If you are on a Mission trip and you are visiting an Orphanage, a School in Need or even people, avoid giving money.
Unique Suggestions: Instead go and buy for them food like flour or maize, rice, soap, copy-books pens and pencils.
Buy candies for both teachers and students!
The teachers are also poor people who will be delighted if you remember to include them also!
Fun Alternatives: If you are to visit a school, carry with you some T-shirts and balls.
They will surely appreciate it.
When you come to Nairobi you will be shocked to see how locals pay, and how you, yourselves have to pay.
There are big supermarkets that sell everything we find in Europe, but they are overpriced.
I know this well, because we used to stay with locals, and we realized that when we were with our friends and had to enter a safari or park, and we had to pay 6 or 7 times more the amount they had to pay as locals!
It is very different if you visit an Asian country (Thailand) for instance. There, you pay what the rest of the locals pay.
Unique Suggestions: If you are there already, try buying local products at least.
I asked our friend why don't they take us to buy local products from the local markets and the answer was that these local supermarkets' products are sold with expired dates!
Of course I could not believe this nonsense, it is just because the time they are with you, they wish to enjoy a better quality and they show you only the European big markets.
I double crossed this, and I was disappointed with these people because what they told me was not the truth.
Fun Alternatives: This cannot stand for sure, otherwise these people might easily get sick.
There have been noted to be some unscrupulous tour companies that attempt to deceive potential visitors that they are KATO members but they are not.
Do check this very carefully before you book anything.
Whatever your Safari needs, you can be sure that you are in good hands when dealing with a KATO member.
Unique Suggestions: Should you be in doubt, please check the KATO membership list contained in the webside I give below.
Any company that does not appear in the list is NOT a KATO member. The right thing to do is to REPORT all such offenders so that appropriate action can be taken against them.
Fun Alternatives: Check and see if you find the name of the company in this site:
You can easily fall into a trap and book your safari trips with an unreliable agent.
Be sure to read other travellers' comments on reliable sites like VT, TravelPod,and TripAdvisor.
Don't be easily convinced that you will have the time of your life especially when you get a safari on a budget price!
There are many small and unreliable companies. Everyone wants to become a tourist agent arranging safaris.
It can spoil your whole trip, a trip you have been planning and dreaming for years!
Unique Suggestions: When back, write your impressions and let people know about the unreliable company.
Fun Alternatives: Try to find an alternative, try to get at least part of the money you have given back prettending that something very serious has come up and you have to leave! Don't go on to the second safari if you see the first one is not worth it.
If you want to purchase anything, ....from fruit to buying maize for the poor be sure to have a trustworthy local with you.
You will be surprised how prices change when you go and buy on yourselves.
I have never in my life seen this thing happening in any of the 32 countries I have visited!
I was staying with locals, and wanted some green pepers and onions. I told my friends that I want to buy myself so everyone remained in the car.
I got a small plastic net and put 8 very small onions half the size of an egg each, and 4 small peppers (capsicums).
I had 100 sh with me and expected change. I am told I have to pay 120 for all.
Unique Suggestions: I return to the car and ask my local friend how much I am supposed to pay, and he smiles telling me that they ask more because I am not native. I should have paid about 60 sh. he said.
Fun Alternatives: I return and take out of the bag some vegies.
I see that the woman counts 10 shillings for each small onion and each peper.
Angrilly I tell her that it is ridiculous, and said very politely " No thank you, I won't buy anything" and left.
Then I sent a local to buy and bought what I wanted to buy from the same kiosk for just 50 sh!
How unfair this is!
Don't trust people over the net who might invite you and let you spend time with them and help you visit people who need help.
They might have every intension to help you, be the best people on earth, but the standard of living is so different in this country that you might have some very bad surprises!
Unique Suggestions: Ask questions, about the place they live. Most of the locals live in really small rooms.
(1.5 X 3 metres) just a room and they call it a house.
They might have the very best intetion of having you stay with them, because this is the way they are used to, but how about arriving and realizing that you will share this small room which serves as a bedroom and sitting room, with the rest of their family?
They will simply smile happily and with honesty, but ignorance of what you might expect you will be shocked to hear that you are welcome to stay for as long as you wish with them!!
Fun Alternatives: At least if you are planning to stay with a local, book the first two days at a hotel, go and see the place your friend lives and decide what to do!
I have never seen in my life such small houses - rooms actually!
According to the certain internet sites, Nairobi is very dangerous place for the tourists, both during the day and night. As a metter of fact, there is official city site in which I found it is called Nairobbery. I've spend three days in Nairobi, strolling all over the city center and some of its outskirts, and didn't have any kind of encounter which might be considered inconvinient. Most of the people was friendly and polite, minding their own business.
Unique Suggestions: Most of the places change their faces during the night becoming less friendly, or perhaps it is just our imagination or predjudice. I was in couple of night-clubs, in the outskirt of Nairobi, but felt very safe there. What is in our nature that makes us feel scared when dark comes over the town? Is it something we barried in our minds when being kids, most likely.
