VOILA! VOI – the One-Day Tourist

Sacred Rock of Sagalla Hills in Voi. Photo | Tony Monchama

What you need to know:

If you have neither the resources, either in time or at the ATM for a protracted holiday, Voi is your ideal destination 

So you are tired of the city, this concrete jungle of Nairobi (or even the sweltering heat of Mombasa), with its weekday hustle-and-bustle that can make every day look like a red-hot ‘May Day’?

You need to get away ... today.

This very Saturday!

But you have neither the resources, either in time or at the ATM, for a protracted holiday.

This is the perfect time, and timing, for your one-day ‘vacation’ in Voi – and travel made so light and easy that you need to carry only one day’s change of clothing.

The SGR train from the Nairobi terminus leaves the city at 8 am sharp and gets to Voi town at the stroke of noon. If ye travel ‘Economy,’ it will only cost you Sh700.

Voi Town is nothing to get all excited and write home about, although as you stroll at its periphery, the scenic backdrops of its hills could well serve as a middling postcard picture.

It is also the kind of small town where, at the shopping centre, one can run into a long-lost acquaintance, one of those ‘Covid-19’ refugees who left the city during Corona and re-settled there.

Like that crooked former advertising executive from two decades ago who took one kombo kombo on the creative copy. ‘KQ: Life is a journey, not a destination.’

We will, we will Rocky you ...’

But there is no time to waste in shopping centre reminiscences – there is still a rocky path for the ‘One Day Tourist’ travel to Voi.

‘Lion Hills’ is a popular scenic destination, but we decide to take the dusty path off the beaten track, and make for the nearby/ not-too-far Sagalla Hills of Voi instead.

The poet Robert Frost famously spoke of “two roads diverging in a wood,” and when the moment came, we took a tuk tuk.

Multi-National Highway between Tsavo West National Park has improved transport between the Kenyan town of Voi and the Tanzanian City of Arusha. Photo | Kevin Odit

Actually, for the price of an SGR ticket to Voi, you can ride a boda boda, pole pole, all the way up to the very top of the Sagalla Hills, even stopping for a one-hour picnic.

That is if you have had the foresight to pack a picnic blanket and get sandwiches, and a nice bottle of wine for your 2pm lunch. If you happened to forget to carry or buy a cock-screw (at the Voi Town supermarket/s), you are screwed.

The sight of all of Voi laid out in front of one, on the side, as you cock-screw your route up Sagalla Hills, is extremely scenic – the broadside of the hill on one side, the sheen of trees, bushes and brackens, then far-off plains, and distant hills.

Voi, here, is like being a voyeur of nature.

At about 4 pm, we get to the ‘civilisation’ of Sagalla itself – the usual small town medley of clinics, schools and churches – RumangaoDispensary and Dr. Hanif Medical Center.

You could start school at Mlando Primary, move on to MwakichuchaSecondary School, and end your education, conclusively, at the Sagalla International Talent Academy.

And, on Sundays, there are mainstream churches like ACK – Mwachete and PEFA Church Mazola. It’s a Saturday, late afternoon, but I hear Jesus Fire Church, Rahasi, is on – but after the horrors of not-too-distant Shakahola – I settle for the Juje Bar and restaurant – where colourful local characters exchange the usual “story za jabaa” (exaggerated tales told over the chewing of khat and a drink), for example, of the fictitious time they worked in Qatar “during 2022 Worldy Kapu.”

It is not hyperbole to say that by sunset, and as the dark sets in, and one bikes down the Sagalla, the hills are alive with the lovely sounds of animal music.

Vacani Resort by the side of the highway, with its red ochre architecture, value for money (Sh5-6,000 deluxe with balcony and view), nice restaurant, football pub and vibrant disco, is a funky place for the short-time tourist to stay in Voi.

There is even time for a dip in the cool pool area before breakfast, and the five-minute tuk tuk ride to the Voi terminus to catch the 10 am train back, that gets you to Nairobi shortly after 2 pm, Sunday.

For Mombasa residents, the trip to Voi for your one-day ‘Voi-cation’ is even shorter. 

An 8 am inter-county SGR will arrive at Voi by 10 am. Leave on Sunday at noon and be back in Mombasa by 2 pm.