Back in 2011, I together with my twin brother traveled to Kenya. With the hope to get a different and unique experience from such a radically different society like Kenya in Africa. The expectations were fully met during our 2 week of stay.
When we arrived at the airport in the capital Nairobi a heavy monsoon rain hit the city that flooded the main highway from the airport into the city center. The heavy rain meant we had a long detour around Nairobi, of what we in Denmark would call minor roads. On the way into the center of Nairobi , we had to turn around several times , for safety reasons , as the driver quite simply did not dare take the chance if the taxi would sit hold of flood waters . When we were a few miles from our final destination , oversaw the driver the depth of a river across the road and the hood of the taxi came under water. It could not keep the taxi and went to a standstill a few yards further along the road. There we were so stuck in the middle of a notorious slum quarter was on the outskirts of Nairobi city center. The driver advised us to go out of the car , so it ended up that we had transported further in another car the last few meters to our hotel.
The hotel was fenced and had security guards placed around the building.
Is it safe to travel to Nairobi
Nairobi is Africa’s financial center and the city also bears the imprint of. The center was more Western than we had imagined, with well-functioning roads and sky towers. In the hardcore center within a radius of a few kilometers, it is safe to walk around as a tourist and it happened also that we saw a few other tourists. But one must of course always take its reservations.
If you want to go and see the slums like Kibera and the province you should always have a guide who is familiar with the area, as unexpected situations may occur and not all the locals see it as positively that tourists are visiting the slums. We visited Kibera and it was really a great experience. Together with a local guide, we visit some houses, small shops and factories. Overall, we got an impression of how it is living in Kibera. Be prepared of that the guides and the locals are begging for money and if they don’t get any money their mood can change rapidly.
We believed that the hotel we have booked was situated quiet centrally in Nairobi. But that was certainly not the cause. Instead, we discovered that your hotel was located in a slum area outside the city center. There was no sidewalk or paved at all and the heavy monsoon rain the night before has turned the gravel road into a muddy slide with running water in the sides. We asked in the reception if it was possible to walk into the city center. They told us that it wasn’t that far away but due to the security and the traffic conditions it was completely impossible and that strictly pointed out that all movement offside the hotel should be performed by taxi or with a private guide, it was quite simply too dangerous to move around as a tourist on foot.
What we have learned about that is that it is very important to carefully read the hotel description before booking. We will highly recommend others to book a hotel in the grand center of Nairobi. It simply has to be very centrally located in order to be comfortable and safe.
Best safari in the world
The national parks in Kenya
Before the trip we had booked a travel guide, who also served as personal driver. He could simply help us getting around and see as much as possible of Kenya during the 2 weeks. We had chosen the accommodation type called camp, which is the cheapest one, instead of hotels. The standard of these tents / camps was surprisingly good and can be recommended as it is not at least contribute to the safari experience / atmosphere. The week we had paid extra for a guide / driver turned out to be a very good investment that gave us experiences we have not even had the chance to implement on their own.
The first stop was the world’s most famous Masai Mara National Park, which is an open nature reserve. This means that the animals can roam freely in and out from the area – there is no fencing. Masai Mara is on the 7. world wonders in the natural category. The area has a unbelievable high concentration of animals and some of the world’s largest animal movements are happening here. It is exactly as you see it on Animal Planet and is a must see in Kenya and actually also the main reason why tourist are coming there.
The next stop was Lake Nakuru National Park, Amboseli National Park and Tsavo West, respectively. Lake Nakuru is known for its many flamingos and rhinos both black and white. We saw them all.
Read also: The World’s Most Unusual Lakes
Amboseli National Park with its impressive background scene with Africa’s highest mountain, while world highest limit standing mountain (5895 meters) named Kilimanjaro an amazing sight. There are good chances of getting taken the classic image of the area of elephants in focus and Kilimanjaro in the background.
Tsavo West stands a little apart from the others because it also sells in nature and acts more like the real wild nature. Here you have to look after the animals between dense vegetation, which makes the experience a little more authentic.
During the five days on the savannah, we got a very unique experience where we got very close to the Kenyan countryside. On the way we saw lions, giraffes, buffalo, wildebeest, a sea of gazelles, zebras, crocodiles, cheetahs, leopards, vultures, hippos, rhinos and much more.
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The last days we spent at the coast and we visited the second largest city in Kenya and important port city for the entire East Africa, Mombasa. The city houses many different cultures and religions. They live side by side and reportedly without any problems.
The city offers atmospheric streets of the old town near the harbor and you can easily use many hours just walking around in the very narrow and hectic streets and watch locals. However, it is very hot and humid – so it can be a very tough experience.
It is advisable to take a bike taxi around in Mombasa it is a good way to see the city and is very cheap. Just lift the arm they are on every street junction. At our hotel we saw prostitution at very close range – many young girls gather in the hotel lobby and they were just waiting for catching up the hotel guests. At the same time there is a growing crime in Mombasa – so it is not recommended to be out late at night.
The last few days of the trip we spent in a luxury hotel at Diana Beach south of Mombasa. Here a number of newly built resorts are located which greatly attracts European tourists – especially we saw many Germans. The beaches here are very delicious and the hotel standard are though not like in Europe so quite high for relatively little money. Kenya has for years experienced an increase in tourism, and especially safari and beach holiday on the coast are draws. A stay at the resort on the coast, we think was a good and nice ending to a dusty but great safari.
Read also: Flying between Nairobi and Mombasa/Diani
The trip has really given us a glimpse of what Kenya in 2011 has to offer culturally as well as natural. In my opinion, Kenya offers the best safari in the world.
In Kenya they prefer U.S. dollar since their own currency Kenyan shilling is very unstable. So please remember to have dollars along on the trip.