Destination: Nairobi, Kenya
Jambo! Kenya is a gorgeous and vast country in East Africa that offers experiences you imagine in your dreams. I was lucky to attend a wedding in Nairobi, which gave me the perfect excuse to visit.
There are limitless places to stay while you vacation in Kenya. While I was there, I spent much of my time with my friend’s family and had a real joy experiencing life in Kenya from those who call it home. It was such a loving and joyful stay. They not only made sure I was fed, had a bed and was comfortable, but they welcomed me into their homes and made me feel like family too. Sometimes I was awakened by chickens clucking and roosters crowing but hakuna matata, right?!
Next time I go, I would like to try staying here for a couple of nights because it just looks really cool! AirBNB has some really cool spots to stay with great reviews.
I did stay at the Four Points by Sheraton the day before I departed and it was gorgeous. It’s a new, beautiful hotel with great amenities. Also, they offer complimentary breakfast and rides to the airport, which is definitely a plus for me. Actually, I made a mistake on my timing; instead of my flight leaving at noon, it left at midnight, so I had most of the day to kill. The front desk was so kind and let me stay in my room for a little longer, past checkout, at no cost. Then, I ended up pampering myself by taking advantage of their gym, sauna and spa for a massage (smart of them to let me stay!). I had such a lovely experience there and everyone was so kind and accommodating. A few images of my hotel stay are below.
Things to do: There is so much to do while in Nairobi. Here’s some of what I did:
Safari in masai mara:
Unfortunately, we did not realize that it was a 7 hour drive from where we were staying and that the road isn’t quite a clear road. Go with a local or do diligent work on how to get there and make sure you have the proper car for the rocky (literally rocky) terrain!
The long journey was worth it though! Once we were in Masai Mara we were greeted with the sights of elephants, giraffes, zebras, birds, antelope and so many other animals peacefully coexisting. It was breathtaking. We had a Masai guide with us and he knew that we wanted to see lions...so he took us off trail in our car and we went on a lion chase! Success! After a few scares in our impromptu off-roading vehicle, we found the lion...asleep! It seems he had just eaten a hippo...I saw the remaining hippo being devoured by the lionesses and cubs! Normally, I would scream and be freaked out, but this was real life and nature at its purest (well...minus us spying on them) and it was really cool.
You can research more on safari excursions in Masai Mara and overnight camping. Turns out they even have glamping there! Next time I go, I am going to try and have one of these experiences too.
Before I went, I had heard of Giraffe Manor and Giraffe Center. I’m sure you’ve heard of and seen images of Giraffe Manor. It’s gorgeous but suuuper pricey. I saved money by staying with family and did not want to spend what I saved on one night at Giraffe Manor....besides, I had yet to go shopping in Nairobi! Priorities people! :) Look, if it’s in your budget, totally do it! Looks like an awesome experience. However, if you are like me and a little more frugle with the funds, then go next door to Giraffe Center.
It is run by the same organization as Giraffe Manor and is a sanctuary for giraffes (which btw are endangered!). The cost to visit is $1,000 Kenyan Shillings or $10 USD but check before you go because prices may change. While at the center, the employees give you food so that you can feed the giraffes and the giraffes are not afraid of you. You hold out your hand and suddenly you feel a giraffe tongue on your hand and you are feeding the most beautiful creature right in front of your face! What an amazing way to be so close to these majestic animals.
The Markets in Nairobi:
While in Kenya, you’ve got to check out Masai Market for some amazing shopping. This market travels and changes location daily, so make sure you check where it will be while you are there. You will find local items that you can take back as gifts or use to decorate your small apartment in New York. It is a place of haggling, so if you are up for it, haggle away or don’t if it’s not your style. Besides, if you walk away from the item you are looking at, the vendors might just haggle their own price down to get you to come back! I found some amazing items here. Check out below and see some finds, like my new blue skirt!
Not Relaxing on a Boat:
Hippo watching on Lake Victoria was just outside of Nairobi (closer towards Masai National Park). We went on a boat with a driver and guide and went on the lookout for hippos. A boat ride on Lake Victoria sounds relaxing enough, until you remember that hippos are super violent and you are hovering on your boat right over them!! We saw quite a few bobbing their heads up and going back down. It was amazing seeing them so close. I was still in the "Hakuna Matata" mindset, so I just chose not to think about hungry hippos underneath and tasty me directly above.
Nightlife in Nairobi:
We had to experience Kenyan nightlife and had such a fun night out at Rafikiz Bar and Lounge in Nairobi. Current Kenyan jams, dance floor, drinks, food and a group ready to have a good time! Check it out if you are in town and grab a Tusker while you're at it!
Hope you're hungry:
I will not pretend to be a connoisseur of Kenyan cuisine but I will say, wow was it delicious! From the Ugali (their staple item) and chicken curry to the mandazi with my ginger-spiced Kenyan tea, I never left a table hungry! To me, there were so many similarities in Kenyan cooking to Indian cooking. Just typing this is causing me to crave chapattis. Overall, I found the home cooked meals to be very healthy and flavorful. If this is any indication of what everyone eats, then you will not go hungry in Kenya!
Also, Kenya does have a big Indian population, so I did get a masala dosa while in the mall and it was very tasty!
Notes to for next time:
If you insist on wearing heels to a Kenyan wedding, bring a change of shoes so that you can dance!
Bringing a bathing suit if you stay at hotels because some have pools but don't try to swim in Lake Victoria.
Do your research on what is needed before going (ie: shots, mosquito repellent, visas, sunblock, face wipes, money pouch, passports, hand sanitizer, etc.)
Don't be skimpy with the bottled water! Chug!
Do squats before you travel to get those thighs ready...if you are on the road and need a restroom, you might be squatting! Just get over it and squat! (also, on this note: BYOTP.)
Remember, be grateful and thankful when you visit a home that isn’t your own; whether it be a house or a country. People are proud of where they are from, so be respectful of that and open to a new culture while you are traveling. This concept will always make traveling more fun.
Safe travels and feel free to leave any comments below!