Shopping at Muthurwa Market

I love shopping, and when it comes at a bargain I am ready to laugh hysterically in glee, which I did when my friend made me discover Muthurwa Market!

A birds eye view of market

You see I had no idea you could shop at this market as I believed it was only for fruits and vegetables, but when I desperately needed a cheap suitcase for a travel themed party, Anna said she knew a ‘Hook-up”. If you know Anna you roll your eyes when she suggests a ‘hook up’ as they are as seedy as they come. I still remember ‘Mambo’ one of her dodgy DVD bootleggers who insisted on selling me the pirated products and when I didn’t slipped them into my bag anyway.

So I didn’t take her suggestion too seriously, and when we meandered dangerously through the roads and matatus at the entrance of the dusty Muthurwa Market, I wanted to drive back the other way.

However my previous experience with Toi Market had made me stop judging a book by its cover, and so with my ‘flatties’, raggedy clothing (necessary to prevent being conned out of a good bargain according to Ana) and the hugest apprehensive chip on my shoulder we parked the car and off we went.

I walked in trepidation as nearly everyone turned to stare at me wondering what I was doing there, and then they would spot Anna and beam their warm smiles at me.

Ana had warned me that however cheap anything was I had to make sure I haggled a better price than was on offer. So imagine my shock when a lovely shoe vendor offered me gorgeous Prada sandals for 500 Kshs/-, I thought I had struck gold but Ana frowned at him, berated him for trying to con me as I was a newbie and how would he feel if my non-existent children went hungry as I had paid this exorbitant price?

The poor man ummed and aahed and finally settled for 250/-.

I couldn’t believe the bargain I snagged and was beyond shocked at the cheap price- that is, until I came upon the ‘bag-lady’ who sold hand-bags for 200 Kshs as just like Ana she also had a ‘hook-up’.  45 year old Mary said she used to work as a tea lady in an office in town but the hours were tiring, demeaning and uneventful. When her cousin told her about a stall at the market, she immediately sprang at this opportunity and doesn’t regret it for a minute.

From Mary’s stall we headed to Nancy’s dress shack, another one of Ana’s hook-ups. Nancy wasn’t in but her dodgy brother was and he tried conning us out of a few shillings but a ‘model’ shopping there saved us and I bagged a lovely summery dress for 500 Kshs/-, much cheaper than Toi Market.

A little way from there and another dress stall caught my eye where the lovely girl sold us dresses for 400/- Kshs and I ululated when I bagged a lovely red dress for a mere 300/- Kshs.

I can’t deny the bargains are amazing and quite unbelievable but the chaos can deter one from venturing there alone.

For a market that cost Sh700 million to build, I have to say I was rather disappointed at the infrastructure. The plan had included a 24-hour market with basic facilities like water, restrooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multi-storied stalls, a banking hall and an administration office. I mean I hadn’t expected a mall, but I have been rather spoilt with the somewhat cleanliness of Toi Market.

I saw nothing resembling the grandiose plans. Instead  Muthurwa Market to me, was a crowded mess of matatus jostling for a place to park, dusty and muddy roads, burst sewers, pickpockets (which Ana’s street smartness saved me from)and lack of clean water for the hawkers contribute to the stinky chaos that has become tantamount with the market.

And most of the Hawkers agree, a hawker who preferred to be unnamed was thankful for the opportunity to conduct her business, but being a food kiosk owner she bemoaned the lack of clean water to cook and clean her ingredients.

Same went for ‘Kipande’ who owned a lovely shoe stall for men. “I am happy that the government tried to help us by settoing this market up but what next? We have no clean bathrooms, the dust and troublesome characters can be exhausting”.

At the end if you are brave enough to truly rough it out then I urge you to check it out for the unbelievable deals, but like I have mentioned make sure you don your street smartness, covered shoes and happy pills for a unique shopping experience.

 PUB in The Star September 25th 2011

Hot Air balloon safari over the Mara

You haven’t enjoyed the Mara in all its magnificence until you have experienced it in a Hot air balloon I remember my friend Carla once stating.

That was five years ago when Hot air ballooning was a ridiculously priced luxury and only the wealthy could afford it. So I tucked it away in my ‘List of things to do before I die’ and “Things to do when I am a millionaire” and imagined I would do it before I clocked 80. Of course nowadays it is more affordable but for some reasodue to ignorance I chalked it up to the future.

