Last month, I had a yearning for an adventure. The kind that takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you view the world from a different perspective. So I thought of going to Coast, but not in a way I had before. I wanted to do it cheaply, get as much local experience as possible, and see what the region offered beyond the ever-so-beautiful sandy beaches. So I packed a bag, well 2, called up my cousin and set out on a fact-finding mission.
Coast is Expensive
A trip to the Kenyan Coast is always believed to be on the expensive side of things, that’s why many of us can only afford to go down once or twice every year. But I was on a mission to find out if I could manage to travel, explore, eat, and sleep comfortably even on a budget. To begin with, I set up a daily expense budget of Ksh 2500 ($25), find out how that went here
This kind of budget meant I had to get creative and find cheap transport, accommodation, and food, all while having fun.
For the Culture
If you have ever been to any town in the Kenyan Coast region, I can bet the closest you have come to interact with the locals is when you are shooing away those beach boys or buying mabuyus from the kiosk by the roadside. I exaggerate to make a point but think about it. When was the last time you visited, say Diani and thought to find out how the locals live?
Granted, I understood that many traditions are now fading, especially with such a dominant effect from the visiting tourists in towns like Watamu and Malindi. But I was curious to see if all the traditions had faded and if there were still places that were unaffected by the western influence. I wanted a taste of an authentic Swahili culture.
We’ve all seen pictures of those crowded beaches in December when everyone in Nairobi and their grandparents descend to Mombasa for Christmas and New Year celebrations. April and August are also busy months, but I was wondering what goes on when all the tourists up and leave. The fact that accommodation and transport would be cheaper during the low season was also an appeal I couldn’t turn away from.
Beyond Mombasa and Diani
These two towns have got to be the two most visited towns in Coast. I’m glad Lamu is also topping up as a travel destination for most travelers, but I also wanted to find out what the other towns had to offer. I had never been to Kilifi, Msambweni, or Wasini, and I was curious if life was different there.
Backpacking across Coast was a learning experience, an adventure, and I’m thrilled I did it.