From the vivid aquamarine shades of the Indian Ocean to the striking wildlife bounding across the acacia-studded savannah. Kenya is an amazingly beautiful country and is simply a safari-fanatic’s dream, vast national parks such as Amboseli, the Masai Mara, Tsavo that offer spanning desert, endless savanna and a wide variety of wildlife. Kenya has always been one of the countries I wanted to explore.
I think there is no good or bad season to visit Kenya, it´s a place to visit all year round. For us, winter is the ideal time to go to the sunny Kenya, a perfect way to escape the icy cold days in Sweden. The flight took more than 13 hours including landing in Kuwait for petrol refill. We arrived at Moi airport in Mombasa in afternoon, greeted by the tropical heat and the friendly faces at the airport. From the moment we got off the plane, we realized that our adventure in Kenya had started.
Kenya is a huge country, a week or two is not enough to explore this beautiful place. Beside the world famous safari and birdwatching, there are plenty of places to explore in Kenya. White sandy beaches in Mombasa, Lamu island and Watamu, world second largest fresh water lake Victoria Lake, Mount Kenya, fascinated wildlife sanctuaries and the stunning African sunset.
During our brief stay in Kenya we came across many friendly people, travellers as local, got a deeper insight of the Kenyan culture, a glimpse of the locals daily life and visited some of many interested places. For more information about specific places, please click on the link.
There are many beautiful beaches along the Kenyan cost, the further north you come (Watamu, Lamu) the less crowds it will be. The beaches are miles long with powdery soft sand. A great place to spend a long, lazy day.
Diana beach is located in south of Mombasa, it´s according to us the most beautiful beach we saw in Kenya. The sand is powdery soft and the beach is fringed by coconut palms. The views are charming. Diana beach is without doubt the most beautiful beach in Kenya. Read more about Diana beach here.
Bamburi beach is located in north Mombasa, approximately 20 minutes by matatu from Mombasa town. The sand is clean, though sometimes seaweedy. There are stalls selling paintings and souvenirs. Don´t forget to bargain. The beach boys (sell tour, souvenir etc) and beach ladies (offer massage) are persistent and hard to shake off but they just want to earn a penny, if you are not interested just say no thanks and keep walking.
Nyali beach is also located on the north Mombasa, 15 minutes from Mombasa town. It is more of a “locals” beach, very seaweedy. There are a few stalls on the central part of the beach selling souvenirs.
Kenya’s human population is equally as fascinating, there are around 40 different ethnic groups live in Kenya, a visit to Maasai village to see one of the most photographed ethnic groups in Africa can not be missed out when in Kenya. Read more about our visit in Maasai village here.
Maasai villages are circular, with small low huts that were built of cow dung and elephant grass. This particular village has twenty four huts with a population of 140 and consists four families.
Haller Park is a nice little safari in Bamburi, north Mombasa. It is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa and provides an eco-system for the animals which live there, many of which have been rescued or homeless. Read more about our visit in Haller Park here.
Giant tortoises (over 100 years old) and hippos are two of many animals you can see in Haller Park.
The Old Town
A visit in the Old town was very interesting, spying the daily life of the locals and breezing the scent of antic spices. It’s nice to see another side of Mombasa. Old Town is located near the Fort Jesus in Mombasa city, it’s part of Mombasa that is reminiscent of the days when the Arabs exerted a heavy influence on the town and the architecture. Read more about our visit in The Old Town here.
We enjoyed wandering through the Old Town, admiring its ancient buildings and beautiful hand-made crafts in the souvenir shops.
Safari in Kenya
A trip to Kenya wouldn´t be completed without visiting the wildlife in safari. A safari trip in Africa is a unique experience that will take us deep inside the country. Tracking the big five, tasting the local food and sleeping in unique tent surrounding by the beautiful nature will be one of the life time adventure.
Due to our tight schedule we chose to save the world famous Masa Mara for next time and decided to have a 3 days safari tour in Tsavo East and Amboseli arranged by Steve and Richard Day Tours Safaris. Read more about our adventures in Tsavo East and Amboseli.
We saw plenty of red elephants, zebras, giraffes and a numerous of antelope in Tsavo East . It was a fantastic experience to see all these wildlife up close, living freely in savanna.
People we met
The first joy of travelling is simply the people we meet on road. They have given us many wonderful memories and laughs. The travellers we came across and hospitality from the locals make travelling so damn beautiful.
Six travellers from four different countries gathering for a cup Swahili coffee.
Travelling gives us the chance to meet people from different part of world. Thanks guy for a lovely time together. Thanks for the beautiful memories and laughs you brought us!
Where we stayed
In this trip we had stayed in a couple different places in very different price range. From fancy tent in Amboseli to budget hostel. From north Mombasa to south Mombasa.
