Kenya is known as one of the best tourist destinations in Africa. Tourists are mostly attracted to Kenya by the great national parks and game reserves that are rich in wildlife. The good sandy beaches and warm weather also attract many.
However, for recurring visitors, it may seem monotonous coming to the country to do the same thing. At times one may want to visit the country to do non-touristic things that are not expensive but adventurous and offer great experiences of Kenya. Everyone who travels to a destination like Kenya would want to capitalize on learning new things, gaining new experiences and going back to their country with great memories.
Below are some non-touristic things one can do while in Kenya within a budget.
Learn at least one local language.
Kenyans speak English as their main language of communication especially when connecting with the rest of the world. Swahili is the national language spoken here and with it comes the slang version used by the youth known as Sheng. Learning Swahili is not difficult or have to be expensive, all you need is to find someone who is willing to teach you.
Apart from Swahili, Kenya has 44 tribes within its boundaries each having its own local dialect. You can take up the challenge of learning at least some useful words from the different tribes you will interact with while here, words like greetings, making requests etc.
Ride in the common public transport ‘Matatu’
Matatu is the main form of public transport around Kenya with the capital city, Nairobi having the highest number of these vehicles serving different routes. There are routes that invest so much on the actual appearance of their vehicles providing great comfort and entertainment. They are a favourite to the youth though they are known to flaunt most traffic rules and are driven recklessly.
Some of these matatus invest in great music systems, big screens for video content, comfortable seats and great DJ music mixes. This makes your journey no matter how short exciting and fun. Though there may be a big contrast between the city and rural matatus, each provides a unique experience.
Learn more: Matatu industry in Kenya
Learn how to make some local dishes
It is not enough to try out some local dishes in different restaurants, you can take the next step and learn how to make some of these dishes. Some dishes that don’t miss in a Kenyan home include Ugali, Chapati, Mandazi.
Ugali is a starch served in almost every home, it is a simple dish made of maize meal and cooked to a solid pulp in boiling water. Chapati, on the other hand, is a flatbread made from wheat flour also a starch either served as part of a meal or as a snack. Mandazi is the ultimate Kenyan version of doughnuts.
Learn more: Kenyan Main Dishes
Be hosted by a family upcountry
Life in the city is quite different from life upcountry in Kenya. It could be a great experience to be hosted by a family upcountry and learn about their everyday life which involves farming and livestock keeping.
Depending on which part of Kenya you choose, different areas have different activities e.g along the lake region their main activity is fishing, along the highlands they do a lot of farming while in the northern area they are pastoralist practising livestock keeping and herding.
Rather than visiting Wildlife sanctuaries while staying in hotels, why not request to be hosted by a family and join in their everyday household activities.
Volunteer in a local school.
The people of Kenya are a friendly lot and always eager to learn from foreigners, so are the children of Kenya. If you love teaching and children, you can always take up the challenge of volunteering in a local school. It could be a simple thing as teaching them new songs, some art or just sharing some stories of your place of origin.
This is not a difficult task, all it takes is to identify a school, talk to the local administration about what you would like to share, your target age and they can arrange a session for you.
Other than schools, there are various homes for the orphaned and abandoned children where one can volunteer, just make sure you follow the right channels and the authority or administration is aware of your activities.
Visit the market and learn how the local’s trade
When it comes to trade, Kenyans are known to be great bargainers. It is interesting to note that in a Kenyan market, the price that is quoted for a particular item is not always a fixed price and a trader always allows one to bargain and quote their own prices. This is mostly dependent on the number of items one is willing to buy, the more you are willing to purchase, the bigger your chance to bargain.
The traders can be tough at times but if you are good at negotiating, chances of making worthwhile purchases and building good trading grounds are high. Sometimes just engaging with the traders and seeing their passion is worth the experience.
Learn more: Maasai Market in Nairobi
Braid your hair
The African hair is better maintained when braided due to its texture. This has made braiding in Kenya an art that turns out to be a way of earning a living. There are a variety of places where you can have your hair braided as a form of fitting in with the Kenyan community.
The most popular place in Nairobi where people have their hair braided is Kenyatta Market, there are even tour companies that arrange for the tourist to go have their hair braided here. However, other salons have picked up on this and offer the services to different and new clients.
There is also the option of having temporal dreadlocks on your hair, beautiful cornrows or just flowing braids for your duration of stay.
Well try some of these non-tourist activities in your next visit to Kenya and share your experience with the world. If you have any questions or comment on the highlighted activities above, you can add on the comment section below.