Tag Archives: Nairobi

Go Green, Go Solar ……. Napenda Solar Community

For the past few months our focus has not always been on our overland safaris and guided self drive expeditions but on Napenda Solar Community.

What is that I hear you ask?  For those who have been on a safari or expedition with Africa Expedition Support and have met Thiemo or I probably recall at least one conversation about solar power with us.  Yes, solar power, this is not a misprint.  This is a topic we are pretty passionate about, we believe in it and proved that it works time and time again.  After all we could not run our workshop or office without solar power.  You see we are based only 1 hour from Nairobi, Kenya yet we don’t have any mains power – so for us to run our business we rely on the sun – solar power.

In addition to our guided self drive expeditions we also run a number of, what are called, “service trips” for school, university and teen groups.  These are tailored trips with all the usual Africa bells and whistles (game parks, beaches etc) with service projects – projects where students have the opportunity to give something back to less fortunate communities while learning about their culture and experiencing their lives.  It is not uncommon for families and couples to also want to participate in a community service project.

Our area is pretty underdeveloped in every way, there are very few schools, dirt roads that are lucky to see a grader once a year, no electricity, no clean water and the list goes on.  Hence Napenda Solar Community is a way to bring solar power to our local community by involving students and tour groups in solar power workshops that result in solar power systems being installed by the students and tour groups in poor rural homes, schools and clinics.

teens hard at work building a solar power system

teens hard at work building a solar power system

A clear win win for all.  Let’s face it, with the depleting world resources, there is a strong focus on clean renewable energies.  Throughout the USA, Australia, UK and Europe there is a push to go green – the recent People’s Climate March was testimony to this.  In Africa there is no choice, with very limited infrastructure and high cost of mains power the most economical way to go is solar power.  Although not expensive the costs of setting up solar power even in a small home are  prohibitive especially for those living on less than USD$2 per day.

Napenda Solar Community heavily subsidise these costs enabling communities to get connected to power.  A way for tourists and student groups to experience and learn from a local Masai community, go back home with greater understanding and appreciation of renewable energies; and valuable skills to set up their own solar power system if they choose to.

Who would have thought you could come to Kenya to learn amazing new skills?

For more information on our solar power workshops check out


If you would like to add a solar power workshop to your safari or expedition email me, Debs, at info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or Anne at solar@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Don’t forget to like us on http://www.facebook.com/napendasolarcommunity (tell your friends to like us also!) The more who know about Napenda Solar Community the more poor rural communities in Kenya will benefit!


The Long Way Down – 10 Practical Tips To 4x4ing Through Africa

There are plenty of signs about ...... just not what you may expect

There are plenty of signs about …… just not what you may expect

Taking to the great African continent in your own vehicle is a very liberating experience. But it helps if you have some insider knowledge from those in the know who have been doing this for years.

Here are the top 10 practical tips to 4x4ing through Africa.

1. The biggest mistake travellers make is to over pack. There is no need to pack 6 months supply of shampoo, toilet paper and soap; nor 3 months supply of dehydrated army rations. Yes Africans use toiletries and they also eat. OK so your 6 ply extra soft toilet paper may not be available everywhere but surely you can survive with 2 ply!

2. Africa is not like home. So don’t expect it to be as such and don’t complain and make stupid comments about it being different. Of course it is different that is why you chose to travel through Africa.

3. “You white people have a watch; we Africans have time” This statement was made to me years ago in Dar es Salaam by a very wise old man. If you are told something will take 10 minutes, put the kettle on and make a cup of tea; it will be at least an hour.

4. “It is just down the road” can mean anything from 3kms to 300kms in African distance. Whenever asking for directions get a second and third opinion and then you may actually be lucky enough to find where you want to go. Most places do not have street names nor numbers but are described in terms of landmarks. Don’t bother asking a local in a village the directions to a place 200kms away – chances are he has never been there but to save face will convincingly tell you how to get there (sending you off in the wrong direction).

5. Police check points are the norm all over Africa (as is the weaponry); it is not uncommon for police to stop you simply to say hello. Like everywhere in the world the police can be very friendly or very grumpy. When a policeman asks for some money for Chai (cup of tea) he does not really want a cup of tea but wants some money from you. Unless you know you have done something wrong and want to get out of it do not pay bribes to the police.

6. Coming from Europe, Australia or the USA we assume that service stations are the ideal place to stop for a quick toilet stop. Unless it is Southern Africa don’t bother; even if you don’t pass out from the smell 10 metres before reaching the toilet the mess in and around the toilet will surely bring on some kind of seizure. Do your business in the bush; is the best advice I can give. But if you do this there is one golden rule; stop the car and immediately get out, go behind the bush and do your business. The reason; there are always tens of kids intrigued by Mzungus (white people) and they are not shy in coming right up to you and watch while you do your business. The longer it takes you to get out the vehicle the greater the chances you will have a crowd of onlookers.

7. Maps bought locally are not always accurate. A few months ago I bought the new edition map of Nairobi (capital of Kenya) only to discover that either half the roads had not been built yet or simply did not exist. Another trap is quite often roads will change names but the new edition map still has the old names on it.

8. Put it on Visa. Credit cards should only be seen as emergency backup only. Most places between Cairo and Cape do not accept credit card. Actually you will be met with very blank stares if you ask to pay for fuel with Visa/MasterCard. Travellers’ cheques are also only good as emergency backup and, regardless what Thomas Cook or AMEX tells you, they do attract hefty fees. A couple of years ago I was leading a West Africa Trans when one of my clients in Cameroon went to the bank to change up USD$50 into CFAs. The teller took a good 5 minutes punching away on his calculator buttons before turning to my client and saying “I can change this USD$50 traveller’s cheque but to do so will cost you USD$56 in fees and charges!” Cash is King.

9. Never believe everything you read. In 2000 I left my home in Australia armed with a backpack and lonely planet guide to South America. It was not long before I discovered that although a handy guide book it was not always accurate. The route I wanted to take this particular day seemed too easy (according to the Lonely Planet) and should have been 1 bus ride and ferry but turned into 7 modes of transport (bus, back of a truck with farm animals, hiring a leaky boat, ferry, donkey cart, back of a pickup and the final 2kms by foot). Reality is the writers cannot possibly visit all the places in the guide book and in this case the service referred to in the LP stopped 5 years prior to me arriving.

10. “Shorts and T-shirts all the way”. A poor virgin traveller arrived in Nairobi to embark on her 8 week journey to Cape Town in August dressed in only shorts and T-shorts. I asked if she was cold. “Freezing” was her response but an agent in the UK had told her Africa was hot and she didn’t need any warm clothes. That day it was raining, windy and no more than 13 degrees Celsius!

So there we have it, a few tips from those of us who live and breath Africa.  If you are planning to travel to the “dark continent” and want some more practical tips then please do contact us!

email info@africaexpeditionsupport.com  or through our website  http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/