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Arriving at Mombasa train station.

Oh hellurrrr….. (Screams with hands lifted high *)

I know I know I know, I don’t even deserve your loyalty guys. I am literally covering my face ‘cos I feel so ashamed about the delay in putting out this post. Sigh……

Honestly, at this point I have to confess to you guys. So here it goes…

“My dear readers, I am a struggling blogger!” There you have it, I am so sorry for my inconsistency and unfortunately I can’t even promise that I’ll get better in the next few weeks or so. I can only say that I will keep trying to find that balance that I so desire. So please don’t leave me guys, if anything at all, seeing your views and comments keep me going.

So, let’s get to the gist shall we? That’s how I left some of you hanging for five months without giving you the full planning package for your Kenya trip, that’s just wrong man. But I am sure you would still find this post useful for whenever you are ready to make your trip to Kenya.

Now, let me warn you ahead, this might be a long read but I promise it will be worth your time. I want to make sure this post has every other information you need and I don’t want to have a Part 3 of this blog post. So, please bear with me.

First day in Nairobi City, living my best life…

I’ll start by telling you how to deal with the Nigerian immigration which I promised to tell you in my last post. If you are yet to read my last post, at this point you should just pause and read it here. Trust me you don’t want to miss the good stuffs.

Dealing with Nigerian Immigration

So here are the funny things that the Nigerian immigration officers are likely to ask you at the airport;

  1. How much are you carrying on you? My dear, just say about a $1000. Here’s why? They have this old set of rules that includes a rule that says travelers should carry nothing less than $1,000 when travelling. I didn’t know about this before travelling, so I told them I had $500 on me (the truth! I had my card with me for miscellaneous expenses). To cut the long story short, these officers almost made me late for my flight because they were trying to prove to me that I didn’t meet their travel requirements. Finally, they took me to their inner “bribery & corruption room” and collected all the cash I had on me (1,500 Naira). So, if you don’t want to deal with their sorry asses, just tell them you have $1000 on you, after all they wouldn’t ask you to show them ‘cos they didn’t ask me. P.S. that crazy old rule needs to be changed since almost everyone now travel with cards.
  2. Where do you plan to stay in Kenya? I’ll advise that you have an e-copy or hard copy of a hotel or “airbnb” reservation that you can just show them. I didn’t have anything like that ‘cos I was going to be staying at my friend’s place. In the end, you know the gist…My 1,500 Naira paid for all my sins, Hahaha. Moreover, you might get asked the same question on arrival to Kenya at the immigration, so it’s good to be prepared. You can just go to booking.com and book a hotel that does not require payment before booking (this is if you already have a place to stay). I had to do this before I got on the flight.
  3. Have you registered for your visa online? Now this is the one they try to use to confuse us. Like I said in my previous post, you can either apply for an e-visa or you get your visa on arrival in Kenya. However, these immigration uncles and aunties might want to insist that it has to be e-visa. Don’t even look at their face, just tell them emphatically that you are getting your visa on arrival! When they see that you know what you’re doing, they will free you.

Overall, when dealing with Nigerian immigration officers, be very bold and confident. Don’t act like it’s your fist time even if it is, they try to exploit those they perceive are first-time travellers. I honestly didn’t have to give them any money but I was running late to catch my flight so I just decided to give them the cash.

Bliss at Karura Forest…

Places to visit when in Kenya

Now, this is a very crucial part of your planning. You don’t want to have spent all that money on flight, accommodation etc and not have a well-planned trip. In my case, I had friends who gave me suggestions and I also used tripadvisor to get more suggestions.

So here are the list of Places that I visited during my trip to Kenya;

  • Nairobi city

On my first and second day in Kenya, I basically just went round Nairobi city. I visited malls, exchanged money, got a sim card, visited lovely hangout spots, restaurants, walked the length and breadth of the Central Business District and of course visited the famous Massai Market.

This gave me enough time to hang out with friends and explore the sights, sound and culture in Kenya. I must say, Nairobi is a really beautiful city, you have to visit.

Strolling around Nairobi City

Doing this didn’t cost me much because first of all uber is relatively cheap in Kenya. Eating out is also cheap when compared to the cost of eating out at proper restaurants in Nigeria.

Quick one, exchange rate at the time was $1 = 97Ksh, so an average 1000Ksh is about $10 and you can get uber rides for as low as 200Ksh.

