As most of you know, my mum Carol lives in Kenya, in a place called Vipingo, which is about 40km north of Mombasa. Kenya has been a second home to me since I was a baby, a love affair that has lasted a life time, it is such a huge part of who I am and the country is a home that holds such happy childhood memories. After my father sadly died in 2013, we decided to scatter his ashes on the beach that he lived on with my mum, for 15 years. I feel him everywhere at the house and sparkling bright across the ocean. It’s wonderful to be so connected to someone, even though they’re not here anymore. The missing link in the jigsaw for the last few years, has been that my husband Dozza and little Kit have never been to visit. Luna came with me in 2017 when I was pregnant but of course she doesn’t really remember it, so we decided to take the plunge this New Year and brave the long flight with two kids in tow.
If you go to your doctor in the UK and tell them you’re going to Kenya with a toddler and a 20 month old, there is a chance they’ll tell you not to go. Which is exactly what my doctor in Cheltenham said to me when Luna was 15 months old. The reason behind this is to be honest, there is no guaranteed way of protecting your child against malaria because the littlies are too young to take anything. Kenya has malaria in parts but on the coast if you take precautions (I’ll go into those in a bit), then you can minimise the risk hugely. This is a personal choice. I would never tell you what to do, only give you the information so you can make the decision. I have friends who live out there with little ones, who don’t give them antimalarials because they are there all the time BUT as I’ve previously said, this is completely your choice and it might put you off going until you can give them the appropriate medicine. I personally did a lot of research, looked into the risks, spoke to a load of people before we went and together we decided we could protect them enough to feel comfortable they wouldn’t get it.
The things we did to keep the mozzies away:
We use a wonderful man called Paul Hambly who is a Herbalist based in Wadhurst, Kent. He has been looking after me and my family since I was a little girl, giving us acupuncture, sending Chinese herbs when our immune system’s were low and even helping the kids with their various ailments. You can have a phone consultation with him for £30 and he’ll send you everything you need for your trip. He makes up a special mosquito repellent cream for the kids, with no nasties in it. We covered them in it at night and neither of them got one bite.
HAMBLY’S HERBAL DISPENSARY – 01892 783027
Dozza and I don’t take western antimalarials because we don’t like how they make us feel. We take Oriental Wormwood which we get from Hambley’s. Many of you might not have heard of this…PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. I’m not promoting this, only letting you know what we do. My mother has lived there for nearly 20 years and hasn’t had Malaria once, she takes Oriental Wormwood every day.
At around 5.30pm we lit mozzie coils and sprayed their rooms. We also covered them in their cream and kept them in long sleeved tops if we brought them downstairs. They slept under mozzie nets and had an overhead fan (which is also a fantastic help to keep the bugs away!).
As I said, none of the kids got bitten and in fact I think I only saw about five mosquitos the whole trip. Obviously in other parts of the world, if there was a high risk to the disease, I personally wouldn’t take them but again, this is your choice as parents.
Right Mozzie chat over! On to the flight!
TOTAL FLYING TIME – 12 hours including the change (the way home felt longer as we had a long drive to the airport, a stop over from 9pm till 1am in Ethiopia and then by the time we got home, we’d been travelling for 21 hours! It hurt).
There are a couple of ways to get to Kenya. We decided to fly with Ethiopian Airways, Via Addis and then get a connecting flight down to Mombasa. There are no direct flight from London to Mombasa, so you either need to change at Addis or go to Nairobi and get a little hopper plane down to the coast.
The flights normally leave London in the evenings at around 8pm and you normally land in Africa early morning at 7ish.
If you go via Nairobi with Kenya Airways or British Airways you need to get your big bags and go across to the domestic terminal. Then you’ll need to check in again, sort visa’s and have all the rigmarole of security. We decided to make it easier and go down the Addis Ababba route, the bags went all the way down to Kenya and it’s the same time flying. Don’t expect much with the airline, you can’t check in online and when we called them to try and do it over the phone, they tried to charge us £50 per person. We just got to Heathrow a little earlier and did it that way. The food was pretty crap but the plane was clean, the seats were comfy and the inflight entertainment was really good.
BE PREPARED ON A LONG HAUL FLIGHT! Do not under estimate what you need before a flight like this. Both of the kids required different things and I spent a long time in the weeks leading up to it, making sure I didn’t get caught out (like I did on the way to Dubai!).
THINGS I TOOK – FOR KIT (20 months)
His milk and a bottle – he drinks Soya milk, they were amazing at the airport letting us go through with it
Calpol and Nurophen – DO NOT TRAVEL ON A PLANE WITHOUT THIS. I was so grateful that I had these with me, especially on the flight from hell coming back when Kit was so unwell and screamed for hours! His teeth and ears were both hurting and this was a godsend
A good Travel Buggy – We used the Ickle Bubba and LOVED it! It fits in the overhead locker on the plane, which was so handy as we could have it right to the last minute. It’s light weight, easy to fold up and close, the seat reclines right back, so both Luna and Kit could sleep in it during the day and I love the black and gold design. So chic!
Snacks – he loves his food so I took a bag with all of his favourite things.Crackers/Sunbites/Mini Cheddars/Ella’s smoothies/Mini Sausages/Humous and Carrots /I even packed weetabix so he could have them for his breakfast on the plane!
Comforter – he snuggles up to his muslin which he sleeps with every night. I’m so glad I bought it with me
Amazon Fire – I got one for Luna and one for Kit in the sale. This was a lifesaver, I just loaded it up with Peppa and Ben and Holly and when he started getting eggy, it really calmed him down.
Full change bag – nappies, wipes and sudocrem
Water bottle – They let you travel with your own water when you’ve got a child under two
Cotton wool – I put it in Kits ears and it really helped him
FOR LUNA – 3.5 years old
An Amazon Fire – this was the best thing we packed!! She’s got really into doing puzzle games and practising her numbers so I loaded it with all of her favourite ones and she tapped away before she slept. I got her some pink headphones too which she loved. I gave them to her on the plane so it was a surprise
Snacks – as above but loads of fruit too
Oufie – her comforter (previously known as Sucky Bunny!)
A Cosy hoodie
Luna was really easy on the flight and is the perfect age to travel long distances with. She loved it, especially take off and landing!
HOTELS IN KENYA – So, we did four nights at the Severin Sea Lodge, which I used to stay at with my parents when I was little. It is great for families, the staff are really helpful, the food was excellent. They have two pools, one with a slide and one which is a bit more chilled. The staff went out of their way to look after us, nothing was too much trouble, they even put on dinner for the kids between 6-7pm so you can get them fed before you eat. There are so many hotels on the coast that would work for children but definitely do your research on this before you book! The food was pretty basic, chips, sausages, nuggets, rice, curry, mash, fish fingers but as we all know, kids dinner is the best anyway!!
Time difference – Kenya is only 3 hours ahead so there is no jet-lag. We kept the kids up till 8/9pm most nights and they normally woke at 7am…they’ve been amazing since we got back and it hasn’t seemed to have effected them at all.
Kenya is one of those countries that gets under your skin and doesn’t go away. It’s raw, magical and breathtakingly beautiful. If you have older kids, I’d say eight and up, then you must do a safari. We love going to Lion’s Bluff www.lionsblufflodge.com in Tsavo but there are SO many fantastic locations to do a safari, you’ll find it hard to choose one!
The kids spent their days running around naked, playing in the pool, swimming in the sea, feeding the monkeys in the garden, playing with the dogs, chasing the geckos and not wearing any shoes! It’s the dream location for families with young kids, so I urge you to visit, you will never want to come home!