AN AFRICAN IDYLL
Get an authentic 'feel' of Kenyan wildness through slow-travelling in our guide. Once the dust settles in, so will the realisation that you're walking on Sub-Saharan soil and you'll never see the world in the same way again
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Roya Ann Miller
09 May 2020
Visiting Kenya is quite a surreal experience. This African dreamland seemed out of reach due to lack of tourist interest in the area for many years. However, things are starting to change. Kenya is beginning to get more popularity because of the unique out-of-the-way location of this country. It has been vaguely represented in little detail as a travel destination, which is part of the reason some well-travelled nomads are curious to head towards this African spot. Nowadays, it is easier than ever to connect to the country's rural charm through attractions such as safari trips and camping experiences. The fully functioning railway system has been undergoing some major developments in order to make transportation across the country easier and more accessible. Foreigners head to this African paradise mainly to indulge into the experience of getting to know a place that belongs to the wild. Gradually, Kenya has grown out of being a far-away land and turned into a must-see place. Today there are plenty of reasons to experience it for yourself.
The African country is fascinating because it is pure in its authenticity. The country doesn't have an artificial appearance. It is not a reflection of countless multicultural travellers' perceptions and Hollywood movie adaptations, which many other places seem to have. It is different to the typical places advertised on travel guides and it won't give you that tourist feel where you can just merge with the crowds. Here there is no exploring every road and building alongside people who are visiting with the sole purpose of ticking every sightseeing spot off their list. Kenya isn't famous for any canals where you can take a gondola ride with your lover like you can do in Venice. It doesn't have the ancient charm of a city of ruins which seems to be frozen in time such as Italy. It does not posses the peaceful idyll of a desert oasis of timelessness that Egypt is. This isn't a place on the map most people are instantly drawn to. Instead, the country is known for being misrepresented. This is what adds sweetness to an opportunity to visit.
Perhaps only very few travellers who have not seen much of the world besides the essential family holidays, will decide to hit the road for the first time by starting their journey from Africa - let alone the Sub-Saharan African region! As much as it is appealing, African travels can be quite challenging and demanding. It is true that like many other African places, Kenya is also dealing with political problems and economic instability, but this shouldn't be seen as an obstacle. Visiting this part of the world provides a different kind of travelling style, allowing you to experience getting around in a slower, more lose-track-of-time kind of way. This in itself is a great representation of Kenya. In order to truly connect to the country, you need to forget everything you know about travelling in a 'sophisticated' way around European destinations, Asian paradises and well-researched Central American places. Africa is different, it has its own rhythm. Countries like Kenya are a proof of this. The thing you need to know when you're headed to visit is to try and find that specific open state of mind if you want to understand the country through its multi-diversity. If you happen to be a traveller from a far-away land, you'll truly benefit from understanding this side of Africa in such sense.
The best way to approach travelling in Kenya is to adapt to its style. Make sure you do the best you can to make your travelling reflective of the places you're exploring. This is a country that is naturally wild in its essence. Appreciating its wild side will bring you closer to the Kenyan experience. Tours are a great way to get familiar with a place you don't know much about and are not comfortable discovering on your own. Consider booking a tour that will allow you to camp. If you do so, you'll add some excitement to your trip. As tours are already planned out for you in advance, you'll have enough time to pay attention to your surroundings without the stress of arranging accommodations and mapping out travel routes. Kenya has a mesmerising wildlife so camping and staying outdoors for as long as possible to let the experience sink in is the most authentic way to 'feel' this Sub-Saharan African place. There are several tours you can choose from: if you are in Zambia, you can head to Nairobi from Victoria Falls and continue to Kenya, book a combined safari trip from Tanzania to Kenya or choose another path to get there depending on where you depart from.
Once the dry heat sets in, the experience will get real and you'll quickly get used to the fact that you are walking on Kenyan soil. Adapting to the slow-travelling approach will feel like a portal to your childhood. Talks around the campfires, exploring parts of the world you've never seen before and stargazing are a combination you will remember fondly for years afterwards. The food will most likely be simplistic, yet tasty, the accommodation will consist of soggy tents and starry skies and driving will take you through dusty paths and endless roads. Your company will be strangers from all around the world, some of whom would never have set foot in the wild, and others who are there yet again because they can't get enough of the wonders that Africa treasures. At night, you could spot zebras, lions and interloper sneaking around in their natural habitat. In the morning, if you get up early enough, catching the sunrise will set reality of the wildness into perspective. During the day, the vegetables in your meals and the freshly cut fruits will give you a taste of the country and even the speed bumps along the road will make you happy and grateful to be able to be on this journey.
It takes experiencing Kenya once and it is guaranteed that you'll see the world differently afterwards. Travel mindfully, appreciate every detail, every step, every glimpse of the wildness. It is a true privilege to be able to experience a country through slow travel, yet it is the only way to connect to Kenya. Despise the endless stream of information in pictures, articles and tales of places, even tucked-way ones, the wild regions of the world cannot be described, they need to be experienced. No matter how much you learn in advance about a place like Kenya, you'll never be prepared for what to expect once you find yourself exploring it for yourself.
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