When traveling to Kenya preparation is key. It would be a crying shame to travel all the way to Africa and realize that the preparations for the trip were inadequate. Here are five essentials that you will not want to be without when traveling to Kenya.
1. A good backpack Unless the planned trip to Kenya is going to be spent in Nairobi in the finest hotels, a good quality backpack is an absolute must. It would be a shame to buy a sub par backpack and have it break once in the country. Unless the a strap or zipper breaks while still in Nairobi, chances of finding any sort of descent bag could take the better part of the day if one can even be found. I recommend taking a backpack over traditional luggage. The roads in Kenya are pretty beat up. Right outside of the airport the curbs are high, the ramps are in funny places and their are no crosswalks through the medians. Once outside of Nairobi dirt roads abound, sometimes they are more pothole than road. Lets just say wheeled luggage doesn’t do so well in that setting. Also, I find it easier to keep track of my bag when it is on my back. When in Kenya, it never hurts to be sure you have an eye, or a shoulder on your bags at all times. Backpacks fit nicely between the legs on buses and Mtatu vans rather than having to strap precious cargo to the top. If you are traveling during the rainy season be sure to buy a rain sleeve for your backpack!! I have had the Gregory Z40 pack for a few years and I can’t say enough about it! It fits in the overhead compartments on planes, has held up even when I have traveled across the world with more weight than what it is rated for and it has a suitcase type zipper for easy access tot he whole bag!! Megan has the Jade 38 which is the women’s version of the same bag.
2.SteriPen 80% of diseases in third world countries come from dirty water. Bottled water is usually easy to find in the markets or supermarkets (depending on where you are). However, this is Africa, sometimes one can find themselves in a situation where bottled water is not accessible. Don’t get in a situation where you are up the creek without a paddle. The SteriPen has worked wonderfully for me for the last three months of being in Kenya. I purified my water from the tap here almost every day and I haven’t had any problems. Better safe than sorry on this one. The SteriPen Ultra is easy to use and can be carved from a USB cable to wall outlet.
3. Good Footwear Kenyans walk everywhere. If you are wanting to get a true cultural perspective than I would encourage walking a lot. Depending on your trip itinerary you may be doing a lot of walking anyway. The climate here, even during the rainy season, is very hot. I brought a pair of heavy hiking boots and a pair of sandals. In three months I have worn the hiking boots a total of three times. Sandals are so much lighter which can save your feet if you are doing a considerable amount of walking in the heat. Not just any sandals will do. They need to be pretty tough to last even a few weeks. I prefer Chacos myself. My current pair has lasted my a few years including the majority of the time I have spent here. Chacos are capable of light hiking so are the perfect mix between hot boots and flimsy sandals.
4. Headlamp Electricity at night is hit or miss. Even in a hotel the power can go out unexpectedly. It always seems to go off well I am taking a shower. A lot of the nicer hotels will have a generator. However, it can be anywhere from five to thirty minutes before they get the power back on. Not to mention that there are not to many street lights here. If one will be out past dark then a good headlamp is a must have. If you are traveling across the world, it is always a good idea to invest in a descent headlamp. A headlamp that will work well for a trip to Kenya should be in the $40-$60 range. I have a Black Diamond Equipment Storm Headlamp and I love it!
5. A Good Rain Jacket If your travels find you in Kenya between mid-March to early-June then you cannot go without a good quality rain jacket. You will want to bring the jacket with you everywhere you go. The rain comes at different times everyday and sometimes the onset is very sudden. At in the early afternoon the sun can be out and an hour later there can start a major downpour. You will want a waterproof jacket as compared to a water resistant jacket. The water comes down in buckets and can soak through water resistant material. Megan and I both have the Patagonia Torrentshell Jackets. Patagonia’s torrentshell jackets are light durable and waterproof.
All the equipment above I personally own and have been using non-stop since I came to Kenya. I highly recommend all of this gear from my personal experience. If you are interested in more information or in purchasing these items you can do so here: