Kenya was charming, with so many fascinating sights and tastes; here are some of my memories recorded by iPhone.

Spending a Week in Kenya found on

Last week I shared the photos from spending A Week in Turkey with my friend and fellow food blogger Donna, and for this week’s post of Things I’m Thinking About I want to share about the Kenya part of the trip. Kenya was actually our main destination; we went to see Donna’s daughter Kate and son-in-law Neil who are living in Nairobi for a short time. I’ve always been fascinated by Africa, and I have various types of African art all over my house, so I was really excited to be able to visit Kenya. (Thanks Donna, Kate, and Neil!)

Just like the Turkey photos, these pictures were all take with my iPhone 6+, some edited for Instagram, but a lot of them are just like they came out of the camera on the phone.

Donna and I took a red-eye from Istanbul to Nairobi and arrived about 7:30 a.m. (but in the same time zone, hooray.) Immediately after getting off the plane we saw armed Kenya police with machine guns, which turned out to be the standard security procedure; armed guards search you every time you enter a shop, parking lot, or mall. At first it was a bit disconcerting, but after the terrorist attacks in Kenya earlier this year they are obviously doing all they can to keep Kenyans and tourists safe.

We were beat when we arrive in Nairobi, but Kate and Neil convinced us to power on and after a short stop for a lovely breakfast at Artcaffe,  we went to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust baby elephant orphanage. Here we got to watch baby elephants being fed, which was just as cool as you might imagine.

From there we went to feed giraffes at Giraffe Center, another very memorable experience.

Then we had a mid-afternoon meal at Tamambo, which was lovely and had very good food. (Unfortunately I got a call from American Express the next day saying someone attempted to use my card at a nightclub in Nairobi and this was the only place I had used that card in Kenya, so that didn’t leave me with good memories.)

We made a short stop to see the wonderful Kazuri Beads Factory and then ended the afternoon with a trip to Maasai Market in Nairobi, truly an amazing place to buy African art and curios if you can manage to ignore the vendors who are a little too eager to get you to look at their wares.

The next day we took a road trip, driving through the beautiful Rift Valley where we saw unique Kenyan fences and tea and coffee growing along the road.

There were interesting stops along the road to Naivasha, including a wonderful place to buy African art and one of the more interesting bathroom experiences of the trip.

We stopped at Camp Carnelleys on Lake Naivasha, and had a lovely meal at Lazybones, a charming spot for an open-air lunch.  The food was quite spectacular, and when I asked for the recipe for the vegetable curry pictured above, the cook promised he would e-mail it to me “very soon.”

Kate and Neil had warned is that some of the Kenyan food is pretty meh, but I did like this dish of greens called Sukuma Wiki, which means “stretch the week” in Swahili. It’s often served with Ugali, which was definitely not my kind of food.

After lunch we hired a long white boat and went out on the lake to see all kind of interesting birds, and hippos!  (They are peeking their heads out in the photo above, and it was fun to see them but I was glad we didn’t ever get too terribly close.)  The area around the lake has greenhouses everywhere you look; roses grown in Kenya are shipped all over the world.

Donna had vetoed the idea of camping at Camp Carnelleys, and instead we stayed at the very charming Ziwa Bush Lodge, where I had my first experience of sleeping inside mosquito nets. Our room had screens on the windows but no glass, and the sounds of the animals in the night make you feel like you’re sleeping in the jungle! This place was beautifully designed and decorated; I wanted to take all the African art from their walls and bring it home.

The next day we headed to Lake Nakuru National Park, where our guide (Neil) managed to show us nearly every kind of wildlife they had in the park.  (We missed the lions, who only come out very early in the morning.)

We did see an amazing variety of animals, some of which didn’t seem at all concerned to see is in their habitat.

Before heading back to Nairobi we had a really fabulous meal at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, where I got instructions for making a stir-fried cabbage dish with turmeric, tomatoes, carrots, and green beans that just might make an appearance on the blog some day!

The next day we were having a Mexican feast in the evening for some of Neil and Kate’s friends, so we spent time in the morning doing some food prep for the party. Then Kate, Donna, and I headed out for a fabulous breakfast at Tin Roof Cafe, where the Fresh Ottolenghi Salad Bar really caught our eye, along with some interesting signs. I absolutely loved this place; if it was in Utah I’d be eating there all the time.  

We also visited a wonderful outside bazaar, where I got these stunning sandals from a charming young man named Kelvin Kombo (and we followed each other on Instagram, so maybe he will see this post.) The other interesting Kenyan sandals shown above were some I spotted in Mombasa.

The next day we flew off to Mombasa, a fascinating city on the east coast of Kenya.  (It was only a 45 minute flight but it would have taken 10-14 hours to drive there!)  We stayed at Serena Beach Resort and Spa for two blissful days of relaxing, reading, swimming, napping and of course eating.

The resort accommodations included meals, with buffet options that were extremely tasty and interesting. There’s also a small butterfly sanctuary on the grounds that was fascinating. Kate and Donna had a cooking lesson in the hotel kitchen, but I was feeling a bit poorly that day and took a nap instead.

After two days in paradise, we spent our last day in Kenya touring Old Town Mombasa, an area that has a fascinating mix of people and cultures.  

We saw the famous Elephant Tusk Arches in Mombasa, built for a visit from Princess Margaret in the 1950s,  and rode in the three-wheeled Tuk Tuk taxis, but luckily no one needed the ambulance!

We did buy some spices in Old Town, later realizing we had definitely paid the North American prices, but it was still a fun experience.  There were all kinds of goods for sale along the side of the road.

And everywhere in Mombasa we saw men transporting goods by cart, everything from fruits and vegetables to boxes of merchandise.

Our final night in Kenya we had one more lovely dinner at Urban Eatery, a place that was so fabulous it would be a hit in any big city, anywhere in the world.

Sights I loved in Kenya:
David Sheldrick Baby Elephant Orphanage
Giraffe Center
Kazuri Beads Factory
Maasai Market in Nairobi
African Wildlife
Lake Naivasha (hippos!)
Ziwa Bush Lodge
Lake Nakuru National Park
Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge
Serena Beach Resort and Spa
Old Town Mombasa
Elephant Tusk Arches
three-wheeled Tuk Tuk taxis

Wonderful Tastes in Kenya:
Camp Carnelleys
Sukuma Wiki
Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge
Tin Roof Cafe
Dengu Bhajia (chickpea fritters)
Urban Eatery

More about Kenya:
Kenya Tourism Board Magical Kenya
Best Time to Visit Kenya
Kenya Travel Guide

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