New Year in Kenya

Friday 28th December to Friday 11th January

I am a volunteer with VSO but all entries on this blog are my personal responsibility alone and do not represent the views of VSO

These two weeks have seen me on holiday in Kenya. I hadn’t been expecting to go but when at short notice Barbara said she was coming to Africa, we set to and organised ourselves. With a combination of our own searches on the internet and the services of a very helpful travel agent we made all the bookings and on Friday 28th December Barbara flew from London and I flew from Juba, and we met at Nairobi airport on the Saturday morning.

After a tour of Nairobi itself by taxi (in the pouring rain) which included the Railway Museum and the National Museum and Snake Park we went to the Elephant Orphanage – where the baby elephants really enjoyed the rain and the red mud. Later we went through a very English sort of area to where we were staying for the first 3 nights, in a very relaxed country style hotel. It was cold! We had log fires in the bedroom and the restaurant.

The following day we went to Lake Nakuro National Park – a long journey by road but spectacular as we descended the side of the Rift Valley. The park is famous for the birds which were indeed amazing but there were also a great many animals to see, including white rhino.

The hotel was in a tea growing area and the following day we went by mutatu to a tea factory where we had a guided tour of the whole process, and bought some of the local tea.

New Year’s Eve was spent at the hotel and on the next day we flew to Mombasa- so very different – hot and humid, a real mix of cultures and history, African, Indian, Arab, Portuguese and British. We stayed in a city centre hotel and over the next few days visited the old town and markets, the old harbour with its history of slave trading and Fort Jesus. We also went out of the city to some workshops for disabled people, very impressive. As we walked in to the compound a man who was to be our guide came up and said, do we know about Oxfam – yes. Do we know about Traidcraft – yes! And do we know about VSO (they sometimes have volunteers there) – yes!! They not only make craft work they also build and sell wheelchairs.

When it was time to leave the city we got a shuttle (non-stopping) mutatu up the coast road. We got off at Gede and took a tuk-tuk to where we were staying, a field study centre right by the coast. It was lovely, quiet with basic accommodation, simple but very nice food and good fellowship. While there we went to Mida Creek, walked on a rope walkway across the mangrove forest with all the different types and went in a canoe across the creek. Magical! We also visited the Gede Ruins, once home of a thriving and successful Swahili Community.

For the last part of our stay we went by taxi back to Mombasa, across the ferry to the south coast where we stayed in very comfortable surroundings in a beach hotel. Lovely beach, swimming pool, beautiful accommodation and good food. While there we went in a glass bottomed boast across the coral reef and swam and snorkelled off a sandbank. It was very nice to have had that at the end but we were glad that it was not our only experience of the country.

The next day it was back to the airport, flying back to Nairobi and then flying off again in our very different directions. During our time we had stayed in 4 completely different areas of Kenya in 4 very different styles of accommodation and we felt we had had a wonderful time together.

Not bad for having organised it all in less than 10 days!

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