Masai Mara – crossed of my list

Masai Mara National Park is probably one of the most famous in Kenya for it’s the second half of the Tanzanian Serengeti. That’s why most of my workcamp participants had been looking forward to visit  in order to see the Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino). However, I didn’t like it as much as I expected to.

The reason: I found it quite expensive and too crowded. Besides, I had probably lost my hard to my surprising favorite Lake Nakuru National Park a couple of days before. If you expect nothing you can’t be disappointed, I guess.

The lesson: I like to explore hidden treasures (at least the not-so-famous-and-crowded-places) more than visiting super famous places. I love to watch animals. Masai Mara’s sheer endless landscape is very impressive anyways.

Two of hundreds of safari cars driving tourists through Masai Mara.

Two of hundreds of safari cars driving tourists through Masai Mara.

However, all in all, I nevertheless enjoyed our trip through Masai Mara.

Visiting Naivasha, Kenya

When traveling Kenya, Naivasha is a great place to stop by. Amongst other things, you can go on nice bike rides (we decided against mountain biking off road) to spot some animals, spend the night in cozy bandas (huts) or go on a boat ride on Lake Naivasha.

My favorite experiences: Going on a boat ride to see hippos and pelicans during dawn and see a thousand pretty cacti (yes, I find them pretty).

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In love with Nakuru National Park, Kenya

It might be hard to believe for many but my favorite place to travel to in Kenya was not Masai Mara but another, not so famous place called Nakuru. We spent about one and a half days and one night in Nakuru National Park. What I loved about it: it’s not as crowded as other parks yet one can gaze at countless amazing, pretty, cute wild animals. I’ll just leave you with some pictures – I promise you’ll love it!

What’s your favorite place in Kenya?

Visiting Kisumu and Lake Victoria, Kenya

Day trips are fun, especially when they’re distracting you from everyday life in a lovely yet tiny town such as Sega.

That’s why my workcamp group decided to take a trip to Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest town, and stop by Lake Victoria, the world’s third largest sweet water lake.

The matatu (small bus) or cashier (big bus) ride from Sega to Kisumu takes about 2,5 hours and costs 250 KES (ca. $2,50). There are numerous things to do in Kisumu, here’s what we decided on:

Visit the Kisumu National Museum

Learn more about the Luo culture and see a reconstruction of a traditional Luo homestead.

Reconstruction of a typical Luo homestad

Reconstruction of a typical Luo homestad

The museum also contains a collection of African snakes, sweet water aquariums and two crocodiles which are kept in tiny cages.If you’re an animal lover, skip those parts of the exhibition. It broke my heart to see those animal vegetating. The exhibition hall about traditional Luo crafts and handiwork also contains preserved animal heads as well as a preserved lion and buffallo body. The museum claims all those animals died a natural death and we’re preserved for research purposes only.

Entrance Fee: 100 KES ($ 1) for Kenyan citizens, 200 KES ($ 2) for East African citizens, 500 ($ 5) for foreign citizens.

Visit Dunga Beach

Eat freshly fried fish or your own picnic while enjoying a beautiful view over Lake Victoria. Watch the fisherman sail across the lake in their colourful boats and see the women prepare the fish to be sold on markets nearby. Watch hundreds of birds eat the fish leftovers. Go on a boatride across the lake (100 KES).

Last but not least: take a matatu back home and enjoy the silence in a small but lovely and wonderful town like Sega.

The workcamp I am conducting is organized by the German organization Kolping Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste. To learn more about their work and possibilites to participate in a workcamp in different countries all over the world, check out their website.

What we eat in Sega, Kenya

What we eat in Sega, Kenya

Our breakfast is plain and simple: toast with marmalade, accompanied by black tea with or without milk but always a lot of brown sugar.

Lunch and dinner are quite similar: simple yet very tasty.

We are using a “jiko”, a charcole grill/ oven,to prepare whatever there is to be prepared such as:

  • Sukuma wiki (fried green kale with onions)
  • White and brown Ugali (a cooked “cake” made of maize or wheat flour and water)
  • Rice
  • Spagetthi
  • Boiled potatoes with onions and tomatoes
  • Chapati (fried flat bread similar to those served in India)
  • Boiled peas in a sauce of mixed vegetables
  • plantains
  • Scambled eggs with tomatoes
  • Chicken or Fish (which I don’t eat as a vegetarian)
  • Bananas and oranges for dessert
  • Hand-picked and fried peanuts

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For each lunch and dinner, two or three of us join the housemaids, Vicky and Margaret, for the preparations. It usually takes about two to threehours until everything is ready to be served. They make a great effort to explain us how to prepare the traditional Kenyan dishes and are incredibly patient when explaining us how to correctly cut the kale and form a chapatti.

Fun fact: Sukuma Wiki is Swahili and means “pushing the week” (sukuma = pushing, wiki = week) because the green leaves are quite cheap yet yielding and filling so that they are often bought in order to save some money.

The workcamp I am conducting is organized by the German organization Kolping Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste. To learn more about their work and possibilites to participate in a workcamp in different countries all over the world, check out their website.

Learning Luo and Kiswahili in Sega

Our hosts in Kenya, the members of St. Anne’s Catholic Church Sega, did their best to introduce us to as many of their traditions and customs as possible. This also included teaching us Swahili and giving each of us Luo names.

Laura Atchiene

The term “Luo” determines both, an ethnic group located in Western Kenya, as well as this group’s cultural practices and language.

In addition to their regular first name, Luos use surnames according to their times of birth. For women, those are:

Assien = In the morning
Atchiene = during day time
Adhiambo = in the evening
Atieno = at night
Find a list of more Luo surnames here.

Since I was born around noon, my Luo name is Laura Atchiene. Sounds nice, huh?

Useful kiswahili word for cooking

Useful kiswahili words

Jambo!

Betty, a girl from Nairobi, who decided to join our workcamp group, is doing a great job teaching us Swahili. In return,we are teaching her the equivalent German phrases.

Swahili English German
Jambo! Hello Hallo.
Habari yaki? How are you? Wie geht es dir?
(Msuri) sana. (Very) good. (Sehr) gut.
Asante (sana). Thank you (very much). (Vielen) Dank!
Karibu! Welcome!

You’re welcome.

Willkommen!

Gern geschehen.

Karibu chakula. Enjoy your meal. Guten Appetit.
It’s delicious. Ni tamo. Es schmeckt gut.
Hakuna matata! No worries! Kein Problem!
Kwaheri Good bye. Auf Wiedersehen.
Lala Salama Good night. Gute Nacht.

This is my favorite song to remember the most important phrases. My friends from Tanzania tought me the song when we met during the International Youth Weeks in Frankfurt.

For the Germans among my readers: “Reise Know-How. Kauderwelch. Kisuahili Wort für Wort” by Hartmut Fiebig is a great book to learn Swahili. My travel guide recommendation is “Reise Know-How. Kenia kompakt” by Hartmut Fiebig. It’s a brief (300 pocket-size pages) introduction into Kenya’s culture, language and valuable travel advices for the major touristic places.