I’ve posted a lot about what we’ve done, and the thing we enjoyed and would recommend to others; however, it hasn’t all been completely smooth sailing. Despite really enjoying our time in Kenya, it also seemed to be the place where a lot of things went wrong or weren’t as expected, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on those with you instead!
1. Don’t take a bus from Moshi to Nairobi
I mistakenly left the travel planning of how to get from Tanzania to Kenya after we were done Kili to Rich, and it wasn’t pretty. I assumed (wrong, very wrong), that we would be leaving the same way we arrived – by plane. To get to Tanzania we flew into Nairobi and transferred to a little plane which took about 35 minutes (with great views of Kilimanjaro) and flew into Kilimonjaro International, about 25 minutes from Moshi where we stayed. That’s what I wanted to get back to Nairobi. We’d just spent 8 days roughing it on a mountain, my knees were shot, and I wanted a nice, easy, fairly comfortable ride to Nairobi so I could get to the hotel and put my feet up and have a beer. My husband, on the other hand, wanted a different experience and to save money (a clear difference between us), decided that a 10-12 hour bus ride was the better option. After spending 8 days on a mountain. Did I mention my knees were shot? Also how tall we both are?
Fast forward to the day after we finished our climb and our alarm was set for 5.30am (we didn’t even have to get up that early when we were climbing), and we were up to catch the next bus outta dodge. Or Moshi in this case. I was tired, both my knees were swollen, and my back ached (I didn’t really give a hoot about how Rich was feeling at this point as he was the one who insisted on the bus 😂), and my mood did not improve as the day went on. First the bus was late. Then there was no seats left except for the very back row which has the least amount of room (remember the height thing?). After about 90 minutes where we’d just about gotten settled and comfy-ish and were just starting to nod off, we arrived in Arusha and were told we had to switch buses. In the confusion of switching, we were once again in the worst seats, this time on an even worse bus with less leg room. It was hot, there was no A.C., and my knees got even bigger over the next few hours (my ankles decided to join them as well) due to the lack of blood flow and not being able to stretch out.
As we’d just come off the mountain the afternoon before, we had no food with us (but plenty of water), and my meager breakfast at 6am just wasn’t cutting it. The only good thing was the fact we had to get off the bus at the Kenya border to go through security, and we managed to get through quickly and snagged better seats for the rest of the journey (it wasn’t much of a improvement tbh). I’ve talked about how bad the roads are in Kenya previously, and that combined with traffic made it slow going. We eventually got into Nairobi city centre just over 10 hours later, where they proceeded to tell everyone to get off the bus as it was the end of the line.
When we’d booked our tickets we asked and were assured that the bus would take us directly to our hotel; however, as we quickly came to realise, they often tell you what you want to hear even when it’s not true. Our bus driver, probably seeing how close I was to tears (by this point it was about 3 pm, I was starving and in a lot of pain), took pity on us and helped arrange a cheap taxi to take us to our hotel. We finally arrived, but not before saying goodbye and good riddance to this thing:
The moral is: don’t take a bus across Africa, and book the rest of the trips transport yourself.
2. Don’t break your camera lens in Nairobi
We successfully climbed Kilimanjaro in the sun, wind, rain, snow, and cold without anything happening to our camera and were feeling mighty impressed with ourselves. After our terrible bus ride (see above) we managed to upload our pictures and start sharing them with everyone, and took a few of Nairobi as well (okay, we took one).
After a relaxing afternoon, I got the camera to take some pictures of the sunset and it popped up with an error message: cannot connect to lens. Please turn off and reattach lens. Wait, what!? All it had been doing was sitting on the bed all afternoon, how could this happen? Both Rich and I took the camera apart, cleaned it, reattached the lens, and the same error message kept popping up. Not only could we no longer take pictures, it wouldn’t even allow us access to the ones already taken on the camera. We had one day in Nairobi before we were heading out for our week on Safari, and I did not want to be using a GoPro and our mobile phones for that trip, so instead of relaxing, we decided to take the next day to wander around Nairobi city centre and see if we could replace the lens. It’s a major city, shouldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong.
Firstly, my camera is a Sony a5000 with an e-mount lens. They’re pretty standard in Europe and North America, and Sony have a variety of e-mount lenses on the market that would work if we couldn’t replace the exact model we had. Nairobi even has an authorised Sony store about a 15 minute walk from our hotel, so we were feeling pretty good about the whole thing. We set off, but due to said camera being broken, took no pictures of Nairobi. We felt relatively safe walking around Nairobi in the middle of the day (I’ve felt less safe in cities in Europe before); however, we really stuck out due to the colour of our skin and not understanding the language (Swahili). Because of this, we were already drawing a lot of attention to ourselves, with people trying to hawk their wares at us and trying to get us to buy things from their shops, and neither of us felt comfortable pulling our phones out to take pictures.
We made it to the Sony store and were relieved to see that they had the same camera for sale, just an updated version as we got ours about 2 years ago, but it was super expensive and we only wanted the lens. After speaking to someone about what we wanted, we were told that they only had the full camera for sale, and had zero e-mount lenses. They also had an authorised Sony dealership within the store that does repairs, but after speaking to them, we were told it could take 2 weeks to repair (If it could be repaired), and that they wouldn’t be able to tell us the price until it was done. They did, however, direct us to an independent camera shop across the street and suggested we try there instead.
Across the road we went (dodging traffic even when we had a walk signal) and into the other camera shop. The man got very excited because, although he didn’t have one, his mate from the camera shop down the road did and he was on his way with it for us. Things were looking better until he arrived and turned out it wasn’t an e-mount lens and therefore didn’t fit. They were both very good and spent the next 30 minutes calling every camera shop in Nairobi trying to find one, before informing us there simply were no Sony e-mount lenses any where in the city. We were pretty annoyed and feeling slightly defeated by this point, and really not sure what to do. We briefly considered going back and buying the full camera, but decided it was just too expensive (we’re talking about £900, yikes!), and on the off chance they had something, we stopped at a Nikkon store to look. The man was very helpful, but had nothing that would fit our camera. He did show us a number of other options of decent cameras within our budget, and after talking it over we decided that best course of action was to buy a new camera, the replace our lens when we get to Oz and sell said new camera. Plan in place, we purchased a Nikon B500 (for slightly more then we really would have liked), and we were on our way.
Although we didn’t get any pictures of Nairobi on it, all our safari pictures were from this camera, which turned out to be pretty decent. The only downside? It runs off 4 x AA batteries rather then being rechargeable, so we’ve had to carry around a small fortune in them to make sure we never run out.
The moral is: don’t break your camera lens in Nairobi cause they have none to replace it.
3. Don’t order a cheese board in Kenya.
After 2 weeks of various African food (which is tasty, don’t get me wrong), one of our lodges offered a cheese board for after dinner. It was exactly what we wanted at the time, and we ordered it without hesitation. There’s not much I can say about it, so I’ll just leave you with this:
4. Don’t get food poisoning in Kenya
Rich tried it, and trust me, it’s not worth it. Although he got a day in bed (when’s he ever complained about that?), we did end up missing out on seeing rhinos and hippos during our last day in the Masai Mara. We’re not sure what caused it, but I at least got a day pool side to work on my tan, so there’s that, whereas Rich lost a few pounds. Maybe avoid the lamb?