What makes Kenya stand out as a top volunteering destination
If you are preparing to travel to Kenya this year, or are thinking of joining a volunteer programme overseas and are not sure where to go, here are some reasons why Kenya is a top destination to volunteer in.
Firstly, there are many volunteering companies that work with projects in Kenya because there is a demand for volunteer support. If you choose to travel with a responsible travel company then the volunteer impact can be huge. For example, if you want to work in a school setting, there is often the need for teaching assistance because the classrooms can be overcrowded. In Kenya, especially in more deprived areas, the education system is quite overwhelmed and schools often lack sufficient infrastructure and facilities to provide for the number of children enrolled. By embarking on a volunteer programme in Kenya, you are likely to have the opportunity to help build new classrooms and create more conducive learning spaces for the children.
If you are looking for some adventure, Kenya has the perfect landscapes for this. The Great Rift Valley runs through Kenya and the country is renowned for its safaris and game drives, which will give you the chance to see some of the world’s most iconic wildlife including the ‘big five’. Kenya is also home to Africa’s second tallest mountain, Mount Kenya, which the country is actually named after. Mount Kenya offers many scenic expedition routes and treks for novice climbers and more advanced mountaineers. Alternatively, if you are looking to explore but would like something a little less energetic, then why not head to the coastal region of Mombasa for a relaxing retreat?
If you choose to travel to Africa, you are undoubtedly guaranteed sunshine wherever you go. Kenya lies on the Equator and the climate is typically hot but fresh with the coastal areas being more tropical. In Kenya, you will experience a dry season and two wet seasons but it does not rain the whole time during the wet seasons so it is a good all-year-round destination. However, if you are interested in a specific activity, it is advisable to research the best times for these (e.g. the wildebeest migration). The dry season characteristically runs from June to October followed by the ‘short rains’ season between November and December. The long rains then follow between January and May, starting with a drier spell during January and February.
When travelling in Kenya, and this can also be generalised to sub-Saharan Africa, you will soon become familiar with the different pace of life from that which you might be used to in the UK or Europe. Your Kenyan hosts may joke with you about ‘Africa time’ and in Swahili, which is Kenya’s common language, you might hear the phrase ‘pole pole’ which means ‘slowly slowly’. This is something not to get frustrated by but to embrace as you will soon come to appreciate the relaxed way of life.
Kenya has a diversity of cultures and there are 62 known languages spoken nationwide across different ethnic groups. The traditions practised and cultural attitudes will vary depending on which parts of Kenya you travel to and each tribal group has its own identity. With the friendliness and warm attitude of Kenyan people, you will be made to feel welcome when travelling in Kenya. If you choose to go on safari, you might have the chance to meet a tribal group and gain an insight into their way of life. For example, if you visit the Maasai Mara National Park, you can meet the Maasai tribe and learn about their nomadic lifestyle. However, you will find that many Kenyan communities have adopted westernised or Islamic forms of dress and traditional tribal clothing is often kept for special occasions or celebrations. Kenyans are typically conservative in their attitudes and beliefs and religion is a very important part of Kenyan life. The predominant religion practised in Kenya is Christianity followed by Islam and other indigenous faiths. With Christianity being so widely practised, Western visitors are often invited to a Sunday church service which you can opt in or out of at your will. But even if you are not religious, it can be an enjoyable way to experience a huge part of Kenyan faith and community spirit.
This is not all; Kenya has many more qualities that makes it an appealing travel destination. There is a variety of music and folklore to discover, delicious food to taste and sport is very popular, especially football. So, why not find out more about embarking on a trip to this beautiful destination? Visit www.volunteerinafrica.co.uk/kenya/ to get started.