It was like walking into a mystical land of imagination, eco-love and all round good vibes. Land that was once nothing but grass was now thriving with lush trees, creepers, bushes, lots (and lots) of animals, peculiar structures, stained glass art and vibrant architecture. How had I never been here in all these years?
I had just been welcomed to the magical world of Nani Croze, a German-born creative and conservationist who has called Kenya home for over 40 years and has built from scratch, the world famous, Kitengela Glass Art community. Some may even call the place ‘trippy’ (actually, all of you would). It’s only 1hour 30mins from Westlands and you can find it on google maps – Kitengela Hot Glass. It’s off Magadi Road on Glasslane. There is a bit of a bumpy patch for about 5KM, a 4WD would be better but any car can make it there (with a tad bit of bashing).
So there we were, at Kitengela Glass Art, a spontaneous decision to not only explore this famous glass factory but also spend a night in one of the four quirky cottages there. There’s the Pool House (8-10pax), Glass House (4pax), Masai House (4pax) & Cecilia House (2pax).
We were staying in the pool house. It was super spacious, the build was unique and inspiring, mostly made of stone and cement. Obviously, stained glass made an appearance throughout the house from floors, walls, décor, stairs, doors to the windows.
We didn’t need access to the entire cottage (there was only 2 of us… I know, I know.. why didn’t you go for one of the smaller ones then? Well, because we didn’t want to OK, glad we’ve cleared that out! And it was pretty nice having alllll that space to ourselves).
The pool house has one double room upstairs that has its own toilet and wash basin. This room gets really really REALLY hot during the day.
A metal door leads to the terrace where you can chill out and enjoy sunset views and look out at the stunning gorge. A great place for stargazing at night as well!
On the ground floor of the pool house, you have one double bed, two singles, a dining/living room, kitchen, shared bathroom and a verandah with a hammock. There’s plenty of natural light that brightens up the entire cottage during the day. And sufficient light bulbs for the night as well, the cottage is partly run on solar. And of course the pool is right by the pool house.
The kitchen has the basic cooking necessities i.e. crockery, cutlery, fridge and gas oven (no toaster). Bring EVERYTHING you need for your meals including oil, butter, condiments etc. However, if you do forget something then all the staff there are really pleasant and helpful. We forgot our butter so had to borrow some from them (LOL, I say borrow but they knew that slab of butter ain’t coming back!). Thank you so much though, our lemon-butter fish for dinner would not have been the same without it. We paired that with a great selection of veggies (peppers, zucchini and butternut). Man, our dinner was SO DAMN GOOD! Gordon Ramsay would be delighted (for once).
There’s a family of resident monkeys and baboons around the area so keep your doors & windows closed. We lost our honey and a roll of toilet paper to them. They are cheeky little buggers, finding any open window (even the tiniest ones) and making their way in. But that’s the fun part right? That’s when you know you’re really in the thicket of nature. The Nairobi National Park is on the other side of the gorge and Kitengela glass have had incidences of leopards and hyenas roaming around. At night you can really tell you’re right by the park with lion’s roaring, hyena’s laughing and baboon’s wobbling. I loved it!
Costs and info:
Pool House (8-10pax):
We paid a total of 10,700/- for the entire cottage (300/- was for the gas). A lot more cost effective if you’re a bigger group.
Glass House (4pax):
I’d suggest book the glass house if there’s just two of you. The glass art in there is really pretty!
8000/- for two then 1600/- for every other person
Masai House (4pax):
8000/- for two then 1600/- for every other person
Cecilia House (2pax):
6000/- for two people
You can give Rehema a call on 0723 928 453 to book the place for the night or even if you’re heading there for a day trip.
** All stays are inclusive of breakfast at Nani’s place.
What can you get up to?
- Take a walk on the bridge. This one is not for the faint hearted. Made up of just wire and metal and almost 500m high, it’s a thrilling walk across. The bridge is about 150m long and connects Kitengela Glass Art to the other side of the gorge.
2. Take a stroll through Nani’s glass shop and watch them work on beautiful pieces. From staining, cutting to shaping the glass. And so many unique pieces you can pick up for your house from there. Personally, I loved the glass chimes!
3. Check out the coffee shop and have a seat on the overhanging swing just outside. We grabbed a black coffee and sat here for a while taking in the fresh air and green views.
4. Hang out with Nani at her house and say hello to her pack of dogs, geese and 40 year old Egyptian Vulture that’s been by her side from day one. What a badass… She has a pet vulture! Nani has many interesting stories about her time in Kenya and how she built the place with the help of the community around. You must have a chat with her when there.
5. Just walk around the land exploring and meeting all the animals. There’s donkeys, camels, goats, baboons, monkeys, Marabou storks and more.
6. Go next door to Anselm and watch some glass blowing. Nani’s son, Anselm Croze runs this business. This is where they make all the commercial glass goods from vases, a selection of glasses, garden jewellery, plates.. I even saw glass speakers! Everything and anything you could want made out of glass. I picked up a pair of wine glasses. And you’ll be happy to know the prices there are 30% cheaper than at their shops in Nairobi. So take a trip down there and save a few shillings.
Kitengela Glass Art is a must visit for all, even if it’s just a day trip. There’s always lots going on there, like their Facebook page and stay in the know.