Jambo Kenya!

Kenya isn’t the first destination that springs to mind for travellers on a budget. Despite its famous landscape, wildlife, luxurious setting and sunsets,this African gem can be off-putting to the average gap year tourist. I myself was almost dissuaded at the stage of browsing through internet sites and watching the dollar signs rising. But whether you’re heading for the annual migration or the inevitable tan, Kenya is perfect to visit on any budget if thoroughly researched. Here are my recommended five top places to take in:

Mombasa

Mombasa is Kenya’s largest city outside the capital, Nairobi, and favours Africa’s east coast. I was captivated by its subtly scented blend of Western and African charms. Unlike Nairobi, it had the clean air, cheaper accommodation and lack of street crime to freshen up the atmosphere and I have never been able to argue with a sea view.Flying into Mombasa, as I did, made for a great core location to base the holiday around.

Masai Mara

It’s a no-brainer this one. Who can visit Kenya without also visiting the Masai Mara? Budget travellers can opt for package holidays including safaris to shed the extra costs dramatically. Package prices, including flights and hotels, are usually around $400-500.

Mount Kenya

Kenya’s highest mountain is cheaper than Kilimanjaro and equally impressive. Be warned: unless you are a professional climber, you will not be able to visit the top of this much more technical mountain. However, the average tourist, and I definitely fell into the category of casual climber, can expect to reach around 3500 ft with ease and that’s a lot of view! Bringing your own equipment will slash the costs and expeditions are available all year round.

Lake Nakuru

This typically east African site is famous for its flamingos, buffalo and its beautiful landscape. Though is not as distinctive as some of the other locations available, Lake Nakuru is ideal as a stop off during a longer trip and is included in most package holidays, usually as a day trip on the way to the Masai Mara.

Lamu Island

This unadulterated island has risen to fame amongst backpackers in recent years. There are no package holidays here, just dhows and donkeys, and for me it was the ideal place to clean away the grime and stress from travelling. The boat to the island is 10 minutes from the airport on neighbouring Manda Island and room prices in low season vary from $12-25 depending on how many are sharing.

I think it’s fair to say most destinations on the tourist trail need a bit of research if you want to get the best from them. However, if you are conscious of your cash it’s a necessary investment. Nevertheless, even in a part of the world known for safari, luxury lodges and honeymoon retreats it is possible to include it in your backpacking itinerary. A final tip? Head out in low season when prices drop, the weather is warm but not scorching and you get the place to yourself…

Author Bio: Matilda Lambert

Matilda Lambert is an English university student who is lucky enough to travel the world with many unusual adventures. Though often seen on long-haul flights, her true love is for Scandinavia and hopes to move there after her studies.

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