No other place on Earth conjures up such strong images of adventure, wildlife and the great outdoors as Kenya, a name almost synonymous with the word ‘safari’. But Kenya is more than just ‘safari’; the sheer diversity of exciting things to do in the country dazzles first-time visitors.
Though viewing wildlife in its natural habitat is probably on top of the list of things to do while in Kenya, even in this the variety of offering is overwhelming. You could witness the Great Maasai Mara Migration as throngs of wildebeest thunder across the savanna; marvel at Lake Nakuru flecked with thousands of flamingoes, or come eye-to-eye with elephants at the Amboseli National Reserve.
But you can also go beyond the world-famous safari parks to visit a trove of coastal treasures. Visitors can snorkel and dive fish-rich coral reefs, relax on pearly beaches, experience the melting pot of cultures and cuisines in Mombasa and Malindi, and explore tropical islands steeped in Swahili history.
Kenya's capital and largest city, Nairobi, is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, luring settlers who came here to stake their fortune in the coffee and tea industries. Today, tourists can explore the city's famous historic sites as well as some excellent wildlife-related attractions.
Nestled on the coastline of Kenya, Mombasa offers spectacular sandy beaches, rare marine life, diverse wildlife and a rich cultural heritage, marking it one of Kenya’s main tourist attractions. With a wide offering of activities for all ages, and beautiful weather all year round, the coast of Kenya has earned its place as one of the world’s top beaches.
With the coast’s breathtaking scenery, rich history and a range of engaging activities, you will be spoilt for choice with what to do. Whether you go on a safari, immerse yourself in the local culture, get your pulse racing with water sports or just take time to refresh your soul in nature, you are guaranteed a memorable visit.
The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya's oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Strolling along the labyrinthine streets, visitors will see the island's rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
At Kenya’s Western frontier lies the great expanse of Lake Victoria. This massive lake, commonly known as Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The lake is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colorful cichlids and large Nile Perch.
Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish.
This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The mountain offers a beautiful sight. Its series of peaks are crowned with snow, and its slopes covered with forest. The 5199 meters high summit is a difficult technical climb, several lowers peaks however are an easy destination for any fit trekker.
Amboseli National Reserve:
Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya's most popular tourist parks. The name ‘Amboseli’ comes from a Maasai word meaning ‘salty dust’, an apt description for the park's parched conditions. The reserve is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats such as lion and cheetah as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds.
Tsavo National Park:
Kenya's largest park, Tsavo, is sliced in two; Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these parks encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an impressive diversity of wildlife. Tsavo East is famous for sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust. Other highlights here include the Yatta Plateau, the world's longest lava flow, Mudanda Rock, and the Lugard Falls, which spill into rapids and crocodile-filled pools.
Tsavo West is wetter and topographically more varied with some of the most beautiful scenery in the northern reaches of the park. Highlights here are Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles, Chaimu Crater, a great spot for spotting birds of prey and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.
Hell's Gate National Park:
A tiny park named after a narrow break in the cliffs, Hell’s Gate National Park was once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley. It is unique among Kenya’s wildlife parks, as you are allowed to walk or cycle without a guide. There is dramatic scenery, with steep cliffs, gorges and basalt columns. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, though many are few in number.
Mount Longonot National Park:
This National Park was formed around Mount Longonout, a young dormant volcano. It was created during the volcanic eruptions that formed the Great Rift Valley. The name Longonot is derived from the Masai word Oloonong’ot meaning mountains of many spurs or steep ridges. Longonot park covers 52 km most of it being occupied by Mt Longonot. The sides of the mountain have beautiful V-shaped valleys and ridges. The stony soils have little vegetation but the crater has an impenetrable forest.
Nairobi National Museum:
The Nairobi National Museum is a one stop for visitors to sample Kenya’s rich heritage, both for education and leisure. It houses a collection of Kenya’s history, nature, culture and contemporary art. The artworks and materials used in the fabrication of outdoor sculptures, landscaping and botanic gardens, are linked to the four pillars of Kenya’s national heritage – nature, culture, history and contemporary art. Visitors here are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities, as well as botanical gardens that offer a serene environment.