Happy New Year, Beach!

“I love this beach!”

That is what he said before he proceeded to do crazy back flips on her. He eventually stopped from exhaustion, and a glint of immense excitement seemed to have permanently patched on his face. He sipped his beer as his chest heaved heavily. He proceeded to dance on her. There was no guessing how much fun he was having with her! Like many before him, she had him in her grip. She of enchanting beauty and from a lineage of exquisite world renowned beaches, played host to us on new year’s eve. Her name is Kendwa beach!

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I loved Zanzibar!

A week before we left Nairobi, I had a meeting with Mukhtar The Head Adventurer at Bunduz. Typical of his meticulous self, he took me through every detail of the 10 day road trip from Nairobi to Zanzibar and back. He mapped out the route we would use and the hotels we would stay in. I had to give it up to him on his knowledge of adventure trails and how he leaves nothing to chance in his planning. I however blame him for not warning us of how much fun we would have on this round road trip that would see us leave Nairobi, go through Arusha, Dare-salaam and on to Zanzibar, before proceeding to Diani, and eventually back to Nairobi.

Arif Huseein and Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz confer at the Namanga border

Arif Husein and Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz confer at the Namanga border

Adventure is part of me, I love it and I preach it. I can tell when one is getting a raw deal and when it is worth every dime. This year’s end of year road trip was one of a difference. How you know that a company is mature in it’s trade, is by the options it offers it’s clients. Bunduz definitely did impress me on this one. They have moved away from the traditional way of delivering an adventure package where everyone is bundled into a truck or a van and driven off to the set destination. Bunduz set out the adventure route and gave the adventurers a choice of the activities they wanted to take part in, and on how they wanted to travel. They had the options of the overland truck, land-cruisers and a package for motorbike enthusiasts who wanted to soak in all the fun with wind blowing in their hair 🙂 Talk of diversity!

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All set to leave Nairobi for the 10 day, action packed road trip!

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Adventurers inside the Bunduz overland truck

When we started writing on adventure, only a few Kenyans were interested. Going by the numbers that signed up this time, I can confidently say that the culture of adventure is fast growing among Kenyans of all ages!

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Riders couldn’t help but silently admire the overland truck

From scenic foreign towns, to pristine beaches offering an escape from the busy city life, to those action-packed with thrilling water sports, parties and adventure; there was plenty of options for anyone looking to spend the end of year in style!

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A beautiful road from Nairobi on our way to Arusha

One border, 273Km later we were at the base of the volcanic Mt. Meru in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. The cosmopolitan town which acts as a tourists center for those on expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, as well as Ngorongoro had loads to offer. Adventurers were informed of the activities available for the next day as they enjoyed dinner. Later that night we sampled the town’s night life. I will not divulge into that, but the beat complemented the drinks and inspired the moves! Arusha dance. (video)

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Arusha, here we come!

Early the next morning, some of the adventurers set out on a game drive and tour of the world renowned Ngorongoro Conservation Area which lies 180Km West of Arusha. This crater being one of the world’s most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries, boasts of unparalleled beauty. Some of the adventurers opted to explore the town of Arusha. I personally opted to visit a crafts project named Shanga that employs more than 55 physically challenged artists to produce high quality and unique handmade jewelry, glassware and decorative paintings from recycled material. The passion that those at Shanga put in their work can be felt as one takes a guided tour through the establishment. It is a landmark of the African resilience and will to win, despite the odds. It was started by one Saskia Rechsteiner back in 2007.

Meet Moshi, an artist who paints a personalized board of wildlife caricatures as you wait or enjoy lunch at Shanga

Meet Moshi, an artist who paints a personalized board of wildlife caricatures as you wait or enjoy lunch at Shanga

Adventurers shopping at the Shanga shop

Adventurers shopping at the Shanga shop

We also had the pleasure of visiting the little known Lake Duluti. The crater in which it is formed is a subsidiary vent of the Mt. Meru which towers 4,566m over the tranquil lake. The lake has water all year round. It is rumoured that Arusha plans to utilize the water to supply the entire town! The thick forest around the lake is habitat to snakes, monitor lizards, and a large number birds that can be heard chirping from the papyrus reeds.

The little known Lake Duluti, which is only 20 minute away from Arusha town

The little known Lake Duluti, which is only 20 minute away from Arusha town

From a Arusha, we hit a 600km stretch of good road into the former Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam. On our way, we drove along the imposing Usambara Ranges. I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to clamber up the rocky faces of the range. Daar es Salaam, the city that grew from a small fishing village now stands beautiful and proud in its humble splendor. It is easy to notice that efforts have been put in place to give this city some order. I was pleasantly impressed by the organized bus system which has seen some roads set aside for use by the blue city buses and no other vehicles. The buses ply the city on an effective time schedule ferrying passengers who no longer have to carry cash, but an automated fare card to board the bus!

The imposing and beautiful Usamabara Ranges

The imposing and beautiful Usamabara Ranges

A short break while covering the several hundred miles to Dar es Salaam

A short break while covering the several hundred miles to Dar es Salaam

A peek from my hotel room in Dar. Notice the blue bus at the bottom.

A peek from my hotel room in Dar. Notice the blue bus at the bottom.

Dar es Salaam felt like being underneath a dump blanket inside a furnace! It was very hot and humid. The most conservative of dressers, found it difficult to stay covered up. Even when it drizzled like it did on our night of arrival, I couldn’t dress in more than just a vest and a pair of light cargo shorts.

