Maasai market: Open street market
It was saturday morning and I was strolling around the city area with no particular interest. Have bought a couple of video cd's with traditional Kenyan music and there in the shop the guy reminds me on saturday Maasai Market which I missed to see in my previous visits.
Maasai Market is an open air market in the city centre, on saturdays and sundays, which rotates to other city locations during a week, except on mondays when closed. This location, on my pictures, is at the Law Courts parking.
What to buy: The market is called after Maasai tribe but fact is that one can find here handicrafts from all other Kenyan tribes. It is very vibrant market and the true show of colours and forms, offering handicrafts at resonably low prices. After making selections one must bargaining for a discount, a practice that is standard and expected in Kenya. If a customer pay the first asked price, the local traders will laugh after him considering such a customer not very smart.
Most traders, however, are not craftsmen but go-betweens who purchase craftworks in the villages or in the souvenirs factory nearby Mombasa. One should be especially careful when buying jewelry made from animal bone or wooden sculptures because there is a lot of forgery works.
Kazuri: Beads, beads, beads
You can find shops selling Kazuri beaded jewellery in the major shopping malls of Nairobi (for example Junction, Village market, Westgate) as well as at the airport. But it is more interesting to visit their place in Karen, where you can watch the production. Kazuri (Swahili for "small and pretty") sells beaded bracelets, necklaces, earrings as well as pottery - everything is made of clay. The jewellery production provides an income for about 300 women, most of them single mothers from Kibera. While they do not make lots of money, healthcare is coming with their job - something slum dwellers usually cannot afford.
What to buy: aside from the jewellery and pottery, you will also find sandals (including the ones made of tyres, though it´s the posh version), and leather bags
What to pay: depends on what you buy - prices are considerably higher than at the massai market, and the local prices for other jewellery does not put the shop under any pressure - about 85 % of the production goes into export
- Women's Travel
Nakumatt Downtown: The best known chain of local malls
As far as I could see it, Nakumatt is the biggest chain of department stores in whole of Kenya, everywhere you go this name is following you, inside city areas or along the roads. Nakumatt offers all what an family needs, like grocceries, cloths, technique etc, but it is slightly expensive than Tusker, Uchumi or small retail shops. Most of Kenyans, with average salaries, avoid NaKumatt because they cannot afford such a high prices.
What to buy: Take a piece of Nairobi with you when going back home by going to City Market or Maasai Market to buy some very nice handcraft beaded slippers, necklace, bracelets some made out of bones from camel, cows etcs. or even the nice maasai shawls.
Giraffe Center: Beautiful hand-made souvenirs
It is very probably that over 90% of souvenirs all over Kenyan, those in a shops, at airports or even street stals have been produced in Bombolulu workshop nearby Mombasa. They are hand-made and beautiful, no doubts about it, but most of them look alike because have been made in a thousands of identical copies. In case one wants to bring home something different and specific, should visit a small local markets hidden from the main touristic routes. It could be adviced not to go in the countryside if alone because it is too risky, but I don't have such a bad experiences. Kenyans are friendly and helpfull people, especially those who live far from the big cities and far from bad influences which every city brings...
Supermarkets: Take home a taste of Kenya!
"Travelling is a thirsty business, and it's important to keep properly hydrated" ... or so the self-justification goes!
Tusker is undoubtedly the most famous brand of Kenyan beer - as evidenced by the T shirts and other merchandise bearing its logo - and is a pleasant thirst quencher, and White Cap is another good local option. Both are refreshing when drunk icy cold (don't even consider an alternative!) although I have to say that neither of them will be featuring in our annual 'Beer of the Year' review.
If you develop a taste for these, then it's possible to bring home a taste of Kenya with you if you visit a supermarket or bottle store, although post 9/11 security measures mean that you will have to pack it in your hold luggage.
Otherwise, the range of local produce in supermarkets is relatively unspectacular for those seeking comestible souvenirs to bring home. If you're lucky, you might be able to find a bottle of two of the local Leleshwa wine from the Rift Valley - see my other travel tip - and there are also local brands of tea, coffee and honey.
Wood Carvings & Art Work
You will find a great variety of Hand-carved wooden sculptures and carvings with more traditional themes in the markets of Kenya.
Even in the Open Markets you will find them.
You can bargain if you enjoy bargaining. Here a bargain is a must.
MASKS from the Market of Kenya
I am not sure if you are a person who collects masks.
They are very popular here in Nairobi.
I would not buy one, or get one even if somebody gave it to me as a gift.
I hate having masks hanging on the walls of my house.
Taste of Turkana: Baskets, anyone?
Shop of a community support group in Lodwar that helps Turkana women to get an income. The shop is located in Viking house where a number of interior design shops are located already.
What to buy: there are a few prints and fabrics, but mainly you can buy baskets in all sizes, from big laundry baskets to small fruit baskets, simple but with some pattern. the big baskets might not be easy to get home, but your can always let them be wrapped up at the airport and use them as additional, though bulky baggage
What to pay: a big basket cost about 1000 KES
Beats and Necklaces: Buy from the Massai people
Every visitor to Africa goes home laden with souvenirs - from the smallest pieces of Masai jewelry to a six foot wooden giraffe. Africa is renowned for its fine craftsmanship and souvenirs are available in shops and markets just about everywhere between Nairobi and Cape Town. Remember that while it’s easy enough to store these items on an overland truck, at some point you will have to fit all your souvenirs into your backpack - and be able to carry it! Souvenir specialties include:
Kenya – Masai beads and blankets; batiks and wooden giraffes (Nairobi city market); kikois and tangas - a male and female version of the sarong (Nairobi shops)
What to buy: If you are after quality artwork, it is probably wisest to look in galleries and shops that deal in it rather than trading in the informal sector.
