Remember, first price asked is always much too high! Take in consideration also that you'll get alot of local paper money for one euro only (1€ = 92 shs). Don't behave yourself like a millioner. Be persistent and take your time. Checking the prices for items in the local shops might help you to get idea what to pay to a street vendors. However, don't be too cruel at the end of bargaining because all this people are very poor and each extra euro mean a lot to them.
Do take care in this country, the city may look enticing in an African sort of way but it is full of conmen, pick pockets and who knows what type of other villan. It is best not to venture out of a night and certainly leave all your valuables at home, it is pure temptation for these people who live hand to mouth in most cases. If you cannot resist the temptation of the city then please take a guide with you or go on an organised trip.
On this visit, I ventured into downtown Nairobi, Mombasa and some of the African villages and felt confident to do so. Of course there are still people, as in any big city, who will attempt to rob and steal. However, appearing confident, even better if you can speak a few words of Swahili making oneself a little more local and behave sensibly then you will be fine.
In fact, if you yell out thief, mugger or such, be aware that the culprit will be chased, caught and a thorough beating issued by the locals who are intolerant of criminals
I am curious character, want to see and explore the places I visit and like to do it on my way. My longtime experience have learned me that organized city tours are, more or less, waisting of time. At the same time, I've learned not to belive in gossips and not to have predjudices.
Before departing to Kenya, and during my stay there, I've heard lots of awarnings; do not do this or that, do not eat or drink anything you get out of your hotel restaurant, do not stay out of your hotel resort when dark, and many more similar flat nonsenses. In two weeks of my staying in Kenya, I didn't have any kind of inconvinience, especially not with the locals, and my life was never in danger.
There is, however, small piece of the road, north of Mombasa in direction to Shanzu, where, as I was told, lots of hungry and angry people live. The very same kind of slums I've seen in the outskirts of Nairobi too. My local friends told me to stay away from this slums, even during the day, because this are desperados and they wont hesitate to plunder you.
In the afternoon heat, when both man and beast were relaxing in the shade, a common sight on the flat landscape of Amboseli National Park were large dust-devils swirling away with terrific force! We were never actually caught by any of them at the campsite, and when outside driving around the park, you were not supposed to get out of your vehicle. In those cases, we just waited out these things inside the car as they continued on their random paths, tearing up anything that was not tied down.
I know that I am just one of many more that warn about that here.
But it is to be taken seriously!
Every year several hundred tourists suffer from Malaria and every year people (also tourists!) die from it in Kenya. Most of them may never end up in statistics, either.
Malaria is also not only a problem in the National Parks as some may think. You can also get it, while staying the whole time in your hotel at the coast.
The only way to catch malaria is by being bitten by the Anopheles Mosquito. (the one in my picture is one of those).
The Mosquito is active when the sun settles, in the dark and when it comes up again.
Avoid being bitten by using repelents with DEET or Bayrepel in it. Citronella may work for some people, but for the majority it does zilch good.
Also it is a good thing, if you can put on clothes with long sleeves and legs (linen or cotton, wide woven is good for that).
And since it is never sure even with this that you will not being bitten, use a Malaria Prophylaxis.
For Kenya Malarone is advised, which is effective and has very few side effects.
(That is for all of you out there who are so afraid of Lariam).
One tablet a day, starting 2 days before you enter Kenya, until 3-5 days after you came back.
Yes, i am aware that it is not a cheap medication - but on the other hand, lying in a hospital either in Kenya or at home is not cheap either.
For those who don´t know the effects of Malaria, have a look at my home-page travellogues.
They are most probably going to be one of your first encounters with the "wildlife" of Kenya: Monkeys.
They are not afraid of human (anymore) and can be found at every hotel.
When the sun is going to settle down, they begin to roam freely about the hotel grounds (of course there are there also during the day, but mostly not so open).
A few advises for you: never, ever let your clothes dry on the balcony when you are not sitting directly next to them. Always close your balcony doors and windows tight when leaving the hotel rooms. (Or even when sleeping inside, we had monkeys in our room even though we were in it).
I have seen (and heard) more than once how the monkeys raided hotel rooms and took everything they could carry away. You surely don?t want to look for your clothes, underwear and bikinis shattered all over the palms or your camera being thrown hither and back between some playful apes. Also you are not likely to get any of your things back, normally the monkeys don?t tell where they hide them ..
Also don't feed the Monkeys and don't touch them. Even quite unlikely it is still possible that some of them have rabies - and biting or even licking damaged skin is enough for transmitting this still deadly disease.
On the other hand it is of course quite funny to watch them playing on the palms, stealing the sugar bottle in the restaurant and listening to your hotel neighbour ranting in his room, because a good part of her belongings have been abducted by them.... it?s the monkeys now!
http://www.unon.org/unoncomplex/security_advice.php check this out for up to date security information.
