Most people love exploring the outdoors but camping still appeals to a few. From carrying the right sleeping gear, pitching a sturdy tent, finding no proper toilets, cooking over a gas stove hoping your matches did not get damp in the night are just not everyone’s cup of tea. I’d like to think that I can adapt easily, but given a choice, I will certainly pick ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping) any day.
My brother and I recently decided to check out Sieku Glamping, located in Timau, about an hour’s drive from Nanyuki and three hours from Nairobi.
The main attraction was its proximity to Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve coupled with the fact that accommodation was Sh5,500 per double tent. This seemed like a steal given that most high-end lodges in Laikipia cost thousands of shillings.
My room was a high quality bell tent. It was about five metres wide and furnished with thick sheepskin rugs, a comfortable bed with two hot water bottles for those cold Timau nights, and the flaps unzipped and rolled out onto a private balcony with deck chairs where I would take in every spectacular sunrise or magical starry night with freshly baked cookies.
The tent was covered by a thatched hut structure, giving it a rustic appeal. Bathrooms were outdoors complete with eco-friendly drop toilets facing the scenic plains.
On a hammock
At the far end, there is a rustic farmhouse-style kitchen. Guests can either make their own meals or hire a chef. For our stay, we selected from a menu which had been sent to us at the time of booking, and the chef was tasked with buying and preparing all meals, including the wines and ciders.
At dinner time, we sat on a long wooden table with several lanterns hanging above it. Quite romantic.
They serve in plates and bowls handmade from Fired Earth pottery in Naivasha, Kitengela drinking glasses and locally sourced table mats, Maasai coasters and colourful kanga napkins.
The bohemian living area was inviting with plush sofas, indoor plants, wooden shelves, great quality cowhide and sheepskin rugs, board games, books and maps.
In the cold evenings, there were always logs crackling in the grate of the fireplace.
Sieku has several lounging areas: swing sets, swinging day beds and hammocks overlooking the plains. My favourite thing to do was lie on a hammock overlooking Borana Conservancy below, with a glass of wine and pair of binoculars at hand, taking in wildlife like zebras milling about.
Legei, one of the longest-serving staff members at the camp took us out on an early morning bush walk, setting up a breakfast picnic and packing up what turned out to be a feast for a hike up Ngare Ndare.
Ngare Ndare Waterfall
This forest reserve which was recently named a Unesco World Heritage site is only about seven kilometres from Sieku.
It is an elephants corridor, protects plenty of indigenous trees, some as old as 200 years, and is also home to several butterflies and birds.
Our aim was to hike up to the forest’s waterfalls which are fed by snow-melt water from Mt Kenya. The hike was much steeper than anticipated and it took us about an hour to get to the first waterfall which was simply breathtaking.
The water was ice cold. We tried swimming but got out fast after shivering uncontrollably.
We basked in the sun then had some ciders. We then went off to the second waterfall which was surprisingly deep and had three cliffs at different heights, from which we were able to dive.
Afterwards, we walked back, passing by a canopy which was 40 feet up in the air, accessed by a flight of stairs.
Initially, it was a rather terrifying experience; imagine walking on a suspended aerial bridge of wire mesh and cables, and glancing down to see the tops of trees which had towered over you back on the ground. It was about 450 metres long, which felt like 100 kilometres.
When we got to the end, we walked out onto raised platforms set amidst all the foliage, and to our surprise, Legei was waiting with a colourful blanket with fruits, sandwiches and snacks.
A perfect spot to pop open a bottle of champagne. There were eland antelopes milling below and squirrels scurrying about.