Diani Beach, one of East Africa’s palatial​ secrets.

8 May


My three passions in life are Women, Africa, and the arts. I have always had a crazy obsession for East Africa, Uganda in particular so when I get the chance to explore the rest of the region, I jump in with open arms. Upon receiving an invitation to a destination wedding, that was to be held in Diani Beach, Mombassa. I reached for my passport, yellow fever card and planned away. The designated travel agent for the wedding was Travelneza. TravleNeza was founded by entrepreneur and travel guru, Laura Batamuliza Kagame.

TravelNeza is a Ugandan based travel agency that specializes in creating custom travel arrangements for both corporate and leisure clientele. Laura’s passion for travel and seeing the world in its entire colour gave her a steadfast determination to help others plan and live out their travel dreams. The agency has been in operation for over a decade now, she has built up a team of well-traveled, knowledgeable and passionate travel designers who derive great enjoyment out of planning personalized and unique experiences for each of their clients. They surely pride in going the extra mile for the customer, never forgetting that special, personal touch.

On route to Diani:

Diani is where the sun comes to play, with an all year tropical climate. It is a major beach resort on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, located 30 kilometres south of Mombasa. It is made up of magnificent sun-kissed white sandy beaches.
It has been voted Africa’s leading beach destination for the third time running since 2015.
What you will need:
A yellow fever card, obtained through any travel clinic. For more advice on vaccinations go to, http://www.travelclinicjhb.co.za

My adventure:

I chose Rwandair as my airline of choice and left OR Tambo International airport from Johannesburg, in the early hours of the morning on the 26t April and landed in Kigali, Rwanda for a three-hour layover. I did not mind the long wait as it gave me the opportunity to have a few cups of my favourite coffee. I had the opportunity of visiting Rwanda a few weeks prior, you can read about my adventure here,https://rosiemoteneblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/rwanda-the-land-of-a-thousand-hills/

Before I knew it, I was boarding the Rwandair flight to Mombassa, the flight takes approximately two hours, which gives you a chance to have a light meal and a small nap. As we disembarked we were taken in by the astounding Mombassa humidity. The customs and passport control was quick and efficient​ and only took a few minutes. Side note, as a South African, you only need a visa to Kenya, if you plan on staying longer than 90 days.
Our bags arrived and we congregated at the entrance to the airport where the Travelneza ground staff welcomed us. We checked our names on the list and then we wer escourted to our bus.
I was rather intrigued​ whislt driving through ​the ​downtown of Mombassa as every building was not only built the same but painted in a uniform colour of white and blue.
The back story behind that is that the owners of residential and commercial buildings in Mombasa’s Central Business District all started painting their structures with a uniform colour. This came about after a public notice issued to residents by the county administration in March 2018, directing that all buildings should be painted white with blue colour, symbolizing the Indian Ocean. This is part of a plan to make the coastal coats as beautiful​ as the Indian ocean.

“The buildings should be in white with Egyptian blue border on the edges and windows above without any sign written on the wall or canopy,” read the notice signed by Transport, Infrastructure and Public Works CeC Tawfiq Balala.

The Governor Hassan Ali Joho announced his administration had embarked on the plan that would see both Mombasa CBD and Old Town painted in a uniform colour.

The adventure continues:
After traveling​ for approximately 30 to 40 minutes we arrived at the​ Ferry port, we were greeted with copious amounts of commuters and padestrains waiting to cross ove onto the island. Unfortunately,​​​ photographs were forbidden. There are two huge ferrys that transport cars, trucks, taxis, ​and pedestrians across.
The actual ferry process took about 20 minutes and then we proceeded through the town, then into the rural are and othen we finally saw the sign Diani Beach.

The wedding party was​ divided into two main hotels, being The Swahili Beach Resort and Leopard Beach resort.
For the​ weekend I was booked into the Swahili​ beach resort and then for the last​ two days, I​ would move to​ The Leopard​ beach resort.

On arrival at the opulent​ hotel, we disembarked​ from the bus, I was met with the most​ spectacular​r grand hotel entrance​. The receptionst gave us a rather delicious and thirst quesnching cocktail. I could pick up lemon, honey, soda, ​and a tangy sensation, we deduced that it must be their virgin-verson f the well know DAWA cocktail. Registration was swift and then we were escourted to our little spaces of heaven, I was fortunate to be on the top floor on the left side of the hotel, overlooking the pool area. Upon entering the room set for a queen, there is a small passageway​, then an open space to hang your clothes. On the right handside is the open bath and shower, accomapnie by​ double​ wash basins. Each toilet has its own bidet. The huge King size fourposter bed had the most comfortable mattress on it. Every night, the staff released the mosquito​ net to cover the four posters, so you are not affected by any unwanted insects​. I have to admit, I was not affected by any mosquitos at all. The room led out onto a huge balcony that overlooked the pool area of the hotel, which then led to the beach. I was in African heaven.

