THE POLISH TOURIST KENYA-LOVER ADVISES OTHER TOURISTS
Mrs. Agnieszka Karwowska came to Kenya and... you can read what impressions she got there. Below she shares with her thoughts and experiences, for information of other tourists intending to go there.
I came back from Kenya one month ago... I felt in love to this country. I visited so many wonderful places all over the world, but it is Kenya which brought me on my knees. Why? I do not know. In our, European meaning it surely is Third World. The poverty is terrible. I saw african villages, where rich people live in houses built of bricks, they have fridges, washing mashines and TV sets - so they live in luxury. Nearby you can watch the others, who live in huts built of sand and earth and can only dream about electricity. Almost everyday a current in such villages is switched off and this lack of power lasts even few hours.
Internet is very slow, google site is opening about 10 minutes (although I lived in a 5 stars hotel). The hotels have their own aggregates, so they have no problems with lack of power. From the other hand I saw very rich Kenyans, who drived cars, which I can only dream about.
The Kenyans are very, very nice - they are proud while also conscious of their defects, besides of this they are thirsty of contacts with wazungu (the White), because we bring there western standards and development. Moreover we come with our money...
What could I say to all the ones going to travel to Kenya? Below I present my few hints:
BEFORE YOU GO:
IN KENYA - MOMBASA
- Buying dollars note the issue date - money must be issued after 2000. Those issued in 2000 are also accepted. No older money is accepted.
- Since I love to travel and get to know other cultures, I used to be vaccinated against joundice A and B, polio and tetanus. Before my leave to Kenya I addittionally vaccinated my body against yellow fever (in Warsaw, Sanepid Żelazna Str. 79 - it costs 150,00 PLN)
- I purchased Malarone (antimalarial medicament), which is expensive and achievable only for receipt from tropical deceases doctor (the less expensive Malarone I found in Warsaw at the Central Railway Station - its cost was 175,00 PLN for one package, so 12 tablets). It was my mistake... my body did not tolerate it, I mean that I had a diarrhoea, even after drinking boiled water. Happily in my group of tourists there was a doctor, who told me to stop using Malarone and informed me, that malaria is curable in 100%. Big mortality among Africans is caused by their poverty - they are not able to purchase antibiotics, which are necessary to be taken in case of malaria. This way, "sick of fear" I left Malarone, and lubricated my skin with Autan. I was stinged by few mosquitos but I... am still alive, I did not fell ill. I am sure that I will not take this medicament as I will be in Kenya once again in September. I think that it is a waste of money but the decision is yours.
- If you like to see a real African village, you should buy in Poland ca. 2 or 3 kg of candies (even the cheapest ones). Each candy is an unachievable luxury for a little Kenyan. For us it requires almost no costs.
If any of you wants to ask me on anything, you can call me - my number is known to the Kenyan-Polish Forum. Besides, on September I am going to travel to Mombasa - I organize it on my own. If anyone wants to join me - feel welcomed!
- You should haggle, haggle and once more haggle over everything, they can reduce prices - even 50%. There are also shops with fixed prices, for example Nakumatt Center. You should note your currency. As I was haggling, I always stressed that I am going to pay in USD but they prefer EUR.
- You should not be afraid of using a beach boys 'service'. They propose excursions on coral reef (I was there twice and it was marvellous), to Wasini Island, going on safari or to Mombasa (this excursion can be problematic for the ones who do not speak English at all). You can always go to zoo and to feed giraffes or monkeys, there are also enormous turtles, crocodiles and hippos. I compared the prices given by beach boys with those offered by residents... and haggled over them. Finally each of us was glad. Obviously the beach boys excursions are a bit less confortable (for example you travel by a worse car), but the difference is not as essential, not to make it worth your interest. If I would have been rich, I would take safari by plain or an air-conditionned jeep.
