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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Kenya, animal's ground

Recently, i have seen a study in a tourism magazine which was saying that Kenya was the 3rd more visited country of Africa, after South Africa and Morocco. I wasn't really surprised by this information because Kenya is a very popular touristic destination in France, especially for the safaris.

I could discover this country for 1 month and having an idea about the local way of living. To be true, my safari (which means "Travel" in Swahili, the national langage with english) didn't really give me the opportunity to hunt the lion or the leopard but to understand a little bit better the functionment of an african society.

A country with various climates

For a first introduction to the country, let's start with some geography. One of the particularity of Kenya is that this country got many different kind of climates. Indeed, wherever you go, you cannot go further than 300 kilometers in one direction withou seeing a difference in the landscape.
By this way, in the North of the country, the climate is semi-desertic and i could observe a savana's landscape.

The savana in the north of Kenya

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After this strong heat, i could arrive in the center of the country where i had to look for a pull-over and the bottom of my back because the climate is more continental. This part of Kenya is on this big rift which is in all the East of Africa: i want of course talking about the Great Rift Valley.
Millions of years ago, a big movment of the earth in this part of the continent lead to the formation of a big relief, many lakes and volcanos. The altitude is high enough in the center of Kenya, so the climate is more like in Europe.

The Great Rift Valley in Kenya

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Contrary to the center, you can discover in the East of the country a coastl climate because the Indian Ocean is present in this area. The heat is bearable thanks to the winds from the sea. By the way, the kenyan coast is very popular mainly for his wonderful beaches.

The wonderful beaches of Kenya: Coconut-trees and white sand

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To finish, in the West part of the country, in the Victoria's Lake area, the climate is tropical. This area is populated by many mosquitos, so this is good behaving to protect yourself to avoid to catch malaria.

At night, this is important to sleep under the protection of a mosquito-net.

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An impressive fauna and flora

As i explained you the different climates, you may maybe understand why the fauna and the flora are so specially rich in this country.
The country is dealing pretty good with his fauna by developing tourism through different kind of tour going in the nationals parks, which we call safaris. The entrance in the parks were unfortunaly too expensive for me so i couldn't discover the famous lions, leopards, rhinos and other animals difficult to approach. Anyway, as the country is full of animals looking as "exotics" at european eyes, i could find by random some zebras, hippos, buffalos and many kind of birds.

The kenyan zebras, an amazing animal with his stripes

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The baboon, a monkey very easy to see in this area

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The buffalo, a very dangerous animal if he runs towards you

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Kenya has also an amazing vegetation. This is possible to discover different kind of plants as there are different climates.
We can find this tree which is only present on the african continent, i want to talk about the African Baobab.

The African Baobab, a tree which can live very long (some of them can live more than 1000 years)

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Let's not forget the famous coconut-tree, from where the coconut come from

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Coconuts... yes, Kenya is producing a lot of different fructs. I am eating very often pineapple, mangos and bananas in this area of Africa.

Here is a fruct salesman in this harbour city of Mombasa

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A culture with various origins

The kenyan culture is less important than the one i could discover in Ethiopia for exemple. The main reason is that Kenya has been many times conquered, exploited and colonized.
Indeed, we can see an interesting melting-pot. The official langage is english (and swahili) because the country was colonized by british until 1963. The administration come from those times and the organization of the country look like a little bit the bristish one.
There is also many influences coming from India. Many indians came to Kenya to make investments and they stayed there for several generations.

In the kenyan cuisine, we find the Chapati, a bread originally coming from India.

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On top of the english and indian influences, the kenyan history includes arabic (especially from Oman) and also Portugal.

In Mombasa for exemple, we can admire Fort Jesus, built in the 15th century.

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Kenya is producing some dishes. We are in Africa so this is african cuisine: the portions are big and fill your stomac. Indeed, the famous Kenyan dish is Ugali. This like mash corn which is more dry than the mash potatoes. Once again, nothing very tasty but that stop your hunger!

Ugali, here at almost every kenyan meal

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Music!
Music is really present in the kenyan culture, Everywhere you go, you will hear some rythms. I was really surprised to see that in most of the vehicules, there is high quality sound system. Most of the "Matatus" (minibus that you can see mainly in the cities) have this kind of stereo. This is indeed and investment and that show the taste for the music that the kenyan have.
Music, the kenyan is listening it, but he can also dance on it!
I had the opportunity to watch a traditional dancing show on Rudinga island close to the Victoria like. Have a look on the clothes. What does that make you think?

A traditional dancing show on the west part of the country

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Music is also present in the religion. The religion is very important in Kenya. The 3 most important are the Catholic, Protestant and Islamic religion. In many families, the life is organized aroung the holy textes which are mainly the Bible and the Koran in Kenya.

A family going out the church, this is important to look good

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Politic in Kenya

I could see that the people are really following politic in Kenya. The newspaper are themselves very actives to talk about the different activities of the political life.
You have maybe heard about the troubles for the time of the election in last January. The election were opposing Kibabi from the Kikuyu tribe to Odinga who is from the Luo tribe (like Barack Obama by the way). The reason why i am talking about the tribes is that this is very important in the political life. Indeed, bigger is your tribe, more chance you will have to win the elections. There are 42 tribes in Kenya and the biggest seems to be the Kikuyu.
The troubles were coming from the fact that Kibaki shouldn't have win the election if he hadn't stole some votes.

Corruption is unfortunately very important in Kenya and that go on everyone. I have see many times my drivers having to give money to the police to avoid troubles. The policemen have the benefit to have so much power that they do whatever they want. This is sad but this is like that.


Some problems of insecurity

Knowing that any problem with police issue can be solved with some money, the insecurity rate (especially in the big cities) is unfortunately very high.
A robber anyway, if he got catch by the local population, will get hit strongly in the street.
The best idea to avoid to get stolen seems to be the prevention. This is the reason why most of the residences get protected like fortress against the robbers.

A residence in Nairobi, a wall and an electric security

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I was also surprised to see that in most of the bars and restaurants, the access to the bar can be clotured to avoid any robbery.

The bars can be clotured for security

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The economic situation of the country

Kenya is one of the best country in Africa for this case. It doesn't mean that everything is nice but at least, the State got a certain stability. Nairobi is the business center of the East part of Africa and i could see that the city center was more developped than the other african cities i have seen so far.

The center of Nairobi

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Anyway, the strategic point of the country is Mombasa. This city has the biggest port of East Africa and provides the other countries which have no access to the ocean like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this fact, it has been easy for me to find vehicules going to this direction!

The country is developped in some point but this is still difficult for the poor families. This is good to know that a family have an average of 10 children. That makes a lot of children to feed an that create difficult situations.

There is many children by family in Kenya

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For the anecdote, i met a dannish journalist in the west part of the country. She had just interviewed one man who maried more than a hundred of woman in his whole life. This man has today more than 350 children!

Hitch-Hiking in Kenya

To finish in a beautiful way, i can say that hitch-hiking in Kenya was very easy.
Indeed, the concept is known here, they call that "Giving a lift" and i had the opportunity to communicate in english with all my drivers.
Meanwhile, the roads are pretty good (except in the North of the country) and it has been nice to know more of less where i could end up at the end of the day.

I let you with a picture of the road which will lead me next to Uganda

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Karibou!

Jeremy



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