Nairobi happens to be the largest city in Kenya. Always had short stints with it, as twas a place where I would have day visits and then connect flights to other parts of the world.
This time around I had 2 days to explore and couldn’t wait to absorb its character beyond modern skyscrapers, fast food restaurants and busy streets. Just to paint a quick picture: it’s as urban as Johannesburg, just on a smaller scale. The rhythm of the city is also fast both day and night.
Had planned to link up with my local connects, but my timing was off. Nevertheless, let me give you the lowdown on the “Green City in the Sun”
- Valid passport (Visa free country for South Africans)
- Yellow fever card
WHERE TO STAY
Did a bit of research and found that two areas met my criteria for centrality and quietness: Westlands and Kileleshwa.
Ended up booking a lovely apartment on Airbnb, which happened to be in Kileleshwa. I was sold on the spaciousness and the clever use of wall paper, unique light fixtures and wooden floors.
The main bedroom was my favourite thing about the space, the bed leaned on a contemporary back wall made up of wood and mirrors, and the Eames inspired furniture completed the look.
R1 = 6,77 Kenyan Shilling
$1 = 100,91 Kenyan Shilling
*Dollars and Kenyan Shillings are widely used. Most establishments were formal, so cards often accepted, but cash is king.
Best times to visit Niarobi are June – September . I went in end September, temperature was an average of 20°C with 8hrs of sunshine. No rainfall. Enjoyed wearing strapless tops and light items.
All forms of transport available from Matatus adorned with Graffiti artwork to trains. Lots of cars on the road causing traffic, but the main thing I would like to highlight about Nairobi that is different to the other parts of Kenya is that Uber and Taxify services were largely available and I heavily relied on my apps to get me around.
Wanted a real taste of Kenyan food culture and the best thing I did was signing for a cooking class with Agnes of Jikoni Magic, a popular food channel on YouTube. Started the experience with a visit to a fresh produce market named Wakulima Market, there we browsed the aisles in search of the best quality, and bought fresh fruits and vegetables before proceeding to the kitchen. Agnes and Esther had a beautiful energy about them, which made the learning process fun.
Class lasted 6.5 hours and consisted out of the following actions:
- Cutting, peeling and grinding
- Boiling, frying and simmering
We prepared 3 traditional Kenyan dishes: Samaki Wa Kupaka, Mboga Kienyeji and Kimanga. All too yummy, I even went for seconds, got to the apartment and passed out lol
Looking to book a longer Nairobi stay in the near future, where I can explore the nightlife and glamping. Til next time!
Three things that make my knees go weak: clear turquoise waters, white sands and palm trees. Instagram posts about Diani Beach ticked all these boxes, making Mombasa my first Kenyan love.
Had initially planned to visit this county(which happens to be the smallest in Kenya) back in Summer 2017, but other destinations had to be prioritised due to hectic price inflations in that period. I did not mind postponing my trip as patience always pays off and as such it did in September 2018.
Off peak season meant I would have more to spend on the things I like without any compromise. Eager as ever, wrapped up my Lamu stay and flew out to the place of iconic elephant tusks and Blue and White buildings:
Changed my initial dates, so that I could stay at Sultan Saka House. Spotted this rare find on Airbnb, had an exchange with the welcoming owner and just knew I had to stay there. Had the entire open-plan fortress to myself. Contemporary Swahili design perfection is what I got, with an infinity pool, jacuzzi and massage facility as bonuses. Details, details, details!
A private chef came at an additional cost, but proved to be more cost effective than eating out.
Bonded with the House Manager and the rest of the awesome staff, they made my stay special. Nowhere else to call home in Diani.
R1 = 6,77 Kenyan Shilling
$1 = 100,91 Kenyan Shilling
*Dollars and Kenyan Shillings are widely used. Best to have cash on you as most establishments are informal.
For convenience, booked a short direct flight from Lamu to Mombasa via Fly540.
Mombasa town and Diani Beach were both busy, with an endless supply of Taxi Cabs, Tuk tuks, Matatus and Boda Bodas ready to get people from point A to B. *Do note that tax is not fixed for each trip as it varies.
