5 Things to Do in Kenya That Don't Involve Safaris | Thriftanista in the City

4.17.2015

5 Things to Do in Kenya That Don't Involve Safaris

You may or may not be surprised to know that I'm an urban girl. I'm not into backpacking, camping, and roughing it. I've never had an interest in safaris either. Big uncaged animals? No thanks. Too much nature for me. I was a little scared during my first and only safari especially when our car drove too close to a herd of elephants.

I'm glad I had the experience but it's not something I necessarily need to do again. I'll wait until V is old enough to beg for request it. Given her love of animals, we'll definitely be seeing the Big 5 again soon.

5 things to do in kenya that don't involve safaris



While seeing the Big 5 (lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinoceros) is the main attraction, there are other things to do.

5 Things to Do in Kenya That Don't Involve Safaris



1. Go to the Beach This is my ideas of vacation! Fruity drinks by the pool underneath blue skies soaking up sunshine between food, food, and more food. We hung out at Diani Beach in Mombasa. Our hotel was amazing. It was quiet and relaxing. I missed the sunrise but did watch the moonrise while dining al fresco every day of our stay. Our cottage looked out onto the Indian Ocean. The water was clear and warm. The sand on the beach was white. It was like landing in paradise.

spending time on diani beach in mombasa, kenya

On the way to town or out of town you can get your cultural life with a tour of old town in Mombasa with historical buildings dating from the 18th century and Fort Jesus -- a Portuguese fort built in 1591!

2. Eat Everyone has to eat and the foodie experience tops my list of things to do while on vacation. The national dish of Kenya is nyama choma (barbecued meat) and it is delicious. One of the most popular tourist (and local) favorite places to go is Carnivore where you can sample ostrich, zebra, crocodile meat and more! I prefer beef and goat though.

a sampling of food from trip to kenya

In addition to nyama choma, you must try the Kenyan sausages made by Farmers Choice. They taste better than any sausage I've ever tasted. Also, eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I was completely blown away by the taste of avocados. They're slightly sweet.  If you're near the coast, definitely do seafood. Oh, and don't forget to wash it all down with fresh passion fruit juice.

3. Shop We shopped Maasai Market where you'll find beaded jewelry, gourds, baskets, Maasai crafts and everything else to show you've been to Kenya in an open air market. Just so you know, foreigners pay more. Go in knowing what you're willing to pay and ready to haggle. Negotiate as much as you can and be willing to walk away from stalls. If you've been to a flea market than you are already familiar with this process.

visiting maasai market outdoor shopping market in kenya

My secret shopping spot is Nakumatt supermarket. You can find spices, coffee, teas, and jams. All great gifts and easier to stash in your luggage than wood carvings.

Secondhand clothes are a big deal. After reading this, I wanted to spend some time exploring the thrift scene but there simply wasn't enough time. There are stalls along the rode. I even saw a guy selling all vintage leather coats. My thrifting white whale, a well fitting moto jacket, was surely there.

5. See animals Animals may not top my list of fun things to do but that was on Violet's bucket list. So animals we did see. At Nairobi National Park we saw gazelles, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, buffaloes, lions, cheetahs and leopards along with roaming monkey and baboons who will bully you for your juice. See V holding juice. See baboon drinking it?

Animal parks in Nairobi

You can also visit Langata Giraffe Center and get kissed by a pretty giraffe or the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where you can adopt orphaned elephants. I'm told they send you periodic email update about what your elephant is up to.

5. Urban Forest Karura Forest was on our list of things to do but we ran out of time. This was another V option. She wanted to go on a picnic. There's a waterfall, bamboo forest, marshland, Mau Mau caves and an old church. It makes a great day trip for biking, hiking, and picnicking.

Off the Beaten Path


1. Camel Ride We were able to ride at Diani Beach but I've seen camels passing through towns too. It's a slow, bumpy ride. V says it was the best part of the trip.

2. Ice Skating Solar is the largest ice rink in Africa and the first in East Africa and Central Africa. I don't do cold weather activities ever but it's there if you're looking to spend some down time indoors. I see you moms who need to recharge solo at the hotel.

Have you ever been to Kenya? What did you do?

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