So when Crista Jappinnen called me up one fine Wednesday morning to invite me to experience one for myself I nearly died with happiness. Rarely does a journalist get to experience something they have always desired to do and after a quick word with the editor I was packed and ready to fly.

We were booked in at the exquisite Entim lodge, overlooking the Mara River and simply on our ride to the lodge we caught glimpses of Elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, gazelles and of course the breath taking wildebeest migration. As I squealed in glee, our driver Sammy Leiyo told me that “This is nothing, tomorrow morning from the balloon it will be ten times better” and with that promise I could hardly wait for the next morrow.

The gorgeous tents...sigh!

After a sumptuous, relaxing dinner with the owner of Entim Lodge-Azim Rajwani, who regaled us with hilarious tales of his experience with the wild at the lodge, we were escorted by armed maasai guards to our luxurious tents.

“Zip up tight” Azim heeded “You don’t want a leopard peeping in like last time” and Crista added “be ready by 4.30 am as we want to catch the sunrise from the balloon”.

I could hardly sleep that night with excitement and curiosity as hyenas shrieked themselves silly and Hippos snorted and grunted 150 metres from my tent.

I couldn’t believe I was going to be experiencing 1 of this generations ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ from a Hot Air Balloon. You see I had heard somewhere that a Hot air balloon safari over the Mara is listed among the world’s top 1000 things one must do before they die. And to catch it as the wildebeest make their great migration across the Mara River to the Serengeti National Park and back is the icing on the cake, the foam on the beer and the red heel of the Louboutin shoe.

My mother would have been proud at how quickly I sprang out of bed at 4.15 am, and at 4.30 sharp we were off in our van in the crisp, chilly morn and headed to the launching point which is a cool 45 minutes away.

We jabbered away in excitement as Azim told us more stories of his experience in the ‘Hot Air Safaris’ balloon and more about our dashing pilot, Riz Jiwa and of course Hot Air Safaris. Azim told us that Riz had clocked in tons of experience by flying in the Mara and Amboselli for years after being trained in the US and is also the first Kenyan balloon pilot.

As we arrived at the launching pad the site was alive with activity as we are given a quick pep talk from Riz, made last minute dashes to the bathroom as the enormous balloon was being inflated. It takes about 10 men ten minutes to get it doing and no sooner was it ready to sail in the wind than Riz instructed us to “Hop in”.

‘Easy for him to say’ I thought to myself as I surveyed a teeny basket with no protection. You see as excited as I was it was rather daunting jumping into a basket attached to a humungous balloon with no safety belt to protect me. The coward in me nearly gave in as the basket danced and bobbed in the air but a reassuring smile from Crista and Riz and a literal push from one of the hands on deck had me tumbling head first into the basket- and with that inelegant entry we were off.

The balloons are licensed to carry ten to sixteen passengers and we were four journalists, the pilot, his second in command, Crista, Azim and four American tourists. Riz quickly instructed us on landing and taking off protocol with a quick “enjoy the experience” as we are up, up and away! As we were tucked into the basket, holding on to ropes dangling from the side we didn’t see much as we took  off, but the hiss of the fuelling gas burner indicated our rise to magnificence.

I had honestly imagined a scary, bumpy ride –sort of like a roller coaster ride thanks to the wild morning wind, but thanks to the experienced, efficient pilot it was smooth and the balloon simply glided vertically into the air. And here is the interesting thing about a balloon safari; while the pilot can control the altitude, the direction in which you fly is totally dependent on that of the wind, so each ride is always a different experience.

Every time Riz’s keen eyes spotted wildlife, we would descend from 1500 feet to 500 feet and that feeling is indescribable. From our vantage point we could spot the ‘actual’ migration as wildebeest danced, pranced and leapt over boulders and vegetation across the river. At moments all we saw were dark patches from high up and every time Riz lowered the balloon we would realize that those were the wildebeest- simply breath taking and magical.

The experience made me want to sprout a pair of wings as strangely the entire experience was spiritual. At the risk of sounding like a parody, I honestly felt one with the universe and God/ the universe’s creation. The restless spirit in me finally felt at peace as I watched the Mara’s inhabitants graze contentedly and without a care in the world.