Happy adventurers on our way to Dar!

Happy adventurers on our way to Dar!

By this time, all the adventurers knew each other and those of similar exploring interests had naturally gravitated to each other. As you walked down the hotel corridors or dug away at your meal in the restaurant, It was common place to hear murmurs of the activities people were looking forward to undertake in Zanzibar. After one night in Dar, we were on our way to Zanzibar which was to be the epitome of this tour!

It was a two hour ferry ride to Zazibar

The beautiful Dar es Salaam skyline from aboard the ferry to Zanzibar (video)

Bunduz made sure that we traveled in class to Zanzibar. A seat in the the clean, air conditioned, multi-decked ferry dubbed Kilimanjaro VI was a saviour from the coastal town heat. The engines roared, as passengers shuffled down the aisle to board the ultra-modern vessel. An announcement and a departure honk later, the Dar es Salaam beautiful shoreline was fast drawing away from us as the vessel gracefully tore through the Indian Ocean waves. The mood on the ferry was alive and celebratory. Cheerful murmurs were audible as travelers chatted away. I opted to travel on the top deck taking in the view of the turquoise blue water and enjoying the breeze. Some travelers cupped their faces in their palms clearly afraid of sea travel, clutching onto their sick bags just in case their breakfast opted out, others pointed and clicked their cameras randomly in all the directions of the compass, while others plugged in their earphones and hummed to tunes totally oblivious or uninterested of where we were. We were soon out in the open blue sea, no land and no other vessels in sight other than the occasional fishing boat which seemed so tiny and appeared like pins on a giant blue pin cushion. Two hours later, we docked in Zanzibar and the 25$ ferry trip felt worth every dime!

Aboard Kilimanjaro VI, heading to Zanzibar

Aboard Kilimanjaro VI, heading to Zanzibar

A ferry leaving Dar for Zanzibar

A ferry leaving Dar for Zanzibar

Karibu Zanzibar!

Karibu Zanzibar!

Beautiful Zanzibar shoreline!

Beautiful Zanzibar shoreline! (vid)

Zanzibar is a laid back country that is also quite strict about maintaining and conserving its environment in the most natural state. On arrival, the customs officers who stamped our passports on entry also checked our luggage for any polythene bags as they are not allowed into the country. I always find it very encouraging when a country takes its environment seriously. While in Zanzibar, I felt silly to have thought Dar es Salaam was hot! This was the epi-center of the heat!

This was to be home for next couple of days!

This was to be home for next couple of days!

Zanzibar is a bucket list destination for most if not all world travelers! The number of activities and places available to visit left us wishing we had more time in this semi-autonomous part of Tanzania. A tour of the stone town with its Arab traders footprint of narrow streets, minarets and artistically carved doorways takes one back back to the history rich 18th century. For the strong at heart, a tour of the slave chambers can be taken. Seeing the chains and the poor conditions the slaves were held in after capture and before they were taken to the market for auctioning. Some of the adventurers took a tour through the spice island where they were shown the plants from which various spices are made from. The most sought after spices on this tour happen to be ginger and nutmeg, I would love to tell you why, but I would like more if you got to hear it from the horse’s mouth when you take the spice tour 🙂

Happy to have taken the spice tour

Happy to have taken the spice tour. by D.Kola

Chains in the slave chmabers

Chains in the slave chambers. By Steven Kim

Our stay in Zanzibar would not have been complete without an excursion out in the sea aboard a dhow. We took a day tour of the Mnemba Island and its marine life rich surroundings. The clear blue water allowed one to see the little dunes formed by waves on the white sand at the bottom of the sea. It was not strange to catch a glimpse of a solitude fish or shoal of them swimming and minding their own business. It looked so easy do, and we were here to experience the marine life, be at one with the creatures of sea. However, due to our human limitations in water, we had to settle for snorkeling. Others who have more endurance and experience in the water opted to scuba dive. Our vessel of choice was dubbed the Seafari and our Captain ‘Eddie Murphy’. 🙂

Boarding Seafari for a day excursion to Mnemba Island

Boarding Seafari for a day excursion to Mnemba Island

Our Captain 'Eddie Murphy' gives us a brief before departure

Our Captain ‘Eddie Murphy’ gives us a brief before departure

A young adventurer all set to snorkel

A young adventurer all set to snorkel

Zanzibar is a diver's heaven!

Zanzibar is a diver’s heaven!

Let's go, flipper!

Let’s go, flipper!

Beauty out at sea in Zanzibar

Beauty out at sea in Zanzibar

We later traveled to the Nungwi area of Zanzibar to Kendwa beach where the ultimate jump off party was set to be held. All the roads led to Kendwa Rocks, an establishment that holds an electric new years party, year in year out. The popularity of this party was evident from the number of people that thronged the beach. There were revelers from Kenya, South Africa and other parts of the world! The ladies dressed to impress and the fellows spent to make a ‘kill’ 😉 The loud music tore through the air and people danced the night away. I took a walk to the beach and it was refreshing to see couples sitting in the sand, sharing bottles of wine as they waited to usher in the new year watching the lazy waves break on the white sandy shore. 5… 4… 3… 2…1.. the crowd counted, and at the strike of midnight we were treated to a spectacular fireworks show! “Happy New Year!” Everybody shouted as they jumped around in joy! As I sipped my chilled beer underneath the velvety star studded sky, I prayed that this energy and beauty would carry on through out 2017!