In my country we use to say, "those who are looking for trouble will always find it", no metter if in Nairobi or somwhere else.
Fun Alternatives: Iwas suggested in my hotel not to take out my camera during the night because it might be robbed. That is the main reason why I didn't make any night-time picture of Nairobi. In my next visit, hopfully very soon, I'll surely do it.
When in Nairobi you wont need to call for a taxi instead ,they will call you. Only few cars around have visible taxi marks on, great majority of them look alike to a normal cars. Therefore, it is up to you to decide whom to trust for a ride.
First and the most important, all Kenyans think the same, mzungu (whiteman) tourists are loaded with the money so any price asked for a ride should be acceptable for them. Fact is, you should never enter into the taxi if the price for a ride isn't stipulated. No matter how good in bargain mzungu is, the price for a ride should always be higher than it realy is.
Another thing, make sure you have enough petty cash in your pocket because most of the local taxi drivers will pretend like having no change.
Unique Suggestions: Be arrogant, make them belive it is not your first visit to Kenya and cut thier asked price at half. From airport to the city centre, the ride shouldn't cost more than 1.000 up to 1.200 kes. For the ride inside the city area it should be from 100 up to 500 kes, even if it takes long because of the traffic jam. Give them something more for a night time ride, but not too much.
There are few opportunities for locals to make a few extra dollars so they look for any way to make ends meet. One of these ways is to try and become your tour guide of the city. This can be rather annoying (and potentially dangerous depending where they take you) though is a good way to see the city.
Unique Suggestions: If approached make sure you have a chat about expectations. Many will drop you and look for someone else while others will advise that they are looking for a few extra dollars to help feed their family. On my trip I was approached by several and ended up taking a very long walk with David. He was a Zimbabwe national living in Nairobi with siblings and looking for a few extra dollars to help out. I got a tour of much of Nairobi - parts I should not have gone into! - and ended up with a stack of photos that I would never had captued and sights that I would never have seen.
When going on a packaged tour, your guide will stop you at several curio or souvenir shops along the way. Curio shops do sell some nice things to bring home as souvenirs from Kenya but beware the asking price.
Unique Suggestions: If you find the price is too high, bargain, bargain, bargain!! The people are so nice and friendly so you may feel a bit guilty to reduce the price too much. Otherwise, just smile and walk away
If you are near a hotel(especially anywhere near Kimathi or Mama Ngina st) you will often encounter well dressed men who have pamphlets. They usually start by asking how you like Kenya and where your from before they whip out the pamphlet and talk the talk. The pamphlets tell you that you'll see X and Y and that you can pay below luxury prices through the agent.
This is a CLASSIC scam, as you pay at the hotel. They pocket the money and you are left in substandard accomodations or with extra charges on your card.
This info comes to me by way of a former security guard and is accurate as of 2005-06.
Unique Suggestions: If confronted be polite but firm. Do not make eye contact and keep walking.. the tout will get the picture and leave you alone. I often tell them I just came from said pamphlet area and enjoyed it so I have no need of another Safari, this works for the more agressive touts.
Fun Alternatives: Their are many reputable tour companies that run out of the Hilton or nearby. Use these instead and your Safari will be a much better experience.
You have to be careful here. At the end of the day it is a place of business and there is a high potential for pick pocketing and purse theft. So be careful where you keep your belongings and don't be afraid to be aggressive...but not overly aggressive!
Unique Suggestions: Keep your eyes and ears open and make sure you keep your belongings close to you. Don't wear anything fancy, such as watches or jewelry becasue those are targets of tourists!
Fun Alternatives: the mall...
One thing I noted about Kenya (and Tanzania) was the different prices for tourists and how much greater they are than for locals. While I agree in principle I did wonder a couple of times at the extent of the difference. An example is the Nairobi Museum which is KS100 for locals and KS800 for tourists (approx $US13).
If you want a fair price, don't try and buy from the Indian merchants in Nairobi. They mark everything up and are very pushy when it comes to negotiating, even more then the local Kenyans. I turned them down a few times and saved myself almost 75 ksh less just by using a local merchant. I did have to haggle, but the Indian guys just became irate that I didn't want to pay their "fair" price.
Unique Suggestions: Price shop first. IF they don't beat the Kenyan price.. it's time to walk. Be aware that sometimes if you buy one thing, you will be asked to buy more then you want to.
Fun Alternatives: Buy Kenyan, not Indian market price.
Planet Safari Adventure is a safari company in Nairobi. When I arrived Nairobi airport the company persuaded me to take a three days Masai Mara safari. They offered me a free night in hotel included in the price. It wasn't a hotel, but rest rooms for the safari company's town office. The rooms are mostly used for the kenyan staff and drivers who lives outside the city. The office is at the 9th floor in the Sonalux House, which is a bit dilapidated as you can see in the picture. But I don't mind about that. The worst thing was all the mosquitos. I have never experienced so many mosquitos before, and the place had no mosquito net. It was a sleepless night with many mosquito bites.
Fun Alternatives: I would gladly have paid another hotel room instead of this room for free.