For a many reasons the enhancement of spiritual nourishment, self discipline and piety. We acknowledge that our lives are transformed for the better on account of the seclusion, simplicity, self reflection and introspection provided for by the holy month.
There’s no denying though that you can be a difficult month. We always start off enthusiastic – that doesn’t last long to be honest. Refraining from essentials of daily living is hard enough.
So when enthusiasts um, pass on impending travels to islamic populated regions (Kenyan Coast) during the holy month, it’s no offence to you.
You see, the experience is just not as it were outside of Ramadan.
The uber friendly, super generous hospitality that is the norm at the coast is not assured. You may on occasion, regrettably run-in with some grumpy locals who possibly will place blame for their wanting service and temper flaring on the rigours of saum. Understandably though, the searing temperatures at the coast can really do you in.
It is for this reason perhaps that some traders choose to close up shop the entirety of the holy month. City streets are pretty dull too. Did I mention that the savory Swahili delicacies that you’d be probably looking forward to indulge in don’t come by easy during the day? Basically if you choose to explore the coast during Ramadan, you are in essence committing to somewhat of a day travel fast yourself. That shouldn’t faze you though.
Come Iftar the meal after sunset to break the fast, everything comes to life.
Coastal people are very welcoming, giving you an opportunity to enjoy Iftar with different people for the duration of your stay. Street food selling, large feasts in restaurants, huge family parties and gatherings, increased mall shopping (Many restaurants and shopping malls tend to extend their hours at night to accommodate those who had been fasting during the day); night life at the coast is a buzz at Ramadan.
Whilst travel at Ramadan can be a daunting idea, with the reduced daytime activity and tourist traffic, it’s not that bad if you are resilient. Plus you get to enjoy Eid with the locals. What could be more rewarding than experiencing a different cultural perspective?
Whatever your experience nonetheless, either spiritual or travel wise. Ramadan, you have been good to us this year. Come back soon. Till then,
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
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.
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.
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’.
With the much expediency that tuk-tuks offer, why would anyone have a problem with them?
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.
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.
Things to note:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Are you aware that there are only three Northern White Rhinos left in the world?
yes! one, two, three! They all reside in a natural habitat in Kenya.
The three; one male, Sudan and two females, Najin and Fatu, live under 24-hour armed protection at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. In addition to round-the-clock security, the conservancy has also put radio transmitters on the animals and dispatches incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather intelligence on poaching.
Round the clock surveillance is vital for these animals as conservationists are running against time to ensure that this subspecies does not go extinct. Seeing as Sudan is quite old, beside the fact that he is Najin and Fatu’s father and grandfather, respectively, his sperm, even if it was viable, risks the problems associated with inbreeding. Experts are now looking into alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) to try ensure that come the next decade Northern White Rhinos still roam this earth.
This is the sad reality for the subspecies who’ve been driven to near extinction by money hungry poachers. The poaching is fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments and the trade is believed to be very lucrative.
We are honored and humbled to have been featured as one of the Top 10 African Travel Blogs listed on Africa.com Thank you very much. Read the feature below…
One of the greatest pleasures for many travelers is getting the chance to travel extensively through the great African continent. For some travel aficionados, journeying across Africa has become their unofficial career and they’ve documented their incredible travels on a variety of interesting and thrilling travel blogs. Some bloggers use their special skills for telling a great story to showcase the great continent; others tap into a more specialized skill like their experiences working with animals or local communities to add texture and context to their blogs.
All the best African travel blogs have color, personality and take you on a visual tour of Africa’s countries and cultures. The only qualifier here is that the blogs need to be independent and personal – here are some of the most outstanding African travel blogs you have to start reading now.
1. Maroc Mamma – Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki, Morocco
Moroccan travel enthusiast and food lover, Amanda, is based in Marrakech and travels extensively throughout the region documenting the food, drink and varied cultures of Morocco. Her favorite part of the country includes the immense and awe-inspiring coastline, and she highly recommends taking the time to stop and sip the mint-tea while experiencing Moroccan culture.
