If you’re looking for a breathtaking destination that seamlessly blends culture, adventure, and relaxation, Kenya is the place to be. I recently had the privilege of exploring both Nairobi and Mombasa, and I have to say, they truly exceeded my expectations. From discovering the vibrant city life of Nairobi to lounging on the pristine beaches of Mombasa, my trip was nothing short of unforgettable. In this blog post, I’ll dive into all the details of my journey, including the best places to visit, things to do, and of course, plenty of photos to inspire your own Kenyan adventure. So sit back, relax, and pick up some travel inspo as I share the adventure of Tia Takes Nairobi.
I’ve always felt such a strong connection to Africa. I felt I was missing something when I studied the geography of the continent. When I researched the history of my ancestors and compared work ethics & community ties there was a ball of emotions I knew I wanted to explore. But I felt the closest doing my favorite….watching The Lion King lol. I always knew, when traveling was a wish factor, that I wanted to see the Motherland and become immersed in the culture. I feel for the most part I have succeeded at doing so during previous trips to Africa.
First, my trip to Egypt was actually not as grand as I had wanted my first trip to the Motherland to be. This mainly lay in the fact that a lot of the natives don’t want to claim Africa as their continent. That put a damper on the trip simply because, I wanted my first trip to Africa, no matter what country, to be filled with welcoming natives greeting me with kind words from one brother/sister to another. Although that part was a wake-up call and a little bit of a downer I enjoyed the land of pyramids. My second visit to Zanzibar, Tanzania was amazing!! I met many of my brothers and sisters who welcomed me with open arms and helped me become more knowledgeable about my history and the history of the country. So, I planned this trip after my boyfriend told me that he had never visited Africa. I knew that that had to change IMMEDIATELY, so with spring break on the horizon I set plans in motion to head to Kenya.
We booked our flight using one of my favorite apps/websites Secret Flying. There was a flight deal from Dubai to Nairobi for $150USD. We had a layover in Addis Ababa Ethiopia making the flight about 7 hours. The airport was small in Ethiopia so the time went by fast since the airport provided WIFI. Where would we be without it, right? Our next leg flew us straight into Nairobi where the airport was also small but took us over an hour to get through because of immigration and visa processing. FYI, you do NOT have to have a visa prior to landing in Nairobi but you must pay for one once you reach customs. Visa cost is $50 USD and is valid for a single entry trip so you will need to apply again if you leave the country and return again.
I usually rely on friend referrals or Tripadvisor & Viator for my transportation needs. A lot of travelers that I have met or read their blogs like to budget and use public transpo. I am a junkie for saving a coin, and I actually love public transportation, it makes me feel like less of a tourist BUT I do know that there are people in transportation that can spot a foreigner and plot to scam. NO MAM! You won’t scam me! NOT TODAY!! So, as I stated above I like to arrange transportation prior to landing…at least to start off. So on this trip, I got a contact from one of my sorority sisters. Henry, our driver, turned out to be one of the best drivers I have had on any trip to date (and I generally don’t have bad drivers). I contacted Henry by Whatsapp to give him my ideal itenirary and explain exactly what I wanted to do. He customized my whole trip (which was only 2 days) in Nairobi to fit everything that I wanted to do. He was very personable, professional and just a great guy all around. Henry charges $50 a day for driving…He will take you anywhere you desire for tours and sightseeing. He charges $100 a day for trips that journey far outside of the city. His car fits 4 people with small luggage. His services were totally worth the money, one, because as I researched many private drivers, they charged an arm and a leg for transporting inside the city and do not give you a personal feel. And two, Henry was just amazing. I couldn’t have hoped for a more helpful guide.
If you are ever in Nairobi PLLLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact my guy Henry. You can reach him by WhatsApp at +254 721 536881 Tell him Tia and Travis sent you.
We decided to stay in the Westlands at the Lotos Inn & Suites. Now, this is about a 40min drive from the airport but we weren’t necessarily looking at the distance. We more so wanted a hotel that had the following criteria:
1) Breakfast Included
-We love hotels that offer breakfast because it takes from the money you have to spend looking for restaurants and it’s convenient to have breakfast a few floors up or down. SAVINGS all around!
