That’s a question I was asked recently. If it wasn’t for the young Canadians who recently moved to Kenya, I wouldn’t be having a good answer. Now I see my country through a different lens and there is no better place to live in if not Kenya.
As much as Kenya is one of the world’s leading Safari destinations, there is more to Kenya than just wildlife and culture.
Canada was my first destination. It was two days after summer kicked in. The residents were delighted by the warmth. It never made sense to me why anyone would love the heat. I used to wonder why tourists loved the coastal area.
Let me give some context to work with.
I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. I currently live in Kiambu, a county next to the capital city. The only thing I knew was that where the year starts, like now. the heat is unbearable. It is currently 23-27 degrees in Kiambu and Nairobi and I hate it. When you wake up early, you wear something to cover to limbs, by 9;30, the sweater is removed until 6:30 in the evening when the cold weather comes kicking back.
One can easily survive without being overly warm anyway. At night, you have your duvet or whatever heavy blanket people use. The duvet can be too hot at times so I normally use a light blanket or nothing at all.
Most people have nets and windows made of glass. People are always in a hurry and busy doing something. Within a walking distance, there is a slum (low-income housing) middle income, and high-income housing. Water is rationed in most places so the frequency of water is dependent on how big the flat’s storage is.
My first time in Mombasa, which is 1-8 hours away depending on your mode of transport, I was in for a shock. People talk about the extremely white beaches but they forget about the rest of the important stuff. The bus which has AC on was cool. However, when when we were nearing the Island, you could hardly see outside. When I stepped out of the bus, the air changed from this nice normal Nairobgi cool breeze and normal humidity to breathing in weird, funny, and warm air.
You can literally sleep naked outside. No glass windows unless there is an AC. Freshwater is bought. The freshwater they call freshwater that is also bought from the city council is kinder salty. I can’t drink it. The fish is not Lake victoria’s kind of fish. It’s different but delicious in its own way. Greens are not appreciated. Most dishes are made from cereals, flour, and meat.
Good things I loved about it, is the less burden of beddings, the cool ocean breezes, the food variety, the nice beaches, the cheap transport, and culture: totally different from Kenya. people dress and talk differently as compared to Nairobi. It’s a whole new world. I have since made a number of trips to Kilifi(Watamu/Malindi) and Kwale (Ukunda/Diani) which are slightly different from Mombasa in terms of nature and places to visit.
In Magadi which is literally below the sea level and worse than Mombasa, the hot air drys you up instead due to very low humidity. No breeze. Few trees. I wouldn’t advise anyone to visit there unless you want to see the Masai culture or interested in mining all those minerals found there.
In Kisii, the roads are so steep. the temperature so cold at night. The rains are unpredictable. I love nature and soils but the steepness no. This explains the big calves Kisii ladies have. The other side of Kenya is Meru where it’s somehow the same as Kisii in terms of topography and climate. Muranga was also a step to me. Passing by Limuru, you will know when you get there even before you are told: Fucking freezing. And yet I hear Kinangop, Aberdares, and Nyahururu is worse. Have you been to Ngong?
No one talks about visiting Kenyan deserts. They have the worst climate in Kenya where both drought and floods hit them in equal measure. This explains its sparse population especially in Turkana and Wajir/Garissa and Mandera regions. I hear Turkana grows, was it onions? In these regions, meats are the most common delicacies and the richest livestock farmers exist there.
In Kisumu, it’s another Mombasa but with a different vibe. The beaches aren’t as fancy but the Tilapia fish? There is no better tasting fish in the whole world as compared to it. This is because of the second largest fresh lake in Africa, Lake Victoria.
The rift valley plains. there is a huge stretch of unoccupied lands in the valley after the escarpment except for Nakuru where foreigners who are not beach junkies like a living, Eldoret where a lot of food comes from. Have you been to Molo? It’s not commonly known but that’s where most Kenyans get their potatoes. It is also a cold place as I remember it, especially at night
Did I mention mount Kenya? Maybe it’s because my mom’s dad occupies the second last family land from Mount Kenya. All I know is mom used to say that she used to darken due to the cold. I still have no idea why people travel from everywhere to climb mountains. so I know nothing about the experience
Hopefully, soon I will join these guys who never seem to lack places to hike then maybe I will understand why people like hiking.
I have no idea why I have nothing to say about traveling to South Africa and Rwanda in terms of climate but Tanzania (dar es salaam) has the worst beaches the world has ever seen but I hear Zanzibar ones are nice. The smell from the ocean on Tanzania’s side is fucked up. The same people who said dar was a good place to visit are the same ones who say other places have a cool temperature. I do not believe them until I see it for myself.
The sands in the coastal regions surprisingly produce very good produce and green trees and all. I was shocked. I wonder why they are not growing enough greens. I hear watermelon and cassava do well.
In the middle part of Kenya, soils are mainly loamy soils and cotton. In the western parts, lots of cotton in the low lands and red soils in the highlands.
The rich guys love staying in places like Karen and Kiserian where there are a lot of trees and vegetation due to good soils and cool temperatures. This is basically Kajiado.
Honestly speaking, I think Kenya’s climate is the most confusing climate but the best in the world. You can get what you want except winter with the accompanying snow.
A scientist who writes about her daily experiences. Most are drafts but some are publicly shared, like this one you just read.