Watching the sunrise, hearing the grunts and various calls of the animals and smelling that fresh air was worth any price and I would have sold my kidney and first born to have that experience again.

Riz kept us informed on birds, vegetation, rivers, plains and we even got a chance to spot Killimanjaro.

So why go on a balloon safari that will cost you 40,000, opposed to a cheaper version of a game drive? Because you will spot animals that you never dreamed you’d spot in their own habitat. Game drives don’t offer you that view and since you can’t stray from trails, you are limited in what and how much you can see. A ballon safari also takes away that bumpy, tiring, dusty trip you’d experience in a van and gives you smooth, painless gliding over the Mara plains.

Riz adds that people come from across the globe to experience this indescribable and magical experience and it is something we need to try before we die. “Hot Air Safris wants to encourage Kenyans to take advantage of the opportunities that lie in our very own backyard and experiencing the migration and The Mara from a Balloon will definitely be the highlight of your life. It truly is the only way to enjoy the entire vastness of the mara and truly appreciate the expanse of the land. Remember anything you can see from the ground you can see it a 100 times better from up in the air”.

The landing in itself is an experience worth paying for. Once the journey is complete, Riz expertly brought the balloon to a bumpy yet adventurous, tumbling stop. Vans immediately whisked us away to transport us to the bush Champagne breakfast in the middle of the Mara.

A sumptuous English breakfast consisting of fresh fruits, yogurt, juices, meats, pastries and live cooking stations fuelled our hearty appetites and excited hearts.

And there’s nothing like a cuppa in the wilderness…sigh….

In the end this was truly the most inspiring experience of my life and will be worth every penny you spend. I can now strike this off my ‘List of things to do before I die’ and head on to the next adventure…Sky diving anyone?

For more information: www.maraballooning.com or email riz@maraballooning.com.

 PUB in The Star July 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Contour Spa- fancy slimming minus the exercise? The read on!

Location: Basement 2, Connaught Apartments, Lantana road off Rhapta Road

Are you one of those people who love food and can never say no to that extra slice of pizza or cookie?  And are you also that person who suffers guiltily afterwards kicking yourself for eating it as it has gone straight to your hips?

Well fret not my dear, I have somewhat found our solution to that dilemma. Losing weight has always been a personal struggle of mine, in fact my weight has yo-yoed worse that Sarah Ferguson’s!

So imagine my glee when I heard of a spa that promises to burn off your fat without any exercise? Of course It sounded a bit dodgy but nonetheless exciting so off I went with my extra 7 kilos on my bottom and thighs and pen to find out what it was all about!

I had heard of Body Contour in the past as friends had frequented the branch in Hurlingham so I wasn’t too frightened about the ‘slimming side’ to it.  Founded by Irene Githua, who is neither a nutritionist nor a beautician, it boasts the most amazing slimming technologies. Irene herself had struggled to lose her excess 20 kgs that dieting and exercising couldn’t until she discovered treatments like electro-therapy and cavitation. That inspired Body Contour and the rest was Stone Age.

At ‘Body Contour’ slimming spa a scientific method to slimming is used combining modern technology, relaxing body treatments and an easy to follow diet. Treatments are designed to help with poor blood circulation, sluggish digestive systems, poor metabolism, cellulite, fluid retention and poor skin conditions.

Of course all of this sounded very rosy as the lovely Leah told me at the reception but it was all new and very daunting to me. I mean sure I would lose tons of excess baggage on my body but it was still scientific hocus pocus. Leahya patiently explained to me that my first procedure- Non-invasive liposuction was not an operation but an ultrasound method of using low frequency airwaves to break up fat cells to eliminate them.

She then handed me over to Angela Kagendo who was meant to treat me. I have to admit I nearly fainted when I saw the machine! It reminded me of an ECG machine and I nearly turned around and walked out until I remembered the bag of chips I had had for breakfast that would take me two hours to burn off at the gym. I timidly got onto the bed shaking in apprehension.

Angela talked me through every step as she squeezed gooey liquid onto my belly and showed me a tiny object that was meant to reduce my tummy fat. I nearly fainted in relief at how useless it looked until it started vibrating around my tummy.

It was a very unique sensation, sort of ticklish but not painful at all. Angela moved and turned me around passing the device around my belly as ultrasound waves squished my fat cells. I immediately began to feel it working as my tummy started embarrassingly to release gas. I turned various colours of the rainbow as Angela nonchalantly shrugged it off stating that that was meant to happen as it showed the technology was working.

