When our family friends announced that they’d be visiting Kenya from the UK, we knew we wanted to give them the classic East African experience and so we decided to take them somewhere special for a chilled weekend getaway. Unfortunately, our first choice of accommodation – Kimana House – was booked up and then the house we had booked in Naivasha didn’t work out, but ultimately, we got a booking for all 12 of us at the stunning Leleshwa House in Naivasha – right in Green Park.
Leaving home at 11AM on Saturday, we drove down to Naivasha. Our friends had left home half an hour earlier and we met up at Matteo’s Italian Restaurant, where we had lunch. Located on Moi South Lake Road, we had previously visited the simple, rustic restaurant when we had stayed at Chui Lodge last year.
Reaching at 1:30PM, we entered the restaurant just as they served up focaccias for starters. The simple, rustic restaurant serves up an amazing range of Italian dishes. For mains, we enjoyed a selection of Penne Arrabbiata, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli in Tomato Sauce, Vegetable Lasagna and a creamy Pappardelle in a White Sauce. They also offered freshly-squeezed juices and an array of desserts to choose from. The food was super delicious but the service was disappointingly slow.
We left the restaurant around 3PM and then drove down to Leleshwa House, reaching at 4PM.
Located within Green Park estate, Leleshwa House is 11 kilometers past Naivasha along the Moi North Lake Road. The area around Leleshwa House is rich in wildlife that walks freely in the unfenced area. Just close to Leleshwa House is an airstrip that has chartered flights to Nairobi or Mombasa.
Set on five acres of lush, manicured gardens, Leleshwa House is a charming four-bedroom holiday home, an architectural gem, that can sleep eight. It’s a self-catering property but chef and housekeeping services are available onsite at KShs.1500/- a day.
As we parked, I realized that getting to the house itself was a little difficult as there were plenty of steps, so I had to be carried down in a plastic chair, while my wheelchair was brought down later on. But, seeing the two dogs on the property softened the blow of this lack of access.The Makuti Cottage at Leleshwa House is two bedroomed with king-size four-poster beds with en-suite bathrooms and a lounge area. Buffalo Lodges 1 and 2 are both one double bedroom lodges with a private terrace area for BBQs.
Upon getting down to the home, it was mostly wheelchair-accessible, save for a step to go out onto the patio and the flight of stairs to go upstairs. The house had gorgeous interiors with uniquely eclectic wood and stone Kenyan decor.Upon entering, there was a laundry room fitted with a washing machine on one side and stairs leading upstairs on the other end. The hallway led to the open-plan fully-equipped kitchen with a six-hob gas and electric cooker, microwave, freezer and fridge, water purifier and a toaster. The kitchen was also stocked with herbs, spices, cooking oil and condiments. Near the kitchen was a lovely dining area with a rustic dining table and a nice window seat, overlooking the gardens below. Nearby was a living room with sofas, a fireplace, a tiny TV and an Africa continent-shaped bookshelf with a selection of magazines and books.A door from the living room led to an outdoor dining area with a large dining table. Near the living room was one double bed en-suite room, which was mine for the night. Cozy, , it was a simple, rustic bedroom with a cute nightstand stacked with some reading material.Since we were twelve, three people slept at the nearby Buffalo Lodge 1. We were promised Makuti Cottage which is right next to Leleshwa House but were allocated Buffalo Lodge 1 upon arrival. I didn’t go see it but everyone else went to check it out. Here are a few photos of the one-bedroom cottage with a fully-equipped kitchen, dining area, lounge and outdoor terrace.Once everyone returned, we opted to sit upstairs around 5PM where there was a nice living area by another fireplace, a piano, a bar set up, a large lounge with gorgeous views – we could even see Lake Naivasha beyond the gardens.
Upstairs, there were two en-suite double bedrooms, decorated in themed colors and a twin bedroom with a family bathroom.Outside, there were several terrace spaces to sit out on and a shared 12x6m solar heated pool area with sunbeds and seating. All the properties are private from each other and spread out over the five-acre estate, but they share access to the pool. Barbeques were also available on site for use in the house or by the pool.As we chilled in the lounge upstairs, the Chef we had brought with us from Nairobi (yes, we are that extra) made us steaming mugs of masala chai – perfect timing for tea-time, which was then followed by the classic one-ones.One-one is a local snack that’s a carby concoction of a samosa stuffed in a mandazi topped with a tangy spicy sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. You can also add kachumbari, a Kenyan version of salsa made with tomatoes, onions, carrots, green chilies for added zest and flavor. Mmm! These quintessential snacks went down a treat as it lightly drizzled outside.
As the sun set, everyone went out for a dusk walk while I opted to read in the lounge. Then suddenly, the power went out so reading in the candlelight it was.
Once everyone returned around 7PM, once it got dark, we enjoyed a pre-dinner tipple: a choice between rosé, whiskey and gin & tonic. Guess which one I chose. G&T, of course!
Around 9PM, we headed down for dinner. A filling meal of bhajia, deep-fried thinly sliced potatoes coated in a chickpea batter, followed by egg chapatti awaited us. A famous street food in Mombasa, egg chapattis are stuffed with egg and minced meat or with onions, coriander and chopped chillis in a vegetarian version. Made by placing a thin chapatti on a hot tawa (pan), the egg mixture of egg, onion, tomato and chopped chilli, is placed in the middle and enclosed in the dough. Then, it is cooked till crispy. The hot egg chapattis were served with a simple green salad, hot chilli sauce, tamarind chutney and a cooling yogurt sauce.I literally wolfed down my egg chapatti; it was incredibly scrumptious! The vegans and non-egg eaters in the house enjoyed a vegetable version, that I hear, was equally as delicious.
After dinner, some of us chose to play Monopoly Deal, while the parents caught up. Then, we went to bed at midnight, exhausted.
The next day after a restful sleep, I got up at 8:30AM and then ready to have breakfast. Dad and his friends had gone to the nearby Great Rift Valley Lodge for a game of early morning golf, where they spotted some zebras. We feasted on an epic breakfast spread the chef had laid out. From fresh assorted fruit to baked beans to bread and eggs made to order, we had it all. I indulged in a Spanish omelet and some fresh fruit for my breakfast, along with a cup of coffee.
(SORRY! No photos as we ravenously dug in before Dad could take a photo.)
Once everyone had had their breakfast, we played some exciting card games around 11AM that got everyone’s competitive streak proudly on display. After a few customary photos outside, we left Leleshwa House around 2PM, reaching home after a restful weekend at 4:30PM.Leleshwa House, for us, was the perfect weekend getaway with family, although I wish they were upfront about accessing the house itself, which wasn’t very wheelchair friendly. While at the house, you can also participate in various activities such as play golf at the nearby Great Rift Valley Lodge golf course (as Dad and his friends did), explore Hell’s Gate National Park, go on boat trips to Lake Naivasha and visit Crescent Island.
Photos by Hitesh Shah