Beach party at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar!

Beach party at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar!

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!!! (video)

As if seeking to overdose on beach therapy, we left Zanzibar, made a slight stopover in Dar es Salaam before heading out to the Kenyan South Coast by road. Our next stop was Diani beach! On the scenic route down from Dar to Tanga and through the Lunga Lunga border I could see adventurers going through the photographs they had taken in Zanzibar, and recapping on the escapades they had at Kendwa.

A beautiful diversion off the main highway in Tanzania, cut to allow road recarpeting

A beautiful diversion off the main highway in Tanzania, cut to allow road repair works

We arrived in Diani, Kenya a few hours into the night. Not much could be done as most of us were tired from the day’s journey and some were looking forward to undertaking more action packed activities on the next day. After dinner, some retired early while others opted to experience what the Diani nightlife had to offer. Early the next day, a bunch of us left for a day excursion at the Wasini area of South Coast. The trip saw them go to the unspoiled Kisite Mpunguti marine park which lies in the coral gardens, protects marine life and acts as a breeding ground for migratory birds. As was witnessed in this occasion, it is not rare to spot a school of dolphins swimming and sometimes playing in a way to enchant the visitors to this part of the Indian Ocean!

Understandably, some of the adventurers opted to rest in at the beautiful hotel (Amani Tiwi Beach Resort) where we were putting up. Walking the long white beach, relaxing in the beautiful swimming pool and sipping cocktails from the pool bar, or pampering self at the hotel’s spa were some of the activities they opted to indulge in.

Cheers from the pool bar! Amani Tiwi Beach Resort

Cheers from the pool bar! Amani Tiwi Beach Resort

Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, a true gm on the Kenyan South Coast!

Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, a true gm on the Kenyan South Coast!

The culmination of this tour was by some adrenaline junkies who found it fit to jump 15,000ft out of a perfectly well running plane flown by a sober and able pilot! The Diani Skydive is the company of ‘crazies’ that has people scrambling for a chance to take on this fear-conquering feat. It was difficult to actually get a slot at this time of year. Bunduz had to call Diani Skydive in advance to book the slots! We were greeted by an air of busy fellows and ladies, all in easy wear branded in their company colours. One guy was on his laptop working on the videos of those that had jumped earlier in the day, another was on his hand held radio coordinating the jumps, while another lady welcomed us to the lounge area. Despite them being busy, it was clear that they all enjoyed what they do! Kudos Diani Sky Dive!

Adventurers getting instructions on the best position to enjoy a tandem jump fully

Adventurers getting instructions on the best position to enjoy a tandem jump fully

The jumpers were advised to maintain a ‘happy-banana’ pose and cooperate with their tandem jump instructors to avoid a bumpy or rough free fall from the sky. After the short introduction session, the jumpers were strapped to their skydive gear and off they were whisked to a nearby airstrip for the take off.

Gear on, brave faces on and ready to skydive!

Gear on, brave faces on and ready to skydive!

A mother and two daughters took on the skydive challenge by the horns!

The adventurous Alulu Zain  and her two daughters took on the skydive challenge by the horns!

On the beach, other adventurers had an awesome time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery as they waited to cheer those that were landing from the skydiving. A large T shaped mark made from red cloth was on the beach to guide the jumpers on where to land their parachutes. After a short while they started appearing in the sky as minute objects falling, and eventually open parachutes were visible slowly gliding through the humid air to the beach below.

A landing straight on the red mark!

A landing straight on the red mark!

The ten days action packed road trip that saw us travel extensively through Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar was now coming to an end. The spirits were high and I knew we had all made a good decision to start the year with such a bang! As has been custom and typical of the Bunduz crew, this was another exhilarating, well organized and fun filled adventure! It is a little early in the year, but I would be lying if I said I am not already looking forward to the next Bunduz adventure plan, which should be going down soon! I will certainly keep you posted.. 🙂

Adios from the pack of adventurers that rocked the 10 days Bunduz road trip 2016/2017!

Adios from the pack of adventurers that rocked the 10 days Bunduz road trip 2016/2017!

Adventure: 10 days Road Trip; Nairobi – Arusha – Dar es Salaam – Zanzibar – Dar es Salaam – Diani – Nairobi

Distance Covered: Approximately 2,200km

Organizer: Bunduz, Mukhtar Sidi

Documentary & Photography by: Macharia Njuguna

Some Places To Stay: Venus Premier Hotel (Arusha), RainBow Hotel (Dar es Salaam), Zanzibar Beach Resort (Zanzibar), Amani Tiwi Beach Resort (Diani, Kenya)

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High Adrenaline Triathlon.. The Forest!

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The Forest; an adventure park within Kereita Forest!

What would be the ideal way to spend a Sunday? If your answer is anywhere between, sleeping in, watching movies or enjoying a whiskey while barbecuing with friends, (which simply translates to couch ‘potating’), then this article is meant for you! I am not judging, but I think you seriously need a Bunduz in your life. Allow me to show you why 😉

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The Bunduz team, all set to have fun at The Forest’s inaugural Triathlon competition (2016)

If you would avoid the party on a fine Saturday night so that you are up early on a Sunday morning, ready to take part in an adventure triathlon at a location 30km away from Nairobi and 2,000m above sea level, then this article is not for you because you already know that nothing beats spending an expendable minute while high on adrenaline!

