ICE SKATING AT THE PANARI SKY CENTRE
The Panari Ice Skating rink is one of a kind in Kenya. Whereas for a novice like me it may not be as fun as you may expect in terms of actual ice-skating, it’s still really worth checking out and a good experience especially for kids!
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How To Get There
The Panari Sky Centre is one of those buildings I’d just marvel at back in the day just like the Villa Rosa Kempinski when it was fairly new, nice architecture. This golden building is located along Mombasa Road, near the Airtel Networks HQ, barely 10 kilometres from the Nairobi CBD. Scroll on for the pin.
The building boasts to host the only ice skating rink nationally and in Eastern Africa, it’s also the largest ice skating rink in Africa. In all my years, I’d never been, well until recently. You have to access the building and then head on to the second floor past the bar, casino and the Anga Sky Cinema. Go straight on to the Panari Ice Skating Rink or the Solar Ice Rink as it’s called.
How Much To Pay
When I was there, there were two polite gentlemen at the booth who were quick to serve everyone efficiently. It was a Saturday afternoon and of course was a bit crowded with families and excited kids ready to skate. But I faced no hassle at the reception booth and contributing to that might be the fact that they do not accept cash payments.
You either pay via MPESA or via credit/debit cards. This is happening in most establishments I’ve been to especially government-owned and is quite effective. I parted with Kes. 1000 (adults and 15+ year old teens) and 800 bob was for those below 15. With that, you get the ice skating boots (figure skates) and leave your shoes with the attendant at the entrance. Kinda like what happens at The Village Bowl at the Village market. So yes, carry your own pair of socks.
You can always come in with your own skates, I don’t think they charge for that. But they charge a monthly membership fee of Kes. 8,000 for both kids and adults if you’d like that. They also charge for skating training and ice-hockey training. Find out more about that with them, but skating training was around Kes. 10,000 per session for 8 lessons. Ice-hockey is a bit steeper.
Important to also note that the rink is open every day from 11AM to 10PM, however there are one-hour gaps in between the sessions. Each skating period is an hour; try to be there well before your designated hour mark.
The Skating Experience
🥶Brrr!! Okay, Kenyans are not really used to anything below 20° C. Please carry warm clothing, scarves and a pair of gloves if needed for when you slip and fall hands down onto the ice floor. For kids, it’s really essential.
The ambience is cool (pun intended). There’s some music that plays throughout the hour and the rink is well lit and properly spaced out. Apparently it can hold up to 200 skaters at a go. Everyone looked happy and excited and the shouts, smiles and laughs from the others can warm you up, a bit. Overall, it really doesn’t feel like you’re in Kenya.
So do you rapidly learn to skate once you strap on those boots and step onto the arena?
A Big NO. This is something newbies (like me) will probably struggle with but it’s okay.
Ice skating is probably up there with the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. Haha! You know with swimming or riding a bicycle, you have one advantage: At any point, you CAN stand still on your two feet. Ice skating as you can imagine is like standing on an oil slick on a marble floor in flip-flops, so you either move forward or move…. down.
Without the training, you’re basically there for the laughs. If it sounds like I’m complaining, I am. Because I fell. Hard. Your boy fell hard, thrice 😂. Remember me mentioning gloves? That floor is supposedly -25 damn degrees Celsius.
So bicycles have trainer wheels and the Panari ice skating rink has … training seals?
Those blue darlings will save your life so remember to grab one. Hmm unless they run out and the kids don’t have them so they come over to beg to have yours with ’em puppy eyes. If it weren’t for those meddling kids…
Remember to always skate/glide/move while holding on to the rails😂 in an anticlockwise way. This is of course to avoid collision with others. You can collide with yourself, no worries.
The Panari Solar Ice Rink is truly a one-of-a-kind experience in the country especially since we are equatorial and never see snow. I had fun, while others had more fun laughing at me but oh well. Would I go again? Probably. Fair pricing, doesn’t get too crowded and I ain’t one to back down. Would I take the training? We’ll find out someday.
If you’ve never been skating at the Panari ice skating rink, plan to attend especially as a couple, with family, friends and kids. At least you can use my cheat sheet.