Category Archives: Safiri Kenya

#BudgetTravel: 7 Ways To Save Money While Traveling In Kenya

Peak season is fast approaching. If you haven’t booked yet, Dennis Carruthers is happy to let you in on tips to help you navigate this beautiful country without breaking the bank.

#1. Don’t travel at peak season if you can avoid it.

So we know the mention of peak season would suggest that you get right on it and book your travel before you are left out of the action but to be honest, the best time to save money on travel to Kenya is off-season on the tourist calendar. The country has tropical climate throughout the year, so anytime goes. Unfortunately, this might also mean missing some engaging experiences. The peak season falls in mid June through October (The best time for safaris and the famous wildebeest migration takes place in July) and mid December to February.

#2. Travel with a group

Individual costs are higher when you travel solo. You will still pay the same for things such as taxi fares and guides. A shared tour also offers the advantage of shared costs. Service providers such as safari operators will still charge you for a dedicated guide and vehicle when you travel alone. You can save on the accommodation budget as well as meals when shared. Additionally, group tours carry more bargaining power even on the ground.

#3. Look for tour packages and special offers

Tour operators frequently run discounted campaigns and specially organized tour packages. Take advantage of these, as they are cheaper than standard rates. Expect minor sharing challenges. For example, a tour operator may decide to pack eight passengers in a van, the standard tour vehicle, instead of the usual six. This lowers the cost as you pay per seat and not for the whole car alone.

#4. Evaluate your accommodation options

zurukenya budget travel

Kenya offers excellent urban hotels such as the Intercontinental Hotel and the Nairobi Hilton alongside two and three-star establishments with elegant facilities and service. Additionally, there are numerous luxury camps and lodges, but since we are in the business of cost saving, why not book yourself a chic budget boutique hotel or better yet stay at a rental, shop at the farmer’s market, live like a local and save on your meal tab. Kenyans are also very hospitable people and if you are lucky, you might just land yourself a host for your stay – try couchsurfing. Feel free to also compare your dining options away from your accommodation.

#5. Plan your itinerary in advance

Which sights excite you the most? How do you want to get there and for how long? A layover of a few hours is different from a week’s safari. Some destinations require travel outside of the major cities e.g. Lamu, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, and so on; Batch together destinations within the same locality to maximize time and save on cost.

#6. Research pricing and costs in advance

Knowing the average price of key services will increase your confidence. In Kenya, you can bargain the prices on any product or service unless the provider firmly insists it is fixed, which is rare. Brush up on your bargaining and negotiating skills. For example, a day’s meals should cost you around a $10 or lower if you try local meals and double that for a day’s alcoholic drinks.

#7. Do as locals do

zuru kenya budget travel
Image credit: Modern

Hotel vans and tour operator services can get expensive. Although there is no government-run public transport system, locals use numerous alternatives. These include urban public transport vans, cross-country buses, and a revamped passenger rail service.

Things to note: The local currency is the Kenya shilling. One US dollar is roughly a hundred Kenya shillings.


About the author

D Scott Carruthers, a graduate of Western State University loves photography, exploratory travel and blogging about his adventures and journeys.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

7 Wildlife Photography Tips to know for Your Next Safari

There’s only one thing better than an actual wildlife safari adventure, and that’s going through all your photographs on your return. Shooting photographs of wild animals is an art form and it can be extremely gratifying when you get extreme close ups of the big five or an action shot of a kill. Not only is it cool to boast to your friends about what you’ve seen, but you’ll have all these amazing memories of your trip to look back on forever.

zuru kenya photography tips

Any African safari produces the perfect opportunity for memorable photo taking. Here are some photography tips for your next safari.

#1. Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

Having the right photographic gear while you’re on your safari is essential. You’ll want to capture a number of different shots, which will require a variety of lenses. You’ll also want to ensure that everything is easily accessible. If you don’t have a proper camera bag that fits your camera and gear, it would be a wise investment. Then you only need to remember to take one bag on the game vehicle with you and everything will be within reach. In your camera bag you’ll want to pack:

  •       Camera body
  •       Lenses with lens covers or caps
  •       Battery packs
  •       Memory cards
  •       Battery charger
  •       Cables for instant transfer to your tablet or laptop
  •       Camera cleaning equipment

#2. Zoom Lens Is A Must-Have

Make sure you have a great zoom lens on hand in order to capture shots that are further away from the vehicle than a standard lens can capture. You don’t want pixelated photos, but want to be able to enjoy every detail down to a lion’s whiskers. Anything from a 200mm to a 500mm is your most popular choice and is still manageable and easy to carry around.