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The map that each team tried to beat in the best time.

I was honoured to be the Bunduz triathlon team Captain. Just as the adventure tours that Bunduz organizes, we decided that our competition ethos would be to do our best in the allocated tasks, but also make sure that we have great fun while at it!

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Our team trick was simple; Stay safe, have fun, endure the trail and have more fun!

If whenever you are handed a disclaimer form to sign, your heart starts to pump with excitement in anticipation of the ‘danger’ ahead, then you are a true blue adventurer and everything Bunduz resonates with you!

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Yes, we signed the disclaimer forms and got instructions on the dos and don’ts of the triathlon trail.

The Forest is a new adventure park that has opened it’s doors in the hinter-lands of Kenya with an aim to interest local and international tourists in locations that have hardly been explored, unlike the coastal beaches and our world renowned national parks!

The Bunduz team was taken through all the safety measures to observe while undertaking two of the sort of technical sports in the triathlon. These are; zip lining and archery. The speed and caution with which the safety team at The Forest operated, gave us confidence that they understood what they were doing. A few rehearsal slides and arrow shots later we were ready to hit the trail!

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Alternative adventure is what The Forest offers!

The first activity was the zip lining! The Forest boasts one of the longest zip lines in Africa, and is ranked among the safest in the world. Armed with all the safety advise, what you are never warned about is how fast you are forward propelled on the zip line! Zooming through the light high altitude thin air, listening to the humming vibrations of the zip, one loses themselves in the picturesque bird-eye view of Keriata Forest, dangling at almost 100m off the ground. The feeling is exhilarating!

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Of utmost importance is paying attention to the Zip line crew instruction to apply the palm brake to reduce speed before landing.

You cannot be told how difficult it is to tear into a sprint, at an altitude of about 2,000m above sea level, right after a 2.4km heart sinking zip line ride. You need to try it! On landing, each team member had to run up a steep hillside trail to get to the station with all the heavy safety harnesses on!

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Running up a steep hillside, to the next competition station right after zip lining.

At this point, a majority of teams had lost some time. Particularly those with skinny zip-liners like ours :-). Being feather-weight does not only have disadvantages on the boxing ring, but on the zip line too! It sometimes means that one cannot propel themselves to the end of the zip line course and therefore have to turn backwards at a 180 degrees angle and pull self to the end and losing precious time. The next activity afforded each team to salvage time lost depending  on how good at archery the team members were. Hitting the bull’s eye saved any team a whopping 60 seconds!

The Forest sought to teach the competitors about Kereita forest ad the community around it through a quiz that each team had to undertake while racing to do the best time on the trail. The questions ranged from what KFS stands for, to exercises that required identifying particular flora ad fauna species as well as acknowledging the wildlife that habitat in the very forest!

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Competitors had to climb up a tall Cyprus tree and ring a bell at its pinnacle before proceeding to the next activity!

We had to run, balancing long logs on the ground and others suspended in the air, maneuver a military kind of assault course before we could move on to the next activity. Touching ground meant having to repeat the entire course and spending more time to complete the triathlon which would amount to losing.

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We mountain biked on a well marked 1km trail that was full of surprises!

The well maintained mountain bikes made it fun riding through the set trail. The terrain was full of surprises, but I remember my cyclist friend (Vincent Mulama) who once told me that whenever you enjoy a steep descent while cycling, do it as you prepare self to suffer an ascent! The twists and turns on the dusty trail were a mixture of pleasure and pain. At this point, most adventurers were tired and had no idea of the hill that awaited them at the end of the trail. It was not uncommon to see competitors pushing their bikes up the hill to the finish line.

 

 

Endurance is patience concentrated, and that is exactly what team Bunduz exercised to the end of the race! Mingling directly with unadulterated nature while testing my physical limits is an experience that I cannot trade for anything else. Adventure has a way of making us know ourselves and those around us better, therefore handing us an opportunity to live life in a realm of deeper understanding and spiritual awareness.

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Take on fear by the horns, and endeavour to see what lies past it; only then can you say you live a limitless life! Team Bunduz!

So the next time you have time in your hands, you will still have the options of lazying around, indulging in unhealthy past times, or strapping on your boots and taking on a challenging, character building adventure! If your choice is the latter, you know whom to call; Bunduz.

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Mingling directly with unadulterated nature while testing my physical limits is an experience that I cannot trade for anything else.

This was a Sunday well spent! The adventure logistics were organized and executed by the able team sponsor Bunduz. You can catch the next big adventure in the offing come December 2016! If you are an adventurer with a knack for exploring new places, experiencing other cultures and partying some while at it, then look no more. Heed to the ocean call and book your slot in the Zanzibar Trip of The Year!

 

Location: The Forest (Kereita Forest)

Distance: About 55.5km from Nairobi

Activities: Mountain Biking, Zip Lining, Archery, Nature Trail Walks

Documentary by: Macharia Njuguna

Adventure Sponsor: Bunduz

Next planned Adventure: Zanzibar Trip of The Year (Dec 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run Wild; Lewa Marathon 2016

“I have been running 26km every week since March, in readiness for this marathon! Grueling is what the terrain was, and the sweltering heat didn’t make it any easier; thank heavens for the misting stations along the trail! I am tired to the bone, but hey, it’s all for a good cause!” Said Fred after finishing the Run Wild Run For The Wild 2016 Lewa Marathon.

