Dizzying guilty pleasures at Chaka Ranch


Sunset shot of lush green landscape of Chaka Ranch in Nyeri County, Kenya. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

It feels quite illicit and irresponsible to visit Chaka Ranch without your children. If you have children, that is. “It’s like eating first before your children eat,” I told My Lady recently as we sat in the upstairs pub overlooking a green field below with what looked like a mini golf course and archery range. It had rained at Chaka Ranch in Kiganjo, Nyeri.

The pub was small and the drinks were stored away in what looked like a Wall-Unit. (If you know what that is you are old). This is because initially this building was the owner’s house before a business idea sprung up one day as he enjoyed whisky with his mates. So he turned it into the lounge, reception, restaurant and bar upstairs. He built himself what he calls a “a tent” but which is a luxury tent.

“Are you guilty, Kim isn’t here?” She asked me. I said I was, slightly, like a niggling thing, a pebble in a shoe. Thank God I had a drink in hand. That helps with guilt… temporarily. “I’m sure he would love it here. All these games and activities.” I was referring to skating, paintballing, watersports, Go Kart (this made me dizzy) and the quad bikes. “He’d faint with excitement just to get on a quad bike.”

“God knows you almost fainted,” she said. She was sunny and personable because she wasn’t drinking. She wasn’t drinking because of Lent. Note: she isn’t even a Catholic. I think she is using religion as a weight management strategy.

In the middle of the small pub was a small group of middle-aged locals sharing two bottles of gin. They needed to go home because someone was speaking loudly at someone in their mother-tongue and the someone was not taking it kindly. Otherwise it was so peaceful when you looked at the garden. I couldn’t see Mount Kenya because of the clouds and all but I could feel her.

The story of Chaka Ranch, if you haven’t heard it already, is inspiring. A story of how passion turns into business and then grows and grows. At the core is a story of a man’s love for his children and how he built around that love. I sent my son photos of the quad bike and he didn’t reply. He fainted.

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