Did you know?
You will probably be surprised by the fact that Kenya, besides Netherlands, is the larger manufacturer and exporter of flowers in the world. Horticulture contributes 3% of GDP, while 1,6% from the flower industry.
Maybe you didn't know it, but beautiful roses you just bought for your dear ones (in London, Paris, Tokyo etc), are actually produced in Kenya.
Parks in Kenyan cities are full of beautiful flowers, pay attention to it when you find yourself in Kenya.
North Horr - the far North
One of the more remote areas of Kenya is North Horr - a semidesert which is home to pastoralists mostly. water is one of the most pressing issues here, for goats and camels are the only wealth of the nomads. As the area has been hit by drought repeatedly in the last years, the economic impact has been disastrousRelated to:
BACK TO THE BASICS with the Masais
I had spent some time with the Masais in one of their villages while on my trip to Kenya.
have been very luI found a very well educated Masai and have built a camaraderie with him and one with whom I am still in touch. I have also been lucky to earn their faith and this now provides a wonderful chance for us , the 'more' civilized world if I may say so, to learn about them.
I am thinking on a program of Back to the Basics with the Masais. It would ideally mean living a day with the Masais and like a Masai.
This program would showcase a deep insight into their lifestyle and society, knowledge of their lives and social behavoiur.
I also some some wild crazy ideas of 'Marraige in Masai Style" and am trying to build on that.
I would be very happy to get views from all VT members on this idea and if anyone would be interested to take part in the Program.
Here is the link to my Masai Mara Page and reviews.
Thanks for reading and your comments if any, in Advance.
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Adventure Travel
safari, 30 minutes drive away from the airport
For those in a hurry or just in Nairobi, this might be an alternative to visiting Nairobi National Park - especially given the fact that entry prices have gone up dramatically to 75$ for tourists now. Swara Plains is a little private game sanctuary just off mombasa highway, a 30 minutes drive from Nairobi international airport. definitely worthwhile to go on a day trip (entry charges are 500 KES, quite a difference to the national parks) and if you plan to stay overnight, there is also Acacia Camp with a group of little banda cottages. When I was there I saw the usual suspects - antelopes, zebras, giraffes and certainly the highest number of ostriches I´ve ever seen. If you are lucky, you might even spot cheetahsRelated to:
- National/State Park
This is the best place in Ugunja to eat drink and stay. At least that is what my hosts told me. It looks quite nice, reception, garden and marquee, kitchen. Address is PO Box 446-40606 Ugunja, Kenya, E Africa.
We stopped off for a cup of tea and some soup. A simple enough request. I wanted hot tea with cold milk, usual Mzungu style and a bowl of asparagus soup as the menu listed.
It could not have been more complicated. First a glass of cold milk arrived but no tea. Then two tea pots arrived but after the milk had been removed. 2 slices of bread arrive but no soup. The chef came out to ask what I wanted. I showed him on the menu and he said he didn't have any. I asked what do you have, he showed me, so I ordered that. Nothing happened after half an hour, no cold milk. In the end I gave up and went indoors to speak to the manager. The whole process took over an hour. We ate the 2 slices of bread and drank the tea without milk.
It turned out that the receptionist was our waiter and had not had proper training. I was left wondering what training you could possibly need to get tea, soup and bread?
I understand that a lot of workshops and meetings are hosted at this hotel.Related to:
- Work Abroad
Ugunja Village Life
This is a total eye opener. I doubt whether people from the States, Britain or Europe could cope. It's fun for a while to fetch water, find and carry firewood, work in the fields to get your daily food, even sleep in the warmth of the mud hut. Try doing this for the rest of your life, cope with getting malaria because you can't afford a bed net or antimalarials and work like a dog digging up your shamba (garden/field) in the heat until you are past 70 years old. There is no Social Security or Welfare here. It's just about OK if you are young and fit and don't need medication and the mosquitos don't find you tasty and it remains dry. When the rains come, the whole place is a quagmire, travel is stopped and the mosquitos come out in force. Add to that pain, malnutrition, HIV and insecurity and all of a sudden it is not so much fun.Related to:
- Farm Stay
- Budget Travel
This is certainly off the beaten path, although a few Mzungus (Europeans) make it here from various NGO's (non government organisations). It's a small village on the Kisumu Road in North West Kenya. The town itself is small, there is a metalled road that takes you there, but the other roads are laterite, steeply cambered and dusty at the best of times, but certainly dangerous in the long and short rains. I only went there as my friends live in a lovely compound amongst the fields. However, in order to get to see them, it was a day long trip from Nairobi.
Things are pretty basic in Ugunja, the traditional huts are made from mud with grass roofs for sleeping and living, with another hut for cooking. They have a sort of outside kitchen where you wash up, having gone to fetch the water from either the bore hole or the river. Cooking is done on open fires in the corner of the kitchen hut and the food is simple, sukamawiki, ugali, beans or pulses, fruits such as mango, paw paw, banana, guava and vegetables such as carrots, potatos, sweet potatos, arrowroot, green beans, peanuts etc. Tea of course is grown in the Kericho tea plantations and you get milk from the cow.
