Flying to Kenya felt like going into the unknown. I’d visited Africa before, as I’d been to Egypt many times, but I knew the flavour wouldn’t be quite the same. After all, Africa’s amazingly diverse and I was more than happy to dive into the unknown. Once I landed in Mombasa, the beauty of the country struck me. My dream vacation ended just then because after I headed to my hotel… everything went downhill. A hotel, which advertised itself as accessible, probably didn’t know the definition of “accessible” too well, because it was everything but wheelchair friendly. That was the worst hotel experience in my entire life and since I travel a lot… I think it says everything. My Kenyan vacation story could be summed up like this: beautiful views spoilt by no accessibility. What did I do there? How did everything look in practice? More about it below!
Kenya in a nutshell
Located in the eastern Africa, Kenya’s one of the Africa’s most popular travel destination. It’s filled with sandy beaches, golden savannahs and touristic resorts. Its climate varies from place to place, but generally, there are only two seasons there: rainy and dry. Wonderful coffee and excellent runners are what the country takes pride in, but that’s not everything it has to offer. The country’s full of surprises and it’s one of the fastest growing economies in eastern Africa. The earliest-known human remains were actually found in Kenya, so technically… we’re all Kenyans. That’s Kenya in a nutshell.
What to do in Kenya?
I was staying at a resort, so I can’t really tell you much about all wonderful attractions the country has to offer, exept for what I’ve seen and done myself. Sunbathing was one of my main activities and definitely one of the most relaxing ones. Kenyan beaches are definitely beautiful, so I just enjoyed the beauty I had in front of me. Very often I would just go to the beach and spend my days relaxing by the sea.
Hotel pools are wonderful oases of refreshment and I spent many hours in my hotel’s pool. In such a tropical place, the water’s your best friend. Generally, if you love the sun like I do… you’re very likely to like the Kenyan coastline.
The only complaint I have about beaches are… beach boys. These are people who sell goods on the beach and they’re very persistent. They want to persuade you that you truly need whatever they offer and they will follow you anywhere you go just to make you buy something. It was a little bit annoying for me, even though I understand everybody needs to make a living somehow.
Discover the local culture
Kenya’s a diverse country with many ethnic groups inhabiting its territory and it makes it a very interesting place to visit. The culture in Kenya is very vibrant. People and their customs seem to be full of life and they shine brightly in colour. If you are in Kenya I would encourage you to explore a culture even a little bit… it’s quite a fascinating experience!
Make friends with animals
The nature in Kenya really wants to be close to you and I mean it quite literally. It visits you in your room and everywhere else you wouldn’t expect to see it. If you love animals – Kenya’s a good place to make friends with them. Playful monkeys seem to be omnipresent and always ready to play some tricks on you. Honestly, after some time I was a little bit tired of them, but they were still funny to watch. Generally… if you’re ready for some monkey business – Kenya’s a place to go!
I decided to stay in a resort hotel, and I was promised an accessible paradise. What I was given instead… was closer to hell than heaven. I’ve never been in a worse hotel in my entire life and I believe it speaks volumes about the place’s accessibility. To access the sea and the beach I had to go… downstairs. Yes, you read it correctly – “the accessible hotel” had stairs and no other alternate way to move around.
Relocating required me to ask for assistance every single time, which was very inconvenient. I needed to go upstairs if I wanted to access the restaurant and the sea was downstairs. That’s why I was constantly torn between my desire to sunbath and my physiological need to eat. The only option I was left with was eating in my room. The service would bring everything there, but what’s the fun in eating inside a hotel room? I tried to change the hotel in the beginning and here’s the worst part – that was the most accessible hotel out there and it wasn’t even partly wheelchair friendly! I’ve never been so disillusioned with marketing promises of hotels and I hope to never be again.
Shops and restaurants
Since hotels were an absolute nightmare, I didn’t expect shops and restaurants to be any better. I was right – accessing them was a real challenge and I couldn’t really enjoy my shopping or eating out time. As I mentioned above, the hotel restaurant could be only accessed. Accessibility and Kenyan resorts don’t go together, even if they claim to be a match made in heaven.
Strolling down the beach was safer and easier than using pavements, and that’s just how bad they were. Full of holes, bumpy or non-existent pavements are definitely not best friends of wheelchair users’. Caution is an absolute must if you want to survive there. I’m glad I did.
I was staying in a resort so there was not much to see, but accessing a beach alone wasn’t the easiest task thanks to hotel stairs located outside. Sadly, I can say only one thing: nothing I’ve encountered in Kenya was even moderately accessible and I’m being generous right now.
Diving into the unknown is always exciting, but sometimes even the greatest excitement can be ruined by inaccessibility. That’s what happened to me in Kenya. It was an absolutely marvellous country, but I couldn’t enjoy its beauty like I wanted to, as my freedom was limited by a wheelchair hostile infrastructure. At the end of a day, freedom’s the greatest gift and all wonders of the world can’t replace it. All I can do is hope Kenya and accessibility will go along someday and I’ll have a chance to discover all of its secrets. Until then… Farewell, Kenya!