Image credit: Dave Dugdale

#3. Pack Extra Batteries And Memory Cards

What could be worse than spotting an incredible sighting such as a leopard in a tree or a mother hyena feeding her young… and you realise that your memory card is full? Frantically trying to delete photos from your memory card could result in you deleting something worth keeping. A dead battery is the absolute worst and it’s totally avoidable. Ensure you have a spare, charged battery and memory card in your camera bag to avoid any missed shots.

#4. Use Your Guide’s Knowledge To Your Advantage

Your safari guide or ranger will have expert, intimate knowledge of the bush and will – in most cases – be able to tell when you’re about to encounter an animal. They can track animals from kilometers away and also hear or see them long before you do. Alert them to the fact that you’re seeking that elusive photograph and they can give you a heads up when the opportunity is approaching. They can also position the game vehicle favorably for your photographic benefit.

#5. Be Camera Ready At All Times

Make sure that the shutter speed and aperture are both ready and set for you to take photographs at will. Then when the moment arises, you simply need to perfect your composition, focus and snap the shot. If you’re not comfortable working with a manual setup then you can always set your camera to automatic and simply point and snap as and when you see the perfect moment.

#6. Avoid The Flash At Night

It sounds counter intuitive, but the flash can blind the animals temporarily, which can be really dangerous for prey and tame game. It also makes the animals eyes come out red or white in the photograph, which isn’t very appealing.

#7. Practice Before The Drive

Take a few practice shots before the drive at different angles and with the light coming from different directions. Make sure you’re happy with your setup and that you’re aware of how the direction of light and angle of the shot will affect your end product. The sun behind you will always produce the best shots, but isn’t always possible. Take full advantage when conditions are perfect and take as many photos as you can.

Of course you can always edit your photographs afterwards, but the best shots are those that require minimal tweaking.

Good luck!


Guest Post courtesy of  TourRadar, an online marketplace for travelers to compare and book multi-day tours.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

6 must-try indoorsy attractions in Nairobi

Nairobi is probably the most popular destination in Kenya, and with good reason. The city known as a place of cool waters is famous largely for blending the country’s largest urban area with the nature that brings so many tourists to this part of the world. As such, it’s known largely for outdoor attractions: the national park, the Uhuru Gardens, the giraffe center and elephant orphanage, and even some of the authentic markets. These are the main draws to the city.

If you happen to visit Nairobi, however, there’s always the chance that the weather will keep you indoors, or that you’ll simply be interested in breaking up your trip with a day away from nature exploration. In such a case it helps to know about the indoor attractions that are available, even in a city known largely for nature.

Banana Hill Art Gallery

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaBecause there are so many natural wonders to enjoy in Kenya and the surrounding countries, some might be surprised to learn that this country is actually particularly well known for its numerous art galleries. The Banana Hill Art Gallery in Nairobi showcases the work of over 70 artists and sculptors largely from Kenya and the East African region. Having been opened some 11 years ago, the art gallery makes for an excellent exhibition of contemporary African art. Paintings and sculptures alike show off some of the best tendencies of artists from this part of the world, and make the gallery a perfect place to explore on a rainy day (or otherwise!).

Panari Sky Center Ice Skating

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaYou don’t exactly think about ice rinks when you imagine a vacation to Kenya. Nevertheless, ice skating is very much an option, and can be a great change of pace from exploring the city and the surrounding country. Particularly if the weather is just getting a little too hot for you, you might want to duck in for a few hours of skating.

Finix Casino

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenya

This is a casino just outside the main part of town that has it all: table games, slots, jackpots, roulette, etc. The slots in particular will be recognizable even if you’re not much of a casino person. This is because we’ve seen a lot of these slot games make a successful transition to smart devices, and therefore into mainstream gaming culture. At Finix, you’ll find some of these newest and most popular games, in addition to a generally festive atmosphere that’s always a nice break from the city. You don’t have to put much money down to enjoy the environment (and perhaps a few cocktails as well).

