Things To Do In Kenya: Itinerary Ideas

The Ultimate Guide To Kenya

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!

 

Bicycle Boda Bodas: Not so common nowadays
On the way to Kisumu
Kisumu

Street Food!

KISUMU

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.

On the way to the Pier
These are the Water bus timings but ferries are also available.

Water bus timings from Mbita to reach Mfangano Island or other Islands

Welcome to Mfangano Island

Painted a picture
Neighbouring Island

My humble abode

Awesome Mother-Son duo

Gathering the net
Ready to go fishing

Putting the net in the lake systematically
Pulling the net

The Mfangano Island

 

MFANGANO ISLAND 

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!

 

On the way to Homa bay
Short break at Homa bay
On the way to Nakuru
NAKURU
On the way to Menangai crater

NAKURU 

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.

On the way to Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha

Wildebeest

Marabou Stork

Karagita Beach
Local Market
Dormant railway track
On the way to Mt. Longonot

Trek begins!

Reached the crater rim
That highest peak is the summit of Mt. Longonot

The difficult path
Reached the summit, finally!
7 km long stretch. Reached halfway

The ground near the entrance gate where I saw Zebras and Antelopes 

NAIVASHA 

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.

Diwali Celebrations

The cool artwork on city buses

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.

Views from the train

After 5 hrs train journey from Nairobi, I reached Mombasa

Tuk Tuk

Tamarind Juice, Anyone?


Fort Jesus Model

Skeleton of 48-foot long juvenile male humpback whale

Exterior wall of Fort Jesus

Old Town

The Famous Tea Point in Old Town

NYALI BEACH

MOMBASA BEACH

MOMBASA

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 🙂

Time to head home

My Flight back home

DIANI BEACH 

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.

My Travel Map In Kenya

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 🙂

Accommodation: I used Bookingdotcom & Couchsurfing. You can find a decent place for $10 or so per night.
Boda Bodas
Tuk Tuks
Transportation: There are three modes of road transportation in Kenya: Boda Bodas (Moto taxis), Matatus(Shared Mini Bus) and Buses. Any of the three can be used to travel within a city/town or for intercity connections. Tuk Tuks can be found in/around Mombasa. All major cities/towns have airports. There is only one train network in Kenya i.e. between Nairobi and Mombasa.
Currency:  Kenyan Shilling (KSh) is the local currency. USD is widely accepted for currency exchange. It’s best to carry USD while traveling in the country. At the time of my visit, 1 USD = 100 KSH.
Sim Card: I bought the Safaricom sim card as many local people recommended me this mobile network and it did not disappoint.
Food: Ugali and Beans are the most common local dishes. Ugali is a paste made of Maize/Millet. To be honest, it is an acquired taste. Indian food is widely available. One can easily find Chapati (Actually, it’s Paratha but local people call it Chapati) all around Kenya.
Languages: Kiswahili and English are the official languages of Kenya. Hence, the language will not be a barrier while traveling in Kenya as most people speak little or decent English.
Visa: I bought an East African visa for $100 which allowed me to travel to three countries i.e. Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya with 90 days validity and multiple entries. It can be bought/applied online and on-arrival.

 

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An Indian Traveler

Hello! My name is Saurabh. I'm a cinephile, an avid traveler with a song stuck in my head which I keep humming till ad nauseam :)

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30 Comments

  1. Great post with lovely photos. I too would like to travel to Mfangano Island for the same reasons as you – it’s not a ‘tourist’ area. I love exploring places that are authentic like this.

  2. I’ve always wanted to go to Kenya. I want to take a safari. Your photos are lovely and now this is high up on my bucket list.

  3. Wow! The nature and wildlife in Kenya is absolutely breathtaking. I’m literally looking at your pictures and am at a lost for words. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  4. You managed to travel quite a bit around Kenya, discovering a lot of off the beaten path places. I just came back from neighboring Tanzania and I’d love to go back and explore Kenya as well.

  5. Wow. You have been to so many scenic places! The crater of Mt. Longonot is massive! I hope it is already an inactive volcano. Thanks for sharing your photos of your trip. I enjoyed viewing them and reading about these wonderful places.

  6. When we visited Kenya we saw several of the same places. When we went to Mombasa, we were there during Ramadan. We visited the beach and Fort Jesus. We also visited with the Giraffes which was perfect since my husband’s family started calling me Twiga (giraffe) because I was tall.

  7. What an adventure! And such unique destinations – I was glued to your narrative, very refreshing to read about offbeat places.
    Interesting about the huge number of Indians in Kenya – I didn’t know that! Great that you got to celebrate Diwali even when you were away from home.

  8. This was not quite what I was expecting. But I love that this is not the typical african safari post. Although I would love to go there and do the safari. I love that you got really immersed with their culture and how it feels to experience it with the local vibe. Cool post!

  9. Woooow! This post makes me want to go back to Kenya! You managed to fit in sooo many fantastic sights, and met so many awesome people. Sometimes I think it is better to travel alone, as it can make you more approachable, and people are so good at opening up their homes and hearts!

    We visited a few of these places (Nairobi, Masai Mara, Mombasa and Naivasha) but you made me want to go back and see so much more!

  10. Wow! I was so mesmerised reading your journey through Kenya. I have several friends who are from Kenya and they have always invited me to make the trip to Kenya. I am definitely interested in going someday. I will eat all the paratha for sure.

  11. Your photos are so beautiful. I visited Tanzania a few years back but I would love to go over and visit Kenya. There is so much beauty in Africa.

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