Kenya — A perfect place for anyone who loves to observe the animal in their homely wilderness.
Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Kenya), is an east African country. Kenya is named after Mt. Kenya, which is the tallest mountain in the country (5,199 meters, 17,057 feet).
The country is spread out with 580,367 square kilometers (224,081 sq mi) rising from a low coastal plain on the Indian Ocean side to mountains and plateaus to its center. This beautiful country encompasses Savannah, lake lands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. The desert valley of northern Kenya offers the famous lake Turkana with its jade-green water.
Being an erstwhile colonial country, only to gain independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, Kenya has two official languages are English and Swahili, which are considered as the lingua franca of southeastern Africa for its widespread usage and ubiquity in the areas of trade, commerce, communications and education. Its Indian Ocean coast provided historically important ports by which goods from Arabian and Asian traders have entered the continent for many centuries.
Kenya is not a homogeneous country ethnicity-wise. The Kenyans form primarily 13 ethnic groups with an additional 27 smaller groups. The majority of Kenyans belong to ‘Bantu’ tribes such as the Kikuyu, Luhya and Kamba. There are also the ‘Nilotic’ tribes such as the Luo, Kalenjin, Maasai and Turkana.
Kenyans are enthusiastic meat eaters with their unofficial national dish, Nyama Choma (a type of barbecued meat), that is a red-blooded, hands-on affair. Most places have their own on-site butchery, and Nyama Choma is usually purchased by weight, often as a single hunk of meat.
Mukimo is another famous dish in Kenya, a Kikuyu staple but prepared throughout the country during celebrations and events. Green Peas and Potatoes are boiled and then mashed up with Spinach before some green maize (corn) is added to give the mash some extra starch and texture.
Kenya, with its diverse wildlife habitats, it’s great rift valley and lakes, its prolific bird life and rich culture and crafts, is one of Africa’s most successful conservation communities.The equator cuts the country into two halves.
Kenya is an undoubtedly gorgeous African country. Only a few other places on the planet conjure such a spirit of adventure and romance. The diversity of things to do in Kenya dazzles all who visit, and viewing the country’s abundant wildlife tops the list. Many dream of tropical weather, white sandy beaches and lazy afternoons out in the sun enjoying a cold beer and looking out into an amazing landscape. These are some of the best things that can be found in Kenya.
Beyond the world-famous safari parks lies a trove of coastal treasures. You 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 is a very romantic country. To experience the romance of Kenya’s colorful Colonial history captured in the film ‘Out of Africa’ head to Nairobi. This bustling capital is the gateway to one of the world’s most evocative and exciting travel destinations.
1. Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as the Mara, is a large national game reserve in Narok, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The reserve is a photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise, with an abundance of Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, Lions and Cheetahs alongside the migratory Wildebeests and Zebras. Leopards are frequently encountered, endangered Black Rhino hide in the dense thickets and large rafts of Hippo and enormous Crocodiles are found in the Mara River. The park is also home to over 450 bird species.
2. Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli Game Reserve, is a national park in Kajiado South Constituency in Kajiado County, Kenya. The park is 39,206 hectares in size, the core of an 8,000 square kilometers ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, the Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s most popular parks.
The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “Salty Dust”, and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands, Sulfur springs, the Savannah and woodlands. Tourists can also visit the local Maasai community who live around the park and experience their authentic culture.
3. Tsavo National Park
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometers. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert it opened in April 1948, and is located near the town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta county of the former Coast Province. It is particularly well known for its large herds of elephants and captivating landscapes.
Tsavo is one of the less populated game areas in Kenya and is perfect for those who want to enjoy a pristine wildlife experience. A highlight of Tsavo National Park is the spectacular Mzima Springs, where crystal-clear water flows through volcanic rock.
4. Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes at an elevation of 1,754 m located above sea level. It lies to the south of Nakuru, in the rift valley of Kenya and is protected by Lake Nakuru National Park. The lake’s abundance of algae used to attract a vast quantity of Flamingos that famously lined the shore.
The first thing you will see approaching Lake Nakuru is a roseate cloud along the shoreline. Lake Nakuru’s famous pink flamingos,as you approach the pink mass it turns into the shapes of birds, millions of Flamingos. It is one of the sights you associate with East Africa and a spectacle of immense beauty.
