KENYA was the last country I visited during my solo trip to East Africa after Rwanda and Uganda. I catch an early morning bus from Kampala (The capital city of Uganda) to reach Kisumu City in Kenya. It was approx. 7 hours long journey. We stopped for immigration at Busia border. Since I already bought the East Africa Visa at Rwanda, my immigration check was quick and smooth. Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate is mandatory to enter Kenya. The first thing I noticed after entering Kenya was the Bicycle Boda Bodas. Environment-friendly and looks cool!
Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya. The strange thing that happened in Kisumu was most people were speaking with me in the local language i.e. Kiswahili since they thought I am a local. Well, the reason behind the same is the substantial population of Indian Kenyans living in Kisumu. Towards the end of the 19th century, the British send many people from India to work on railroads in East Africa and they subsequently settled there. I did take some advantage of this fact by usually nodding at people while taking transportation to avoid being overcharged hahah. I saw many Maasai people in Kisumu selling Footwear. I did not explore Kisumu. I just spend a night at Kisumu before heading to Mfangano Island. Points of interest in/around Kisumu are Ndere Island National Park, Kit Mikayi, Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Kisumu museum, hippo point etc.
To reach Mfangano Island, I took a Matatu(shared taxi) to reach Luanda K’Otieno Pier. From here I took a ferry to reach Mbita and from Mbita I took a water bus to reach Mfangano Island. It took me 4-5 hours to reach Mfangano Island. Mfangano Island is home to Suba people and lies in Lake Victoria. Being an island, fishing is the main livelihood of the locals. It is not much of a touristic place and that was the reason why I choose to visit the island. An old woman named Grace hosted me at her place. She is humble, caring and just awesome. She refuses to call me by my name and call me “son” instead during my stay. She was really as selfless as a mother. I also met her son who lives in a city and visits her mother whenever he gets time. He is an ambitious guy with a burning desire to do something better for his community and is working towards the same. I cooked a “Ready To Eat” Indian meal for him and he absolutely loved it. So much so he starts calling his friends to let them know about it. Meeting him and his mother was an inspirational and learning experience. Lake Victoria is the lifeline of locals. People bath in Lake Victoria. Wash clothes/utensils in Lake Victoria. Do fishing in Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is everything for them! It is a big island with an area of 65 sq km. One day, I went with a group of fishermen to see them fishing. It is a long process with a lot of hard work. Firstly, they go deep into the lake by boat while putting the fishing net into the water simultaneously. The fishing net is long. I mean really long. After putting the fishing net in the water, they and many other fishermen/women pull the net out of the water. It takes a long time and a lot of strength to pull the whole net out of the water while separating the fish that are caught in the fishing net. Fish is oxygen for the locals. As per the locals, one can see Hippos at night or early morning at the shores of Lake Victoria. Since Hippos are hostile, local people avoid going near the Lake at the time. I saw many beautiful sunsets at Mfangano Island but the last one I saw made me sad. I had a great time at Mfangano Island and would have loved to spend more time knowing the amazing people of Mfangano island but since I already booked my return ticket back home and still the whole Kenya was remaining to explore!
My next stop was Nakuru. From Mfangano Island I took a water bus to reach Mbita. From Mbita, I reached Homa bay. From Homa bay, I took a Matatu to reach Nakuru. It was approx. 7 hrs journey in total. Next morning, I went to explore Menengai crater. It is the largest volcano caldera in Kenya and the second largest volcano caldera in Africa. The view is mesmerising and I strongly recommend to visit this place when in Nakuru. My plan was to visit Lake Nakuru National Park where one can see the Pink Flamingos but due to budget constraint, I skipped it. There are around 60 National Parks/Reserves in Kenya. The highest in any country. It is heaven for Wildlife lovers but the entry fees for foreigners is quite expensive. It is approx. 10 times more than what Kenyan citizens have to pay! Someone told me one can see Pink Flamingos at Lake Elmenteita also. Lake Elmenteita is on the way to Naivasha which was my next stop.
