Thursday, August 22

The Hidden Sky

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Away from the hustle, noise, pollution and traffic, but still within the city, lies a gem in the middle of a forest. A luxurious camp surrounded by banana and bamboo trees.

Back before colonial days Karen area was part of the game park and I remember a resident telling me that her great grandmother who was amongst the first settlers in the area, used to see giraffes cross their farm land which was part of the migration route.

Today Karen is an affluent suburb of Nairobi, located in the south west where many Kenyans of European descent live.

Anga Afrika is only about 10 minutes from the busy Karen Center and can be described as a place of peace and silence within the city. Anga means “sky” in Swahili. It is owned and named by Kenyan German family Trompell, whose vision was to have a place where people could experience the calmness of the wild in the city.

As I arrived at the Camp, I was first greeted by some very cute and friendly dogs, who were seated at the gate, chilling and sun bathing.

In less than 5 minutes, I was checked in by Doris who pointed out that guests like to play volley ball in the garden next door. We continued to my tent “punda milia”, meaning zebra in Swahili. And everything in the tent was Zebra themed. All tents have a different animal theme and a verandah, the perfect place to sit and read a book while the wind blows and the birds sing.

Each room has a heater and a kettle with teas, coffees, water in a jug, and some cookies in case you get cold or hungry at night. About 18 people can fit in this camp, which makes it great and intimate for groups. The rooms surround the recreation and dining areas. Whilst the recreation areas are for residents, should you like to visit for lunch only, you can call and book.

Anga is also just half an hour away from Wilson or Jomo Kenyatta Interantional Airports. No pets are allowed, however it is family friendly and they have high chairs for toddlers in the dining area.

Around the area, you may visit Karen Blixen museum which is the former home of Danish author known for her famous book Out of Africa.

If you would like to get up and close to some of the animals , as none will pass through this camp, the giraffe center and the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant orphanage are not far from each other. It is also quite an experience where you get to touch the baby elephants or giraffes and hear some of their stories.

The National Park is also around the corner. Nairobi is the only city in the world to have a park within the city. This park was established back in 1945 and it is Kenya’s first park. At some point you might want to eat out. The Tamarind restaurant, within the Karen Blixen complex offers you a variety of different foods from sea food to continental. The Talisman is another popular restaurant with a unique garden setting and quaint bar. Que Pasa is known for its pizzas and there’s the trendy J’s Bar. If you like Spanish food, head to Picazzo at the Hub. Beautiful boutiques, cafes and art are to be found at the Souk, House of Treasures, Langata Link & Hardy Post.

For golfers, there’s Karen Country Club and numerous riding stables for horse lovers. You can even hike around the Ngong hills. Anga Afrika has tour vans and a driver on standby in case their visitors would like to do a city safari.

At about 6.30 in the evening, it starts to get chilly and windy. By this time, the rooms are closed and mosquito bulbs switched on. The lights that are used around the camp are energy savers that have been put in lanterns that reminded me of my grandmother’s house. She used to have the same except that hers had paraffin.

My dinner table was set right under the stars with a touch of leaves, meaning that a few leaves were way above me and I could see the stars through them. I had a warmer next to me and not too far from where I was sitting I saw the bonfire being prepared.

I normally find soup to be such a cheat unless I have a cold, it is too filling. And so I skipped the pumpkin soup and opted to have the salad instead which had yellow and red capsicums, tomatoes, red onions, olive oil, cucumbers, pepper, lettuce and a small dose of lemon. I really enjoyed this and the vegetables were fresh. Anga Afrika buys its produce – milk and vegetables – from the local farmers around the area.

My main course was roast potatoes with pan fried fish and sauteed vegetables. For dessert, I opted to have fruit instead of fresh cake. I was stuffed. Eventually, I made it to my room and found a hot water bottle had been tucked inside my bed, which was great because it was already quite cold. I felt the night was short. After a hearty breakfast, I tried to catch some sun and then it was already lunch time.

This time a different salad with some maize in it. Mango chicken with rice and vegetables. The spices were just right and the sweet flavors of mango on chicken were just tantalizing to the taste buds. Fruit, of course, for dessert. To some extent, I almost felt that I should have probably had a vegan meal.

I started feeling stressed out as it was time to go back to the bustle of city life full of its usual drama. At least I am glad I had a moment to zone out and just breathe in this lovely alternative lodging.


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