Nairobi National Museum

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaAs stated, the area is known for a lot of art galleries. But the Nairobi National Museum is less of a painting exhibition or a demonstration of contemporary art, and more of a tribute to Kenya’s history. There are outdoor attractions (a hiking trail and botanical gardens) for nicer days, but if you’re looking to duck inside for a few hours there’s a lot of fascinating art and history to be enjoyed. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and explanations of numerous pieces significant to Nairobi and Kenya as a whole.

Le Palanka

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaThis is a restaurant in town, but a very unique one that international travelers in particular will enjoy. That’s because the menu is very authentic, offering African ingredients and preparations done to perfection. A lot of guests rave about the environment, which makes for an experience that is fun and intimate. It’s a terrific place for a bite to eat, and for a prolonged meal if you’re escaping the weather for a little bit or for any other reason.

Brew Bistro

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaKenya actually has about as strong a reputation for beer as any place in Africa. Thanks to the famous Tusker Lager, one of just a few African beers that are well known outside of their home territories. It’s not uncommon to see pictures of tourists enjoying this beer, or even to run into people wearing Tusker shirts, having traveled to Kenya at one point or another. As a result of the much savored kenyan brew, the brewing scene in the country has garnered great recognition which has seen smaller more custom breweries crop up. All the more reason beer lovers will enjoy Brew Bistro;  a place where one can enjoy a larger range of Kenyan beers in a clean, modern, miniature brewery. It’s a very fun option day and night, and a nice way to enjoy yourself indoors.

——–

Tyler Martin

|Freelance writer and world traveler|

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

What the tuk-tuk?: Mombasa’s Love – hate relationship with the little three-wheeled hardy vehicle

There are lots of things to expect once you land in Mombasa. Cultural diversity, a city rich in history, scenic beaches, a myriad of touristic destinations, warm people…

And then, there is the tuk-tuk.

There’s no missing the tuk-tuk.

tuk tuk zuru kenya
Source: thirdlocal.com

Swiftly maneuvering the old city’s narrow cobbled and congested streets, the little sputtering three-wheeled motorized vehicle has undoubtedly become very symbolic of Mombasa. They are everywhere! A multitude of them!

Preferred for their compact size and swift maneuverability, tuk-tuks make wheezing around Mombasa such a breeze. Their ability to negotiate tight corners and park almost anywhere is perhaps one of the reasons that locals favor them as a short-distance mode of transport which allows for convenient door-to-door service. Tourists would especially enjoy the tuk-tuk experience with their small canopy and windowless body providing for full view of the scenic sites while enjoying a breezy ride through the city at a much lower cost.

 tuk-tuk zuru kenya
Source: thirdlocal.com

This little three-wheeler with a capacity for three passengers (but just like a taxi, mostly boards one passenger at a time) has a little space at the back allocated for luggage and in case of bad weather, there’s a drop-down side flap that covers the windowless frame. You will also come to notice that tuk-tuks in Mombasa have a personality of their own, no two are the same. Well of course there are those drivers who prefer to stick with the tuk-tuks original outlook whereas others tend to get a bit more creative with their autos; tricking them out with bumpin’ speakers, flashing neon, graffiti amongst other forms of ‘bling’.

tuk-tuk zuru kenya
Source: travelstart.co.ke
tuk tuk zuru kenya
source: Graphic World

With the much expediency that tuk-tuks offer, why would anyone have a problem with them?

Here’s why,

The tuk-tuk invasion if you like, has primarily been a thorn in the side of the county government for a while now with several attempts to steer them clear of some parts of the central business district having been futile. Not only are they noisy but they are also believed to be a major contributor to the congestion of the city’s main streets. Getting rid of them has however not been an easy feat. This is especially so when a large number of passengers utilize them to traverse from one point to another within the CBD itself.

tuk-tuk zuru kenya
source: Daily Nation

Did I mention Noisy? Many residents tend to fume about the noise pollution and rightly so! The puttering noise that these hardy vehicles make is simply unbearable! Especially if you have to listen to it every second of every day bearing in mind that Mombasa city is not only a business area but also a residential area that houses a large number of locals. Sound proofing makes for a good investment if one resides within the city.

In case you are yet to embark on your own tuk-tuk experience within Mombasa city, we’ve listed some tips below to help smooth along your first encounter.

tuk tuk zuru kenya
Source: monitor.co.ke

Things to note:

  1. Don’t just board and pay at your drop-off point.  

Have you ever boarded a tuk-tuk only to be asked to pay an outrageous amount upon alighting?

