Thrilling Sagana, an adrenaline junkies' spot – Business Daily
Vacationers enjoy water sports activities at River Sagana in Kirinyaga. PHOTO | POOL
Adrenaline junkies seeking exhilaration have turned Sagana into a new tourist attraction. For years, the town was little known for its tourist activities but it now draws about 5,000 vacationers on a good weekend to ride the rapids of Sagana River, canoe, and bungee jump.
Titus Murithi, a rafting guide, and a kayaking instructor says daily, about seven canoes are paddled on the Sagana River.
“Each boat takes six people therefore 42 clients which translates to 15,530 people in one year. On average, a person pays Sh5,000. This translates to Sh76.6 million a year,” he says.
The rise in the number of adrenaline junkies, mostly from Nairobi, Kenyans seeking an escape from the increasingly concrete lifestyle in the city as greenery is cleared to pave way for skyscrapers, has created jobs for locals. Some are canoeing guides, others rafting guides, while others have turned their idle homes into stay-cations, offering accommodation.
“Rafting and canoe kayaking are the main tourism activities here. Vacationers like the strong, extremely turbulent currents of Sagana River. These activities attract people as young as 18 to as old as 65. Children on school trips also come here,” adds Mr Murithi who is also the national coach for Canoe Kayak called Slalom, an Olympic discipline sport.
Tourism is gradually turning small towns into preferred destinations. Sagana, a small industrial town in Kirinyaga County is reaping big by capitalising on sports tourism and is slowly transforming the region into an adventure hub, thanks to its unique topography.
Nancy Kanyotu, the founder Therema Gardens and Holiday Camp in Sagana is among those offering water biking, kayaking, bungee jumping, and camping.
“We saw an opportunity in the natural resources, which we thought would appeal to international tourists,” she says.
In 2013, she opened her eight acres of land to paying guests. “I bought tents, built a few structures, and spruced up the camping area,” she says.
According to Lee Daniel, the chairman of Sagana Tourism Organisation, Sagana River is a perfect spot for training newbies on canoeing because of its natural glides and numerous fast rapids.
“Besides canoeing, thrill-seekers also come for zip-lining and fishing,” he says.
He adds that on a good weekend, Sagana can get up to 10,000 guests, a number that they could not have anticipated years ago. Now they are looking to position Sagana as the next Naivasha, which records very high numbers of city guests over the weekends and holidays.
Another spot is Jangwani Camp. Here vacationers get to enjoy activities like swimming, kayaking, and canoeing, whiling away time in honeymoon cottages, sports fishing, and an amphibian zip line.
“The modern-day vacationer is more into adrenaline-filled activities, and the heavy investment in outdoor water sports has had a huge economic impact in this region. It has created many employment opportunities, and it has opened up the region to international investors especially those keen on water sports, thus transforming the region into a home of adventure,” says John Kuria, the director of Jangwani,
Havila in Sagana is another spot that can host the canoeing and kayaking Olympics.
“From watching and listening to the massive waterfalls of Sagana River from the comfort of the resort to enjoying the silence in the wild, vacationers also come here to connect with nature,” says Alex Chege, the founder of Havila Resort.
As the destination attracts tourists in droves, more opportunities abound. More camps and lodges mean more business for residents.
Though rewarding, Mr Kuria of Jangwani Camp says the tourism business, just like all, never lacks challenges.
“It is not always a walk in the park. For instance, after I built my property, it took me close to three months before getting the first customer. Patience is key,” he says.
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