Summary of Vacationing in East Africa | The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
After a brief hiatus from writing, I am excited to share this blog post which chronicles my frolic of vacationing in East Africa. I intend to spill the beans by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of my 12 days trip; sighting 4 countries and travelling by all means of transportation (road, rail, sea and air).
1. If I may say, the trip was pretty awesome. Actually, fulfilling is probably a more accurate description. You see, I have visited thousands of places but none can be compared to this trip. It was definitely a fresh experience from engaging with locals to having first time experiences like eating at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi and boldly wearing a bikini in Mombasa.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Mark Twain
2. We planned on visiting only two countries (Rwanda and Kenya) but it appears that we touched base with four countries (Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and Kenya), completely unplanned. Part of this 'excitement' is reflected in my ugly story which will feature below.
3. I got to experience an eco-friendly lodge in Gisenyi, specifically, The Palm Beach Resort. It was hilarious and I'm not exactly sure if I will be staying in similar place in future. Fingers crossed!.
4. My travel buddy, Ofure Isenmila, was there to calm my raging nerves during the bad and ugly experiences. She was such a good sportsman and we had a push-pull relationship all through the trip. We also experienced each others temperaments. Good gracious we returned to Nigeria alive!. Hahahaha
5. Did you know that during the 12 days vacation, we stayed at a mix of 10 hotels, apartment and resorts. Such an experience!. It was an average of US$100 per night but because we were two sharing the bill, the burden was less.
6. The ease of travelling between Rwanda and Kenya was a massive plus. We booked our flights on TravelStart Nigeria and I think we got the best deal with far less than N200K for the combined ticket on Kenya Airways. Also, visa was on arrival and it was the fastest service I have ever experienced in any airport, both in emerging and developed countries.
7. We made new friends, Caro and Michael, and all it took was a 'good morning' greeting. It was initially an opportunity call that blossomed into championship while in Gisenyi and we have now remained friends.
8. We didn't have any major crisis and the locals in both countries we stayed at were quite helpful. Sincerely, the trip to Rwanda and Kenya made me appreciate the importance of trip planning and 'group' travel.
1. I had initially planned the trip for just myself before Ofure, my travel buddy, decided to join me on the trip. Now prior to that decision, I booked rooms in hotels for one and completely forgot to change the number of guests dropdown to two. This was a major issue in some of the hotels (maybe 3 of them) we tried to check into. It was such a painful experience because I realised that in East Africa the price of a room is a reflection of the number of people staying in the room. Hence, we had to pay a few additional dollars in some hotels, while I played the travel blogger card (which worked) with some others.
2. Our first shock was on arriving at Kigali. We made reservation with the hotel to pick us up via bookings.com. Now, no rate was communicated to me, so I thought it was complimentary just to be slammed an exorbitant amount by the hotel. I had to ruffle the manager's feathers in order to pay less than they had requested.
3. I overpacked for the trip. As an organised person, I typically pack according to the activities of the day. I packed excess bikinis and therma clothings, only to be faced with very cold weathers in Kigali - Rwanda and Nairobi - Kenya. It was a moment of truth as I had to drag my heavy suitcases around. Quite painful!.
1. The beginning of the journey was when we experienced 'the ugly of the trip', thanks to Kenya Airways. We arrived Kenya on time but the connecting flight to Rwanda had left. Ha! You can't imagine how furious I was. Nothing as annoying as change in plans or allowing travel interruptions turn your vacation into a nightmare. Immediately, I showed the manager my displeasure and he reissued another rescheduled ticket and wrote breakfast on it. Let me explain 1. The flight took off (probably over booked). 2. We were issued another ticket, resulting in 8 hours layover 3. The airline was compensating us with just breakfast.
How can you be so nonchalant?! Does it look like I'm starving?! I demand you lodge us in a hotel and fully cater to our needs before the next flight. Perhaps it was my rage that made him take action but before I said jack they made hotel arrangements, paid for the tourist visa into Nairobi, chauffeured us to the hotel and provided meals till we left. Know your right when your flight is cancelled or delayed!.
Final Conclusion on East Africa
Travelling opens our eyes to different places, people, cultures and ways of life. There is good and bad everywhere, and that is part of the beauty and allure of travel - Sarah Ralph
The most important factor that contributes to a successful trip is research and planning. Then, give room for +/- 5% for mistakes or divergence in plans. Also,mistakes are part of the wholistic experience, and I hope this article helps you avoid my mistakes at the least!.
Travel tips from these experiences
1. Always trust your instinct but don't be paranoid
2. Always check the weather condition in the visiting country
3. Remember that every travel experience is unique. Go and create your worthwhile beautiful memories.
Thank you all for staying tuned and reading. You have read from me, now I would love to read from you. Please share your thoughts, recommendations and observations in the comment section. Bless!.