Travel

After 7-month wait, tourists get beaches to themselves

sightseeing

Lucia Corball on a sightseeing tour in Nyeri. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Some avid travellers have not let the pandemic keep them from ticking off this year’s must-visit destinations.
  • BDLife spoke to three travellers who quickly packed their bags after international borders opened.
  • One advantage of traveling during a pandemic, they say, the rates are lower and you get the beach to yourself.

Some avid travellers have not let the pandemic keep them from ticking off this year’s must-visit destinations. BDLife spoke to three travellers who quickly packed their bags after international borders opened. One advantage of traveling during a pandemic, they say, the rates are lower and you get the beach to yourself.

Lucia Corball:

Camping in a forest, hiking in tea plantations

“My husband, Michel, and I have always wanted to live abroad. Being fans of both the mountains and the sea, we found Kenya to be a perfect place. We’d planned to come in April but cancelled because of the pandemic. Not wanting to delay any longer, in September, we took the plunge, and here we are.

Since arriving from the Netherlands, we've been to the Aberdares National Park with my husband and three friends, hiked through tea plantations and visited Chania Waterfalls.

Being my first time in Kenya, we have barely slept. We rented a 4x4 and drove up to Nyeri. The sights were scenic and the change from concrete ground to red soil is exciting.

Immediately we arrived, we set off for our first adventure: hiking through tea plantations. I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking views. In Argentina, where I’m originally from, we have tea farms but I’d never been to one. I was surprised by how the plantations are managed and awed by the abundance of various shades of green: the green of the tea shrubs, the trees, and the grass. It is indescribable! Not forgetting the fresh and sweet-smelling, countryside air. We had to forego our face masks!

While we had the option of staying at the cottages, we opted to camp. It rained at night, which was perfect as we ate, clinked glasses, and talked under the cover of rain and thick darkness.

The food was local and sumptuous. Being vegetarians, we had an array of foods to choose from. The staff adhered to social distancing rules and wore face masks.

The next day, we took a safari through the forest. We saw many wild animals from red-assed baboons to spotted hyenas to the strong buffaloes with their prodigious, and bird watching was a bliss. For me, I’d never seen any of these wild animals before. Some people we met saw an elephant, sad we missed that.

A few hours later, we were standing before the Chania Waterfalls, with water pounding the rocks beneath them. We wore our masks when we started our drive back to Nairobi.

For those wanting to travel, get out and explore. Just follow the guidelines. This isn’t asking for a lot compared to the great experiences you’ll have and the memories you’ll make.

Lisa Kimondo:

Driving alone through 5 counties

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Lisa Kimondo, who drove through four counties alone. PHOTO | POOL

Travelling was not something I used to do. However, in 2015, my friends planted a love for travel that has kept growing. So far, I’ve been to 14 countries. I have travelled from Nairobi to Victoria Falls in Zambia using public transport.

My dream destination is the Lava lake in Mount Nyiragongo, DRC.

Travelling alone was something I’d always wanted to do.

In September, I realised I had the time and a strong desire to get out of the house and drive far. For two weeks, starting September 1, I embarked on a road trip from Nairobi to Migori and back via many counties.

I picked the routes with lots of nature and hiking trails. I stayed in Airbnbs to limit my interactions with people to reduce coronavirus risk. I relied on reviews to pick Airbnb homes.

I stayed for two nights and three days in every location that I stopped.

My first stop from Nairobi was Sori, in Migori County. It took me seven hours to reach Sori. The roads were good, save for the Rodi-Sori stretch, which was a nightmare. My highlight was seeing Lake Victoria, after which I made my way to Kakamega via Kisumu.

In Kakamega, I hiked in the dense Kakamega Forest, mingling with hundreds of bees, birds, butterflies and snakes. Then I drove to Suam in Trans-Nzoia. I walked from Suam to the Kenya-Uganda border and gazed at the clear waters of River Suam.

Nakuru was my next stop. I couldn’t decide what to see because there is just so much in Nakuru. Reluctantly, I settled on visiting Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo. They were swollen and the water had displaced people. This was not fun to see.

Afterward, I went to Meru before driving back to Nairobi. The trip cost me Sh40,000. I felt reenergised.

Kenya is beautiful. The changing landscapes, the different cultures, and foods are all worth seeing. At no one point did I feel unsafe as a woman.

Cornelius Muthoka:

Sunset cruise and kayaking

I enjoy travelling. The thrill of going to a new place, experiencing new things every time gets me excited. My dream destinations are Hawaii for its culture, Egypt for the pyramids, and Australia if only to stroll on the beach.

As a tour operator, I started receiving enquiries as soon as the borders opened. Last month, I took a group of ten travellers to Mombasa for three days. Organising trips in a pandemic means striking a delicate balance between caution and fun. We settled on Airbnbs and the train. The train was operating at half the capacity so social distancing was not hard.

At the Coast, we spent most of our time outdoors, compensating for the many months cooped up indoors. Without too many people around, we were able to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. Besides walks on the beach, kayaking at Nyali Beach was a winner.

At some point, we lowered our masks to get the full experience. Normally, kayaking charges range from Sh500 to Sh800, but we paid half the cost.

We also went on a sunset cruise. We drove to Mtwapa Creek, got into a boat and sailed off into the sunset.

However, social distancing among friends and at sea is hard. But if you travel in a group, take responsibility for your safety, even if others drop their guard.