Unless you are aware of the tuk tuk fare, do not attempt the “board and pay later” tactic. As you will learn fast, locals have a way of sniffing non-locals so to be safe, always settle on the fare before you climb aboard, otherwise you will find yourself having to shell out a hefty charge at your destination. Please note that some drivers will tend to note give out the rate firsthand after you ask, responding with “just get in” instead.  Be persistent and ask again until they respond with a satisfactory rate.

  1.  Familiarize yourself with route fares.

Find out the local rates before hailing a tuk-tuk. It shouldn’t be so difficult to realize the appropriate price by asking the locals – of course some of them will give you rates above the norm but mostly you should be able to get the correct price point. Be careful not to ask the driver the distance or duration of the destination, if they see that you are new to the area they will definitely lie and overcharge you for a distance that you may not have needed to get a tuk-tuk in the first place to get there. It’s also good to note that the locals of Mombasa are majorly friendly and readily willing to assist (unless of course for some elements whom I can neither confirm nor deny to be native locals), so plenty of times responses given should be pretty legit.

  1. Its ok to negotiate!

Familiarizing yourself with the price-points gives you a good advantage at bargaining where you can easily talk the drivers down to a certain level that is satisfactory to both of you. It’s also okay to walk away if you feel the fare is super high. There are plenty of tuk-tuks lined up so if one driver doesn’t budge another one will.

  1. Where to hail a tuk-tuk? 

Certainly, not in front of a fancy restaurant or resort I can tell you that much. Some tuk-tuk drivers have a habit of sizing people up and if they pick you up at a somewhat upscale location then that is some extra change for them. If you intend on using a tuk-tuk and are staying at a hotel, do not let the driver pick you up from the hotel’s entrance instead walk to the main road which shouldn’t be very far away. This will give you a better chance of striking a good bargain.

  1. The destination

There’s one thing in Mombasa that highly differs from Nairobi and probably other cities and towns, locals familiarize themselves with places and not street addresses. Do not expect an accurate response when you ask for Moi Avenue, Haille selassie, Nkurumah road, Nyerere Avenue or even Tom Mboya Street only a people few can pin-point that out for you if you are lucky. Instead ask for Ambalal, Posta, Nawal centre, Fort Jesus, Ferry and so on…

It is therefore more convenient to tell the tuk-tuk driver the name of the place you are going to instead of the address. The drivers have familiarized themselves with most of the hotels, touristic attractions, market places, office buildings and so on. If you give them the address, you will definitely get lost. That’s a  guarantee!

  1. Enjoy your ride!

Once you’ve gained the confidence and are now familiar with the tuk-tuk ways, just hop on, tell the driver where you want to go, give the fare and hop off. It’s that simple. We do not however promise you of a smooth ride all the time; some streets tend to be bumpy, sometimes with potholes and never ending stream of pedestrians. Just hold on tight when the tuk-tuk bounces from one lane to another as some drivers tend to be oblivious of the fact that they have passengers on board.

#Stargazers: Chasing the African Night Sky

City life tends to get us engulfed in so much that we forget to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life. One such little thing is simply looking up at the African night sky, undoubtedly one of the best things you could ever take time to do.

The city robs us of this experience, what with huge skyscrapers, light pollution among other distractions. To be honest most of us only get to appreciate the existence of the moon let alone the stars when power goes out no?!

If you are yet to marvel at the beautiful African night sky, your best bet is to travel to the remote country areas. Something the  astrophotographers below got to appreciate. We are just glad they got to bring back souvenirs from their Kenyan stargazing adventures courtesy of their night captures.

Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Turkana – ©2008 Jon Warren/World Vision
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Amboseli night sky – Nick Saglibeni
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Amboseli National Park, southern Kenya ©Tunc Tezel
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
African night sky – @deadmau5
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Babak Tafreshi/National Geographic Society
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
The Mara night sky – Mark Gee
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Milky Way over Mount Kilimanjaro – Dale Johnson
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Kenya Stargazing – image via flickr user Weldon Kennedy

LITTLE TRAVELERS CHAPEL ON THE HILL

Just as it is with any historical site that has stood the test of time, the four walls of the “Travelers’ Chapel” are shrouded in a lot of mystery and myth. Word goes round of a ticking clock that can be heard but is never seen. It has even been said that those who erected the structure hid their jewels and wills in the church concrete columns setting enthusiasts on a hunt for the ‘hidden treasure’. Perhaps it is these great tales – amongst others, that make this landmark of sorts intriguing. Or maybe the fascination is purely based on its miniature build.

