Modern, Clean and Civilized
Nairobi Travel Blog› entry 51 of 68 › view all entries
November 28th, 2009 – by: ronin2k
Today, I landed in Africa for the first time. Nairobi, Kenya is the first destination, the starting point of my safari tour through Kenya and Tanzania. [Technically I've been to Africa once before when I visited Egypt, but I consider that the Middle East.]
Once out of the airport my first impression of Nairobi was how clean and civilized it was! Maybe I've spent too much time in India, since I expected to come to and African version of a developing Asian city. Much to my surprise and delight, this wasn't the case. The roads here are well paved, there aren't people everywhere, there aren’t cows and homeless people walking around haphazardly in the streets! Lol
The meeting for my tour around Kenya and Tanzania started around 6 pm the first night. For that I needed to give my final payment for the trip of $700 US. Considering I’ve been traveling for so long, I took the safest option and carried around travellers cheques. Unfortunately, traveler’s cheques aren’t as useful as they used to be! Normally I would just exchange them for the local currency, but the tour group needed US dollars, so their lies the problem. After searching around and going to at least 3 banks, I finally found a place to cash them in. Unfortunately the rate for conversion into Kenyan Shillings and then back to US dollars was absurd! No matter how much I yelled at them and told them they were ripping me off, here is what I got……I had to change $850 US in travellers cheques to receive back $660 US!! WTF!! $850 US travellers cheques = 52700 KSH, then converted BACK to US dollars at 80 to the KSH, I get $658 back! That’s a loss of $192 dollars!!! The only reason I took this criminal exchange was because I had no other options and needed the money. On top of all this, that day, my bank decided to block my bank and visa card access! Idiots! When I finally got it all sorted out they said they failed to read the note on my account saying I would be traveling and that I would be in Africa at that time! Morons.
That night I met up with my tour group. The company I choose to use is called Intrepid. I’ve traveled with them once before in Cambodia and Vietnam and had a great time. They are exactly like GAP Adventures back home and provide small group backpacking trips around the world. This particular trip was an overland, cooperative trip. Meaning, we would be taking a purpose-built bus to camp across east Africa, the cooperative part being we had to help cook, clean the bus, and wash dishes and pots with everyone. Good times await I’m sure!
My group for the first part around Kenya included 5 Canadians (all from Toronto, Me, Alex, Cathy, Jon and Jen), 3 Aussies (Gavin, Nicole, and Nahiid), 4 Brits (Simon, Sally, Liz, and Jo), and 1 American (Leslie). Everyone so far seems to get along. After the meeting we all headed to “Carnivore” this restaurant where you can eat all types of meat (including crocodile and ostrich meatballs!), all served on a stake by Kenyan men all dressed up in Safari gear! Lol It ended up being a good time!
The tour starts early tomorrow morning! First stop Lake Nakuru. I can’t wait.
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