As I sip down my dawa at Valley Coffee in Yala Towers Nairobi, admiring the view of Nairobi from the balcony couldn’t help but remember a journey I had taken a few days earlier so I decided why not share it with others as I awaited for my meeting to commence…
There is always something exciting that’s ignited in my stomach whenever I go to Mt.Kenya tourism Circuit the atmosphere is quite unforgettable. On this particular day my longtime friend Phoebe [my partner in crime lol!—no we are actually very innocent girls.] was joining me as we honored an invite to visit Nyeri and familiarize ourselves with the attractions in this area and also, to actually understand why even after being such a gorgeous place, with lots of attraction, Nyeri is still not reaping from its potential as a touristic destination. Leisure and Destination Marketing is something I hold dearly to my soul. So u can imagine how much my adrenaline was racing for such a challenge.
A journey to Nyeri from Nairobi is such scenic one as it traverses you through central Kenya from Pineapple plantations, coffee and farm fields, with beautiful landscapes, its everything a rural area would look like, on the way you will find farmers selling their produces e.g Rice, Irish and sweet potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables, chickens, roasted maize and yams hehe..
For new people on this route watch out as it has lots of corners, drive at controllable speed especially if the road ahead is not visible for a distance. After a disappointing “Continental Breakfast “ at Lazarus café in town we departed for Nyeri our chit chats made the journey of 150KM short.. Upon arrival we met with the owner of Legacy Gardens who was our host and guide throughout our stay. Winfred is so passionate about Nyeri shes quite informed and up to date with things that could attract some one from whichever part of the Earth you belong to: we had a perfect guide…[I always advice travelers get yourself a reliable local guide and you will learn and enjoy a destination beyond the guide book and way beyond google].
We arrived in Nyeri around midday, checked in at Legacy gardens freshened up and we officially checked in Nyeri town [Rware as the natives call it]
Nyeri is famous for its hardworking and strong willed women –women of steel-women who have taken over the role of heading their families as some husbands had turned into alcohol, women who works soo hard to sustain their families the best way they can. It’s a role most find a ridicule to the masculine gender but what could she have done?? Well I find her extra-ordinally although some incidences reported perhaps due to frustrations etc can’t be erased.
Well, we first went to a restaurant for some chicken Kienyenji and Winnie just knew the right place, the bird was big and yummy and some Mataha [a mix of boiled dry maize, beans, potatoes and pumpkin leaves mashed together]. Mataha is a traditional food among the Agikuyu community. It used to be made in plenty and would be stored with Itairu [woven trays] in granaries and if you needed to eat all you had to do is go to the granary and fetch some hehe.. life wasn’t complicated then, you didn’t need soup, maybe a glass of milk or water and you super..
We had an observation though every place that we visited that was frequented, the welcome was always a smelly toilet down stairs before you get to a wonderful place upstairs hehe.. so was the goodbye….but we are smart usitudharau..on our way down we held our noses till we hit the road across hehe… waa two minutes felt longer and I guess Our cheeky laughters attracted quite a few curious looks but well at-least the yummy kienyenji chicken wasn’t spoilt lol! #MissionAccomplished.
Our next stop was the newly 4star rated, one of the few in Nyeri county and that’s White Rhino hotel, a historical hotel built during the British east Africa era, in 1910 by three white settlers who had shot a white a rhino in the same location. The hotel now is open to all unlike before it had a sign “White Only” sits evident that this hotel has a history of over 100yrs. Well, from having rooms that aren’t self-contained to a modern classic city hotel with international standards, surely this hotel has rebranded…
There are other historical buildings in nyeri town like the Osmana ollus shop dating back to 1899, The baden powels grave site memorial, The Italian war Memorial chapel in Mathari, The Paxtu cottage belonging to Baden powell at Outspan hotel which was later occupied by.., The colonial civil and criminal lawa courts situated in Ruringu: Did you know the first colonial African cell was in Nyeri, well it was, near provincial police post.
There quite a number of historical places in this blissful town as Baden powell referred it… e.g Field Marshal Dedan Kimathis Famous fig tree post office in the Aberdares, The treetops Hotel where queen Elizabeth II became Queen while vacationing in Aberdares, The Sacred site where Dedan Kimathi was shot in Tetu… Nyeri still continues to add on its history with Wangari Maathai Becoming the First African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace in 2004. Just like a cherry on top in May 2015 this town received world attention during the Beaitification of Sister Irene Stefani –Nyaatha, she was declared to have lived a life of Heroic virtue through her service to the sick in Nyeri before and during the world War 1.. I guess Nyeri is here to continue making Headlines both local and international.
Other attractions include; Zaina falls in Tetu, Mau Mau caves, Nyeri Hill, Othaya Hill common wealth graves, karura falls, lots of private ranches with magnificent waterfalls and landscapes. This place is a hikers galore, Religion traveler, wildlife enthusiast, birdwatcher’s haven, fishing expeditions, cultural and historical enthusiasts.
During our visit here I purposed to meet with few hotel owners and also to learn quite a few things about this town as a tourism destination. It wasn’t pleasing to learn that even if this county has world re-knowned attractions like Abedrare National park, Mt.Kenya National park, Solio game ranch, Olpejeta conservancy etc its still struggling on how to maximize on its full potential. Travelers still to choose to stop-over more than sleep over. Where else some hotels are struggling others are at 80% occupancy because they can afford costs arising from Marketing strategies. What happens to those who can’t afford? I would advise them to join hands and create some leverage. Being in tourism for quite a long time doesn’t turn me into an expert but its does expose me to realism—[is that English]- There is no way I can just leave my residence just to go stay in a hotel without a particular reason, there must be a reason for me travel…only then will I check where to sleep. Could this county be spending more time marketing their own individual hotels more than the Destination? If the already existing attractions aren’t attracting enough travelers, can they create reasons for travelers to want to stay or desire to visit Nyeri County more than any other destination? Can they repackage this county to a more enticing product? The ball is in your court both the private sector and the county government of Nyeri.
#MyUnforgettable; The Nyeri observation point on your way to Ihururu has awesome sunset, it gives you this priceless sense of peace and stillness..you basically loose yourself, the view below of coffee plantations and Nyeri town, Mt.kenya at a distance and Nyeri Hill at your back, Nature protecting you and exposing you to its beauty
As we departed Nyeri we had a lot of questions and recommendations for this county.. Would creating a happy valley tour or recreating a mau mau route whereby travelers can experience our colonial era refresh this product? All I can say is unless they join hands and come up with campaign to #TembeaNyeri the best will get better and the rest will go worse with only getting overflows or very few check-ins.
We can’t forget to thank the White rhino Hotel, To Mr.Muchiri of Mpeta Guest House- if you are looking for self catering modern, furnished apartments this place would be for you especially for those travelling for business, need a short stay etc. It also has a high speed free internet and in a very accessible location.
Our utmost Gratitude goes to Winfred of Legacy Gardens for being such a passionate guide in Nyeri county and a wonderful host. Legacy gardens have self catering fully furnished Holiday homes, well manicured gardens, vibrant interiors and above all its just home-away-from-home.