travelers chapel zuru kenya

Listed as the smallest church in Kenya (and possibly Africa), the “Travelers’ Chapel” which is commonly referred to by its alias ‘Msikiti – mosque’ by the locals sits pretty along the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha highway. Its story dates back to the Second World War where we are told that British and imperial forces captured more than half a million Italian soldiers, sailors and airmen. Whilst having these prisoners of war (POWs) around as a symbol of military success was all good, The British soon realized that in as much as their ‘symbols of victory’ brought high standing for their ranking in the war, they also posed a few complications as they came with needs as well; one of them being having a place to worship. Seeing that the Italians were Catholics and the British Anglicans, the two parties could not worship together and so they were allocated land to build their own place of prayer.

Under the strict supervision of British colonialists, the construction of The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church popularly referred to as the “Travelers’ Chapel” came to be in 1942. The Italian Prisoners Of War (POWs) would take turns to erect the structure during breaks from the construction of the road. The building of the church was however not without any setbacks. For instance, a number of Italians succumbed to diseases and attacks from wild animals, which included poisonous snakes that allegedly live in the area to date. Several graves lie outside the church compound where the deceased were laid to rest. Thanks to well wishers, a mausoleum has since been erected in form of a cemented cross in honor of the fallen Italians.

italian-chapel- travelers chapel zuru kenya

The Design

The pentagon-shaped church interior has four small wooden pews and an altar with a pulpit. Measuring 15 by 8 feet, it has a capacity to sit 12 people during mass. Just like its bigger counterparts, the church has three normal doors for access.

travelers chapel zuru kenya
Source: mywalkabout.net

The inside walls are decorated with inscriptions in Latin. Above the stained glass windows and the entrance doors are painted the words, Venite Ad Memone (Come to me my people), Haec Est Victoria Quae Vincit Mundum Fides Mustra (This is the victory that has won the world by our faith), Benedicite Coeli Domino Benedicite (Blessed be the sky and blessed again) and finally Universa Germinatia In Terra Domino, which translates to, everything will germinate in the sky and also on the earth.

travelers chapel zuru kenya
Source: mywalkabout.net

Behind the altar is an old mural of the nativity scene (baby Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph) surrounded by angels thought to have been created in early 1943. It is not very clear who painted the mural but it is nonetheless credited to Navitatis NDJC. The reason behind this lack of clarity is that “Navitatis” does not seem to have done any works of art before or after the mural at the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church. There is, however, a name inscribed on the mural that refers to Pittore R. and the date 25.02.1943. All that this confirms is the date the mural was painted – 1943. It could as well be that Pittore did the mural – this is still subject to confirmation.

The church has three steps at the entrance that according to Ann Nyakio, a caretaker, symbolizes the Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are also two crosses on the roof and a compass that symbolizes that the church will stay as long as the world will turn around it.

Travelerschapel zuru kenya
Source: geocaching.com

Today, the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is management by the Italian Embassy, the Kenyan government and well wishers who pump in their resources to conserve this religious historical site. The “Travelers’ Chapel” is open to all members of the public free of charge. Interestingly though, Christians and Hindus are allowed to worship, whereas Muslims can only visit.

Fun Facts:

  • The Travelers’ Chapel is commonly referred to as msikiti – mosque by the locals because it resembles one. Furthermore, prior to the four pews, worshipers used to pray on their knees.
  • Different communities and dominions conduct their prayers here.
  • The chapel is a popular venue for weddings and photo shoots because it gives off an antique feel.
  • Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is a favorite among truck drivers on transit from Mombasa to the landlocked central African countries.

Getting There:

The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is located on the busy Mai Mahiu – Rironi road.

Save

Save

Jumba La Mtwana: The Mysterious wonder of Mtwapa

Amidst the upbeat Mtwapa town, it’s almost unbelievable that there remains a place unscathed with the changes and developments taking place around it.

j

 

It isn’t exactly clear as to the genesis of its existence and the mystery that shrouds the place is what makes the Jumba La Mtwana ruins ( an ancient settlement with as much archaeological grandeur as the more famous Gede Ruins) even more interesting.

house of many doors

Who built these buildings and to what aim? There are no historical records on the settlement, however given the name Jumba La Mtwana “Large house of the slave”, some believe that the ruins may have played host to the slave trade. This theory however is highly dismissible there being lack thereof archaelogical evidence that suggests that this may have been the case.

