‘Jambo’ from Kenya
Although our Grantourismo team left Kenya slightly conflicted about the experience, overall they were captivated by the country’s natural beauty, the magic of safari and seeing the ‘The Big Five’, and the warmth of the people, who greet you with a cheery ‘Jambo!’ (Swahili for ‘hello’) wherever you go. At the end of their trip they concluded they would love to return one day, although not for the beach or even the safaris, but to do some volunteer work. Read on to find out more… Read all Lara and Terry's posts on their trip to Kenya
Down at Diani Beach
On arrival at Diani Beach
, Lara and Terry quickly discovered the dazzling white sands and clear turquoise waters that appeal to travellers from all over the world looking to top or tail their safari with a relaxing beach break. The beauty of the beach is undeniable, but they were less keen on the ever-present ‘beach boys’ hawking their wares. Travellers who like haggling and enjoy the banter with locals may find this fun, but it can be difficult to just have a quiet, romantic walk down the beach. The best thing is to politely say ‘Asante (thank you
), but no’, and move on, or focus your beach-time on water sports and excursions, of which there are plenty.
Other faces they saw lots of and came to love in Diani were those of the black and white Colobus monkeys, who can often be seen jumping around the treetops of the cottage and hotel complexes. Regular readers of the blog will know Lara and Terry are pretty fond of monkeys, having had close encounters of the primate kind in both Bali and Costa Rica earlier on their trip. So they were happy to discover the Colobus Trust
, whose role it is to protect the local forest, the monkey’s natural habitat, to rescue monkeys and to conduct research and education to ensure that the primate population in Diani is not further damaged by tourism.
Another advantage of a stay in Diani is that it is a short drive from the historic port city of Mombasa
, and after driving through it several times on the way to and from the airport and safari, Lara and Terry were eager to have a look around. After passing through the lively but rather ramshackle villages that line the road from Diani to Mombasa, driver Paul just had time to give them a quick whistle-stop tour before they departed for Istanbul the next day. They left the coast slightly conflicted about their stay, but keen, however, to return and volunteer at the Colobus Trust
– Lara and Terry’s ‘Home away from home’
in Kenya was one of the cottages at Shambani on Diani Beach, a collection of open, thatched-roof cottages and villas set in pleasant exotic gardens, one road back from the beach. For a relaxing stay, Shambani provides guests the option of hiring a cook, who will take care of all shopping and prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, including fresh seafood and home-baked bread and cakes. They can also organise a variety of excursions.
The property is available to rent on HomeAway.co.uk (Property 8083). Read Lara and Terry's full review of the property in Kenya
Close encounters on safari
The Masai Mara
A highlight of any trip to Kenya is of course, a safari, and our intrepid Grantourismo writers managed to squeeze in not just one, but two of the largest parks on their trip! The first and furthest stop was the Sarova Mara Game Camp
in the famous Masai Mara, reached via a short flight from the Ukunda airstrip. A massive park covering 1,510 square kilometres in south-western Kenya, the Masai Mara is essentially an extension of the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania. While they were too late to witness the ‘Great Migration’, they very quickly saw three of the ‘Big Five’…. and that was just on the way to their first safari lodge from the airstrip! Read about all Lara and Terry’s adventures in the Masai Mara
Their second stop, the furthest of the two ‘Tsavo’ parks from Diani, was Tsavo West, where they stayed at the Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge
in the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, a place which proved to be one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences, although they don’t like that term! Due to its clever design – a row of round two-storey towers on stilts, connected by suspended walkways, Sarova Salt Lick offers unparalleled wildlife spotting opportunities no matter where you are… which they found can actually make it hard to drag yourself away for the game drives! Read all posts on Lara and Terry’s stay in Sarova Salt Lick, Tsavo West
* Thanks to Sarova Hotels and Africa Safari Holidays for organising this part of the trip. Contact Africa Safari Holidays on +254 (20) 252 6489 or visit www.africasafariholidays.net to organise custom safari tours.*
Giving something back
Despite the natural beauty of Kenya, it is hard to overlook the poverty that is evident all around, and the living conditions that starkly contrast to our own. But, as our Grantourismo pair found, there are many things you can do to help contribute to and support the local communities and environment.
Tourism is a huge contributor to the economy, but there is also much more you can, and will likely want to do beyond the beach and safaris. From visiting local villages
, volunteering at organisations like the Colobus Trust
and local children’s’ homes
, to planting trees to help conserve local habitats
, there is plenty you can do to give something back while you are there .
Find out what you can do to support local projects and communities in Kenya
Next stop Turkey ... stay tuned!
HomeAway.co.uk lists around 60 properties in Kenya, from basic beach huts to large luxury villas with pools. View all properties in Kenya