Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – September 2013

Posted on September 5th, 2013
Categories: News






I’ve been on the road lately; first to the Olare Orok Conservancy and the Olare Mara Kempinski Camp. A press trip and pretty posh it was all round. I think I gushed about it and the Conservancy in last month’s edition.

This was followed pretty smartly by a rough ‘n ready camping trip back to the Mara en famille with a lot of very good mates with loads of teenagers.

Excellent game viewing of lion, leopard, elephant, tons of plains game, plus the grunting and groaning of the less than a million wildebeest and zebra of the Great Migration. We took a day to go and view the Mara River crossings, but left poste haste when we were overwhelmed by seventy-two safari vehicles pushing and shoving to get better positions for their tip-bearing tourists.

Some of you commented on the 28 cases of beer we took on the camping safari – sad to say three came back alive.  Failure is hard to live with I know, but we could blame it on the teenagers who seemed to prefer alco-pops.

Next on the agenda was a trip to the coast, Watamu to be specific.

The drive down started badly; a massive accident (thankfully not ours) near LuKenya blocked the highway big time. The tailback was over ten kilometers, with most trucks and buses and the odd car opting for an alternative route on a disused diversion.  This quickly became a car park – as luck would have it, we stayed on the road, after 30 minutes we were waved through and popped like a champagne cork out onto an empty highway. Devoid of all trucks until just before Voi – ‘twas magic.

I was most impressed when I saw a container train, 22 carriages long – I’m told they run twice a day; hardly impressive, but that’s 44 less trucks on the road each way each day. With the new standard gauge Chinese railway on the way coming, my trucking friends fear for their livelihoods – me, I’m happy to have the road back sans lorries.

Watamu, usually abuzz with tourists, was less so this August. The Italians who usually come in their hordes were less conspicuous; those that know tell me that the economic situation in Europe is the main culprit. That said, there was more beach for us to frolic and a not so busy gelataria for our daily ritual every afternoon.

Limiting our children to only one scoop this visit against the previous two…

Body wise – hah!

We dined, well, we had lunch at the new Amadina restaurant at the Medina Palms with MD Max Cheli and his wife Denise. Great food, good wine and of course great company. Old favourite Ocean Sports was as ever, great expectations, but at the end of the day a disappointment as ever. It seems another change of management has or is about to take place. Like most Kenyans we and our children love Ocean Sports; it never changes, which is a problem in itself – but a great location and a good place to meet up with upcountry mates for a toot or two.

Towards the end of the month, I will lead a Kenyan team to New York and beyond to try and win our bid to hold the 2015 Skal International World Congress at the coast. We’ve reached the final, with only one other horse to beat. Skal is the world’s largest travel and tourism organisation. We’ll win, no doubt, and it will be a great achievement for the country to be able to host these high-powered executives in November 2015.

This year’s Congress is on a cruise ship sailing the eastern seaboard of the US and Canada – I’m not a cruiser and even less so when I know there will be 3,999 other souls onboard. What a scrum it’s going to be.

Wish us luck – actually luck has nothing to do with it. Kenya will win because, well, it’s a wonderful country full of wonderful people – end of story.

Finally, a trip to the airport last night was a pleasant surprise.  I’d anticipated mayhem on a Saturday evening.

Aside from parking being at a premium, or really not available – it was a doddle. International departures back to normal in Units One and Two – the  departure gates are presently being renovated so its off to a tent on the tarmac. All very posh with very-slow free WiFi but not very much else to do. Best take a book.

For unknown reasons most parking areas are empty and cordoned off. The new multi-storey parking lot which opened initially is now closed. The ground floor about to become the new international arrivals hall. To take the stress out of the airport experience I’d recommend someone else do the driving.

To read this month’s Travel News click on the magazine cover  tn sept