Here are 10 suggestions that will help you to get more out of your holiday, and help to keep your destination special after your departure:
- Read up on Kenya and the coast before you visit. The welcome will be warmer if you take an interest and speak even a few words of Kiswahili.
- When making your booking check if the hotel where you are staying has a written commitment on caring for the environment and local people.
- Dress sensitively. If you wear loose fitting clothes, such as medium length skirts for women and short sleeved shirts you will receive a much better reaction from local people. Also remember that public displays of affection can cause offence.
- Be open-minded. The culture in Kenya is very different from Western countries. People do things here that may seem strange, but make more sense if you understand the local situation. Also remember that timescales are different here. Try to be patient, ask questions and avoid making judgements.
- Buy locally made goods, from the hotel boutique, the beach operators or local sellers. However, DO check that what you are buying is not endangered, such as shells or hardwoods. Ask for carvings made from Neem, Jacaranda, Mango, Coconut or Grevillea.
- Haggle with humour and not aggressively. Ensure that you get good value, but remember that a small amount to you could make a bigger difference to the seller.
- Conserve local resources. Water is scarce here and power is too!
- Turn the shower off whilst soaping up
- Re-use your towels if they’re not dirty
- Turn off lighting and air conditioning when not required
- Help preserve local wildlife and habitats by respecting rules and regulations, such as sticking to footpaths, not standing on coral nor removing natural items such as seeds or shells from protected areas. Inform your tour operator if you see any unnecessary disturbance.
- Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or people’s homes. You may be expected to pay for the privilege!
If you wish to give gifts to children, do so in school (to encourage them to go to school) under a teacher’s supervision. If you buy items such as pens and exercise books locally (rather than bringing them from home) you spread even more benefits to the local people.
If you want to do more to help the local people or the environment speak to a local person to find out local needs and the best ways of helping. The Community and Conservation office in the hotel are happy to give advice.