Central Business District on a Sunday

Also at this point, I should tell you what I think is your best and cheapest option for getting data on your phone while in Kenya. So I was advised to get a safaricom line, got it topped up with airtime and also got data on it. This cost me 1,500 Ksh (sim, airtime and data) and I didn’t have to top up till I left Kenya (P.S. I made international calls).

Another thing, if you don’t care about cat-calling or getting stared at some type of way, then by all means pack a box full of shorty shorts when travelling to Kenya. But if you do care, then please don’t be like me, do yourself a favour and pack conservatively. This is because, from my experience, I would say that Kenya generally is somewhat conservative except for the beaches.

Visiting the Massai Market at Central Business District
  • Karura Forest

So for my day 3 in Kenya, I visited the famous Karura Forest. This is actually located in Nairobi City just a little bit on the outskirts. The forest is really huge and has waterfalls, lakes, caves, parks, etc. If you are a nature lover, this is definitely somewhere you should plan to visit. I must warn you ahead though, visiting this forest is a whole day activity. You can’t do anything else after visiting the forest because you will be too exhausted from walking around the forest and mind you, you can’t even walk the whole forest in a day, it’s that huge.

Meditation never felt this good (Karura Forest)
Chasing Waterfall at Karura Forest

So for locals, the entrance fee is 200Ksh while for foreigners like me, lol it costs about 600Ksh. Heads up, Kenya makes its money mostly through tourism so visiting their tourist attraction sites are quite pricey for foreigners. So, this is where most of the money you set aside for your trip will go to but that’s the whole point of visiting Kenya.

Learning how to cycle at Karura Forest
  • Mombasa
At Old Town, Mombasa

I remember telling my friend Nana one too many times that “I have to visit Mombasa”. She would say “okay, but promise me you would at least check out the coast”, lol. She was always telling me that there isn’t much to see in Mombasa but because I had heard and seen my other friends visit Mombasa, I wanted to tick it off my bucket list. So, I hopped on the train on my day 4 in Kenya and we travelled to Mombasa.

So I said train right? Yeah. The express train which is the sjr is super organized, super comfy, and super clean. You should see how huge and beautiful the terminals are, I was very impressed. We left Nairobi around 8.am and we arrived Mombasa at 2pm.

At Nairobi Train station

So alternatively, depending on your budget, you could take a bus to Mombasa from Nairobi (cheaper, longer hours, not as comfortable) or you could catch a flight (more expensive, faster).

You could book your train ticket ahead of your trip at this website, I think it costs about 1000Ksh ($10) per person to Mombasa. On arrival to Mombasa train terminal, we took a bus to Mombasa town which cost us about 300Ksh each.

Places I visited in Mombasa

On arrival to Mombasa, it was hot mahn! This is where you begin to get all the summer vibes. However, a lot of people still don’t wear shorts and skimpy clothes around the town in Mombasa which could be partly due to the fact that a lot of their indigenes are Arab-Kenyans. But If you visit the beach in Mombasa, I’m sure it’s gonna be a hot girl summer there..lol.

The entrance to Fort-Jesus, Mombasa
  • Fort-Jesus: One of the most popular tourist attraction in Mombasa is the “fort-Jesus”. The fort is located along the coastline near “Old Town” and it was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. Visiting this place will let you know more about the history of Mombasa and eastern Africa. The fort has a museum that displays a lot of artifacts which tell the stories about the era of trade, slavery, war and adventure. Entry fee for residents & citizens cost about 200Ksh per person while the fee for foreigners is about 1200Ksh per person.
Fort-Jesus, Mombasa
  • Old-Town: Old town is an area of Mombasa which is inhabited by a mix of local, Arab, Asian, Portuguese and British settlers. Actually the major thing to see in Old-Town is the Fort-Jesus. But apart from that, you can see old mosques, oldest hotel in Africa etc.

Please do not walk alone in the dark alleys and corners in Old –Town, there’s been news of mugging in the area.

Well, when I was done with these two places, it turned out my friend Nana was right after all. There really isn’t much to do in Mombasa! And then my next adventure began.

Mombasa Town. The buildings are painted white and blue
  • Diani Beach

Nana had been telling me a lot about Diani but because I hadn’t heard much about it from tourists, I felt it was all a hype.

