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Diani Beach - the coast of Kenya

Part of a tree on Diani Beach, KenyaMy expectations of the coast were that of any coastal tourist destination; low. Our mini-bus pulled into the hotel where we were meeting Tanya and the others. As we alighted the bus, several sets of the whitest teeth I'd ever seen surrounded us offering exclamations of welcome: "Jambo! Jambo!" Someone took my bag out of my hand and replaced it with a big, hairy coconut complete with protruding straw. If I was being robbed, I sure liked their style! Another patted me on the arm and said welcome and jambo several times. I began to wonder if we were staying at the hotel.

Introductions - a dull but necessary formality - were now underway. This was going to take some time; Tanya had several other family members visiting and they'd all come to greet us. I was itching to explore so I targeted the most obvious 30-something females and said: "Hello, you must be Tanya!"

As soon as I said: "Hello, you must be Tanya!" to the right person, I thanked her for extending the invitation to a complete stranger, took another sip from my coconut (don't know what was in it but it was giving me a nice, warm glow) and sneaked off to look around.

At last a moment to breathe the air and take in the surroundings: that surreal, disconnected feeling you get after a long, sleepless night flight vanished in a moment. This was paradise - straight out of the Bounty Bar advert! Aquamarine ocean spilled brilliant frothing surf over deserted, powder-white sand.
It wasn't the first time I'd experienced this; Malaysia was just as beautiful, but I wasn't expecting it this time.
Websites had described Diani Beach as a built-up, tourist location. Suddenly, images of Marbella-style, fat, drunken and tattooed Brits, wearing football shirts yelling "Come on England" overpowered any pleasurable, established notions. OK, I knew it wouldn't be that bad but there wasn't a lot of information to counter it and nobody says "go to Kenya - it's got beautiful beaches!" People go to Kenya for safari... don't they?

"Drink up, we gotta go," someone yelled. Unsure of what awaited us at 'home' and reluctant to leave our blissful surroundings for fear we might not experience it again, we piled into Tanya's Volvo and set off. Read on.....

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Have you been to Kenya? Is there a wildlife park or lodge that you would recommend? Write a review here about your 'big five' safari holiday and tell others about your experience - good or bad. Perhaps you know of an excellent budget campsite - or a luxury lodge that should be avoided! Otherwise, feel free to post a question. Let's share our Kenya safari wildlife experiences...

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