Contiki East Africa Safari: Day 1 – Nairobi
Hello from Nairobi, or should I say Jambo?
I landed in Nairobi right on time, to the minute, and we disembarked the plane to proceed to baggage claim. On the way out, the airport staff checked our COVID test results and temperatures before we proceeded to passport control. They actually stamped my passport which is awesome because most countries don’t stamp them anymore. After grabbing my bag, I exited the airport and met up with a representative from Contiki that brought me to the hotel.
It was pitch black since I landed at 10PM, so I couldn’t see much of the area we drove through. The driving in Kenya reminds me a bit of the way people drive in Vietnam, a somewhat organized free for all. At one point, we were stopped at a police checkpoint as there is a curfew due to COVID and we needed to prove that we had a reason to be traveling after 10PM.
Upon arriving at the hotel, I checked in and headed up to my room. Unfortunately, I woke up my roommate, Jeff, but that gave us an opportunity to introduce ourselves before heading to bed.
The following day, we woke up relatively early to grab breakfast and cash out of the ATM. I actually booked a tour of a tea plantation, so I met up with my tour guide from Safari Port at 9:30 AM to head to the plantation. It was my first opportunity to see Kenya during the day and it was quite quiet as it was a Sunday and 70% of the country is Christian.
The drive to the tea plantation took about a half hour towards a higher elevation which is more conducive to growing tea. The views of the fields of tea were stunning and made realize I knew absolutely nothing about the landscape of Kenya.
Views of the Tea Farms on the drive
The other thing that struck me is that all the signs are in English – the kids are taught in both Swahili and English, likely as a result of the British occupation of Kenya. In addition, there is a lot of construction on road infrastructure underway as the Kenyan President has prioritized this with the hope that it spurs economic growth.
The tea farm itself was absolutely beautiful. We arrived at the house the person that owns the tea farm about 30 minutes early which allowed me to walk around the property and enjoy the views and beautiful flower garden.
We learned about how tea is grown, harvested and made before going on a guided walk through the on site animal farm and a forest adjacent to the farm, showing us the different flora and fauna and it’s medicinal uses.
Employee picking tea. They pick it every 3 weeks and try to get only the top part of the leaves (minimal stalk) as they are paid by the weight, but it can be rejected by the factory it there is too much stalk.
We then headed to a lunch which was absolutely amazing and exclusively made with products from the on site farm. The COVID protocols meant I had my own table and was able to enjoy the view of the farm from my table.
Homemade ice cream
After lunch, I headed back to the hotel where I met up with my roommate and walked around the mall attached to the hotel for an hour. We then went to meet up with our Contiki group to kick off what will be the trip of a lifetime!