The fresh air, ocean breeze, and an amazon shower – some of my favorite features about staying at Distant Relatives Eco-lodge and Backpackers. I have been to enough hotels and corporate entities that claim to be are eco-friendly, and the most they have are a couple of solar panels, and maybe are conscious about how they recycle their garbage. So when I heard about Distant Relatives Eco-lodge and Backpackers, I sort of let the “eco-lodge” phrase skip my mind. I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat amazed by how the DR team has incorporated environmental friendliness into the design of the lodge, and the entire experience of your stay.
The lodge is extremely environmentally conscious, and the compost toilets really fascinated me. They are uniquely designed to not use water to flush, but use sawdust to cover up your waste – and it works really well. Some dorms were built around tree’s to protect the plant life, and they incorporate the whole “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” philosophy really well, find out more about it here.
Getting to Kilifi
So how do you get to Kilifi? We took a flight down to Mombasa, there’s also the option of taking one to Malindi, but flights from Nairobi to Malindi are more expensive. From there, we were going to take an Uber from Moi International Airport (MIA) to Buxton where we could pick up a matatu to Kilifi, but we negotiated a flat rate with the Uber driver (Ksh3,000), and he took us all the way to Distant Relatives. On the way back, it was much easier because we knew where we were going, so we took a tuk tuk to Tusky’s in Kilifi (Ksh 200), then boarded a matutu into Mombasa (Ksh200), and picked an Uber to Moi International Airport (MIA).
It’s about 2 hours from MIA to Distant Relatives, without any traffic on the way, and the roads are great so the ride is really enjoyable. On arrival, the lodge is calm, and peaceful – as it should be. The staff is very warm and welcoming.
We were greeted with refreshing Dawa’s – after a long ride from the airport, it was a drink I really savored, plus the ginger leaves a tingling sensation on your tongue which fees great. We arrived at around 10.30am and so we indulged in a Full Brekkie (a lovely spread of scrambled eggs, bacon, lamb sausage, toast and beans) – the perfect meal for curing you of the Kilifi heat, which took us some time to adjust to. The service was prompt; we didn’t wait too long to get meals.
Soon after letting our food settle, we were shown to our room –DR has several options to cater for various budgets. You could choose from staying in a private Banda that allows you to share with a group of friends or family, or in a dorm with other backpackers. You may also decide to stay in a safari tent with either a single or double bed, or stay in your own tent on DR’s garden. Rates go as low as Ksh600 (low season) for one guest per night when camping.
What You Can Do
There’s a bit of a walk down to the beach, but it’s so peaceful and calming. And the best part - no pesky beach boys; so you can actually enjoy and get lost in your own thoughts. At night, you can catch the bioluminescence (when the plankton in the water lights up in the water). We never managed to see it, because of our fear of wading into the water at night, but bet it is pretty cool.
Touring Kilifi is such an unforgettable experience! A 5 minute tuk-tuk ride from DR is Bofa Beach, and since we’re in the middle of the Kenyan summer, the water was super warm, and there was quite a bit of seaweed. But this did not distract from the soft white sand, and pristine blue waters Kenyan beaches are known for.
On our second day in Kilifi, we toured the Giriama village, to see the community and sipped a bit of Mnazi (coconut palm wine), which has a taste that takes getting used to. The climax of the tour was the Giriama Paradise, where you can watch the sunset over the Kilifi creek and soon after delight in ugali and BBQ chicken in coconut chicken sauce.
Snorkeling on our third day in Kilifi was absolutely the best culmination to a long weekend. It feels good drifting out at sea (especially if you don’t get sea sick). If you’re lucky, Captain Issa will entertain you with some Swahili songs as the boat carries you out into the sea. It was my first time snorkeling and I quite enjoyed looking at the massive sea urchins on the coral and watching the fish swim past me. It was the perfect experience.
Thanks to the Distant Relatives Eco-lodge and Backpackers team.
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By Lizbeth Kariuki
You may be in the city, but as soon as you step into the Heron Portico hotel it feels just like the coast. The lobby speaks volumes as to the entire theme of the hotel; with its Swahili and Arabic influences.
The hotel, formerly known as the Heron Court, is located on Milimani road only a few minutes away from the CBD. If you ever need to know how to revamp your image, the hotel has a few lessons for you. The perception of it before was not the best, but I won’t go into that since our generation probably doesn’t know about that, and will only ever know the new hotel.
Apart from the stunning image of the hotel, the staff is extremely friendly. From the smiles of the concierge to the head Chef Ali, the smiles never miss a beat. Speaking of Chef Ali, the hotel food is absolutely delish! I’m a sucker for sweet things, and indulging in the desserts was pleasing for my mind, body and soul.
Take a look at some of the sights from the hotel. I recommend heading over to the hotel anytime you need a break from the city buzz, besides you won’t be going far away from town.
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Photo's by James Kamau, check out his blog: jamohframes.blogspot.com