As a friend of mine and a fellow blogger always says, “Nairobi is the city we assume”. He mentions this in the context of travel. This is because there are so many attractions in Nairobi and places to visit such as the Nairobi National park, David Shedrick Animal Orphanage, the Giraffe Centre, Karura Forest, Oloolua Nature Trail, Nairobi City Tours (the Railway museum, the National Archives, the Nairobi Museum, MurumbiGallery, etc.), Uhuru Gardens, Bomas of Kenya, etc. To exhaust all the activities in Nairobi, you will require a week of being engaged for 4-5 hours per day.
However, the question I am faced with multiple of times is “Where can I go for a day trip outside of Nairobi, but not too far?” What I get from these people is that they want to get out of the noisy Nairobi town and get to a quiet, serene and natural environment where they can indulge in a few activities. Are there such places a few minutes from Nairobi town? Yes, there is. My beloved readers, I present to you ***drum rolls** Fairview Estate on Kiambu Road! I visited this little piece of paradise on the 13th April, 2017 and kicked myself for not discovering it sooner..
Fairview Estate is located on Kiambu Road opposite Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). It can easily be accessed through both private and public means. A kiambu matatu will leave you at KIST. On the opposite side of the road, you will see a sign post pointing to the direction of Fairview Estate. It is 1.3 Km from Kiambu Road on a well maintained all-weather road, so your adventure starts on that little walk to the place as you take in the fresh air of the Central highlands.
There are motorbikes that will take you to the farm at only KSh 100 if you’re a buzzkill and are not up for the fun walk there. Once you get to the farm gate, you get an impression of an old white settler’s home.
The structures are years older than you (myself excluded), but very well maintained. Once inside, there is an office for farm tour bookings and this should be your first stop.
Up to this point, you will be wondering if there is anything interesting do to in the farm apart from harvesting coffee, but we all like a little mystery, don’t we?
On this day, Millicent (she gets excited when you call her Millie), is the Marketing Manager at Fairview Estate and my guide for the day.
A few minutes past 10.00am, the tour starts. Millie is a very welcoming and quite an eloquent person.
She has vast knowledge of the farm and is able to answer any kind of question. The way she narrates the history of the farm, you would think she was there in 1909 when it was established.
According to Millie, Fairview Estate is a 44ha farm that has been producing high quality coffee for over 100 years. The farm is currently owned by the former Kenyan ambassador to the USA, Amb. Leonard Oliver Kibinge, and his family. It is managed by Coffee Marketing Services (CMS). Millie continued to give stories of how coffee was discovered in Ethiopia and how it took 500 years for coffee to cross over from Ethiopia to Kenya. Did you know that?
Fairview Estate has 72,000 coffee trees, which produce 80 tonnes of coffee annually.
It is divided into blocks for easier management.
The variety at this farm in SL 28 washed Arabica, a variety that has made Kenyan coffee famous amongst connoisseurs worldwide. However, the farm has introduced Ruiru II variety on a small section to test its climate change resistance. In high Season, the farm employs up to 400 people to prune, irrigate, harvest and sort the coffee beans. “This human care and expertise makes Fairview estate coffee so outstanding” Millie adds.
Fairview estate is also home to many families whose children are educated at the Estate’s school. The school is run by the funds generated from the coffee proceeds.
Millicent explained the process coffee undergoes from when it is hand-picked, graded, dried, milled and sold. It was exciting to know the process that the coffee I consume undergoes. The farm has a banana plantation with various types such as Mugithi, Muraru, sweet bananas, etc.
The bananas are sold locally and mostly to the workers for as low as KSh 150 per bunch.
From the banana field, we proceeded to the dairy section. The farm produces milk from zero grazing.
I did not spend a lot of time at the banana field and the dairy section because my main interest was the coffee. We proceeded to a section where coffee is sorted, graded, dried and processed. The machines are ancient and still working perfectly.
It was not a harvesting day, so unfortunately I did not get to see the processing part. We were invited for coffee tasting and here we met a barista by the name Ann.
She took us through the process of how graded coffee is roasted to produce finalists such as black coffee and espresso. We participated in tasting and I must say, it’s a job I want. This was the end of our coffee tour.
Millie took us to a very scenic garden with a water fountain, outdoor benches and a cool shade.
She offered us coffee (fresh from the farm) and snacks. She later came with a bag of packed lunch and gave us 30 min to relax.
The garden is given for free to visitors who wish to use it for picnics or team building after the coffee tour. It has well-manicured grass and enough space to accommodate up to 100 people.
After the picnic-lunch, Millie asked if we still had energy. This is a question she always poses to clients after the coffee tour to determine if they will be able to go for a nature trail. I am an outdoors addict and you can guess what my response was. The 150 acre farm has a road network, which Millie advised is used by cyclists.
The walk was characterized by indigenous trees and eucalyptus plants. We spotted some monkeys and could see trails left by dikdiks.
As if what we had seen was not enough, Fairview Estate tour presented the most scenic waterfall I have seen close to Nairobi. Forget Karura Forest, forget Oloolua Nature Trail and forget Paradise Lost, this is something else.
The waterfall is natural and undisturbed. The green vegetation around the fall and along the river tells it all. The cool environment around here assures you that all is not lost in conservation efforts.
From the falls, we did a gentle uphill trek through a beautiful eucalyptus forest. This forest is conducive for video shoots and perfect for engagement photo shoots.
We went through the coffee fields and the climax of it was stunning. A dam within a coffee estate? Who would have thought?
Next to the dam is a beautiful, manicured and well maintained garden. According to Millie, this garden is rented out for weddings and reception at only KSh 150,000.
This is a place that you want to say your vows at! The dam is more scenic when full of water and it also has fish. Unfortunately my day trip at Fairview Coffee Estate had to come to an end.
Fairview Estate is only a 30 minutes’ drive from Nairobi CBD and 10 min from Runda/US Embassy. A coffee tour is charged at KShs. 1,000 for residents and 30USD for non-residents.
After the tour, non-residents are given a packet of coffee for free and they can buy more if they wish to.
If you are looking for a place to hangout with your friends, chama, clients or family, now there’s a place you probably had no idea about. . So start planning that picnic, photo shoot, wedding or team building outing.
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Eliud Ndungu, a part-time adventure travel blogger who’s been exploring his motherland-Kenya for over 4 years