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On the road from Nairobi, I traveled with a bunch of happy, singing Hashers all set to take part in a marathon that has made it to the world’s list of top ten ‘must do’ marathons. The Lewa Marathon is revered in the world of runners as one of the toughest marathons in the world! Knowing this, I figured that the pomp and dance the Hashers had was something in the lines of a war-dance conjured to imply courage as they forged forward to the war; The 2016 Lewa Marathon!

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There’s never a dull day in the Hash House Harriers movement!

Commitment to conservation of wildlife and its habitat in Kenya was hallmarked as the Lewa Marathon marked it’s 17th Anniversary; this time hosting over 1300 participants drawn from 28 countries all over the world. A growth in leaps and bounds from the 150 participants the marathon hosted in 2000, the inaugural year.

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The Safaricom Lewa Marathon is one of the major sporting events in Kenya and in the circles of runners all around the world. The energy of the event and its participants was almost tangible! As early as the first bird chirped to wake the world, runners could be seen pacing up and down their camps as they warmed up their muscles prior to the marathon. There are those that were to run the half marathon (21km) and the elite runners who would cover enter trail of the full marathon (42km).

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Early morning as the runners sponsored by MMC Africa Law get ready for the marathon

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The energy of the event and its participants was almost tangible!

The Lewa Marathon gave the spectators as well as the runners the exciting possibility of encountering wildlife on the trail. The picturesque landscapes were enthralling like snippets straight out of a Disney film! Like the proverbial bite and blow from a rat, I assumed the marathon was treacherous for the runners and the natural beauty of the Lewa conservancy was the reliever.

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Spectators were treated to picturesque landscapes as they cheered runners in the Lewa Marathon

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An ostrich stands vigilant at the Lewa Conservancy

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Mama rhino and child, out for a morning snack at Lewa

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Striped beauty of the zebra stands out in the Lewa plains

 

Young and old runners gave their best and pushed hard! Every pant, muscle cramp and foot sore being their symbol  of commitment to the spirit of wildlife conservation. Through the undulating dirt tracks cutting through the breathtaking Lewa Conservancy, runners sweat it out, with some running strong and others shuffling their feet with an aim to make it to the next water-point and eventually to the finish line.

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John Ruengo pushing hard. At 86 he is the oldest Kenyan marathoner.

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All terrain vehicles came in handy while moving from spectator point to the next

As I moved from one spectator point to the next, I was glad to have met one of the child competitors in the Lewa Marathon. The kids take part in a 5km race and are awarded medals on completion of the set distance.

“What is your name?” I asked the shy boy walking towards me with a medal dangling around his neck.

“Moses.” he replied in shaky voice. “I see you finished the race. What position were you?” I inquired.

“I don’t know. I am so tired, but happy that I got a medal.”

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Meet Moses. One of the finishers in the 5km Children’s race at the Lewa Marathon.

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Some ran strong while others shuffled on to the finish line

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Determination was written allover her face

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I will keep going, no giving up!

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Effective cooling; A runner goes though the misting station!

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A determined runner goes past other marathoners at the Lewa Marathon

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A 2013 Virgin London Marathon Finisher pushing to finish Lewa Marathon 2016

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“I have to keep going,” So James seems to tell himself.

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He entertained spectators as he asked for Tusker at every water-point

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Spectators cheered on the marathoners to the finish line

As Hal Higdon said, The pride in finishing a marathon is much greater than all the pain endured during the marathon! This was evidenced by the celebration from the various teams, after a grueling day on the trail. Closest to me was the team sponsored by  MMC Africa Law. After a few hours of cooling their heels at the Bunduz camp, it was back to party time!

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Finished the marathon, and had no energy to show off the medal

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Oh yes, we finished!

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The MMC Africa Law team celebrates after the Lewa Marathon 2016

I believe that many a runner will agree with me in saying that, Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible! To the runners in the Run Wild Lewa Marathon, the organizers, the sponsors of the various teams in the marathon, the journalists covering the event, the entertainers and the ever so kind spectators handing bottles of water and energy bars to the runners, we finished the marathon!

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Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible!

 

Important Info:

Event: Safaricom Lewa Marathon 2016

Location: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo

Distance: 254km from Nairobi

Pictures & Documentary: Macharia Njuguna

Trip and Camp Organizer: Bunduz (Mukhtar Sidi)

 

Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hash House Harriers)

It was after an evening Hasher’s run around the Parklands area of Nairobi that I heard about the Naivasha Relay. Plumber who is one of the seasoned Nairobi Hashers couldn’t stop on how much of an experience the relay is. As I downed my beer, my adventurous streak started pushing the idea of what an adventure this one would be. I thought of running down the Rift Valley escarpment to Naivasha, the rough terrain, the danger of running into a herd of buffaloes or getting a snake bite while running in the savannah grass and I was sold! I signed up for the relay and ordered another beer 🙂

Hashers getting ready to leave Nairobi and start the Naivasha Relay 2015

Hashers getting ready to leave Nairobi early in the morning and start the Naivasha Relay 2015

The relay route starts at Dagoretti in Nairobi away from the busy highways and off to a dirt-road track that meanders down the Rift Valley escarpment and ends at the foot of Mt. Suswa, covering an approximate of 83 tough kilometres!