The architecture​ is designed around different cultural influences and has a beautiful fusion of African, Indian, Arabian and Zanzibari influences, with long arches, Arabic​ architecture and Swahili​ finishes.
The poolside area was made up a huge, winding pool that surrounded a central pool bar area. There is an ​apmle lounge area for sunbathers​ and the whole pool is shallow so no need to worry about the children, or if you​ cannot swim, you can float or waft around.
The pool is surrounded by more buildings​ of residency which then leads​ down a path towards another pool area looking over the ocean. At this pool, there is a restaurant area and also sun beds and lounges to relax. This was my perfect spot as the slight wind from the ocean​ broke​ through the humidity and also the sounds of the waves crashing catapulted​ me into a daydream state​​e. I finally​ could block​ out the stresses​ of Jozi life and relax and enjoy the free-flowing​ spirit in the air.

My cocktail of choice for my trip was the Dawa, but the original one with a double kick, after all,​ I was on vacation.

The restaurants- The resort​ ​boasts three restaurants.
1. ​Bahraini​ Beach Restaurant​ offers an a la carte menu including burgers, grills, ​and seafood.

2. Zanzibar Seafood Restaurant​ explores a pan-Asian a la carte menu and 2 Teppanyaki tables. Fresh Kenyan seafood is brought in by fishermen every morning and cooked in a contemporary style.

3. Majilis Restaurant, meaning ‘gathering or meeting place’, Majilis is the main dining restaurant. Enjoy buffets with different cuisines every night. From Swahili to Italian and everything in between this is your first stop on your culinary travels. ​This is where​ breakfast is served.

Destination wedding.
The main wedding destination was at The Leoprad Beach resort, which was a few metres away from The Swahili Beach resort​. Through Travelneza tours, we had our​ own chauffered buses and cars to transport between​ hotels. For regular guests, it will​​ you approx​ 300 Kenyan​ shillings​ by Taxi or Tuk-tuk, which are available​ at the gate of the hotel.

The Leopard Beach.
The wedding guests were​ hosted to a rehearsal​ dinner at an area of the resort called, THE RESIDENCES. This​ is a villa complex which includes an​ Asian-fusion specialty restaurant, called the Lemongrass – with an adjoining Grasshopper cocktail bar overlooking a rock pool. Here we enjoyed our meal, met the rest of the guets which totalled nearly 200, we danced the night away and celebrated the anticpiated love union, whch was to be cemented the follwoing day.

The Wedding:
The wedding ceremony took place on the beach in front of the hotel. It was a magnificent setting in the sand on the shoreline, with the beautiful backdrop of the​ crsip blue ocean. The added touch​ was that the programme was printed on fans, so to help guests ease away for the​ Mombassa humidity.
After the nuptials​ and ululating were completed, we were ushered to a rooftop area, were we enjoed East african cocktails whilst watching the powerful sun, set over the Indian ocena.
The dinner, speeches​, entertainment, ​and dancing took place around​​ the pool area and once​ again, we were treated to delicious Asian-fused with East African cuisine​​n.

After the wedding party departed, I checked out of Swahili​ Beach Resort​ and was booked into Leopard Beach Resort for an additional two nights. Thanks to Laura from Travelneza, she secured a full villa for me.
Each villa is located in the Residences and comes equipped with a private pool and small garden. The interior​ includes a main bedroom on suite​​ and the​ ​second bedroom with twin beds on suite. There is a luxurious lounge area and a dining​ room and bookshelf, to wind down from a hot day on the beach. The lounge is also equpped with a flatscreen TV, and DVD. But with the magnificnet surroundsings of the Diani, I did not even think of turning the TV on.

The resort​ also boasts other rooms and beachfront villas, with the same​ amenities.
There​ are​ a pool and a side restaurant which leads onto a private beach.

Other excursions.
Travelneza secured an all-day​ adventure​ for us. We were collected from​ the hotel and driven by air conditioned buses to the other side​ of the island, where we boarded a Dhow and went off on a cruise adventure, of dolphin searching, snorkeling, copious​ amounts of laughter and enjoying​​g the powerful African sun, giving thanks​ to our exsistence. We then docked on a small islan​d​ and were met with its inhabitants with a delicious fresh Swahili sea food lunch.
My adventure​ will always be one to be remembered and I will be back to explore the rest of the island.

For assiatnce with planning the perfect destaination wedding, girls or boys getaway or naughty retreats, please call on Laura to book your trip.
Contact details for Travelneza,they have offices in Uganda, Rwanda​ , ​and Kenya​.

Crane Plaza, Kisementi 1st floor f12, Kampala – Uganda.
Phone: +256 772 361866

KG552#48 Nyarutarama, Kigali – Rwanda.
Phone: +250 782 029803

3rd Floor, Amal Plaza, Links Road – Kenya.
Phone: +254 725 995389



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