I know that most of us have shied away from January travel as we continue to tighten our purse strings. Be that as it may, if you’re afflicted by wanderlust as I am, your travel itinerary will defy Njaanuary (Slang for month of hunger) as it did for me when I packed my bags for group travel in 2018.
That’s right. When everybody else was moaning the lack of disposable income to go for vacation, I was planning my trip in earnest. My fellow travellers and I were in on this secret: The only way to explore the world on the cheap in January is through group travel.
One of the benefits of group travel as I earlier intimated on an earlier post is shared costs which makes your trip more affordable. Let me paint you a picture. I got an invite from Keitan Safaris Kenya. Having been at their previous trips, I knew I would not be disappointed. Needless to say, 7.30am found me at Kencom waiting to board.
After a short wait, a lively crowd joined me in this trip and we departed at 8.30am. I figured, that their excitement must have emanated from the fact that they could afford to travel in January! Be wary of such people. The ones who bombard your social media walls with hashtags such as #Njaaanuaryninyinyi #Njaanuaryforwho? #Learnhowtosave and so on.
This is a widely known fact. Travel has no strangers. Which makes group travel so alluring. Our bus was full of noise from people’s conversations. If making new friends is one of your hobbies, I would suggest that you try group travel every now and then.
Our first stop was the Great Rift Valley View Point.
A sight for sore eyes is what this location is. No matter how many times you stare, sights from the escarpment walls and deep valleys below will not wear you out. We had our coffee and snacks thanks to Keitan Safaris Kenya, took instagram worthy pictures and departed half an hour later.
Our next stop was at the little jewel, which is the smallest church in Kenya-and possibly Africa. It was built in 1942 by the Italian POW (Prisoners of War) under strict supervision of British colonialists. These are the same people who built the Maai Mahiu road under treacherous conditions. Next time you use this road, make sure you stop at this church and learn some history.
We braced ourselves for the long drive ahead. The next stop would be Nyahururu town. Fortunately, with a lively crowd, beautiful smiles, good music and a smooth beautiful road, Nyahururu moved closer. At 2pm we were at what was formerly an administrative capital of Nyandarua County despite it being in Laikipia County-Nyahururu town. With Thompsons Falls being only a kilometer away, we stopped for lunch.
With only Kshs. 50 you are granted access to this nature’s gift.
Contrary to the popular saying that “the views are better from the top”, Thompsons falls is better seen from the bottom. There is a steep hike down to where the water hits the ground and flows.
This fall is beautiful and picturesque attracting a lot of locals who come here to picnic mostly on weekends.
This 74 meters fall was named in 1883 by a Scottish explorer and geologist-Joseph Thomsons. Its water originates from Aberdare Ranges, passes through the only lake in Central Kenya-Lake Olbolosat and drains in Lorian swamps. Thompsons Falls Lodge and Panari Resort Nyahururu are accommodations available on both sides of the falls. At the entrance, you will find horses, quad bikes and camels ready to give you a ride at a small fee.
We then embarked on a 33km drive to Lalanasi Lodge and Tented camp located in Laikipia County at a village called Mutara. On arrival, I thought we had entered someone’s homestead because the first sighting was cattle. This lodge is built on a ranch where cows, goats and sheep are part of the residents.
The lodge features a swamp, self catering cottages, a tree house, canvas tents and a camping ground.
Wondering what to do while here? The lodge provides fun activities such as horse riding, fishing/kayaking, bicycle riding and quad biking. This is an unsung jewel.
We were allocated 2-man tents and had a free evening. We walked around to familiarize ourselves with the destination. The lodge has a man- made dam from a diverted stream filled with fish (mainly mud fish) and a floating restaurant. It has a lounge with Dstv and a fireplace, outdoor sitting and a large playground with kids’ activities.
We gathered at the restaurant for dinner at 7.30pm, where we introduced ourselves to each other and served food. The restaurant has indoor activities like table tennis, pool table and darts. In addition, it has a fireplace and a television screen.
After dinner, there was a dance class characterized by salsa and Kizomba. Those with 2 left feet were free to stay away.
It was an exciting session until electricity became jealous. Luckily, there was solar lighting outside, saving us from total darkness. A camp fire was then lit around which we sat and swapped stories and played games as others retired to their tents.
At Lalanasi, it’s the birds that wake you up. Unfortunately for me, my body wouldn’t will itself to wake up early so I missed the sunrise. I however took a walk round the camp and the dam. Breakfast was served at 9.30am after which, we had 3 hours of engaging in activities at our own pleasure.
Since I was looking forward to a quad bike ride and kayaking, I was among the first to sign up for these activities. I had not ridden a manual quad bike before. There is an armature field where you get trained first before going on the trail. I must admit that riding a manual quad bike was an adventure. Unlike a motorbike or car, the accelerator is on right hand side of the steering, start and clutch on the left side and break is on the right foot. Balancing this is tricky.
After enjoying the quad bike, I embarked on a fishing expedition. My luck seemed to have ran out since I caught nothing.
However, kayaking lifted my spirits. Time flew so much that there wasn’t any left to ride a horse or bicycle.
We had early lunch at 12.30pm, packed and left for Tafaria Castle which lies only 23km from Lalanasi Lodge.
Tafaria castle is something else. It is built on a hill allowing it to stand tall in the Aberdares overlooking Mt. Kenya and the Laikipia plains. This is a unique destination to getaway in the country-side. It is ideal for relaxation, romantic getaways, special events such as weddings, honeymoon, parties as well as meetings and conferences.
Tafaria castle has enough ground for team building, children’s playground and a swimming pool.
Activities here include; horse riding, horse chariot ride, Landau ride, swimming, archery, ball games, indoor games (such as badminton, scrabble, kids kingdom), cycling among others.
The 2 hours we spent here enriched our memories. The group couldn’t help but turn the trip into a photography spree. Unfortunately, time was not waiting for queens and kings at the castle. We cut the cake for January babies and enjoyed the taste of Tafaria.
We left Tafaria for Nairobi through Nyeri. What an amazing road trip. We traversed 8 counties in 2 days, i.e. Nairobi-Kiambu-Nakuru-Nyandarua-Laikipia-Nyeri-Kirinyaga-Murang’a-Kiambu-Nairobi.
This group travel experience was one of a kind, I can barely wait for my next adventure.
The cost was only Kshs. 5599/=per person and 11,000/= for couples. This is a trip you can take up on self-drive and make all the stops mentioned on this article.
However, if you want group fun, networking, meeting and making new friends, pay less and enjoy company of a crazy crowd, pay up for the second edition of this amazing group travel experience happening on 17th February 2018.
You will not regret it. You can get in touch with me for more details.
Until next time………stay safe and travel more!
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