Africa is one of those places that’s on almost everyone’s wanderlust list. So when long-time television and film actor Kushal Punjabi was presented with an opportunity to do an event in Kenya, he jumped at the chance to cross this continent off his list. Read on to find out where he went and what he did on his trip.
When I was invited to two events for which the dates clashed, I had to choose between going to Thailand and Kenya. The choice was easy, and my decision was instantaneous. I had never been to East Africa before, so Kenya it was. I was really lucky to not only visit Kenya on work, but to take a few days off afterwards and enjoy a nice little holiday.
During the work part of my travels, I was accompanied by a few co-actors, but when I stayed back I was happy to delight in this adventure on my own. I enjoy travelling alone and always end up making some local friends who are kind enough to guide me to explore the place, if not to show me around. I believe that certain holidays must be embarked upon alone in order to really discover the place, its people and, more importantly, yourself.
The cities I visited in Kenya were Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. Nairobi is the capital, the largest and the main commercial city, so that’s where you find a lot of traffic, office buildings and hotels. I stayed at the very lovely Serena Hotel. Apart from my visit to the cricket stadium where the event was scheduled to take place, I also spent time in the local markets, restaurants and (of course) the national park, which was truly an amazing experience.
I managed to get special permission and got to be inside a cheetah’s cage, where I could touch her and even brush her fur! The speedy beast was called Sharon, and she even let me get a picture with her. While in the national park, a little monkey jumped out of his cage, got hold of my camera and refused to let it go. A funny moment which – thanks to the angle at which it was held ransom – I was able to capture on camera.
Mombasa and Malindi are gorgeous beachfront cities an hour’s distance from each other. Both places are perfectly relaxing with beautiful climates, delicious food (for a meat and seafood eater), stunning resorts and extremely friendly people.
Casinos, restaurants and bars make up most of Malindi, a subliminal small island getaway. While in Mombasa, I stayed at the Nyali Beach Resort. I was in Malindi for precisely one night and stayed on the beach. The local culture there is much like it is in India – the people are very family-oriented, with deep-rooted emotional bonds between families and relatives.
East Africa is getting more developed in every field, and is sure to soon become one of the nicest holiday destinations on this side of the planet. The people are extremely warm, simple, generous and happy. Even though their country has been on such a roller coaster in the past, they are positive that they will come through shining.
For me, what was lovely about this trip was meeting and making new local friends. But the gorgeous Masai Mara was the ace of it all. Watching the wild majestic lions a mere ten feet away from me made me feel like nothing I could ever see would beat that moment. I felt humbled and so blessed just to have the opportunity to experience that!
Just being in this extraordinary continent felt special! There’s a lot of love, romance and passion that still exists in Africa. For everybody who has the chance to visit, I recommend with all my heart that you do. Visit Kenya and other places in East Africa, but experience the raw, wild version. To experience the Masai Mara Reserve is something else – it’s the trip of a lifetime.
Since there’s always more to explore, I would love to go back someday, hopefully sooner than later. I only spent two weeks there and covered just a small portion of the country. Next time, I’m going to explore some other of the smaller cities and definitely make more friends.
There was so much about this place and its people that spoke to me – the genuineness, the patriotism, the will to prove that their country is as good as any other (if not better), their family ties, the simple yet strong culture. It was a wonderful feeling to see them dancing, listen to their beats and music, watch the rhythm with which they move, smiles spread across their faces. You have to be there to feel the real spirit of Africa, through their people. – Kushal