Kenya is the historical half way point between London and Cape Town it is the first real sub Saharan country on our route, it is also supposedly the most economically developed country since Egypt, but the diversity between rich and poor here will never leave me.
We took the insane route into Kenya via Lake Turkana which I think will always cloud our view of Kenya. The vast majority of Kenyans have not been up there and it is almost like a foreign land – but much of Kenya is incredibly diverse from the next part.
After Turkana we stayed in Maralal (seeing a small park there) before heading to Isolo and the foot of Mount Kenya.
Arriving in Nairobi we stayed with a couchsurfer Geoffrey, just to the North. I have been to Nairobi 5 and 10 years ago, like most bustling towns over this period things have changed. 10 years ago, Moi was still in power, the American Embassy had just been bombed and Matatu’s were allowed to roam freely in any direction around roundabouts. Now Nairobi is much more like an European city, cleaner and more orderly – or perhaps this was my impression after the way we had travelled to the city.
Geoffrey is the proprietor of the Teddy’s center, which educates orphaned children since the uprisings of 2008. He also took us to his sisters, who lives at a Solar project near the Ngong hills and close to Masai villages.
Our first night in Nairobi was St Patrick’s day and we met up with some friends from London in Lavington. Lavington and the surrounding hilly area is much like Surrey – Woldingham in particular although I am reasonably sure that in Lavington the bars have less ethnic diversity that those in the UK…
Stephan needed to get a new wheel for his motorbike (shipped from Germany!) and Ryan wanted to see the coast, so we all jumped in the ‘cruiser and headed for Mombasa.
We stayed at another couchsurfers in Diani (Nick) for a couple of Days before heading upto Watamu and then Lamu. People craze about Lamu – but I hadn’t really done that much reading about it, which in the end it was a good thing as I think people get disappointed when it isn’t the chilled paradise that people write about. I still think it was super interesting and a bit of a throw back to Islamic Africa. Lamu is credited with being the “home” of Swahili culture – which is certainly still strong.
Watamu is a beautiful places, lots of great people and if Fishing is your thing, massive Marlin are just a boat ride away. (this Marlin was injured, which is why it was brought ashore). The snorkeling off the bay was very good as well, I dipped my head under the water for literally 30 seconds and saw a ray gliding off into the distance! Then Stephan saw another one about a minute later.
Mangrove camping in Watamu
On the way back to Mombasa we stopped off at a Facebook friends restaurant in Matwapa and had some excellent food (well worth a visit if you are in the area) – thank you Doris!
By this point it was heading towards Easter and all of Nairobi would be closed – so there was nothing for it but to head back to Diani. This time we stayed at the backpapers Stilts, where we met some great new friends.
Back in Nairobi it was time to get more involved with SolarAid (along with fixing gremlins on the vehicle) much of the time we stayed at (much better than Jungle Junction!) the staff were very interested by the Sunney Money products! There were also plenty of people stuck here after their flights were cancelled due to the Icelandic dust cloud.
From Wildebeest we headed to Muhuru bay (after a breif stop in Naivasha) and the SolarAid projects.
We then headed North to Kisumu (celebrating our 200th day of travelling!) and into Uganda.
Kenya was where I fell in love with Africa after cycling from Nairobi to Naivasha, Bogoria and Aberdere national park 10 years ago. 5 years ago I learnt to dive in Mombasa and also visited the most amazing Masai Mara. This trip was different – we didn’t visit any of the really big parks, but I think I understand Kenya far more than before. Eating in the small hotelies, the ugali and milky masala tea and blue band on bread for breakfast, is very different from my experiences before.
It is a really exciting time in Kenya at the moment a new Constitution is being drafted and voted on this year – which most people seem to be positive about. People are proud of it as it is the first truly Kenya constitution with little outside influence. Everyone has a view, but most seem really positive about the way that power is being devolved more regionally. Even the mechanics that I spoke to where generally positive about it!
Will I be back in Kenya sooner that 5 years time………I hope so!