Although I had set my foot on the African continent before by visiting Morocco, this was the first time I was visiting Black Africa and was really looking forward to this opportunity to meet people of different origin and culture.
Unlike many other places I had visited in the past on my Australian passport, where I did not need a visa or I could get a visa at the airport, I had to obtain visas for Kenya as well as Ethiopia online by paying hefty fee in US dollars, but thank God, not for South Africa though.
My friend Masood Hussaini, a seasoned traveller, who had visited African countries several times in the past was very helpful and guided us for this tour and also gave us contacts in Kenya.
Just one week before our departure I came to know that we needed yellow fever vaccination and certificates otherwise we could not easily get into other countries after visiting African countries such as Ethiopia. We had to rush and obtain vaccination and certificates and as it turned out, had we not done so, our African tour would have been disrupted.
After flying for almost 24 hours from Sydney with a few hours of short break at Abu Dhabi airport, we landed at Nairobi international airport at 1.30 pm on Saturday 6 April 2019.
Throughout the African tour I had ensured that we stayed at good hotels with gym facilities and swimming pool in order to maintain our exercise routine and don’t compromise our health with mosquito bites and other infectious diseases.
Since I was staying in Kenya for a couple of days, flying to Ethiopia and then coming back again staying another two days before flying out to South Africa and because multiple entry visa was not available, I had taken double transit visas.
Our first entry into Africa was not without an incident. The officer checking our visa put his foot down and said that we should have obtained full tourist visa, four times the price than transit visa and accused me of robbing the state of Kenya.
After some explanation, pleading and logical argumentation, he finally stamped the entry permit to our great relief. I had no such issues when I entered next time on transit visa again when returning from Ethiopia.
The journey to the hotel was around 45 minutes and I had the pleasure to absorb Black African culture for the first time while driving with continuing conversation with our driver.
Our hotel was right in the city and we found it very comfortable with a decent size gym and to my delight a heated rooftop pool.
Looking outside my hotel room window, I noticed a structure that I could not figure out was a church or a mosque. It was only at Asr time that I heard the Azan and went down to find the way to the mosque by walking around the premises of the hotel.
For the first time I had the great pleasure of praying together with my African brothers on the African continent and indeed I felt so happy.
I was later told that there was a direct back door from the hotel to the mosque and the hotel owner’s mum frequents the mosque even at Fajr and Isha safely. They said that I could you the same passageway as well.
Kenya is mainly a Christian country, colonised by the British with a substantial Muslim population as well. There is a significant presence of people of India origin, both Hindus and Muslims who are recognised as one of the 46 tribes in the country with equal status.
The Indian community is well off mainly engaged in business concentrated in affluent parts of Nairobi with upmarket mosques and temples all around residential areas.
The People of Kenya are very polite, peaceful and very friendly, English being spoken widely. As with many third world countries the governance system is plagued with corrupt officials depriving the masses with opportunities to live decently.
In the evening we were taken by Be Yaqub for a tour of the city, some shopping and dinner in an excellent Indian style Halal BBQ restaurant highly popular with people of all faith and cultures including Sikhs.
Br Yusuf also took us to Saima Pan House in order to give us a treat with meetha paan that was delicious and it reminded of my homeland in India.
We offered our Maghreb and Isha prayers in the newly built Parkland Masjid, an upmarket multi story huge structure in a congregation of Muslims of all backgrounds.
For the first time I noticed a unique locker system at a mosque which could be hired for $60/year to keep your shoes and other belongings safely before entering the mosque. This was a take home idea that I need to propagate for other mosques.
Next morning we followed our very early morning gym routine with morning swim, 500 meters in my case before breakfast and going out.
We visited the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage that caters for elephant calves orphaned by poachers or natural occurrences brought for rehabilitation from all over the country.
At the feeding time we saw calves of all ages being fed bottle milk and receiving love and care by the workers and had the opportunity to touch then and take lots of photos and videos.
Later we went to the Giraffe Centre run by the African Fund For Endangered Wildlife and had the opportunity to hand feed these tall large lovely animals very safely.
Our final destination for the day was a visit to the Bomas of Kenya established in 1971 as a living museum celebrating the colourful tribes of Kenya.
We learnt about the lifestyle, art, music, craft and culture of Kenyan people attending cultural shows of songs and dances and amazing acrobatic performances in a huge arena constructed with African traditional natural materials.
We also visited a large section of traditional village system with homesteads of Bomas build according to various designs of almost 45 tribes in Kenya with their own unique designs reflecting the culture of each major ethnic group.
We visited their cultural shows and amazing acrobatic performances and display homes of various tribes appreciating their traditional living.
Next day we flew to Ethiopia (See African Tour Part 1 and Part 2) returning to Nairobi again after 12 days (See African Tour Part 4).