What a great weekend. It has been a while since I have gone camping on the beach and I now wonder why it has been so long. It was very much a spur of the moment thing with us (Paul and I) deciding to take the trip that very day. Initially, we planned on heading to a backpackers in Diani called Stilts but after further investigation, we discovered it was more for the cottage stay than camping. Twiga camping grounds was the place which captured our attention. And I am glad it did.
Twiga Camping Lodge
Twiga camp & lodge is about 15 km from the turning to Diani. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the traffic at the ferry crossing in Mombasa. A gravel road will take you to you destination, with the first stretch being very nicely graveled and the second last bit very rough indeed. I seriously recommend you take a 4×4 for the trip. Smaller cars may leave their under-carriage behind!
Camping is right on the beach. They have shower and toilet facilities (although, I have seen better). There is a bar and restaurant which provides a decent meal at an affordable price (but why eat in a restaurant when you can get a fire going and have a braai (BBQ) on the beach?!). There is a lodge on the other side; however, I never made my way around there so cannot comment on the state of it. There were a multitude of people staying there so it cant be all that bad :P
Day 1 (Friday)
Paul and I arrived at the campsite after it was dark (work held us back longer than we expected) on Friday evening. We grabbed a couple beers and the 12 man tent (it has 3 rooms) from the car. Waltz on up to the restaurant, placed our dinner requests (P.S. Don’t go for the beef burger – you will be disappointed) and headed back to set up the tent. Hard work but well worth it. Weather was a little windy but great. Some deep philosophical discussion commenced and the night ended with a solid doss.
Day 2 (Saturday)
After a run at 8am, it was off Harry’s Bar in Diani for the Rugby. Two great games took place. South Africa vs. Fiji (49 – 3) and Ireland vs. Australia (15 – 6). Both our teams won :) It was obvious that this was going to be a good weekend. After the rugby, a quick shopping session had to be done at Nakumatt. An oxtail potjie was the plan for the day. Shortly after arriving back at the camping site, and just having started setting up the potjie, the rest of our friends arrived. Once the fire was going and everyone had settled in, beach games and swimming happened.
At some point, a beer run had to be done, but other than that, we all just enjoyed the beach. Its normal for a potjie to take 3-7 hours (depending on size) and since there were 9 of us, the potjie was filled to the brim and required an extra 1.5 hours to cook properly. It was good though and well worth the wait. After supper, activities included ghost stories, chasing crabs (hundreds of them were wandering about by the waters edge) and walking out on the reef (it was low tide around 11pm and only about ankle deep most of the way). Half the crowd went to bed earlier than the rest and I lost out on my spot in the tent, so slept outside under the stars on a military camping bed. I think I would have preferred that anyway as the tent gets so hot in the morning. The end to an awesome day.
Day 3 (Sunday)
Sleeping outside ensures an early start else you end up being slow cooked in the sun (and the Kenyan sun is not to be taken lightly). We were told by some local beach boys about some natural pools along the cliffs where we could go swimming. Since we had the morning to ourselves and had only planned to leave in the afternoon, we decided why not check them out. I’m glad we did. Minus a near sea urchin encounter, it was great. The first pool we visited is called “Africa Pool” (previously “Anne’s Pool”).
We then walked further along the cliff past a sea urchin minefield to another little pool (on the outside). The majority of it was in a cave. There was a hole in the top which produced and almost mystic light funnel down into the center of the cave. I recall a story of some startled tourists in that cave. A manta ray had been caught in the cave after a strong current swept it in there. It was hiding on the sandy bottom of the cave and when disturbed, gave the visiting tourists a little scare. Unfortunately we did not manage to see anything quite as exotic.
That little adventure left me with a rather toasty back (having been silly enough to not put any suncream on). Taking down the tent was a good hour worth of work. Eventually, all packing and tidying up was done, and it was time to hit the road. We headed into Diani for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Aniello’s. They produce a good pizza and pasta. Alas, that brought us to the end of our little adventure and it was time to go home. I look forward to the next adventure no matter how small.
Thanks to Paul, Guillaume, Karen, Elke, Jana, Carmel, Lise and Griele!