Average temperature of 29°C in End September – early October, meant a bit of rainfall for Diani Beach. This only lasted a few hours a day, as the weather was mostly sunny. Light coverup recommended for the cool evenings.
Chef Evans at Sultan Saka House prepared traditional dishes for me, everything from chapati to fish stew and breyani. He did a great job at putting a twist on what would usually be consumed as meat dishes, as I only consume seafood. Everything turned out to be yummy! Took extra servings of chapati, which is like an Indian roti just softer and flakier.
Admiring views at Diani Beach is a must! While you’re there you can pop into Safari Beach Hotel (hotel closed, but bar still operational) to book a beach chair and sip on a refreshing drink.
Multiple operators offer jet skiing coupled with dolphin watching, just got to take your best bet on the one who is seemingly reliable and live a little lol
Camel riding is available and can be booked from Forty Thieves Beach Bar and Bistro, which also happens to be a splendid place for snacks and drinks.
Beach Road is where one would go to find goods, as it has a long stretch of street markets.
Did not get anything of extreme uniqueness at these markets, but tis worth a visit as different things were on display from wooden ornaments to Kikoyi.
One point of interest for me along the same walking path was AfricArt Decor, it had amazing baskets on sale and I could not resist adding more to my collection.
This specific Kenyan coast experience meant lots of beach time for me.
Treated it as a way to unwind, appreciate beautiful views and get some stillness.
I caught up on some reading, took long walks, made friends and savoured every bite of my chow. Really cannot wait to go back!
Kenya is a destination that I had had on my radar for quite some time. Kept on postponing trips to this country, but finally took the opportunity to see it through this past September: Lamu, Nairobi and Mombasa.
Pursued the 3-county trip, as a solo traveler which allowed for exploration on my terms. Let’s start with my Lamu experience:
First stopped at Lamu Museum, here I learned everything about the Swahili traditions and cultures from architecture, music, wedding ceremonies, jewellery to different tribes. History dating back to the 14th Century. How else are you supposed to develop a connection with a place without knowing its background?
Kenya is a visa free country for South Africans. All you need is a valid passport. A yellow fever card should also be on your person, as they sometimes ask for this. For uninterrupted connectivity, I bought myself a Safaricom sim card, loaded airtime and data bundles at my convenience.
WHERE TO STAY
I wanted to immerse my self in Lamu and all its glory, so I stayed in Lamu Town at a luxurious six suites Swahili oasis named Andavelo House, with beautiful renovations and all the amenities one would want. Couldn't recommend it more, for its great staff, attention to detail, spaciousness, delicious food prepared by Abu the chef as well as the cleanliness. Feel free to use my Booking.com code to get a discount.
Another amazing place to stay for a modern feel is Ndoto House in Shela, bookings can be made by contacting them on +254 733 455 821.
R1 = 6,77 Kenyan Shilling
$1 = 100,91 Kenyan Shilling
*Dollars and Kenyan Shillings are widely used. Best to have cash on you as most establishments are informal.
End September – early October, saw Lamu having at least 9 hours of sunshine with some random showers that didn’t last long. For clear weather, the best times to visit Lamu are reported as late November to end March.
The most convenient way to travel between counties was by flight, managed to book direct flights from Nairobi to Lamu through fly540. It is also important to note that boats are the primary mode of transport between the airport, villages and other islands. Once, in Lamu Town and Shela, you will also find that Donkeys are used as another means of transport by locals and visitors.
Lamu is an island, so trust that seafood was always on the menu. I mostly had the chef at Andavelo House (where I was staying), prepare meals for me, that consisted out of fish and vegetables. Have to say that this turned out to be the best food I tasted on the island.
Otherwise, snacked on sweet or savoury treats like Sim Sim and Bhajia with a cup of Cinnamon Coffee in hand from the Coffee Man at the seafront. Must Try!
For sundowners, I went to the infamous Majlis Resort and The Floating Bar & Restaurant Lamu, enjoyed delicious cocktails at both places.
Other spots to try in Lamu Town are Whispers Cafe for breakfast, Bush Gardens for fresh smoothies or Moonshine Bar at Lamu House for fish tacos or fish rolls. In Shela, Peponi Hotel was a great option for their White Fish Carpaccio.
