Bringing soul and colour to Earth are the vast savannahs, herds of dotting wildlife and the surrounding snow-capped mountains. Such is life in the Eastern African country of Kenya. Deriving its name from the Kamba translation of its famed Mt Kenya, the country is known to be deeply rooted in its culture and heritage. A part of British East African jurisdiction since 1885 and a British colony in 1920, the country gained its independence in 1963. Today, Kenya stands at the forefront of the East African countries with pride in its diverse culture and natural landscapes divided into 42 counties with Nairobi as its capital.
From the soaring views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya and the trotting zebras or magnifying wild cats along the way to the azure seas and the vibrant lifestyles of the indigenous tribes, there is a lot more to discover. There are several mysteries of the country’s sceneries and people that are sure to play with a traveller’s whims and desires. Here are some of the best places to visit in Kenya to experience the truth behind the Hakuna Matata phrase.
If one has dreamt about Africa, then the soul of the continent is Masai Mara with its extensive grasslands peppered with rising acacia trees, striped with zebras, spotted with giraffes and hidden with several wild beasts. One of the best tourist places in Kenya, a wild safari through this land will make you feel the adventure that the country stands for. Moreover, the national park is home to the vibrant ranch groups and the Masai tribe. One can experience the culture, camp with the indigenous and explore the landscape. Above anything, one can easily spot the three big cats – Lion, Cheetah and Leopard in the open. Crocodiles and hippos can also be spotted lurking in Mara River.
National Parks & Reserves
The best places to visit in Kenya are the national parks and reserves that make up the area. Hiding some of the magnificent natural beauties, these national parks within the Great Rift Valley boast of one of the world’s highest concentration of wildlife. Amboseli National Park is one of the best destinations in Kenya to see elephants up close. While it also houses several big cats and water buffaloes, it is famous for being the home of the highest African peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.
In addition to that is the Tsavo National Park with rolling volcanic mountains, a lava rock plateau and a diversity of wildlife. Divided into two sections, Tsavo flaunts its Yatta Plateau, Lugard Falls, Mzima Springs, Chaimu Crater and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Furthermore, the Hell’s Gate National Park, known to be the inspiration behind Disney’s Lion King boasts of surreal twisting rock and gorge formations. Mount Kenya National Park with its snow-covered equatorial mountains and alpine forests; Nairobi National Park with its endangered rhino population; Samburu National park with its Sarara Singing Wells of the Samburu tribe along with the buffalo Springs and the Shaba Reserves offer some of the best tourist attractions in Kenya.
A beach resort flaunting its azure waters, white sands and charming old town that once hosted Vasco Da Gama, Malindi is that Kenyan gem that calls out for a peaceful retro retreat. One can lounge in the shimmering white sands under the sun in the Watamu beach or dive into the deep sea to explore the vibrant coral reefs and discover the diversity in its marine national parks.
Furthermore, the old town along the coastline houses various adorable pizzerias and Italian dine-in for one to lay back and take in the beach vibes. Apart from leisure activities, there are several old monuments to discover, such as the Jami Mosque, two pillar tombs from the 14th century and the famed Vasco Da Gama Cross. About 30 kilometres away stands the Marafa Depression, a set of sandstone gorges that have been carved out by wind and rain. A melting pot of rich and local cultures charmed with a hint of historical wayfare, Malindi is sure to heal one’s heart.
The capital and the largest city of Kenya, Nairobi attracts its visitors through its colourful artforms and colonial history. The city earlier was famous for its extensive tea and coffee plantations while now, it thrives on its historical and wildlife attractions. One can walk around the city to discover its old museums and churches or head over to the Nairobi National Park, a black rhino sanctuary for a dose of wildlife. The Nairobi National Museum is the perfect tourist destination in Kenya if you want to explore the history, culture, nature and the contemporary art of the country. Moreover, there are several botanical gardens and parks across the city to spread freshness in the minds of tourists. The Kenyan street art culture is an experience that shouldn’t be missed while roaming its local markets or the famous Karen Blixen Museum, which is the restored house of a Danish author.
With exotic locations of the shimmering beaches and the long-running history of eastern Africa is the city of Mombasa. One gets to witness the Portuguese colonial edifices and the Arabic mosques lining in between streets along with the traditional Swahili charm through the town. History buffs can especially enjoy the European Old Town with its narrowing streets, ancient Swahili settlements, Indian influenced spicy curries, markets and thriving Mombasa ports. Furthermore, the white sands and the coral lining reefs attract an adventurous crowd for snorkelling, deep-sea diving, dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing. The beaches of Bamburi and palm groves of Shanzu will offer an exotic feel altogether.
The pictures of the flocking pink flamingoes over water are the symbol of Lake Nakuru in central Kenya. It makes for one of the best places to visit in Kenya. One of the Rift Valley’s soda lakes, it comprises almost one-third of Lake Nakuru National Park. The waters of the lake are famous for being home to blue-green algae that attract over four hundred different bird species from pelicans to flamingoes. Moreover, the surrounding park is home to the largest euphorbia candelabrum forests in Africa, which are made up of tall and branching succulents and are endemic to the region.
Dotted with traditional Swahili style houses with white facades and timber wood is the little Lamu Island. Featuring the lapping waters of the Indian ocean and swamping Mangroves, Lamu has been tagged as one of the World Heritage Sites in Kenya by UNESCO. Behind the facade of the shopfronts and the mosques hovering over the harbour lies the Lamu old town bustling with activities. Moreover, the nearby towns of Shela and Matondoni along with the celebrations at Mawlid mark the speciality of the islands, making it one of the best places to visit in Kenya. One will not find many cars around; hence the best mode of transportation are bikes, donkeys and dhows. Sailing through the sunset in a dhow or a traditional Lamu sailboat is one of the most enticing things to do here.
Bonus: A Stay At The Giraffe Manor
One of the most Instagram-able boutique hotels set within 140 acres of indigenous land of the Langata suburb of Nairobi is The Giraffe Manor. With its dramatic exterior, elegant interiors and lush gardens and courtyards, the manor dates back to the 1930s when Europeans flocked to East Africa to enjoy safaris. However, what makes the manor one of the best tourist attractions in Kenya are the Rothschild’s giraffes who visit in the mornings and evenings to dine with the tourist by pushing their long necks inside the manor. Moreover, one can even sit in their lounging rooms and watch these giraffes retreat to their sanctuary.