That was amazing and felt pretty darn good minus the gas release!

No sooner as that was done than we quickly prepped for the electro-therapy session. That was the frightening machine with monitors dangling from a machine that I presumed were meant to attach to my body.

But the promise of “1 session of electro-therapy is equivalent to a 12 hour work-out, 1200 sit-ups and 1200 sit ups and 1200 leg-lifts” had me excited. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t about to sacrifice myself as a guinea pig to lose weight through scientific mumbo jumbo. I did my research on line and learnt that these treatments were quite common and safe with nearly no side effects. In fact in Europe and America they were quite common -i remember watching  an episode of Real housewives of Atlanta (Kim got it) where they tried it out.

So  electro therapy works in this manner. When you exercise, natural impulses cause your muscles to contract and relax. The electro therapy machine safely and effectively stimulates these natural impulses to make the muscles contract and relax, similar to normal exercise.

Despite all of this I was still scared of ‘the octopus machine’ as I like to refer to it thanks to its many wires and gadgets. But turns out there was nothing to be scared about.

Once again Angela calmly told me what she was doing. First, tight bands were placed around my arms, tummy, love handle areas and thighs. Then she put gooey liquid on the flat surfaces of the wires and placed them where the bands were and slowly turned up the machine step by step. First my tummy started to contract, then the muscles relaxed and vibrated as currents of electricity passed through my body.

It was frightening but apparently quite normal! It initially began as a ticklish sensation and as the machine was cranked up it felt like I was doing the jitterburg whilst laying in my bed-a very weird sensation. Through the vibration I felt my muscles contracting and relaxing during the 40 minute session just like I would have if I were at the gym. Very cool!!

Strangely after that I felt exhausted. So I was relieved when Angela lead me down to the steam to relax. Once my pores were steamed opened I was lead for my full body scrub conducted with Slimming salt. Not only was the dead skin exfoliated but the slimming salts were meant to reduce water retention and increase blood circulation.

Sauna

My tummy was then wrapped in sea clay, mummified and I was lead to the sauna suit to sweat away excess water and toxins. The point of the spot clay wrap is to tackle the one ‘spot’ on your body that is difficult to lose the inches off. This is the point where I literally dozed off for a few minutes and felt totally relaxed.

Sauna suit

It was a thoroughly memorable experience and Irene believes after weeks of these treatments 1 can indeed lose the kilos. I certainly lost an inch after all the water I sweated out and it got me motivated to start being healthy (ask Irene for her wonderful eating plan). Plus if Irene can lose all her excess pounds through this then its good enough for me.

Highlights are certainly the service, unique treatments and the clean showers! I am going to keep trying the treatments out and will keep u posted.

Jacaranda Hotel makes a come back!

I remember spending every Sunday of my childhood by the Jacaranda Hotel pool as my siblings and I splashed each other silly, learnt how to swim new strokes, accomplished our first handstands and pigged out on chips as our parents enjoyed a drink or two.

So it was with fondness I always remembered this grand hotel, yet had forgotten to visit- just like a best friend from primary school you promised to be BFFs with but kind of forgot to be in touch with.

So when my cousins from Canada opted to stay there for a weekend on holiday and invited me to join them it was with glee I accepted. I felt like the prodigal daughter returning from a quest as I entered the lovely foyer.

The wonderful guest relations manager, Felistas immediately came to our assistance helped us locate our rooms and took us on a fantastic tour as reception rolled out the welcome wagon in our rooms.

Much had charmingly changed as we took a tour of the grounds and the new pool. For instance the pool is now heated, the changing rooms are jazzy and there’s a stunning bar where we could now make new memories sipping cocktails as we played truth or dare (despite our age some games still never get old).

Then came an amazing surprise. Jacaranda Hotel now has a state of the art Gym and a beautiful Spa. I gaped at the high quality equipment, buffed up fitness instructors and the sophisticated gadgets allotted in every nook and cranny. My cousin J, the living breathing gym, immediately began to pump some Iron!

From there we moved to the spa and my knotted muscles began to groan in excitement as the soft, earthy colours, the scent of candles and herbs and various treatments intoxicated us with promises of relaxation. I knew I would be here most of the weekend as I spotted treatments like aquarelle facials, hot stone massages and Pambo body scrubs. Bliss.

