The Kenya Edit
This World 003
There’s something about visiting countries in Africa and The Caribbean that feels different. I don’t know what it is or how to explain it, but I feel refreshed and renewed during the trip. Over the Christmas break I took a trip to Kenya which I absolutely loved. I’d been before (and to Sierra Leone) when I was really young. This trip was an opportunity for me to experience Africa at an age where I can really take it in and appreciate the beauty of the continent and its countries.
I spent a couple of weeks in the country with most of my time spent in Nairobi. I also got the opportunity to take a short break in Malindi, a coastal town. There is a lot to do in both areas, especially outside of the typical safari holidays that the country is known for. I stayed with someone who lived in the country and Malindi was more of a touristy trip. Staying with someone you know who lives in the country you’re visiting will always give you a completely different experience of the country. I really treasure the times I can do this when I travel.
I would 100% recommend Kenya as a travel destination and there is so much more to the country outside of safaris. Here are some of the things I got up to whilst out there…
The Giraffe Centre is a must-do in Nairobi. Created by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, the centre is part of conservation efforts working to protect giraffes and educate visitors. The centre’s main aim to conserve the Rothschild Giraffe which is currently endangered. Here you are able to get up close and personal with the giraffes and feed them pellets. The guides at the centre are able to give you more information about each giraffe and the centre’s effort.
I cannot lie to you, I found feeding them quite scary. Even though I know they’re the world’s tallest mammal, the size of their heads alone took me by surprise. It’s so weird to me to see something I normally see on TV right in front of me. However, if you go up onto the feeding platform, the view is breath-taking.
Everywhere I go I have to go shopping. I don’t even need to buy anything; I can spend a whole day window shopping. What I liked about shopping in Nairobi was that there were so many different shopping experiences to choose from.
The well-known Maasai Market is the place to go for handmade Kenyan/African goods. There is so much on offer, from paintings to jewellery and everything in between. The market moves around Nairobi and is held on different days, in different locations. It can get really busy, with both local and tourist shoppers looking for the perfect item. The market takes its name after the Maasai ethnic group which has come to be synonymous with Kenya and seem to have become the face of tourism. At the market you can find beaded jewellery that either replicates or is made by Maasai women. Overall the market is reasonably priced with some traders willing to lower their prices on some products. I went quite a few times and as my style is partly African-inspired, I found some great items like earrings and t-shirts.
When I say shopping is one of my favourite things to do, I know clothes shopping is probably what is coming to your minds. Supermarkets/grocery stores. That’s it, that’s the sentence. Now hear me out, going to the supermarket in another country is top 5 things to do when you travel. It’s honestly so fascinating to see the similarities and differences in what is sold in these stores. They always seem brighter and more inviting than in the UK, I don’t know what it is. Supermarkets in Kenya go to show that I am really onto something when I say they should be a part of your travel experience. As a black women, the supermarkets in Kenya nearly brought me to tears if I’m being honest with you. I walked into Carrefour (a supermarket chain in Kenya) and had the shock of my life. Have you ever been to a supermarket that sells braiding hair or black hair products???? I know this would be a standard as the country is predominately black, but it still took my breath away. It was glorious.
There were a lot of shopping centres ranging in sizes and available stores. One shopping centre I liked was The Hub in Karen. The fairly new centre had a good range of stores and although it could be a bit pricey in some places, it was an overall enjoyable experience. You could spend about half a day here.
Whilst in Kenya, we went on a quick getaway to Malindi. Malindi is a coastal town that overlooks the Indian ocean. The flight there was just under an hour and we got around using a rental car.
Malindi is a popular tourist destination and there is a lot to do in and around Malindi including:
Mama Guddy’s Robison Island Restaurant
On our first full day, we went to a zipline course which was scary at first but fun. After this, we travelled to the Mama Guddy’s Robison Island Sanctuary Restaurant. The restaurant is located on an island that requires you to take a small boat from the mainland. Locating the place to catch the boat from was quite hard and we did get lost. You must call to make a reservation and once you get there you are served a four-course seafood and fish meal. The staff and owner are really friendly and helpful. The restaurant is practically on the beach and the island is beautiful.
Bio-Ken Snake Farm, Kipepeo Butterfly Project & Gede Ruins
We took a visit to the Bio-Ken Snake Farm, Kipepeo Butterfly Project & Gede Ruins. All in the same vicinity, they can all be done within the same day although you pay separately for each. We chose to go to the Snake Farm and the Butterfly Project. You can still see some of the ruins without going into the Gede ruins and the tour guides do explain a bit about what you can see. The ruins are a marker of the historic Swahili town and tell a story of the area and the Arabic and European influence. You may also see monkeys running around the area.
The Butterfly Project is another one of the many conservation and community-based attractions in the country. The Kipepeo Project helps to involve locals near the Arabuko Sokoke forest in conservation efforts whilst providing opportunities to earn money. You are also able to buy honey and other goods and profits go back to this community. In the project, you can see a range of butterflies and learn about their life cycles.
The Snake Farm has one of the largest collections of snakes in East Africa and is home to snakes that have been recovered from people’s houses. They range from the harmless to the deadly. Whilst quite interesting, the tour of the Snake Farm was quite short.
As Malindi is on the coast, there are a lot of beaches. Most resorts/hotels are on the seafront meaning that a beach could be in your back garden. I’m not really a beach person but the views were amazing.
If you are planning to or are interested in travelling to anywhere in the world, please get travel insurance. You may think or hope nothing happens to you on the trip, but it is important to have that protection if you do need to. This leads me to my next point:
Insect Repellent. Use it.
There aren’t as much mosquitoes in Nairobi, but you may get bitten from time to time. However, if you are travelling to coastal areas or areas where there are a lot of insects/mosquitoes; don’t be like me and pack but not use the repellent. Those mosquitoes ate me up, it was crazy. I got bitten so much and reacted so badly that I had to go to the hospital.
As a Londoner, I could only imagine a built up urban city with lots of greenery in my wildest dreams. I really admire the fact that Nairobi has so many motorways and high-rise concrete building, just like London, but is still so green. I’ve only ever seen that amount of greenery in the countryside. Not only is it really pretty to see, it is also really important for the environment and people’s health.
Overall, the trip was really good and has really motivated me to try and make my dream to travel around Africa a reality. As some who is determined to understand Africa outside of what the mainstream media has tried to feed me, the trip has got me wanting more.
Stay tuned to find out where I am travelling to next…
The Kenya Vlog Edit (IGTV Version)
Travel with me from Portugal to Kenya...