Nairobi doesn’t have the best reputation. There, I said it. So many people warned me about how dangerous it was, armed robberies, thugs and all kinds of criminality. I’ve now had the fortune to spend 3 weeks in Nairobi and have seen a completely different side of Kenya’s capital.

Wasps & Sprout

After a long drive over some rough roads from Sipi Falls to Moroto, we arrived at the Kara-Tunga Guesthouse. Managed by the lovely Ivan, the guesthouse is the base of Kara-Tunga Arts & Tours, a small scale tour operator aimed at strengthening community resilience, protecting nature & preserving cultural heritage through tourism.

If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.

— John Hemingway

Kiona Arts

One of the tours that most appealed to us was climbing one of the many mountain Karamoja has to offer. Our choice fell on Mount Moroto, which towers over its environment at a glorious 3,082 meters above sea level and offers impeccable views of Uganda as well as Kenya. It was an incredible hike that gave us all an intense feeling of satisfaction but above all clarity. Read more about it on my blog: Climbing Mount Moroto.

"I have never been so close to my African roots and yet felt so white."

— Amilcar van Mulier

Vinyl at Kenyatta market

One of my favourite places in Nairobi is Jimmy’s.

After the sun dipped under the horizon, we proceeded to a different part of the village to properly introduce ourselves to the community. Our guide Peter translated the words of an elder, who welcomed us to the community and wished to learn more about us. One by one we introduced ourselves, informing dozens of curious eyes who we were, where we were from and how thankful we were to be able to visit the village and learn about their culture.

As the locally brewed beer started to flow, everyone got a lot looser and we started talking as freely as possible through a translator. Soon the ladies were asking us how many children we had and the men were laughing at the fact that we werent married. Single girls asked us if it was true that in the west women have to pay the man’s family dowry to get married.

We talked for hours, laughing about the differences in our cultures, shocked by the Karamajong’s importance of reproduction (one guy in a nearby village had 34 children) and humbled by the fact that a world so very far from ours lay untouched by the temptation and materialism we were used to.

Visiting the village put so much into perspective for us, on Mount Moroto we were intrigued by the harsh conditions the Karamojongs lived in, surviving on ample water without access to medical services or education. That night however, our eyes were opened to the real Karamojong mindset, in which cattle is everything. The beauty in how these long misunderstood communities draw their energy, respect and social value from the cow truly rattles at the cage of your own values.

"Sometimes you dont need to wipe off the dust before you see the beauty of it."

- Dirk Hofman

Nairobi Garage

Got some work to do? Nairobi Garage is the place for you. This slick co-working space brings together the future of Kenya to further develop their concepts and simultaneously create and/or expand their network. The garage is often considered the epicentre of Nairobi’s creative scene.

“You either get the point of Africa or you don't. What draws me back year after year is that it's like seeing the world with the lid off.”

— A.A. Gill

Give Nairobi a chance

I spent the first 12 years of my life in Uganda, going on many trips throughout the continent with my mother, the fact is however that I have never felt so touched by the rawness of Africa as I was in Karamoja. The trip really blew my expectations and in my mind was a glimpse of how Africa may have looked like thousands of years. If you have the chance to visit Uganda, don’t cut yourself short by only going to the west of the country for your standard safari. If you are looking for a real adventure filled with unforgettable encounters with such a powerful and untouched community, don’t miss Karamoja.

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