Went road tripping with my girls to visit Kitengela Hot Glass run by Anselm Croze and Kitengela Glass Research and Training Trust right next door. They are found just on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, and there’s a bit of off-roading involved after Africa Nazarene, so you may want to take a 4×4.
It’s pretty far in so they’ve painted a couple of signs all the way just so you know you haven’t gone the wrong way. You feel removed from the city which is great and the final drive to Kitengela Hot Glass has artistic pieces lining both sides of the road made from clay, wire-mesh and of course glass.
First was a little show and tell by one of the glass blowers. He demonstrated how a piece of molten glass is picked from the kiln, and shaped using metal tools, wet newspaper and blowing. The Kiln is kept at 1100 degrees and is never turned off because it would take 4 days to get it running again. When the glass item is pulled out, it starts to cool and reaches 800 degrees, and then stored in a kiln that is maintained at 500 degrees. This is because the glass will crack if it is left to cool too rapidly out in the open.
The hard-working staff are there from Monday to Sunday, working half day on Monday and Sunday. Tuesday through Sunday sees them there from 8am to 5pm. They are always open for tours, and you can take a class if your pocket can handle it. (in the region of 8,500). It doesn’t cost anything to take a tour/or visit.
They have a wholesale shop where you can get discounted items, anything from a sink to a glass mug. There’s also a lovely little cafe where you can grab a glass of juice and read a book in what feels like a peaceful little nook. I know this is random, but they have an amazing bathroom here.
Next door at Kitengela Glass Research and Training Trust (I should mention here that they aren’t the same entity), they have a wide array of eclectic one-off pieces made from glass and recycled materials. From the moment you drive in you are surrounded by fascinating pieces, some that even seem to have hidden messages. The lower level of the boutique has great pieces, some way on the quirky side and there’s even a little fish pond. To get to the higher level you can climb a rope or walk up a rather artistic ramp.
If you’re daring or would like to overcome your fear of heights, you can cross the suspension bridge that leads to Masaai Lodge. It’s built to hold 2 tones and is decorated with little glass baubles. It’s currently Ksh150 to cross the bridge. There’s also a place you can spend the night if you like, that’s decorated with little art pieces and has a beautiful pool. I’m definitely thinking about spending a night or two there with some friends.
These two places are perfect for either a day trip or a night or two away from your regular life. It’s quiet, surrounded by nature and full of interesting bits and bobs. If you haven’t taken the trip down, you should definitely add it to your list of places to visit.