7th-9th February, Sieku, North Kenya
The sun was low on the horizon when we got off the tarmac road from Nanyuki, one of Norhern Kenya's towns. Just few minutes later we saw the first animals on the sides of the dirt road - baboons were watching us carefully whilst small gazelles were grazing nearby.
We were told that 'sieku' means 'go fast' in Swahili and so it was - before the sun disappeared we were at the gates of Sieku Glamping.
We had never 'glamped' before so we were quite excited to see how 'glamping' is different to 'camping'.
VISITING SIEKU GLAMPING
In 2013, Sieku, the land that was abandoned for over 20 years, started to regenerate thanks to a protection programme. Many trees have been planted. Land, plant and animal life has been slowly restored and the eco-system has been gradually regenerating.
GLAMOROUS BELL TENTS
When we first arrived, Maiyani, one of the team, introduced us to our bell tent, which was facing away Mount Kenya. By now the sky had one of the most beautiful looks we've ever seen. Purples, pinks, oranges and blues were complementing each other in between the long white clouds. They kept us in awe until the orange circle disappeared behind the fields.
We walked through our own little porch, where two deckchairs and a comfy-looking sofa were waiting for us. When we unzipped the tent we couldn't find ourselves happier - there was a huge bed with white fluffy duvet and pillows spreading across the side. Low white shelves were decorated with flowers and the sheepskin rugs were covering the floor.
That would make for one comfy night's sleep!
Sieku Glamping may be luxurious but it doesn't mean it's not eco-friendly. Care of water is serious here - you're asked to collect any used water so it can be re-used for watering the plants. There is also no flush toilet. But who needs one if you get to use the cute wooden drop down loo painted in white and surrounded by lovely green plants?
You're also asked to take your own rubbish back with you (minus the biodegradable waste which they can use for compost).
Mess tent & solar power
There is also no electric power but don't worry - you're still okay to charge your cameras or phone. There are newly-installed solar panels near the main 'mess tent'. You can either charge from a couple of USB ports or from one AC socket.
The mess tent has a fully equipped kitchen (no fridge, but there are ice chests and an ice machine), dining area with beautiful cutlery and crockery, and resting area with lots of books and games.
In the night the way to your tent is lit up by dozens of small solar lamps which you can also use as your bedside lamp.
We really loved seeing that Sieku Glamping cares so deeply about the environment around them.
WHO IS SIEKU FOR?
Sieku Glamping and its activities are for those adventurous ones, who want to enjoy the nature and who care about environment, but they still want to have the comforts of their home. Since not everyone likes camping, but majority of people do love stunning sunrises and sunsets out in the wild, Sieku Glamping is a perfect compromise between the two.
The good news is that the luxuries and beautiful setting of the camp, are not inaccessible for budget travellers. At 50 USD on a weekday and 60 USD on the weekend for a night per double, Sieku Glamping is quite affordable - especially when you compare fees for camping in Kenya's parks, which are about 30 USD per person for an international traveller and you only get very basic facilities.
To book, look for Sieku Glamping on AirBnB (if you're new to AirBnB you can use our 35 USD discount by clicking here).
For each booking there is a one time cleaning fee of 15 USD.
In Sieku, you can either cook yourself or hire a chef for 40 USD a day.
HOW TO GET TO SIEKU GLAMPING?
Since all our travels are very budget-oriented, we were looking for a pretty cheap way to get to Sieku, which is located about 4.5 hours North of Nairobi - about 235km.
RENTING A CAR - 2WD or 4WD?
We hesitated whether to rent a two-wheel-drive or a 4x4 car and eventually we rented 'a normal city car' - Toyota Axio - for 3,500 KSH (approx. 35 USD) a day in Nairobi.
We found it through simply Googling 'rent a cheap car in Nairobi' and calling multiple ads and companies, until finally one of them had a deal suitable for our budget. We organised the hire car the day before we left for glamping and the rental car was dropped off to us the morning we wanted to leave.
In the rainy season, you may need a 4x4 car. You also may need a 4x4 car, if you don't want to be stressed when you decide to pass through conservancies (like we did!). The roads are not so good, and although we did pass through them with our small Toyota, we had a couple of heart attacks when the bottom of the car rubbed against the rocky dirt roads.
on public transport
The other option is public transport (fun!). Initially we wanted to do this: getting a matatu (a minibus) from Nairobi to Nanyuki (we learnt it's about 400-500 KSH (4-5 USD) per person), and once in Nanyuki, getting a local taxi to Sieku Glamping (about 30 USD to take you there and pick you back up in one or two days).
Renting a car for two nights = 70 USD + fuel (about 30 USD) = 100 USD
(and you can also visit nearby Borana and Lewa conservancies and Ngare Ndare Forest!)
Getting a matatu and a taxi from Nanyuki for two people there and back = 5 USD x4 + 30 USD = 50 USD
(but then you only have your feet to take you places around Sieku)
WHAT TO DO IN AND AROUND SIEKU?
We could easily stay in the campsite for the whole day - lazing about in their resting area, with hammocks and huge comfy pillows, or in the cozy lounge of the main tent or even on our private little porch out the front of our pretty tent.
We could... but there are so many things nearby to explore!
Ngare Ndare Forest
One of them is the enchanted Ngare Ndare Forest. You can choose how to get there from Sieku Glamping - either 3 km walk or a 20 min drive.
Blue waterfall, walks above the canopies of the trees, and lots of elephants to spot - you can read about our adventures in Ngare Ndare Forest and things to know before you go, in our post coming very soon!
Visit it ideally on the way back from Sieku, head towards Ngare Ndare, and on to Nanyuki, using the road that leads through Lewa Conservancy.
You may be lucky to spot some rhinos! We weren't that lucky but we still saw plenty of beautiful landscapes, had fun leaving the clouds of dust behind us and spotting giraffes and zebras walking right next to our car!
Ask Leige or Maiyani about going for a walk around the camp. There are some amazing spots, even just 15-30 minutes away. Whether they're beautiful golden fields of wheat with Mount Kenya as a backdrop, enormous cactus trees or 'wild west' sceneries, you'll be sure to have some beautiful images stuck in your memory (and memory card of your camera!).
Unfortunately we haven't had time to visit this amazingly-sounding place but from what we've heard Mukogodo Forest lays only about 20km away from Sieku and has beautiful views on the mountains and conservancies nearby.
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