It’s been a busy couple of weeks…whoops. Here we go again!
Back when we were starting to plan our trip, we both knew we wanted to find a volunteer opportunity somewhere along the way, preferably in Africa since we knew our time in Asia would already be pretty packed. We looked at what felt like a million different volunteer organization’s websites, trying to find the right fit for the right price.* We eventually settled on Oceans2Earth, an organization based in Australia with projects available all over the world. We initially signed up for their elephant project in southeastern Kenya (making paper out of elephant poop 💩😳😂) but ended up switching to volunteering at the KSPCA in Nairobi instead. I LOVELOVELOVE elephants, but that project involved staying in a small local village, which meant having to use a latrine. I know my limits, and a flushing toilet is most certainly a non-negotiable requirement.
*Alert: Volunteering is not free. In fact, it can be quite expensive. Many volunteer organization fees are ~$1k per person for just one week, with that money going towards your lodging and food as well as actual organization fees, etc. It was a bit frustrating when we realized this because we thought that our labor would bring costs down but that’s just not the reality of things. If you’re looking for something that’s closer to free, there is WorkAway but those tend to be odd jobs (cleaning, etc) for free housing/food rather than actual volunteer work. Just take the time to research various organizations before you pick a project.
Days 206-215: Cats, cats, and more cats plus BABY ELEPHANTS!
After wrapping up our Kenyan safari, it was time to start our 10-day stint in Nairobi. We were placed with a local family in the city and it was a wonderful experience. They took such good care of us and I don’t think I’ve ever been better fed in my entire life 😂 We’re so happy to have extended family in Kenya!
Our actual volunteering time was spent at the KSPCA, where they take in dogs, cats, and donkeys (😂) and then adopt them out after they’re healthy. Fortunately, this KSPCA seems to have a good, regular stream of volunteers from local colleges with volunteer graduation requirements, so they have a lot of support for the animals. Slightly unfortunately, it meant that we weren’t nearly as busy as we had hoped we would be, but we did get to help with the cats and dogs every day (mostly the cats, per my own #catlady preference) and had a great time. As would be expected, I fell in love with a few of the cats and nearly cried on the last day when I realized I would never see them again. We even gave some of them names! Such cuties. 😍
At the end of our time there, we decided to provide a monetary donation that would allow them to build a new penned area for dogs, as their space is limited and there are still so many stray dogs that need their help in the Nairobi area. Because I’m such a cat lady, I was also determined to do something for the cats so we bought a ton of new food bowls and blankets for them, plus general supplies. If you’re interested in helping the KSPCA, feel free to visit their website and make a donation.
Aside from our volunteering time, we also got a chance to sightsee a bit around Nairobi, including visits to a few animal sanctuaries, Nairobi’s largest slum Kibera as well as the smaller slum Kinyago, and the Bomas of Kenya. So interesting and so much fun!
Finally, no trip to Nairobi is complete without appreciating their matatus, i.e. public buses. These things are kind of wonderful–they’re privately owned and compete against each other for business on the same bus routes, using loud music, fun themes/paint jobs, and speedy service to edge each other out. We didn’t get a chance to ride one (next time!), but the outside paint jobs were entertaining enough 😂
Days 216-221: Beach time!
As our city time came to a close, we headed to Diani Beach for a little sunshine and relaxation (read: laziness). It was a short flight to Mombasa Airport and then a ridiculously long taxi ride to our Airbnb in Diani Beach (it should not under any circumstances take 2 hours to drive <35 kilometers!)–though the insanely long line for the ferry was mostly to blame. The house we stayed at was so cute and only a 5 minute walk away from the beach, so it was perfect. Plus, we paid a little extra to hire a cook (!) for the week and it was the GREATEST. I really need to win the lotto and have a cook in real life too. Imagine how healthy I’d be if I didn’t have to cook anything myself! 😂
Definitely one of the best parts of this week? The monkeys! 🐵 This area has a ton of Colobus monkeys and they roam around freely, mostly trying to sneak into people’s house to steal food or other shiny things. The best part? When they stole Ben’s pen 😂 (See the hilarity below.)
We did go on one short snorkeling boat trip while we were in Diani…for $8 a person! The guy tried to sell me at $15pp and I negotiated him down because now it’s my favorite thing to do (also I know I’m not taking advantage because they charge locals like $5 so I definitely paid my tourist tax). It was a glass bottom boat, which was fun when the snorkel guide went underwater to feed the fish a bit–they swarmed like crazy!
Day 222: The longest bus ride EVER
Sadly, our time in Diani Beach (and Kenya in general) was over! Tragic. But, that said, we were headed to Tanzania for another safari so really, can we complain??? #firstworldproblems So, how does one get from Mombasa to Arusha (the starting point for our safari)? Either a $400 flight with a layover in Nairobi OR a $12 9-hour bus ride. We’re #funemployed so… $12 bus ride it is! I don’t regret it because it was obviously the smarter choice financially but oh. my. god. That was the longest bus ride of my life. The bus was old, the seats uncomfortable, it was like 90 degrees out and the bus had no AC, and the roads were bumpy. It was a miracle that we got the seats at the front of the bus so we at least had air circulation, but still…ay yi yi.
We did eventually make it to Arusha in one piece, one very sweaty, very tired piece. We had dinner at a place near our hotel and basically passed out right after. No more bus rides please…ever.