If you want a slight shift from the typical Kenyan vacation of sun, sand, and safaris, you may want to try voluntourism.
Many hotels and lodges in Kenya have volunteer activities you can participate in during your stay, while other organizations offer week-long or two-week projects you can do at the end or beginning of your trip. This allows you to combine a vacation with volunteer work, and kill two birds with one stone.
Even if you feel that you lack relevant skills, you can still put your time and effort toward helping local communities. The reward: getting to see a whole different side of Kenya by immersing yourself in the local culture.
Here are five independent organizations that offer opportunities for voluntourism in Kenya.
Residents of some parts of Kenya do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Well Aware gives you a chance to be part of the solution to this problem in your a small way, by helping to build wells and develop clean water systems in rural areas. The charity has two-week program each year for volunteers to participate in. The price is US$5895, which includes accommodation, meals and entry fees to game parks and conservancies. You are granted use of a six-passenger van with a tour guide to take you round. The price does not include international travel costs, visa fees and health insurance.
i-to-i is a worldwide volunteer umbrella organization that offers two-week to six-month placements all over Kenya. Projects include teaching English in primary schools, building houses for less fortunate children, wildlife conservation, and sporting activities. The opportunities that i-to-i offers vary based on the project you choose, and the duration, but start at US$900 for a weeklong trip, and $1500 for longer stays.
This organization takes you to the town of Nakuru, where there are multiple opportunities for both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Those with fewer skills can can work as a teacher’s assistant in a kindergarten, or help care for babies in an orphanage. Those with specific medical skills can assist in a dental surgery, or shadow nurses and doctors at the local health center. There are also opportunities to work in wildlife conservation, occupational therapy, and after-school sports. The doors are open all year round; it is up to you to specify when you wish to start. Accommodation and induction arrangements are made before you depart. The pricing is based on the package and duration you opt for. All prices are inclusive of accommodation, food, medical insurance and local travel.
African Impact offers a wide range of working holidays. You can volunteer to assist vulnerable children in orphanages and schools in Limuru for two to eight weeks for about US$1300, or go for the two- to six-week Big Cat wildlife conservation project in the Mara, where you’ll part with about $1700. The organization also has mobile clinic assistance volunteering and teaching opportunities for two to six weeks. Day trips, cultural activities, and add-on leisure excursions are offered in addition to the volunteer work, to ensure you get to see the country and enjoy yourself while helping local communities.
Kenya Xperience! projects take place in the Coast Province and Rift Valley. Skilled volunteers participate in projects around wildlife education, child care, health, farming/building, organisational development, environmental conservation, sports and development. They also offer “community tourism” packages, which combine travel and volunteering. There’s the four-week Pwani turtle conservation program which allows visitors to travel to Mombasa, Lamu Island, Mkokoni village, Kiwayu Island, pate Island, the Tana Delta, Funzi Island and Wasini Island experiencing Swahilli culture and helping to protect the turtles’ nesting spots on the beaches. Prices start at US$620.