JANGWANI CAMP, SAGANA
Camping, rafting, archery, relaxation – basically an outdoor experience that makes you feel right at home
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One word – December! You know how we joke about falling asleep in one county, say Nairobi, and waking up in another, like Vasha you guy! Or simply going to buy a loaf of bread, tripping and oops! Welcome to Machakos County. Yeah we make these jokes but Drinkcember is heavy around these parts.
I landed in Nairobi fresh from a Christmas overeating spree in shagz. The ‘jetlag’ hadn’t even worn off yet when my cousin hit up and I’ll just summarize that conversation into “Si we go to Sagana.” I mean, why the heck not? Her initial plan was to pick me up from around my grandma’s place but because I had already headed back to the big city well, I’d find my way to them. We’d meet at a hotel called Nokras Riverine.
Noon the next day I was at Tea Room weighing my travel options. When using public means, you could use any matatu passing through Sagana and alight along the way (there weren’t any javs that have the town as they’re sole destination). I opted for the matatus going to Kerugoya since I’m more conversant with that route. So for the cool price of Ksh. 250, 12 passengers and I were chauffeured to our respective destinations. Usually the drivers just drop you off at the junction of Sagana & Kagio but this gem of a driver took me to the main stage where I quickly got a nduthi for Ksh. 50 to Nokras.
I was welcomed by a gigantic banner announcing the one-man guitarist performing that night and the distant sound of excited children. The squad comprised of 4 adults and 4 children came up to meet me and after exchanging screams and pleasantries they told me we’d be proceeding to another venue. I got to explore Nokras just a little. It was packed with children, swimming, swinging, trampolining – just living their best lives as their parents and guardians dined, drank and just had a good time. It was a pleasant bonus experience.
Jangwani Camp was about a kilometre away and man, I wasn’t ready. We drove into a slightly inclined parking that had me asking my cousin if she’d have to park her car in reverse gear or something. But if I thought that was something you should have seen my face when I were shown the flight of stairs leading to the campsite.
Granted that from a point near the top of the stairs we had a fantastic view of the Jangwani camp site – the tents, the greenest grass and the beautiful waterfall that might be the reason that you keep waking up to pee in the middle of the night – how on earth did people climb all the way back up? I’d soon find out. As per my nephew’s count there are 163 stairs. Personally I never counted, I had bigger fish to fry when going up or down, like you know, exhaustion, so I’ll choose to believe him. The counting of stairs was interestingly a pretty simple way to distract the kiddoz hehe.
Finally getting to the bottom, I carried out a quick survey. Straight ahead of us was a burnt out bonfire. To the left was the reception which doubled up as the bar and kitchen. To the right were the washrooms and the main campsite which included a canvased dining area that had a television and extension cords which we could use to charge our phones. It wasn’t an experience the wild kind of camp but it was certainly a functional one. I think it’s perfect for those who aren’t totally nature hungry but would like to experience the great outdoors. Since my ‘hosts’ had been there a little earlier, a young man quickly approached to take us to where the tents were. For a party of 9 the 4 tents he led us would do just fine.
Back at the reception we inquired whether there were other activities. “EEEH! We have boat riding, archery, kayaking, nature trails, cycling…” Yup they’re certainly not short of fun things to do and get this! At this place you can bring you own booze, food, cooker, grill at no extra cost. It was just the gift that keeps on giving. We made our dinner order and proceeded with the grueling walk up the stairs to do a little shopping in Sagana town and get the rest of our pack.
Take a moment to think about all the luggage you’d require to camp with kids for about 3 days, your luggage, your friends’ luggage, drinks, snacks, games and so on. How will you get that down over 100 stairs? Well, these guys got that covered too. On request they send a van up to you (the terrain down to the campsite is suitable only for 4*4 vehicles). Here’s what’s crazy, at some point when the van was unavailable, the owner came up himself to at least ferry the kids in his car. Aaah this guy! A1 kabisa.
Having been there for a couple of days I’ll summarize my experience into basic highs and not-so-highs. For the first 2 days, service was really good. They were super-efficient and up beat during the day and even went out of their way to help us sort our storage constraint – we had a lot of stuff. As long as you found a free port to charge your phone, you could leave it in the dining area paranoia-free. They provided little mattresses and blankets in the tents.
Additionally, there were larger tents at Ksh. 2,500 which had beds inside. What!! The food was decent. The waterfall and cushiony lawn were everything! The owner was friendly and made you feel right at home. We never ran out of ways to entertain ourselves. From having the kids go rafting, enjoying the waterfall to holding a somersault competition right there on the lawn. I felt totally at peace after my stay there. Really great place to go if you need to clear your thoughts or just get away from all the excitement of the city.
On the not so high side as Jangwani Camp got more packed with guests arriving to cross into the new year, service became less satisfactory. Judging by the overwhelming number of guests I couldn’t really blame them though. Getting the bonfire lit on the first day was a whole debate of its own and barely anyone to actively man it. Lighting was a huge constraint.
We had been told we could get lanterns so we didn’t bother with buying torches but lo! Previous guests had made their way home with a good number of them (We need to do better guys!) so it was hard for us to secure any. And the rain! WWWUUUII! This barred us from a few activities and it was such a task cleaning your feet before entering the tent but hey, can’t stop the rain. I’d say if you plan to go camping just do it during the drier seasons. Other than the service bit, doubt any experienced campers would have suffered any of the inconveniences we did.
It’s no secret that I was hella impressed by this place. Pricing was about Ksh. 1,500 per tent for adults, for children the price (for this and all other activities) is 25% less. I honestly can’t wait to go back to unwind and participate in more activities. I’ll be sure to make my booking over an off-peak, rain-free season.