The Kenyan Rotaract Roundtrip
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
8-16th of March 2019, the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central invited three Rotaractors from around the world for nine days full of adventure, friendship and fun with the first ever Kenyan Rotaract Roundtrip!
For those of you not yet acquaint with Rotaract Roundtrips, here's a short introduction: A Rotaract Roundtrip is the ultimate way to explore a foreign country. There are countless reasons why, below I've listed a few of them:
You meet Rotaractors from all around the world International networking is embodied through Rotaract Roundtrips, where you will form life-lasting friendships with people you would never have met otherwise. As a participant you will befriend local Rotaractors, other international participants and get to know the host country from a local point of view.
You don't have to worry about accommodation, food, transportation or excursions The organizing committee of each roundtrip, consisting of members of the local Rotaract club, got that all covered. They will set up an itinerary including a full plan for each day of the roundtrip - what you will do, see, eat and where to sleep. And since the organizers are locals, they know all of the hidden gems and can reroute from illusive tourist traps.
You get a lot of bang for your buck The only thing participants pay is their own flights and a participant fee (usually in the range of $200-800) which covers accommodation, meals, transportation and excursions. The costs of accommodation are usually reduced to a minimum, since you most likely will be accommodated by local Rotaractors or Rotarians either the full length of the trip or parts of it. Some of the excursions will also be sponsored by local Rotary clubs. Therefore, you will get to see and experience things at a much lower cost than if you did the same trip on your own.
If you are interested in participating in one of the 30+ Rotaract Roundtrips that are available to Rotaractors every year, check out Rotaract Events & Trips on Facebook and Instagram (@rotaract_events) to stay updated on application dates.
That being said, now let's get back to the summary of the very first edition of the Kenyan Rotaract Roundtrip! The three lucky participants were Roxana from England, Cristina from Mexico and myself: Maria from Sweden. None of us had ever been to Kenya before, let alone Africa, so it's safe to say our expectations were high when we arrived at the airport in Nairobi friday the 8th of march. Little did we know those expectations would be exceeded by far in the following week.
The Kenyan Rotaract Roundtrip was no longer than 9 days, but given all of the things we experienced during that short period of time, it felt more like a month's worth of traveling. The roundtrip was planned meticulously and executed with such proficiency that any professional travel agency would be jealous. Having participated in other roundtrips a few times before, I was seriously impressed by the organizing committees organizational skills - especially considering the fact that this was the very first time they ever organized a roundtrip.
Now, a detailed trip summary in one single post is hands down impossible - or haiwezekani as you'd say in Swahili - but below I've listed some of the highlights during our 9 day whirlwind tour of beautiful Kenya:
Visiting orphan elephant and giraffe rescue centers, where animals that'd been rescued from the savanna found refugee until they were old enough to be let out in the wild again. Some of the orphan elephants were victims of illegal trophy hunting, where they were left for dead after their mothers had been killed for their ivory tusks
Learning about Kenyan history and heritage at the Nairobi National Museum
Experiencing the Nairobi and Mombasa nightlife (and laughing until we cried when Roxy gave the waiter at ONYX Club a big hug, thinking he was one of the local Rotaractors)
Biking along zebras and buffalos in Hell's Gate National Park, where we also hiked the breathtakingly beautiful Gorge
Making bargains at Maasai markets (or as one of the very amused locals put it, getting severely ripped off)
Seeing people casually jumping out of moving minibuses (locally known as matatus)
Going on a safari in Amboseli National Park where we saw lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras, hippos and the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro
Visiting a massai tribe and getting a night walking tour in their village
Learning about Kenyan culture and traditions from hanging out with locals (I've made it my promise to come back and crash a wedding at some point, because in Kenya it's common to just casually walk into ongoing weddings and partake in the celebrations - even if you have no idea who the happy couple actually is.)
Snorkeling and watching dolphins on a boat tour in Diani (and getting massive sun burns which had to be treated with fresh cut aloe vera - yes Roxy, I'm explicitly referring to you again haha)
Riding the train between Nairobi and Mombasa, where we made friends with strangers through UNO and charades
Learning Swahili words and phrases like jambo, kwaheri, asante and of course: hakuna matata!
Enjoying delicious Kenyan cuisine like chapati flatbread, ugali and samosas
Constantly singing along and shaking our hips to the rhythmic tunes of Kenyan songs like "Tetema" and "Dundaing"
Considering all of the above, it's safe to say we were not lacking adventure during our time in Kenya. Whether it was having dinner in darkness during a power cut, snorkeling in crystal clear water, being shouted at in the streets by locals calling out mzungu (which roughly translates to "person of European descent"), or laughing together in the back of a matatu. All while getting to know the real Kenya and its people, making local friends in every new city we went.
On behalf of myself and my two fellow mzungus Cristina and Roxy, I'd like to send a huge thank you to the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central (RCNC) for organizing the trip of a lifetime. And an explicit and special thank you to Sharon and Sam for sticking with us for the (almost) entire length of the trip; it would not have been the same without you. Hakuna matata! // Maria Waldekrantz Member of Rotaract Stockholm Djurgården District 2350
Organizing committee and three happy mzungus in front of the Nairobi National Museum
Hiking the Gorge
Meeting with local Rotaractors in Mombasa
Diani boat tour
Lunch in Nairobi
Gift exchange on the last night of the roundtrip