Homestays are the perfect opportunity to gain local insight into a new destination that no hotel can possibly offer. By staying with a local host family you can learn more about unique local traditions, participate in the daily life of the community, dine on home-cooked meals, explore local gems that the guidebooks don’t cover and build a deeper connection with the local people on your travels.
In this blog post, we share some of Kenya’s best homestay experiences which we hope will inspire you to travel off the beaten path and spend time with a local family during your visit to Kenya.
1) Lamu Island, Kenya
This charming family-run homestay has all of the traditional island elements to enchant you during your stay in Lamu Island, Kenya. Located just steps away from Shella Beach, this beautiful home was designed with traditional Swahili design in mind and has been tastefully furnished with an eclectic collection of antique furniture from Nairobi, Mombasa, and Lamu.
During the afternoons at this homestay, you can spend your time relaxing in the garden under the cool shade of the palm trees while admiring the ilangs ylang, frangipani and bougainvillea, or enjoy the picturesque sea views as you refresh yourself in the swimming pool. Other activities at this Lamu Island Homestay include taking a traditional Swahili cooking class with a local chef, sunset sailing on a traditional dhow, or going for a walking tour with a local guide through Lamu’s Old Town. Or you can choose to immerse yourself in the nearby water activities on Lamu Island such as sailing, diving, water skiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, and fishing!
2) Kerio Valley National Park, Kenya
This breathtaking Kerio Valley Homestay is situated on the outskirts Iten and features magnificent views overlooking Kerio Valley National Park, which was established as a National Reserve in 1983 and is home to some of Kenya’s most dramatic scenery, unique birdlife population, and even wild elephants!
At Florence and Keon’s homestay, you can lend a hand in the family vegetable garden as you pick freshly grown fruits and vegetables or even help milk the cows in the mornings. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, Iten is considered one of the best places in Kenya to train for cross country running as it offers plenty of great running tracks located just near the homestay. There is also a forest nearby that offers fantastic hiking opportunities with waterfalls along the way to help you cool down!
3) Mariwenyi, Kenya
Grace is a single mom of three grown-up children and just recently moved into this serene house located amongst the lush greenery of Mariwenyi. At Grace’s homestay, you’ll have the chance to taste traditional Taita cuisine like mchunga, kimanga, sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkins, arrowroots and more, which are picked fresh from her garden.
Near this Mariwenyi Homestay, you’ll have the option to explore Tsavo National Park or the Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can catch a glimpse of rare wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, and hyenas. Another special site to visit near this homestay is Wundanyi Mountain, where you can explore the Kenyatta Caves which is where Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first President, lived as one of Kenya’s anti-colonial freedom fighters. During your visit to the Kenyatta Caves, Grace can arrange for you to meet locals such as Charles Mlekenyi who will share with you the rich history of the area and stories from their days supporting Kenya’s freedom fighters.
4) Nandi Hills, Kenya
Located in the sugar belt region of Miwandi, this beautiful farmstay features magnificent views of the Nandi Hills, which you can enjoy with a fresh cup of tea from the veranda as the sun rises over the hills every morning. In the Nandi Hills, you’ll find some of Kenya’s highest quality tea and have plenty of opportunities to go exploring one of the many tea estates located near the farmstay. This area is also considered to be the “cradle of running” in Kenya and is home to some of the countries most famous athletes such as Wilson Kipketer, Janeth Jepkosgei, Kipchoge Keino and more!
On the farm, you can join in on the daily activities such as milking cows, picking mangos, baking fresh bread or even helping out in the garden. You can also go fishing in the pond, go hiking through the surrounding hills, learn to cook the local cuisine and even take Swahili language lessons from Maureen!
The income from this farmstay experience helps support Maureen’s orphanage, which allows the organization to break away from a traditional financial model and develop a sustainable source of funding that helps create more of an impact for the children under Maureen’s care.
5) Tsavo National Park, Kenya
Located between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park, this unique Taita Homestay Project in Kasigau offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community and experience rural life in Kenya.
At this Tsavo National Park Homestay, you’ll live with local small-scale farmers at the base of Mount Kasigau, where you can help plant trees, teach children at the local school or even learn to weave baskets with the local women’s group. The land around Kasigau is also rich in gemstones, such as green and yellow tourmaline and green garnet stones, which you can purchase to help support the local community. Another wonderful way to spend the day in Kasigau is climbing Mount Kasigau with a local guide, which is a hot spot for birdwatching and offers magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
By booking this homestay, you’re supporting the five local families participating in this community project by improving their livelihood and also making a contribution towards local environmental conservation initiatives.
