You know when your friends swear and promise to keep time before a road trip? Then you believe them.
This past weekend (9th March) was an idea that we mulled over for a short while. A suggestion in the group had us confirming the date. We have had awesome times during recent trips, and this would not be an exception.
Our trip had two parts; Kitengela Hot Glass followed by food at the Masai Lodge in Rongai.
The main attraction at Kitengela Glass is watching the glass blowing process. It normally happens before noon and it is wise to get there before that time.
We would watch the process, look at the glass artefacts and whatever else was there, then head to Masai Lodge. To get to the Lodge, we would have to cross the suspension bridge behind Kitengela Glass.
Meet up in Nairobi CBD
We planned to travel to Rongai using a matatu (Route 125) from the terminus off Haile Selassie Avenue. A meeting time of 11am turned into 12 noon before finally crawling to almost 1pm.
Either way, it had to be done. A matatu took us to Rongai, our last stop being the Masai Lodge stage.
A group of six from town, we would meet two of our friends in and around Rongai before heading to Kitengela Glass.
Masai Lodge versus Africa Nazarene Route
From the Masai Lodge bus stop in Rongai, we boarded tuktuks (rickshaws) to Masai Lodge. We split into two groups and used two tuktuks. The drive to the destination cost Ksh 400 (USD 4) per group.
This ride is bumpy for those not used to it. It would be better if you have a car with better shock absorbers, but we had to get there. It had to be done.
A shorter and straight route takes you through the Olarro Hotel, Rolf’s Place and abruptly ends at a junction to Masai Lodge.
We later learnt that we if we wanted to access Kitengela Hot Glass by car, then we should have used the Africa Nazarene University route. The locals know where the place is and would be glad to direct you.
From the Africa Nazarene University main campus, the facility is about 6 kilometres away and you see the Anselm’s Kitengela Hot glass sign.
The road is rough and bumpy but after getting to the destination, one forgets about that and enjoys the beautiful art they have.
Kitengela Hot Glass : The Bridge, The Stairs, The Glass
Now that we approached Kitengela Glass from the Masai Lodge side, we had to walk through dusty paths to get to the bridge. In a deal cut by the tuktuk drivers, a guide arrived to ‘escort’ us to cross the bridge.
He bombarded us with stories of how buffalos roam free around those plains, and why it would be a good idea not to run if we see a lion. It sunk in that we were walking in a section within or bordering the Nairobi National Park.
It was a hot, dusty afternoon and he said there was no danger as most animals would be under the shady trees and not in the open. The guide asks for a tip, which is Ksh 100 (USD 1) or there about.
One of us took the pleasure to document the Kitengela Glass experience here:
Crossing the bridge costs Ksh 150 (USD 1.50) per person. This covered going to and from Kitengela Hot Glass. It can be frightening but all of us, except one, managed to cross it.
The stewards at the bridge help you to cross and advice how to do it. It helps, if you are in a group, to cross it in a single file. They say it helps balance the bridge.
The bridge is above a deep river gorge, which makes it scary for first time visitors. While crossing the river, one gets to view the beauty of nature but the eagerness to get to the other side makes some miss that opportunity.
The bridge can sway a lot mostly when one gets to the middle. The experience is interesting but the swaying ups your adrenaline levels. It’s worth it!
Hello from the other side
For guys who love handmade glass products and mosaic art, Kitengela hot glass is the place to visit because the variety of unique stuff.
The beauty of the art from the entrance makes the place so appealing and with that, the visitors get so curious on what to expect the moment they get into the main area.
We were late, so much of the action had died down. As a favour, one of the attendants heated up the kilns to show how he made a crystal ball (picture explains it better).
Always best to go early after the place opens at 9am.
The tour around the place provides an opportunity to view their handmade glass products available and learn the processes of creating them from scratch.
There are a few domesticated animals in the area too giving the place a lively feel.
At the edge of the compound, there’s a swimming pool where one can cool down and view nature.
The Masai Lodge
This is the nearest place you will get decent meals. We walked over, bracing the dust and watching the expansive plains and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from a distance.
The Masai Lodge is a beautiful layout with cascading facilities that begin with a huge parking lot, the lodge’s reception and accommodation, solo sitting areas, a swimming pool and the gardens.
The food takes time (45 mins to 1 hour ), so carry your costume, swim and enjoy the drinks as you wait.
There is no entrance fee to the lodge but you will need Ksh 300 (USD 3) to get into the swimming pool. The pool is kid-friendly but make sure you keep watch on your young ones.
If you are driving, then you should be fine on your way back. However, if you are using public means, it is advisable to have contacts of someone from Rongai town. If not, ask the lodge staff to help you.
Overall, combining these two locations give you bang for your buck. We went there in the dry season so wearing white would not be your wisest idea as the dust likes to show you love.
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