Her blog is also packed with tips for travelling through the region and beautiful pictures of her travels. There’s also a great guide to festivals and holidays in Morocco as well as advice on tours and trips and shopping… perfect for planning your first Moroccan holiday.
2. The Incidental Tourist – Dawn Jorgensen, South Africa
Based in Cape Town, Dawn is an avid traveler and photographer with a deep love for Africa and its people. She’s been gorilla trekking in Uganda, turtle rescuing in Kenya and even tree planting in Zambia. Her background is in travel and hospitality and after selling her own travel tour company she’s spent the last few years as a professional tourist, promoting conscious and mindful travel across Africa that highlights responsible travel with respect for the cultures with which you interact.
Check out her blog’s guide to whale watching, her tips for visiting South Africa’s best malaria-free safari destinations, and her four-day hike through a rainforest in Madagascar… it’ll make you want to grab your bags and hit the road immediately.
3. Backpacking for African Beginners – Valerie Bowden , Ethiopia
In 2013, Valerie, now living in Ethiopia, backpacked all the way from Cape Town to Cairo by herself and only using public transport. Not only did she make some wonderful friends and connections on her seven month trip through the continent, but she picked up a bucket-load of useful information and practical do’s and don’ts for travelling through the continent alone and safely.
Her blog not only recounts her many travels disseminating a world-positive view of Africa and its people, but she has plenty of guides, lists and sage advice on how to plan and execute your ideal backpacking trip. Her tips include pointers on how to pack light, how to pre-plan your trip, what special travel gear and gadgets might be worth investing in, and some updates and red lights for things that can go wrong and ways to prepare for hiccups.
4. Bright Continent – Anton Crone, South Africa
Photographer, writer, editor and eco-blogger, Anton Crone, pens a blog exploring the bright cultural heritage of the African continent. From his native Cape Town, to delving into secular music in Mali, to exploring Tanzania’s Rubondo Island National Park, Crone often trails off the beaten track to highlight parts of the continent we rarely get to see. Even better, his posts are complimented with beautiful pictures from the most far-flung places.
Crone goes far beyond travel writing, his stories and accounts are insightful, often poignant, expansive and bright. His blog casts a fresh gaze on the continent, its people and cultures that creates a fresh narrative, one that is sorely needed in the travel space. Wending far off the beaten track then back again, always with a transformed perspective that make reading his blog a journey all on its own.
5. The Travel Manuel – Lauren McShane, South Africa
Lauren and Vaughan McShane are the jet-setting duo behind one of South Africa’s favorite travel blogs, The Travel Manuel. And, no, they didn’t spell ‘manual’ wrong – ‘Manuel’ is Lauren’s maiden name. Their blog describes them as digital nomads and modern day explorers. Their travels across South Africa paint a charming picture of the country and its people and the blog is definitely worth getting into.
The blog is also packed with beautiful pictures and tips for travels across Africa. They often allow guest bloggers to contribute with their own stories and helpful travel advice and they also have a nifty section with product reviews for travel friendly items.
6. Zuru Kenya – Olive Majala Maloti, Kenya
With the goal of raising the profile of Kenya and showcasing its people, diversity, food, culture, wildlife and landscapes, Olive has built up her Zuru Kenya blog into a full high quality travel and leisure website packed with information, narratives and beautiful photography about East Africa.
The blog has been gaining massive popularity and was even nominated for a BAKE Kenyan Blog Award in 2015. Along with featuring Kenya’s amazing wildlife and safaris, it also highlights culture and traditions, food and festivals, people and the history. It also showcases the different regional attractions helping visitors plan well-rounded and diverse trips to the country.
7. Duff’s Suitcase – Sarah Duff, South Africa
As the former digital editor for Getaway Magazine, Sarah Duff knows a thing or two about smart travel. Sarah travels the world, but she’s particularly insightful about the continent where she lives, telling incredible stories of people and places that paint a unique picture of Africa that will inspire your wanderlust.
Sarah’s been carving out a name for herself as an international blogger with her 500-day around the world trip and the beautiful pictures from her travels. Her blog is also packed with personal stories from her trips across Africa and abroad with some good advice for others looking to do the same.