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

Having ran with the Hashers on several occasions, I know that as much as running to keep fit is their agenda it sort of comes a close second to having a great time socializing and partaking of liquids that are known to cause staggers. However, on this day it was evident that everyone brought their ‘A’ game! Hashers were divided into various teams, each team having it’s members seeded (with regard to their running prowess or lack thereof) from seed 1 to 9. Each team member would run a certain distance of the trail at a given time, with some running two or more stages of the race.

The time keeper busy recording time(s) kept by the runners

The time keeper busy recording time(s) kept by the runners

A group of Hash officials are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the relay runs smoothly. They are dubbed ‘Mismanagement’ but do not let that tag fool you as they did an impressive job of it! They ensured that time was kept as per the plan, safety of all the runners as well as spectators was observed, venues for accommodation were booked well in advance, heck they even organized to have a sweep car at every stage of the race to lift from ‘shame’ those runners that might have bitten more than they could chew 🙂

An ambulance that trailed the Naivasha Relay runners at every stage of the run

An ambulance that trailed the Naivasha Relay runners at every stage of the run

There were various teams that took part in this relay. I ran as a Seed 2 runner for team Hot Dogs. However, not to say that any team was inferior to the other, but two teams really stood out in my view. These are are the Urban Swaras and the Swedish School team. The Urban Swaras ran as if they were going for the money or their lives depended on it! I may not be privy to the times kept by the teams, but I can put my money on that they covered the total distance in the shortest time. On the other hand, the Swedish school had the youngest runners who turned out to be the most resilient. In the tough conditions of sweltering heat, ankle high dust in some stretches, rocky climbs and steep descents, these kids kept going and finished each stage of the race!

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

We met many locals along the trail, and their glowing faces were a confirmation that the Hashers are a welcome community to their lands every October. I was informed that the Naivasha Relay has taken place every year for more than two decades. There was some teams that actually went handing goodies of books, pens and rulers to the children amongst the spectators.

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

Despite the sweltering heat, and the terrain that threatened to be a spirit-breaker at every turn, the runners pushed on and kept some pretty impressive time. At one section I ran and the sun felt like it was dropping nearer to earth with every step I took! My skin was burning in the heat. At some point my imagination convinced me that my hair was melting down and I touched my face in horror, only to smear the many streaks of sweat (some caked in dust) on my entire face. I ran on. I panted heavily as my heart pounded on my chest as if threatening to break out. My thigh and calf muscles felt painfully tight with every step. I could see the few runners ahead and wondered if my eyesight was failing me as they kept growing smaller. I pushed on. The crowd waiting at the finish line was clearly visible and near, but I couldn’t seem to get there! I ran on. I remember praying that angels could carry me to the finish line, but I fast resigned to letting my mind get lost in the beauty of God’s creation around me. I finally finished the race! The Naivasha Relay was a true test of my fitness and I cannot wait to do it again next year!

A runner finishes the race to a cheering crowd at one stage of the relay

A runner finishes the race to a cheering crowd at one stage of the relay

The trail took us to some of the most picturesque areas of the country! Beautiful hills gracefully lined the horizon, some with crater rimmed tops. We had the privilege of running in an environment that knows little if any human interference. This is a run I am willing to do again and again. There’s is no reason why you should not also have it on your adventure calender! 🙂

As you already know by now, I took time to bring you some shots of how the events unfolded. Enjoy.

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

 

The daunting rough terrain demanded use of 4x4 road kings!

The daunting rough terrain demanded use of 4×4 road kings!

 

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

 

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

 

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

 

Hashers cheering on their teammates

Hashers cheering on their team mates

 

Trust Hashers to spare some time to dance during the relay

Trust Hashers to spare some time to dance and down a beer during the relay

 

There was lots of adventure to capture!

There was lots of action to capture!

 

The dust in some sections of the relay was ankle deep!

The dust in some sections of the relay was ankle deep!

 

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

 

The little shade available had to be shared :-)

The little shade available had to be shared 🙂

 

I had a selfie moment with the kids watching the race

I had a selfie moment with some kids watching the race

 

The Naivasha Relay ended at the Hell's Gate National Park

The Naivasha Relay ended at the Hell’s Gate National Park

Event: The Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hashers) Hash History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers

Location: Nairobi – Naivasha (Through the Suwa route) Approx. 83km

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

A Hotbed of Cultural Diversity ~ Samburu!

Samburu County

Modernization is fast spreading throughout Kenya and Samburu has certainly made notable steps towards this. However, the people of Samburu have found a way to marry the comforts of modernization to their traditional ways of life, resulting in a culture full of colour and distinct contrasts to the silent ‘code’ of westernization that is often confused to be the stamp or validation of a community living in modern times.

Modern, but not lost in westernization

Modern, but not lost in westernization

 

Samburu county is one of the few places in Africa where the locals have held on to their traditional ways of life and culture. The name Samburu refers to the people forming the majority of the county’s population. The county however is home to other communitites notably the Turkana, Pokot, Rendille and Borana.

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

I visited Samburu County during the 26th Edition of the Maralal International Camel Derby and as always, I was glad to be back to this hot bed of cultural diversity; a true gem of Kenya.

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

As promised, I got some shots in an effort to give you a glimpse and virtually connect you to what the people of Samburu are like.. 🙂

A moran ponders his next move while clutching to his cell phone

A moran ponders his next move while clutching to his cell phone

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

A happy Samburu dance

A happy Samburu dance

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Colour is never shot in Samburu

Colour is never short in Samburu

I love my roots!

