After a much-deserved rest day, we’re off on another adventure. We had been attracted by the sound of the Kinazini Funzi Dhow daytrip at the rep’s welcome meeting, although by the Saturday we couldn’t quite remember what it entailed. (Something about a boat, something about crocodiles, something about a sandbank?)
So we are picked up at 7:20am by our driver, ready for our magical mystery tour. We arrive at Bodo after an hour’s drive to tea, coffee and a Kenyan doughnut and meet our fellow daytrippers… we are the only English couple; we’re accompanied by two German couples and a Swahili couple. This means that our guide Jamil has to translate everything into three languages (although one of the German couples speak English, and they kindly translate to the other German couple in order to save Jamil some time).
Our morning is spent firstly on a speedboat from the Indian Ocean to the Mangrove River… we see lots of seabirds, and apparently this is where the crocodiles dwell. We do in fact spot two crocodiles, although they are cunningly disguised as logs… From there, we go to Funzi Island – like the Masaai village this is a chance to see a more traditional side of Africa, and we are given a tour of the village including the schoolhouse. The children sing to us in Swahili, German and English…. Three languages already?!
From Funzi, its lunchtime, and we’re taken over to Kinazini Restaurant on Mangrove Island for a BBQ feast! Giant prawns, tandoori chicken, crab, red snapper, potato salad, coleslaw salad, salad salad, rice…. The trip was worth the money for the lunch alone!
After lunch – and a short opportunity to let the magnificent food settle in our stomachs – we’re back on the speedboat, and then over to the traditional dhow. The dhow takes us over to a sandbank which has magically appeared out of the Indian Ocean… this is an opportunity for us to feel the sand beneath our toes and take a quick paddle in the gloriously warm water… The speedboat returns us to dhow; the crew hoist the sail (hoist? Is that the correct nautical term?) and we let the gentle ocean breeze blow us back to home base.
All in all, a wonderful trip; Jamil kept us stocked up with (inclusive) soft drinks, the village of Funzi was wonderful (and not simply trying to drain our money out of us… even at the ‘market’ (I use the term loosely) we were not hassled into purchasing anything at all) and the seafood lunch at Kinazini was outstanding. Only complaints? I think anyone who is older, or who has any kind of lower-body disability would struggle to get in and out of the speedboat/dhow – or people with short legs like me. Also – the lack of toilets; other than home base and at Kinazini there was a long time between toilet stops… which resulted in Mr Fletche utilising the mangrove forest at Funzi as an ‘au naturel’ bathroom… Where there are toilets, there is a distinct lack of doors, meaning Mr Fletche has to stand guard for me…
Snorkelling, seafood and sickness strikes…
After all our recent exertions, we are determined to spend the last part of our holiday relaxing – and on the whole, that is exactly what we do. We take a trip on the glass-bottomed boat which embarks from the hotel – a fantastic chance to see some of the underwater life, do a bit of snorkelling and investigate yet another sandbank… Except this sandbank was ready for us; as soon as we disembarked there were men trying to sell us things! (Where exactly did they think I was keeping my money?)
On the evening, we gatecrash Gary & Claire’s romantic honeymoon dinner for two at Ali Barbour’s Cave – a five minute (free) taxi ride from the Diani Sea Lodge. This is a great little restaurant in absolutely stunning surroundings – a natural cave with its ‘roof’ open to the starlit sky. We all dig into the fresh seafood and agree that the meal has been worth the money (taking Gary’s lobster out of the equation it worked out at about £45 per couple for three courses and drinks).
And then comes Day 12. Both Mr Fletche and I feel a little under the weather. We had booked an evening trip to Fort Jesus with our rep, but by lunchtime we realise that neither of us can face a full five-course meal that evening. (A note about First Choice here; we contacted the call centre in the UK. and they cancelled the trip with no problem. They even provided us with a full refund despite cancelling so close to the pick-up time. 10/10 for customer service!). In fact, by early evening, it’s doubtful whether we will even be able to face a meagre buffet meal, but with malaria tablets to be taken with food, we decided to venture down for a light snack.
This turns out to be a bad idea. As does accepting Bernard’s suggestion of a shot of white rum each – “Kenyan medicine” he calls it….
Next thing I know, Mr Fletche is looking decidedly peaky and is lying prostrate on a sunlounger. Hot sweats, cold chills, nausea…. I’m not good in a crisis, but when Mr Fletche weakly croaks “get me a doctor….” I kick into action, and run through to reception to explain the situation. Five minutes later, two burly hotel workers are half-supporting, half-carrying Mr Fletche back to our room and a doctor is on his way.
Diagnosis? Dehydration, caused by gastroenteritis. Cure? Antibiotics, rest and lots of sweet black coffee. The cost? About £70… paid in dollars this is almost the last of our money…
Mr Fletche looks a little better the next morning, and we both manage to eat a little breakfast, although Mr Fletche wisely stays out of the sun for most of the day. I allow myself the treat of a manicure… bright blue looks wonderful in the Kenyan sunshine; not so much when we arrive back in drizzly England…. We venture on down to dinner, but we stay well away from any alcohol; with an early alarm set for tomorrow morning, the last thing we need is to feel hungover and nauseous….
4:30am alarm. I feel nauseous. At least I know its not a hangover. Mr Fletche is looking better, which is a good job as I’m in no state to nurse a patient… I spend the transfer on the coach to Moi Airport trying my hardest to think of nice light fluffy things, and not to think about my stomach churning. When the transfer rep sells packages for the VIP Lounge, Mr Fletche suggests it might be a good idea, not least because we have now been advised that our flight is delayed by almost two hours.
Moi Airport (Departures) is a nightmare. You pass through three security checks before you even check your luggage. There is little or no order to the queues. Every passenger seems to take an age to get their boarding tickets and pay their exit visa (yes, you have to pay both to get in AND get out of the country…). We moved into a newly-opened queue – and typically this was the slowest moving one yet. Once we finally get to the front (my grouchiness on arrival is NOTHING compared to how I’m feeling right now…) I am convinced we will be seated as far apart as possible, and I am ready to burst into tears….
Except, not only are we seated together, but we get better seats than our outbound flight where we were one of the first to check in… Proof that it really doesn’t matter what time you check in…
The VIP Lounge is much welcomed for its air conditioning, free soft drinks and comfortable seating. I only wish I felt well enough to take advantage of the free alcohol and sandwiches/pastries… although ironically we probably wouldn’t have opted for the VIP Lounge had I not been feeling so dodgy…
The first 12 days of the holiday were a fantastic experience, with a mixture of relaxing in the sun, drinking with new-found friends, animal adventures on safari and mingling with the locals in their own habitat. The last two days were a little bit of a dampener due to sickness, but we can’t blame any one source for our tummy upsets – we put it down to a combination of exhaustion, being out in the sun, excessive alcohol, different food – particularly the seafood – and the malaria tablets.
The safari was wonderful, but I felt a little jaded by the final day, and the initial thrill of seeing elephants and giraffes et al soon wore off (“oh look, yet another elephant… drive on Abu, drive on…”). For wildlife-spotting, I would definitely recommend Tsavo East over West; yet the Kilaguni Serena Lodge and its stunning views was spectacular. We were disappointed not to see a rhino to complete the Big Five Full House but we were lucky to see the animals that we did – particularly the cheetah hunt on our first night.
That’s another continent crossed off our world map… where to next?
I’m Emmalene, a 40 something with a passion for travel, theatre, food, drink and the occasional accidental hike! I’m a born-and-bred Birmingham native so expect lots of Brum content on here too…