In pitch darkness, I found my peace. It was a warm, calm, beautiful night that placed me directly at the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Precisely at the heart of Shompole Conservancy. Personally, I live for simple nights like this. Crisp fresh air and eerie silence generously coupled up by a sky filled with stars. These captivating cosmic beings, hovering above me, with their only demand being my undivided attention.
Their mere presence was simply overwhelming. So much so, my friends’ voices seemed to disappear into the background. I took a deep breath shifting slightly in my seat. Readily allowing these heavenly beings to hold me spellbound. Slowly drawing me in. Then taking me on this incredible journey where my heart was stuffed with joy, peace, and happiness. My soul felt completely nourished. At one with the universe.
(i know it sounds crazy, but it LEGIT felt amazing and I wasn’t even high!) I savored every moment of it…
Kinda like that moment you run into your past. Having had just! the right number of long islands.( ONYX has really legit ones) Perfectly blended to convince you that you’re still in love. Mr Past* then proceeds to hold your eyes captive. Igniting a flame that sets your soul on fire. Suddenly, all semblance of reasoning flies out the door. Your clumsy,plastered friend pours a drink on you…but who cares! At this point you can barely feel your feet. Invincible you feel. Perhaps, even on top of the world.
Anyway, I digress…
If you’re looking for an authentic experience in the wild, Magadi Conservancy ( Shompole Conservancy) is definitely the place for you.
It is located about 2 and a half hours away from the chaotic Nairobi city, to the South West of Kenya. As you leave the melange of Nairobi’s concrete jungle. The scenery begins to change after passing Kona baridi, “cold corner”. Which lives up to its name as the place is quite chilly.
The Great Rift Valley gives way to some of the country’s most beautiful mountains and landscape scenery. This is quite evident on the Magadi road itself. On this note, we had to make a pit stop to capture some memories.
The terrain is a bit rough especially once you get off the main road. It’s advisable to travel with a 4*4 vehicle. Although, a saloon car is quite manageable especially during the drier seasons.
There are four accommodation options within Shompole conservancy.
• You could opt to pitch a tent,
You’ll need to have your own camping gear
• Stay at the Oloika guest house,1500 Kes p.p…a simple establishment owned by the local women, where you’ll need to bring along your own food and drinks
• beautiful two bedroom iron-sheet house at the border or a Manyatta within the same compound
We opted for the latter. It really was an honor being hosted by a young, educated Masai mans’ family. They went above and beyond, to the extent of roasting a whole juicy goat for us. To say that the experience was authentic and awe-inspiring would be a total understatement.
The compound is surrounded by scattered thorn-like branches rising about ten inches off the ground. This is in the middle of nowhere with all types of animals, hyenas, giraffes, elephants you name it maybe even snakes!
The Manyatta has no door but you can opt to place a spear at the entrance to signify occupancy.
As adventurous as I’d like to think I am; the thought of waking up to a hyena was a definite NO-NO. I opted to sleep in the house. Although, our host did insist that the hyenas were “well-mannered” and would never cross the make-shift fence. This prediction came to pass later that night, which I thought was pretty cool. The hyenas did come to the “fence” but didn’t cross over
Although, if you grew up playing three sticks you know that if you back up far enough you’ll probably not end up being kicked out of the game.
Allow me to backtrack to when we arrived at Shompole conservancy. I love to drink and have a good time (don’t we all though). Whisky is always a plan! i love mine neat or with a splash of water as it savors the taste. I completely don’t understand the concept behind mixing it with soda! Perhaps, this might explain why i have no memory of passing through a barricaded entrance with armed police men.
Fortunately or not, there’s only one way in and out of the Magadi/ Shompole Conservancy. Evidently, this fact has been ingeniously exploited. The guards, who clearly haven’t been left behind on the Kenyan entrepreneurial bandwagon.
Have discovered a way of coercing money from tourists as they leave. They check for white flakiness on your skin and immediately demand a payment of 1000 Kes (10$) give or take. The amount could be more for non-citizens.
In case you’d like to take a inconsequential dip in the warm medicinal hot springs. I’ve got a tip for you!
While at shompole do make a point of visiting the hot springs. Sadly, our Masai guide wasn’t too excited about taking us to see it. He actually advised against it, is that it was past midday and the sun was scorching to say the least. I’m glad we ended up going through, as it was one of the highlights of the trip.
On arrival, we were met by beautifully dressed Masai women who were selling handmade jewelry. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed by the spring. I had envisioned jets of hot water shooting dramatically from the ground into the air, kinda like that place in Dubai with the dancing water fountain. Yeah…it’s more of a pond with relatively hot water. Oddly, I soon came to discover that its way more than that.
The spring contains algae that cure a range of skin diseases e.g skin rashes, pimples and acne, dry skin conditions and also helps in strengthening the bones in the body.
There’s a signboard that encourages one to drink lots of water prior to and after staying inside the spring.It contains a high concentration of salt and might leave you feeling dizzy wizzy…lol!
The moon like terrain leading up to the spring is both beautiful and harsh. I learned this the hard way during a failed attempt at walking barefoot, the ground was really hot. I’d advise you to wear shoes with a good grip as there are very slippery blue-green algae and one can easily slip and fall.
we were understandably hesitant .Thankfully, our Masai guide was prompt to share his expertise and reassured us.After a few toe dips, which didn’t make much of a difference.I got in! The water felt amazing!
There will be an immediate change in the appearance of your skin. At first, your skin feels extremely smooth and glows. i loved the glow! Although shortly after, it dries up into a chalky white.This is how the police at the barrier discover whether you were at the spring and demand payment.To prevent this carry some fresh water and take a bathe.
If you’re looking for an escape, look no further …Shompole Conservancy is a hidden gem with so much to offer. There all types of bird species, sightings of elephants, zebras, and even hyenas! I just chose to focus on the spring for now.