When a friend told me about Leleshwa Gardens at the heart of Nairobi National Park, I thought this would be one of those mzungu destinations. You know those places where whites (who I have nothing against) congregate, but there is nothing of note to see or indulge in. The friend then sent me some pictures and from that moment, I promised myself to go and see the place.
So, on a Friday morning, my friend and I embarked on a ‘voyage,’ you understand Rongai is in the diaspora right, to the famed Leleshwa getaway. We drove for 25 minutes from the CBD and branched off at the road that heads to Nazarene University. Drove for another 20 minutes on rough terrain until we got to the Standard Gauge Railway construction site that cuts through the park. Our destination was fast approaching. Past the famed Kitengela Glass, we drove further down on a narrow road that led us to this haven, a place away from the world. The sound of birds chirping and wind chimes filled the air as the gates were flung open leading us to the parking lot.
The man behind this dream, Richard Mwangi, met us. With a firm handshake, he welcomed us and motioned us to take a walk around the property. We started with the restaurant and bar. The counter was equipped with all sorts of drinks, from whiskies to rums and spirits, you name it. He then showed us his growing number of wines and explained each of them in terms taste, aroma and origin. You could hear pride and joy in his every word.
“My dream is to have the biggest wine selection in the country with the aim of not just catering to my immediate market that is Rongai, but catering to everyone in the country. These wines are the kind you just cannot find in any supermarket,” Mwangi told us.
Earlier in the month, Leleshwa Gardens hosted a wine festival that saw wine aficionados, both local and international, come together through song and dance to celebrate wines from across the world. The event that attracted over 100 wine exhibitors is one of a kind in the region and is bound to grow thanks to its fast growing popularity. The gardens started out some seven years ago with one bush house. It has since grown from hosting 12 people to a place that can host teams of up to 500 people for weddings, conferences and team buildings. In the next few years, Mwangi’s dream is to build the accommodation capacity to 40 rooms.
Leleshwa is the kind of a place you go to when you want a break from the constant hustle and bustle in the concrete jungle that is Nairobi. The view from the balcony is breathtaking endless African grassland with the occasional citing of wild animals that roam the savannah park in search of food. At night we could hear the growling of lions, something Mwangi says is quite ordinary. In fact, residents do not view ‘coming across a lion or a buffalo’ as something to marvel at and plaster all over social media.
He informs us that most of his clients who visit this getaway come from Nairobi. He explains that most people from the city find the need to ‘hide’ in a place where no one can find them. We can actually verify this as the truth as we never stumbled on anyone in our social circles, as is the case in most joints in town. It is a place your girls or boys can disappear to, and no one will find them, unless of course they told you where they would be. So, in case you are looking to rejuvenate and be one with nature, Leleshwa Gardens should definitely be on your bucket list.