Well, let me back up a little. It was already late in the evening when we were done with seeing Mombasa and I was so ready to go somewhere else. So, we decided it was time to head for Diani Beach. The fun part? This time both Nana and I were visiting Diani for the first time so no tour guide here.

We soon found out that we had to cross over via a ferry to the coast which takes just about 10 minutes and then take a cab to Diani Beach. There was only one slight problem, the number of people that the ferry takes per round is a whole lot guys. In fact I was scared for my belongings cos the crowd was just overwhelming. So we had a choice to make at this point, cross over on foot using the ferry which is free or get a cab to take us across using the ferry too which will cost us much more.

At the harbor, peep the ferry picking up cars to cross to the other side

Anyways, we settled for the cab and we paid 1500Ksh to get us across the water and take us to Diani Beach. But I will advise that you should plan to pay about 2000Ksh if you intend going to Diani like we did. The cab driver really dragged us for extra 500 Ksh when we got to Diani Beach, he claimed he didn’t know we were headed that far. The journey from Mombasa to Diani took us about 45 minutes.

It is important to note that you should have booked a hotel, resort, airbnb or somewhere to stay at Diani Beach before heading down there. You can use booking.com, airbnb, hotels.com, tripadvisor or randomly search for places to stay in Diani on google.

The beach front at Bidi Badu Beach Resort

Nana and I randomly searched on google for a place to stay and we found a place called “Bidi Badu Beach Resort”. Of course, we settled for this because it is very affordable and it’s a beachfront resort.

  • Bidi Badu Beach Resort
The main building at Bidi Badu Beach Resort

So we got a 4 sleepers room which cost us about 2000Ksh per night. I spent two nights there so we both spent a total of 4000Ksh on accommodation. We also spent some money on food and drinks but nothing too pricey really.

The resort has different categories of rooms depending on your budget so feel free to check them out online. They also have super friendly staff and they are really helpful.

Birthday drip on the Indian Ocean

I actually spent my birthday here and I couldn’t have asked for a more fun experience. Guys Diani Beach is a place you must visit if you ever visit Kenya! Believe the hype.

At Diani Beach, prepare to meet a lot of foreigners just like you although mostly white folks. It is a very sane, clean and exotic beach where you’ll literally think you are in Maldives or the Bahamas.

You can pay to go jet skiing, boat rides, surfing or any other water sports you might like. Only be prepared to pay quite a lot for these. This is how they make so much money off tourists. You might need to set aside about $100 to really enjoy the water sports. I didn’t do any though, I just walked around the beach, played in the water and just had fun with friends and other tourists.

Chasing sunset at Diani Beach

Leaving Diani Beach was cheaper than going. We took a keke napep (tricycle) from the hotel to the closest junction where we could get a bus. Took a bus to the ferry gate. Then crossed over on foot using the ferry. This time, the ferry was not packed at all. I hear it’s better to take the ferry during work hours than to take it after work hours, the traffic is usually less. Then we took a bus right at the bus park close to the ferry gate to the train station. The whole trip back to the train station from Diani Beach cost about 600-700 Ksh each.

On the ferry crossing over to Mombasa town

Note: Remember to always book your train tickets at least 24 hours prior to take off time. The train gets filled up pretty fast.

  • Visit to Kariokor Market

Remember I mentioned earlier that I visited the Massai Market in Nairobi, Central Business District (CBD). For the Nigerians reading this, it’s just like our own Lekki arts & crafts market. So basically you can get all the souvenirs you need from Kenya at this market.

Now here is the hack, the Massai Market at Central Business District is expensive. You wouldn’t know this if you are a tourist anyway. But since I had my friend Nana to guide me, she directed me to another Massai Market which is called the Kariokor Market. You can uber to the market from Central Business District for just $2.

The market is like 3 to 4 times cheaper than the one at CBD. I bought so many things for my family & friends and still had money left on me.

  • Giraffe Centre

This was my day 9 in Kenya and by that time my friend Nana had travelled to go visit her family. So her cousin Agusta so graciously offered to help me through my last days in Kenya.

Agusta and I thugging it out

So Agusta and I decided it was time to experience the wildlife in Kenya. After all, if you visit Kenya and you don’t see wild animals, were you ever really in Kenya? Lol

So we set out by heading to the Giraffe Centre which is located quite far from the main city in Nairobi. The trip down there using uber cost us about 700Ksh and trust me that’s a lot of money for uber in Kenya.

