Here’s an account of my 6 days in Kenya. Find the summary of my itinerary at the end.
Day 1: Saturday
I flew to Nairobi via Rwand Air from Dubai (transiting for couple of hours in Rwanda). Landed and reached my hotel around 6pm. Scrambled around my hotel’s neighbourhood to find an exChange shop and failed, only to find that my hotel reception exchange at an amazing price for their guests. ha. As the sun went down, I decided to rest my self and prepare for the evening shenanigans.
I met Akisa (a lovely local I met via CouchSurfing) at a mall near my hotel where we grabbed quick dinner, got comfortable with each other (discussed how challenging it is for girls to trust people they meet via CouchSurfing) and then she took me to explore the Kenyan nightlife. We hopped around several clubs and I had a first had experience of how Afrikan continent like to go down the dance floor.
Tip: Land on weekend and you will be dazzled by the party spirit of Kenyans along with their booty-shaking capabilities
Day 2: Sunday
Woke up, had an amazing buffet breakfast at Tune Hotel Nairobi, loaded my phone with GBs and Uber-ed it to Giraffe Centre 5 kilometres away from central Nairobi. I met Eddie the Giraffe and his friends. They were gorgeous and were feeling loved as so many tourists were feeding them. After spending sometime, I headed back to the city. Grabbed a matatu (public bus in Nairobi) and headed to city centre to meet David, my safari agent (who later also was my angel host) to discuss my Masai Mara game drive trip. He was kind enough to also walk me to the busy, noisy, rusty bus station and helped me buy my exit ticket from Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda. And recommended me to visit a local favorite cafe, Ronalo to try some authentic African Ugali and Sukumawiki meal.
I spent the rest of the evening conversing with Akisa and exploring through Nairobi downtown from the lens of a local, all on foot. We eventually headed down to her apartment and enjoyed a long chat about life, religion, culture, love and my biggest curiosity: Afro hair.
Tip: Your first morning in Nairobi should be about familiarising yourself with the city sights and sounds and dropping the stereotypes you may have held about Kenya. From the way locals dress to how is the neighbourhood supermarket is like. How do people catch a matatu, what do vendors sell by the road. It is beautiful to wakeup in a country, in fact continent, specially the one about which we hold so much opinion and see it go about its business in its own beautiful way.
Day 3: Monday
I was excited for the beautiful unknown I was soon going to be driven into; the great African savannah; the infamous Kenyan Masai Mara National game park. In about 8 hours, when we reached there, it was evening time. We caught the last few hours of game drive and as the sun started setting down the horizon in the big open savannah, it was time for us to return back to our campsite Miti Mingi. The camp site was very basic, I happened to make a South Korean friend, Seoji, while we shared a camp. But it fed us enough and kept us warm and SAFE. Day ended early as the dinner was served at 7:30 pm. And power was shut at 9pm.
Day 4: Tuesday
6:00 am was our breakfast call and right after, we headed to spend the entire day in the Masai Mara park to look for the Big five and many more. If I am to recall, we saw Oxes, Wildebeest, Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes, Lions, a Lion eating the ribcage of a wildebeest, Crocodiles and Hippos sharing a muddy puddle, Jackals, Deers, Topis, Ibex bird, Ostrich and ostrich eggs, Impalas, Secretary Bird and Guinea Fowl.
In between we stopped under a tree for lunch (see picture below). I still can not grasp how does your safari driver/guide know in the middle of an open savannah, a spot where humans can have lunch without becoming lunch themselves.
The day ended with a visit to the Masaai village to meet and speak to the locals. No matter how much you want to have a ‘non-touristy’ experience of visiting an African tribe, it will not happen. The tribe-men are by now well-rehearsed on giving you a quick guided tour in return for a $10 tip to tribe elder. And they like it that way.
Day 5: Wednesday
This was our last day in the Masai Mara and we headed for one last game drive at the crack of dawn and ended the tour with some souvenir jewellery.
After the next 8 hours, I was in the city. Didn’t have a hotel booked and so with the help of booking.com found and checked-in in a downtown hotel right above a casino. Headed out to grab a coffee at Africa’s very own coffee chain JAVA. Then I decided to get myself a table for one reservation at Nairobi’s most touristy-cliched but still-you-must-experience-it restaurant called The Carnivore. The most expensive meal I had in my entire African journey at 42$. They serve you a four course meal BUT before the main course, they bring you a flag and keep serving you exotic meat varieties for example leg of lamb, ostrich, rump of beef, sirloin, rack of lamb, spare ribs, sausages, chicken wings, skewered kidneys, ox balls, roast rabbit, till you put that flag down. Indeed a feast for a beast, as they like to call it.
Day 6: Thursday
This was my last day in Nairobi; I checked out from the hotel, dropped my luggage at the reception and planned to walk aimlessly around the streets of Nairobi. That plan landed me at the KICC building. Kenyatta International Conference Centre. I discovered that the viewpoint from the top of this building on a helipad is actually the geometric centre of Nairobi & a good spot for a short picnic.
After KICC I shopped around for some souvenirs and then in an attempt to meet Akisa one last time I got lost in a rusty old side of downtown, where street vendors, haggling shoppers, pedestrians, intercity buses and beggars. I was looking to board the right bus. But Google maps failed me and soon I was looking like a lost tourist in a non-tourist neighbourhood. Slightly scared, I decided to drop the plan and instead contact David. Only to know he is around and wants me to have a lunch with his family. I boarded a matatu with him and spend my afternoon with his family. Little did I know that he is going to cook lunch himself for me; fish, ugali and sukumawiki. And his wife would serve me masala chai. And his young daughter Alynne would charm me all the while.
After lunch and some heart warming conversations with a warm and friendly African family, I caught a bus back downtown and ended up seeing Akisa at a pub nearby my bus station, to catch one last drink. This was me parting with Kenya and its gorgeous people and its heart-melting hospitality.
And hence I will discount the fact that my bus from Nairobi to Kampala (Modern Coast) departed 3 hours late and I had to wait it out at the chaotic bus station, my only company being my backpack and travel pillow.
Today marks 1 year since my visit. And writing this blog refreshed my memories from the African adventure.
Here’s a summary of my itinerary:
Day 1: Land in Nairobi at 6pm (experience the nightlife)
Day 2: Explore the city, visit Giraffe centre, get a simm, try local food, sort out your safari tour
Day 3: Leave early morning for Safari, short game drive in evening, sleep early
Day 4: 6 am breakfast at the camp, entire day at the Masaari Mara Reserve, evening with Maasai village
Day 5: Short game drive & journey back to the city, rest & fine dine at The Carnivore
Day 6: Stroll in downtown, visit KICC, buy souvenirs, lunch with locals, catch a flight/bus to exit