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NYT names eating ugali in Kibera among top vacation ideas

By Hilary Kimuyu October 26th, 2015 2 min read

The internationally acclaimed New York Times newspaper has named eating ugali in Kibera among the top vacation ideas to do if you ever visit Africa.

Also in the list is a visit to the Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve.

The newspaper asked six current and former New York Times international news correspondents, who have a combined 25 years reporting in Africa among them, to tell the newspaper what to do to in the regions they’ve covered.

Jeffrey Gettleman, a long time East African correspondent, described how an elephant was eating outside their room in Samburu and they thought it was eating their shoes.


“It was inky dark. A cool mist lifted off the nearby river. Silhouetted by the moon, no more than 15 feet away from our bed, was a mammoth bull elephant so enthusiastically chomping leaves that it did sound as if he were eating our shoes, which I had stupidly left outside,” he simply put it.

That’s what it’s like going on safari in Kenya: You’re visiting the animals’ turf, on their terms, he added.

And that’s just Kenya, the most obvious place to start in East Africa, since it has the most developed infrastructure and is served by several major airlines, including KLM, Emirates and Air France.

He concluded by saying “So my message is this: Africa is doable, far more doable than you might imagine. There is no other part of the world where what you expect and what you actually find are so different.”

Marc Lacey chose eating ugali in Kibera, Nairobi’s sprawling slum.

He said: “I have eaten ugali, East Africa’s signature dish, in a fisherman’s hut on the shoreline of Lake Victoria. I have eaten it, and noticed local residents’ distrust of me slowly shrink as my healthy serving did the same.”


He said “I have shared it with herdsmen while sitting on wooden stools in the bush, and with refugees, businesspeople and politicians, in settings simple and grand. If you come to East Africa and avoid ugali, you may very well have a wonderful visit. But it will not be an authentic one.”

Its not the first time ugali is being mentioned heartily in the international press.

Marc Lacey concluded by mentioning Lupita Nyong’o.

“The actress Lupita Nyong’o, whom I knew when she was still a student in Kenya and not yet a star, recently confided during a trip back home that one of the things she misses most about her new red-carpet life is that most unglamorous of foods: ugali.”

Other vacation ideas mentioned were grandeur of Victoria Falls, share a beer at a bar in Monrovia, see the ruins of ancient Carthage in Tunisia and taking a swim in the waters of Guinea-Bissau.