Kenya – is almost synonymous with the word “safari”. Perhaps no other place on the planet conjures such a spirit of adventure and romance. For first-time visitors, the sheer diversity of things to do is dazzling. Wildlife, of course, is top on the list including the Great Migration in Maasai Mara, come eye-to-eye with an elephant in Amboseli, or marvel at Lake Nakuru flecked with thousands of flamingoes.
Beyond the world-famous safari parks lies the 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. Topographically, Kenya is stunning surrounded by mountain ranges, the Great Rift Valley that divides the country. To experience the romance of Kenya’s colorful colonial history as captured in the film Out of Africa, head to Nairobi the bustling capital which is the gateway to one of the world’s most evocative and exciting travel destinations. The following are some of the popular destinations frequented by tourist
Masai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara is one of the world’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries.
The park is famous for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October. In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk. The park is also known for providing excellent predator sightings thanks to its relatively large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard – especially in the dry months from December through February. The weather here is mild and gentle year round.
Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Masai 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. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. The Masai people live s around the park.
Tsavo National Park
Kenya’s largest park, Tsavo, is sliced in two; Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these parks comprise four percent of the country’s total area and encompass rivers, waterfalls, Savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an impressive diversity of wildlife. Midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo East is famous for photo-worthy sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust.
The palm-fringed Galana River twists through the park providing excellent game viewing and a lush counterpoint to the arid plains..
Samburu National Reserve
On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film “Born Free”.
A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve is the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. Tourists here may also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park, in Central Kenya, is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingoes. The birds throng on Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes that comprises almost a third of the park’s area. The park was established in 1961 and more than 450 species of birds have been recorded here as well as a rich diversity of other wildlife.
Lions, leopards, warthogs, waterbucks, pythons, and white rhinos are just some of the animals visitors might see, and the landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland.
Nairobi City / Parks
Nairobi, is the Kenya’s capital and largest city, a legendary for its colorful colonial history. The Nairobi National Museum is a great one-stop spot to see exhibits on Kenya’s history, nature, culture, and contemporary art.
Another popular tourist attraction is the Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a host of all wildlife animals. Finally, no visit to Nairobi would be complete without popping into the Giraffe Centre near the famous Giraffe Manor where these long-necked beauties eat out of visitors’ hands.
Mombasa & Malindi
Mombasa is the Kenya’s second largest city and biggest port. Mombasa is a multicultural tourist magnet. British, Portuguese, Arab, Indian, and Asian immigrants add to the rich cultural mix and their influence is evident in the architecture as well as the many different types of cuisine.
Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are popular. History buffs will enjoy exploring the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops.
Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Malindi is where travelers come to sun bath on the white sands of Watamu Beach, dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks, and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town. Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds.
Mount Kenya National Park
In the Central Highlands, east of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing the country’s namesake highest mountain at 5,199 m and providing the rare sight of equatorial snow. Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, Mount Kenya is actually comprised of three glacier-cloaked peaks.
The highest is Batian, although Nelion, the next highest, is a tougher climb. The lowest peak, Lenana, is considered the easiest climb, although unpredictable weather can pose challenges. Scenery varies from glaciers, lakes, and mineral springs to alpine forest and dense pockets of bamboo.
The diversity of flora and fauna provides rewarding opportunities for safaris. Among the wildlife here visitors may spot black and white colobus monkeys, buffalo, elephant, tree hyrax, leopard, and hyena. Nestled in the foothills, the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club is a luxury retreat with trout fishing, golf, and tennis.