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Travel
October 18, 2011

A Wild Wild Wedding

Text by Nasrin Modak

At first, it’s a little hard to think why William, the Prince of Wales chose Kenya as the setting to propose to his love, Kate Middleton; but not after you’ve visited this East African jewel — it’s virgin, it’s striking and it’s picturesque to say the least says Verve

It’s surreal – the amiable method in which the Indian Ocean gradually shifts its hues – from a deep blue tinge to a dash of turquoise, back to a crisp cobalt and then blue green again…but never grey. From the vast stretches of white sands at Diani, a beachfront district in the east coast of Kenya, the ocean flaunts its dramatic best – like a theatrical adaptation of a Shakespearean play or a forgotten tune from a musical. And when you discover that there is an abyss of coral reefs – rich in colours and large in structure – underneath this majestic ocean, it only adds to the mysteries of a wild marine adventure where you can go snorkelling to view an enchanted world that is serene and still unscathed.

If water expeditions seem a little on the energetic side, it’s best to simply go sailing to Wasini Island and be a bystander to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery – right in the middle of nowhere! So perfect and deserted are its beaches and so pristine its waters that you’d want to wake up in this untouched panorama every single day of your life. I close my eyes, take in the moment and return to enjoying a soul-satisfying meal of fresh crabs, fish and spaghetti tossed in local herbs, facing the ocean.

As much as the ocean mesmerises me in the day, at night, it transforms into a boisterous beast, tamed under a blanket of a million twinkling stars. Again, surreal. The waters come to life creating a perfect ambiance for a dreamy, candle-lit dinner, with the soothing sound of waves for background music and a gentle breeze to sweep me off my feet. Nirvana. Moments to cherish for a lifetime!

After scanning the ocean for its exquisiteness when you look at any of Kenya’s gorgeous lakes, you can’t decide which of its water bodies look prettier, more thespian, and more full-of-character. Is it the sea with its myriad hues and roaring waves or the lakes with their subtle, fine and understated charm where at dusk, cackling flocks of European white cranes and scores of other fine-looking birds congregate in nearby treetops. Rowing past these lakes, you encounter more than just water – stunning scenery and rare species of birds and animals that occasionally make their way to drink water make it a striking sight to behold. So spectacular are Kenya’s seascapes and lakeside locations that you wonder if you even need to head into the wild…because this is Africa at its sensuous and alluring best.

Now that’s only one side of Kenya’s fascinating story, the other side is more intoxicating and vividly wild. Forget Masai Mara, there is so much more to an African adventure than just migrating beasts and you realise that when far away from the maddening rush  of daily life, hidden in a game reserve, the sun meets you with a grin and the wild drops by to say a pleasing ‘hello’. This is no fleeting moment, the views and sounds remain. Add to that the aroma of Kenyan coffee.

In an open-topped safari vehicle led by experienced rangers as you head into the wild, surrounded by lofty snow-capped peaks of Mt Kenya towering over a grandiose landscape, the scarlet shukas and vibrant beads of Masai herdsmen provide flashes of colour against the tawny yellow Savannah and verdant forests. As you wander deeper into its wastelands, you’ll witness black rhinos and elephant herds roaming freely amidst undulating hills and rugged valleys, reticulated giraffes browsing through succulent shoots of flat-topped acacia trees, rare sable antelopes grazing in open grasslands and an exciting birdlife that resides on the edge of the waters.

As the afternoon sunlight filters through the groves of Baboa trees, water buffaloes keep lazing around, oblivious to any human existence. The eerie silence balances the adrenaline rush of the safaris. Only regrets: no cheetahs here. But it’s the closest you can get to the wilderness. So just sit back in the shade with a book till the sky turns a pinkish hue and the air gets chilly and curl up in front of a blazing fire. It is only when you breathe in this intimate atmosphere that  you’ll experience the disappearing line between the lap of luxury and the trail of Nature. It’s hard to know exactly when you’ll fall in love with Africa but there will be that one brief moment when you’ll realise how beautiful life is on the other side of the Equator!

A royal affair
In October 2010, Prince William took his then girlfriend-now wife on a safari to Lewa Downs, a 65,000 acre private ranch of the Craig family (one of Kenya’s old settler dynasties). He carried with him a very special secret in his rucksack – his mother’s engagement ring which he intended to present to Kate when he found the perfect spot. The Rest, as we know is history.

