10 ways to spice up festive season in these hard times

A section of Takawiri Island on Lake Victoria.

The holidays always seem to arrive way too quickly, and usually by the time you even think of how you are going to spend the one or two weeks that you will be away from work it is already New Year.  Financial advisors say it doesn’t have to be that way if you plan early but as tough as 2018 has been everyone deserves to treat themselves and their families in the next two weeks. It is for this reason that we have compiled 10activities you can do to make this festive season worthwhile without breaking the bank.

Take a road trip to Marsabit

Fuel prices are down so you don’t have an excuse not to go on a road trip with your family or friends and just marvel at Kenya’s beauty. If this is the thing for you then you definitely have to go to Marsabit. The northern frontier remains one of the unexplored regions in Kenya despite its breathtaking sceneries.

With a tarmacked 508km road from Nairobi there is no reason why you should not attempt going north. Its spellbinding hills, rocks and unique foliage will be a good break especially if you live in Nairobi. Just make sure that your car is serviced well before the trip because up there the distance between towns is huge and there is nothing as bad as spending your Christmas stuck in a thicket.

Go zip lining

Zip lining in Kenya has become popular and although it’s akin to a daredevil challenge it should be on your bucket list of things you should do before the end of 2018.  From as little as Sh1,000 you can access a number of zip lining locations around Nairobi and across the country.  It is however an activity that is not for the faint hearted and people with some medical conditions are advised not to attempt.  But just to be sure you need to ask your doctor if you are fit enough to take the ropes.  Also make sure you dress appropriately.

See flamingoes at Lake Simbi Nyaima

Lake Simbi Nyaima in Karachuonyo, near Kendu Bay Town, is famed for its other attractions. The lake measuring about 1 kilometer in radius has no known inlet or outlet and has since turned into a bird attraction, and is home to a wide variety of birds, among them flamingoes. In Luo, the name of the lake means the village that sank but geologists say it is a crater lake formed about six centuries ago as a result of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It takes 30 minutes to drive from Kendu Bay to the lake. Along the way you can visit other attractions like Kanjera Archeological site and Kendu Bay’s Old Town, where Arabs settled in 1920.

Learn a new skill

With time on your hands you can use the holiday to pick upskills that do not require a lot of time to master. These could include cooking lessons, skating, acting, dancing, a new language or even driving. Most of the roads are virtually empty on Christmas day which provides a good environment for those who want to learn how to drive.

Get Lost in Takawiri Island

Lake Victoria has countless islands, but only a few have been documented. Takawiri is one such island that has white sandy beaches and cool breeze with palm trees. With its pristine stretch of white sandy beach, tall palm trees and clear blue water, you would be forgiven to think that Takawiri is on the Kenyan Coast.  To get there drive to Mbita in Homabay County then take a 45 minute boat ride to the island. You can also fly to Kabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay town then take a ferry to the island.

Play tourist in your own county

If you really want to enjoy yourself when your budget cannot allow you to travel, you should keep in mind that Kenya is a renowned global destination for tourist attractions. Tourists pay top dollar to come visit and some of these sights might be in your back yard but you have been ignoring them all year long. It costs about Sh300 for an adult to visit Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) run parks and most of the landmarks can be accessed without paying entrance fees. So instead of just sitting at home, explore the iconic landmarks near you and while at it have a meal at a restaurant you have never visited.

Go hiking

Strap on your sneakers, carry a meal and head for the hills. Walking has health benefits that may be greater than high-intensity training.

Hiking is not only a great way to explore nature, but it is also a great stress reliever.  To make the hike more worthwhile you can organise a picnic on top of the hill and watch the sun set.  So if you’re not a hiker yet, then the festive season is definitely a time to start.

Go camping

If you want to get away from home without breaking your wallet but still experience something new and exciting, consider heading for the outdoors and setting up a camp with your friends or family. Tents can be hired at a fee in most camping locations but you can also borrow from a friend. 

If you are a beer person you will discover that it tastes better when you drink by a camp fire as you crack jokes with your family waiting for the meat to roast.

Take a boat and head to Wasini

Now that going to the Coast has become a must do activity for Kenyans then maybe it is time you considered leaving the cramped Jomo Kenyatta beach and head south by boat to Wasini. 

Trips to the island by dhow from Mombasa are becoming popular and while on the way you can get a chance to see dolphins.

It would also be a good idea if you try to snorkel along the way. You will be fascinated with the stingrays, seahorses and eels in their natural habitat.

The trip will also feed you with an ancient Swahili cultural experience and a chance to learn some history by exploring the Shimoni Caves, which held slaves before their shipment to the Asia.

Have lunch in Naivasha

It is no accident that Naivasha is a popular weekend and holiday destination.

Located just an hour’s drive from Nairobi, the lake side town has in recent years emerged as a popular tourist destination due to its variety of hotels, camping sites and of course, the breathtaking Lake Naivasha.