Make your own free website on
African Safari 2007
I decided to add this page because I think shopping is important enough to deserve its' own page

This is information I gathered from people who have been on a safari. I think their advice will help us to be wise shoppers. 

It's a good idea to pack a folding bag w/zipper & lock for your purchases just in case these won't fit into your main bag.
If you wish to shop for tanzinite, many have recommended Swala Gems at the Arusha Hotel. We will be in Arusha at about the mid-point of our trip and plan to have some time for shopping in town.
Also bring  Bubble wrap!

For small pieces you can wrap these with your clothing. If you go for a "tall" giraffe, which can be from 3-ft and up, the shop will wrap in bubble and tape which you can hope to carry on board if it's small enough to fit in an overhead or closet.

Otherwise, depending on where you make your purchases, some shops will ship. For instance, the Collector's Den on the street level of the Hilton Hotel - will ship, but I don't know their price for this service.

Your guide can probably direct you to places that can ship if you make purchases in volume. If you don't buy large items, these can be packed in a carton which you can take on the plane as a carry-on item or ship in the belly.
Arusha: Warning: Steer clear of the Oldonyo Arts and Gallery Co. in Arusha.
NEW 3/8-My main advice - if you see something you it. You may not see something like it again. I saw a couple of things but figured I would see something similar later .....WRONG!!!! I missed out on some stuff because I waited.

As for suggestions......depends on who you're buying for. I bought a lot of beaded bracelets for the girls and little metal figures of Masai warriors for the guys. If you have anyone who does quilting - there were some beautiful fabrics (but those get heavy). Some of the wood carvings are beautiful but the soapstone ones are very heavy. The carved masks are neat, but bulky.


Don't know about the jewelry, but the blankets, AKA "shukkas", should be widely available in the Nairobi supermarkets for around 200-300 shillings. These are the same item that the Maasai themselves wear, so unless you're looking for a story to tell or to hand some cash to the Maasai people, there's no real reason not to buy them at the supermarket. Definitely take shillings rather than $'s, and take smaller bills, 100's & 200's. Otherwise, you'll find every vendor strangely "unable to make change, please buy some more."

NEW--1/20/06--Most of the smaller curio items that one can purchase at the roadside curio stalls, after much bargaining, can be purchased cheaper at Kilimimjaro airport (ARUSHA AT THE END OF OUR SAFARI) duty-free. We felt really ripped-off when we discovered this.

Spears - be sure you buy those that can be broken down into 2 or 3 pieces when packed in bottom of your bag. A single piece spear will get inquiry. In fact, even with weight limits, it's good to have a separate folding bag to use for all your trinkets, which you can lock and ship as checked luggage. This bag won't be a weight problem

NEW--4/10--Some out of the way vendors, BTW, will only accept Tanz. $$ as they have no access to banks. Most of the vendors in tourist areas will accept USD.
This was purely my observation and others may find this to be different.

However, Their baskets were the prettiest and cheapest at the road side vendors.

In Nairobi shop at the Collector's Den.The Collector's Den is open daily till at least 6pm and often later The Collector's Den is actually on the street entrance next to the Hilton parking entrance. After our trip around Kenya, I realized that their prices were actually extremely reasonable, and we saved a bundle (at least 50%) by shopping there as opposed to gift shops at hotels, Masai stands, etc.
To check prices at the Collector's Den  so you are able to compare prices go to
 i have experience with is Wooden carvings (very good quality and detail). I had a recommendation from a local (sales rep of my company in Nairobi) to buy from the shop at the Regency Hotel. Lots of great stuff there, although a bit more expensive. But they had some superb, quality stuff........
There is a lovely store at the Regency hotel in Nairobi. Great works of wooden art and yes, they do ship. But, if you want to hand carry them back home they do a great job of wrapping them safe....
If you want to take home some Kenya coffee, I'd recommend getting it from Java House. There are branches all over Nairobi and one in the departures area of NBO airport (all the way at one end next to the BA gate) if you want to wait until then. Java House is also good for a quick and inexpensive lunch stop in town.

DHL (and the likes) rates are high. I had a package weighing about 10-lbs and they wanted about $110. The local Post Office wanted $85. I took it home with me as checked luggage.

