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Kenya: Wilder Festival

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Culture, music and animals collide for a premier pageant within the Kenyan bush…

This publish involves us from author/traveler and FP pal .

I’ve carried out my share of festivals: Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball. But nothing in comparison with what I would expertise at Kenya’s first ever “Wilder Festival,” an untamed weekend on the shores of Lake Elementaita.


This yr’s inaugural occasion was slated to be a mini burning man-fashion, invite-solely extravaganza on the forty eight,0000-acre Soysambu Conservation, full with bands, worldwide DJs, flowing cocktails, camel rides, scorching air balloons, horse driving and over-the-prime fashion— a celebration of Kenya’s bewitching nature and unbridled spirit. The similar spirit—a tantalizing mixture of hazard, ardour and aliveness— that drew me to East Africa within the first place: a spell that lures expats from around the globe and retains the Kenyan-born from leaving for good.


At the helm was the infamous duo, “Lord and Lady of the Manor” Sally Dudmesh and her companion Tom Cholodromery, whose personal checkered previous was documented in Vanity Fair for an alleged homicide on the identical property years in the past. This weekend, although, there wouldn’t be murmurings of any supposed wrongdoings. Everyone was right here to have fun, dance and play.

And play we did.


On Friday, my pal Shanley and I packed up the Land Cruiser (when in Rome) and set our compass northwest, making our approach out of Nairobi. On our proper was the seemingly infinite Great Rift Valley, home to tales of seduction and scandal worthy of film rights, whereas forward we battled bodabodas (motorbikes) and oncoming visitors, a endless recreation of hen.


We arrived drained and sweaty, simply in time to settle into our tent earlier than a deluge hit, forcing us all to take cowl. Captive, we unpacked our feather dresses and wine, laughing on the rain as we ran to the tented lengthy drop, on the loud, already messy group to our proper and on the unexpectedness of all of it. I fell right into a collective spirit of abandonment. We have been all right here to let go of our inhibitions, and get Wilder, collectively.

As the sky cleared, everybody emerged recent, able to discover the terrain with out an agenda or any set expectations. We danced with new pals on the sting of the Lake, recognizing birds, catching glimpses of Saturday’s scorching air balloon preparations, and listening to tales of lifetimes, tribes and events passed by.


We spent the subsequent morning in search of shade in cozy nests, having our tarot playing cards learn, wading in child swimming pools and devouring juicy burgers from the meals truck in anticipation for the day’s fundamental occasion. The theme was purple. Everyone invited was informed to convey his A-recreation and inspired to do justice to the pageant’s identify, Wilder.


We complicity understood we’d be becoming a member of the leagues of creatives, each native and ex-pat, and we didn’t need to fall brief. I referred to as within the forces: Yolanda McIntyre for a suede Masai-beaded gown and my good friend Ambica Shah, who makes superb feather jewellery for one among her big, outrageously lovely ear cuffs.


True to type, Ambica arrived on a mud bike bedecked in an enormous feather collar, which she made herself out of ostrich feathers. Shanley and I took turns posing with a disgruntled camel adorned with pom-poms and led by Masai handlers. The solar set, leaving ribbons of colour over Lake Elementaita whereas a scorching air balloon took off overhead. In the waning mild, a drone flew over the shores to take a gaggle of the festivalgoers decked in fiery purple. Women in purple dresses rode down the trail outlined with big purple horns, which later have been set ablaze in a incredible present. At night time, we gathered across the bonfire as music from the Nile Project, a world band made up of 11 members born alongside the famed river, drew the costumed crowd to the dance flooring.

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By Sunday, we had reached our tenting restrict, craving electrical energy and a bathe that wasn’t from a bucket. Bleary eyed from too many cocktails with names like Buffalo, Big H and Gazelle, Shanley and I made our approach to the Zen Zone, a therapeutic oasis with pillows, kanga material and hay bales, ordered recent inexperienced juices and planted face first onto the therapeutic massage tables. The night time earlier than we arrived, a leopard was noticed hauling an impala up the tree and the carcass, merely disguise now, hung in a department above us: a singular reminder from the animal kingdom that, certainly, the easiest way to stay is all the time wild and free.


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