All this while the bubbly Felistas chatted away to us like we were old friends and staff stopped to inquire about our well being.

A cold towel was placed in our hands after the tour to cool us down and then we headed to the newly refurbished rooms.

I was surprised how tasteful, new and charming they were. The rooms had wonderful showers, satellite TV, a ceiling fan and a mini bar making it quite cozy.

There are restaurants and bars to unwind for a drink or meal and food is excellent. The buffet was mouth watering with varieties of salads, cheese, dessert, fruit, meat, vegetarian dishes heaped on groaning tables. I loved that there was always options between meat- beef, chicken, fish filled up buffet trays. Salads were aplenty and desserts always decadent. There is also an option of an a- la carte menu for those whose tummies aren’t buffet friendly.

Service was always excellent and members of the staff constantly made us feel like treasured, pampered guests.

Our favourite moments were the sundowners at the spacious Safari Bar and the Gazebo bar by the poolside. Plus the Pizza Garden was a mere hop and skip away when we craved some entertainment and pizza.

My cousins also loved the fact that Jacaranda Hotel was located in Westlands as getting to the City Centre and Ngong was easy, fast and convenient.

At the end Jacaranda hotel is truly a home away from home, is a great place for the weary to unwind and is perfect for those conferences, weddings and business lunches.

5 Stars

(more Pics on the way)

Pub in The Star-24th June.

Galleria is gorgeous!

Last weekend, my galpals Jay and Resh bundled me into the car and decided enough was enough (I had been wallowing in stress due to Mum’s surgery) and that I needed a change of scenery!

We first made a stop at InterCont hotel for a cuppa and then off we went to Langatta Road (karen?) to the Galleria Shopping Mall.

I gotta admit I had not heard of this  ultra modern shopping centre until early Feb when my buddy Shyam invited me for a birthday dinner for his wife Cindy- and I had thought it was a restaurant!

Anyway driving into the entryway I was blown away- I felt like I was in a mal in South Africa and I clapped my hands in glee as boy do I miss Gtown!

Here’s more on this stunning place-

You can shop at The Nakumatt for your groceries, sort out you Safaricom Issues at the Sfaricom retail store, shop for your denim at Factory 55, glamourise yourself at Woolworths (love Wolies), Mr. Price, Safaribeads, Bata, CS MEXX, Cnverse and Rags. Get healthy with Healthy U and Pharmmart and don’t even get me started on the dining.

Java is delcious as is Art cafe for that bite or cha! Art Cafe is as gorgeous as ever here and Java is oh so tempting!

Java Galleria,unbelievably delicious!

I also hear a cinema will be popping up soon and more goodies as well!!


Mara Sarova is a beautiful lodge to stay at, too bad the shoddy service and unkempt grounds negate the experience

One of the wonders of Kenya and the world is the Masai Mara Reserve, and each year tourists flock our airports to glimpse and experience this beautiful wildlife reserve. So when opportunity knocked to visit it with a few friends I dived in with an empty wallet but an exploratory spirit.

We chose to stay at Mara Sarova as the rates were fair and it is very well positioned (first reserve once you pass the gates). You get to enjoy the rolling plains around the Camp which is usually swarming with wildebeest, gazelles and zebras and the easy access to the nearby Masai village is an added bonus.

After a bumpy, dusty ride with minimal bathroom breaks we arrived at the Reserve gate with bladders on the border of bursting. However as soon as we entered The Sarova camp gates we were immediately welcomed by a Masai warior with a cold towel and a welcome drink (Don’t get me started on the commercialism irony).

My first impression of the hotel was awe and I was pleasantly surprised at the tasteful African touches here and there. When I found out that Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson had stayed there I couldn’t wait for the most memorable stay of my life- If it was suitable for the most adventurous man alive it was definitely suitable for us.

Richard Branson's plaque

After being checked in swiftly we headed for our ‘tents’, which were more like rooms bordered by tents. The tents at Sarova are fully equipped with en suite bathrooms, beds, wardrobes, safari chairs on the deck, running hot & cold water and electricity. So you aren’t really roughing it out in the bush more like lapping in luxury.  We went for the Standard Tents that were comfortable and affordable but the view was undesirable as it looked out onto a stagnant water-body and tons of bushy trees.

gogeous bathrooms

Tents though were luxurious, with little touches like mosquito repellant and a hot water bottle to warm your bed in the evenings a welcome delight and despite no locks on the tents I always felt my belongings and I were safe.

