I have a harder time falling asleep and keeping time than packing for a trip. So my weekend bag was packed and halfway out the door before I was. Remember back in the day as a child, when you would sleep in your trip clothes so that you don’t have to waste a lot of time getting ready in the morning? Well, I was contemplating pulling this childish move as I hit the sack on Friday.
@Turnup_Travel has accomplished a commendable amount of travel packages in Kenya and experiences over the years; so it’s pretty easy to tag along with a group of like-minded, fun, adventurous, explorers and thrill-seekers. And just so I have you joining my bandwagon, here’s how my weekend trip to Naivasha turned out…
The itinerary, which included an 8.00 am meet and pick up in town at the Hilton Hotel was shared on our WhatsApp group. From here, it took a lot of ‘uko wapi?’ texts and calls as the Turnup team strived to ensure that we kept time. ‘I should have worn running shoes today,’ that’s what I kept on thinking as I ran across Tom Mboya Street. No decibel of ‘excuse me‘ prepares anyone who is literally running late on the streets of Nairobi. No one comprehends how agitated you are as you try to squeeze your way past other sluggish pedestrians. But who I’m I complaining to? Si ningeamka mapema tu.
I finally get to Hilton…I’m just on time and it’s a Swvl Bus! So #ItsOnlyLogical that this is going to be a very comfortable drive.
Leaving Nairobi usually feels like it’s-about-to-go-down moment…no traffic and the freshest road trip breeze. At that point, I felt the need to wave my kascarf out the window…like in the movies, you know? The local tourist in me also wanted to take selfies, videos, and buy one or two souvenirs…as recommended by the Turnup.Travel Guide. By the time we were leaving the vicinity of the city, we had already developed some kind of camaraderie… the beauty of group travel. A joke would be told at the front of the bus and end up being retold twice or thrice to cover the middle and the backbenchers on the bus. So apart from the music, there was a sea of continuous, nonstop laughter.
Our first stop was at the Mathore Viewpoint. Here is where most travelers pull up for pit stops, stretching, and a lot of goofing around. And what is a road trip without a phenomenal group photo? We ended up with a decent one after several goofy takes. The ‘Welcome to Nakuru County’ sign invited us into the Great Rift Valley and almost instantly, wild animals start showing up…like part of the welcoming committee.
The best part about traveling is snacks and food…for a self-proclaimed foodie, this is a very big deal. So, we had breakfast at the LA Belle Inn in Naivasha. It was a breakfast buffet fit for all of us travel peeps with a mshikaki fruit salad. A few more photos later and I mean, the food ones plus the ones where you pretend to be a sophisticated gobbler…hahaha! We then headed to Hell’s Gate National Park.
In tune with the fact that Nakuru County is home to some remarkable archeological artifacts; at the entrance of the park, we tried to pull an early man stunt with twelve people…and it worked…or at least I thought it did. The park took my breath away…you see, the weather around here has been very kind, all that it is meant to be and a sight for sore eyes. For real, if your eyes are a bit sore…just visit any natural sanctuary. It reminded me of the countless school field trips I went on as a child. There is a healthy green escarpment all around, so this is going to be the venue for the first edition of the #NaivashaLoveFestival as well as the 29th edition of the #KorogaFestival. A few fun and environmentally friendly activities to look forward to including cycling, hiking, rock climbing among others. A comprehensive statement has been issued by the festival’s chairperson, Mr. Peter Kimani. It outlines all of the aspects of the event dubbed the first ‘Green Festival’ in Africa.
After a few rounds inside the park, we whizzed off to the Sawela Lodges. Walking into the lodge felt like a fairy tale…especially for those of us who are spellbound by destination weddings. It was gorgeous. I could only imagine the cars pii piing to announce the arrival of a newlywed couple in conjunction with the aariririing of women to the reception. The buffet lunch was finger-licking good…I write that only as an expression but maybe secretly that is what most of us wanted to do. We were all in agreement that this lunch was ultimately championed by the hero goat nyama choma.
The next part of the itinerary was to decompress and freshen up at the Panorama Hotel Naivasha, then head back to Sawela Lodge for dinner. The dinner was very short because part of any road trip is exploring the nightlife around the town you are visiting. For this group, Turn up had arranged for a quick pop in at the Waves Night Club. Putting our best feet forward was a breeze, a smooth moonwalk in the proverbial Park. The final day of our short adventure was fast approaching…a little shut-eye would suffice before breakfast in a few hours.
Next time you are in Naivasha, you have got to visit the Cresent Island Game Park. All you need to do is book a speedboat to get you across hippopotamus territory on the lake. The park is home to giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and a few other timid animals. When you are face to knee with a majestic giraffe, you quickly realize how short you really are. No length of high heels or stilts can elevate you to giraffe height…thankfully, you won’t be here to compete in heels. A comfortable pair of sports shoes will do. A few more clicks of the camera for photos and lunch was soon served to part of the group that had ventured to the island.
Back at Sawela Lodges, the rest of the group was enjoying the shy sun’s rays at the lodge’s swimming pool. At some point, there was a pool fight that ended as soon as it had started. Old school RnB music was blaring over the sound system and some of us couldn’t hold back. The swimming pool area turned into a karaoke session and we belted lyric after lyric out as best as our memories served us.
Why is the weekend usually so short…i mean Saturday alafu Sunday you start having that dreaded feeling of, ‘it’s over’, tomorrow is Monday…and a start to a brand new week. So the road trip came to an end, back on the road on our Swvl bus; back to reality, and back to the hustle at the capital. I tried to fall asleep…but memories of the fun time I had with this group, Turnup, kept me in a reminiscent mood. From time to time, I would get startled awake by the many bumps on the road…to the realization that I was going back to default, normal, and normal is boring. So all I can do for now is to look forward to another roadtrip…onto the next @Turnup.Travel weekend. And this one was nothing short of awesome.
Written by Winnie Miriti on behalf of Turnup.Travel