As we are currently on an East African visa we decided to take advantage and explore some of Kenya. Call it a working holiday. Once over the border we bought local sim cards which we topped up with airtime and I spent two weeks using my phone as a mobile hotspot and was able to work as normal. There was one time when we were driving on the Nairobi-Mombasa road, I have my computer connected to my phone and am dealing with all sorts of things going on at work in the UK. A new definition of a mobile office!
The Kenyan border is just around 4 hours from Kampala. The border crossing was hectic but simple enough. I forgot what it was like to cross an African border crossing. Memories from 7 years ago came flooding back and we quickly entered into ‘let’s not be ripped off’ mode with the car insurance brokers and hawkers selling warning triangles. Apparently there was a police stop 10K after the border and we would most certainly be fined if we could not show our warning triangle and fire extinguisher. There was a police stop after 10K but no request for our warning triangle or extinguisher. Infact no request at all over the two weeks for either item. In Uganda instead of warning triangles accidents and break downs are warned by bits of tree or bush lining the road in the run up to the incident. Kenya it seemed was way more strict on this kind of thing. Every accident or break down we saw had a warning triangle. Not only that but drivers actually obeyed road rules, gave way to other drivers and seemed marginally more able to use a dual carriageway effectively. Kenya had some great new roads with flyovers, street lights ad bypasses. It was quite a culture shock after 7 months without leaving Uganda.
Our plan in Kenya was pretty fluid. We were contemplating game parks and safari but we have this in Uganda and with friends coming out in November we decided to leave that for Uganda and focus instead on getting down to the coast. Alex and I both grew up close to the sea and I really is being by the sea in land locked Uganda. Uganda has plentiful lakes but there is nothing like sitting on the beach and looking out to a vast sea. We broke up the journey down to the coast with stops at Lake Naivasha, Kakamega Forest and Nairobi. Once by the coast we had to decide if we wanted to go North or South (of Mombasa). We opted for the less touristy North coast of Watamu, Mida Creek and Kilifi.
Kenya has a great tourism infrastructure. There are provisions for tourists in a way that Uganda hasn’t got yet. However there are very few tourists. There have been problems with security in Kenya as it borders Somalia and has a strong threat from Al Shabab. Also the elections are coming up in 2017 and so tensions are running high. It was quiet, the hotels and lodges are there but at some places we were the only guests. We camped mostly but down in Kilifi were able to take advantage of the quietness and get good deals at hotels right on the beach.
The long drive down to the coast (about 9 hours on a nasty road full of trucks from Nairobi) was worth the few days we spent down there. The Indian ocean was warm like a bath. The weather was spectacular and we had a lovely time.
It was great to be on the road again, moving place to place every few days, taking in the sights and sounds of a new country. We still have a few weeks on our East African visa which includes Rwanda as well as Kenya and Uganda. 7 years ago we didn’t spend more than a couple of days in Rwanda so i’m interested to head back and see more of it.