2) The hotel was in or near a local neighborhood
-We don’t mind hitting the pavement and walking around to meet new people or see sites that aren’t necessarily on the tourist list. It’s nice to be around schools and churches so that you can visit if they allow. Local neighborhoods are also nice for trying local cuisine and visiting bars or clubs if you like that type of thing and want to get away from the tourist areas and interact with locals.
3) It had a fridge & microwave
-This is important if you are trying to save money as a fridge keeps food fresh and a microwave obviously allows you to reheat food, if you like that type of thing…and I like that type of thing LOL. my mama raised us on leftovers so I don’t mind it. I’ve stayed in places where I had a meal and couldn’t finish a good portion of it but I was forced to throw it out because the hotel didn’t have a fridge in the room or even a community fridge that I could store my food in and sometimes if they did have a fridge there was no microwave, so I try to book lodging with both if I can. Because we weren’t in the heart of Nairobi we didn’t pay an expensive rate for our hotel. And I highly recommend it if you are staying in Nairobi.
Their rooftop restaurant is amazing, the views in the morning are so refreshing and they also have happy hour at their bar. We only ate breakfast here but it was really good so I can only assume that the restaurant doesn’t disappoint throughout the day.
Uber is available in Nairobi and if you need to go in town it doesn’t cost much. We did a round trip about 12 KM both ways and it cost us 6USD…Where they do that at!!??
We snagged our room for $85 for two nights! BTW this is a Genius price on booking.com because I am a frequent booking member. If you aren’t a Genius member tyou can get $25 dollars by using my booking code Book with this code for discounts. Just a side note, I love booking as they have given me some of the lowest prices on rooms to date for hotels. I also use Airbnb and you can use my code to book and recieve a $40 travel credit Click here for AirBNB savings
Our first day we landed at about 1 pm, but due to customs, we didn’t reach our driver until about 2:30 pm. We met with Henry and headed to Fourteen Falls. Fourteen Falls is a waterfall created by the eruption of Mt. Killambongo. We spent more time than intended but it was worth it!
When you arrive, there is security that charges based on your age and nationality. If you roll with Henry, he will get you through with no problem or upcharge. If you go with another guide, pray that he has your back lol. After security, you can get out and view at your leisure but there are men surrounding the rock who will offer to take pictures and show you nice vantage points. BE WARNED these guides are awesome BUT they will take you all around the waterfall…capture pictures, give you information and have you all caught up in the moment but they won’t tell you that they are charging you for what they call the “Adventure”. They tried to charge us 8,000 KHS(80USD) for the adventure!! Tia don’t play that!! We kindly told them that we would give them 2,000 Shillings(20USD) as we didn’t ask for an adventure and every time we told them that we wanted to go back to the car they pointed us in a direction saying “This is how you get out,” but were really taking us further down the waterfall. Now I’m not saying don’t spend the money to pay the people but what I am saying is negotiate beforehand because the experience was beautiful and had we had known we had more time and that we could’ve packaged the experience we would’ve taken advantage of everything and been more than willing to pay an agreed upon price. Something you will learn about me as you follow my journey is that I don’t play that whole “Tell me a price after my service” bit. Tell me upfront so I can make my own decision. Nevertheless we enjoyed the waterfall and suggest that if you have the time to go and experience it for yourself.
I’m a type of traveler that appreciates authentic experiences that mean something to me. So, although everyone suggested safari’s and overnight stays at the Masai Mara camp and other tours.
- I didn’t have the time that I would have liked to spend doing an overnight safari (We only stayed two days)
- Those tours are EXPEEENNSIVE. Now don’t get me wrong from my understanding the safaris are something you should experience in your lifetime BUT the way my life is set up right now…I’ll have to experience it on the next go round God willing
Anywho, for the reasons stated above I started to look into other life experiences that I could do while in Kenya and honest to goodness I have no idea how visiting the equator even became apart of my search. I just know one day I saw the equator ran through Kenya and the next thing I knew I was obsessing over how I could get there and the dopeness of what getting there meant. Like think about it. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in TWO places at the same time!?