You can buy most things in Ugunja, from water tanks and having your mobile phone topped up with airtime, to a well stocked (if expensive) supermarket. Local markets sell chickens, maize, cow ropes, food and sometimes kitchen ware. You can generally get everything you need there, even fridges, freezers and cookers. Electricity is available and they are, at present, putting in power poles around the DC's office. It should soon be available even in the more remote houses. They have cyber cafes if you get internet withdrawal or want to let your husband/wife/children/friends know you are still alive and if you tune up the existing puters for people (disk clean up and defrag) you will be very popular, especially if you do it for free.Related to:
- Farm Stay
- Budget Travel
Green hills of Kenya
The Shimba Hills might not appear so far off the beaten track, being within easy driving distance from the Kenyan South coast and tourist places like Diani beach, but while it is just a 45 minutes drive from the beach hotels, the hills have nonetheless a remote feeling, far away from the buzzing crowds. The national park is home of about 300 elephants and the only place to find sable antelopes in Kenya. There are a number of picknick sites and you can hike to Sheldrick Falls, provided you are in the company of a KWS ranger. There is a campsite if you want to stay over night, plus four KWS bandas that sleep up to three people each, overlooking the hills with a glimpse of the ocean at the horizonRelated to:
- National/State Park
Arabuko Sokoke Forest
Not really "off the beaten track" as you pass by on your way from Kilifito Malindi, but more unknown and thus unadmired. This forest is the juwel of the Kenyan coast, housing 600 species of birds, frogs, lots of butterflies, large mammals (caracals, elephant...) and endemic species as the Ader's duiker (antilope), the Sokoke Scops Owl, the Sokoke pipit (bird) or the difficult to spot properly Golden-rumped Elephant shrew. You won't have a traffic jam of mini-busses entering the forest. Actually, you probably won't meet anyone else. There are hiking trails and driving trails. The forest is large and exists out of different vegetation (mixed forest, woodland, Cynomytra forest, mangroves, ...). You would like to explore as much as p If you do not have your own car, you can call a cab to drive you aroundRelated to:
- National/State Park
Love the market here in Isiolo. Most markets I enjoy but this one is a belter with a collection of herbalists who are mainly women from the Borana community. You will also find various Somali bangles for sale as well as daggers that the local Samburu seem to favour stuck into their belts under red and white shukas that can be bought in the market.
Hideaway close to Naivasha
Lake Naivasha is a popular destination from Nairobi especially on weekends, but if you pass the lake and head on, you might prefer emerald green Crater lake in th heart of a small private game sanctuary. According to the belief of the local massai, the water in the crater of an extinct volcano has healing powers. you can do walks around the lake (make sure not to disturb buffaloes) or watch the numerous flamingoes. There is also a small lodge at the lake with a restaurant for non-residents as well, including a floating restaurant for lunchesRelated to:
There is truly a treasure trove of things to see and do in Kenya. I will just mention a few. I have done several Safaris, as a Tour Manager, - usually a combination of Kenya and Tanzania, mostly of the expensive kind. ( I once did a camp safari where the tents had hardwood floors and tables had white linens and crystal champagne glasses, - all packed on a seperate vehicle that goes on ahead and sets up, while the group is meandering through the game reserves )The Masi Mara N Park is great and the Sarova Luxury camp is still around. Visit a Masai village either there or in Amboseli N'l Park. I have not done the Hot Air ballon ride but understand that it is worth it for the panoramic views. Mount Kenya N'l Park with the Mountain Rock Lodge and its salt lick and wooden observation platforms. The Tsavo is fantastic for game viewing, the plains are teaming with life, - elephant herds and lion prides, with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is inconceivable to me that the permanent snowcap I viewed via small plane a couple of decades ago, - is now gone. My favorite is the Mt Kenya N'l Park, on the Slopes of Mt Kenya. There are two hotels/ lodges I would not miss. One being the Mount Kenya Safari Club, founded by William Holden, and later maintained by long time companion, Stephanie Powers. It may be a little "old skool", but it does have the ambience of the long ago hunts, and hunters. The other is the "Tree Hotel" or Serena Mountain Lodge, also built up above the watering hole and the salt licks. I could wax poetic, about the wonder of it all, but there are already ample details in the VT Kenya pages. Since it has been a while since my last Safari, I will leave to more current travellers to work out the details, as I am sure procedures have changed somewhat over the years. I am sure the VT Universe can fill in the blanks. Be save and enjoy. You will not regret it.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Possibly the only reason you will end up in Isiolo is because you are heading north as not a lot of people would stop off for the town itself. Although there are plenty of places to stay I guess this is because this would be the last place to stop for the night before Marsabit.
I've ended up a couple of times in Isiolo and am not sure I like the place both times I was pestered by a bunch of youths who were really persistent. One good thing about the place was the Frontier bar. Good name really as the whole town does seem like a frontier outpost, the Barclays bank certainly looks like something from "Beau Geste".
Not the easiest thing to do but well worth it is take the trip up north to Lake Turkana. I wanted to get up here for ages but eventually found it easier to get on to an organised safari that went to Loiyangalani on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, Lake Baringo, Maralal, and Nanyuki on the way back to the capital.
El Molo are supposed to be the smallest tribe in Kenya but in recent years probably getting smaller as they intermarry with the Samburu and Turkana peoples of the surrounding area.
You may notice that the guy in the photo with the home made guitar has also got a misshapen leg. This is probably due to the poor diet of the El molo who live mainly on fish alone.
Treat yourself with tilapia at the lakeside
The tin shacks with impressive names ("beach hotel", "Serena hotel") at the banks of Lake Victoria close to downtown Victoria may not look much. But you can definitely get some great tialpia there, usually with a vegetable sauce of kale and tomatoes added with ugali. The fish is very fresh (what else) and you just have to ignore the way the kitchen looks. The food tastes really nice and you can enjoy it in an authentic Kenyan atmosphere, families coming here for their Sunday lunch and peddlars offering pirated cds and all kind of plastic kitsch
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