Cultural Safaris

Cultural Safaris

When Brian Heaven first went to Kenya in 2004, his interest was in the people and their culture more than the wildlife. Over a period of 6 months, he traveled much of Kenya and stayed in family homes in several different tribal areas. By living with families in their homes, eating meals together, going to church and funerals together, and learning about politics and local tribal customs in after dinner discussions, Brian had his version of a safari, one of Kenya and her people.

At the request of several Tusome volunteers, this same adventure is now available to you. For $50 per day, you will have a bed and breakfast situation with families that are prescreened (and English speaking), and a personal guide. We suggest that you stay about a week in one village, then move on to another to have new experiences.

One of our homestay locations is in the village of Majiwa (outside of Kisumu). Here you will stay in a mud house under a sheet metal roof, bathe from a basin, and learn to use an outhouse (called a pit latrine). This is in the heart of Luo land, with the principal tribe being the Luo. Here you can learn of interesting practices such as wife inheritance, visit with Barack Obama’s grandmother, and even guest teach in a local school.

Another homestay location is in the town of Nakuru. Nakuru is in the Great Rift Valley, where part of East Africa is slowly breaking away from the African mainland. Nakuru is best known for Lake Nakuru and the sea of pink flamingos that inhabit the lake. Nakuru is home to several tribes, making it easy to learn about the practices of several tribes from the same location.

A coming homestay is outside of the capital city of Nairobi, in the town of Muthega. Here you can enjoy real flush toilets and hot showers, take a walk around the village and visit the neighbors, or head into the city of Nairobi (about ½ hour away) for shopping, dining, or people watching. Practice your bargaining skills, as most prices (other than in supermarkets) are negotiable, and if you don’t bargain you’ll miss the fun and end up paying mzungu (white person’s) price.

Another coming homestay is in Kitui, home of the Kamba tribe. You can get great woodcarvings and baskets here, along with some wonderful homebrew called Muratina, which is a type of honey beer. Ask for it when you first arrive, as Muratina is not always available and it may take some looking to find a finished batch.

Sound interesting? Here is how it works. You will be picked up at the airport by our Kenya Country Director, who will supply you with a mobile phone (preloaded with credit and relevant phone numbers) and a wireless internet USB connector (preloaded with credit) that will allow you to reach the internet using your laptop in most locations throughout Kenya. The phone will allow you to text and call both within Kenya and to the USA for a reasonable rate.  You will be taken to the bus station, and put onto a bus to your first homestay. Your homestay family will know you are coming and will meet you at the destination (while reachable on your phone if needed).

At your homestay, you will have a bed complete with linens, pillow, a blanket, and mosquito net. When you are at home during meal time, you will eat with the family, enjoying traditional Kenyan dishes and having a chance to talk about your day. A guide will be available each day to suggest possible adventures, or feel free to just hang out and read a book or journal your African experience. When the time comes to go to the next village, you will be taken to the bus station and put on the correct bus, and the next family notified of your coming.

At the end of your trip, you will be taken to the airport by the Kenyan Country Director and sent back home full of stories not experienced by the Hilton Hotel and game safari tourists.

For your $50 per day, here’s what you get:

· Loan of a mobile phone

· Loan of a wireless internet connector and power plug adapter for your laptop computer (be sure you can run 240V to your power supply)

· Being met at each arrival, and taken to each departure

· Support via phone from the Kenya Country Director in case of any concerns

· Bed and meals with the host family

· Daily services of a personal guide (usually a local teen who knows the area)

Please note that the cost for anything not listed above is your responsibility.

If you are thinking of "going native" in Kenya, we suggest you stay at least a month.  For the first week, everything is new and at times disorienting. The second week is more fun as you get to know how things work, and become more accustomed to your new environment.  As each week passes, you get more comfortable and the fun factor increases.  We have sent several groups on Cultural Safaris for only a week, and the visitors didn't get past the disorientation stage.

If you wish to go on a game safari, go the coast for a little rest and relaxation on the white sandy beaches (click here to see the coast), or scale Mount Kilimanjaro, please contact us for a referral.

If you are interested in a cultural safari, contact Brian Heaven via email (click here to email).