If you recently saw the documentary about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Africa, you will know that it is a very special place for both of them. Harry in particular has been there over the years when struggling with mental health issues and to carry on the work that his mother the Princess of Wales pioneered. Having been to Kenya five times myself, I can relate to their feelings and the love for the continent, and although you need a visa for Kenya, I hope that this article will make you see that it is not a complicated process, and worth every penny!
I first went to Kenya in my early 20s and fell in love with both the country and the people. That first trip was a safari – one of the things that Kenya is most famous for. It is still to this day one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on.
Getting a Kenyan Visa is a simple and inexpensive process – and one which should not put you off going. You can apply via visiting the Kenya embassy, or getting one on arrival into the country, but applying in advance can reduce worry and stress, as well as sometimes meaning a shorter queuing time on arrival. Kenya also has an electronic variant of the Kenya visa, which can be applied for fully online. The Kenyan visa allows you to stay for 90 days which is more than enough time for the majority or travellers. Just remember that you can’t do any work in that time though – it is purely a tourist visa!
My Personal Kenyan Highlights
As mentioned before, Kenya is one of my favourite places in the world. I have been 5 times now and I am itching to get back. That first trip was a dream safari, staying in amazing lodges and high quality accommodations, but subsequent trips have involved doing charity work, staying in much more basic places, but spending time helping local projects and doing work on the ground with local communities.
On my safari I visited Samburu, and met local tribes people, learning about their culture and ways of life. From there we went to Lake Nakuru, which at the time had a much higher number of flamingoes than it does now, and Mount Kenya. Mount Kenya is the only place in the world on the equator where you can find snow. You can also see snow in Kenya when looking at Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli national park, but that is not on the equator. It’s very strange being in somewhere so hot and seeing snow though – it really was breathtaking the first time I saw that snow covered summit. Our final stop was the Masai Mara, one of the most famous places in all of Kenya. The Masai Mara in Kenya becomes the Serengeti when it meets the Tanzanian border, and both are famous for their wildlife and safari opportunities, as well as of course seeing the wildebeest migration.
I didn’t go at the right time of the year to see the migration, but I did see some amazing wildlife and meet some amazing people. I also did an optional extra which was a hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the Masai Mara. Whilst I did pay extra for this, I would thoroughly recommend it. You get to see the scenery and the animals from a different angle and it is absolutely stunning. My excursion also involved a bubbly bush breakfast after landing. They set up a beautiful breakfast in the middle of the Mara, an experience I will never forget!
After falling head over heels in love with Kenya, when I found out that a family I used to babysit for ran a charity out there and organised trips to volunteer out there, I jumped at the chance. It is a small charity, which runs out of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, but they work in local communities, building schools and health centres. They also send yearly groups of volunteers to work in the schools and do activities with the children.
There’s been a lot of controversy about tourism in developing countries where people go there to volunteer, this even culminated in a race row involving TV personality Stacey Dooley, where she ended up being called a “white saviour”. Trips like the ones I’ve been on, aren’t about being “holier than thou” in helping those who they see as less fortunate than themselves but rather they are (in my opinion) about not only helping those, but also raising awareness of issues which we are so distant from. Having been born and bred in Surrey, UK, the issues relating to poverty and global injustice were things I had never encountered or really ever thought about.
I enjoy charity trips where I work in schools and medical centres, maybe there is some selfish component to it – but they are very humbling opportunities, and spending time there definitely helps keep me grounded. I also now enjoy keeping up to date with what is going on in Kenya and like to read the Parliament of Kenya’s website.
Whether you go to Kenya for a safari or to take part in charitable opportunities, I would thoroughly recommend you go and enjoy the beautiful country and the amazing people you will meet. Do your sums, including all your travel costs and the visa, and make sure you get there soon! You won’t regret it!