Activities are often organised through “Captains”, mine was named Swaleh AKA Captain Pagwash. He helped me organise everything from donkey rides, sunset cruises to snorkeling with a beach barbeque on Manda Toto. To contact him dial + 254 714 115908.
Also got to witness a Green Sea Turtle hatching on Manda Island, which was quite an awe-inspiring experience. 140+ turtles were born that day and immediately tackled the harshness of the waves. Apparently only 1 in 1000 make it to adulthood and after 25 years, the females return to the same beach to lay their eggs and continue the life cycle. These trips are organised by the Lamu Conservation Trust, all proceeds go to guarding the nesting site and taking count of hatchings. If interested in finding out more do contact Famao AKA The Turtle Man on +254 723 963533.
Shopped at the market by Lamu Fort, where one would find fresh produce and hand crafted goods like basket bags. Bought a lot of unique gifts here for friends and family at affordable prices.
In Shela, a must see boutique store is Aman. Twas the only formal store setup that I spotted on the island.
Really appreciated the slow living in Lamu and the fact that I could experience the old and new within minutes. Another thing that made my journey special was meeting the likes of Sandy Bornman AKA @SandyLamu whose in-depth Instagram feed inspired my trip to this island.
Trust that I will be making it an annual holiday destination!
Like most people, my initial introduction to Ibiza were blow-out parties, mainly because our company used to hold DJ residency at one of the most popular clubs on the island. Wild nights!
However, on this 2018 occasion, I had 12hrs to experience a different side of it and did that by enjoying some down time. Just enough to prove that exploring and partying are not mutually exclusive.
I mean, Ibiza has awesome beaches, award winning restaurants and amazing sunsets. Here are are a few spots I had fun discovering:
PLATJA ES CAVALLET
Totally instagrammable! An experience which begins with taking in the salt flats and scenic views of Formentera and Ibiza Town. The beach with its white sands and rolling waves. Perfect place to lounge under the sun and sip on yummy cocktails. It is also an official nudist beach, if you are into that sort of thing lol
Vara de Rey, right in the middle of Ibiza Town, is where this trendy restaurant is located. Making it a perfect spot for lunches or dinners, people watching too. At La Cava, we indulged in a variety of Mediterranean fusion dishes with zero regrets. Everything on the menu was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
First, ordered a selection of flavoursome tapas:
Followed by main plates, which comprised of succulent Salmon paired with pickled vegetables and Chicken Breast with a side salad that had a citrus twist. I really dug into the Salmon!
Then came the chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream, which ended our night on a sweet note.
This boho chic boutique store has to be one of my favourite finds. Boheme had all sorts beach attire, unique in every sense and a cool Bougie hippie vibe about them. Also, got to connect with the owner Alessandra, over chats about print fabrics and fashion trends, which made this an even more pleasant experience as it felt personal. Walked out of the store with a bunch of amazing hats, and trust it will remain my Ibiza fix forever.
This island always promises a good time!
During our Mediterranean tour, we had the opportunity to make a quick stop in Sète, France. A modest port city with a unique streetscape laced with streets, canals and bridges.
Hadn’t done any research on this place, so walked blindly and took it in with each step. Also, this was just a day trip, so I will only detail a few things to do.
Entry into France can be obtained with a Schengen Visa. Applications can be made through a trusted travel agency or one of the many visa application centres in South Africa i.e. VFS or BLS.
The old port served as a good location to take some dope pictures, with a lovely backdrop of painted houses, historic warehouses, boats and the like.
The narrow streets were brimming with boutique stores. One, unmarked store I liked, was one that sold handcrafted straw basket bags with leather strap details on Rue Gambetta. All of us ladies ended up buying these.
When in France do like the French and go hunting for croissants. We were luckily with a friend, who knew these neck of the woods and could not stop hyping decadent “Croissants au chocolat” from l’Epi d’Or Boulangerie Patisserie, I didn’t end up trying these due to a lack of appetite, but the homies seemed to find them irresistible.
Also, spotted a street food market that boasted an array of delicious food like seafood paella and other items like dry spices.
Would have really loved to visit the beach and museums like Musée Paul Valéry, but ran out of time. Till next time!
Europe is where I go for both work and play.
