Karibuni Kenya - Welcome to Kenya

My heart has been captured and everyday I dream of when I get to go back to this amazing country. The country were no one is a stranger, everyone is friendly, welcoming and warm. My Kiswahili leaves a lot to be desired but Pole-Pole (slowly in swahili) I will get there. A country with so much to offer for a wanderluster like myself, it only makes sense why I would fall in love with it.
The Nairobi Skyline
Kenya is your dream destination, from Wildlife, Coastal beach bumming, City life, nightlife, the great outdoors and even caters for the adrenaline junkie.
With a series of posts that I will be doing taking you through different parts of Kenya, I would like to introduce you to the country with some basics that you will need to be aware of for your travels to Kenya.
Elevator selfies - Ready for a night out in NairoBae.

I had written this post and it didnt save and I couldn't recover the auto saved editions so I am throughly annoyed while typing this listening to Tracy Chapman and drinking red wine.

This is your guide to Kenya...

The Country

  • Kenya is a East Africa country and Nairobi is the capital city.
  • The country is bordered by Tanzania to the South and South West, Uganda to the West, South Sudan to the North West, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the North East. To the East of Kenya, is the Indian Ocean coastal strip.
  • The country lies in the equator and over lies the East African rift.
  • Kenya is made up of 49 counties. The official languages are Kiswahili and English.
  • The majority population of Kenya is made up of Bantu subgroups, and the indigenous people of the Nile Valley who speak the Nilotic languages - These are the Maas Maasai, Samburu and the turkana tribes.
Capital City

  • The city of Nairobi is literally the city that never sleeps. Nobody sleeps around here. I don't even know how they function so well but they don't sleep. Clubs are open every single day in Nairobi, so you have no excuse not to party when in Nairobi. Dont ever think you can out party a Nairobi local. Trust me, they invented partying and they do it so well and they so ratchet at how they do it you can't help but fall in love with the city. 
  • Nairobi is also known as "NairoBae" - because it is the city that is most Bae.
  • On Mondays most establishments are closed to do some stocktaking touch up the venue after all the weekend ratchetness. The place will then open at after 6pm. 
  • Nairobi is also home to Kibera, Africa's 2nd largest Township after Soweto.
  • Nairobi is the 14th largest city in Africa. 
  • Nairobi is the capial city and Economic hub of Kenya. This is most likely where your stay in Kenya will begin.  Nairobi is a metropolitan city made up of skyscrapper buildings, flashy lights, insane traffic and over 5 million residents that call this city home. Karibu sana.

  • Getting Around
    • Getting around Nairobi is very easy. The public transport that is currently available is Matatus (shared mini-buses), boda-boda (motorbikes), taxi cabs, tuk-tuks and with the recent introduction of Uber, you have UberX.
    • From the airport, you have the exclusive yellow taxis that cater to airport travelers taking you into the different parts of Nairobi. These are meter taxis, make sure the driver starts the meter or you might find yourself arriving at your destination and negotiang a rate cos some drivers wont always run the metre and will hike the real fee cos its assumed all travelers have money.
    • Bear in mind traffic in this place is a nightmare. Like you don't want to dare drive on these roads. 
    • Uber was easy, or so I thought cos i am used to uber back at home in Johannesburg. Kenya only has UberX. There is no Uber Black or UberVan.
    • The boda-bodas scare me senseless as I have seen them manouvre through insane Nairobi  traffic and I would not advise anyone to use them. they are a lot cheaper and I have used it before for the sake of experience but would never do that again. Also, if you would like to use a boda-boda, please request a helmet from your driver.
      A boda-boda "station".
    • The matatus are a lot slower as they have to wait for the matatu to fill up before they move. These you will find at every corner.  Then you have the tuk-tuks. This is a lot slower. If you wanna see the city of Nairobi slowly, this has to be the mode of transport you hire for the day.
    • Respect is what builds the communities in Kenya. as you enter you will be welcomed "Karibu" and you need to accept the welcome "Asante sana". then proceed to greet. you dont necessarily need to know Kiswahili but learn kidogo-kidogo before you visit so you can impress the locals with how terrible you are. 
    • Kiswahili is the national language of Kenya and English is the business and school language so almost everyone speaks English. Even when you go out to the villages, there will aalways be an elder that receives you that can speak english.

