I always had an itch to go into Kenya, even before I arrived in Tanzania, but I was never sure about it until my friend Lizzie asked me if I am still coming to visit. Without hesitation I told her I would be there the very same weekend. I confirmed the visa requirements and went into town to buy my bus ticket, with Dar Express. NEVER, NEVER AND NEVER AGAIN WILL I USE DAR EXPRESS. I was told the bus would be departing at 15:00; even though I anticipated a delay I was never ready for the bus arriving two and a half hours late because the first bus driver was stopped by police and busted- for what I don’t know-, the bus getting a flat before it arrived, another hour wait for the tyre to be fixed and the need to backtrack because the bus driver left some people behind by mistake. We finally arrived at the border, I enter the Tanzania side and get myself sorted out. Happy to have at least gotten through that without any issues I walk out, look around me and see darkness and no familiar faces around me. At this point I was five to bursting into tears when out of nowhere one of the guys on my bus, Chris, grabbed my armed and guided me towards the Kenyan side of the border. There was a lot of construction so I would not have found the way at that time of night unless I knew where I was going; Even Chris, a local Kenyan who travels this route often, fell into a ditch on the way. If all of this was not enough for me to be convinced that I would not be travelling back with this company I realized, on arrival, that the driver had done a 6 hour trip in 3 and a half hours. Overwhelmed by what I had just experience I took a moment to breath before leaving the bus. Chris, who had now moved to sit next to me, decided he would wait with me until Lizzie arrived to pick me up. Being a very suspicious person I was not so sure about him but I was very grateful once I walked off the bus and he prevented the crowd of cab drivers and porters from pulling me in every which direction. He walked me to my friends car and made sure that I was sure that I’d be safe.
Lucky for me I have an amazing friend who knew a few great spots we could go to. We Started off at Juniper Social in Westlands. Juniper Social is a cute hippy style gin bar; the night we were there the music was very electronic. The space is decorated like a beer garden, with outside seating, a dj deck, what could be turned into a dance floor and free parking just outside. The prices here are a little steep but if you find someone with similar taste it works out better to share either a jug of a cocktail or a bottle of wine. Expect to spend between 500 and 800 Kenyan Shillings (R60-100) per drink if you are buying alone. We then moved on to a place called Mercury Lounge, just up the road from Juniper Social. We didn’t spend much time there but Mercury has more of a club vibe, where dancing to the predominantly hip-hop playlist was encouraged. The prices are in a similar range as Juniper Social. I got a single G&T for 600 Kenyan Shillings (R75).
On Sunday morning Lizzie and I decided to have a slow reflective day. I made some tea and caught up on some writing. Later in the afternoon we went to Village Market, the mall, to get some supplies for a late lunch picnic at Tigoni Falls, a tea farm in Kiambu. Though it is a way out, the views and the atmosphere is well worth the drive. If you decide to spend a day here don’t forget to bring 300 Kenyan Shillings (R40) per person to get in. This beautiful piece of land has a walking paths through the farm, a waterfall, a small restaurant as well as some exquisite incomplete concrete spaces. As far as I know it is also possible to camp there overnight.
To end off this great weekend we went to Muthaiga Country Club to meet up with some of Lizzie’s friends. Muthaiga is a members only club situated about 45 minutes from Tigoni Falls, due to bad road conditions, and 15 minutes from the city center. It made number 7 on the Times Top 10 things to do in Nairobi and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a member’s guest. After being treated to the chicken quesadillas and a chocolate brownie by our host I can confirm that the food is worth a bite but this experience was definitely made by the great company I had.
I returned to Arusha with Riverside Shuttle. It was as simple as calling John, the gentleman based in the Kenyan office, and giving him my name. When I arrived I pay 2500 Kenyan Shillings (R310) for my one way ticket.The shuttle driver was very helpful and responsible the whole journey. He even dropped me off at my street, as it was on the way to town. I would recommend travelling with them. It really was an enjoyable journey back.
With a host like Lizzie I should have known that I would fall more in love with the idea of exploring every corner of Kenya. I will definitely be returning to see more sides of this beautiful country.