Everything you need to know about visiting Kitengela Hot Glass in 2022
Did you know that Kitengela Hot Glass is one of the few places in the world that make glass items from recycled glass? Me neither. A friend suggested that I visit and that is exactly what I did.
Watch what went down here.
Here are the reasons why you should also visit Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass.
Kitengela Hot Glass Location
The place is about an hour away from Nairobi. Please note that Kitengela Hot Glass is not in Kitengela, you approach the place from Ongata Rongai. You will not get to Rongai town but you take a left turn at Maasai Lodge Road. From there you take the turn to Africa Nazarene University and drive past it. From that point, you will notice the signs leading to Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass.
Follow the signs and they will lead you straight to the place. I would not recommend using Google Maps because it did a good job until it didn’t
lol and so I reverted to the directions shared on their website which are quite direct. You can find the directions here.
To get to Kitengela Hot Glass, it is best to use private means. It would be quite a hassle to use public transport. You can take a matatu number 125/126 to Rongai at Railways and alight at Maasai Lodge stage where you can take a Tuktuk or a boda boda to Anselm’s. The road from Maasai Lodge road is full of potholes and the last 6km is very bumpy however a 2WD will make it. Views of Nairobi City and Ngong Hills emerge on the horizon as you get closer.
Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass
An explosion of colour
First things first, you sanitize and we opted to have a look around the premises. As soon as you walk in, you know that you are in for a creative sensory experience. The colourful glass pieces dangling from trees draw your eyes to the whimsical Café. The paths are lined with beautiful glass furniture and the flowerbeds are dotted with glass pieces and sculptures. The place seems almost fairy-like with metal butterflies dotting the walls. They have art pieces all over which is a feast for the eyes.
A few minutes later, a member of staff approached us to give us a tour of the place. We walked into the dome-shaped Studio, filled with busy artisans creating glass items. The Studio is divided into two sections, one is primarily for making gin bottles for a Kenyan craft gin brand, Procera Gin. The other section is dedicated to making vases and other products. We were taken through the fascinating process of making a vase from recycled glass.
They receive scrap glass bottles and windows which are taken through a selection process and broken down further into smaller pieces. Clear glass is best as it is easier to add colour to it when molten.
The broken pieces of glass are then melted in the furnaces which run at about 1230 Degrees Celsius. The studio houses several furnaces, with some running on gas and others on electricity. Once the glass is in molten form, it is taken out on a rod and where new life is blown into the old glass.
The artisans keep blowing the glass to achieve the desired size and shape. Colour is then added to the glass and it is popped back into the furnace. It is then taken out, blown and the base flattened if need be. Once the glass has taken shape and is finished, it is left to cool in a cooling oven at 520 Degrees Celsius for 23 hours.
The glass-making process is deeply satisfying and I was blown away by the sheer level of effort that goes into it. Artisans take great pride in their work. They’re highly skilled and creative. You can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into learning the skill. The training process takes about three to four years for an artisan to be highly skilled in the craft. All the pieces made at Kitengela Hot Glass are handmade, which makes them unique. That aside, glass items made from recycled glass are more durable than normal glass items.
Visitors can also experience the art of glassmaking through some guided activities such as Glass blowing, making glass objects from start to finish and more for a fee. Learn more about these experiences here. The objects you make from these experiences are then delivered to their shops at the Junction Mall or Village Market the following day for collection.
After the tour of the Studio, we went straight into the store where they sell the glass pieces made. The store is stocked with different types of glasses, tumblers, chandeliers, bowls, mugs, jugs, wine stops, key chains, bottles, drink dispensers and more. You can buy the unique glass items from the on-site Store, from their stores in Village Market Mall and the Junction Mall or online from their website.
The different colours of the items mesh beautifully in the bright and airy store. The shop is well-curated and it also stocks glass items from other countries including Swaziland (which are made from recycled Coke bottles). However, the items from Austria and the Czech Republic are not made from recycled glass.
They also make furniture and the restaurant on-site serves food and drinks on the bowls and glasses made in the studio.
From there we had a look around the premises and spotted these cool sculptures.
Kitengela Hot Glass Opening Hours
They are open every day.
