Kenya will make you feel like you've been dropped in the middle of a real life version of The Lion King, with its vast savannahs, and incredible wildlife (where are you Mufasah?!) right into the depths of the Masai Mara National Reserve, where you can find Amboseli elephants, flamingos, wildebeest and loads more. Kenya even offers a tropical coastline and lush forests, so without even visiting you can picture how unbelievably diverse the experiences are in this country.
Kenya is an explorers paradise and for wildlife its a dream come true; from delving into the depths of the wild searching for the big 5 to drifting on the lakes waiting for submerged hippos to pop back up.
Witness the great migration of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra, or communicate with the ancient tribes of the Maasai. Snorkel amongst rich coral reefs and relax on a string of pristine beaches lining the coast. Explore tropical islands, taste home-cooked food and hike the grand gorges, epic landscapes and intimidating mountain ranges. A holiday to Kenya is nothing short of an adventure.
Where to visit in Kenya:
The capital city is one of the most popular places to visit in Kenya. Nairobi is famous for its fascinating colonial history, legendary tea and coffee business and infectious nightlife.
Nairobi is the perfect place to dive into the vibrant Kenyan culture. Don't let the tonnes of steel put you off; industrial structures conceal contemporary art studios, fascinating markets and an excellent selection of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. With the Nairobi National Park and the Mbagathi River at the heart of the city, the gateway to Kenya has a unique and irresistible charm, hard to come by.
Imagine that it is 6am, the sun is just rising and your jeep is in the middle of the African Savannah. So many beautiful creatures surround you and this is the perfect time of day to see them. Giraffes and zebra make their way to watering holes where they are joined by elephants, buffalo and even lions!
Searching for the big 5 in the Maasi Mara is one of the top things to do in Kenya. Well-known as being one of the best game reserves in the world, this is where the Great Migration takes place each year. Wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and a few hunting lions, storm to the nearby Serengeti seeking greener pastures. Witness the migration from a jeep, hike or even catch a birds-eye view from a hot-air balloon. Lions roaring at their pride, elephants frolicking in the watering holes - it's the quintessential image of Kenya that you will never forget.
Hiking Africa's second-highest mountain is one of the best things to do in Kenya, but its ascent isn't for the faint-hearted. Comprised of three snow-tipped peaks, Batian and Nelion are only accessible by skilled mountaineers, but the third, Point Lenana can be reached by most hikers within a few days.
Fish for trout in fresh-water streams, hike past glaciers, around mountains lakes and through dense alpine forests. The climb to Mount Kenya is beautiful beyond words, but the view from the top is what makes it worth it. On your hike, keep an eye out for Columbus monkeys, buffalo, elephants, tree hyrax, leopards and hyenas.
Perched on the highest point of the Great Rift Valley is a mecca for wildlife-lovers, Naivasha. Sail across the vast Naivasha Lake spotting African fish eagles, hippos, buffaloes, zebras and giraffes hiding amongst the flecks of flamingos. Or if you want to stay on-land, hike the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary nature trail. The Great Rift Valley is also well-known as being one of the best places in Kenya for bird watching.
Hell's Gate National Park.
Hell's Gate National Park is home to leopards, baboons, eland, hartebeest, ostriches and gazelles, but the animals aren't what attract most people here. Hell's Gate is a huge hotspot for climbers, hikers and bikers. With two extinct volcanoes and the red cliffs of Hell's Gate Gorge, there are plenty of opportunities for adrenaline-seekers to explore. And when you're done, head to the hot springs to relax your muscles and take in the striking scenery.
A glistening jade-coloured lake amid the barren north Kenyan desert provides a sight for sore eyes after the dusty landscapes that surround it. Dominated by a volcano rising from the centre of the lake, this is one of the most popular places to visit in Kenya. The waters-edge is peppered with small villages of local Turkana, Samburu, El-Molo and Gabbra people. Common sightings include crocodiles hippos, flamingos and cormorants.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest inhabited towns in Kenya. Visit the fascinating Lamu Museum, the beautiful, historic port and the Riyadh Mosque. Lamu hosts incredible cultural events throughout the year, attracting tonnes of tourists. Travel back in time as you explore the narrow streets of this charming town, lined with age-old buildings that tell a fascinating story. There's also an adorable Donkey Sanctuary nearby.
The melting pot of cultures is what makes Mombasa so unique. It's a beautiful port town on the Southeast coast that oozes freedom and inclusiveness. You'll find all types of cuisine - Arab, Asian, British, Indian and Portuguese - with traditions, architecture, markets and art representing their cultures in their own unique way. Mombasa also has some incredible beaches, perfect for snorkeling. Some of the most popular are Diani Beach and Shanzu beach.
