In February, shortly after my friend's wedding, I embarked on an unexpected solo trip to Kenya. Although my initial plans involved traveling with a friend, it turned out that even those with American passports need visas to enter Kenya, and my friend was unaware of this until we reached the airport. With mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension, I ventured into the unknown, unsure of what lay ahead.
Arrival and First Impressions:
Landing on a sunny Monday morning, the process of passing through immigration was smooth and hassle-free. The required documents included a valid passport, yellow fever vaccination certificate, and proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. As I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by a comfortable 16-degree weather, reminiscent of typical Atlanta conditions. Nairobi immediately struck me as a warm and inviting city, ready to unfold its wonders.
Navigating the City:
My first order of business was to set up an MPESA account, the widely used mobile payment system in Kenya. With this convenient tool at my disposal, I was able to effortlessly pay for various goods and services during my stay. Getting around the city was made easy with Uber, which took me from the airport to my Airbnb in Kilimani. Adjusting to the driver's seat being on the right side, as opposed to the left in my home city, required a brief period of acclimatization.
Nairobi's charm lies in its distinctive character and diverse offerings. Compared to Lagos, it felt less densely populated, with a sense of spaciousness that allowed me to appreciate the vastness of the land. For meals, Uber Eats became my reliable companion. Before venturing into new culinary experiences, I sought advice from local friends, who guided me towards the delicious goat meat masala—a recommendation I would gladly endorse at any time of the day.
During my time in Nairobi, I visited several intriguing malls. The Village Market stood out with its locally crafted items and captivating sights. Two Rivers Mall, boasting the largest cinema screen in the city, beckoned me to immerse myself in the magic of film. At Sarit Center, I met up with a friend and enjoyed an unforgettable coffee and sandwich. Finally, my last stop was Yaya Centre, where I purchased a pack of batteries—a small but essential item that added a touch of practicality to my adventure.
Amidst my exploration, I indulged in some evening entertainment. The 1824 Whisky Bar provided a delightful experience, while Kengeles offered a vibrant millennial vibe paired with captivating music. These venues encapsulated Nairobi's lively spirit and left me with cherished memories.
A Peaceful Haven:
What struck me the most about Nairobi was its peaceful nature. There was a sense of tranquility that permeated the city, making me feel at ease and longing for a longer stay. Despite my initial concerns about being alone and unfamiliar with the surroundings, Nairobi embraced me with open arms, offering a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
My impromptu solo trip to Nairobi turned out to be an incredible journey filled with surprises. From the friendly locals to the convenient amenities and captivating attractions, the city exceeded my expectations. The warmth and charm I encountered throughout my stay left me with a deep desire to return someday. Nairobi, with its peaceful ambiance and diverse offerings, is a destination I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking an adventure that combines urban vibrancy with a touch of tranquility.