28th Aug – 2nd Sep 2013
From my previous stay in Naivasha, I had heard about the Rift Valley Festival, happening just after I was due to fly back from Uganda. I had been in touch with my friend Boris from Diani as he was headed up from Diani to Naivasha see our old pals at Carnelley’s. We sorted out diaries and worked things out so that I would arrive in Nairobi as he was passing through and we’d go together. I’d waved goodbye to Boris a month previously after staying with him whilst getting the Beast sorted out and so it was super to see him again! We popped into the Karen Hospital to get my bloods taken, and to have an x-ray on my neck. Since the accident, my neck had got progressively more stiff, and I don’t think it helped I engaged in a spot of light white water rafting in Jinja shortly thereafter… Anyhow, the bloods were fine and my x-rays revealed nothing of substantial concern. I was sentenced to a few sessions of physio and traction (think William Wallace on the torture bed, neck shackled, feet shackled, being pulled in different directions…)
The Rift Valley Festival in Naivasha draws musicians and bands from all over Africa. It’s held at Fisherman’s Camp, next to Carnelley’s and is right on the water’s edge. Set up with a camping area, tented food stalls and full on stage, it draws Kenyans from all walks of life and it was great to see everyone living it up in such a fantastic setting. With music pumping late into the night, the Naivasha gang gathered on the steps of the bar each night to get a good view – Chrissy, Lovat, Mwezi, Karen, Mikey, Johnny, Marcus, Paddy, Andy & Fleur. This crowd love a good party and boy did they shake a leg! Most of them didn’t sleep for two days and partied straight through. Me, being the sensible type, partied hard but made sure I got my much needed beauty sleep… On the second night, Andrew Doig got hold of me, Lovat and Boris, and took us out onto the lake with his small boat just before sundown. Crate packed high with beers, we set off for a good three or four hours, careful not to knock hippos on the head with the propeller (in the dark of night, this is a very real possibility), we were all on lookout. Under the influence of a little bit of booze, we tried to sneak up as close as we could to the shore on various properties but were only chased by guards wielding guns – not the wisest idea of our times… On our way back, we docked for a short time off the shore of Fisherman’s Camp to watch the festival from the water. We joined everyone a short while later and had another fantastic night. Boris’ friends from Diani, Riccardo, Valentina and their girls Sole and Sara were in Naivasha for the weekend and so we took them to Crater Lake to have lunch on a floating restaurant. The girls were fascinated by the wildlife in the area, which are in abundance and tend to cruise around without a care in the world. Boris and I left Naivasha after a rain soaked festival experience, and headed back to Nairobi for the night at Wildebeest Eco Camp before running the Nairobi-Mombasa road gauntlet…
DIANI BEACH, KENYA
3rd – 20th Sep 2013
I spent the next two and a half weeks living the life in Diani. Boris’ house is right on the beach and is just a little piece of paradise. He lives by himself on a large property with villas for his brother and father, and a guest cottage at the back. There’s a beautiful garden with a swimming pool just before the fence and then you’re on the beach. His place is just south along the beach from his Kite Surfing School at Kenyaways. The awesome little boutique resort, Kenyaways, is run by Lindsay and good friend Bruce runs the restaurant Madafoos. It’s where I spent many hours chewing the fat with all the wonderful people I got to know!
Travellers and residents alike, this is where the fantastic little community of Diani comes together! Most of our lives revolved around Galu Beach, the beach adjacent to Diani where Kenyaways is situated. I spend my days going out on ingalawas with the surfing crowd – Boris, Bruce, Pepe, Lindsay, Wes and Olive – and taking Boris’ dogs, Pluto and Scooby for long walks on the beach. There is a fantastic German lady called Maria who does reflexology once a week and I found myself on her table more than once – I attribute the rapid recovery of my neck to her, hands down! One day my friend Reed called us up and asked us if we wanted to go deep sea fishing with her (this is just typical of the life these people lead in Diani…), so Olive, Wes and I hopped on board and we sailed the big blue trawling for dorado for most of the morning. Just love this lifestyle!
Most of Boris’ friends are resort owners or run their own businesses in the area so there was always someone up for a spot of lunch or dinner, and I got to see the most incredible resorts along the Diani strip.
Most notably, my favourite restaurant was Sails at Almanara which serves amazing food by chef Luke Doig, for the most the most ridiculously reasonable prices. Ric and Valentina, from Italy, own Water Lovers, a spot that they built over 5 years ago. It’s gorgeous and has so much charm. Filip and Ida, from Sweden, are the owners of the sprawling Kinondo Kwetu in the South and have had the King and Queen of Sweden to stay! They have riding stables and take the horses out on moonlight rides once a month. Filip has had a skate park built at the back of their new home and was kind enough to take us all out to Funzi on his boat, so that the boys could surf and SUP. Kinondo Kwetu Trust Fund are also heading up quite a few community projects and under their trading label Mailaka Cotton. I spent many a morning twisted like a pretzel at their yoga classes with Ida and Lindsay on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Claudia and Richard run Nomads, a larger resort on the Diani stretch which also has an adjoining school – this is where all the kids of these friends go. Mark owns the microlight business and twice, when I was supposed to join him in the air, it rained buckets and the opportunity to see Diani by air was cancelled… Anina runs the local art gallery and Dan runs a farm up in the Shimbas. Everyone is a piece of this multinational and brilliant little resort town – and I love it! …and when friends from Cape Town and up-country grace us with their presence… there’s no other place to go but 40 Thieves for a BIG sweaty party…