8. Discovering Kenya – Zainab Daham, Kenya
Kenyan born and raised, Zainab Daham created her blog to highlight the beauty of her Kenya to potential visitors. Zainab does more than write about her own travels through Kenya, she also documents the stories of her fellow countrymen discussing the food, culture, fashion, and travel.
Unlike a lot of similar blogs about beautiful Kenya, Zainab goes one step further by exploring the art and fashion of Kenya and the artists that create them. She also features some of the country’s most outstanding places from spas, to lodges, to beautiful old colonial towns along its coastline.
9. The World Pursuit – Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden, Africa
American couple, Cameron and Natasha, have been building a following with their blogs documenting their travels around the world – their narrative is fun and light and packed with information and travel tips for fellow travelers too. They took to Africa on their HashtagAfrica adventure that tracked their journey via the route and a vlog along with notes on the logistics of their travel.
The duo revealed they were interested in a cross-Africa trip partly because they found a complete dearth of information on many of the places that should have been well-mapped. They make a good point, there’s much of Africa that is still unknown to tourists and travelers – check out their blog to see where on the continent you might want to explore.
10. Mzansi Girl – Meruschka Govender, South Africa
Mzansi Girl is self-named for love of her country, Mzansi meaning “south” and a term locals often use to refer to her native South Africa – she’s taken that one step further, expanding her Twitter account that she started to document her travels across the country during the FIFA World Cup to a full blog packed with stories and travel tips from all corners of the country.
What makes Meruschka’s blog really interesting is that she writes about places many people know exist, or have even driven past, but few have stopped to explore properly. As a result she’s discovered some real treasures – check out her site to discover something new about South Africa.
Wandering the world, travelling, even just exploring the city.
It gets beautiful but it gets sad as well. You start to notice everything, you’re there to appreciate every little detail but you realized, who is there to appreciate you? I look around and you see happy eyes, sad eyes, blank eyes but none of them looking at me. And so I kept on walking.
Today, two kinds of people sit on the opposite end of the spectrum; those who couldn’t care less for Valentine and those who, well…have been counting down days to this very moment.
In case you happen to sit on the latter end, then this post is right in your lane. Today we celebrate love. Featuring some of the most dreamy travel couples in the blogosphere and on Instagram.
These travel couples will not only arouse the wanderer in you but also inspire you to embark on the road less travelled with your loved ones too.
“I want a man that loves travelling so that we can travel together all the world.”
Newlyweds Sana and Faisal @twosaparty_ – capture the essence of stylish travel! Read their travel blog to see more.
2. Murad Osmann and his partner Natalia Zakharova @muradosmann – the famous ‘follow me to’ couple are seen travelling the world With Natalia leading Murad by hand everywhere they go.
3. Bianca and Brett @KiwisOffCourse – This couple from New Zealand sure paint a colourful picture. Their blog is also ridiculously helpful and inspiring if you’re an active traveler:
4. Nick and Karen @globetrotwithus – have dark and DREAMY visuals with an inspiring blog to match. Just have a look:
5. @MrandMrsMonnet – This gorgeous Hong Kong couple show us how to travel like an absolute BOSS! so very chic!
6. Jen & Rudolph @themarriedwanderers “Because what is marriage if not an adventure?” Follow this couple on their adventurous union here: Blog
7. Ryan and Sam @ourtravelpassport – provide us with the perfect dreamy page travel inspirations. check their experiences here: blog
What adventure do you reckon is more greater; to travel or to be in love?
How about both? To travel the world, expand your cultural understanding, discover new destinations that too with someone you love by your side, what could be more rewarding than that?!
We’ve also heard that couples who travel together stay together. How true that is, we will leave to your judgement…meanwhile in the spirit of celebrating Love, we share some inspirational couple travel quotes.
“A couple who travel together, grow together.” ― Ahmad Fuadi
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live? – Walt Whitman
“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, “I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, and reasons to stay.
“Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.” –The Dhammapada
“Travel brings power and love back into your life” – Rumi
I wanna travel the world with you. Go to every country, every city, take pictures and be happy.
