Escape to paradise – don’t we all dream about it every now and then? Quiet, isolated, tranquil, very private with the most amazing views, personal service and a very relaxed atmosphere of barefoot luxury – this is our escape to paradise and we built it ourselves! In order not to invent the wheel again, here is the story of us and Tijara which I had written earlier and which was published by one of the travel magazines.
Escape… Escape… Escape… This thought came to our minds more and more often when we were sat every morning and every evening in Nairobi traffic in our separate cars – not even an opportunity to pass the time talking to one another. A break in Cape Town was something we were really looking forwards to and it shed a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel and kept us sane. Little did we realise that this trip would change our lives forever! A trip for Ian’s best friend’s wedding turned out to be the journey that made us recognize that we are in charge of our own destinies and complaining alone would not change a thing!
Whilst visiting Cape Town we saw what we perceived to be a wonderful life style and we dreamed about quitting our jobs, packing up and running our own guest house in South Africa. We even found the ideal property already operating as a business which we could buy – perfect! However after a short while back in Kenya the whole idea of moving country sank in and although still attractive seemed a lot more complicated and a reality check made us think that perhaps something closer to home was more achievable. So a move to the Coast was on the cards!!! Indian Ocean – here we come!
Being the type of people who enjoy our creature comforts we started looking for a remote piece of land our personal demands being that it must be in close proximity to everywhere, we wanted a nice beach but no people, big land and good views – and it seemed at first that we put too many conditions on our ideal property. We scouted up and down the coast and still could not find anything exciting and suitable, life was getting back to its normal routine of traffic, long hours and short weekends. Perhaps it was not meant to be?
Then one day, two days before traveling to Europe we caught a flight to Mombasa to look at yet another piece of land and within 5 minutes, independently from each other we decided that this was it! The owners who had a rundown holiday home in the middle of the bush were trying to show the potential for the house but the only thing we were paying attention to was the superb elevated views. Over the unkempt bush one could not fail to admire the massive expanses of azure and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The ever changing colours as the sun moved to the west, the pounding reef breakers, tidal changes and the sheer size and might of the Ocean – it felt so different from what we had previously experienced at beach level and it was a first for us. We fell in love with what we saw and we pictured ourselves living here, having a small boutique hotel and hosting a few guests, living our dream.
Two years of hard work, discoveries, surprises and frustrations eventually brought us to the opening of Tijara in December 2007. What we created was a place where we ourselves would want to stay at and we hoped to find likeminded people who share our ideals of solitude, tranquility, comfort and space. And if we were only two when we started, the hotel was opened by our family of three with our one year old son being the most important project of them all! Tijara has seen a number of great people, some have come to stay with us more than once and we forged some wonderful new friendships. Now there are four of us, with our daughter being born in 2009 – this is such a great place for us to be a family and to do what we really like doing.
Tijara is a remote romantic haven of peace which can host a maximum of 8 to 10 people. You will only hear the roaring of the ocean as the breakers roll on to the reef, and the ever present bird song from any number of the hundreds of species that frequent our grounds. Tijara is a place where you set your own pace, where you feel as if you are on the island, far away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, traffic, and the media – you not only travel to a different place, you travel to a different time. Unwind and renew your spirit, experience barefoot luxury and be in touch with yourself – this is Tijara. It is not a hotel, it is more like a homestay with you being our guest and we are happy to share our private paradise with you.
The traditional Swahili style of individually situated double rooms – our cottages – with carved doors and high mukuti roofs is complimented by exclusively handcrafted Swahili furniture with ornate carvings and rich decoration; some of which were lovingly restored and some specially made by the local craftsmen. All the cottages are spacious with large decked verandas you can step on to from both the room and the bathroom. All four rooms have uninterrupted views of the ocean, you can relax on your own private deck or by the fresh water pool. If you feel like a bit of exercise a reef or a cave walk is highly recommended. The reef is virtually untouched with only a few fishermen passing through our beach and you can see beautiful marine life on the reef or while snorkeling in the lagoon. The caves were used at the time of slave trading and are nature’s impressive creations with multiple chambers and shafts of light showing you the way. Our beach is deserted and is great for relaxing or playing with your kids At Tijara it is just you, the ocean, the breeze and the beautiful African skies.
You hardly see other guests in the 5 acres of beautiful garden and often only at the meal time you will know if you have any neighbours! Our two chefs complement each other producing great meals and all menus are individually discussed with our guests taking into account individual tastes. Our local fishermen bring us their catch which ends up on your table – Parrot fish, Snapper, Tewa or fresh Octopus will be offered to you on daily basis. Our barman will mix the tastiest cocktails for you which you can enjoy gazing at the stars or watching a giant harvest moon rise from the ocean.
Being in the middle of nowhere but close to everywhere is what we wanted and this is what we got. So if you are the active sort some things you might be interested in are only 30-40 minutes away from Tijara. Shimba Hills National Reserve, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, wind and kite surfing, golf, dolphin trip, Mombasa Old Town & Fort Jesus – all can be easily arranged. If you want to do nothing – this is the best place to do it! More than half of our guests come to Tijara for their honeymoon or special anniversaries. Families with children are welcome and although we do not have any special children’s entertainment in this day and age it is often hard to spend quality time with your kids, so Tijara offers a great opportunity to be with them and have fun together.
As we wake up every day with the sound of the ocean, bird song and the sun rays tickling our faces we say a silent thank you to that trip to Cape Town which changed our lives. We did our escape to paradise and can certainly say now – it is possible!