KenGen diversifies into tourism with new venture at Olkaria



The Kenya Electricity Generating Company, in short known as KenGen, is in the process of diversifying its portfolio with the entry into the tourism industry. Located near Hells Gate National Park, a Kenya Wildlife Service managed adventure park at the bottom of the Great African Rift Valley just an hour’s drive from the capital Nairobi, the new Spa will offer a novel experience to locals and tourists alike, hitherto not found in Kenya or anywhere else in Eastern Africa until now. The Hells Gate National Park’s main feature is Mt. Longonot, an extinct volcano, which offers opportunities to hike and cycle besides the more traditional bird and wildlife experience and at present more popular with the locals than international visitors, something the new venture is likely to change.

KenGen will according to information received from Nairobi open a fully fledged Spa on their property adjoining the national park, known as Olkaria, where the company is converting geothermal heat into ‘green’ electricity.

The new facility is due to open its doors before Easter next year and guests can expect to find several open air ‘lagoons’ with water temperatures of up to 40 degrees, using brine water with unique healing and medicinal properties. The new health centre will also offer steam and sauna rooms for added relaxation and of course a restaurant where meals and snacks can be taken.

Adjoining the Spa itself will be a visitor centre and museum, highlighting Kenya’s involvement in tapping into geothermal energy sources but no accommodation will be offered in phase one of the project.

There is speculation though in hospitality circles that this novel concept could indeed be a winner, for the location near an adventure national park known for hiking and for the novelty of a ‘Safari Spa’, and it is expected that KenGen might well already be holding exploratory talks on management and marketing of the new venture with suitable partners, willing to come on board with additional investments and hospitality expertise in running Spas and resorts.

The Great African Rift Valley is, besides its agricultural value for Kenya as a bread basket for grains, a major tourism resource with a string of fresh water and alkaline lakes now all protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and most of them offering anything from boutique to luxurious, from very posh to simple and affordable lodgings along the shores of those lakes.

Key players in the Kenyan hospitality industry, like Serena, Sarova, Sun Africa Hotels and others have at least one, in some cases two properties located in this part of the country, offering access to Lake Nakuru and Bogoria national parks as well as to such other lakes like Baringo, Naivasha and Elementaita. Watch this space for regular updates and the latest news from East Africa’s hospitality and tourism industry.

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