I’ve needed to take a break from the craziness that is daily living for a while and earlier this month I finally did. I’ve missed the Kenyan coast and getting a chance to swim and get lost in the laid back beauty, so I’d gone through multiple sites. I don’t know how I stumbled across Distant Relatives, but I knew that’s where I wanted to go. Perhaps it was the outdoor shower that convinced me or simplicity of the place. I roped in my S.O who decided to make it my birthday treat (he can be really sweet).
It’s a bit of a drive from Nyali, but our cab driver kept us entertained with local sites and tales. The road is decent, until you turn off to get to the lodge…then it’s a little off-roading past mud houses and an abundance of vegetation. You’ll pass through the remnants of an old hotel up to the main gate for Distant Relatives.
We chose to get a private banda, because it’s en-suite and would be a little more private. When you hear en-suite you think fancy loo with a glass door shower and large tub, right? At the very least it would look like the bathroom for those modernized tented camps in one of those conservations. Well we walked in to the banda, dropped our bags and opened the door to the bathroom…
…open space, no roof with vegetation. To your immediate left is a regular sink, and further down there’s an enclosed space with bamboo sticking out of the top – the shower. There’s a urinal for the chaps, and if you climb up the stairs just next to that you’ll find a wooden loo, with a basket of saw dust and instructions on how to use it. This amused me the most because I’ve never seen a compost loo quite like that. If you like the fancy amenities and can’t do without them you will find this a bit of an adjustment, especially the cold showers lol. We loved it though.
The main building which functions as the common area, looks like a family home converted into a laid back getaway. There’s a kitchen, which guest can use should they prefer to cook their own meals. There’s a supermarket 15 minutes away and places to get fresh veggies should you prefer. Their menu is pretty decently priced though and the food is amazing. BEST PIZZA EVER, just so you know. There’s a large lounge area with books, building blocks, and simple seats that look like they’ve been made from drift wood, sisal and kanga cushions. There’s an activities board should you want to do more than lounge by the pool and the staff are always open to giving you suggestions. Outside there’s a pool with a view of the greenery beyond, with ample seating. There’s also a net ball area if you have a little more hand-eye coordination than I do. There’s a path that leads past the animals down to the beach…it’s quite a beautiful walk and the view once you get down there reminds you how small we are.
Did I mention their pizza? Take a look at the menus:
I recommend the calamari, pizza and king prawns. Their BLT is so simple but so fresh with bread toasted just right. I love that the menus are simple…not a fan of overly large menus. My S.O was totally into the coconut beans so you could try that too.
What can you do for fun?
We took a sunset dhow ride around the lagoon that was peaceful. The captain of the ship’ was full of tales and we even managed to make two friends. You can also go snorkeling at about 10am which is pretty amazing.
Then there was the little trip to Bofa beach, with white sand that goes on forever and an ‘oh so blue’ ocean.
You can check out the range of activity options here DRK-Activites or get there and make a choice from their activities board.
The people were friendly, the weather deliciously warm with brief, light sprinkles, there was limited signal and Wi-Fi has to be paid for which I found great because I just wanted to enjoy being away from the constant rush and cray that is Nairobi.
Where & What:
Distant Relatives is in the ancient coastal town of Kilifi, on the coast of Kenya (midway between Mombasa and Malindi). More specifically it is squeezed between the village of Fumbini, a community-owned forest, and the beautiful emerald-blue Kilifi Creek.
The name ‘Distant Relatives’ is a nod to the prevalent Kenyan practice of appropriation, but it also accurately sums up the central principle and aim of our operation: to bring people together from all around the world to learn and share with one another and build lasting, positive relationships based on an understanding and appreciation of community and sustainability – we are all Distant Relatives!
It’s an eco-friendly lodge applying at all times the ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ philosophy to preserve natural resources, landfill space, emissions, and energy. Organic waste is composted or fed to pigs, chickens, ducks, guinea fowls and guinea pigs.
Grey water from sinks and showers are used for watering banana, papaya and passion fruit gardens. Plastic bottles are reused or recycled and all metal is collected by scrap metal dealers who give the metal a second life. 500 square meter roof surface allows us to collect vast amounts of rainwater for our showers, kitchens and swimming pool. All the wood used for furniture is either up-cycled from old shattered boats, driftwood, or from non-native and/or invasive species. There is a compost toilet system in place which allows the garden to become more fertile every.
In terms of construction, they’ve tried to use a combination of local and traditional Swahili designs, whilst trying to reduce all possible impacts on the environment –rooms were built around old-grown trees, they’ve minimized the use of cement to the maximum, banned the use of mangrove wood as beautiful as it might be … etc.
They only use LED and energy-saving lighting. They have up-cycled hundreds and hundreds of car and truck tires as retaining walls (saved from open burning in town) and used hundreds of glass bottles collected from restaurants for building and for pathway light shades. It is still evolving, but as is, is doing a brilliant job of offering a comfortable escape that does little to corrupt the nature around it.
Check out more about them here www.kilifibackpackers.com
I think I can safely say we’re sold on backpacker destinations.