We loved biking in Kenya. The country is beautiful and the people are welcoming: we met more fascinating people along the road in Kenya than in any other country we’ve been to (so far!). At the same time, it was early in our trip and we didn’t take quite the risks and visit quite the rural areas we would have otherwise, so keep that in mind. We were there from November to December 2009, theoretically during the ’short rains’ season, though the rains didn’t materialize and we had no trouble.
Route: From Nairobi, we biked north along the Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha. We continued along the west side of the lake back to the main road to Nakuru and then north, taking a dirt road to Lake Baringo and then on to Bogoria. From there we headed west, climbing to Kabarnet and then Iten and then rolling on to Eldoret, Kakamega, and Kisumu. We spent a few weeks on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria and then biked into Uganda at the Busia border.
Roads: Pretty good actually! Again, it was early in the trip so we didn’t ride quite so much on dirt roads as we would have later. Paved roads were in good shape though, and except for the bus and matatu drivers, they’re actually relatively safe (for the region). Don’t hesitate to use the shoulder if one exists of course, and the traffic from Nairobi up to Nakuru was atrocious.
Dogs: No problems!
Food: Chapati (flat bread) and Mandazi (a kind of not sweet enough doughnut) are available in small cafes all over, and along with Kenyan chai (tea with milk and sugar – delicious) they make a good breakfast. For lunch and dinner it is Ugali, maize-flour paste (not so bad as it sounds really) and beans and veggies (Sukumawiki – collards – is common). Githeri, a mix of beans and corn, is also easy to find, very cheap, and pretty good – makes an excellent bike-day breakfast actually.
Every town has at least one restaurant, and Kenyans are industrious people so they will invariably be open in the morning, no matter how early you start, and still be open at night, no matter how late you stop. You can eat well in Kenya for a euro or two per person per meal.
Sleeping: Campgrounds were pretty easy to find and are often beautiful and deserted (at least when we were there), though you do have to pay (five euros a night or so). Most towns have small hotels too, though these can get a little dingy as you get to the lower end of the price scale.
Things shouted at us along the road: “Mzungu how are you?” is the most popular, but our personal favorite was: “Give me your bike!” shouted as we climbed an endless hill – yes, there is some begging along the way in Kenya, but nothing so bad as Uganda.