GP KARTING AT THE WHISTLING MORANS, ATHI RIVER
GP Karting at The Whistling Morans is a wonderful experience for family and friends. Whereas it may be a bit hard to locate, the vibe and adrenaline rush is exhilarating even for first timers! The rates may seem a bit steep but the value is great.
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GP Kart Racing
Wikipedia defines GP karting/kart racing as;
‘A variant of motorsport road racing with open-wheel, four-wheeled vehicles known as go-karts or shifter karts. They are usually raced on scaled-down circuits, although some professional kart races are also held on full-size motorsport circuits. Karting is commonly perceived as the stepping stone to the higher ranks of motorsports, with former Formula One champions such as Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso having begun their careers in karting.’
Memorize this definition, it carries 5 Marks in the quiz you’ll take later.
GP Karting has been on my bucket-list for quite a while now, with the procrastination demon always getting the best of me. Even with COVID-19 graying out all possible highlights of 2020, I decided that for my birthday, I would take a trip to Whistling Morans in Athi River on my quest to become the next Schumacher. Let’s find it.
Heads up; if you’ve never been here and you manage to navigate your way and find it on the first go, I applaud you. When you’re coming from Nairobi on Mombasa road, the entrance to the road is just before the roundabout that leads to Athi River Shalom Hospital/Kitengela. From there Google Maps can lead you.
Make sure you observe landmarks both physically and on your Google Maps navigation to make sure you don’t get lost. Some roads might not be updated on Google Maps and you may find some closed due to construction, so if possible ask for directions when you are close to the destination. I must say that they have little to no signage from the major roads, something they can really improve on to help customers navigate.
It’s recommended that you do not use public means to get there, the distance is like 6 – 8 Km from the Mombasa road highway. I also do not recommend cabs, unless you live really close by. It’s important to mention that the road leading up to Whistling Morans is a bumpy rough road and whereas you don’t really need a 4×4 vehicle, it’s good to note. I went during the dry weather, so I’m not sure what would happen if it was muddy🤷.
Are We There Yet?
After cussing at the Google lady severally for misplaced directions, we finally got there. With the place being open post-COVID season, there are the usual requirements at the entrance. Your temperature has to be taken at the entrance and sanitization of hands too where applicable. The staff at the gate are friendly and will direct you accordingly.
There is the Whistling Morans main restaurant which is to the left of the huge parking grounds when you arrive. This section is for other activities excluding go karting like swimming, cycling etc. I didn’t go there and I can’t verify if you’ll have access to view the races from there.
The area you’ll be interested in is to the right of the main parking lot where you have a clear view of the circuit. The section has parking so you can park here at will and at no charge.
I’d already checked out the rates on the Whistling Morans website beforehand and basically these are the rates. Remember, you can call in earlier to make a reservation or just walk in.
What they don’t show on the site though is that there are two types of go-karts; the single engine and the twin engine. Speed demon or not, you can speculate what this means; the double engine is more powerful than the single engine, and hence pricier. I’ll talk about that a bit later.
The staff at the reception were polite and kind enough to explain the rates and the basic rules and anything else we needed to know. The payment is inclusive of all gear (helmet and racewear) and there are no hidden charges unless specified. Payment can be done via mobile money or card. Cash of course was discouraged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you decide to choose the 20 or 30 minutes races, you can break these up into 10-minute races at whichever intervals you please. This actually may be a wiser choice instead of going once and exhausting your time. Makes the races more competitive especially if you’re a first-timer. The more you are the merrier but confirm with the reception because of availability of GP karts.
However large the crowd may seem at first, make sure that the reception is your first stop to confirm your booking and to confirm the queue. This is because not everyone there is necessarily racing. So please check with the front desk first.
Above the reception is a restaurant overlooking the circuit, that serves a variety of fast foods and soft drinks at friendly prices.
Fun fact; Whistling Morans boasts of having the largest circuit in Africa and yes by looking at it, it’s quite huge! I’ve seen pictures of the circuits in TGRV in Mai Mahiu, Carnivore and the recently launched MadMax Circuit at Two Rivers and yes, this circuit is quite impressive.
The Pit Bay
We found some bike enthusiasts showcasing their wonderful speed demons and also we noted that they also used the circuit to race at particular intervals in between the go-kart races. They have a special pit bay where they love to rev their engines.🐝 If you’re into that kind of thing, check the Whistling Morans website or socials for upcoming event details and booking info.
Pedal To The Metal
I can’t emphasize this enough, GP Karting is such an exhilarating experience, especially for teams or people in general who love thrills and competitions. I’ll mention here that all helmets were disinfected before use by another driver. Whistling Morans also provides a new hairnet to be worn by each driver to of course prevent contact and possible hair entanglement👺. It may be good that you carry your own hand sanitizers if you need to. Pandemic. 🤦♂️
Since we were a group of 6 single-engine drivers, we had to wait till all karts were ready. This is something you need to be aware, the single engines are the mostly sought after and so for large groups you might experience a bit of waiting time. This largely depends on the waiting queue, however, the several attendants manning the circuit have good coordination so that drivers don’t miss turns. (or exceed them😄)
If you need a quick run through of how everything works, just ask and they’ll be willing to help. The whole Go-karting experience would be better if you know how a car moves, or at least you can control and navigate something. This is good to note since there are no test runs, once you are settled in your car seat, the race starts! Did I mention kids above 6 are welcome? So anyone can do it.
I’ll not want to spoil the main experience here by offering tutorials or tips and tricks, well mostly because no one also gave me those so you’re on your own! I’d like to see your experiences in the comments below though! I’d mentioned the two types of engines at the beginning. If you want some bit of competition and adrenaline boost and you can afford it, pay for the twin engine. If you want to test the single engine first then upgrade later, up to you. However, a single engine kart is enough to experience the whole thing.
Maybe a few basic mentions especially to avoid unnecessary collisions. Yes, you can easily collide or have a minor accident on the circuit no matter how good you think you are. These rules apply especially for the novice driver:
- Wear your helmet correctly and if you have long hair, keep it in check.
- Make sure your feet can freely step on the pedals. Get a kart that … fits.
- Avoid open shoes if you can.
- Familiarize yourself with the vehicle; understand how the steering and how the pedals work
- If leading, avoid sudden stops unless it’s an emergency.
- These are not bumper cars. Don’t bump or bully other vehicles.
- Mind the other racers.
- Grip the steering wheel as firmly as possible.
- Avoid looking over to check your friends’ progress, unless you’re in control of your kart.
- Keep calm and don’t be nervous, it’s easier than it looks.
- Have fun!
There’s so much I can say about my first experience at The Whistling Morans. Worth a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from me. The service was great, the pricing was reasonable, the location is ideal since the GP karting circuit is not squeezed at all, they might have to work on the signage from the main road(s) though.
It was nice to see they adhere to the MOH COVID-19 guidelines as well.
Would I go back? Yes and yes. I don’t think you can exhaust the thrill of racing here. You discover new driving tactics and get better and hungrier each time. I highly recommend. Ice skating or GP Karting? Definitely GP Karting!
What do you guys think of Whistling Morans? If you’ve never been, would you go? If you’ve been there, how would you rate it?