I went myself with the beach boys to (group of many people):
- coral reef (you should have something to cover your skin; shirt which covers nape and neck; drinking water; shoes for reef - you can buy them in Decathlon and bread to feed fishes)
- Wasini Island - you can bath with dolphins, and as you will be on the island - you can eat your lunch and admire plants. If you are sensitive to swinging, you should take Aviomarin, it really helps.
- Two days safari in Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks (I do not recommend safaris lasting one day; remember, that you must go there and come back, no one guarantees that you will see all the animals). I did not see only a lion - it seems that it happened so because... he did not like to see us and hid up, as well as a rhinoceros, who just does not live in these particular parcs. I saw giraffes, she-lions, zebras, several antelopes, cheetahs, ostriches, buffalos, warthogs, secretary birds (very rare birds), storks (our Polish storks!), hippos and many, many others (some of my pictures I present below)
- Zoo near Mombasa. You must take few bottles of water, because the hot is cruel!
- You should not leave your hotel after dusk, because it can be too dangerous. On daytime all the walks are safe.
- If you want to go to Mombasa / Nakumatt Center alone, you'd better order a taxi and establish its price in advance. The taxis are rather expensive; as I was riding from Sun&Sand Hotel to Mombasa city centre, I payed about 30 USD. The much less expensive are local bus' named matatu, but I do not recommend them. They do not have any timetables and are filled up. Matatu is a kind of bus with places for 10 people in it, which carries about 30 - 40 indiginous people.
- Such souvenirs as for example those made of ebony should be purchased in a factory, which is located in Mombasa. I do not remeber its precise name, but each taxi driver will know it well. You can buy there things of high quality, which used to be cheaper than those sold on street markets.
- The Europeans should not neither drink water directly from tap, nor even brush their teeth using it. Water in buttles is delivered to most of hotels daily. I drank coca-cola in many places, always using a straw - I never had any problems with stomach because of it. Its cost depends of purchase location - from 50 Kenyan shillings (KES) for 0,3 l buttle near the souvenirs' factory up to 200 KES on street market near the Fort Jesus entrance. I bought a 2 l buttle in African village paying 100 KES. 1000 KES is about 15 EUR
- Tips are welcomed. I gave not more than 1 USD, not to spoil them. A security guard in a hotel earns about 12.000 KES in gross. In nett he gets about 9.000 KES i.e. 130 EUR. You should not exaggerate with the tips then.
- Hakuna matata - which means 'no problem' and pole, pole ('take it easy') are besides jambo - 'hi', the most frequently heard words. As you have your holidays, you should not be in a hurry. After your coming back home, it will be haraka haraka which means 'fast, fats'.
- If someone wants to take a calm walk alone on a beach or to pass a village (which used to be right near a hotel exit), it makes no problem at all. It is very safe, but you should not disclose that you speak English, because the indigenous people will not leave you... They are so much interested of you and they so much want to talk with the others. Besides they often try to sell something. It is worth stressing, that they are not persistent.
- At the ocean side there always wind blows, something as breeze... Thanks God for this wind. As you leave your hotel and pass few metres - air is motionless, even although sun is hidden bihind the clouds, but the hot is cruel... Sometimes even 50 degrees C.
- In Kenya it was first time for me to do with an exchange trade - in the very literal meaning. You can exchange your goods with local traders. They can offer goods made of ebony / jewellery / shells, and take all things that we have i.e. shoes, trousers, socks (the white ones are mostly welcomed), t-shirts, sandals, washing powder, clothes rinsing liquids - summing it up: all the things which you use in your everyday life. Sometimes you will be expected to pay something extra, but it is worth to haggle over it.
- It is frequently advised not to purchase anything which comes from the sea, mostly shells which are taken by tourists with them to home. It is said, that customs officers detain all of it. According to my experience it is not true - I came back home with five wonderful sea shells of an average size.
We want to thank Mrs. Karwowska for this lovely relation, below we present her pics from Kenya
See pictures from Kenya