Whether you are an animal lover or not, the pull of magnificent wildlife in Kenya is hard to resist.
The Giraffe Centre
Rothschild Giraffes reside here as part of an incredible conservation effort to increase their numbers. For less than $15 you can enter the Giraffe Centre, feed them, and admire them as they chill out in the sun. If warthogs are more your scene then you’ll appreciate the few that scuttle around under the Giraffe’s feet.
No shouting or loud noises should be made in the centre as the giraffes are easy to scare. To see what else this amazing centre does for the Rothschild Giraffe visit the website: https://www.giraffecentre.org/our-sanctuary/
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Open for just an hour or so per day, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust opens its doors for feeding time in a successful effort to raise money to support the elephants that they care for. At around $10 to enter the centre there’s simply no reason not to go.
Tourists pile in the doors to witness the feeding of young elephants and learn about the reasons they live within the trust. Despite the high presence of tourists this centre is not to be missed. It is vital that all generations are continuously reminded of the importance of elephants and the need to conserve them in their entirety… tusks and all.
Enough words… just look at these adorable elephants enjoying a drink!
Time to cool off
Nairobi National Park
This National park is nestled within the city of Nairobi. It’s bizarre to drive so deep into the habitat of lions, water buffalo, wildebeest, and more, but to still see skyscrapers on the horizon.
The safari is pricey in comparison to the smaller rescue and conservation sites, but the expense is well worth it. With a good driver you can expect to see a lot of wildlife. We even managed to see a rare rhino!
Within the park rests the historic ivory burning site. Marked as a picnic site you can take a moment to learn about the tragedies of Ivory poaching and Kenya’s role in preventing the practice.
If you love birds, gazelle, zebra and hippos then Lake Naivasha is he place to go. The lake is north west of Nairobi and best accessed by bus or private car.
The boatmen are full to the brim with animal facts and will assist you in identifying the creatures you see.
Pulling the boat up close to the hippos will be enough to set your heart racing. They will also strive to hep you experience the swooping of an eagle as they throw a fish into the water just meters from where you float. The payment for a boat tour around the enormous lake is per person and lifejackets are supplied. Learn more here: http://www.kws.go.ke/park-activities/viewing-lake-naivasha
A significant part of your travelling experience lies in the places that you choose to call home each night. Whilst you may not return home with wondrous stories about the incredible comfort levels hidden within the mattress, or the delicious breakfast you ate each morning – the chances are that you will always recall the things that made the accommodation terrible.
When booking my stay anywhere in the world I look at five factors. 1. Is it close to the main attractions. 2. Are the rooms clean and comfortable. 3. Am I paying a decent amount for what is on offer. 4. Will I have somewhere other than my room to hang out in the evening, and 5. How well has the space been rated by past experienced travellers.
I hope that by confronting some of your doubts and answering some of your questions with real experience I can bring you to book your first hostel stay somewhere.
1. You said: I’m not sharing a bedroom with anyone I don’t know. So I might as well just stay in a hotel room anyway.
I say: If you really don’t want to stay with anyone random then the answer is simple, don’t stay with random people. Booking a private room in a hostel is easy and will still save you a large amount of cash. Let’s look at an example I have stayed in –
Where we stayed: The Secret Garden Hostel – Krakow, Poland. 5 nights, two beds for £160 total.
For just £160 we stayed in a lovely private twin bed room with ensuing, TV, cleaning service, common room, kitchen area, and free city maps.
This hostel has family vibes – meaning you are unlikely to be awoken by noisy party goers at 2am in the morning. If you like your privacy and like being slightly out of the centre of town then The Secret Garden hostel is an excellent choice.
If you want breakfast included then you only need to pay a small fee for this, or why not pop to the grocery store just a 2 minute walk away and make your own?
If you opt for one of the many Hotels in the area you will notice ( with a quick search on booking.com ) that you will be lucky for find a room for 5 nights for two people, and under £350.
Choosing a private twin room in a hostel in Krakow saved us £190.
2. You said: Hostels are for young people.
I say: No they’re not!
Where we stayed: Basecamp Bonn – Bonn, Germany. Suitable for all ages.
This quirky hostel offers a very varied environment, and by varied I mean – you can stay in the train carriage a private caravan a tour bus and more, all housed in a giant warehouse of fun.
Whilst younger visitors might opt to stay in the entirely cramped tour bus, older travellers can opt for the privacy and spaciousness of a private caravan for the night. The hostel offers traditional fun boardgames for the younger visitors (not that it stopped us from playing) and a mature atmosphere for the older ones.
If staying in a caravan isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other options available for all the travellers in the world of hostels. All you have to do is set your preferences wisely when searching, and if mobility is an issue then check the facilities and the location before you book.
In the peaceful town of Bonn, Germany is this bonkers hostel. Housed under one huge warehouse sit a renovated train carriage, private caravans, and tour buses to sleep in!
3. You said: I’m not sharing a bathroom!
I said: Whilst it can be hard to find, hostels with private bathrooms do exist.
Where we stayed: Villa Varich – Chumphon, Thailand private ensuit.
Ok, ok, so this hostel isn’t on Hostelworld anymore because it wasn’t technically a hostel, but as the owner was just starting out these private villas were placed on Hostelworld and for bargain price. It’s just so great not feature it here. This does however raise an interesting point about being meticulous in your search for the perfect private bathroom.Once again I urge you to set your preferences to private ensuite and searching for a decent hostel with a private bathroom. Who knows you might just stumbled upon something is great as Villa Varich!
4. You said: I don’t want to party all the time. I just want to read with some light entertainment.
I said: party hostels are all around but if you search with the correct preferences you will find a hostel that suits you perfectly without all the loud music.
Where we stayed: Easy Tiger is an incredible hostel located in Phong Ngha, Vietnam.
Whilst from the booking websites this may seem like an incredibly rowdy hostel you couldn’t be more wrong. You’ll also be pleased to know (for those of you that wanted a private bathroom recommendation) that rooms with four beds in one private bathroom or available.
Upon entering your room you will be greeted by tiger print walls, floors, bedding – you name it! The rooms have thick walls keeping all outside noise out. Scheduled musicians and other interesting acts play in the evenings for your entertainment whilst you grab a bite to eat from their yummy restaurant.
I also recall there being a pool, pool tables, and a theme of supporting good causes.
5. You said: I’ve heard stories. Hostels just aren’t safe!
I say: To date, I have yet to be robbed of anything, nor attacked in some dark hallway. I’ve thought that I’ve been robbed a few times by then realise I just dropped my things next to my bed.
Where we stayed: Asta Venice, Venice, Italy. The locker is under your bed, and bag storage options are available.
some hostels have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to security, but we were pleased to see that Asta has nailed the locker system. Although Asta has done a good job, always travel with a minimum of two padlocks as most hostels or not supply them for you free of charge.
Many of the newer hostels you will notice have cameras around the building and outside rooms (which by the way most hotels only have cameras in the lobby). If you notice any suspicious behaviour, notify the staff (as you would anywhere else) and you will be just fine.