Travel Do's and Don'ts: Nairobi and London

DO... Go on a safari outside the Masai Mara. The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya's most famous wildlife park, and rightfully so. In just two days many people can see almost all of the "big five" : lions, elephants, cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. The park is also famous for the annual great migration, where hundreds of wildebeests migrate, but the Mara is often crowded and expensive. Kenya has many other national parks to explore. Among them are Nakuru National Park which is home to thousands of pink flamingos and rhinos, and Naivasha, an area with many nature reserves without predators like lions or leopards. These reserves allow you to go on walking safaris, where you can get as close to giraffes, zebras, gazelles and baboons as the animals will let you, allowing for a truly organic nature adventure.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

DO NOT... Carry around a lot of valuables – This rule is especially true for expensive phones, iPods and other gadgets. It's not uncommon to be stuck in Nairobi's notorious traffic with the window down and have a thief come by and snatch your phone or purse out of your hands. The same is true for walking around while talking on your phone or listening to your iPod. Thieves can spot someone who isn't paying attention a mile away. Don't be an easy target.

DO NOT... Be a sucker. Know how much services and goods are supposed to cost before taking part in them. Ask your hotel concierge how much a taxi ride is supposed to cost, consult with guidebooks or any locals you know about how much trinkets and souvenirs should cost. Always bargain. Expect that if a vendor knows you are a tourist their price has automatically doubled if not tripled.

DO NOT... Pay any bribes. Police and authority figures are often looking for ways to make an extra buck. Have an idea of what the laws and regulations here are, stick to them, and disagree vigorously if someone of authority asks you for a bribe. If you do pay any type of fine, insist on a receipt.

DO NOT... Be afraid to travel to Kenya despite the country's notoriety for corruption; the country remains a safe and pleasant place to visit. Even during the last year's post-election violence not a single foreigner or tourist was harmed. The country depends on tourism – it's the second largest source of income and tourist dollars are often used to help maintain the Kenya's magnificent wildlife. The people of Kenya are amazing too – funny, open and warm. Don't let political issues keep you from experiencing the many joys Kenya has to offer.


DO...Take advantage of the fact that London's art galleries and museums are free – visit them – this list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good starting point. Check out Tate Britain for their JMW Turner collection (the father of abstract art – his paintings are otherworldly in their intensity). Experience the architecture of Tate Modern, a gallery located in a former power station, the Victoria and Albert Museum has the funkiest gift shop, the British Museum is a must-see but avoid it on weekends when crowds are intense.

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