Managing a Kenyan Bush Camp25.10.17 | Nathan
What inspired you to get into the world of safari holidays?
We originally moved to the Kenyan coast for beach life but on our days off from our restaurant, when the rest of our friends headed to the beach, Darren and I would pack up our not-so-trusty Land Rover and head west to the Shimba Hills or Tsavo National Parks, feeling much more at home amongst the thorn bushes than the palm trees. To save on fuel and car repairs, we decided to apply for work in the bush. Kicheche Camps took a chance on hiring us, something for which we’re grateful on a daily basis and several years later we’re still here.
What role does food play in your safari experience?
Our head chef, Charles Munyao, says the kitchen is the ‘engine of the camp’ and I couldn’t put it better myself. Shouting out “LION!” every time they see a beige rock can be tiring for guests so it’s essential that their energy is replenished. A common comment that I hear from our guests is that it’s so lovely to eat outside and I agree, especially with such amazing views here in Kenya. Munching on a sundried tomato and chickpea frittata in the shade of a tree, exchanging stories with your guide whilst nearby zebra and elephants all munch on their grassy breakfast is one of the simple delights of life.
How do you create the perfect dining experience on safari in Kenya?
We enjoy hearing about our guests day over mealtimes and hope to augment that with delicious, fresh food and good company. If the local lions, the Moniko pride, are being cooperative we arrange for them to roar at 8pm precisely as everyone sits down for dinner, it creates afrisson of danger around the table. We work hard to provide a range of international cuisine with an African twist.
What is the biggest challenge providing such cuisine in a remote location?
There are the obvious logistic challenges in getting our supplies to camp; we’re 300km from the nearest supermarket. However, we have a small vegetable garden in our Kenyan camp which provides some of our leafy salads, we share this with a porcupine couple who meet for romantic liaisons behind the watering can. We know this thanks to a borrowed motion-detector camera which we set up to find out what was digging up the beetroot, although we were all a little ashamed of our gross invasion of privacy when we realised what we’d filmed! Specific dietary requirements seem to be increasingly common but present no problems to our skilled chefs, provided we have advance notice to enable us to get some of the more exotic items.
What is your most memorable safari experience?
After Darren and I had been managing the camp for a couple of weeks we took ourselves on a well-deserved (in our minds) game drive to explore the 30,000 acre Olare Motorogi conservancy for the very first time. After twenty minutes or so we were thrilled to come across a male cheetah who had just killed a wildebeest by a river. Glad of the chance to prove to our guides that we too knew a thing or two about game spotting, Darren got on the VHF radio to announce the good news to an impressed audience of guides and guests alike. The proud moment was ruined when one of the guides, Patrick Koriata, asked where were we exactly? After a twenty-minute explanation in English and shame-ravaged Swahili, we were very glad to see Patrick’s green Land Cruiser appear over the brow of the hill, entirely due to his skill in interpreting our desperate descriptions of green trees, watery rivers and a beige rock that we originally thought was a lion.