Travel Inspiration,  Uncategorized

We Went to Kenya! Kenya in Africa!

Our landlord texted us earlier this month. She wanted to see how we were doing and ask us to look into something at the apartment. E messaged back that we would do that when we got home and added, “Just returning on the S-Bahn from the airport, back from a trip to Kenya.”

Her response was quick: Kenya?? Kenya in Africa?

We told her yes, and sent a couple photos. We like our landlord a lot.

In Kenya, chilling with a herd of waterbuck

Her reaction was amusing, but, when I think about, not so surprising. It’s kind of a big trip to drop casually into conversation. We travel pretty often, and we really only keep our immediate families informed of where we are in the world at any given time. Maybe that’s something we should work on… or maybe it’s nice to just enjoy our travels and surprise people with our adventures after the fact.


This was E’s first trip to Africa, and my first time in East Africa (I’ve previously been to Senegal and Morocco). I love the way E’s list of visited countries is growing: USA, Canada, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Kenya. Considering E flew for the first time just six years ago, he’s become quite the traveler!

Anyway, you’re probably wondering how our trip was. Or maybe, what inspired this visit. Let’s start with why we went.

Why were you in Kenya?

E’s company has an office in Nairobi, and they’re always trying to get the folks who work in the Berlin office down to visit. I obviously wanted to go too because… wanderlust. So, we decided to combine E’s business trip to Nairobi with a general vacation to Kenya and have it coincide with our dating anniversary on January 12th.

Hiking on our anniversary

We always like to make a big deal out of anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays because we’re just… celebratory people, I guess. But this anniversary was an especially important one. We were celebrating 10 years together! An entire decade! We were still teenagers when we got together! It’s amazing to me how much we’ve been through these last 10 years — good and bad.

That’s nice, but what did you do in Kenya??

Great question! We spent the majority of the trip in Nairobi so E could do some work with the office there. Unfortunately, he only got to work with them for two and a half days before he got sick. I managed to get through this trip without any food poisoning, for which I was very grateful. But, overall, the week we spent in Nairobi was pretty bad:

  • On Tuesday, there was no power in the apartment where we were staying. It came back on just in time for us to be glued to the news about the terrorist attack that took place a 10-minute drive away from where we were staying.
  • On Wednesday, E came home from work early because he felt sick. That evening the water in the apartment stopped working. It didn’t come back on for 24 hours.
  • On Thursday, E and I went to a clinic to get him some antibiotics, and he was quite sick. I don’t know if I can stress enough what a problem it is to have no water with which to shower or flush toilets or wash hands when someone in the house has food poisoning…

Luckily, the rest of the trip wasn’t like that! And I have the photos to prove it:

Baby elephant bath time

We had some wonderful experiences in Nairobi including visiting The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which takes in orphaned elephants and cares for them until they’re adults and can be reintroduced to the wild. It’s about as adorable as you’d expect. If you’re really lucky, like E, an elephant might wander close to where you’re standing and let you pet it. He said it felt like furry tree bark.

This baby elephant climbed up that dirt pile and just settled in.

While I’m pretty jealous that E got to touch an elephant, we both got to feed giraffes at the aptly named Giraffe Center. This entails holding out a food pellet until a giraffe swings its enormous head in your direction and sticks its tongue out. Then you place the pellet on its weird, long tongue and it slurps it up.

The giraffes also eat hay

Between our visit to the Giraffe Center and our safari in Nairobi National Park, I have decided giraffes are my new favorite animals. They really look like long-necked dinosaurs, and the ones we saw were totally un-phased by people.

This giraffe was also un-phased by the birds riding on its neck.
Other safari highlights included this adorable baby zebra!

Wow, cool! Did you leave Nairobi at all?

We did indeed! For our anniversary weekend, we visited Mt. Longonot and Lake Naivasha, which are just a couple hours drive north of Nairobi. We completed the dusty 8.5 mile hike up and around the rim of Mt. Longonot, and then cleaned up and relaxed at a lovely guesthouse on Lake Naivasha.

Looking out over Mt. Longonot’s forested caldera

We were too tired to do more hiking the next day so we went on a boat ride on Lake Naivasha and made friends with a hippo (!) instead

He looked right at us and then went back to eating.
After the boat ride, I took one of my new favorite photos of E

The anniversary trip was our first weekend in the country — before E got sick. So, after he recovered, we decided we deserved some relaxing vacation time and booked a flight to the Kenyan coast. One of E’s coworkers recommended we visit Lamu Island, and I’m so glad we did.

Empty beaches!

We stayed in the small town of Shela for four days, swam in the Indian Ocean, ate delicious, fresh fruit and seafood everyday, and tried not to get sunburned.

Really interesting tidal pattern!

I hope we go back to Kenya again someday because there is so much more to the country that we didn’t get to see. But, it was an A+ anniversary/vacation/business trip and an exciting way to start 2019.

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.


  • Katelyn

    Seeing your adventures together always make me dream of traveling and having fun new experiences. This was a great outline of a wonderful trip. I’m curious to see where else you end up this year!

    • Emma

      I’m curious to see where else we end up this year too, ha! Seriously though, thank you for leaving this lovely comment. You know you’re welcome in Berlin anytime!

  • Jess Bryson

    Oh my heart! East Africa is my favorite, more so than anywhere else I’ve been by a long shot. I think I just missed you guys while you were in Nairobi! I had a stopover for a night on my way down to the southern half of the continent in December. I’m so glad you loved it too!!

    • Emma

      It was a really great experience and I definitely want to see more of East Africa! I saw on social media that you were in Botswana and a couple other places — what were the highlights?

    • Emma

      Thank you so much! These pictures are mostly from our DSLR, which is a Canon Rebel T5i. I’m always amazed by how much better it is than our phone cameras, which is funny because… duh. But phone cameras have gotten pretty good and they’re always on hand, so, I’ve gotten lazy with my photography. It was fun to pull out the DSLR and use the telephoto lens to take these animal photos. I also just got Lightroom working on my computer again so some of the credit should go to the editing software as well!

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