Indian ocean as a shower
After days of lots of dust and elephants in various scents and sizes, the ocean beckons. A final flight takes us to Diani Ukunda and from there it is another half hour by car to the ultimate place to wash off the dust of the savannah. Belgian citizen Frederik Vanderhoeven opened his dream house ten years ago on the Indian Ocean, in Kwale on the southernmost tip of Kenya, a stone’s throw from the border post with Tanzania. Msambweni Beach House, a white building in Lamu style, in other words: a marriage between Swahili-look and Arabic architecture. A beach house on a twelve-meter-high chalk cliff, but also a home away from home, with only three oversized rooms, three detached villas (all with private swimming pools) and one Ocean Suite, Robinson Crusoë genre. It soon became a popular place for no-nonsense value seekers to end a safari.
The almost thirty employees (dressed in white djellaba’s and sandals) make the guests happy, we immediately learn. For example, we eat whenever and wherever we want. Time does not apply here. We get cosy around the central XL infinity swimming pool, drink bitter Kenyan coffee and eat fresh mangoes and paper-thin pizzas baked in the wood-burning oven. It feels like a Moroccan riad, but a bit more southerly. Our snow-white room is very sexy and spacious. Mosquito nets, a spacious terrace and ceiling fans give the whole a colonial atmosphere, the vintage wooden furniture does the rest. On the advice of other guests, we order a massage in the beach cabin and enjoy the luxury.
We contemplate: this is rural Africa, authentic, sometimes a bit slow and sloppy, with a nod to Belgian cuisine and so many square metres that other hotels would turn the same into ten rooms. It is not surprising that this accommodation is popular, just like the entire region where it is located. Because what did the former top man of the sportswear brand Puma buy as a country retreat? A mountain in Kenya with 500 hectares of land. “The wild paradise,” he called it. Who contradicts him?