Naivasha is approx. 70 km from Nakuru. Do not skip Naivasha at any cost. The reason behind is the Mount Longonot National Park, Hell’s Gate National Park and Lake Naivasha. Naivasha was quite special for me not just because of the attractions but I stayed with an awesome couple and their little princess via Couchsurfing. They are amazing people. People with little resources but a big heart. I had a fulfilling experience. Hell’s Gate National Park is one of the cheapest options to see wild animals in their natural habitat in Kenya. The entry fee is $26 for foreigners. One can hire a bicycle and explore the park by themselves. I chose not to visit the Hell’s Gate National Park since gorge was closed at that time. I trekked to Mount Longonot’s summit and it was an exhilarating experience. Mt Longonot is a composite volcano which was last erupted in the 19th Century. Its crate rim is 3 km from the Park’s entrance gate and the loop encircling the crater is 7 km long. The whole trek can be done in less than 4 hours. I would rate this trek as a medium in terms of difficulty. It takes around an hour to reach the Crater rim from the entrance. The path is steep to reach the crater rim. From the rim, we need to encircle the crater. It is the most fun part of the trek. This path is a mix between steep and plain. The path is plainer after crossing the summit of Mt Longonot. The view from the summit is extraordinary. After crossing the summit, I mostly ran to complete the rest of the distance. Running on the top of the crater did give me an adrenaline rush. I saw zebras, Antelopes and a Giraffe during the trek. While ascending, I encountered a zebra. It was my first time seeing a zebra in its natural habitat. It was an exciting moment. He ran after seeing me. Shortly after, I saw a Giraffe in the bushes. While descending, I saw many antelopes and zebras gathered on the big ground near the entrance gate. Also, I saw evidence of the presence of African Buffalo in the form of its poop on the Crater. My host took me to Lake Naivasha where I saw Wildebeests and Antelopes. It is a nice place to relax while looking at the beautiful Lake Naivasha and the lovely ducks. As per my host, foreigners need to pay to come here. Maybe they thought we are locals, we were not asked to pay anything! Afterwards, we went to the nearby Karagita beach. It is a public beach. There we saw the Marabou stork. It is a massive bird and known for having the largest wingspread of any living bird. I was bit taken aback when I first saw the bird as it was freely roaming near the beach shacks. It looks very old and wise. My next destination was Nairobi which is two hours away from Naivasha.
NAIROBI & MASAI MARA
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and one of the biggest cities in Africa. I was in NAIROBI during Diwali Festival and visited a couple of temples in Nairobi on the night of Diwali. Indian community in Nairobi is big and they celebrate Diwali with great delight. I saw them bursting firecrackers near temples. Witnessing Diwali celebrations in a foreign land was definitely an amazing and memorable experience. Diwali/Deepavali is one of the biggest festivals in India. I took my hosts with me to temples as they never been to a Hindu temple before. They really enjoyed their visit. On the next day, I mostly explored the city on foot. One of my favourite things to do while traveling is to wander aimlessly and that’s exactly what I did in Nairobi. One of the things that really caught my eye in Nairobi is the local buses. Every bus is painted with different graffiti. It looks really cool and gives the city a funky touch. I did the Masai Mara safari with the help of my hosts. It was quite easily one of the best experiences of my solo trip to East Africa. It is something that should not be missed! I wrote in detail about my Masai Mara experience and how to do it on a low budget. You can read it here. Points of interest in/around Nairobi are Nairobi National Park, Nairobi Giraffe Centre, Nairobi Elephant Orphanage, Uhuru Park, Nairobi Museum.
After Nairobi, I traveled to Mombasa. The second-largest city in Kenya. I took a train from Nairobi to Mombasa. It is 5 hrs long ride. I love train travel and was craving for one during my East African trip since there are no railroads in Uganda and Rwanda. The train passes through Nairobi National Park and Tsavo National Park. I saw some wild animals while passing through these parks. I highly recommend you to take a train while commuting between Nairobi and Mombasa instead of flight or bus. Mombasa is a coastal city along the Indian Ocean. I visited Fort Jesus in Mombasa. It is a fort built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and was captured and recaptured many times during its history. Even if you are not into history, I would totally recommend visiting the fort, just for the views! I explored the nearby Old town. It has a charm of its own. Mombasa is all about beaches! Nyali beach to Mombasa beach. There is a Mombasa Marine National Park where you can see Coral reefs. Mombasa is “Goa” of Kenya. Everything is “pole pole” here. Meaning “slowly slowly”. It is a great place to relax and rejuvenate or party and get high. Your pick 🙂
Diani beach is 30 km from Mombasa. To get here, I first reach the Likoni ferry terminal in Mombasa. From here, I took a ferry to reach on the other side. From there, I catch a bus to reach Diani beach. The ferry runs 24*7 and it is free of charge. I would rate Diane beach way higher than Nyali and Mombasa beach. If Mombasa is “Goa” of Kenya, then Diani beach is “Gokarna” of Kenya. Relatively less crowded and cleaner water. There are many water sports options available here. I bath (more like relaxing) in the Indian Ocean for 2 hrs. Really therapeutic. It was the last activity of my East African trip before I took the flight back home with memories to last my whole life.
GUIDE TO KENYA
I spend approx. 3 weeks in Kenya. Kenya is the big daddy of East Africa. It is expensive than Uganda but cheaper than Rwanda. What makes my trip to Kenya really memorable was the Kenyan people and their amazing hospitality. Other places of interests in Kenya are Well, there are around 60 national parks/reserves in Kenya. So, Take your picks 🙂