DSC_1084

In an attempt to depict the mystery, what is now known of Jumba La Mtwana, has been deduced from the ruins which were excavated by James Kirkman in 1972. The remains of this 14th century settlement were likely built around 1350, inhabited and then abandoned a century later. It is not certain whether ‘Jumba la Mtwana’ was the settlement’s name at the time of occupation. However, one thing that is certain is that the inhabitants were Muslim evidenced by the ruins of 4 mosques, washing platform and water cisterns.

DSC_1049

Jumba la Mtwana also known as “Jumba Ruins” was opened to the public in 1973 and was gazetted as a national monument in 1982. It is located approximately 20km (15km north of Mombasa, 3km off the Mombasa-Malindi road, 2.8km on the road leading to the sea at the junction next to Picana factory) north of Mombasa in Mtwapa.

_DSC0887

Constitutes of the ruins: Old coral stone walls of 4 mosques, 4 domestic houses (These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque) and a tomb which have survived in recognizable condition situated among huge baobab trees on grassy slopes that descend to the sea. Excavations of the site have revealed numerous artefacts including decorated local pottery and shell beads, imported Chinese and Islamic ceramics, and glass beads.

jumba ruins10

It is very likely that the site’s strategic position was selected because of the presence of fresh water, exposure to the North East and South East breezes which would keep the people cool and its safe location from external attacks by sea since it had no harbor, thus larger vessels had to anchor along way offshore, or move probably in Mtwapa creek.

DSC_1080

Seeing as people only subscribe to several theories of its existence, one can only therefore guess reasons for its eventual desertion subject to further research, namely trade interruption, hostile invasion or a failure in water supply.

DSC_1054

DSC_1088

_DSC0934  _DSC0942

_DSC0948

_DSC0950

_DSC0952

_DSC0964

DSC_1057

DSC_1060

DSC_1055

DSC_1058

Haller Park: From wasteland to Paradise

The beauty that is now ‘Haller Park’ was once an industrial wasteland. In 1970, one Dr. Rene Haller, took upon him the task of rehabilitating a barren cement quarry whose floor was hard as rock and groundwater saline.

Dr. Haller set out to transform this industrial wasteland into a flourishing natural park, something that was unheard of at the time. His vision; to establish a multitude of plants, providing food and shelter to a large variety of animals.”

Through careful observation of how plants and animals interact, and a series of trial-and-error experiments, Dr. Rene Haller achieved what many had thought was inachievable.

Over 1 million trees  planted, and having a range of insects, butterflies, birds and mammals introduced, we now have Haller Park; a serene nature enthusiasts’ haven. Each plant, insect or animal had a purpose to keep the ecosystem in balance. Now Haller Park is a beautiful Wildlife Sanctuary, home to over 30 species of endangered animals and a favorite spot for family time over the weekends.

Haller park zurukenya

Haller park zuru kenya

Haller park zurukenya

Haller Park zurukenya

Haller park zurukenya

Haller park zurukenya

haller park zurukenya

hallerpark zurukenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zurukenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

haller park zuru kenya

NB: Nearly 100,000 people visit Haller Park every year.

Entry Fee: kshs. 500 per person *subject to change

The Little Beach at Barracuda

Driving down the small trail, a Watamu local in the backseat giving us directions, I couldn’t have envisioned what awaited us. I’ve had my fair share of coastal beaches but what I was about to step into I couldn’t have imagined. This little piece of paradise sitting pretty outside the small village of Watamu, is no wonder Watamu is listed as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Once you step on the beach, the rocky lagoons across the street instantly catch your eye. These reef-protected lagoons line the Watamu National Marine Park and Reserves, which are the oldest in East Africa and one of the best kept secrets in the world recognized internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The Blue Lagoon bay where we chose to spend our christmas afternoon is known for its extraordinarily clear waters sheltering a rich marine life; ideal for snorkelling and offers great panoramic views out over the bay. Watersports, swaying hammocks and luxury beachfront resorts complete the picture – it’s the perfect definition of paradise.