5. Lamu Island
Lamu Island is a port city, located just off the shore of Kenya in the Indian Ocean approximately 150 miles from Mombasa. Lamu was founded in the 12th Century and is a mesmerizing place to see. It feels like a moment frozen in time (quite similar to Stone Town Zanzibar, though much, much smaller), and is worth it if only to observe daily life in the colorful markets and winding alley streets. Along its southern coastline the area of Lamu island is composed of mainly sand dunes, which cover the Shela aquifer which is responsible for the island’s main source of water.
6. Lake Naivasha
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, outside the town of Naivasha in Nakuru County, which lies north west of Nairobi. It is part of the Great Rift Valley. The name derives from the local Maasai name Nai’posha, meaning “rough water” because of the sudden storms which can arise.
The lake is an overflow of beauty with tranquil surroundings decorated with the presence of a variety of wild animals and bird species from all over the world. The forest surrounding the lake is home to over 400 bird species, making it the perfect destination for birders from all corners of the world.
Nairobi is Kenya’s capital city. In addition to its urban core, the city has Nairobi National Park, a large game reserve known for breeding endangered black Rhinos and home to Giraffes, Zebras and Lions. Next to it, is a well-regarded elephant orphanage operated by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Nairobi is also often used as a jumping-off point for safari trips elsewhere in Kenya.
Nairobi serves as a fascinating introduction to both wildlife and nightlife. Music clubs pulse with life, shops and markets bustle, and a melange of restaurants will tempt your palate in this former Maasai watering hole. Top sights include the Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Center and the Black Rhinos of Nairobi National Park. The compact city center is safe to walk in and taxis make other areas accessible.
It is a town on Malindi Bay, in southeastern Kenya. It sits amid a string of tropical beaches dotted with hotels and resorts. Malindi Marine National Park and nearby Watamu Marine National Park are home to Turtles and many colorful fish. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve harbors Elephants and more than 200 species of birds. Near the forest, the Gede Ruins are the remains of an ancient Swahili town.
Just south of Malindi town is the lovely Silver Sands Beach, and home to several luxury hotels. Snorkeling, diving, surfing and deep sea fishing (for Marlin, Shark and Sailfish) are popular here. Further south lies Watamu Beach, part of Kenya’s Watamu Marine National Park.
Mombasa is a coastal city in southeast Kenya along the Indian Ocean. The city is known as the white and blue city in Kenya. It is the country’s oldest and second-largest city, with a population of over a million people. Tourists from all over the world flock here to enjoy the many things to do – from Dolphin spotting trips on traditional Dhows and deep-sea fishing to diving and snorkeling the wrecks and reefs and basking on the sun-splashed shores. But in the city itself, on the bustling island, a world of history and culture awaits.
10. Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya, Swahili Kirinyaga, volcano, central Kenya, lying immediately south of the Equator. It is the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro, which is located some 200 miles (320 km) to the south. The Mount Kenya area was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997.
Various species of Monkeys, several Antelopes, Tree Hyraxes, Porcupines and some larger animals such as elephants and buffaloes all live in the forest. Predators found here include hyenas and leopards, and occasionally lions. There are fewer mammals found at high altitudes on Mount Kenya.
It is a very interesting center, especially for families and children, where you can see Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions and many more.
The climate of Kenya varies by location, from mostly cool every day, to always warm/hot. The climate along the coast is tropical. This means rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. At the coastal cities, Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi, the air changes from cool to hot, almost every day. March is the hottest month in Kenya.
One of the best times to visit Kenya is from July to September, during the country’s dry season, which also coincides with the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra. The rainy seasons are also good times to travel, as there are fewer visitors and you can admire the striking emerald vegetation.
Tourists can fly into two major airports in Kenya: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa. Most visitors fly into Nairobi due to the availability of flights, but some visitors opt for Mombasa since it offers easier access to the coast.
As a mandatory requirement, the National Travel Health Network and Center and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for Kenya: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Meningitis, Polio and Tetanus. For more details particularly for Indian travelers, please refer to this document. International travelers can obtain more details here.
To cover all of the main highlights in both Kenya and Tanzania, we recommend at least 4 weeks in total. Often tourists choose to travel Kenya with a 7 days journey covering 2 or 4 places maximum for an ideal excursion.
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Photo Credits : Sutirta Budiman, Randy Fath, Rohan Reddy, Sergey Pesterev, Julie Wolpers, Muthengi Mbuvi, Damian Patkowski, Harshil Gudka, Ahmed Galal