What to pay: Pay in Kenyan shillings from the Local Markets and bargain if you can.
Street Markets: A huge Variety of things to buy
As in most African countries, there is a huge range of cheap souvenirs to be purchased along the roadside while on your Kenya safari. These are handmade but mass-produced, so always check the quality before buying.
Materials include ebony, soapstone and ivory. Note that it is illegal to export products that contain any elements of elephant, rhino or sea turtle.
There will be plenty of opportunities to purchase souvenirs during your trip When on Safari there are curio shops wherever you stop for a rest break whilst travelling between game parks, all with people trying to get you to part with your hard earned money. On the coast you will find plenty of people operating on the hotel beaches trying to persuade you to buy anything from a carved key ring with your name engraved on it to a weeks safari. Listed below are a few of the most common souvenirs on offer. Make sure you barter for your gifts and aim to pay about a quarter of the original starting price.
What to buy: Wooden Carvings
These can be found almost everywhere you find a tourist normally depicting wild animals or tribes people.
You will find a verity of objects carved from soap stone which include chess boards, soap dishes, candle sticks, bowls and drinks coasters.
Kiondos are woven sisal baskets and are sold everywhere; they are strong, durable and long lasting.
All sorts of brightly coloured textiles are offered for sale the most common being cotton kangas which are traditional wrap-arounds
Carry local money with you.: Be sure of the Exchange Rate
You can change your money at any Bank in Nairobi.
If you come from Europe don't bother to change your money into dollars.
Euro is much stronger than Dollar and you will avoid exchanging currencies twice.
Check the exchange rate all the time when there.
How easy are: Supermarkets
Shopping in the Kenyan capital couldn't be easier. There are a multitude of supermarkets around town selling all sorts of food, drinks and household goods.
Nakumatt is possibly the most popular of them all. This is a company that started out as a couple of mabati roofed dukas in Nakuru selling hardware goods. The shop then was called Nakuru Mattress. They have a bunch of shops around town, unfortunately the one I used most was Nakumatt Downtown that had the fire.
Uchumi are still in business somehow after financial difficulies. But I actually prefer Ukwala or Tuskey's.
Yaya's Shopping Center: High End Stores; Some Items of Tourist Interest
Nairobi's high-end shopping centre is towards the west end of town. There are several floors of various items, including a food court, clothing, and drug stores.
It is all pretty much standard fare shopping center, and caters to the more affluent citizens of Nairobi, plus visitors.
The center of the bottom floor has a coffee house.
For those wishing to purchase post cards and mail them home, this is a particularly useful place, as you will be able to find stores that sell post cards and stationary items (particularly of note is a store on the 2nd floor that sells greeting cards - some with a very Kenyan flair, and some of which feature African wildlife). The post office, which is also on the 2nd floor, will help you mail those very same items to the people back home (or other desired receiver!)
Scattered stores throughout the building sell items that may be of interest to tourists, including carvings and other such artwork, as well as T-shirts, and the above mentioned stationary store that sells some African themed greeting cards and some post cards.
What to buy: There's quite a variety here. Some items are definitely not of interest to outside tourists, but there are a number of stores that sell the top end local crafts and various locally crafted furniture. Also, it is a good place to find the higher end memorabilia clothing.
One of the stationary stores on the 2nd floor also sells postcards and greeting cards. There is also a post office on the 2nd floor, and so you can buy your card and mail them all in the same place.
What to pay: Probably way too much, but there is no bargaining at this shopping center (unless you really know what you are doing - some people do seem to try).
I found in the Karen Shopping centre a nice small souvenier shop. They have really very nice work of wood. Very nice animals they made. You shouls look in it. I have no exact address but will try to guide you there :-)
Before I saw this shop I bought already in other shops, wish I would see it earlier.
If you come from the Ngong Road from the west to the cross Langata Road, before the cross, after the petrol station (guess shell), at right is the shopping centre of Karen, walk into this street, at the left you see a chemist, then at the right(some taxis will stand there) between 2 houses into a small alley, and at left house in there, the first old stairs up is the small souvenier shop. I'm sure if you walk there one guy will call you to go up with him.
- Arts and Culture
Biashara Street: Nairobi´s kanga and kikoy center
Biashara Street in Nairobi´s city center is where budget-conscious tourists as well as locals go for fabrics and textiles. Most of the shopowners are members of the thriving Indian community - fourth generation Kenyans whose ancestors were once brought to East Africa by the British to build the railroad. Some of the shops, like Haria´s, are mainly targeting tourists and also selling curio articles like carved animals or beaded bracelets, others are doing the tourists as an extra business. What you can get in all of them, are kangas (the tradional colorful fabric with many different patterns worn by women), kitenges (simlila like kangas, but different patterns and slightly thinner fabric) and kikoys (worn by men in the coastal area, made of cotton with some stripes) and shukas (the massai style blankets) You will find a bigger selection and lower proces than in the tourist shops.
What to buy: What you can get in all of these shops, are kangas (the tradional colorful fabric with many different patterns worn by women), kitenges (simlila like kangas, but different patterns and slightly thinner fabric) and kikoys (worn by men in the coastal area, made of cotton with some stripes) and shukas (the massai style blankets) You will find a bigger selection and lower proces than in the tourist shops.
What to pay: you will pay about 300 - 350 KES for simple kangas and kikoys, about 450 KES for shukas. In some of the shops you can also get kikoy-inspired bedspreads or shower towels which are more expensive
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