6) Marafa, Kenya
Located in the coastal region of Marafa, this community-based homestay offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Kenyan village life.
Evelyn, your host, will help guide you through the community as you meet the local people, share stories around the bonfire and help cook delicious coastal cuisine! Marafa is also a fantastic destination to go hiking as there is a diversity of landscapes nearby including The Marafa Depression, which is a sandstone canyon that has been dubbed as “Hell’s Kitchen”. Other sites to explore nearby include the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve and the Gede Ruins.
By booking this experience, you create a positive impact by supporting the economic empowerment of this community which focuses on investing in local initiatives such as skills training, tree planting and the continued support of the Bore Community Forest Centre.
7) Nanyuki, Kenya
Surrounded by nature with beautiful views of the Nanyuki River, this homestay is close to some of Mount Kenya’s best hiking trails and offers a tranquil experience if you choose to spend your days relaxing on the farm and breathing in the fresh mountain air. On the farm, you can choose to join Vicky and Michael in the vegetable garden or even take care of the animals on the farm which includes a few cows, sheep and chicken. In the evenings, exchange stories with your host family as you help prepare fresh home cooked Kenyan cuisine.
If you’re planning to visit Mount Kenya, make sure to include this special local homestay into your itinerary!
8) Diani Beach, Kenya
Located on the South Coast of Kenya, Patrick’s oceanside homestay is located just steps away from the palm-fringed white sand beaches of Diani Beach, which has been voted as Africa’s leading beach destination numerous times.
This Diani Beach Homestay is located in a Digo village, which is one of the indigenous groups of this area, so not only will you have the chance to stay near the picturesque beaches of Diani, but you’ll also have an unforgettable and immersive experience into Swahili culture. During this homestay, you can also visit the local community center, go cycling along the coast and through the village and even chat and share a meal with the locals.
If you’re looking for a quintessential combination of relaxation and cultural immersion, then Patrick’s Diana Beach Homestay is the perfect option for your stay at Diani Beach.
9) Sagalla, Kenya
Located in the lush green mountains near Voi, this stunning homestay in the secluded valley of Sagalla offers the perfect balance of nature and cultural immersion.
Born and raised in Sagalla, Gibran will share the highlights of the local community by taking you on various hikes through the local pine forests, teaching you how to cook traditional Kenyan food, showing you the diverse array of local butterflies, and even introducing you to local women who will teach you how to do the traditional dance! During your stay, you can also visit the locally-run cultural center where the local women design leather sandals, bags, jewelry, and other local handicrafts.
If you want to truly connect with the local people and their culture while enjoying nature, this Sagalla Homestay offers the perfect experience!
10) Aberdare Mountains, Kenya
Overlooking the stunning Aberdare Mountain Range, this unique mountain homestay is the perfect place to surround yourself with nature as you take a break from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi.
Situated just a few hours drive from Nairobi, you’ll have the chance to reconnect with yourself and enjoy the stillness of the Kenyan countryside where you can pick your own homegrown vegetables in the garden, meditate in the surrounding forest, admire the sunset over the mountains or even awaken your senses by hiking through the beautiful nature that surrounds the farm. In the evening you can enjoy a delicious Nyama Choma dinner accompanied with other homemade Kenyan dishes such as mukimo and ugali!
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in the Kenyan countryside, then look no further than this homestay with Jeff and his family!
11) Eldoret, Kenya
This community-run homestay in Eldoret, Kenya offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the local community during your holiday in Kenya. Situated in the middle of Baraka Farm, this traditional homestay is part of a network that also includes the Baraka Farm and Kipkeino Primary School, which all function to contribute to the success of the Lewa Children’s Home, which is the beneficiary of this homestay experience.
When you book this homestay, you help generate a sustainable income for the Lewa Children’s Home, which supports over 120 children who have been either orphaned or abandoned in the community of Eldoret. The vision for this children’s home was realized by Phyllis Keino, who has created a caring and loving environment for the children, with education taking the top priority for the children living here.
Other activities that can be arranged at this homestay include fishing, bird watching and cross country running!