Unfortunately I had gone there for some much needed rest which I never experienced thanks to the cankering of hammers and construction work going on directly behind our tent as the hotel was expanding. The staff did not bother to notify us of this and at 8am sharp the hullabaloo began. Even more annoying was that we could hear our neighbors at night if they so much as whimpered due to the proximity of neighboring tents and noise from pedestrian traffic and trolleys was beyond irritable at times especially in the mornings and afternoon when you were trying to take a nap.

Lighting outside tents on paths was inadequate at night and many a time I tripped and nearly broke an ankle. In all fairness I believe the reserve runs on generators so lighting has to be preserved but when you can barely see five steps ahead of you the procedure of walking to your room unaccompanied can be very daunting. However every now and then we would spot a wild deer and that made the dark trip worthwhile.

Buffet table

Unfortunately the food wasn’t the best. I understand fresh ingredients from the gardens are used to prepare dishes but in all honesty I felt dishes were rather bland, boring and wanting. I have tasted baby food that was more exciting and while chefs did try their best I wasn’t impressed by the variety. The live cooking counters at The Isokon Restaurant were meant to be a highlight but chefs seemed hassled and irritated when preparing your dishes. The Bush picnic hampers though were adequate when we chose to go away for the day and they more than made up for the lack of warmth received at the buffet.

Service tended to be average when it wasn’t less than adequate. The hotel was at full capacity so we never felt like treasured or special guests and while I understand staff were busy and frazzled, a smile or a polite nod or any example of Kenyan hospitality like a greeting would have been much appreciated. At points I felt like forgotten stepchildren especially at the dining areas. However room service was excellent and extra requests were always dealt with efficiently. With the numerous guests there we couldn’t eat whenever we wanted and usually had to wait for a table. We were never informed that we would have to wait to be seated or that we could book a table in advance until our last grumpy meal.

Nonetheless there are staff there who do try to make your stay worthwhile like the kind, polite doctor on duty for minor mishaps, the dessert and omelet chefs at the live stations who make up for the nonchalant service you receive from other staff.

The outdoor swimming pool and the Ewaso Pool Bar was a wonderful place to relax as well before and after game drives and in the evenings entertainment was usually provided like singers or Masai warriors performing their signature jumps.

In the end Mara Sarova does not live up to neither its’ high brand expectation nor its potential but with improved service and cuisine it might just be able to save itself.

FACTS:

Distance: 260 kms from Nairobi.

By road: 5 and a half hours from Nairobi

By air: 40 minutes from Nairobi, transfer from airstrip to lodge takes 20 minutes.

Rates: Through Big foot safaris, Mara Sarova cost us 19000/-Per Person for travel, game drives and full board for two nights and three days.

 

Published in The Star: Friday 4th February 2011.

Indigo Bay resort and spa- The definition of luxury

Hotel Review: Indigo bay Resort

Location: Bazurruto Island, Mozambique

5 stars

Holidays are my favorite part of slaving the year away, and once a year after saving every penny I can I try to decide on a part of Africa to visit. I truly believe there is no point in travelling outside of our own continent as we have true hidden gems that can beat the most exotic of destinations, and since charity begins at home why not explore Mother Africa?

Armed with all the knowledge I could muster I finally settled on Indigo Island Bay Resort and Spa situated on Bazaruto Island, Mozambique as a pilot friend who flew there kept raving about it. Plus I still had my South African student’s visa so the stress of applying for one was nil.

Luck was with me as I was already in South Africa (for graduation) and from Johannesburg it was only a hop and a skip away(well a flight away). I remember landing in Villanculos and shuddering as the airport was beyond small-It reminded me of the airport in Ukunda in Diani. It was Teeny tiny with porters carrying in our bags as officials barked at us in Portuguese, I felt like I was in the army as I shuffled my feet with my oversized hat that screamed ‘Tourist’ as a guard snarled and snapped at my ankles.

