mombasa

KENYA: THE FOOD

Overall, the food during our trip to Kenya was mediocre.  We are from New Orleans, so we have a high standard when it comes to good food, but this didn't even come close to reaching that bar.  First off, everyone in Kenya kept telling us that none of the local Kenyan food was worth trying.  Many of the places we went to served American food anyway.

OSTERIA

Osteria was an Italian restaurant that was in the mall we were staying right next door to.  The food was just ok.  We tried fish, pizza, and bruschetta, but nothing had much flavor.  It was weird looking at the prices on the menu and the receipt, but 1,450 shillings was just $14.50 in American money.

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ARTCAFFE

I'm ashamed to admit that we ending up going back to that mall next to our hotel to eat several times.  Artcaffe had a beautiful balcony and offered a variety of food options.

KENYA TEA

The food was nothing to rave about, but Kenya tea is amazing. I was drinking 3 or 4 cups a day by the end of the trip- black with honey.  I am a tea lover and this is now officially one of my favorites.

CHICKEN BIRYANI

One of the best meals I had in Kenya was in Mombasa. It's a dish called biryani with meat and rice with seasonings that make it different colors. I loved it.

HABESHA

My mentee was in love with Ethiopian food by the time I arrived in Kenya, so we went out one night for some at a place called Habesha.  It wasn't bad, but I also did not love it as much as she did.  I just love experimenting with new foods.  I did order some chicken though, just to make sure I'd have something to eat.

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CARNIVORE RESTAURANT

Meat!!

Meat!!

This place came up on several travel websites I looked at before we got to Kenya.  When I booked our Safari, there was an option to book it as a package deal with lunch included at Carnivore and since I had been reading good things about it we went.  True to it's name, there is a pit of meat when you walk in the door.  There is a card on your table and they keep bringing you meat until you flip.  There's normal stuff like beef and lamb and then the wildcards- ostrich meatballs and bull testicles! I tried both. Ostrich meatballs- nothing to rave about. The testicles tasted like I would have expected testicles to taste. I couldn't even get it down.  The creme brulee for dessert made up for the testicle.

TRIBE HOTEL SUSHI

Here's a surprise- I had some of the best sushi of my life in Kenya! Our hotel, Tribe, had an impressive sushi menu. It was delicious!

KENYA: THINGS TO KNOW

SURPRISINGLY COOL WEATHER

We visited Kenya (Nairobi & Mombasa) at the end of March. I glanced at the forecast and saw 80s and figured it would be hot for most of our trip.  In the mornings and at night, it was in the 60s and we didn't bring much clothing with sleeves or jackets...big mistake.

TRAFFIC IS INSANE

We arrived in Nairobi at 6am on a Monday morning.  We did not reach the hotel until 8:30am even though it was only 20 minutes away.  Turns out, traffic was like that at all times of the day and night. 

DOWNTOWN NAIROBI 

Traffic was really bad in downtown Nairobi. I had read that this was the case ahead of time, which is why I booked us a hotel about 20 minutes north of downtown.  And when we got there, I was glad we had not stayed downtown. It was super busy and packed.


TRANSPORTATION REQUIRES PLANNING

There was Uber in Kenya, BUT the WI-Fi was not reliable at all.  One night we used it to get to a restaurant but had trouble connecting to Wi-Fi to get a ride back.  I tried to arrange transportation ahead of time to make things easier. Our hotel did have a few drivers, but they were expensive and not always available.   Luckily, we ended up meeting a man through a tour we took who offered to drive us around for the rest of our trip at very reasonable prices.

FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

There are animals everywhere in Kenya. We passed cows and goats along the road.  There's also a lot of animal conservation efforts in Nairobi. We visited a giraffe center and an elephant orphanage.  We also took a safari.  And in Mombasa, we rode a camel.  A great portion of our activities in Kenya were focused on animals.

TONS OF SECURITY CHECKS

To get in our hotel, the car we were in would be searched. And then we had to go through a metal detector and open our bags each time we entered.  The same thing happened when we went to the mall.  There was even a point as we drove up to the airport where all the passengers had to get out of the car, go through a security check, and then get back in.

ENGLISH IS EVERYWHERE

Kenya has two official languages- English & Swahili.  English is very prevalent.  The newspapers, restaurant menus...really everything was in English.  The currency is shillings, but many times people would give us the price in US dollars (they could probably tell we were Americans).

FLIGHT FROM NEW ORLEANS

There were no direct flights from New Orleans to Nairobi.  We flew to Atlanta, then Amsterdam (about 8 hours), and then to Nairobi (about another 8 hours).

KENYA: DAY TRIP TO MOMBASA

I traveled to Kenya to visit a friend in Nairobi, but I decided to take a day trip to Mombasa.  Mombasa is only a one hour flight away from Nairobi. I was able to find a round trip flight with Kenya Airways for just $100. Mombasa is a city in Kenya that lies on the Indian Ocean.

BEACH RESORT ON THE INDIAN OCEAN

We stayed at the Voyager Beach Resort which was literally steps away from the Indian Ocean. It was massive with three pools and several different options for food.  I made sure to wake up to enjoy sunrise on our balcony.  

CAMEL RIDE ON RIDE ON THE BEACH

One of the first things I saw when we got to the beach resort was a camel resting on the beach! We went down for a ride.  It was only $30 USD for one of the most beautiful views i have ever experienced.  EPIC!

 

FORT JESUS MUSEUM

We took a quick tour of Fort Jesus and learned some very interesting history about Mombasa. Fort Jesus was built by the Portuguese between 1593-1596.  It is a reminder of the first successful attempt by a Western power to establish influence over the Indian Ocean trade.  It was captured and recaptured at least nine times between 1631, when the Portuguese lost it to the Sultan of Mombasa, and 1895 when the British took over and it was converted into a prison.  It is a beautiful structure architecturally and provides some gorgeous views of Mombasa.

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View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

View of Mombasa from inside Fort Jesus

OLD TOWN

Old Town is the first settled area in Mombasa.  Walking through its narrow streets, definitely feels like a blast to the past.  It has African, Arabic and European influences from the various groups that lived there.  

Walking through Mombasa's Old Town

Walking through Mombasa's Old Town

Walking through Mombasa's Old Town

Walking through Mombasa's Old Town

Shark meat drying out with salt at the Mombasa port. Our tour guide ate a raw piece as we passed by.   

Shark meat drying out with salt at the Mombasa port. Our tour guide ate a raw piece as we passed by.

 

Having lunch in Mombasa 

Having lunch in Mombasa 

 

MOMBASA TUSKS

I didn't understand the significance of the tusks, but our driver told us they were a huge tourist attraction and insisted we jump out for a picture.  They sit on Moi Avenue, which is the main street in Mombasa.  I later read that the tusks were put up to commemorate Princess Margaret's (Queen Elizabeth's daughter) visit to Mombasa in 1956.