Kenya is brimming with places an easy drive away, and having friends in town was the perfect excuse to bring our twins north to Nanyuki. The roads are paved, and, on a good day, one can get there in less than three hours.
We had learned from our most recent trip to Watamu, and this time packed the baby monitor, with the hope of eating at least one dinner sans babies. By driving, we weren’t limited in our packing of everything else, too, a fact easily evidenced by the boot of our van. With four adults and two babies, it felt like we had enough luggage for two weeks instead of two days.
Car seats are built to keep babies safe. They are not built to fit easily into awkward spaces, and most “rugged” Kenyan vehicles, with their haphazardly-placed seating and absent seatbelts, make the process of installing said car seats rather stressful. I use a friendly taxi company to get to Nanyuki because it is cheap, but it’s a mistake I don’t think I’ll make again, post-baby.
But the ride north was uneventful, as the twins have inherited my husband’s knack for falling asleep in any moving vehicle. Our journey dragged on, thanks to our discount jalopy, but the twins slept all the way through to our lunchtime stop, Barney’s, at the Nanyuki airstrip just south of the town.
Nanyuki is in the shade of Mount Kenya, and that shade lent a chill to the air even as we alighted from the van for lunch. But I had packed their little hoodies, and we ate delicious pizza, laughing at the expressions the twins made upon hearing their first plane land.
We planned to spend our time at Sweetwaters Tented Camp inside the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Sweetwaters is one of my favorite places in all of Kenya, not only because it offers the chance to see chimpanzees, but there is something really special about pulling open your curtains in the morning and seeing the wildlife outside your front door.
We requested the tent closest to the main house, hoping to be within range of our baby monitor when in the dining room. I felt like one of those old steamer trunk grannies as we were escorted to our tent. Perhaps I had been able to hide our vast quantities of stuff by squeezing it into the boot, but the inefficiency of our packing could not be disguised by the long line of porters bringing our abundance of things to the tent.
Sweetwaters was incredibly accommodating, comforting since it was the first destination in our post-baby adventures we had visited that was without easy access to our own kitchen and laundry facilities. They offered to bring a mini fridge for our baby bottles, and sterilised our used bottles and pump parts in their kitchen. And, when we realized that the range of the baby monitor didn’t quite reach the dining room, they sent someone to our tent to monitor the boys while they slept so we could eat.
Everything seemed perfect, and, filled with delicious food and the calm that comes from being well cared for, we crawled into our large bed, finding lovely hot water bottles nestled within the sheets.
Camp life in Nanyuki
I soon realised that a luxury tent is sadly still just a tent. The same cold breeze that had greeted us at Barney’s gusted through the edges around the closed panels at the sides of the tent, and I woke constantly, worrying about the babies being warm enough. I had packed so much, and yet had neglected to bring baby hats. A parent is constantly warned against babies smothering in the night, so, each time I awoke, I added another layer of frugal protection over my little twins, starting with their crocheted car seat blankets, transitioning to bathroom towels, and finally, fretfully, at 2am, putting our own hot water bottles next to them in the bassinet.
At 4am, we gave up and brought them into bed with us, holding them close to share our body heat, trying to forget the hundreds of warnings we had heard about co-sleeping.
Morning came and we opened our curtains to a procession of zebras and giraffe marching gracefully across our vista. We held the boys close and pointed out all of the animals to them as the cool morning dew touched our skin. They smiled – one of their new tricks – and we felt so grateful to be in Kenya with them.
We thanked Sweetwaters for taking such good care of us, but booked our second night in Nanyuki at the Mt Kenya Safari Club, and set the in-room fireplace with excess wood for the evening. Sometimes, African splendour is easier to appreciate from a cosy room.
Read our latest issue of Nomad Magazine on Issuu.
Also click here to see where you can grab your FREE copy of Nomad Magazine.