A town with character
Closer to Diani is old town Mombasa with its bygone Portuguese elegance and artisan flair set against the opulent backdrop of blue waters. It’s a city without emerging skylines, fast food chains and neon lights, giving it an idiosyncratic charm. So when you look at the ancient Portuguese-built fort, unusually narrow cobbled alleys, wooden railings on balconies, bright-coloured houses and smiling people who reflect the town’s ethnic diversity — a beautiful pattern emerges. Life here moves at a slow pace, making it more distinct than other metros of the world. People are simple, living a life soaked in art synonymous to a poetry in motion. And while their sense of fashion may be eccentric, African women certainly have style, and substance.

Five ways to say ‘Marry Me’ in Kenya
Sail away: Pack a picnic basket, sail in a traditional dhow (not if he is sea-sick, since the waters here can get really rough) and right in the middle of the ocean, tell him, ‘I love you’.

Water Baby: Go snorkelling, immerse yourself in coral reef heaven, under the water… slip the ring on his finger.

Action sports: Give romance the thrill of a nautical escapade. Go on a high-speed jet ski, stop in the middle of the ocean and scream your love to him. P.S: You may scare away the dolphins, so keep it low.

Take the high ground: On a chartered flight to Diani, right when you are at the same altitude as Mt Kilimanjaro, unbuckle, go down on your knees and ask him to marry you. Spectacular scenery guaranteed.

Game plan: In one of Kenya’s many game reserves, book a tent in the wild and in the backdrop of a bonfire, tell him how much you adore him. Clichéd…but oh-so-romantic!

Get off the beaten track: Drive down in an open-topped safari vehicle to Shimba Hills that’s home to a variety of birds and animals. Scale to the highest point for a bird’s eye view of the rolling hills and the lush vegetation carpeting the slopes. Wait till you find the perfect spot and ask him if he can spend the rest of his life with you. While you can’t promise him this view forever, many similar ones can be assured.

Oh Fish: Sitting by the water’s edge, the lake or the sea is the perfect place to express your feelings. Go deep-sea fishing with the local fishermen or by a lake with appropriate fishing gear. Fish out a ring (a lot of planning will be obviously required and we aren’t getting down to the details) and tell him how you will love him, forever and a day!

Quench your wanderlust: Go to a local village (take tour guides along), dress up as a Masai woman, cook a meal of local flavours, set the mood and tell him Nakupenda… (that’s I love you in Swahili).

Kenyan coastal wedding, the Diani Reef way!
If you’re planning an upcoming wedding, consider holding the nuptials in a romantic destination to create a truly memorable affair for the bride and groom, their families and everyone else on that guest list. The warm, tropical weather with an exotic location on the beach, overlooking the blue-green-turquoise Indian Ocean provides the most romantic backdrop to start your new life!

Tucked away in the pristine white sands of the South Kenyan coastline, the exclusive Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa has a romantic and natural setting that eliminates the need to decorate. The resort will take care of creating the perfect stage for your big day. That and every other detail, right from the cake selection to the design of the perfect bridal bouquet to inviting a priest of any faith to solemnise the wedding, they create the dream beach wedding for you. Add to that professional salon and spa services. Surrender to the tranquillity at the Maya Spa Health & Wellness Centre, and you can expect your picture-perfect wedding to be blissful and serene. The result is a wedding that is more about gathering friends and family, enjoying their company and the location, free from the worries of logistics that often eat into your peace.

So go ahead and dream of sunrise ceremonies on the beach, with your bridesmaids with garlands in their hair and a stunning outdoor setting where the guests can enjoy alfresco dining while you glide on romantic bridges over artificial streams for that perfect wedding photograph. Revel in the luxury of the resort to escape into a place where time stands still, far from the infuriating world.

A tropical paradise wedding package would include

  • A private wedding venue
  • Professional photographer service
  • Bridal flower bouquet and button hole for the groom
  • Two-tier wedding cake
  • A bottle of African champagne to toast the wedding ceremony
  • Registry wedding
  • Marriage license and certificate including registrar
  • A wedding spa pamper package at the Maya Spa  Health and Wellness Centre
  • Sparkling bubbly breakfast in bed
  • Fresh fruits, flowers and pralines in the room
  • Gift from the resort

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