NAIROBI, August 26 – Located about 150 kilometres North East of Nairobi, Masinga dam is one of the largest man made water bodies in Africa.
Completed in 1981, it is also one of the dams used for power generation in the country.
Apart from hydro generation, the dam also boasts of beautiful scenery, notably its water birds and a number of islands – a true heavenly oasis in the middle of a vast dry land of Yatta district.
In fact the government, in its bid to promote tourism, has now set its eyes on the dam and its surroundings. The Ministry of Tourism recently put up a tented camp, and refurbished the Masinga Dam Resort. They also constructed a watchtower right in the middle of the dam!
The resort is right by the dam – just 500 metres away.
“The resort began its operation in 1990 and our major clients are corporates, non- governmental organisations, ministries and local tourists mainly from Central, Eastern and Nairobi provinces,” Clement Kyalo, Marketing Manager at the resort explains.
From that list, one clearly picks out that the resort is targeting domestic tourism.
“We do target international tourists as well but our core business is local tourists. Most international tourists come as sponsored clients.”
Now picture this for a moment; you have travelled from Nairobi, 150km to the east. In the middle of the Yatta plateau you find yourself staring at a massive water body. I am sure you would fancy a swim.
Well, as Kyalo informs me, the Masinga Dam Resort offers a wide range of recreational activities; dam walking, boat riding, swimming by the beach or indoor games like table tennis.
He also excitedly informs me of their mobile bar which relocates to suit their clientele. For instance, during our interview, the bar was right next to the swimming pool.
“But we have one major bar that has a capacity of 70 and there is space outside, which can take around 20 people all seated,” Kyalo stated.
And what about accommodation? Surely, if I were to enjoy more of this oasis then I would need to be assured of a comfortable place to lay my head!
The resort, Kyalo says, has 54 rooms with a bed capacity of 70.
Masinga Dam Resort has twice hosted an international sporting event – The African Canoeing and Kayak Olympic qualifiers championships, in 2006 and again January this year.
“But the one we did this year was bigger because we hosted more than 10 countries which included the US, Canada and many from the African continent.”
“We are trying to use the Masinga dam as a marketing tool for us and we are in partnership with Utalii Hotel to get the finer professionalism and get a base for our standards, change our way of operation and become international with time,” enthused Kyalo.
There are also plans to introduce a Masinga Club for water sports, which would involve the locals.
“We don’t want them (locals) to just watch events taking place here, I’m sure there is talent around here so we want to make sure that we capture them,” Kyalo said
The resort has a camping site with about 30 standard tents and 20 executive ones.
“The standard tent can hold four people at a go. There are, however, some people who visit us for overnight fishing expeditions but such come with their tents for camping.”
Kyalo reveals that there are also proposals to extend the camping facilities to get some camping sites just beside the dam and a discotheque as well.
“We want to make sure that we will soon have a Masinga Dam night where both domestic and international tourists as well as the locals can come and have a good time.”
The Masinga Dam Resort is owned by the Tana and Athi River Development Authority but it has received backing from the local community since most of the products come from the farmers within the area, which makes them feel part of the resort.