Why Travel To Kenya?
Countless Opportunities for adventure, beautiful language, landscapes that will leave you in disbelief, outrageously beautiful coastline, safari trips that will amaze, and vibes that’ll have you grinning ear to ear! The people are incredible too… there are just too many reasons to write about!
Working in Kenya
Volunteering in Kenya is something extraordinary. It’s easier than you’d think it would be to integrate. Within a couple of days, I felt comfortable and at home at the school and at the centre we were placed in.
There are a lot of expats living across Kenya, as well as a heap of entrepreneurs, safari companies and white locals… so this kind of allowed me to blend quite easily. It may sound silly, but it really helps in feeling comfortable when things like staring aren’t as intense and frequent. And more than that, it makes integrating with the children relaxed and natural; they didn’t have fear or resilience, more just curiosity.
My two friends and I were working for about 7 weeks, in 2 different places. Our tasks were broad, making each day different and exciting. We taught things like Maths and English, we helped sort beads and fabric in the women’s centre, we played sport with the kids, held craft sessions, helped in the kitchen and harvested vegetables in the garden. We were given a lot of freedom, http://www.restartafrica.org/and more than anything we were told to just be there for the kids. The Restart Centre is an organisation dedicated to saving street kids from life out on the street , providing them with a family, healthcare, food and an education. It was up to us to help in whatever way we could.
The teachers treated us like equals, we ate the same meals as the kids, and we were treated with respect the whole time we were there. It really did feel like we were part of a massive family.
Kenyan local people, atmosphere and hospitality
Kenyans are kind, hospitable, interested, interesting, and a little cheeky! They are proud of their culture, and so they should be. Walking around the small towns, there is a certain feeling, like you are safe. Within 2 weeks of living in Gil Gil, we’d made a relationship with fruit shop owners, motorbike taxi drivers, shop tellers and lingering school kids who constantly asked ‘how are you?!’, to which we’d respond ‘We are fine, how are YOU?!’ And so the questioning would go on, until we were out of earshot 🙂 I love Kenyan people, they are incredibly tough and resilient, yet so many seemed to be afraid of little bugs and the like! To me, they have a perfect mixture of pride, strength and adaptability.
Places I visited
We arrived in Nairobi – big, smokey, dirty, busy Nairobi. It is so big, with cars beeping behind one and other for hours, and people walking in every direction. It’s not exactly a tranquil area, but definitely worth a visit. There are great markets, authentic bars and restaurants everywhere, and amazingly beautiful Kanga (fabric) shops on almost every street. We lived in Naivasha for about a month – such a beautiful place. Lake Naivasha and all its wild life are gob-smacking, the town is large but nothing like a city, there are clothes markets hidden under big tarped areas, great places to enjoy the national dish of beans & rice, pretty houses to look at and great expanses of green fields… great for walking 🙂 We stayed in Gil Gil too, a much smaller town which I absolutely loved, and am revisiting in a couple of weeks! Above the small town there are mountains with hot springs, waterfalls and the most luscious green forests. After our volunteering, we traveled down to Mombasa, people say the overnight bus is a death sentence, but I thought it was fine… little bit of adventure ! The city of Mombasa is rich in Arabic culture and truley beautiful. For an ultimate holiday experience, I would recommend Diana Beach…
Mtwapa is a little more ‘real’, and there it’s pretty easy to find cheap accommodation without the typical tourist resorts.
Things to do in Kenya
There are many! If you’re into Mountain trekking then there are several peaks to attempt! Safaris options are endless! Bird watching, scuba diving, resort-hopping, sun-bathing, city exploring, camping, volunteering or just good old back packing are all pretty easy.
Food in Kenya
Yeah… about the food. It’s not the best. It’s not the worst. Some how, the use of spices just isn’t a big thing. Pretty much you have maize, sukumaweeki (kale), rice, beans, ugali (boiled bread) and meat. Nyama Choma is BBQed meat which is super tasty, and there are places that sell fried chicken. My all time favourite meal was beans and rice. And the fruit and veg is pretty amazing! Mangoes growing on the side of the road in the more tropical areas, and avocados as big as your face. The supermarkets have quite a large range, and you can see a prominent English influence in what fill the aisles. Overall, you can eat well for cheap. Trick is to not expect amazing flavour explosions, but more be pleased with the simple things.
How much money to bring to Kenya
You really don’t need a lot. Between USD$ 4 – 9 per night is enough to have a decent place to sleep. You can get a massive plate of food for about $1, getting long distance mutatus (taxis) is about $0.50 – $2. If you want to live like a local, you could swing it for well under $10 a day. If you want to stay in resorts and drink, eat and play like an out-of-towner, you’re looking at over $50 a day. They use Kenyan shillings, and it’s about 80 KES to $1. From memory, a loaf of bread was about 40 KES.
What not to do in Kenya
Don’t wear tight clothes or short shorts. Take advise from locals, but with a grain of salt. Don’t carry a lot of money on you. Don’t drink the tap water. If you’re a single girl, pretend you’re married, seriously, it’ll safe you a lot of hassle. If you find yourself at a church service, respect the religious beliefs of those around you, and maybe keep your potential atheist of agnostic beliefs to yourself. Again, this will save you a lot of trouble.
Just play it cool really 🙂
Is Kenya a country that I’d visit twice?
(My) Most beautiful/memorable Spots and Moments
Playing with and teaching the kids at both charity organisations (KCC slum project and The Restart centre).
Swimming in the hot springs above Gil Gil.
Riding on the back of motorbikes.
Seeing the Giraffes grazing the trees on Safari.
Lying on the beautiful sand on Diana Beach.
Driving past the zebras that casually stand between the opposing roads of traffic.
Advice if you’re travelling to Kenya
Get the right immunizations: Cholera, Hep A and Typhoid. Pack a course of general antibiotics, Check what season it is: it’ll either be dry or very wet, however it’s always nice and balmy seeing as it’s very near the equator. Pack loose fitting clothes. And above all, don’t plan too much! Kenya is pretty easy to travel on a whim.
Kenya is still my favourite place on earth, well worth a visit… without sounding too cheesy, it could change your life.
If you are interested in volunteer work, I would highly recommend paying The Restart Centre a visit. This is one of the best run organisations I know of, it’s honest, not-for-profit and works to resolve issues of child abuse and homelessness, with family values and education.