The Best Souvenirs to Buy In Kenya


Please welcome my husband, who has kindly agreed to share his souvenir shopping expertise with all of us.  Here’s his list of the top 5 souvenirs to buy in Kenya.

I have been sitting quietly for the past 7 months while Emily shares her perspective on our life, our travels, and…my souvenirs.  How did my tchotchke collection – my well curated selection of travel mementos –  become such a matter of contention?  The time has come for me to set the record straight.  By sharing my souvenir expertise I hope to filter out some of the harsher portrayals Emily has lopsidedly projected on OneTrailingSpouse.

The Best of Kenyan Souvenirs

Kenya is a curio shopper’s paradise.  Options abound from locally made beadwork and carvings, to baskets from the East Africa region, and even textiles and masks from far away Central and Western Africa.  A quick flip through any guide book will offer you the list of items that tourists typically seek out: Maasai Beadwork, Kamba Wood Carvings, soap stone statues, and Swahili textiles, which can be found in almost every tourist shop and at the bustling Maasai markets found around town.  While these make for beautiful souvenirs they don’t always mesh well with IKEA living room sets and the taupe palate favored by every property management company in the United States.

So here are my top 5 Kenyan souvenirs that are actually useful for non-African themed homes:

1)  Sandstorm Bags:

Top quality bags made with heavy duty canvas and leather that look just as good in the overhead bin on a regional jet as they do in the back of a safari truck. Ok, these are on the pricier end of the souvenir spectrum – around Ksh 10,000 to 25,000 (US $115 – $300).  But they are MUCH more expensive outside of Kenya.  You can pick them up at Junction Shopping Center and the Village Market.

A Sandstorm bag.

2)  Kitengela Glass

Beautiful locally blown glass featuring rustic stylings and lots of fun and unique pieces.  If you order a set (8 glasses for instance) they will do custom color orders.

A glass tray from Kitengela.

3)  Gemini Desai

Incredible jewelry made with antique trade beads set in modern arrangements.  Be careful, I have seen people burn up their charge card at this place. It’s also very tricky to find.  I have included a map in the hyperlink.


4)  Food: 

Kenya has some incredible local food that travels very well.  I always stock up on tea (Abadares brand), coffee (go to Narobi Java House and ask for whole beans delivered that day), honey (look for the super dark local stuff that is raw and un-pasteurized), spices (cloves, vanilla pods, birds eye chillis, and Ethiopian spices), and of course the east African liquors – Konyagi (Tanzania) and Waragi (Uganda).


5)  Bata Safari Boots:

So this is for the guys only – but they also make some great flats that Emily swears by for a little over $2.  Great chukka style boots that wear like iron and feel like loafers.

The Bata safari boots.

As you can see I don’t just buy small stools and dung paintings.  I get useful stuff too.  So the next time Emily posts about some skull beads made in Nigeria that I brought home (just yesterday to be exact) please remind her that it’s not all silliness and dust collectors.

Skull beads? Seriously? Why?

What are the best souvenirs you’ve bought on a trip?

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9 Responses to “The Best Souvenirs to Buy In Kenya”

  1. Great post! I love the light, fun tone your husband has. And those skull beads are awesome, definitely not just dust collectors.

    Becca ;)

  2. Okay, those skull beads were my favorite item!

    I enjoyed reading. Writing and humor run in the family! :-)

  3. Gerry Wilson says:

    So there’s another writer in the family! A great post, and I covet the glass–so beautiful! Thanks for sharing your hubby, Emily.

  4. Emily says:

    Thanks ya’ll! Your compliments really made his day!

  5. Julia Tomiak says:

    Thanks for sharing- I’m with Gerry, I love the glass. Custom order sets sound awesome. Are you stocking up on everything as you prepare to move.

    Congrats to your husband for a fun, and well written, post!

    • Emily says:

      After everyone’s kind compliments, he’s motivated to write another guest post, so stay tuned! I am not a big shopper, so I have no idea why he is stocking up! We have a small apartment in Atlanta, and it’s already well stocked with…everything. I think my husband just loves to shop. He’s stocking up on shopping.

  6. Kirstin says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Great post! I am happy to announce that I am now also a proud owner of a Sandstorm bag and so are my parents. Yep, we left the store with three bags!
    Bata now also has the famous safari boots in different colours – you need to come back and check them out!

    • Emily says:

      Before we left Bata had safari boots with “Hair On,” which was disturbing! I’d love to see the colors though. Hope you’re enjoying your new bag!

  7. Bata Kenya says:

    Thanks for the Bata Safari mention!

    Now, with Bata Home(our online shop) you can buy online and get them delivered in the US!

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