Little beach at barracuda - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 1 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 2 - zuru kenya

Little beach at barracuda 3 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 4 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 5 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 6 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 7 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 8 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 9 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 10 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 11 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 12 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 13 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 14 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 15 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 16 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 17 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 18 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 19 - zuru kenya

What to anticipate: A “beach boy” or two may approach you with a boat ride offer to the Marine Park. On seeing that we weren’t interested in seeing dolphins, the guy who’d approached us offered to join him and his crew at their hangout joint, a small makuti restaurant where they look out for clients.

Here I met Hussein Guida Turistica who currently goes by the alias Brian when at work. Given the terrorist attacks that majorly hurt the tourism economy, he fears that using his real name Hussein will ward off clients and he could not afford to lose his main way of earning a living.

The little beach at barracuda 20 - zuru kenya
Hussein Guida Turistica taking me round the bay

little beach at barracuda 21 - zuru kenya

little beach at barracuda 22 - zuru kenya
Hussein Guida Turistica requested for this photo with this lovely lady when we first met him

Italian is the language of commerce here and once in a while he and his friends would shift from swahili to italian when they didn’t want us  to here what they were saying while bargaining for a boat ride to the Marine Park.

Ways to keep kids happy during a game drive

Now that we are settled on a safari this festive season, we of course have to give you tips on getting through it with ease and ensuring that you enjoy your experience to the fullest.

If your’s is a family getaway, you may be a bit worried if your kids will be safe and sound while embarking on game drives. Worry not; our tips will set you up for that perfect holiday experience.

The biggest attraction of any family safari holiday is naturally “The Big 5″: lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. With this in mind, guided safari drives are the safest way for children and families to maximise the magical Kenya experience. Whilst children may get very excited about seeing wildlife, patience is often needed while tracking the African game therefore the main concern here is whether your kids may or may not behave.

Wait until your children are at an appropriate age
The key is to wait until your kids are at the point where they can take instructions (especially on when to keep still and be quiet for the safety of the group). Recommended ages is 5 and over, however ensure that you check with the accommodation first on their policies regarding children and game drives (most require children to be at least 8 years old).

Encourage participation
Children get bored easily. You definitely want to ensure that once bored, they do not start causing tantrums. Let your kids be part of the action by either letting them use a camera or a binocular, who knows they may spot the game before you do.

zuru kenya ways to keep kids happy on a game drive

Have activities ready to keep children busy during the drive
Driving to your safari destination may take a few hours and parents know that even the most patient child will get bored during the drive. You can either prepare your ‘our activity package’ with coloring sheets and quiet games, or ask your safari guide and lodge for ideas to keep children busy.

Consider a self-drive or private safari
At larger lodges where families may have to share vehicles during a game drive, keep in mind not all travelers will enjoy having children on their safari. In such cases, get a private guide and vehicle if possible.

ways to keep kids happy on a game drive - zuru kenya

Book with a reliable tour operator that accommodates kids
The family travel market is full of tour operators offering safaris to families on a budget; it may be tempting to book with a less expensive operator. Keep in mind that not all lodges accommodate children and that less expensive is not always better. Look out for a single tour operator offering an established portfolio of properties.

Pack clothing that will keep them comfortable
Most family safari game drives take place in the morning or afternoon but older children may want to take part in night drives too. If this is the case, remember to bring warm clothes in the jeep.

ways to keep kids happy during a game drive - zuru kenya

Remember your little kids are potential prey for the Big 5
Yes, it’s a scary thought that your young children could potentially be a meal for wild dogs. On her post on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, Heather Greenwood-Davis reminds parents to weigh the prey factor. “My sons once stepped out of a jeep at a game reserve where wild dogs were being preserved and the immediate transformation of the dogs from playful puppies to hunters made me very grateful for the electric fence,” she writes.

Don’t feel pressured to go on every safari game drive
The excitement of being on a family trip can get the kids wanting to take part in all the drives and activities offered which in turn may leave them cranky and exhausted. If your children are tired, let them sleep. “Let your little ones rest when things are slow and rouse them for the highlights, tired kids make for terrible safari companions.”

ways to keep kids happy during a game drive - zuru kenya

Since safari lodges and camps offer several drives throughout the day, you and your family can still get a break from the excitement of it all and enjoy some quiet family-time together back at camp.

Image courtesy: andbeyond.com, bushtracks.