“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer
“In Life, It’s Not Where You Go, It’s Who You Travel With” – Charles Schulz
“Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.” ― Roman Payne
Is moving to Kenya at the top of your things to do list this year? Fantastic! this is going to be one adventurous ride.
If this is going to be your first time in the country though, you need to fasten your seat belt because no thanks to the much sought entertainment value depicted in the Kenyan-based big hit films and documentaries, the Kenya you’ve familiarized yourself with on screen is nothing compared to the Kenya you are about to experience.
What then – if not sunsets and safaris?
1. It’s not always a sunny paradise
Whilst the beautiful tropical climate might have drawn you here, don’t discard your cold weather outfits because some regions can be unforgivably cold.
2. Where you choose to live as an expat in Nairobi directly relates to your social circle
There are two obvious choices of living areas as an expat settling in Nairobi: Karen or Westlands. Karen is usually where you find the old-timers and the families who have been around for years, whereas Westlands boasts a more diverse community being the area of choice for the United Nations and other Embassies.
3. There’s no hurry in Africa
This is one phrase you’ll have to be accustomed to, so is the behavior that comes with it. Reality on the ground is that it shouldn’t come as a shock to you when an event you attend doesn’t start as scheduled. Don’t be frustrated if deadlines aren’t met either, Kenyans are always running late!
4. PaaPaa PeePeeeeeee… Traffic Jam In the city
Traffic congestion on our roads is horrendous! Nairobi being most notorious. One therefore needs to master the art of avoiding traffic so as not to get caught up in the madness. The rule of thumb is to leave for your destination before or after the rush hours; mornings between 7:00 a.m and 9:00 a.m and evenings between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. nonetheless, you’ll want to allow extra time for your commute, even if it’s not “rush hour.”
5. You will start to refer to yourself as Kenyan, regardless of what it says on your passport
It is very easy to connect in Kenya simply because the locals are very friendly and welcoming. It also helps that most cities are a hub of social activities; festivals, concerts, art exhibits alongside having meetup groups that organize outdoorsy events. Don’t be a loner!
6. You are either a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser person
The reason for this is simple: safaris. There is an ongoing debate as to which car is better to take bundu bashing (off-road driving).
Another thing, from the moment you land on Kenyan soil, you will realize that driving here is not for the faint at heart…there aren’t any rules really. The bigger the car you drive, the better your chances of winning any on-road battle. So get yourself a four-wheel drive to be on the safe side.
7. Our reputation as an insecure country is undeserved
Sure we’ve had our hiccup with terrorism but Kenya isn’t as dangerous as portrayed. You will however need to be cautious of security concerns common to all major cities such as petty crime.
It helps to avoid crowded areas, do not expose your most valued possessions in public and in case you use public transportation, stay alert the entire duration of the journey. Moreover, be cautious of strangers who approach you in need of help; this may sometimes be a tactic to lure you into a dangerous situation.
8. Real Estate is Growing
Have nowhere to stay yet? no worries, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The real estate market has grown significantly in Kenya with both furnished and unfurnished apartments and houses being readily available. Rental listings are easy to find online and you could as well deal directly with a reputable real estate company, such as Hass Consult, Knight Frank, or Lamudi Kenya. There are also expat community sites and groups online that could assist with suggestions. As always, exercise caution whenever you make contact online.
9. You will be kept in the dark. Literally!
If patience is an area you need work on, then heads up, you’ll need lots of it. Be prepared for constant power outages, more so during the rainy season. In case you do not want to waste money on stocking perishables or better yet value constant internet connection, then you’d better stock up on a generator.
10. You don’t really need to carry cash. Ever!
Well except for chump change in case you need to negotiate price. Thank God for ‘M-Pesa’ (mobile money service). The whole country uses M-Pesa. Using the mobile money service, Kenyans keep cash on their mobile phones and can then pay bills or send money just by sending a text. When they need the physical cash, they can then withdraw it at any M-Pesa agent across the country in less than a minute. How about that?!
“For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” — Alex Garland, “The Beach”