Along the coast of Kenya, in the north of Mombasa, is Malindi, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Kenya. Malindi town is a delicious blend of cultures, providing every kind of cuisine imaginable. The historic old town is dripping in stunning architecture and peppered with restaurants, cafes and markets. Visit one of Africa's oldest churches, the beautiful Jami Mosque and dive to the coral reefs at Watamu and Malindi beach
Great Rift Valley.
In the heart of the highlands in eastern Africa, cutting down the length of the country lies the Great Rift Valley. A dry savanna, 6,000 kilometres long, peppered with sprawling lakes and smoldering volcanoes. One of the highlights of the Great Rift Valley is Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. The geographical formation of high hills and verdant valleys makes it one of the most beautiful sites in Kenya.
The plateau of Laikipia, protected by the shadow of Mt Kenya, is home to a host of wildlife reserves. Protecting endangered species such as black rhinos, wild dogs, Grevy's zebras and lions, this is an excellent place to visit if you want to spot some rare wildlife. It's no surprise that Kenya has a bounty of game drives to choose from, but if you want a more intimate experience, Laikipia is a great option.
Lake Victoria (also called Victoria Nyanza) is the biggest lake in Africa, passing through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This beautiful part of Kenya provides a peaceful environment and the perfect peaceful getaway from the busy, dusty cities. Lake Victoria is an excellent place for wildlife lovers with plenty of helmeted and other turtles and 100's of species of fish.
Geography & landscape of Kenya.
Situated directly on the equator, Kenya is one of the hottest countries on earth. Its terrain ranges from lowland coastal plains to central plateaus to soaring mountains, the highest being Mount Kenya, standing at 5,199 meters. Kenya is famous for its scenic landscapes and stunning nature reserves. The Kenyan coast is lined with historic ports and some of the best beaches in Africa. In central Kenya, you’ll find tea plantations, nature reserves, lakes and rivers, whilst the north will have you in a vast, barren desert.
Culture, religion and etiquette.
The majority of the Kenyan population belong to ‘Bantu’ tribes and ‘Nilotic’ tribes with about 13% of the population being non-African.
Kenya promotes freedom of religion, with around half of the population identifying as Christian, 10% as Muslim and a small section of people identifying as Hindu and Sikh. Although there is a wide range of religious groups, tribes and traditions, Kenyans are very inclusive and have strong values in group cooperation which are deeply rooted in every part of the country.
The family unit in Kenya provides the building blocks of their social structure. Extended families include both sides as well as their friends, with the husband’s parents often living in the family home once they get older. Family responsibilities always come first in a Kenyan household.
Many Kenyans believe that when an ancestor dies their spirit lives on in other’s memories. They often make offerings to their deceased and pass their names on when they have children.
When greeting each other in Kenya, it’s common to offer a handshake, but close female friends often hug and kiss each other on the cheek. When greeting an elder, however, it is proper to grip their right wrist with your left hand while shaking hands as a sign of respect. This is usually followed by pleasantries regarding their health, family or business.
History of Kenya.
The first record we have of hunter-gatherers in Kenya date back to 2,000 BC. Around 900 AD, Arabs ships came to Kenya and settled along the coast creating the Swahili language and culture which exists today. From 1498, the Portuguese dominated the Swahili coastal region for around 200 years introducing crops like cassava and maize.
During the 19th century, Britain took control of Kenya when Africa was divided up by European leaders. During the late 1800's, the British constructed a stable railway system making regional travel much easier. As the European settlers took to taking the arable land for themselves, the African natives were forced to relocate into the reservations. During this time Indian immigrants took up residence in Kenya to establish working trades.
In 1921, the East African Association was formed by locals demanding better rights and in 1927 Jomo Kenyatta became the secretary. During this time Kenya's education system grew with numerous schools being built. Resentment from Africans only continued as many fought in World War Two, only to become second-class citizens in their own country once again.
Africa still strove to become an independent country and in 1963, Kenya got independence. Shortly after, Kenya joined the Commonwealth. During the 1960s and 70s, Kenya's agricultural industries boomed.
In 1982, Daniel Arap Moi became leader after Kenyatta died, although he outlawed opposition parties in 1991 the people forced him to allow other political parties to campaign. Though he was still reelected in 1992 and 1997.
In 1998 a bomb exploded at the Nairobi US embassy killing 224 people causing a stop to tourism in Kenya. In 2002 Kibaki came into power, introducing free primary education to Kenya. Today Kenya’s economy is still developing and growing at a steady rate.