Fitness in the Wild
von Karina Walsh
Escaping from the cold of Nairobi’s winter to the beautiful Sasaab, a group of enthusiastic fitness friends went with Karina for a weekend of workouts, nutritious food and wildlife. Here is Karina’s account of the weekend:
Upon arrival at the incomparable Sasaab, I took a quick hop in the spectacular pool to cool down and freshen up after a dusty drive from the airstrip. After a welcome and delicious lunch (how do they make such amazing meals in the middle of nowhere?!), a 15-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session was in order followed by an intensive 30-minute stretch with friends who’d arrived earlier. We hiked to Sasaab’s legendary sundowner rock where we enjoyed our own cocktail creation…a non-alcoholic (it is a fitness weekend after all!) drink made of ginger juice with lemon, cinnamon, turmeric and sparkling water. Mmmmm, refreshing and healthy! The day was capped with very dramatic skies all around us and a tasty meal back at the lodge. Sleep came easily whilst I listened to the distant thunder bringing much needed moisture to the arid Samburu wilderness. We started a beautiful morning with a lovely run with Jacob, who was running in plastic sandals and was still a lot faster than the rest of us! After breakfast I found some lovely, peaceful spots for our Pilates classes whilst awaiting the arrival of additional participants.
Once everyone had arrived, we dived straight into an aqua-cardio session consisting of 45 minutes running and jumping around the swimming pool. A well-deserved and healthy lunch featuring a delicious Thai beef salad was prepared by Heather Cuthbert (Nuts About Nutrition) who joined us as the nutritional therapist for this season’s fitness weekend. Heather then lead a discussion about the three A’s in nutrition – very interesting! We finished the afternoon with a Pilates session at a dry riverbed surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. We were spoiled at dinner with a divine cold avocado soup, polenta-crusted snapper and a yummy macadamia fudge. We rewarded the previous days’ hard work with an early morning game drive broken up by a HIIT session in the bush. Only 200 meters from our exercise spot, our driver-guide spotted fresh leopard spoor. We didn’t see the cat but we worked out hard enough to take it on if it decided to leap out of the bushes! After a quick clean with fresh water provided in clever little mobile sinks we had a delicious breakfast in the bush before we continued our game drive.
We heard elephants trumpeting nearby so went looking for them and eventually came across a dozen or so bathing and crossing the river; such a remarkably beautiful sight. We continued on a lion hunt and were thrilled to come across two sleepy females and a male just lying in the shade of a nearby tree. As we headed back to the lodge we passed the spot where we’d exercised just a short while ago and found another small herd of elephants sniffing about! We enjoyed a wonderful Moroccan-themed lunch and an afternoon cool-down before revving up our engines again for a late-afternoon circuit training session in the lodge. We swung battle ropes, lifted sand bags, ran up and down stairs and topped it all off with more aqua-sizing and a poolside sunset unwind. For dinner we enjoyed raw zucchini lasagna and everyone remarked on how tasty it was. We started the third morning at sunrise by splitting into groups with the option to run or walk and set off with a lovely, clear view of Mount Kenya looming over us in the distance.
Another delicious breakfast was followed by Heather’s cooking demonstration that left us all watering at the mouth. Before lunch, we managed to sneak in a full-body toning class where we all moved as elegantly as ballerinas… almost! After lunch we spent the heat of the day in relaxation mode, swimming and resting before setting off for sundowner hill on foot. We were rewarded for climbing the colossal rock with a magnificent sunset and lots of little hyraxes scurrying about and alerting each other to potential predators. The clever hyraxes were right to worry as we spotted both a hyena and lion on our way back. Dinner ended with the cheesecake we’d seen made during the morning cooking demo and it was absolutely yummy!
We greeted our final day at Sasaab with another early-morning Pilates session on the Ewaso Nyiro’s sand banks below the lodge. Curious monkeys watched us with perplexed looking expressions as we truly became one with nature and focused on our body movements with nothing other than the sounds of a gentle river flowing by and birdsong in the surrounding trees. After breakfast, we made truffles to take away with us for the journey home. As with every year, I feel so sad to leave this beautiful place.
This was my fifth visit to Sasaab and I truly can’t get enough of it. It is my absolute favourite place in Kenya and I am immensely grateful that I was able to hold another fitness weekend there. Having Heather join us this year, inspiring us with her food has added another amazing level to this outstanding experience. Our next Sasaab Fitness and Nutrition weekend will take place in May 2017. It is possible to exclusively arrange the weekend for groups of four people or more.