Souvenirs are the best way to take a piece of Kenya back home. After all the good times you have had under the Kenyan sun, a souvenir will always let you escape into one of those moments when you really need to and relive the vacation. If you are an avid traveller, a souvenir is like a token of all the places you have visited. Souvenirs are not just for you, it also tells your friends and relatives that you did not forget about them while on vacation. But with so many options out there, here is a list of the best souvenirs to buy in Kenya.
1. Wood Carvings: You can find some truly unique wood carvings in Kenya. They make great souvenirs and come in all sizes, from tiny ones that fit in your pocket and can be used as keychains to bigger ones to proudly display in your home. They are made by local artisans and are reasonably priced. For most of the carvers, this is their only source of income and they work day in and day out to produce the best carvings. The carvings are mostly made from ebony and rosewood, although you may find a few made from teak and white oak. They are mostly in the form of animals found in Kenya, but human figurines are also available. Although for an extra fee you may be able to get a custom design. These carving will always remind you of all the exotic wildlife you encountered during your safari.
2. Jewellery: Maasai beadwork jewellery, made by intricately connecting bright and colorful beads, is the best souvenir to buy from Kenya. For the Maasai, the beads have special meanings with each color signifying something. For example, green beads symbolize fertility and prosperity and are mostly worn by women whereas red beads that symbolize blood and power are worn by men who are warriors. They are available in the form of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. If your safari takes you to a Maasai tribe village, it’s best to purchase these directly from them. In case you miss out on that, you can always buy them from one of the numerous shops in Nairobi. There is nothing like some colorful and intricate jewellery to make you stand out in a crowd.
3. Batik art: Batik is hand-made clothing pattern that uses waxes to achieve the delicate design. The artisan first draws on the cloth with a pencil or pen and then draws with wax over the design. This is then dyed in the desired color. The areas with the wax are dye-resistant and don’t get dyed. The wax can be removed by boiling the cloth or scraping the wax. This process is repeated is multi color design is needed. They come with traditional African designs. You can buy a Batik wall hanging to spruce up your living room or bedroom or get Batik skirts, t-shirts etc. You can also buy Batik fabrics by the yard and then use them whichever way you prefer.
4. Coffee: There is nothing better to get you ready for the busy day ahead than a cup of good coffee. After tasting some of the best coffee in Kenya, you will definitely want to take some home with you. Gift it to your friends and they will thank you eternally for introducing them to perfect coffee. Kenyan coffee is Arabica coffee and is acidic with wine and fruity undertones. It is complex and full-bodied and has a wonderful aroma. While buying coffee to take back home, make sure to get the whole beans. They will maintain their flavor for longer if they are in the form of whole beans. If you are a coffee enthusiast, you can take a coffee tour while in Kenya and directly buy the coffee from the farms.
5. Masks: African masks are one of the most popular souvenirs. Everyone who has visited the continent has a mask. The same applies for Kenya. From the huge warrior masks to smaller ones that are easier to carry, you have a wide variety to chose from. They are mostly made from mahogany wood, but you can also get them in clay, metal or light stone. You can get painted ones at a cheaper price. But the ones with intricate decorations and carvings are the real deal. Apart from the ones that are made to be sold as souvenirs, you can also buy ones that were actually used in the tribal ceremonies albeit at a higher price. To tell if they were used in ceremonies, have a look inside the mask. If there is any kind of discoloration or wear, then it was worn before. Nothing can make you feel more like a warrior than wearing one of these masks.
6. Maasai Shuka: Maasai are a tribe in East Africa and Maasai Shuka is their traditional wear. Maasai Shuka is a colorful, vibrant, durable and skin friendly blanket that is traditionally worn by the Maasai. It has gained a lot of popularity in recent years with even Loius Vuitton featuring the Masai checks pattern in their 2012 Spring/Summer collection. They can be used as scarfs, blankets, bed covers, picnic mats or pillow covers. You can even make a great skirt or top out of them. The possibilities are endless. Even though copies of shuka are available, nothing can beat the original.
7. Soapstone Carvings: Found in the Kisii region of Kenya, soapstones come in a variety of colors, from pinkish to blackish to grey creamish to dark reddish. Like the wooden carvings, these come in the form of animals sculptures. There are also soapstone vases, pots, trays, bowls and plates. These are available in shops throughout Kenya and are mostly made by Kisii tribespeople. For Kisii tribe, soapstone mining and carving is their main source of income with entire families involved in the process. The prices vary depending on the intricacy of the work involved. Soapstone sculptures are heavy. So be careful of your luggage weight while getting these.
Whether you decide to get all of the above or only a few, be assured that whatever you do get is truly unique and will always remind you of Kenya. Hope this helps you decide the best souvenirs to buy in Kenya.