I visited Kenya

Hi dear nomads. Have you ever dreamt of travelling in Africa? If yes, then this article could be useful for you. I had the opportunity to travel in Kenya, in January 2020. Just before that the Covid-19 nightmare started in the continent. As usual, I was there for a journalism mission, but this time with the UNDRR. I was already the online newspaper of my own desk, and also a part-time journalist in an international desk. I could have spent one week there. It was just an amazing experience.

My second trip in Africa

Me on the ferry boat with other passengers. ©Tiasy

When I travelled to the United States, I had to stop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on my way to and back. So it was my very first trip in Africa. This trip in Kenya was then like the second one, but the first one as a real exploration of the continent, and I was so excited to visit it.

The reason why I was travelling there was because the UNDRR was giving a training about the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) to African journalists, in collaboration with the Diraj, which is an association of journalists and communicators working on the DRR, the climate change and the development of Africa and the rest of the world. I got part of this association since 2019, thanks to an old colleague in a local newspaper where I used to work.

The training lasted one week and took place to Mombasa, a port city in southern Kenya on the Indian Ocean, located from 440 km from Nairobi, the Capital of Kenya.

As it was at the end of January and because Mombasa is located on the seaside, it was really really really hot there, like 31°C to 33°C. As a very frigid human being, my body really appreciated it. But my hair… Not too much. They literally fell. I was afraid to get bald once in my hometown.

I departed from Ivato Airport to Nairobi Airport, at 2 am in the morning. I hate waking up early, but if it is for taking plane, so you can expect to see me there with my neckpillow, my luggages and a cup of coffee. I arrived in Nairobi at about 5 am, and had to take a second plane to go to Mombasa.

I remembered I had only high value bills, because I exchanged my money in Nairobi airport. So when I was in the plane and because the flight only lasted 1 or 2 hours, there was no breakfast, while I was starving. I asked for a breakfast and it costed something like 10$, but I had only bills of 100$. The flight attendant told me there was no change. And then, there was that very gentle man, who was an Arab, I think, considering his way of clothing and his face, and also the writing on his phone, who told the flight attendant that he would pay for it.

At that moment, I was thinking that there was some remains of humanity in this world…

The breakfast that the Arab man bought me in the flight. ©Tiasy

What hit me the most when I finally arrived in Mombasa, it was the “African land”. I mean… you cannot be more sure you are in Africa: damaged roads, damaged cars, damaged houses, disrespect between black people – thank God I have a lighter skin so people always think I’m not African, so they respect me more – beggars, pickpockets, traffic-jams…

As a Malagasy people, I felt like I didn’t travel at all. I just took a plane to see exactly the same things. And on many points, Madagascar’s seasides was incredibly better, mostly if we talk about beaches. I even believe that Madagascar has one of the most beautiful beaches around the world, and I’m not saying that because I’m Malagasy.

That said, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like Mombasa at all. I really enjoyed being there.

During the journey, we stayed at the Mombasa Continental Resort. It was a great hotel, very welcoming and with beautiful rooms. Although, I found the decorations too extravagant. Even so, I loved the view. And there was a pool, even if the hotel was just next to the beach. Also, the meals were delicious. I tried a lot of African foods.

The training took place at the Pride Inn Paradise Hotel and Spa for 3 days. A very beautiful and giant resort, with great meals and big rooms. The kind of hotels where international conferences and meetings are held.

The last day, we had the opportunity to visit the Mikoko Pamoja, which is a carbon project located in Gazi Bay, Kenya. The project aims at conserving mangroves through the Sale of carbon credits. It was one of the most interesting field trip I experienced during the training. We had the chance – or not – to take the ferry boat to go there. It was not one of the best times of my life but it’s interesting to take it once in a lifetime.

Also, we visited the Bamburi Haller Park. For the first time, I saw a real giraffe. I always wanted to see these big, beautiful and gentle animals. I was so happy to see some of them.

Me and my giraffe xD ©Tiasy
The beautiful giraffes of Bamburi Haller Park. ©Tiasy

Apart from that, I have also seen these wild animals that I wanted to see but that I could have never; mostly the hippopotamus and the warthog.

When I came back from Mombasa to Nairobi, I should have directly taken a plane to go back to Antananarivo. But it happened that my flight was rescheduled for the night, and I only got that information from Kenya Airways once in Nairobi airport.

It was the first time I had that kind of incident and I was really worried. I had to stay in the airport for two hours, while they were “arranging the problem”, as they told me. I was out of battery, so I couldn’t even get connected. Fortunately, I just bought the Obama book: The audacity of hope, in Mombasa airport. I could have waited there until they decided to take me to a hotel, not far from the airport, in the middle of the city of Nairobi.

The Obama book: “The audacity of hope“, that I bought in Mombasa airport. ©Tiasy

I wanted to do some vacations there, but didn’t have enough money, so this was just a great luck, because the stay at the hotel and the meals were paid by the company.

They sent us at the Eka Hotel. A beautiful hotel, with a great view on the city, and more American. As an American lover, you can imagine how much I preferred this to the two previous ones.

Because I still had a half-day to kill and because this opportunity was maybe the last one in my life, I decided to visit the city of Nairobi. I was a little bit worried to go out alone though, it was obviously not the same as in the US, where you feel safe at anytime and anywhere. Also, the city was really crowded, and there was traffic-jams, klaxons, buses and taxis everywhere…

So I decided to text a journalist I knew that was in the city, who was with us in the training in Mombasa, and to ask him if he could help me out because I wanted to do some shopping and also, to buy some meals, maybe, or just to walk around. He introduced me to his colleague, a beautiful Kenyatta girl, who could take me to the “best shops and places around”, as he told me. But first of all, I needed to escape from the hotel, and I really didn’t know how.

Finally, I decided to download the Uber app and to call a cab. It was the first time I used a Uber, and OMG it was so practical. They were really polite, arrived at time, and didn’t charge me a lot.

Then, I met my friend colleague and we went through the town together, buying clothes, lipsticks, nail polish, key rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and a lot of these stuff for women. Also, I bought magnets and notebooks, as I love writing.

Some walks around Nairobi. ©The Kenyatta girl

After my shopping, I went back to the hotel to take a bath, then to have my dinner, and the shuttle took me for the flight at 9pm.

The last surprise of that trip was that we were supposed to arrive at 1am in Antananarivo, but our flight decided to “go a bit” to the Comoros airport, for I don’t remember which reason.

Comoros airport. ©Tiasy

I arrived only at 2am in Antananarivo, totally tired but still amazed by this great trip.

  • Trip preparation

Among all my trips, going to Kenya was one of the easiest, at least before the Covid-19. Indeed, I only had 2 weeks to prepare my trip (as usual). I’m really getting used to this rush in the journalism world.

The papers required for the trip were almost the same as during my trip in the US(lien vers article US), and almost the same for this kind of mission also:

Here were the papers they required from me at that time, to travel from Madagascar to Kenya.

  • Valid passport
  • An invitation letter for the media training from the organization from which I got the grant (UNDRR and the DIRAJ nomination (the UNDRR and the DIRAJ in my case)
  • Plane tickets.

The visa was delivered at the airport of Kenya, it was a visa on arrival.

  • Some places to visit in Mombasa

There are quite nice places to visit in Mombasa. Here are some places you could visit for a drink, an afterwork, and also to see animals and monuments.

  • Bamburi Haller Park
  • Fort Jesus
  • Nyali Beach
  • Mombasa Tusks
  • Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.

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