This particular end August - early September trip saw us in Barcelona, located in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean coast. A totally exciting cosmopolitan city full of culture, architectural delights and FREE WIFI. Honestly, could not wait to explore the small narrow streets, filled with musicians, merchants and restaurants.
A Schengen Visa is required to visit Spain, South Africans can apply via BLS International and it will be processed within 15 working days.
WHERE TO STAY
Our chosen hotel was Silken Ramblas, a place which offers modern accommodation in the fantastic location of Las Ramblas, a popular main street in Europe, characterised by trees and cool artisanal shops. Everything and I mean everything was a walk away, from the commercial stores to food markets.
R1 = 17,28 Euros
Credit card and cash were the best methods of payment.
30°C on average. We had some good weather, humid during the day and a bit nippy at night with a few showers. Do note that, the months of April, May, June and October are also very good for travel.
Used Globalia Corporate Travel to book return transfers from the airport to the hotel. Otherwise, walking was the most convenient way to discover the city. Other options were bikes, cabs, city buses, the subway or trains.
Tapas everywhere! I love this Mediterranean diet made up of several types of food in small portions. A total taste bud festival!
For 100% authentic local food we checked out La Boquería, the most famous traditional market in the city.
Also, enjoyed lunch at Nuria, the following dishes must be ordered with multiple servings of Sangria:
Iposa is another food spot to try, stumbled upon it on one of my random walks. It looked like a place to simply relax and that is just what I got: a chilled place without an extensive menu to look at. Ordered a lot of different great tasting dishes, but what stood out for me were their beautifully seasoned Mussels.
Look, Barcelona is dynamically vibrant, brought to life by its people, architecture, art, music and food. The only way to completely get its vibe is to go there and immerse yourself in the splendour...
This small enchanting town also known as Vilankulo, popped up during a search for deals to a different #girlstrip destination.
Given its beauty, we halted all the other search efforts and focused on securing a trip to the gateway of the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique. Trust that flights and accommodation were booked within hours of setting our hearts and minds on the white-sand beaches and the prospects of island hopping.
The quick travel bookings, were followed by a month long wait, which felt like a lifetime. We distracted ourselves by exchanging outfit inspiration pictures and by identifying content creation opportunities.
In this waiting period, I also conceptualised destination-inspired print gear, now available on the Fafa online shopping site.
No Visas required for South Africans. However, Mozambique poses a threat of Malaria infection, all travelers should take prescription tablets before, during and after their planned trips. Recommended medication: Malanil and Mozitec, do consult a doctor about your specific needs.
WHERE TO STAY
www.booking.com is my go-to, as availability is confirmed immediately and the reviews are often accurate.
Our chosen spot was Bahia Mar Beach House, a stunning two-bedroom beach house with scenic views, white walls, blue hues and chic finishes. Totally intagrammable! Loved the fact that there was total privacy, a 24/7 guard, driver at our beckoning call, and a butler who doubled as a cook.
The beach house, is a part of the Bahia Mar Club, this gave us access to the more commercial Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel, which also boasted amazing views, a pool bar and a better beach (15 minute drive away from the beach house)
Click here for a 10% discount. Free airport transfers a bonus.
R1 = 4,81 Mozambican Metical(Mts)
$1 = 60,04 Mozambican Metical (Mts)
Formal establishments accept Dollars, but it would be best to use the local currency to maneuver around. Thinking in Rands, we always divided the Mts by 5 to get ballpark figures. A decent meal was around 600Mts and a soft drink 60Mts.
The average temperature is around 28°C, it was a bit humid and we saw no signs of rain, but apparently June –October are the best months to visit Mozambique as it promises perfect tropical weather.
Free Airport transfers were organised by the Bahia Mar staff. We also had the driver at our disposal at an additional cost per trip. I would advise to arrange transport through the establishment where you will be staying and once you know the surrounds try a short distance ride in a Tuk Tuk which is an inexpensive unique experience.
The food was largely seafood based with nuts, garlic and lemon used as natural flavourants. Carb options were usually rice, chips or Cassava..
Recommended dishes: the Mozambican Chicken Peanut Curry from Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel , as well as the Mozambican Piri -Piri Shrimps(as on the menu), pizza and plain Matapa at Baobab Beach which we frequented.
