Before I made it out to Olepolos Country Club, I used to often find myself in conversations like the following:
Speaker 1: Yesterday, I had a great day hanging out with friends at Olepolos.
Biche: Olepolos? Where’s that?
Speaker 1: You’ve never been?! It’s a place in the hills on the way to Magadi. It’s so beautiful!
Biche: Oh really? What goes on there?
Speaker 1: It’s a great place where you can sit outside, eat meat, and drink overlooking the most amazing view. We should organize a trip and go sometime…
Somehow, we always never ended up going.
One day, a colleague, who had recently joined the organization I worked for, invited me to join him and a group of his friends for a day trip to Olepolos. Keen to finally visit this place that I had heard so much about (as well as to get to know my workmate better :-)), I promptly accepted to join the group on the following Saturday.
We met in town at 10 a.m. and headed out as a group to Olepolos. The ride took about an hour and a half and took us in the direction of Ongata-Rongai, Kiserian, and beyond, in the direction of Magadi. A little after passing Kiserian, we began a descent into the plains below, on a winding road through the hills. When our descent tapered out, we began to see signposts, all with names beginning with Olepolos. It dawned on me that this was the name, not only of our destination, but also the surrounding area. I knew that we would reach our destination soon.
As expected, I soon saw a signpost on the left side of the road that read ‘Olepolos Country Club’. At this point, we turned off the main road onto a dirt path that would lead us to our destination. We first came upon some Maasai manyattas. I later came to learn that the Maasai who live in these manyattas tend to the livestock that is slaughtered at Olepolos, as well as cook, and serve as waiters to the clientele. On subsequent visits, I also noticed that late in the afternoon, a group of these Maasai form a dance group and walk from banda to banda performing for the clients.
When the car stopped, we saw bandas and benches spread out in all directions. We walked towards what seemed to be the central banda and then I saw it: a most breathtaking view! For as far as I could see, in the direction of Magadi, was the most pristine landscape: hills and plains below, a beautiful blue sky above. The view at Olepolos Country Club sets the tone for your entire stay there. With no settlements in sight, the view makes you truly aware of the grandeur of nature, of which we are only a small part. It was exhilarating!
That day, we sat at one of the bandas near the butchery and the smaller bar near it. We (or rather the men in our group) selected a whole goat to be slaughtered, and then we proceeded to eat the goat in every form possible – boiled meat, choma, mutura (goat sausage), soup, and ‘fry’. The meat was delicious.
The bar at Olepolos stocks only the most basic drinks, but Olepolos allows customers to bring in drinks for a small corkage fee. I remember on that first day, I ordered a 250 ml bottle of Gilbey’s gin, which cost me Ksh. 180. I am not sure whether or not that was a fluke, but that is cheaper than what it costs in the supermarket. As you can see, Olepolos Country Club is inexpensive. The one thing that always disappoints me with the drinks at Olepolos, however, is the fact that I can rarely get ice cubes. Nowadays, I simply bring along my own ice cubes from Nairobi.
What else do you need to know about Olepolos Country Club? First, Olepolos opens only during the weekend and on public holidays. Second, the road leading to and from Olepolos is narrow, winding, and tortuous. This is not a big issue as you head out to Olepolos, especially if you drive at a safe speed, but it is something to watch out for on the return journey. I recommend leaving Olepolos by 5 p.m. when it is still light and to have a designated driver, who will not consume any alcohol, to ensure a safe journey back to Nairobi.
Spending the day at Olepolos is one of the most refreshing things that I can think of doing on a weekend or a public holiday. If you have never been, trust me and try it out as soon as possible.
If you’ve been, do you agree with my review?
Looking forward to hearing what you have to say,
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Photo Credit: Martyn