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There’s just something about Kenya. A major player in the African tourism scene, this easterly destination offers just about everything sought by even the most ambitious traveler. It is a pivotal part of any Grand Safari, a treasure of unspoiled “real” African culture, and a fantastically diverse geographic area. Whether you come for the wildlife, the beaches, the ecotourism, or the traditional culture, it’s a virtual guarantee you’ll find more than you expected. Kenya is, first and foremost, rampant with glorious scenery. Its Indian Ocean coastline is outlined by sublime beaches and tropical sensuality; Mt. Kenya’s peaks are snow-dipped and dotted by glacial pools, and the rolling green ocean of the savannah teems with wildlife.

Straddling the equator, the water is warm and the temperatures are sultry at all times of year. An awe-inspiring diversity of game call the preserves of Kenya their home. You’ll come within a stone’s throw of majestic predators like lions, cheetah, and rhinos, and have the chance to touch gentler giants like giraffes, zebra, and elephants. Spy timid elands and antelope between waving blades of high grass, or take to the sky for an aerial view of the greatest show in Africa: the Great Migration.Don’t assume that Kenya can be distilled to just safaris and other wild pursuits, however! A rich, colorful culture thrums through the country’s blood. Masai and Swahili traditions bring tribal flair, and centuries of colonial occupation have imported quaint Continental charm and an undercurrent of Euro-flavored sophistication. The food, music, and nightlife in the city center of Nairobi are top-notch, and the high concentration of English speakers makes acquainting oneself with new friends a breeze! The heartsong of Kenya is a siren’s call beckoning you to settle in and fall thoroughly in love. Jambo!

Kenya Top Attractions

Maasai Mara National Park

The Great Migration is one of the great marvels of nature. How do millions of wildebeest know that it’s time to migrate en masse to the Serengeti? We can’t know for sure, but what’s certain is that the show is amazing to watch. You’ll take a front row seat for some of the wild kingdom’s most dramatic theatre when you jet off in a hot air balloon over Kenya’s best-known national park. Game viewing is simply spectacular. Scope out lions, rhinos, hippos, zebra, giraffes, cheetah, and elephants! You’ll take to the bush on heart-pounding, exhilarating 4x4 tours and soak up every quiet pulse of the savannah’s heartbeat on serene champagne safaris. The park adjoins the boundaries of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, making consecutive visits a popular tour option.

Malindi

The coral reefs and warm aquamarine waters of Malindi make for one of Kenya’s tourism hot spots! You probably weren’t picturing oceanside paradise when you thought of Africa, but consider it one of the (many) surprises this enchanting land has up its sleeve. Adorning the Indian Ocean coastline like a jewel, Malindi is blessed with plentiful blue skies and tropical sun Enjoy snorkeling and diving to sneak a peek at scads of flitting colorful fish, as well as other world-class watersports. The site where Vasco da Gama struck out for India over five hundred years ago is marked with a weathered coral pillar overlooking the water. Visit Marafa Depression, an otherworldly canyon of sandstone gorges and spires carved out by erosion, or take a day trip to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, a rainforest sheltering families of kingly wild elephants.

Nairobi

Situated on the Nairobi River, Kenya’s capital grew with its iconic railroad. It’s a big and bustling city, but one ringed by parklands and all their natural wonders. You won’t want to miss Nairobi National Park, located virtually on the city’s doorstep. Take in the paradoxical image of wildlife grazing with the tall buildings of downtown as a backdrop, and then turn back to enjoy glimpses of some of the biggest mammals in the country. At the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, you’ll cozy up to baby elephants orphaned by poaching and other mishaps. Giraffe Village is a conservation base and breeding center. You can hand-feed the giraffes here, or even get a kiss from one of the long-necked beauties! Then there’s Lake Naivasha, where you can take walking tours for a sight of zebra, wildebeest, and impalas. Within the city, you’ll want to browse the Maasai market at your leisure for souvenirs and treasure, or delight your tastebuds at some of the city’s excellent eateries.

Amboseli National Park

One of the country’s smaller parks, Amboseli is located on the Kenyan base of Mount KIlimanjaro, right along the Tanzanian border. Close encounters with the clever and charming elephants here are some of the best to be found! A wide array of wildlife call the park home, thanks to a steady supply of water from snowmelt of Kilimanjaro. The site’s proximity to the historic home of the Maasai people affords visitors the chance to interact with members of the tribe and partake of their gorgeous, colorful art and handicrafts. Camping is popular here, along with game viewing. Bring your camera, and make like the British tourists of the early 20th century, who were captivated and lovestruck by the awesome beauty of the mountain backdrop with rolling grassland laid out all around. The park has starred in photographs for over a hundred years.

