Wow! This trip to Africa was an unforgettable experience. This was my first time to the continent and I was happy to make this trip to Kenya. I will say, while Kenya was on my list of places to visit, it did move down further on my list due to terrorists attacks. As most of you all know if you watch the news, there was a MAJOR attack in Garissa, Kenya and over 100 innocent people (college students) were murdered in April. This was only a month out from my trip. To top it off, one week before we left, I checked the state department website and they had an update urging people to be very cautious and basically saying to not go.
One employee at one of the airports said, “Did you see the travel advisory from your country?”. Me- “Yes?”. Airport Employee, “Then why are you here?”
Good question lol. I thought about it long and hard before I came and basically came to the realization that America is more f’d up than alot of places. We have people getting killed daily and we also have mass murders–more frequently than many countries. Every country has its problems. After 9/11 and all of those people were killed, it didn’t stop tourists from going to NY. It didn’t make everyone want to move from NY. While you are more cautious, it doesn’t make you stop wanting to go someplace after a tragedy.
“It’s safe until it’s not safe.” – Greg , one of the tourist on safari with us
This is what I have been saying all along but not that short and concise. Everything is safe until the moment it’s not safe. You can’t and shouldn’t anticipate something bad happening. You have to think positive thoughts. All you can do is hope and pray that you aren’t in a bad situation. I never one time didn’t feel safe in Nairobi.With all of the security, I really felt at ease. Most places you go you are searched and wanded down and generally go through a metal detector. What’s more safe than that.
I said all of the above to not make you feel unsafe about Kenya, but for you to put things in perspective. We all know the media blows everything out of proportion so basically use your own judgement.
Why Did I Want To Go To Kenya And Africa:
Why not? I am of African descent so I don’t see why there would be any reason for me to not want to go to Africa. When I told Black people I was going to Africa, I got a “Why?” or “Are you going for missionary work?”. When I told caucasians, I got a “That’s awesome”. It perturbs me that Black people I have talked to have no aspirations to go to Africa. It’s in fact strange to me…but whatever floats your boat. When visiting Kenya I literally felt at home. It was so inviting. It was an amazing experience to get back to the Motherland. I would love to go to West Africa too as most of us in the US are West African due to the slave trade. It’s just great to learn about our history and see this magnificent continent. Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt & South Africa are also on the list.
Some Things I Urge You To Do If You Go To Kenya.
- Try Kenyan food, It’s really good. Since I do eat African food, I found it similar to Ethiopian or Nigerian food. You eat with your hands and I had some amazing goat.
- Take Uber Uber is fairly new in Nairobi. While most locals have never heard of it, tourists are more familiar. I ended up getting a discount code (If you go to Nairobi before the end of August, you can use my code Lexiwiththecurls for your first ride free up to 2500 KS off ) Uber was waayyy less expensive than taxis and better cars. For example, for us to get down the street, as soon as taxis heard our American accent, they would charge 2000 KS (around $20). For uber the exact same distance, it would be $4 or $5 USD. HUGE difference when you are getting alot of rides. Trust me, do Uber and save some money!
- Go to the Elephant Orphanage. Check out my full post here. This was an unforgettable experience and you get to see all of the elephant orphans who have all had different journeys- separated from family, mother’s killed, poachers tried to kill them, hyenas attacked them. They all have different stories and they save these animals and help them get better before releasing them. For one hour a day, from 11-12pm, you get to see these elephants play in the mud, eat, and have tons of fun. Tip: make sure you have your driver wait for you. We didn’t know that and got stuck there without a ride and were left with an empty parking lot. Luckily we found a guard who called a taxi for us.
- Go Dance To Some Local Music Go listen to some Afro-beat. Where we ate some local food, on the other side was a lounge where they had live music. The live music was really good and it was fun dancing to Kenyan and Tanzanian music.
- Hang Out With The Young Urban Professionals We ended up at 2 bars with an American we met that went to school with my friend. Jabari took us to Brew Bar which was a dope lounge you would see in any major US city. Great vibes, great people and great music. Around 12:30 am, they started playing Hip Hop. After that we headed to another party which was outdoor. Again, super fun and great vibes. We got a chance to meet a ton of people and try out their local beer Tusker. This was a great highlight because everywhere else we had been didn’t have any young people.
- Be Friendly Everyone speaks English but at different levels. Don’t be rude to people or speak loudly. They understand English but sometimes you have to re-explain things. We found alot of times we would give up and say “Ok” and usually they did that right back to us lol. Be patient. If there is a language barrier, it doesn’t make sense to get upset or rude.
- Go To The Markets Kenyatta Market is a local market that you won’t find many tourists so you will stand out BUT it’s a good spot to get some items made and to get your hair done. This is where we got our hair done while there and also got some custom items made. Again, since there are no tourists, hold on to your stuff. You will get slammed with a ton of people trying to get you to walk with them to buy stuff and you can get easily distracted. Also, the Maasai Markets are great to go to. This is where you can get all of your souvenirs and dope jewelry. Come ready to bargain. They will upcharge you and never take the first price…unless you just want to spend a ton of money. They actually want you to negotiate and they will tell you that. They give you the price , you give them your price, and then you go back and forth until you come to an agreement. Best example- I got 2 prints with frames, a picture frame, a beaded necklace, beaded bracelet, bottle opener and a couple of other things. They wanted to charge me $170 USD…Absolutely not! In the end, we settled on $40. In the end of the many markets I went to, I only paid for one item at the first rate they gave me only because I really wanted it and it wasn’t bad in the first place. Everything else I got on super “discount”
- Go On A Safari Head out of the big city and see some animals. A 2 night safari was really enough time for me. They also have one-day ones. If you can’t make it to safari, check out the Nairobi National Park which is more like a zoo but can see all the animals indigenous to that region. I did both but preferred the adventure of the safari.
- Visit a Maasai Village We went to visit a village and it was interesting. Firstly, it is cow dung EVERYWHERE so be prepared. You learn all about their culture and get to check out their homes. The women make the homes, take care of the children and take care of the sick animals. They pretty much do it all. No wonder the men have so many wives lol. To top it off, I was offered 15-20 cow for my hand in marriage! I decided not to go through with it lol. While the Maasai Village was cool to find out about their culture and see how they live sans electricity or running water, it can be a bit overwhelming in their market. They practically beg you to buy something. Imagine 30 people asking you to buy something while its burning up hot, sweating and there are a million flies on your face….well I will say I was a little more than ready to go. I still suggest the trip, but just warning.
- Live In The Moment Take everything in. We live in a social media world but it’s amazing what you can see when you have your phone down. I have gotten way better over the past 2 years and am no longer a slave to my phone. I really took in the experience and missed alot of great pictures but in the end, I have the images in my memory which is even better.
That’s pretty much everything I can think of. Do the tourist thing, but also do the local thing within reason. Always best if you know someone. I asked around prior to going if anyone had any friends in Kenya so I could link up while out there. It’s always great to have a connection in the country you are visiting.
Please do visit Kenya and take in the amazing spirit of the people. They are the most friendliest people I have met and that have so much pride for their country. When I say “Kenya is so beautiful”, they say “Thank You”. I’ve never once said “Thank you” when someone said America is beautiful!! lol They have some serious pride. And let me not even get started on President Obama…They LOVE him. I don’t think we met one person who didn’t mention our President after mentioning we are from America. They love him and are so excited for his visit in July 🙂 I am excited for them.
Check out SarovaHotels.com for great places to stay in Kenya
Check out some great vacation packages too! You can find flights for under $800 to Nairobi. Kenya Vacation Packages.