And the adventure continued in the neighboring country of Kenya. Only for a short stay in the capital. There were direct flights from Kilimanjaro international airport. My flight to Nairobi lasted for an hour. I already applied for a visa online before I left Norway. Usually one could purchase it upon arrival. But the rules were changed in the beginning of September this year.
I originally planned to fly to Namibia right after Kilimanjaro. But that would mean an inevitable transit in Nairobi. A layover in Kenyatta intl airport requires a 50USD transit visa which is ridiculous. Knowing that I had few more days left before the road trip in Windhoek, I decided to apply for a single entry visa instead (it costs exactly the same!). I guess it was the right time to pay the country a short visit.
Where I stayed
One of the best place to stay in Nairobi is at Wildebeest Eco Camp. The location is superb and has many fascilities that made my time here convenient. The place has a very nice tropical garden. A really good place for relaxation.
Wildebeest is a permanent tented camp with varied accomodation. From deluxe cottages to camping. I chosed the 6-bed dorm. It was the cheapest option but I could actually get less than that if I camp at the garden. A travel desk is also available where tours & excursions could be arranged for an unreasonable prize. I wasn’t really keen on paying an organize tour for 250USD. It’s absurd!
I met some particularly interesting people at Wildebeest. A Canadian motorcyclist who have been travelling in Africa for almost 2 years. Another is a young South African guy on a roadtrip all the way to Ireland with his 1964 Alfa Romeo GT. A helpful American exchange student who advised me to stay away from the travel desk due to their overpriced tours. She recommended me to take a boda-boda (motortaxi) to get to the major attractions. Thanks to her, I spent less than 90USD. Most of the people at Wildebeest were on a long term travel.
On my first day, I hired a motortaxi driver who took me to some of the attractions in Langata area. All these for a fixed price. For each stop he would wait for me at the entrance. I eventually paid him the amount we agreed on by the end of the day. Plus gratuity for his patience since he waited for several hours. The traffic in Nairobi is horrendous! I remembered when I arrived in a late afternoon at the airport. It took more than an hour to reach Wildebeest. It could have been worst. Boda-boda was definitely, although not exactly safe, the best alternative & cheapest way to get around the city.
We started at the Giraffe Centre. The place was crowded with tourists so it was impossible to get good photos of these majestic creatures. I have never seen or had a close encounter with giraffes until that day. One could literally take a selfie, pat and hand feed them. Kissing? Yes! A lot of people have done it. I, on the other hand, prefer feeding them. I don’t really fancy being covered with their saliva. Spending an hour in that place was more than enough. Truly a memorable experience.
Next stop was at Karen Blixen Museum. The museum consists of a simple farmhouse with a relatively huge garden. Owned by a Danish writer, Karen Blixen, who lived there for 17 years. The house gained recognition with the release of the film “Out of Africa”. The movie that have won 7 Academy Awards & is based on Blixen’s autobiography by the same title. I was accompanied by a local guide for a detailed description of the well preserved house & her life background. One thing I disliked about the tour was the prohibition of photography inside.
Last stop was at the Kazuri workshop. It’s a women’s factory known for their handmade ceramic beads & pottery. I was kind of curious about how these things were made so I decided to go inside the factory. At the entrance, I was approached by a knowledgeable guide who escorted me around the place. At the same time he explained to me the background of Kazuri and how the beads are made. From molding of raw clays to pressing, shaping, glazing etc. Founded by Susan Wood. Kazuri started in 1975 as a tiny workshop with only 2 Kenyan women. It became a factory and expanded in the late 1980s. Now it has over 300 workers. It’s purpose is to provide employment for disadvantage members of Kenyan society. The majority of the workers are single mothers. The tour was quite informative and it gives you a total appreciation for their work. I bought several items from the shop as a way of supporting these people. Perfect for Christmas presents!
The fact that I failed to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro was hard to accept. I get depressed whenever I think about it. I had this crazy idea about ditching the other 5 countries and fly back to Tanzania to retake the challenge. But no. Not happening because I would miss out a lot of things. To comfort myself, I upgraded my room to a deluxe safari tent which I rightfully deserved. Yes! A luxury tent with my very own luxury toilet! After all that effort. Why not?!
On the 2nd day, me and another backpacker whom I recently met at Wildebeest, went trekking for almost 4 hours in the Ngong Hills. The surroundings are scenic. It was like being in a movie of Meryl Streep’s “Out of Africa”. The views are absolutely spectacular. Trekking in the Ngong Hills is unsafe. There were risk of robbery and attacks so we hired an armed ranger to accompany us.
Nairobi National Park
The last day was spent on an early morning game drive in Nairobi National Park. It was my first African safari. The park is only 117km2. Elephants are not included since the area is not large enough to inhabit. I never thought wildlife photography would be so difficult. Many of the photos taken were blurred. Obviously I need more practice.
Kenya has a high crime rate and has in recent years been hit by several terror attacks. Despite the incidents, I still dared to visit this wonderful country. The Kenyan people are amazingly friendly. I also picked up some Swahili words. Their language is fairly easy to learn. To be honest, I wish I had more time. There are so many things I want to do like climbing its highest mountain, which has the same name as the country (5199m). I will definitely go back in the near future.