Mount Kenya

Kilimanjaro might be taller than Mount Kenya, but Mt. Kenya’s fame comes from a much more challenging hike to the top! It is a climb as beautiful as it is difficult. A long-dormant volcano crowned by a quartet of secondary peaks, the mountain is set apart by its numerous glaciers and exquisite, serene glacial lakes. The extraordinary beauty of this place is what led to its distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The foothills mark the transition zone between the savannah ecosystem and that of the mountain, and elephants ramble through the hills. It is an unparalleled area for camping and cave exploring, and incredible for game viewing and photography. The sunrises from even the lower altitudes are thrilling crimson spectacles, and at night the wide open sky is dotted with innumerable glistening stars. Even if you aren’t up for the grueling (if phenomenally rewarding) ascent, Mt. Kenya is still replete with splendor and begging for a visit!

Mombasa

The sea port of Mombasa gives Nairobi a run for its money in terms of popularity! Beaches and heady shoreline views tempt visitors, who inevitably fall hard for the tropical flair and languorous pace of life on offer. Truly, Mombasa is a land rife with sensuality. Swahili culture is strong here, evident in the colorful clothing of the people and singing cadence of the language. Iconic sights include the tusks over Moi Avenue, constructed in commemoration of a long-past royal visit, the tidepools of Tiwi Beach, and the historic ruins of Fort Jesus and the Old City. A colorful tapestry of traditions exist here due to the changing winds of colonialism through the centuries. Portuguese and Islamic influence are visible today in the architecture and cuisine.

Quick Facts

Capital: Nairobi
Primary Airports: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), Kisumu Airport (KSU), Moi International Airport (MBA)
Government: Republic
Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KSh)
Population: 43,013,000 (2012 est.)
Language: English, Kiswahili
Electricity: 240V/50Hz (UK plug)
Time Zone: UTC +3
Kenya

Kenya Travel Reviews


Road Trip through Kenya

Anonymous

My long-time friend and I were in need of some adventure and decided to visit Kenya during the December holidays. We managed to travel through the country from the coast to the highlands staying in different towns, cities and locations including Mombasa, Malindi, Watamu, the Maasai Mara and Naivasha. Our first destination was Mombasa, home of the Swahili people. Here you can enjoy traditional Swahili delicacies such as biryani, pilau, wali and uji wa ngano. We walked through the Old Town with its unique Swahili and Portuguese architecture and visited Fort Jesus, an historical site located in the Old Town. On our way to Malindi and Watamu, we visited various destinations including the Gedi ruins another historical site located in Gedi and Arabuko Sokoke, an indigenous forest home to elephants, gazelles, waterbucks and many birds species. In Watamu and Malindi, you will find beautiful white sandy beaches. Many resorts and hotels line the beaches making it easier to find affordable accommodation and parking for your car. On your way to Narok, along the Maai Mahiu road, savor panoramic views of the Great Rift Valley as you wind your way along the valley’s escarpments. Travel all the way to Narok and into the Maasai Mara National Reserve and dine in tents while watching wildlife including wildebeests, warthogs, impalas and gazelles. The main highlight of our stay in the Maasai Mara was watching the wildebeest migration, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. In Naivasha, we visited the Crater Lake National Reserve and enjoyed watching giraffes, warthogs, antelopes, buffalos and flamingos along the shores of Lake Naivasha. Hell’s Gate was a great hiking adventure for us. Located on the slopes of the Great Rift Valley escarpments, Hell’s Gate is a place of staggering beauty filled with various rock formations as well as green spaces. Our trip through Kenya provided all the adventure we needed.

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Destinations Visited: Kenya

Jesus Still Guards The Port of Mombasa, Kenya

Iritepa

With an estimated population of 1.2 million, Kenya's second largest city, Mombasa, has long been a tourist mecca. For Americans, like myself, one can't be too surprised about the new name for the roadway upon which the airport that we have just arrived in is located. Yes, it's none other than Barak Obama Road.

A 5-star way to get around is to hire a Tuk-Tuk which is a motorized rickshaw designed to accommodate three passengers. For those of all faiths, especially Christians, Fort Jesus is a place definitely not to be missed. Added to the World Heritage site list in 2011, Fort Jesus is a 16th century military fort, believed to have been erected around 1593. The outstanding feature is that this place was formed in the shape of male human in prone back position with the head facing the sea. According to all accounts, the ancients believed that this was a way to control Indian Ocean trade pathways. The primary intent of this fort was to guard the Port of Mombasa from potential invaders.

First preserved in 1958 as a national park, Fort Jesus is currently operated under the auspices of Kenya's National Museum management, as of 1962. Open daily from 8 A.M. To 6 P.M., touring around this majestic attraction affords the opportunity to view an interestingly informative plaque that gives a thumb-nail outline of its history.

Our visit to Fort Jesus afforded us the opportunity to experience an up close and personal view of a World War II German ship gun that essentially monitors all who enter the fort since it is located adjacent to the fort's main entrance.

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Destinations Visited: Kenya

Lamu Island: Kenya’s Special Treasure

Nikki Von Rooyen

Lamu Island in Kenya is a special place; virtually like no other you can find on earth. Now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lamu is the oldest inhabited city in Kenya. Having spent a week there, I can say it is like traveling through time back to an idyllic past, a time before cars, commercialism, and the confusion of the modern world.