If you make your purchases in one shop, check with them how they ship and cost. This may be your best option. And pay for your purchases and cost of shipping by credit card. This way if you never receive your package you have some recourse.

One other thing I wanted to mention is that some of the roadside curio shops along heavily traveled safari routes quote outrageous initial prices (5 or 6 times more than the price for a similar item even at a hotel gift shop in Nairobi isn't unusual). Don't be afraid to bargain down the price substantially at these places.
Near the park gates, there will also be vendors selling all kinds of trinkets (usually these starting prices are lower). BTW many of the 'ebony' carvings are actually painted black, and all of the vendors are likely to tell you that they made the products whether they did or not.

The places where we didn't bargain were at the women's cooperatives we visited such as Kazuri beads and Nanyuki spinners & weavers, and at the Streetwise shop in Utamaduni as the proceeds benefit the street children who make the products sold there. And of course, at the museum shops and Sheldrick we didn't bargain either.

In Nairoibi there is a new shopping center.  Junction, a newer shopping arcade on Ngong Road. The Junction has mostly higher end boutiques and we went there specifically to check out a leather goods store recommended to us by Ross’s mom, Sarah. I’ve now forgotten the name of the store (it’s the 2nd or 3rd one on the right as you enter), but they had beaded belts, skirts, sandals, handbags, as well as non-leather items like jewelry. All unique designs and higher quality (and higher prices) than what you’ll find at curio shops. It’s a good place to shop if you want something a little nicer for yourself or as a gift. There’s a Nairobi Java House here where we pick up a couple of kilos of coffee (it was the best of what we tried last time) and also a branch of Dorman’s (another coffee brand that was recommended for us to try). We’ve found that the quality of the other brands can be dicey. The Java House is also a good place for a quick lunch.

7/12-VILLAGE MARKET, NAIROBI- yes go to village market if you have about two hours to spare. all the stuff you see in the hotel gift shops are there (is there?) and yopu can access many atms and also charge things. i would eat/ coffee at drums and do not eat at the place at the end. seriously.
village market is just like a western outdoor mall, but it is totally safe and easy and it's nice to walk around outside and sit without a care. if you're not a shopper, then don't bother with it.

We were in Nairobi last June and visited an arts and crafts center called Utamaduni. It is a collection of quite a few small shops having a nice selection of art work, carvings, jewelry, etc, and is located close to the Karen Blixen museum and the Giraffe Center.
Nearby is Kazuri Beads (beads and pottery) made by local women's cooperative. So many great items, it can be difficult to make a decision. Their factory is next door and you can leisurely walk through, watch how items are made - each step in the process, from the small clay pieces, shaping, painting, firing in the kiln, the glazing, etc. - your questions are welcomed.

The two latter shops are in close proximity to one another and easy to visit should you also be stopping at the Karen Blixen Museum and Giraffe Center.

Of course, most hotels have sourvenir shops, with many of the same items, though prices tend to be more expensive (but not by much) than you'd find at the Collector's Den.

At souvenir stands along your safari route, prices can be ascompetitive as at the Collector's Den - some even less, but at this stops, be prepared to bargain for better prices.

7/25-ARUSHA SHOPPING-I personally found the Cultural Center in Arusha (on Sokaine Road) very expensive to what we encountered later on in our travels: we went there on the first day in Arusha and bought various items which could have later been purchased much much cheaper. For really good Maasai artifacts there is a market place outside of Mto Wa Mbu which I've mentioned before where one can purchase everything from Shuka blankets for 5 dollars to the old tyre sandals to spears and bow and arrows: I actually traded a parker pen with a Moran for his staff which has been polished smooth by the passage of generations of herders (at least I hope) The real spears I saw certainly weren't able to be broken down. My advice with that centre is visit at the start, consider what you like and their prices, do your trip and see what can be bought locally then if no luck return on the last day. There is also a handicrafts market just down from the clock tower where again things are much cheaper and one has the possibility of "Polite" haggling..
10/19--A store has opened in Arusha selling all stuffs of safari,safari clothes,tents,binoculars,mosquito reppelants,camping gases,safari boots,climbing gears and so much more,for just in case.its located next to Shoprite supermarket.I have spoken to them and told me they even rent binoculars,tents,cellphones,sleeping bags,etc,etc.