    Staying Connected
    • Safaricom has been the cellphone provider I use when in Kenya. It's fanastic cos I stay connected even when I travel out of the city and go out to really remote areas, I stay connected and my internet still works. Don’t expect 3G connection in remote areas though, be reasonable. Also, 4G was also recently introduced to Kenya. Yes, it is a available on Safaricom.
    • Safaricom also comes with M-Pesa. You will have to register for M-Pesa for your number. This is a great way to not carry cash while in Kenya. This is the only country where you don't have to carry cash except if you are driving and need to pay for your parking at the local mall. You can use M-Pesa to pay for your Uber (choose the cash option and your driver will share his M-Pesa number for you to pay into), you can pay for your meal as every establishment has a M-Pesa number, pay for your souvenirs while bundu bashing in the middle of nowhere, if you can think it, you can pay for it with M-Pesa.
    • Your VISA and Mastercards will work, but only in certain places and that limits you to only upmarket establishments and even then you need to have a minimum spend in order to swipe. 
    • The Kenyan shilling is currently at 100ksh to US$1.
      Samburu ladies in a Samburu village.
    Dress Code
    • Although a metropolitan city, Kenyans are still a very conservative society. How you dress in the city is not really an issue but you also dont want to attract unwanted attention to yourself. There will always be uncouth characters in any place in the world, keep that in mind. Try have your bottoms reach as close as possible to your knees just to be safe. Don’t try to show your cleavege too much, no one will really frown over you wearing a vest. 
    • Gents, there arent really any guidelines for you. Should you want to wear your bum shorts on a night out, feel free. That's mostly what you will see out in the clubs anyways.
    • Coastal parts of Kenya are a lot more conservative. This is where you find the mixture of the real Swahili and Arab cultures. In these places you will need to dress appropritely as those are muslim areas. Check with your resort if going out in your bikini on the beach is appropriate first. Just be respectful when it comes to peoples cultures and religion when traveling. That's the best way to be accepted and have them open themselves up to you.
    Drink Local
    • When it comes to drinking my standard is simple: Drink local. I am also a terrible person to advise for this. My stomach has traveled through some really tricky parts of the world with really questionable hygiene and always comes out unscathed. I drink the local tap water while in Nairobi and it has never given me an issue, however I stick to bottled water anywhere out of Nairobi.
    • At the bar, drink Tusker - this is what I drink. There is also the option to drink White Cap, rated by Ratebeer as possibly the worst beer in Kenya. Kenya doesnt have that many beers. this beer is terrible even by my standards.
    • South African wines are available at upmarket establishments, most places including clubs you will be served boxed wine or four cousins. My heart breaks everytime I am offered that. They will have some wines from europe - those are just horrible. I mean why even?!?!
    • As for your trusted spirits, any brand you can think of you will find. that's an easy find.
    Gay Travel
    Kenya is a gay friendly destination. Although homosexuality is not constitutionally legal, it is also not illegal. No one will bother you about being gay. Really, nobody cares.

    Dating in Kenya
    Ladies and some gents, Kenyan men are tall, dark and delicious to look at. From my experience, they don't disappoint. Just don't depend on tinder on Grindr. My tinder experince left a lot to be desired while my friends Grindr hustle was not so exciting either.
    you will swipe, you will connect and they are extra slow. Rather meet them in real life or ask someone to hook you up on a date - thats what i do. Good luck, have fun and be safe.

    Toilets or bathrooms in Kenya are called washrooms, learn this very fast so you can get assistance faster when you need the bathroom.

    What to Eat
    • Kenyans love their food. They have their local cuisine like chapati, Ugali (pap), skumawiki (greens), nyama choma (braai meat). But they are a nation of true foodies. These guys appreciate good food and they do go out to try out different cuisines. There are plenty of restaurants that can cater for your needs. From Ethiopian, west African, mediterenean, italian etc.

    Travel Documents
    • If you are traveling on a South African passport, you don't need a visa for kenya if your stay will be less than 4 weeks. If you stay longer than 4 weeks, you will have to go pay US$50 to have your visa extended.
    • You need a yellow fever certificate when traveling to Kenya. Get it done at least 2 weeks before travel to avoid being annoyed by the guys at O.R Tambo. Should you not have the certificate, you are allowed to travel but you have to sign a document that states that you will be responsible for medical fees should you come back with anything. The folk at O.R Tambo will not tell you this because they are useless most of the time and they are power hungry for a power they will never possess. So just get the certificate from your travel doctor and just take it with you everywhere you go for the next 10 years. Yes, its valid for that long.
    Nairobi is actually not a hot city, temparature wise, but just play it safe and always put on your sun screen when you get out the house. Everywhere else, layer that sun screen and be unapologetic about it.

    Now that we have the basic out of the way, next I will share with you on destinations and things to do in Kenya.