Yayy I did feed a Giraffe, yikes!

The entry fees for non-residents is 1000Ksh per person and for residents 250Ksh per person.

If you are an animal lover, you would love the giraffe centre. You could feed the giraffes from a podium and learn about the animals and the conservation efforts in the country.

  • Nairobi animal orphanage

We headed straight to the animal orphanage after leaving the giraffe centre. The orphanage is located at the Nairobi National Park. The orphanage serves as a treatment and rehabilitation centre for wild animals. Here you would see wild animals like lions, tigers, cheetahs, buffalos etc and learn about their stories. The entrance fees to the orphanage for non-residents is about 1000-2000Ksh. I really can’t remember exactly.

I honestly didn’t find this activity fun at all. I would have preferred to go on a safari walk or the game drive where I can get to see the animals live without being caged. If you ever visit Kenya, make sure you go on a safari walk or game drive at the Nairobi National Park. The entry fees for non-residents is $43. I have to do this the next time I am in Kenya.

Chilling with the Lions at the animal orphanage
  • Fogo Gaucho Restaurant

I visited a couple of restaurants while in Kenya but this by far was the best of them all. The restaurant is Brazilian and it’s majorly a steakhouse. So you get as much steaks as you can with just $27 per person. It’s a buffet setting so you also get to eat as much food as you can while you keep getting served different types of steaks on your plate the whole time you’re there. It’s basically “all you can eat” with $27.

If you are visiting Kenya and you want to have a really good dining experience, I recommend this restaurant. It was the perfect way to end my trip to Kenya.

Other Places to visit in Kenya

  1. National Park: Like I said earlier, I advise that you go on a safari walk or a game drive if and when you visit Kenya. This will cost you between $43 and $100 depending on if you go on a safari or game drive.
  2. David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage: I wanted to visit this place on my day 9 In Kenya but unfortunately they were closed by the time I was ready to visit. Here you could watch the elephants feed and probably feed them too. The place is only open to the public between 11.00 am and 12.00 noon every day. Entry fees is 500 Ksh.
  3. Giraffe Manor: So this is for those who wouldn’t mind a splurge. The Giraffe Manor is very pricey as it costs about $ 620 to spend a night there. I hear it is a very exotic hotel where you have giraffes poke their noses into your window and they also get to eat with you. So you basically live and breathe giraffe here..lol.
  4. Lamu Island: I hear this is another exotic place like Diani Beach. It is located on the north-eastern coast while Diani Beach is on the South coast. It’s definitely on my list of places to visit when next I’m in Kenya.

Other things you need to know

  • You can also use a bus (Matatu in Kenya) if you wish to move around Nairobi. I used this a couple of times although not alone. It’s definitely way cheaper as it can cost as little as 5Ksh to 30Ksh.
  • Food is really cheap in Kenya so you really don’t have to worry yourself too much about the cost of feeding. A regular meal could cost you about $5, could be less or more depending on what and where you eat.
  • Use MPESA for your transactions while in Kenya. MPESA is a really cool and easy mobile money app that you can put your shillings on. Once you get a sim and register it, you can load your shillings on MPESA and activate it. With this, you don’t have to go around with cash and you can pay for almost everything using MPESA.
  • Brace yourself to see a lot of white people in Kenya. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of white people that I saw at every turn, lol.
  • I advise you always move around with your passport because most of these tourist attraction sites.
How I spent my birthday at Diani Beach, unbothered!

Total Cost of my trip

The total cost of my trip rounds up to about 400,000 Naira, that’s roughly about $1100. This includes my air-travel fees, please click here to see the exact price for my flight ticket.

So you see, I really didn’t break the bank. Y’all know I got you with the budget friendly deals. Trust me, my travel package is the best I have seen out there considering the fact that I visited 3 cities.

Well, this has been an incredibly long but I can definitely add ‘insightful’ read. I hope you found it useful and I hope this inspires you to go out there and see Africa for yourself. If you are planning a trip and you need extra information, please feel free to reach me via email at deejahoih@gmail.com or you can contact me here.

Thanks for coming with me on this journey, I would really love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Also feel free to share this blog post with your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else in your circle who might find this post useful.

A toast to you all. I hope this post inspires you to live while you can.

Thank you for reading, till next time on the Small Town Girl blog.

Peace and Love,

Sophia Zoe