How wealthy Kenyans travel

Life of private jets, new experiences and delicacies. PHOTO | FILE
Life of private jets, new experiences and delicacies. PHOTO | FILE 

Luca Pintus, an executive chef at Tribe Hotel, remembers a time he created culinary delights on a superyacht whilst sailing around the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

His boss was hosting friends and having been sailing for a while, they had run out of several ingredients. The closest port would take about three days to sail to.

The host had Caviar—rare eggs which belong to an ancient family of fish and costs somewhere between Sh408,000 (£3,000) and Sh816,000 (£6,000) for a kilogramme shipped from London to Miami.

It came with a crate of broccoli and these ingredients were dropped onto the superyacht via helicopter.

It takes a certain kind of net worth to dole out on such extravagances on a whimsy.
However, when it comes to travel, one can revel in all the luxuries and perks that come with just a little extra money to spend.


For rich travellers, time is money. Bespoke air travel has become the go-to for the affluent and Kenya’s privately chartered flight industry is booming.

Executive chef Luca Pintus of Tribe Hotel served the rare fish eggs in a super yacht. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Executive chef Luca Pintus of Tribe Hotel served the rare fish eggs in a super yacht. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Like a taxi

Ibrahim Rebit, the quality manager at Yellow Wings Air Services which charters planes from Wilson Airport says there are numerous reasons why someone would prefer to charter a private flight.

“Privacy and the time schedule is flexible and totally depends on you. You can drop off at destinations where commercial flights don’t go, it is more comfortable and it is basically like getting in a taxi which can wait for you for however long you are paying,” he said.

On average, a piston which is a Cessna 206 costs $600 (Sh61,800) for four people per hour, while the Caravan, which is a Cessna 208 (13 person capacity) is about $1,500 (Sh154,500) per hour. Some families flight-pool and share the costs.

In instances where privately chartered flights are a reimbursable corporate expenditure, rich Kenyans make use of their leave days and plan leisure travel along with work trips, bringing friends and family along.

Fred Mmeywa who handles flight operations at Phoenix Aviation says the number of jets in Kenya owned by individuals are very few.

“Most are owned by companies because they are expensive to maintain,” he says.
The company hires out about seven aircraft ranging from the Citation Sovereign C680 to the Beechcraft King Air 200.

He says the most popular aircraft among Kenyans is the turboprops. The Cessna Citation Bravo (they have three in their fleet), for instance, has a seven person capacity with a luxurious leather interior, a luggage allowance of 15 kilogrammes per person and can land at shorter and narrower airstrips than numerous other planes.

Many holiday spots frequented by high-net worth individuals in Kenya have private airstrips.

Nanyuki charm

Dr Mohanjeet Brar, the managing director of Gamewatchers Safaris which organises trips for the rich to Amboseli, Maasai Mara and Ol Pejeta Conservancy says most exclusive tented camps have private airstrips.

“Sometimes we have guests who fly in on private jets to Kenya and we then arrange for private charters from JKIA {Jomo Kenya International Airport} direct to the camps,” he says.

Mike Round-Turner, the general manager of Vipingo Ridge, for instance, which is nestled in Kilifi, says they have a private airstrip which allows one to fly into the residential golf property.

“We have scheduled daily service from Wilson Airport so one can come for horseriding, golf and enjoy a drink at a private beach bar which is part of the Kuruwitu Marine Conservancy. One can do snorkelling, deep-sea diving and more,” he says.

The rich prefer privacy hence tend to go to hotels in the wilderness or less-travelled regions. One of the playgrounds for Kenya’s affluent is Nanyuki and Laikipia.

Three years ago, the Financial Times published an article about a hidden and unique Enasoit Safari Camp in Laikipia where John Ngumi, the Kenya Pipeline Company chairman had visited.

A five-night safari to Enasoit cost about Sh390,000 (£3,250) per person. A helicopter can easily land on a rock allowing you to have breakfast.

Donald Kipkorir, a managing partner at KTK Advocates say he has a holiday home in Nanyuki.

“It has a colonial charm that is appealing, the expansive land is unspoiled, there are great fine dining restaurants— perhaps even more than Nairobi.

Donald Kipkorir during the photo session at the Capital Club on August 5, 2016. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Donald Kipkorir during the photo session at the Capital Club on August 5, 2016. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

There is also privacy and a certain luxury in relaxing in anonymity. It is less than a three hour pot-hole free drive from Nairobi and commercial and charter flights are affordable,” he says.

Over 40

The Nairobi-based lawyer who has visited over 40 countries says his favourite place is Cape Town, South Africa because of its scenic beauty, wonderful wines and an infrastructure to behold.

“Lisbon, Portugal is great for its food, wines and shops. Rome, Italy for its food, history, wine and shops while Hanoi, Vietnam for its food, history and very pleasant people. All these cities have excellent public and private transport, good security and are socialised to promote tourism and tourists,” he says.

When planning high-end trips for her clients, travel agent Patricia Ouko has to ensure that only the very best is offered.

“We offer luxury plus packages for them to properties like Singita Hotels and Lodges in Tanzania where accommodation can go for Sh150,000 a night. For new properties, we go over every minute detail and read reviews online, talk to management and even drivers,’’ she says.

She adds that drivers spend the most time with clients and can make or break a holiday.

Ben Katungi, group general manager at Jambo Chester Hotels and Resorts says they get very high profile travellers.

“We get a lot of international tourists, but Kenyans are starting to realise that they don’t always have to go to places like Dubai to have an incredible holiday. At an exclusive property in Watamu, you won’t even think that you’re in the country,’’ he says.

Mr Katungi says they get about 15 guests flying into Jambo Mutara Camp in Laikipia every week, a hidden gem and the only one in the 20,000 acre conservancy.