“I had a farm in Africa”
Most of us have seen the movie or either read the book, “Out of Africa” written by Karen Blixen. On the foot of the Ngong Hills in Nairobi you can visit her farmhouse, which is mentioned her book, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills”.
“Out of Africa” was a movie that made the world fall in love with Kenya, and there is so much more to fall in love with just like how I fell in love with another farm in Kenya. Located thirty five minutes away from Nanyuki is Olepangi Farm in the rift valley region of Timau. The farm is on the edge that it straddles a unique eco-zone where most of the finest roses in the world are grown and supplied to markets in Europe.
The farm is family owned and run by Clinton Lucy and Elizabeth Loker, strenching on 120 acres -they bought the farm as a family weekend escape. Olepangi Farm welcomes people as guests and they leave as friends.
On the farms northern boundary are four boutique cottages which look out into the stunning 36,000 acres Ole Naishu ranch, a working cattle ranch full of wildlife. The farm also includes a ‘round – house’ unique building with its own lounge and dinning area for guests who prefer privacy. Elizabeth’s college roommate, Liz Calabrese, a well-respected architect from Vermont, USA designed the buildings on the farm. Liz’s style for these buildings was biophilic – basing their architecture on the philosophy of biophilia which sees humans and nature as having and innate connection. The curve and design of the buildings incorporate natural human inclinations, making them spaces you automatically feel drawn to and comfortable in – and at the same time giving it a stunning look. The furniture is hand-picked by Clinton and Elizabeth during their travels around the world.
While staying at the farm guest can enjoy a variety of activities:
- Walks around the farmland
- Community walks: a local guide will take you for a walk through the surrounding shambas (farms) ending up at a secret waterfall only accessible by foot. Mr Kariuki the guide is a total sweetheart
- Day rides: enjoy two or four hour horse riding into the community
- Riding lessons: they have a all weather arena for beginners and more advanced lessons
- Sundowners: on a deck watching the sunset and hearing the night start to come alive
- Enjoy a game of badminton
- School visits: visiting a local school
- Shopping: picking up some local souvenirs at the local markets
- Ol Pejeta Conservancy: an hour drive to the conservancy with a rhino sanctuary and the home to the worlds last northern white male rhino called Sudan, a chimpanzee enclosure and various community/wildlife projects worth visiting
- Day rides into the Lolldaiga Hills: they pack up delicious picnic lunches and ride off to the hills for the day exploring 49,000 acres of the most beautiful ranch in Kenya
- Climbing Ololokwe: hiking up the steep through the high altitude forest full of acacia trees, pencil cedar, cycad palms and podocarpis trees
- Ngare Ndare forest walk: swimming in the jade private pools of the jade forest on the slopes of Mount Kenya. After a bracing swim you can either continue walking or drive along the forest track until you reach the elevated canopy walkway. Eighty feet up, this wood and wire suspension bridge extends for about 400m beneath the forest canopy. Elephants and buffalo frequently come here to drink and wallow, and lucky guests may see leopard and even the occasional lion
Visiting a farm means eating fresh farm produce, Olepangi grows much of its own vegetables and herbs and Maggie makes fresh jams and chutneys which are available for sale.
The farm also buys to support local businesses where possible such as Mitumba Art: a social enterprise run by Sonja Parkinson, employing and training young people, many with disabilities in the production of high quality recycled soft furnishings, clothes, table cloths/napkins and other gift items. Perfect for stocking up on presents for your return journey. All Mitumba Arts’s products are made from recycled clothing sold in ‘mitumbas’ second hand street markets.
They also use Cinnabar Green products run by the talented Penny Horsey, this natural soap and essential oils company employs local women to make the soaps and essential oils. You will samples in your room for during your stay.
This farmhouse is definetly one of Kenya’s hidden gems and is worth a stay for every Kenyan residence and visitors. The range of activities offered are unique and a lifetime experience.
Maybe its time you all give Clinton and Elizabeth a visit already.
For more details: www.gowildafrica.com
Until next time…