We call it Nairobbery for a very good reason. Don'ts are: wear jewellery especially gold, have a snatchable bag, walk in Uhuru Park, look like you have money, flash cameras around, walk around at night, break down at night, choose reliable vehicles (HAH!), use your mobile phone in the street
Do's wear gardening clothes, under dress, keep a sharp lookout for trouble at all times, know where you are and the nearest police station or Ultimate Security station. Keep an eye out when filling up at petrol stations.....
I guess it's no worse than New York, it's just that life is so cheap and people are desperate........
There are quite a lot around. During the day you hardly see or hear them- except for the flies, but as soon it gets darker, well....
Especially noisy they are in the Crocodile Camp, where I also found the exemplar you can see in the picture. I have no idea what kind of bug that is. It looked a little cockroach-like, but else I never saw a cockroach in the Camps or in the hotel rooms at the sea (and outside only one, which is few for me, sometimes I feel like a bug-magnet).
Some of the bugs are real loud. If you are not used to the noises of the bush and sensible with sleeping, take some earplugs with you.
How much bugspray is worth, i don?t know. I found that mosquito repellant (with DEET) will repell Mosquitoes, but not flies or bigger bugs. Something with Permethrin in it should do the job, but I did not try it.
After I came back home from my last year trip to Kenya, had to pay very huge bill for my calls. Famous roaming cost me very dear, just to mentione, a minute of phoning between Kenya and Croatia costs about 2 euros.
This year, before getting to Kenya, I bought phone in Dubai (N72 cost me less than 200 euros) and have used Celtel prepaid card for all incoming and outcoming calls. No need to say how much cheaper it was.
One thing we had to be careful with at Amboseli Lodge were the naughty Vervet Monkeys who were always on the alert to grab something if you turned your back for a second! These two managed to sneak into our Banda and ran off with an Avocado pear from our supplies. Once they have got their hands on something, you can kiss it goodbye!
This is not supposed to be a general warning of the people here. They are generally quite friendly, especially if they feel they can sell you something. They are very used to tourists and quite the businessmen. So the will show you their village ? for 10-15 Dollar you can get it -including a demonstration of their dances and a visit to a hut and of course the possibility to buy some of their souvenirs: necklages etc.
Never ever try to make a picture of one without permission. Not only they will get very angry and will make you pay for it. Much. Shoot out of a driving car and you are apt to get stones and sticks thrown at it.
Some of the masai are very good looking and they do a lot for it: they wear makeup in red and black, do their hair in fine braids, wear yewellery of tiny pearl on the neck, the ankles, the wrists on the head and on the clothes. Classically they wear red clothes or at least with much red in it. The feet are bare or they wear sandals, sometimes made of old tires.
I am not going to get into the theme how difficult a relation between different cultures can be. There are enough books on them, already, for Massai check the book: "the white Massai". She was swiss, he a Massai, they married. I guess she had the pink glasses on. She tried to live like them. It did not work out.
You may be laughing when you see the picture here, but actually you can tell yourself you are lucky if you have one of these toilets. Mostly you just don’t. Then it’s either hold it or do it somewhere in the plains – with no bushes around, mind you, so that the lions can’t sneak up.
If you are like me and react sensible on black tea – better take none, even if offered in the morning. Better stay with plain water in smaller sips over the time.
If you don’t know where to find a toilet: souvenir shops often have „public“ ones, as an additional attraction. Come and shop.
They say coconuts kill more tourists every year than any wild animal. I can believe it, I had once one cominig down next to me during some meal.
If they fall on your head you will suffer a cracked skull. Don´t risk it.
On the beaches they try to take them down regularly, but you do better looking up before you lie down, if this really is such a safe place.
Not a danger... but sometimes truly annoying. I'm talking about the local beach boys... nearly all posing as tourist guides, veryy few being one. Generally speaking they take a polite no for an answer - but it's not always the case. Aa a rule of thumb you should look at them straight in the eyes: if they look spaced out they have been eating "miraa" - a hallucinating grass: in this case they'll be really insisting, obnoxious and annoying. If they look clean, they will not bother you at all. Some of them, actually, will be really friendly and helpful - like for instance our "friends" Nelson and Jonathan. It pays to be polite to them - they know everything and anything.
Sidenote: we found Mombasa very hassle-free - no one ever tried to sell us anything
Be very carefull when using any form of transport. The blue Metro Shuttles are ok and also the Taxi's that are ordered for you by friends that live there. When you travel by yourself or with someone in a car, keep the doors closed and Shut, so they cannot pull you out.
The Matatu's are always packed and they drive like idiots, the drivers often chew "mirra" to keep them awake, this drug is illegal in Tanzania, but not here.
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