Kenya - The land of smiles

Kenya - The land of smiles

Kenya is an incredible African country with the best combination of nature, wildlife, culture and a climate favourable to any kind of cyclist. It is also easily accessible from Europe by plane or by crossing the border into neighbouring countries. We took a flight from Finland and packed our adventure into two months. 


Below we will tell you how we ended up cycling in Kenya, how we planned the route and what our overall experience in Kenya was like from a cyclist's perspective.


The Route


We chose to do a round trip, starting in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, and ending our journey in the same place. We flew in from Finland with our bicycles and set them up in the hotel in downtown Nairobi. We left the bicycle boxes at the same hotel where we arrived, so that the boxes would be waiting for us at the end of our ride.


We never plan our route before we start cycling. For some cyclists, it might be stressful, but for us, it is part of the excitement and we like to be spontaneous. We did a rough planning of the route based on what we wanted to see in Kenya. We wanted to visit the Maasai Mara National Park and were still keen to cycle north, where there is a good chance of seeing more wildlife along the way. We also checked out a ready-made bike route called Kenya Bike Odyssey, but found it too busy and commercial for us.


We ended up following our own routes and this fitted us very well. From Nairobi, we took a direct road to Naivasha and it was the busiest road we have ever cycled, full of trucks and cars, it was practically a motorway. From Naivasha we cycled all the way to the Tanzanian border and, after visiting the Maasai Mara, we headed towards the north-west of Kenya. Then the time almost came to an end and we returned to Nairobi. Because of the route we chose, our journey was very varied and included hilly mud roads, savannah, forests and flat terrain. We did not need to find accommodation because we had everything we needed with us and spent most nights sleeping in tents whenever and wherever we wanted.


What Kenya offers for cyclists


Kenya is beautiful, diverse and full of friendly people. Like most countries, the cities are busy, but once you leave the capital, you see the true beauty of the country. In Kenya, we encountered green valleys and hills on both sides of the road. In fact, during the winter, the time we cycled, just after the rainy season, Kenya's nature is incredibly green. You can also feel the effect of the hills on your legs at the end of each day because once you enjoy cycling down a hill, you know that after a while you have to go back up again. The hills are also very long, dozens and dozens of kilometres at a time. The paved roads are in good condition, but the traffic in Kenya is very dangerous, cars and trucks whizz by very often and cyclists are easily forgotten. The small back roads in the countryside are nice and quiet, but sometimes they are also privately owned and, if you don't want to pay for the use of the road, you find yourself cycling between trucks again. Cycling closer to towns means more traffic.


The mood in Kenya is relaxed and people are always smiling. Being polite is an important part of the way people interact with cyclists, even though prices in restaurants and shops for foreigners very often tend to be higher. Haggling is part of the culture and the locals still do it with a smile on their faces. The climate varies, depending on where you ride. We first went to the Kenyan 'highlands', where temperatures ranged between 15 and 20 degrees. It was very comfortable and the nights were even cool, but when we approached the savannah, it was very difficult to cycle in the middle of the day because of the heat. When the temperature approaches 40 degrees, you need to hydrate and protect yourself from the sun.


All in all, Kenya is a great country to start cycling in Africa, whether you only have a short holiday or a longer period of time to spend. You don't have to be a professional cyclist to have a comfortable cycling experience and, if you want, you can even sleep in a hotel every night. On the other hand, you can also have a very authentic experience like us, with hidden trails, meeting wild animals on the road and sleeping in tents. You will find delicious food, clean water and friendly people everywhere you go in Kenya. And no, the lions will not eat you while you are cycling.