Lamu sits placidly near the coastline surrounded by mangrove forests growing directly in the salty water. Fishermen harvest the waters in traditional dhows, and everyday we enjoyed the fresh offerings at Lamu’s many restaurants and eateries, along with cold beer and sunset views.

This area of Kenya is historically Muslim, although customs are strongly intertwined with African traditions. The narrow, cobblestone streets are for foot traffic and donkeys only, and there are only a few vehicles on the entire island. Happily, because the island is so small, there was no problem visiting beaches and attractions by foot.

The people of Lamu are extraordinarily friendly. We heard and said the word ‘Jambo!’ -the Swahili all-purpose greeting- almost every time we passed a stranger in the street.

Although Swahili is the official language, English is also spoken by many people, especially in hotels and restaurants. Nonetheless, we found that knowing a few Swahili phrases made interactions with the people of Lamu even more pleasant.

My stay in Lamu is among the most peaceful, happy and memorable in all my traveling days. I give this destination 5 stars.

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Destinations Visited: Kenya

Safari In The Interior And Luxury On The Coast

Liza Walker

Some years ago, my new husband and I had the chance to honeymoon in Kenya and, since we’d never been much for quiet, relaxing vacations, we jumped at the opportunity. Our anxious anticipation grew as we flew into Nairobi and headed straight for the Masai Mara National Reserve. The lodge on the plains gave us a cultural experience with meals of local cuisine and demonstrations of local dancing and costume. Bright and early each morning we were out traveling the grasslands on photo safari. We encountered hippos swimming in the Mara River, giraffes munching leaves, packs of zebra moving across the savannah and so much more. It was all one could hope for such an experience. For the second part of our adventure, we traveled to the coast and the town of Malindi. The resort here provided grace and luxury in the form of private bungalows and poolside lounging. This resort offered a welcoming blend of friendliness and quality service. We took a day to explore the local Ruins of the ancient Swahili town of Gedi. Another day was spent boating on the warm, shallow, crystal clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean swimming, snorkeling and exploring. As our last hurrah before departing, we experienced the Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi as like the rest of the country, it is, indeed, a place to be experienced not just visited.

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Destinations Visited: Kenya

Holiday Haven in Kenya

Musa Koroma

Kenya is renowned as the land of the Big Five, that is, the African elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, White and Black rhinoceros and African leopard. My wife and I visited Kenya last year in a bid to satisfy our curiosity of seeing these wild animals. Our target destinations were Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Mombasa City, as well as Malindi and Lamu towns. Upon arrival, we checked into the Porini Mara Camp located in Ol Kinyei Conservancy where we were provided with a tour guide.

We witnessed animals in their natural element in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which included a cheetah hunting for her cubs and a territorial fight among a pride of lions. We also had a chance to witness the annual wildebeest migration, and it is an enthralling experience taunted as the eighth wonder of the world. Other than the wildebeests, we learnt that the month of October marks the beginning of the largest migration of wildlife with over two million herbivores migrating from Maasai Mara to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

The Coast Province was our next stop. First, we landed at the city of Mombasa, and we booked ourselves in the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa. For the next few days, we enjoyed the white sandy beaches, swims by the coastline and local forays. The highlight was a trip to the famous Fort Jesus, excursions into Old Town, not to mention that the welcoming locals taught us some cultural songs and dances around a bonfire at nightfall.

In Malindi, another coastal town that neighbors the city of Mombasa, we attended the popular Sawa Sawa Dhow Excursions, and we sailed along the coast, did some snorkeling and enjoyed sumptuous grilled meals. Before leaving Malindi, we hooked up with other tourists to see the captivating Marafa Depression, also known as Hell’s Kitchen, to witness the deep crimsons setting on the jagged gorges at sunset.

Our final destination was in Lamu, Kenya’s oldest town, where locals have incorporated a rich Swahili culture in virtually every perspective of their lives. We enjoyed sweet Arabic tea as we watched a local donkey race. By the end of our visit, we had seen the Big Five, experienced the eighth wonder of animal migration, and learned some Kenyan dances and cultures. Visiting Kenya is a truly amazing experience.

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Destinations Visited: Kenya

SINGULAR SAFARI

BARB C

Wonderful hotels; Luxury tented camps; great food; 2 safari outings daily + evening outings. Outstanding guides. See Massai village. Watch for every variety of animals & birds. Take lots of pictures, & leave no evidence (trash) of your trip. Remember you are a guest in their country- act & dress accordingly.

GO NOW, before the best disappears! Take lots of RED bandanas or scarves. Take colored & regular pencils for school kids (+ notebooks if you can). I also took sample size lipsticks for barter- women love that. Fabulous trip!

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Destinations Visited: Kenya
Tour Operator: AFRICA TRAVEL

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