Africa. Dream destination for all nature lovers. For all the people who love to find themselves lost in the wilderness.
Africa. The land with unlimited fantasies. The land with infinite mysteries.
This November I found myself quite lucky when I got an opportunity to go to the Africa for business purposes – east Africa to be specific. Nairobi, capital of Kenya was our workstation. Since it was a business trip (not pleasure and travel unfortunately), couldn’t reach out to the actual core and heart Africa as anyone wants to see.
But, still in a couple of weeks time tried to explore the nearby areas whatever I could.
Our flight was via Doha. As soon as you board to the aircraft for Nairobi you feel the divergence. The crowd is different, the ambience is distinctive.
The Nairobi airport is simple and precise. At this time of Ebola threatening all over Africa, they are a bit vigilant to let people in. As Indian citizen, we got our visa on arrival.
You experience the people as soon as you come out of the airport. A person was waiting to receive us at the airport, he was pretty determined to put our luggage into the taxi boot by himself – we hopelessly could not convince him that we would be able to manage the job ourselves. He left us after making us comfortable in a taxi.
The colourful sky with a sublime moon welcomed us.
Our stay was arranged in very well maintained property not very far from the Nairobi City Centre (interestingly, they call that place as “the town”).
Utamaduni Craft Centre
My business schedule didn’t allow me to make a voyage to one of the ultimate destinations of Kenya – The Masai Mara. So I decided to explore nearby areas in the next Saturday. We took a taxi (booked by the hotel) and started off for a place named Utamaduni Craft Centre (http://utamaduni.com/). One of the specific reasons to go there because that place specializes in African native crafts and arts, and has a huge collection of all varieties. Reaching there I realized that was indeed a great decision to arrive here – the assortment is really so remarkable. Collected a few souvenirs from there as well.
Kazuri Bead and Pottery Factory
After spending a couple of hours there, we headed to another nearby place Kazuri Bead and Pottery Factory (http://kazuri.com/). They are supposed to be one of the largest manufacturers of clay made beads and pottery works.
The place is really a heaven for ladies, specially who fancy the jeweleries made of beads and clays.
One impressive fact about this place is that the factory is dedicated to only women workers, mostly illiterate, single mothers, very much under the poverty line and not able to find any decent work in the society. Hats off to the guys who established this with all those people and created a quite renowned brand as Kazuri.
As a visitor, you are entitled to have a free introduction and round up around the whole factory. One of their staff will take you around and will show you all the places, processes and instruments they use to produce such beautiful products. The round up is officially free, but during the finishing line our guide most laughingly and shyly said “the tour is free, but you are welcome to reward me if you want”. We had to give her some tips because of her shy and polite nature. We later learnt expecting tips is a very common practice through out, across Kenya.
Location, and reaching there
Both the places are at Karen, a suburb of Nairobi city.
It took hardly 45 minutes for us to reach at the crafts centre from our hotel. The beads factory is assumably a couple of kms away from there.
The taxi driver arranged by our hotel didn’t feel certain about the exact place there. But he quite confidently announced “let’s find the place in Google Map !!!” We, probably used to with the drivers here in India, was a bit surprised. But he opened up his smartphone and searched the place in google map, understood the route, consulted us, and no problems happened thereafter. Impressive.
But one word of caution, you must bargain and fix the total fare of your trip before hand. A lot of price negotiations happen in most of the places there. This trip costed us 3000 Kenyan Shillings – on taxi, to and fro.
En route was very beautiful, the landscape was clean and, of course, green.