But once I got to customs things got better. Discovering I was from Kenya the official beamed a yellow toothed smile and escorted me to my tiny plane (an airvan) that was set to take me to Bazzuroto Island where Rani Resort’s Indigo Bay was located. To get to Indigo Bay you have an option of a boat ride or for a couple of extra dollars you can fly there.

The plane ride was excruciatingly bumpy but the pilot informed me that the boat ride was worse as it would take over an hour to get to the resort and the water was always choppy. But from the moment I sighted Indigo Island Bay Resort and Spa all remnants of a queasy stomach were forgotten.

The Indian Ocean overlooking Indigo Bay on Bazaruto Island was invitingly warm and the resort was undoubtedly a beautiful and unexplored destination, and I couldn’t wait to learn more about its wildlife, turquoise waters and unexplored beaches.

Somewhat perched majestically on a cliff and surrounded by greenery and a beach I was blown away at its exclusivity! As soon as we landed a golf cart was there to fetch me with a cool towel to wipe the sweat off my brow and a bottle of mineral water to rehydrate me. And it was about to get better! The resort had all the creature comforts fit for Saudi royalty and it might be so as it is built by a Saudi prince.

Walking into the reception my eyes feasted on the glass mosaics on the walls, with shells and African art scattered in nooks and crannies and its design and architecture is best described as posh, elegant and sophisticated. I immediately headed to the two infinity pools as my battered luggage was driven to my room or should I say villa?

The guest areas, the luxury Beach Chalets and Bay View Villas, have been constructed out of natural materials like reed, soft-fringed thatch and wood in order to blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings. So it is a true treat for environmental lovers and you can also enjoy your stay guilt free of ripping off Mother Nature.

My beach front room was spacious, the bathroom was magnificent and allowed private access onto the beach and had all the modern conveniences. Each chalet and villa at Indigo Bay offers complete luxury, with air-conditioning, mosquito screens, en-suite bathrooms, mini-bars, 24-hour power, satellite TV and telephone access. I loved my King size bed and the teeny patio outside the room that gave me a great view of the sunset in the evenings.

During the day I spent many hours in the infinity pools and by the wet bar- Tartaruga (Turtle) Pool Bar. But I found prices at Maguluti (Tides) Snack Bar Situated at the Activities centre cheaper for drinks and more relaxing in the evenings as the staff hung out there in the evenings and it reminded me of the bar that Tom Cruise worked in the Bahamas in ‘Cocktail’.

For the health conscious I have to recommend the gym and the spa has been rated one of the 101 best in the world and is worth seeing even if you don’t want to indulge as the ladies there are warm and friendly. Treatments at Indigo Bay include Swedish massages, milk baths, body brushes, body wraps, hot stone therapies, reflexology and facials (which I adored), all designed to impart African energy, goodness and vitality.

Dinner on the beach as the sun sets

Service was excellent as staff literally fell over their feet to serve you but were never intrusive and I loved their Portuguese accent though all spoke English excellently and were very happy to teach me Portuguese words.

The Food was exquisite with seafood aplenty as it’s fresh off the beach however after the third night there I begun to get bored with the lack of variety.  I also felt that drink prices were steep as were the prices of activities.

I did my first dive here and a lovely South African lady called Lara was my instructor and if it wasn’t for her patience I would have never done it.

The two mile reef was excellent for spotting turtles, rays and schools of surgeon fish. Dive sites further afield are more challenging in terms of currents but you if you are lucky you can see mantas, moray eels and a fellow tourist spotted a shark. I wouldn’t recommend boat rides for those who lack sea legs as depending on the wind it can get very choppy.

However you have to try snorkeling as they take day trips to Paradise and Pansy Island. A picnic basket filled with goodies is packed for you as well so that after your strenuous snorkeling experience you can soak up the rays on the beach as you indulge in your meal- chefs can also accompany you and grill fresh seafood for you on the beach of these islands.

Paradise Island

 

In the end Indigo Bay is a great place for the weary soul to unwind and rinse off the stress and if it’s fit for royalty then it’s certainly a treat for me.

Indigo Bay Lodge & Spa Price Guide :

7 Nights including flights from Johannesburg from: US$ 2580 per person sharing.

Visa Requirements:

-Original passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity.

-2 Passport-type photographs:

-Itinerary. Copy of round trip tickets or confirmed itinerary.

-Hotel Reservations. Copy of confirmed hotel reservations.

Previous Older Entries