Kenya has managed to win a HUGE soft spot in my heart!
I cannot believe that it took me years of travelling before I landed into this beautiful country. I remember a Facebook friend saying “you have left the best until last” and maybe she was right?
Now that I am here, I have realised that there are things I should have known before travelling to Kenya.
Let me share some of them with you:
The Great Migration
I discovered that the greatest wonder of the world actually happens in Kenya.
Annually, tourists flock the Maasai Mara National Reserve, as millions of wildebeests migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, crossing the Mara River and into the Reserve. I have had a chance of seeing some of the big cats of Africa, which apparently are all found in this National Reserve.
Photographers and Animal lovers are always amazed by this and it is surely a wonder to behold.
All this happens between the months of July and September. This is an excellent time to book your safari.
The international media has made the country look like a hotbed of terror. The sad truth is that there are more shootings in the USA than in most of Africa combined. It has created misconceptions that I feel are at times overplayed and false.
I have to say that I was very cautious when I first visited this country. I thought every street was unsafe and that the street lights only made it easier to be traced by terror groups. I couldn’t ride a bicycle or take a walk in the local areas for the obvious reasons.
However, I always advise everyone to be cautious when visiting any country since security is always a threat everywhere. So, please enjoy your freedom, but never forget to be careful.
Most places have excellent security, and in fact, security in Kenya is at a far superior level than most western countries. We notice this whenever we check into a resort or hotel and also felt very safe when we rented our apartment.
Minor incidences like losing a laptop or cell phone are some of the issues that would spoil your vacation in any part of the world.
There is always a belief that Kenyan food is too bland and stodgy. I would like to refute that and admit that I had a chance to eat some of the most mouthwatering Kenyan dishes during my stay in the country. The staple food in Kenya is Ugali (cooked maize floor) and Sukuma Wiki (kales).
If you find a professional chef, he/she will be able to serve the meal with a bowl of soup and maybe some fried meat. The meal always looks lovely on the plate even before you have your first bite.
Another Kenyan dish you might want to try is Nyama Choma (grilled meat), salad (A mixture of tomato, onion and lemon) and ugali. There are so many other Kenya meals that you will fall in love with. You just have to ensure that you get into the right restaurant where African dishes are passionately prepared.
I actually realised that Kenya’s staple food is the healthiest diet that anyone could ever wish for. In every meal, there is always enough vitamins and minerals that keep the body healthy and strong.
You just have to visit Kenya and try its wide range of healthy recipes.
Kenya has a rich culture that dates back to the colonial era. Before I landed here, I had only heard about the Maasai warriors.
I was however shocked that there are actually over 42 tribes in Kenya, each having its own traditions that diversify the culture of this country. I have had time to dance to a variety of local music, prepare local cuisines and interact with many community members.
I loved that these communities are so welcoming and most will even allow you into their homes to learn more about their culture.
So seize the moments and enjoy your stay.
I was shocked that Kenyans take their religion very seriously.
When I landed here, I thought I would meet people who were less religious and have an opportunity to share my faith with them.
‘Shock on me’!!! I discovered that they were deeply rooted in their faith and God has a huge importance in their lives. In fact, they could put the western to shame who think they will come here and share ‘the gospel’.
This is something that most missionaries need to know since most of them ignorantly travel to Africa, believing that they will find people who are not in any way religious. There are actually churches and mosques in every neighbourhood in Kenya.
You would be surprised to lack a seat when you attend a church service during your stay since most of the churches are always full by the time to get there.
Cost of Living
Here is where most tourists have an issue with African countries since some local traders are known to exploit tourists. These traders will double or even triple the prices of their products to make abnormal profits if you allow them.
However, I have ‘lived’ long enough in Kenya to be able to know the value and price of every item I buy. This has helped me avoid dealing with traders who exploit tourists.
You might want to confirm the actual price of an item before visiting the marketplace. You will realise that even the cost of transport is never as high in Africa as it is in other parts of the world.
Life is simply VERY affordable!
Eating out on the coast of Kenya, for example, is a fraction of the cost of Australia like the Japanese Restaurant Shashin-Ka Japanese Restaurant owned by our apartment neighbours in Diani Beach.
I personally love riding in a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled vehicle) since it is very affordable means of transport and I get to work with a driver(s) I can trust. It is also very enjoyable to ride in it since it adds more excitement to our ultimate African experience.
Renting an Apartment
We rent apartments at times all over the world and find it a great alternative to a long stay in a hotel or resort. The cost of renting an apartment in Kenya is very reasonable. If you have a baby or small child, you will also discover that the price charged by babysitters in this beautiful country is very inexpensive. At your request, staff will to into your apartment and help out with chores such as cooking and cleaning at a very low price. I found satisfaction in knowing that I dint have to drain my bank account to have the best of services in Kenya.
This made me want to extend my stay in different apartments on many occasions.
Walk the streets of Kenya and you will realise exactly what I mean. I was impressed that Kenyan artists use a variety of materials to create unique pieces of art.
They add an African touch on each of them to ensure that each product stands out as a unique African product. These art pieces look lovely on walls and counters and this is the reason most art lovers purchase them as souvenirs.
I also loved Kenyan fashion and felt like it was worth being in my list of souvenirs. You can buy a Kiondo (sisal handbag), Maasai sandals (made from car tyre) or Maasai shukas. The list is endless. Just visit any of the local markets where these products are sold and get yours. Some of them are hawked in the neighbourhood and therefore you might bump onto a trader hawking his/her unique products and buy them from that trader.
What are the things you wish you knew before taking a trip to Kenya?
Please share it below.