Tuesday – Saturday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Sunday & Monday 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
All other areas of the studio and the Café are open till 4:30 pm.
Please note that they close on the 24th, 25th, 26th Dec & 1st Jan of every year and the studio artisans go on annual leave from 19 Dec – 10th Jan. The experiences are not available from 20th Dec 2022 to 9th Jan 2023 as the studio artisans go on leave during that period.
Kitengela Hot Glass Charges
Touring the studio and watching the demos is free, however, you can partake in the glass-making process through the experiences I mentioned earlier.
Blowing bubbles (on request) – 500/-
3 minutes standing up to blow a giant bubble.
Touching fire (one hours notice) – 2,500/-
15 minutes at a bench, shaping a paperweight.
Blown to life (two hours notice) – 5,000/-
30 minutes, making a glass from start to finish, or 2 smaller objects. Can be shared with one other person.
Catching light (two hours notice) – 10,000/-
60 minutes, 2 to 4 objects. Can be shared with up to three other people.
The compound next door is Kitengela Glass, a different entity owned by Nani Croze, who happens to be Anselm’s mother. Kitengela Glass specialises in making sculptures, mosaic art pieces and pottery. They generally work with stained glass. Walking into Nani’s you will notice sculptures all over, mosaic on walls and steps and wind chimes dangling.
At Nani’s, you can tour the premises for a fee and they offer other activities such as swimming, camel riding, felting and glass mosaic classes. Visitors can also access the sauna and gardens for a fee. They also have quaint, quirky cottages on-site where you can spend the night and an artsy treehouse they designed in Watamu.
However, what took us to Nani’s is the infamous scary bridge. The shaky bridge is suspended over a river and it connects Kitengela Glass with Maasai Lodge. It is long and narrow and the best part is that it swings with every step, which adds to the excitement. Adrenaline junkies would love it.
The bridge can only handle seven people at a time and you are accompanied by a guide. I would not recommend it for kids for safety reasons as it is not fully covered on the sides.
The bridge is not that long but it gives you a bird’s eye view of the gorge and a shot of adrenaline every time the wind blows over and the bridge swings. Because the area is adjacent to the Nairobi National Park, there are animals in the gorge below. You might just see some rock hyrax peeking at you from the rocks.
I enjoyed the walk but my mother’s child could not wait to get off the bridge. The name of the bridge is apt in his books.
Kitengela Glass Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Studio
Kitengela Glass Charges
Tour of the premises and access to the galleries- Kshs 200
Scary Bridge- Kshs 200
Camel Riding- Kshs 300 per person
Swimming – Kshs 500 per person for two hours and Kshs 250 for children under the age of 16. (Please note that children under 5 years are not allowed in the pool)
Picnic by the pool – Kshs 500 per person for two hours (You bring a picnic and enjoy it by the pool)
Pottery- Kshs 1,000 per person, per hour
Mosaic- Kshs 2,000 per person, per hour
Dalle de Verre- Kshs 2,000 per person, per hour
Stained Glass- Kshs 2,000 per person, per hour
Glass Fusing- Kshs 2,000 per person, per hour
Bead Making- Kshs 2,500 per person, per hour
We did not tour Nani’s because at this point the scorching sun had drained all our energy. We headed back to Anselm’s and decided to stop by the Café for some relief.
We decided to try their homemade ice cream which tasted as good as it sounds. It was the perfect way to cool down and I would highly recommend it. The Café also serves pizza, snacks, coffee and other drinks. It’s worth checking out.
Once we were done with our tasty treat we were ready to hit the road.
Things to note about visiting Kitengela Hot Glass
- Small groups (maximum of five people) do not have to book an appointment to visit the place however groups of more than five people have to.
- It is best to visit in the morning before the afternoon sun hits. Temperatures at the Studio are high because of the furnaces, coupled with the Kajiado heat. After the tour, you can then enjoy a swim at Nani’s next door then head back to Anselm for ice cream or grab some nyama choma at Rongai.
Both Kitengela Hot Glass and Kitengela Glass offer interesting experiences that are out of the ordinary. I highly recommend visiting both places. For more information visit their websites, Anselm’s and Nani’s.
Have you been? Are you looking forward to visiting? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, Bye!