Africa is a place forever associated with gap years and ‘finding oneself’. I was lucky enough to spend a month in Kenya last summer with some good friends who live in Nairobi, which provided me with an invaluable insiders’ insight into such a beautiful country. While I did manage to come into contact with some of the clichés paraded over social media, I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in a country so different from any I have previously experienced. I arrived not knowing what to expect, and left knowing that it was not going to be my last time visiting such an inspiring and vibrant country.
Kenya’s vibrant and varied capital city. We stayed in an area of the city called Karen, which is where the majority of the expat community in Nairobi choose to live.
An amazing elephant orphanage and rehabilitation centre. You are able to visit the elephants and adopt an elephant of your choice, supporting the worthwhile work of the trust.
A gallery and shop owned by a local family, featuring bronze wildlife art, all designed locally. The gallery also has a café with salads and light lunches
An initiative set up to provide stable employment for the large number of single mothers and unemployed women in Nairobi. We had a tour of the factory, and learnt about the processes involved in the production of the beads and pottery.
Sort of like a real life ebay; second hand clothing, shoes and accessories spread over a network of stalls in what feels like the middle of the street. This is where most local people buy their clothes, so a very ‘Kenyan’ experience. Set aside a good chunk of time, however, as the unmissable bargains and trendy vintage clothing is sometimes hard to come across, as a certain degree of perseverance may be required.
Langata South Road, Nairobi
A network of shops in Karen, set up to provide local artisans with an opportunity to sell their products. It features an exciting variety of high quality, hand crafted and unique wares, perfect for a more unusual souvenir that gives back to the local community. The complex features a small café, so make a morning of your shopping and enjoy some of the homemade food on offer.
Nairobi is strewn with Curio Shops, with almost one on every street corner. They sell a huge variety of local souvenirs, local jewelry and clothing.
One of Kenya’s most popular beach destinations.There is a variety of resorts and places to stay in Watamu, to fit all budgets.
We spent three days in the Turtle Bay resort – an all inclusiv beachfront resort.
Take a tuktuk, the accepted form of taxi in Watamu, down to the Bio-Ken Snake Farm. We had a tour with Geoffrey, one of the snake handlers, and learnt about the different varieties of snake in the local area, and the work that the research centre does producing anti-venom for a huge number of different snakes.
No trip to Kenya would be complete without the safari experience. There is
a variety of accommodation options available.
The most incredible private house, with all staff and meals included for your duration of the stay. They are able to help you plan your itinerary for your time in the Maasai Mara; the in-house safari guide knows the surrounding area and wildlife intimately, and really helps you make the most of the game drives. The kitchen staff create amazing meals for the evenings, eaten outside in the natural beauty which is so abundant in the Maasai Mara.
See my post about Restart Africa. I visited this amazing rehabilitation centre for two weeks after my time in Nairobi, Watamu and the Maasai Mara.