You may be familiar with the popular game show “Total Wipeout”, which is often aired on DSTV.
The premise is simple: adrenalin-fuelled contestants race each other across an assault course over a large pool of water, tackling obstacles with menacing names like ‘Shapeshifter’ and ‘The Motivator’. I’ve enjoyed many lazy mornings watching people faceplant into these obstacles and tumble head over heels into the water. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that Nairobi has its own Wipeout style assault course, at the new Waterfront Mall in Karen.
It’s called the Maji Magic Aqua Park, and it’s the first of its kind in Africa. Its main feature is the Aquaglide inflatable sports park: a circuit of inflatable slides, climbing walls, swings, monkey bars and other obstacles anchored to the floor of the lake in front of the mall. They also offer stand up paddle boarding sessions, and plan to introduce more attractions over the next few months, including a Konex wakeboarding cable system, aqua zorbing and a high rope course.
I was keen to try out the inflatable sports park, so I booked a session with a group of friends last weekend. We were advised to arrive 30-45 minutes early to give enough time for a short briefing, and to change into our wetsuits and life jackets, which were provided.
I had enough time to chat to the owner, Ben Kelliher, who is also Head of Training at Tribe Watersports in Watamu. Ben was confident that the aqua park would help to increase the popularity of watersports in Kenya, and he said that it offered a fun and safe outdoor alternative for kids normally glued to their game consoles.
Safety is clearly a priority for the team at Maji Magic. The lake bed is lined to avoid contamination, and the water is chlorinated every few days, so is safe to swim in. A filtration system is also being fitted to remove all of the sediment from the lake to make it clear. The park’s lifeguards are qualified by the Kenya Life Saving Federation, and recently completed a UK lifesaving open water course specific to lakes and aqua parks.
Once we were briefed and fully wetsuited up, we hopped into the water and swam a short distance to the inflatable obstacle course. Eager to get round it in record speed, I clambered over the first obstacle, called ‘ThunderDome’, and raced towards a loosely connected platform called ‘Walk on Water’. I learnt very quickly that I couldn’t in fact walk on water, and as I crashed into the lake I developed a newfound respect for the contestants that I’d mocked on Total Wipeout.
Over the next 50 minutes we slid our way across the course, tackling climbing walls, bouncing on trampolines and swinging from monkey bars. My confidence grew, but vanished abruptly when I face-flopped into the water attempting a backflip on the giant swing. We spent most of the session playing on my personal favourite obstacle, the big inflatable dome called ‘Kaos’. We took it in turns to lie flat at the top of the dome, and get propelled in the air as the others jumped into its centre.
To try it out for yourself head over to www.majimagic.com, where you can book a 50-minute session on the inflatable obstacle course, or a 75 minute stand up paddle boarding session. Each activity costs Ks 2,000 per person, including the wetsuit and life jacket hire. The aqua park can also be booked exclusively for large groups — for corporate team building activities, birthday parties and school trips. There’s more information on their website, and you can also follow them on Instagram, @majimagicaquapark.
Jan Fox is a director at IDC.
E-mail: [email protected]