- I actually have been in two places at the same time. There is an amusement park where I am from, ‘Carowinds’ that sits on the borders of North Carolina & South Carolina and there is a line that runs through the park that allows you to straddle the borders. I think its pretty cool.
- Who do you know that has straddle hemispheres? (Psst..You know me)
Henry arranged our trip to the Equator on our second day so that we could take advantage of the sites during the daylight. The drive was 3 hours from Nairobi but sooooo worth it. We got to the equator line and it’s located in a really small town called Nanyuki. There are shops set up by local owners with some nice souvenirs. There are also guides there that will issue you with a certificate that say that you have crossed the equator and the guides will also show you an experiment that shows you about the gravitational pull of the northern and southern hemispheres, SOOOOO STIIINNKKIN COOOL!!
We spent about an hour at the equator taking pictures, watching the experiment and souvenir shopping. I suggest if you have the time and want to take on a scientific experience to visit the equator.
David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Soooo I am low key obsessed with elephants. I absolutely loooove love love them. Not only do I think that they are a very unique animal but they are associated with my sorority so I have an immense love for them. It was a must to visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The David Sheldrick Orphanage rescues baby elephants that are in danger in the wild. They nurse them to full health and release them back into nature. The cost for this was 500 Shillings/5USD
We were able to visit the Giraffe center while in Nairobi. I looove these gentle giants. I was a little apprehensive at first because the last time I interacted with giraffes one leaned down and deposited a glob of savory spit in my hair but I was super excited because…it’s a freaking giraffe! This center is so amazing. They have rescued giraffes and helped to breed them(to keep the species alive. And once they become of age they realease them back into their natural habitats. They save some of the species from game hunters who use their meat, skin and tails for various purposes. Only one male is in the camp as they are very territorial and his name is Ed. And Ed is busy in the camp tending to his 5 wives 3 of which are pregnant . It was a refreshing experience. I encourage anyone traveling and loving on animals to visit. The center is only $5 for entry. And you can feed the giraffes take pictures, and listen to a presentation about the giraffes origin, what the center does for them and the community.
I like hanging out, and meeting new people whether it’s at a bar, lounge, club, disco, museum, pool party WHEREVER. In Dubai, I have frequented an afro-hip hop club called Kiza. Its motto is to be the Africa of tomorrow. So, when I planned my Nairobi experience I saw that there was a Kiza lounge/restaurant close to my hotel and I couldn’t pass it up. I visited the website and made table arrangements and it was on and poppin’. We had the best time! Now the music was mostly Afro beats versus Dubai where there is an equal mix of Afro beats and American Hip hop. Nevertheless, our experience was amazing!!!!!!! You should definitely go if you are a lounge, club type of traveler. They also have a restaurant for those looking to chill out but get good food and music.
Let’s discuss what I considered the best part of the trip! We were at breakfast (at the Lotos Inn & Suites) which has awesome views of the surrounding neighborhood. All of a sudden we heard the most amazing voices singing from the hotel rooftop. I searched the streets for the sounds and finally, I found it. The sounds were coming from a church service happening right across the street. I HAD to be a part of it.
- It was Palm Sunday (this marks the Sunday before Easter).
- I’ve never been to church in AFRICA!!
- I had to see who was singing those amazing notes!
We walked across the street and joined service. The congregation welcomed us with open arms, shared their Bibles with us, and led an English/Swahili service. The service flowed so smoothly. It was such a spiritual moment and designed for us. When we walked in the choir sang in Swahili but I still felt moved. It didn’t matter what language it was being presented in. This was such an amazing authentic experience. I will cherish the memory forever.
So, if you haven’t already gathered….Nairobi was LIIIIIIIIITTTT!! We were only there for two days but the trip was everything. As people say “Nairobi owes me nothing”! I plan to visit again in the near future. There was no way to experience all of Kenya’s glory in such a short time. I’m also excited to return and hang out with our new family. Heyyyy Henry lol. I would recommend Nairobi to anyone planning to visit Kenya. It was absolutely amazing.
As always, if you have questions I may not have answered in my post feel free to email me. Follow my Instagram and Facebook pages @TiaTakesTheWorld.
Oh! I almost forgot,
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