The sun is setting as we pass Naru Moru and start counting the kilometres before the turn off. Slightly apprehensive, as it is beginning to get dark, we turn on to what we think is the right dirt track. After a couple bumpy kilometres, we finally see the sign.
As we roll up to the cottage, our attention is caught by a pond surrounded by garden statues. Everywhere we turn we see verdant and lush juxtapositions of plants. There’s something about this place, something magical, we can sense it, although we can’t quite put our fingers on what it is. We clamber out of the car and Ndambuki, the caretaker, comes out to greet us. He helps us bring our bags to the house before giving us the low-down: the four-bedroom wood cottage is entirely run on solar panels and the water comes from a rain collection tank nearby. A fireplace on the portico outside provides an ideal location for evening reading, board game playing or simple chatting and sipping of wine.
Keith Pearson, the director of the Theatre Company, a Nairobi-based performance organisation, first came to Karichota in 1992. He was instantly enamoured by the cocooned feeling that accompanies the space. The fact that when the skies are clear, the silhouette of Mt Kenya looms proudly in the distance, probably helped clinch the deal. Pearson founded the Theatre Company in 1999. In 2004 he started to use Karichota as a rehearsal space for his productions By 2006 it had become a regular base and he realised that he was offering a unique experience to the performers. Inspired by this realisation, he went on to build a platform intended for use during rehearsals and workshops. The platform looks out onto the forest and the mountain and even on one’s own, it is an inspiring place to stop and take in the world.
The cottage occupies a tiny footprint the ten-acre plot of indigenous forest that surrounds it. From its portico, it is just a couple minutes walk down to the Karichota stream. It is from here that the eightkilometre walk to the Mau Mau caves starts. The décor at Karichota evolved over time and there are blankets strewn over the living room sofas, colourful prints on the walls and books, books, books on the shelves. Pearson is eager to attract groups of thespians and artists to come and do retreats at Karichota. He has set up a couple large tents around the area for this very purpose. These are however not the only people who will feel at ease there and any family or groups of friends who wish to get away for a weekend from the city lights, are welcome.
Karichota is 180 km drive from Nairobi and about 8km north of Naru Moru. If you are interested in renting the cottage, contact Keith Pearson on: firstname.lastname@example.org, +254 (0) 722815112
This article was originally featured in June 2014 on UP Magazine