Bamburi Beach Plaza on Bamburi beach
On our first day we stayed at Bamburi Beach Plaza which once upon a time was a 4-star hotel. The hotel is big but very empty when we were there. We understood directly after check-in. The poor management needs to improve and the hotel needs of total refurbishment.
The pool was out of order during our stay, the staff told us that it would be fixed the day after but it wasn´t.
The room was spacious and bathroom was clean but nothing else in room was working during our stay. TV and fridge were out of order and the aircon was noisy and didn´t work properly. We changed to another hotel the day after.
Mombasa Backpackers, hostel near Nyali beach
Mombasa Backpackers is a hostel located in Nyali that offers very cheap accommodation. A bed in dorm room costs only 800kes and small privat for two costs 2000kes per night. The location is great, only 5 minutes walk to Nyali beach and a couple more minutes to supermarket Nakumatt.
There is a pool, plenty of chill out areas, nice garden with hammocks and tables, laidback owner and friendly staff. My experience of this place was blended. We had a great time here and met many nice people. However, there are things I wish they could improve. I found the mosquito net very smelly, covered of some dead mosquitos and insects. The bathrooms were very dirty and the sewerage didn´t work properly. Overall it´s a good place for travellers looking to meet new friends and have a laugh.
Classic Guest House near Diana beach
There are plenty of fancy hotels on Diana beach. The further from the beach, the price is cheaper. We stayed at Classic Guest House, located 5-10 minutes by matatuk from Diana beach.
It costs 2000 Kes for a clean, simple and spacious double room with private bathroom.
Tent in Tsavo East and Amboseli
We stayed at Lion Hill during our safari tour in Tsavo East and Amboseli Sentrim when we were in Amboseli. Both of them provide accommodation in luxury tents. The tents were very clean, spacious with comfy bed, modern toilet facilities and stunning view. The staff were friendly and attentive.
As the tent was not insulated, we felt like sleeping in the middle of nowhere. It´s an awesome experience.
How to get around
Getting around in Mombasa is very easy. There are taxi, matatuk (mini van) and tuk-tuk. All these are accessible and can be found outside Nakumantt (supermaket) or on street.
Matatu is the cheapest public transportation. It’s funky little mini vans with crazy paint jobs, with all varieties of music blaring out from the pumped up speaker systems, and have dudes hanging out the side sliding door trying to drum up customers to jump in. A ride costs between 20kes-70kes depends on distance.
Another cheap alternative is tuktuk that take you directly to destination (max 3 passengers but they do exception sometimes and allow 4 passengers).
Taxi is the most convience option, you can ask the hotel to arrange one for you but don´t forget to ask the price. You can also stop one on road, negotiate before getting in the taxi.
What we ate
The Kenyan food is full of flavor. In many restaurants you will find a wide range of seafood prepared in different styles. Rice is the most common side dish that serve along with meet and fish. Don´t forget to try their local dish ugali (starchy, polenta-like side dish) and bread chapatis (Indian inspired flat bread). Below is a selection of food we had during our stay in Kenya.
The food are well prepared. All the vegetables and fishes are from local farmers and fishermen.
Deep fried prawn in Kenyan style and teriyaki beef served with steamed rice and a delicious tomato salad.
Sun ripened avocado salad and tasty fish pan-fried fish-file.
Traditional vegetarian snacks served with a spicy mango salsa and a cardamom flavored Swahili coffee.
It´s a strange feeling, stepping back into the familiar world of an international airport, knowing that in sense , we had already left Africa behind. Kenya has truly stolen our hearts. The breath-taking sunsets in safari, the stunning blue sky with giant, bright stars and many beautiful memories will never be forgotten. We will sure be back in Kenya and explore the rest of this amazing country and continent.
Tip and warning
– Visa is required and can be applied on site. Single entry cost 50 USD, only cash accepted. A multi entries visa cost 10 or 15 USD extra.
– Vaccine for malaria and Yellow fever are not requested for visitors to Kenya, however if you plan to visit Zanzibar and Tanzania you will be to prove that you have taken these vaccine.
– The currency in Kenya is KES, but USD, British Pound and Euro is widely accepted.
– There are ATM at Moi aiport, on your right when you come out from the custom control. A withdrawal with maximum 20 000 KES at time. There are also ATM at Nakumatt or shopping mall that allow you to take out up to 50 000 KES per withdrawal.
– Bottled water is available and is advised for the first weeks of the stay.
– Avoid ice and fresh salad except in top restaurants and hotels.
– Travel alert: Warnings have been put out for staying closer than 150 km of the border to Somalia. Find out the latest on situation before you go with advisories.
Read more about our Kenya trip