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Society

Bringing Water Fun to City Dwellers

Maji Magic at the Waterfront in Karen. The site includes an Aqua Park and paddle boarding. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Two years ago, Ben Kelliher saw a gap in Nairobi.

“There seemed to be a lack of adequate fun activities for children and adults within the city,” he says.

He decided to set Maji Magic, an aqua park for lovers of water sports.

At the park located in Waterfront Mall in Karen, Nairobi, blue and white obstacles that look like bouncing castles float on water. The water obstacle course has sections for climbing, sliding, jumping and hanging, reminiscent to what you would see on UK game show “Total Wipeout” or “Wipeout” in the US.

Water sports are a big activity in Kenya’s coast but in Nairobi and other urban cities, fans have had to make do with basic swimming and if lucky, a good diving board.

“Maji Magic is the second company I have started in Kenya. The first one was Tribe Watersports, which specialises in kitesurfing and stand up paddle boarding. Tribe Watersports (which offers extreme watersports) has unfortunately not appealed to many Kenyans. It mostly attracts expatriates and tourists. I want to change that,” says Ben.

Maji Magic has stand up paddle boarding and in coming months, they will introduce wake boarding and water skiing.

“This aqua park can take an individual who is only confident with swimming and turn him into a water sports hobbyist. It is an entry-level watersport that helps individuals build confidence in water and at the same time have lots of fun. After building confidence, one can progress on to stand up paddle boarding and then wake boarding and water skiing,” explains Ben.

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Participants are required to wear wet suits; similar to those worn by surfers and a buoyancy aid (a heavy-duty floater). One can opt to tackle the course barefoot or with special footwear. Before getting in water, the participants watch a 10-minutes security video.

Cameras and phones are not allowed in the water unless one has a GoPro strapped on the body, which, as Mustafa Akbar, the marketing specialist for Maji Magic explains, is a safety measure.

Ben says the aqua park took long to set up because they were looking for a suitable site in a populated area, with water that is deep enough and clean.

In November 2017, he stumbled upon the Waterfront Karen, which had a man-made lake as part of its selling point. This had been after several years of searching for a perfect site.

“The lake at the Waterfront Karen had everything we needed; the right size, depth of water and it was lined which plastic which means the lake can be kept clean without contamination. We are currently chlorinating the lake and filtering it to remove the sediment,” he says.

The water is murky, which Ben explains is due to the dust remnants from construction.

Ben who worked with AquaGlide, an international firm that builds customised aqua parks. says aside from trying to build a bigger local water sports industry in Kenya, he is also looking to create more active fun in Nairobi.

“While doing our market research, there seemed to be few fun activities within the city,” he says.

Maji Magic can hold up to 80 people at any given point.

The water park is open to adults and children from age six with a minimum height of 1.2 metres.

You are also required to be in groups of two or three to keep watch over each other as you navigate around the course within the allocated time. Guardians must accompany children for every challenge.

Each sessions is Sh2,000, inclusive of the wetsuit and a buoyancy aid.



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