Following on from the intensity of safari, Mr Nomad and I sought a different type of adventure and this next journey took us to the magnificent coast of Kenya, the glorious Diani beach.
The gentle waves of the Indian ocean lap against the glistening white sand which can be found some 30 kilometres from Mombasa, in Kwale county and this is a starkly contrasting environment when compared to the vast savannah plains and the dense bush of the numerous conservancies and reserves, along with the imposing mountainous ranges found more northerly in Kenya.
We flew to Diani beach with Safarilink on an exceedingly small aircraft which safely landed at Ukunda airstrip where we were greeted by a wall of heat. The temperature down at the Kenyan coast is phenomenal, along with the extreme levels of humidity so we found ourselves sweating profusely despite our inactivity.
We were to stay at Baobab Beach Resort, a large plush hotel set in 80 acres of tropical gardens. It offers indigenous coastal vegetation along side exotic coconut palm trees and stretches over 500 metres on the glorious golden sandy beach front. The magnificent Baobab trees were everywhere, and it was easy to see why they are known as the giants of the African bush.
The Baobab tree is a prehistoric species of giant tree which the local people call the “tree of life.” It is sometimes described as an upside down tree thanks to the root like appearance of the tangled branches. These trees can live for over 1500 years and it behaves like a giant succulent, with up to 80% of the trunk made of water. The bark is soft and fibrous and interestingly, fire resistant and has been used to weave rope and cloth. The tree has also been used to make soap, rubber and glue. The bark and leaves have been harvested for traditional medicines over the years. These trees are huge and epitomise this coastal region.
Mr Nomad and I do not usually stay in resort type places so this was a new and different style of adventure but when we arrived at this stunning hotel, it did not disappoint and immediately exceeded all of any expectations that we had.
Our room on the third floor had an ocean frontage so we overlooked not only the warm soupy ocean, but also one of the three swimming pools, and we could see much of the resort which was all in keeping with its surroundings. Even with the epic proportions of this resort, it did not look out of place and blended in with the environment appropriately.
The grounds were stunning and very well maintained and frequented by many Sykes monkeys and baboons, much to our delight.
These cheeky animals made us feel like we were most definitely tourists invading their home and kept sneaking up to our balcony scrounging snacks and spring boarding off the balcony doors when they couldn’t enter our room. They played and fought on our balcony, as if we were imposing in their domain. They were also particularly amorous, making love on the sun lounger in our full sight and thought nothing of using the balcony as their toilet! They seemed indignant at our presence or at least, the lack of encouraging titbits.
I did note the presence of rather large spiders, basking in their giant webs weaved from golden thread although they were up very high, woven amongst the blades of the coconut palm trees.
I tried not to look up too often as these spiders, Golden Silk Orb weavers were quite frightening to look at by virtue of their size, although they are harmless to humans.
The staff were warm and friendly and could not have done enough for us. Mr Nomad and I appeared to be the only British people in situ which was refreshing. The diversity amongst the other guests was a breath of fresh air. Covid-19 may have decimated the tourist industry but because many hotels have been forced to reduce their prices, this has resulted in attracting more local holiday makers, families which may not have otherwise been able to embark upon such a luxurious break. It was a wonderful feeling of inclusion and it felt all-encompassing that local people were also utilising and enjoying local hot spots.
It appeared to us that fully inclusive was not just a style of board but could be a term used to describe the entire experience. Everybody present in the resort, not just tourists joined in the activities on offer regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, culture or religious leanings and it was an all embracing environment. It was wonderfully tranquil surroundings where there was no division or differentiation and everybody seemed united in a quest for peace and relaxation in an otherwise turbulent time. There was a definite feeling of being in a protective bubble, locked away from the craziness of the global pandemic still occupying the thoughts of many.
Whilst the resort was idyllic, Mr Nomad and I ventured out one evening to try the delights on offer at a restaurant called Ali Barbour’s Cave.
This place really was a cave, an ancient, entirely natural coral cave situated some 10 metres below ground open to the nights sky. It was incredibly unique experience in a magical setting and the food was out of this world.
It was a romantic setting and Mr Nomad and I basked in the ambience, soaking up the sumptuous wine and the jazzy cocktails while enjoying the fine dining experience and gazing at the twinkling stars.
Despite Baobab beach resort representing the epitome of relaxation, Mr Nomad and I couldn’t sit still for too long and tried our hand at archery, one of the many activities on offer. While neither of us were particularly competent, it provided some light entertainment as we were pitted against each other to see who could be the first to pop a balloon which had been conveniently fixed to the target. I’m sure Mr Nomad was disappointed when I beat him in this trial, bursting the balloon before him!
We were even visited by some curious dik dik’s who thankfully, stayed well away from the targets for fear of meandering arrows no doubt.
It was all good fun, in addition to gentle swimming in the infinity pool, frolicking in the ocean, soaking up the sunshine, suffering a level of sun burn on our pasty white skin and eating our way into oblivion!
It had been the perfect escape in which Mr Nomad and I were forced to wind down, take a step back and simply relax and enjoy some precious time together in the most tranquil of settings.