A local, had suggested Samara Restaurant as a proper seafood spot, but we didn’t get the chance to pay it a visit.
SUNSET DHOW SAFARI
Daily speedboat trips to either of the six islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago were on offer, one would just have to be specific about which two islands they wanted to visit and it would be arranged by a guide.
Twas a half-day commitment, pick-up at 08h00 and drop-off at 16h00. We chose to island hop from Bazaruto Island the largest island with sand dunes to Benguerra island which was a tranquil sandbank. The average price was around $110 / 6000Mts per person with a seafood barbecue and snorkeling included. For more information visit Sunset Dhow Safari
MOZAMBIQUE HORSE SAFARI
Horse riding on the beach, an activity one could never get tired of. This time it was extra special, because I was accompanied by Mandy Retzlaff co-founder of the establishment and author of One Hundred and Four Horses( a book about how her husband were exiled from Zimbabwe and in efforts to start afresh, moved to Mozambique with their string of horses)
This particular ride was a fun history lesson and lasted an hour and a half. Total cost was $50/ 3500Mts. Well worth it!
For bookings visit Mozambique Horse Safari
- Shopping at the local markets: Mercado Municipal and New Market
- Stocking up on tasty fruits and nuts from Florence and her mom on the corner opposite Millenium Bim Bank Vilankulo(just off the main road as you head to the Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel)
- Straw hat buys also on the way to Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel
- Pack lots of sunscreen
Your trip to paradise awaits!
Twas early October 2017, when my partner and I decided that a romantic getaway was needed, but given our conflicting schedules it took some time to pencil in vacation dates. Patience eventually paid off, once the busyness settled, and January 2018 had proven to be a winner.
Time wasn’t on our side, so had to quickly lean on my go-to reference for visa free countries and Zanzibar fit the island paradise bill, with its 24/7 ideal holiday weather and pristine beaches.
Off we went!
Yellow fever card(visit to nearest Travel Clinic highly recommended), otherwise entry into Tanzania would be denied.
WHERE TO STAY
Used www.booking.com to search for accommodation, Paje and Jambiani were the top two area options for us, as they were far out and offered the desired privacy. It also meant that we we could walk from one beach to the other.
The beautiful and luxurious, beach location Sharazad Boutique Hotel was our home away from home. Stayed in a villa with a private plunge pool, veranda and cozy bed.
$1 = 2250.45 Tanzanian Shilling. We opted to transact in Dollars, as most establishments accepted major currencies (hotels to informal traders.)
An average of about 7 hour sunshine occurs in Zanzibar daily. Perfect for beachwear and cover-ups for night time.
Shuttles were organised through the hotel. I would not advise car hire as the cars are old and navigation between the city and villages can be a bit tricky. Furthermore, only the locals know how to maneuver around the potholed roads.
Mouth-watering seafood was the order of the day.
Often ate at our hotel’s restaurant, because a wide variety of options were offered on both the set menu and daily specials. Every devoured dish was fresh and insanely delicious.
Terrace Restaurant at Maru Maru, a rooftop setting in the heart of Stone Town, was indeed a memorable experience, the Lobster and Octopus on their seafood platter was immaculate.
SAFARI BLUE TOUR
This was a guided day trip worth all its buzz in Zanzibar.
Drivers pick you up from your hotel to Fumba. You pick snorkeling gear, then get on a Dhow(handcrafted Swahili boat), the water adventure starts with a picnic stop at a Sand Bank(isolated beach with warm turquoise waters), followed by snorkeling, a quick dip at Blue Lagoon and ends with a Seafood BBQ on Kwale Island where one could do some market shopping and chat to other travelers and some of the locals.
Zanzibar cloves and spices contribute significantly to its agricultural wealth, thus found our visit to a spice farm to be quite interesting.
Through the sense of smell and touch, we learned about everything between Cinnamon, Tumeric and Durian. We had the opportunity to buy some spices, neatly packaged in Zanzibar map, fish and tortoise shapes.
Wrapped up the experience with a crowning ceremony, where we were bejewelled with palm leaves and flowers.
Lively bazaars, winding alleys, primeval mosques and magnificent Arab houses makeup its rich history.
