While I was volunteering in Uganda, the idea to do a Safari came strong and after meditation and over thinking the issue I decided to skipped the safaris Uganda had to offer me and do it in Kenya. So, with just a week to plan it, I called my friend Millie, from Kenya, that I met while we both studied in Seoul. She told me she was going to help me with everything in Nairobi. We contact a good -but still considerably economic- safari in the Masai Mara region and got the bus ticket from Jinja to the Kenyan capital. And off we went…
Our bus company was Easy Coach. It is one of the best bus lines doing that route but it's not really that special; no restrooms, not much legroom (not really comfy but at least not inhuman space). It was 12 hours bus ride with african music buzzing in our ears all the way (with a non appropriate volume level if you wanted a good night sleep). Even, with those conditions, I slept. We had 3 stops on the way to Nairobi. The first one was at the border.
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name, I heard M.I.A. singing. And there we went, going off the bus in the rain with heavy eyes wanting to sleep, fill all the forms in the middle of a bunch of people so we could get a stamp in our passport indicated we were leaving the country. Adiós Uganda and Hola Kenya.
Yes, we walked for a couple of meters, passed a gate and jumped all the poodles we saw interfering our way. That's how we crossed the border to the Kenyan office and got or visa. Another stamp in my passport and 50 dollars less in my pockets. After all these, we had to walk to bus park and try to OUR bus between some others. We found it. The other stop the bus made was at Kisumu and Nakuru. I must say that one really cool thing from in the morning bus time while we were trying to arrive to the city was that we saw zebras, monkeys and antelopes on the road. The safari had started before it even begin. We pass all that and enter the city. At 9am we reached Nairobi.
A lot of blogs and people told me that Nairobi was an unsafe city. You had 99% chance of being stolen. Well, in my opinion I never felt I was in some kind of danger. I was aware of my surroundings at all times but I never really felt a guy was going to point a gun at me and stole my money. I behave exactly as I behave in Mexico; with precaution but without being paranoid. I spend few days in Nairobi, just two days but they were enough to see the city and enjoy it. Thanks to my kenyan friend; Millie. As soon as I jumped out the bus I saw her waiting for me.
Nairobi is a more developed city than Kampala, for sure. And I found it a really interesting as well. It is like traveling in time and going back to the 70's. The architecture of the buildings had that vibe and the atmosphere was like that; relaxing and hip. The city is divided in two sections: lower side and upper side. I -of course- hang around the lower side because it was what I could afford. But also, because I believe this is the part of the city that truly shows the culture of the country, or at least part of it.
I slept at my friend's place in Thika. A small town 30 minutes from Nairobi. Thanks to this we got to see more of the country and taste the lifestyle of the locals, even though we just went for a couple of days. The first day we walk around the center of the city, between their buildings, while we were doing this, my friend told us about the city. We went to a souvenir market and we had a small glance of the Masai culture. After that it was time to eat and we went to a Kenyan restaurant. We went walking more and at night we went to a bar and drank Tusker beer, the Kenyan most famous beer. After this we went back to our temporal home in Thika.
The next day we went to super local markets outside the city and also we went to the slums. Kenya is also popular for having the biggest slum. Piles of garbage and tile houses next to each other, that was our view. But we did not fear, people greeted at us and when we return the greeting in their language they were so, so happy. Yes, they looked really happy. Millie told us that although they don't have a lot of money they are always smiling and that actually there are many families living in the slums that could afford something else but stay there because they prefer it that way.
After it we went to have some dinner and sleep early because next day we were going to wake up at 4am so we could take the bus to Nairobi and wait for the Safari van to pick us to take us to the Masai Mara.