Via Via Entebbe: Taste the World

Above:

Published: The East African Nation media 21- 27 March 2020

I’m super excited to be staying at Via Via in Entebbe, booked by the staff at the New Court View Hotel in Masindi that’s the nearest town from the epic Murchison Falls National Park that boasts the ‘most powerful waterfall in the world’. It’s my next stop.

Reception at Via Via Entebbe. Copyright Rupi Mangat
Welcome to Via Via Entebbe. Copyright Rupi Mangat

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The Delta Delights: Sailing downstream the Tana Delta

Published: Travel News magazine: Dec 2019-Jan 2020

It’s a moonless night.

Above the Scorpion unfurls its tail across the delta’s width before the river crashes into the ocean. I’m enjoying a lone sail with the boatman along the mangrove-lined river with its dunes silhouetted against the night sky. Everything is elemental, pure and magical. As the stars sparkle above, the water is lit with phosphoresce.

This is heaven on earth.

A room at Delta Dunes. Copright Rupi Mangat. One time use only (800x600)
A room on the dunes at Delta Dunes. Copyright Rupi Mangat.

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Into Nyerere National Park – Tanzania’s Newest National Park in the vast southern side

Above: At Africa Safari Selous. Courtesy Africa Safari Selous

Published: Satmag Nation newspaper 22 Feb 2020

The four days in Africa’s largest national park that has been re-named after the founding father of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in 2019 is adrenaline-filled.

The night glows as fireflies flit over the wetland at our abode, the African Safari Selous. A hyena giggles and an elephant walks past. It’s a beautiful place to be at for our inaugural entry into this historical park that was set aside as Africa’s first protected wildlife reserve in 1896 by the German colonial power.

Continue reading “Into Nyerere National Park – Tanzania’s Newest National Park in the vast southern side”

South to Southern Tanzania: To reach Selous now Nyerere National Park

Above:

Published: Saturday Nation magazine

Day three of the road trip into Tanzania that’s about twice the size of Kenya, we’re nearly at the gates of Selous, a World Heritage Site and Africa’s greatest wilderness area, more than twice the size of the two Tsavos in Kenya. I’m beyond excited. I’ve reached my dream destination. Selous the mighty with the largest herds of elephants numbering 150,000 and 2,000 black rhinos with lions so many that they outnumbered those in any park in Africa – l read in the 1980 guide book. My eyes dazzled with the sheer immensity of figures.

Continue reading “South to Southern Tanzania: To reach Selous now Nyerere National Park”

West Side Lake Naivasha

Above: Ziwani House on Lake Naivasha . Copyright Rupi Mangat

Published: The East African Nation media

It’s a full ‘snow’ moon that’s travelled the sky and across the lake to sink into the horizon while on the opposite end in the east, it’s the fiery sun lighting the sky. It’s a dramatic moment to be watching two celestial bodies at the same time that control our day and night. The saffron sun tinged with a chilli red hot aura has chased the moon away.

Morning mist over Lake Naivasha from Ziwani House Copyright Rupi Mangat (800x600)
Morning mist over Lake Naivasha from Ziwani House Copyright Rupi Mangat

As the drama continues, a gentle breeze sweeps the rising white mist off the ruffled waters of a lake that the Maasai call Enai’posha meaning ‘rough water’ because of the sudden storms that can arise. It’s what we now call Lake Naivasha.

I couldn’t have chosen a better time to be at Ziwani Island House to watch one of the biggest full moons of the year nearing the closest point to the Earth in its orbit.

Stepping inside, it’s like being in a glass bobble and in awe again l catch the reflection of the sunrise in the mirror of my room.

Ziwani Island House on Lake Naivasha. Courtesy Alex Bell (800x536)
Ziwani Island House on Lake Naivasha. Courtesy Alex Bell

Ziwani Island House has been designed to capture the full drama of the lake and the sky as it ‘floats’ on its own island on the western shores of the freshwater lake in the Great Rift Valley that had the world puzzled as to why a lake without any rivers flowing out of it was so fresh.

Since the last century we now know that Lake Naivasha, the highest of the Rift Valley lakes has subterranean outlets that are connected to a string of other valley lakes like Magadi, Elmenteita, Nakuru and Bogoria – all of which are alkaline.

With a full glass frontage that brings the outside in there’s never a dull moment. Ziwani is the Kiswahili word for ‘on the water’ and when the Bell’s bought the old house at the start of the 21st century, it wasn’t on an island but on the lakeshore of the mainland.

Then came the phenomenal rains of the 2013-2014 that saw the rise of all the Rift Valley lakes. Suddenly the house that one could drive to was marooned on its personal island and instead of driving to it you now had to sail to it with the resident hippos watching with their beady eyes popping out of the water.

Sailing to Ziwani Island House on Lake Naivasha. copyright Rupi Mangat (800x600)
Sailing to Ziwani Island House on Lake Naivasha. copyright Rupi Mangat

It’s quite a welcome to Ziwani House stepping out of the locally-made fisherman’s canoe on a pier afloat the lake. The welcoming committee consists of Helmeted gunieafowls who cluck around the garden filled with colourful flowers and a stately Yellow-fever acacia by my room.

A handsome pair of Grey crowned cranes stand by the glass door. “They were rescued and brought to us. The brother won’t leave the sister,” tells Alex Bell who redesigned the house on the ‘island’. The sister has a broken wing and will never be able to fly again. Once common in the wetlands of Africa, Kenya’s population of Grey crowned cranes has dropped by 75 per cent in the last three decades to 7,500.

Once inside the glass-paned house surrounded by the lake it really does give the illusion of floating on water.

At lunch on the deck with a gigantic fig tree spreading its leafy crown over us we’re treated to all the foods organically grown by Alex including homemade cheese on the pizza. When the pineapple topped home-baked cake arrives with fresh cream to boot l’m in heaven. I can smell the cinnamon wafting off it as l write.

Ziwani House garden overlooking Lake Naivasha . Copyright Rupi Mangat (800x600)
Ziwani House garden overlooking Lake Naivasha . Copyright Rupi Mangat

There are birds every which way you look. By the window of my room a pair of Hammercops build their nest in the fork of the acacia. It’s the first time l’m watching the construction work of the bird that builds one of the biggest nests in the bird world, so strong that an adult human can stand on it.

In the early evening we stroll up the hill by the house to swivel 360-degree around to see Mount Eburru in the west followed by the Mau ranges and then the wide sweep of the savannah plain that is home to stately giraffes now listed endangered, waterbuck, kongonis, baboons and the old colobus monkey who swam across the lake to take up residence at Ziwani.

Lake Naivasha flock of cormorants flying over. Copyright Rupi Mangat (800x600)
Lake Naivasha flock of cormorants flying over. Copyright Rupi Mangat

The morning sail on the lake has birds everywhere. Every stump of the papyrus-filled shoreline has the stately African fish eagle on it. The piercing call of this bird of Africa rents the air. Dainty kingfishers flit from the low reeds to dive into the water for a fish and with some 350 other species it’s a beautiful world out there.

Fact File

Scrap metal pelican by famous artist Kioko Mwitiki on deck of Ziwani House. Copyright Rupi Mangat (800x600)
Scrap metal pelican by famous artist Kioko Mwitiki on deck of Ziwani House. Copyright Rupi Mangat

Ziwani House https://ziwaniisland.com/ a two-hour drive from Nairobi is upmarket luxury sleeping ten. You rent the house. Meals are home-grown organic which you can work off water skiing or hiking around the estate including wandering off to Hells Gate or Mount Longonot.