Spotted the Slave Trade Museum, House of Wonders the first house to have an elevator running water and electricity in East Africa, as well as The Old Fort which happens to be the oldest building in Zanzibar.
This ancient city is ideal for shopping, with its many outlets and markets.
The highlight of my trip was not only bonding with my partner, but also having found a connection with the locals.
Do add this to your list of places to visit!
Overwhelmed by work and everything else in life, I looked at solo traveler options.
Bali was an immediate attraction, given its rich character and that one can go from beach to rainforest to mountain all within a couple of hours. In terms of weather, May, June and July were highlighted as the best times to visit, so mid-May I headed out to explore.
A Visa is not required for visits less than 30 days, otherwise there are facilities to pay for a Visa on Arrival at the airport.
WHERE TO STAY
I chose Akana Boutique Hotel in Sanur, a leafy suburb in Bali as my spot. It was quieter than the more popular locations like Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud which are crowded. Also, it having everything on one long street, made it appeal to me more (think Parkhurst.)
R1 = 1027.37 Indonesian Rupiah. Mostly used Dollars as my major currency, as it was also accepted in most formal establishments e.g. tourist places, private drivers and money changers.
A little trick that also helped me keep track of my expenditure was treating every purchase as if it were in Rands, because the Idonesion Rupiah denomination allows you to do that e.g. 150 000 IDR = roughly R150.
Average temperature of 28°C. Pack lightly and have lots of sunscreen.
Organised myself a private driver by the name of Mr Berno, as this allowed me to navigate freely and in comfort. I'm willing to share his contact details with interested parties. Off days saw me riding a bike around the neighbourhood as they were free to use at the hotel.
I tend to be fussy about what I eat, the best thing I did was book myself a cooking class at Paon Bali Cooking Class, to learn about the local food culture. This was a wonderful experience and I'd recommend it to anyone as the hosts were awesome and food preparation process really informative and great tasting. The class started off with a 20min visit to Ubud market to learn about traditional Balinese ingredients.
Mostly ate at the hotel restaurant and consulted TripAdvisor on a number of occasions to identify top rated restaurants wherever I was. The ones that stood out for me where Malaika Secret Moksha for it's organic take on Indian food, food presentation and FRESH KEY LIME PIE and Ristorante Massimo for its sorbets, gelato and pastas.
TEGAL WANGI BEACH
A hidden gem, its beauty goes beyond white sand, clear blue water and cliff views of amazing sunsets. Saw a lot of pre-wedding shoots here.
The high tide doesn't make it nice for swimming, but it's a dope location for pictures(took this pic with my phone and it still came out proper.
ELEPHANT CAMP IN UBUD
Bali elephant riding was scratched off the list. I'd give this experience a whopping 4/5(animals weren't chained and the staff was friendly.) Jimi's back was firm (yes, as in Hendrix) and I felt safe going on an adventurer's short trek. He's currently 35 years old and planning to retire at age 65, as humans do 😂
Also, had a chat with his handler, who told me that it takes 1-3 years of 30min daily training sessions for elephants to get ready for trekking. Can you spell PATIENCE? If only I could adopt this discipline to all gym related matters lol
CAMEL RIDING AT METASARI BEACH
Here's to a first, the ride was a lot smoother than I expected and no, the hump is not squishy lol. Also, check how the Camels are serving serious face game, competition was really tight. Definitely an experience I won't forget.
KEBUNE BALI ARGOTOURIST
A tropical agriculture and coffee roasting facility.Tasted a selection of coffee and tea varieties for FREE and top it up with a Kopi Luwak (Balinese special coffee, process involves Asian palm civets defecating part-digested coffee cherries) for a few Rupiahs, and the deal was sealed. Everything tasted awesome.
- Professional photoshoot with a local photographer ADW Photography Bali
- Parasailing in Tanjung Benoa.
- Visiting Tegenungan Waterfall.
- Sunrise at Tegalang rice terraces.
- Island Indulgence package at The Nest Beachside Spa.
- Bali Bon Bon chocolate tasting, they have great tasting pralines.
- Shopping: There are lots of markets and boutiques in Bali, I shopped at random lol
Enjoy planning your trips!