Kenya’s Other Side

Written on Thursday, April 13, 2023 by

When you think of Kenya the mind fills with images of majestic wildlife.  Lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos and the beloved warthog.  You think of the Great Migration and Simba’s birth on Pride Rock in ‘The Lion King’.  The Masai Mara and their amazing jumping ceremony.  Yes, these aspects of the country are all you’d expect and more when visiting but what of the other side of Kenya?  The locals, the beaches, the buses and trains.  These are the highlights I remember most from my last trip to Kenya.

I started my time in Kenya that traditional way, on a week’s safari, which did not disappoint.  It was after this though that the real adventure began.  The mission was to get across Kenya from Lake Nakuru to the Mombasa Coast, an estimated 12+ hour road trip.  The local bus from Nakuru back to Nairobi began this journey.  What was estimated to be a 3-hour trip eventuated into 5 hours.  The bus was absolutely packed with locals, kids, no chickens but it wouldn’t have surprised me if there were.  It was cramped, hot and bumpy but still so much fun.  We were the only obvious tourists onboard, so we were bombarded with questions like why on earth we were on the bus, where we were going and where we were from.

When we finally made it to Nairobi, we’d missed the one train service to Mombasa for that day so found somewhere to stay and organised tickets for the following afternoon.  The train trip… what an epic experience!  For most parts of the journey, I believe I could have walked faster than the speed the train was travelling.  We stopped many times, and nobody was sure what for, not even the staff.  The train was ancient, an overnight service that clattered through the evening.  From what I’ve read recently they have all now been replaced with an express service which I imagine would be a huge relief for the locals.   It was not the Orient Express that’s for sure but how can you not enjoy a train journey across the middle of Africa?  There was always something new to see, as we passed through small rustic villages, watching people going about their daily life.

When we finally made it to Mombasa, we headed down the coast to Diani Beach.  This little spot is simply stunning.  Laid out along the Indian Ocean, this sleepy little village was just gorgeous and exactly what the body needed after two days of travelling rough. We lazed around, watched the local fisherman tending their boats and ate simply delicious seafood whilst loving life. An absolute highlight here was having dinner at Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. This place is magical, literally a candlelit restaurant in a large underground cave.  The food, staff and ambience were really like nothing I’ve ever experienced before:

The owners of the hotel we were staying at told us about another property in the nearby Shimba Hills.  It was a luxurious all-inclusive treehouse stay.  We just couldn’t say no to this!  After a few hours of yet more bumpy driving, we arrived at our overnight getaway.  The place was gorgeous.  A little cottage built into a large tree, fitted with an outdoor spa and even a bed on wheels that could be rolled out onto the deck so you could sleep in the open air, under the stars.  Everything was included, along with a local guided walk, lots of yummy food and wine and even a private butler. This stay was just so special, particularly lying on the deck looking at the stars in the evening and hearing the animal’s roar.


Kenya is a country I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone thinking of travelling there. It has absolutely something for everyone from the wildlife to stunning beaches, jungle retreats, lovely food and such friendly people.

Visiting Kenya is more than just for a safari, it’s a destination that provides a variety of experiences you’ll remember forever.


If you’d like to read more about Kenya, click here.



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