I love my roots!

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Friends of a feather, chat together

Friends of a feather, chat together

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

Comfortable in her well arranged necklong ornaments

Curious

Curious

All set for the pomp and dance!

All set for the pomp and dance!

The soloist with an angelic voice

The soloist with an angelic voice

To show our joy, we dance

To show our joy, we dance

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

I don't wonna miss out on anything

I don’t wonna miss out on anything

Age didn't stop her from being part of the derby

Age didn’t stop her from being part of the derby

For her, life went on unperturbed

For her, life went on unperturbed

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Young girls show up for the clebrations

Young girls show up for the celebrations

A male soloist leads a female choir

A male soloist leads a female choir

I made new friends. They live in Nairobi and always make an effort to attend and support the Camel Derby

I made new friends. They live in Nairobi and always make an effort to attend and support the Camel Derby

Undeniable patriotism

Undeniable patriotism

On the journey of life

On the journey of life

Alone in a crowd

Alone in a crowd

Beautiful friends

Beautiful friends

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

"What say you?"

“What say you?”

She hid, I sought :-)

She hid, I sought 🙂

"All this fun in one ground?" She seemed to ask

“All this fun in one ground?” She seemed to ask

Camels got gear too! :-)

Camels got gear too! 🙂

"Hold on, let's smile for the camera.."

“Hold on, let’s smile for the camera..”

Colour that makes life beautiful

Colour that makes life beautiful

The stick is not only ornamental, but for utility as well

The stick is not only ornamental, but for utility as well

They rested outside the pub. My guess, it must have been full inside :-)

They rested outside the pub. My guess, it must have been full inside 🙂

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

Her shyness couldn't hide her beauty

Her shyness couldn’t hide her beauty

"Is this bead out of line..?"

“Is this bead out of line..?”

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

It's on! Boogie down!

It’s on! Boogie down!

"Did you see that..?"

“Did you see that..?”

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot :-)

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot 🙂

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

I had to blur him out to get the beauties

I had to blur him out to capture the beauties

The Morans' hangout spot

The Morans’ hangout spot

Load on her back, but she couldn't resist being part of the spectators

Load on her back, but she couldn’t resist being part of the spectators

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

The ladies man!

The ladies man! They danced around him.

Selfie on a camel back

Selfie on a camel back

"We are with it!"

“We are with it!”

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

This sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

The shots are meant to make you want to know more about the beautiful people of Samburu County. What better way to do so than to organize a vist of the county? Go experience the warmth, colour and energy of the Samburu!

Event: The International Maralal Camel Derby (26th Edition)

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com

Roaring Monsters For Charity! (Rhino Charge 2015)

 

I made me some new friends who fear no lions :-)

I made me some new friends who fear no lions 🙂

Ahead of me I had a day filled with nothing but exciting adventure! My sole intent for the day was to chase after largely morphed, roaring monsters of cars with humans tightly clutched on their frames as they tore straight through virgin bush; just to capture some piece of the action for posterity’s sake!

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

Excited by the adventure the next day had promised to be, I sat by the camp fire and took a generous swig of some good old whisky. I looked up at the stars and listened to the peace that the night was. I smiled for I knew come day-break, this very peace would be torn into a ‘war-zone’ of machines battling it out for supremacy! The Rhino Charge 2015 was here!

Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Mukhtar Sidi of http://www.bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Adventurers in the www.bunduz.com overland truck to the Rhino Charge 2015

Adventurers in the http://www.bunduz.com overland truck heading to the Rhino Charge 2015

Our journey from Nairobi was smooth, thanks to the always well prepared http://www.bunduz.com team. The excitement in the overland truck was tangible, with the adventurers chatting away in excited tones and taking many a photograph of the beautiful country that Kenya is. We were however keen on ensuring that we got to the Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu County before 6:00pm as had been advised by the Rhino Charge officials. They had warned that anyone arriving later than that would not be allowed into the venue.

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

At the crack of dawn, I woke up to the singing of birds in the wild lightly laced with the distant roars of the monster cars as they approached the parade ground where they’d all converge prior to the flag off. Soon the machines were all lined up and seemed to flex their muscles to each other with each rev of the engines, their full beam lights peering through the darkness of dawn seemed like mean eyes trained at each other to proclaim war. The chargers held tightly onto the monsters as they wheeled around. Every now and then they hurdled together and converse in hush tones like anxious warriors planning their strategy of attack.

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

 

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

 

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

 

The parade of might!

The parade of might!

Rhino Charge was first held in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Following its success, the project has since been extended to cater for the conservation of Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Rhino Charge is a world renowned off-road motor-sport event, as well as major fund raising activity for the conservation efforts of Rhino Ark, the charitable trust which works towards the protection of Kenya’s ‘Water Towers’. The event combines motor-sport, adventure and fun for the purpose of environmental conservation. http://www.bunduz.com organizes adventure parties to this event every year!

Book your next safari adventure with Bunduz.com

Book your next safari adventure with http://www.bunduz.com

I say one is as old as the tune they dance to in their head! This was reaffirmed by the age diversity displayed in the competitor teams at the Rhino Charge. Teams comprised of ladies and gents of all ages each seasoned in their skill either by schooling or experience, some were however evidently out to have a good time and raise funds for the charity!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

 

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team aboard

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team on board

 

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) They wore pearls on their hats and round their necks :-)

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) Like amulets, they wore pearls on their hats and round their necks 🙂

The action begun and all the 64 chargers  sped off into the wild. They had 13 guard posts to visit in 10hrs, scattered over about 100 square kilometres of rough terrain. The team that returns to the point where they started, having visited all the other posts covering the shortest distance wins the competition.

