter weekend, then by all means book a visit to any of the conservancies in the area, and comfortably catch the big five on a short safari drive.
There’s something in Nanyuki that inspires imagination. It’s the alluring history of her historical dwellers, the lords and ladies who roamed and reigned the Happy Valley; the rustic, yet mystic nature of its history. The warmth of the locals crowns the experience, the resident ranchers and conservationists never tire of saving the wild, the young and taut Britons training under high attitudes instill a cosmopolitan feel, enchanted visiting foreigners walk around in a veil of bewilderment; simply Nanyuki is a melting pot of sort.
To say that it’s the only location that allows you to place your dinner orders in the Northern hemisphere and dine in the Southern hemisphere is just but a little tip of the indulgence!