I took my first international trip to Kenya at the end of March. I was there to visit the young girl I mentor while she was studying abroad.
We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya at about 6am it took us two hours to get to the hotel. We stayed at Tribe.
We relaxed at the hotel most of the day and then ventured over to the mall next door to our hotel, The Village Market, for dinner. It was a typical mall with shops and restaurants. We ate at an Italian place called Osteria.
We really got into adventure mode on the third day. I booked a package through a tour company that took us to three locations:
The Elephant Orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The elephant orphanage allows visitors for an hour a day to watch handlers feed baby elephants. They play in the mud and you are warned that they may splash it on you if you stand close enough. Of course I stood close enough because I wanted to touch them, which is allowed if they come near you. You are separated from them by a rope. They give a presentation explaining how the elephants ended up at the orphanage. Many of their parents were killed by poachers. The elephants spent around 10 years in the orphanage before they are released back into the wild.
The Giraffe Center
Then, it was onto the giraffes. The giraffe center is a really cool place to interact with giraffes because they are so close. I was able to feed them and of course pose for photos.
Kazuri Bead Factory
The Kazuri bead factory employs single mothers. They hand make beads and pottery. We were taken on a quick (maybe 10 minute tour) to see the ladies at work and find out more about their creative process. It was so impressive. Every bead and piece of pottery they make looks the same even though they are hand making them without any molds. I took home a beautiful necklace and some animals made from clay.
We took a Kenya Airways flight to Mombasa, which lies right on the Indian ocean. It was only an hour away and we stayed at an epic beach resort with three pools. We played in the ocean for a bit and took a camel ride on the beach. It lasted about 15 minutes and was $30 USD. I’m sure it’s cheesy and touristy like riding a horse and carriage in the French Quarter but I didn’t care. The sweet camel was named Suzuki and she was adorable.
We checked out of our Mombasa resort at around 11am. Our flight back to Nairobi was for 6pm so we had time to explore. We took a quick tour of Mombasa. We checked out Fort Jesus and got a little history lesson. The Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 1500s to protect the port of Mombasa. We also took a walk through Old Town, soaking up some culture as a tour guide told us about the original Mombasa city. Then, we headed back to Nairobi. For more on our tour of Mombasa, click here.
We woke up at 5am for a safari at Nairobi National park. Then, we headed over to the safari walk which is basically a zoo. Ignorant American alert: I didn't know there were caged animals in Africa. Most of them were orphans and being protected. Check out all of our Safari pics here. We wrapped up the day with lunch at Carnivore restaurant.
We wanted some cool stuff to take home, so we spent a good two hours bargaining at the Maasai Market. It's an open air market where vendors sell their handmade goods. The sellers are very aggressive and followed us around shoving things at us to buy. The bargaining process was intense. We ended up in the mall later in the day and found some of the same items they were trying to sell us for $60 USD for only $10. We ended up with some good deals, but if we would have fallen for their initial prices, it would have been a huge rip off. That afternoon, my mentee took us to visit the United States International University campus (USIU) where she was studying abroad.