As a Kenyan I am truly proud of my country and enjoy every opportunity I get to explore its beauty, Like Lake Magadi, where I spent a really amazing weekend a couple of weeks ago at the invitation of the tented camp of Lake Magadi. www.lakemagadi.com Growing up, Lake Magadi was only known to me for its soda ash production, but as you will find out from my very first travel article this place has so much more to offer.
Day One The Lake is really not very far from Nairobi, but the road is a bit bumpy, so I was happy to have rented a vehicle saving us the hassle of driving. Plus the road can be very rough and difficult to follow. My team – Charles my photographer and his assistant, Nick my assistant and Carol my intern – and I left Nairobi around 3 pm on a Friday. As soon as we had passed the Ngong Hills and Kiserian the beautiful landscape opened up with rolling hills leading down to the Maasai lands bustling with activities in and around the Manyattas, the family compounds. When eventually we reached the camp at 7:30PM we were not only tired and hungry but starving! and devoured the sumptuous meal the kitchen had prepared for us to enjoy in the club house which also has a well stocked bar and a pool. After the dinner the camp manager Ben gave us an overview of the various sites which we could visit in the following days, which was a great idea since the purpose of my visit was to see as many beautiful sites as possible and to do a variety of shoots on the best of these locations. And thanks to his advice we were now able to put together a custom made programme for our stay. It was so nice finally to be taken to our air-conditioned tent 5 minutes drive from the restaurant were I immediately crashed on my comfortable bed after a long day on the road.
Day Two-We love to shoot in the early morning when the light is still soft, crisp and pretty so by 6:30 I had already showered and done my makeup and was ready to leave the camp with my team. We were heading for a place called Little Lake Magadi, but on the way there we passed a beautiful site with an incredible background and opted for shooting there instead before the sun rose too high. The beautiful glassy lake is so beautifully calm in the morning. The landscape is arid with that special beauty you only find in the desert so we were carried away by sightseeing and missed breakfast. We ended up at Lake Magadi causeway and enjoyed an enormous flock of beautiful flamingos and a variety of other wading birds, before heading back to the camp for an early lunch. Having missed our breakfast, the buffet was more than welcome. It was lovely to take a cool shower and freshen up before spending some time chilling together and bonding as a team sharing bits and pieces of our lives with each other. Eventually we retired to our tents for a welcome siesta waiting for the light to soften for the last shoot of the day. One of my objectives of this trip was to do a shoot for a campaign for Ciroc Premium vodka, and for that we selected another small area of dry barren desert. Here is where we made our first direct contact with the Maasai, who call this land theirs. We ended up with two Maasai tour guides who took us through the rest of the day. They insisted that the Hot Springs was an experience not to be missed and while the darkness was creeping in on us we took the drive there and it was truly a magical experience to swim in the warm pond with lots of little lamps surrounding us, it was also so beautifully chilling to hear the hyenas laughing nearby. After a long day of sightseeing it was lovely to unwind with a dip in the soothing and bubbling hot springs under a star lit night. Looking back at our days at Lake Magadi I definitely feel that this was the absolute highlight of the weekend in great spirits we ended the day in a local club together with our Maasai guides, It was heaps of fun getting to know our Maasai friends better.
Day Three On this glorious Sunday morning we all woke up early for a final shoot in the soft morning light. I am proud to say that we made the best of the light conditions throughout the stay and wrapped it up in a perfect manner before returning to the camp for a leisurely breakfast including a yummy Spanish omelet. It was now time for a swim in the pool, which was just what we needed on a hot day like this before spending our last few hours there getting to know the Maasai better, including dressing me up in a beautiful outfit belonging to one of the girls working at the camp. A rather formal outfit only used for special occasions, which I shall feature in a future post. I admire this tribe which is one of the few in Kenya which has managed to maintain its century old traditions even in today’s modern world and still keep them vibrantly alive to the point of almost making the Maasai culture a trademark for Kenya. Need I say that we had a lovely lunch with a selection of chicken, salad, rice, potatoes and green gram dhal before finally heading back to Nairobi? Many thanks once again to Ben and his excellent staff for their warm hospitality during this memorable weekend. I am sure I shall return sometime quite soon, and can warmly recommend the camp for anyone wanting to go away for a weekend to chill with your loved ones or for team building with workmates and enjoy the amazing scenery. But remember that the place gets very hot during the day, so carry plenty of water thought the trip and make an effort to make the most of the cool mornings and the lovely evenings before and after sunset. When in Lake Magadi there are other attractions further afield to explore, including the spectacular Lake Natron in Tanzania, which was featured in the movie The Constant Gardener by Fernando Meirelles. And between your outings you can enjoy refreshing drinks from the bar while swimming in the pool or enjoy the rich Maasai culture tucked in a little paradise in the middle of the desert.
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