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

I visited the gauntlet which was an area comprising of three successive posts that the organizers had set aside as the spectators zone to view the competitors in action. I took a few shots here, but I was itching to catch the monster cars in action on treacherous terrain and not at a section where they came to ‘smile and pose’ for the camera. I met a jolly good couple that was also dying to catch the real action and off we went in search of other guard posts using the Rhino Charge map. We sure did catch some action!

The Charge began early in the morning.

The Charge began early in the morning.

 

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

 

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

 

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

 

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

 

A little dented, but not out!

A little dented, but not out!

 

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

 

Let us zoom out of this gorge!

Let us zoom out of this gorge! This standard, unmodified Land Rover actually completed the circuit!

 

We've got this one in check!

The mean monster car tackles a gulley

 

Arriving at a guard post

Arriving at a guard post

The 2015 edition of the Rhino Charge thankfully only had minor incidents recorded. One charge vehicle (Car No. 32) however went up in flames following an electrical fault. Car No. 18 dropped out of the race with only 67 metres to finish, as it dragged on with broken engine mounts, non-existent brakes and lost wheel nuts, the starter caught fire and blew the entire electrical system! All teams involved were unharmed and out of danger.

Car No. 32 goes up in flames

Car No. 32 goes up in flames courtesy of BRCK

 

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race!

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race! Courtesy of BRCK

 

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Of note is that I was able to connect to the internet and update my followers on the happenings of the Rhino Charge, thanks to WIFI set up by Liquid Telcom, Safaricom and BRCK. This was certainly commendable and seeing the local community enjoying internet service was heart warming. I wondered what the morans were surfing through on their phones, could it have been YouTube videos of Chris Brown or news about Bruce.. I mean Caitlyn Jenner? 🙂

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

The day was finally over, and as I retired back to my host Bunduz.com campsite I had to fight my mind from wondering where the next Rhino Charge will be held. I had good fun here, and no doubt I pray to attend the next!

Bonus Pics:

Resting at a guard post

Resting at a guard post

 

What route should we take from here?

What route should we take from here?

 

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced :-)

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced 🙂

 

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

 

Security was tight at Namnyak

Security was tight at Namnyak

 

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

 

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties :-)

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties 🙂

 

The faces of happy www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

The faces of happy http://www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Event: Rhino Charge 2015

Location: Namnyak Conservancy, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: http://www.bunduz.com

The 6TH Edition Koroga Festival

The sun rose to a beautiful day, the kind that calls you out to play. This is exactly what we needed for memories were certainly going to be made! It was the 6th Edition of the now famous Koroga Festival.

People having fun at the Koroga Festival

People having fun at the Koroga Festival

The Nairobi Arboretum had been totally transformed to be a perfect venue for this event. The main tent had safari seats, Masai shukas and straw on the ground ready for the music lovers who would grace this occasion. We got in and settled well in advance. Needless to say, we picked the best spot; close enough to see the expected artists on stage whilst not too far inside just in case it became too hot.

Evidence that everybody loves Koroga Festival :-)

Evidence that everybody loves Koroga Festival 🙂

The music was bumping played by the good old DJ Adrian who’s a maestro on the decks! People arrived in huge numbers, dressed to impress and ready to have fun. Like in many Kenyan events, ‘Nyama Choma’ (barbequed meat) and beer featured heavily. Carlsberg was one of the main sponsors. Shortly Fena came on stage and she sure did not disappoint. The groovy beats to her songs got many a person on their feet and dancing, setting the perfect tempo for the event!

Nameless with his captivating dancers on stage

Nameless with his captivating dancers on stage

Next on stage was Nameless with his bold captivating dancers who moved their bodies with subtle naughtiness, the grace of angels and the agility of acrobats. The crowd sang along to every song Nameless did. His music is either way too popular or the age group represented here was largely drawn from those who grew up in the late 90’s and early 2000, and they sure know how to party! In his performance, Nameless invited his celebrity wife (Wahu) on stage to dance with him. She drove the crowd wild as she gyrated against him. She can dance! As Nameless finalized his performance, he paid tribute to the late E-Sir who’s young and promising music career was cut short through a tragic road accident back in 2003.

Nameless invited his wife Wahu to dance with him on stage

Nameless invited his wife Wahu to dance with him on stage

Eventually it was time for the main act of the day.  The crowd went wild with cheer as the lady Yvonne Chakachaka graced the stage with her troupe. She gave an electrifying performance with several interludes where she spoke about her love for Kenya, reminiscing her first time in the country way back in 1987 when she was hosted by the legendary Fred Obach Machoka. He was also present to greet the crowd.

Yvonne Chakachaka on stage with her troupe

Yvonne Chakachaka on stage with her troupe

Yvonne belted out the crowd’s favorite tunes from her many albums. From her beauty and the dance moves she has, it would be impossible to think that she turns fifty this month! She is an African queen in her own right and she made this 6th Edition of Koraga Festival a splendid success! It was loaded with fun and blissful entertainment. I totally look forward to the next.

Yvonne Chakachaka performs to the cheering crowd!

Yvonne Chakachaka performs to the cheering crowd!