Top 10 Destinations in Kenya
The Masai Mara is Kenya’s premier game reserve. Located in south-western Kenya, the Masai Mara is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Earning its name from the Masai tribes people and the Mara River which divides it, the reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual migration of the wildebeest between July and October each year, a migration so immense to be called the Great Migration. The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions, though the other members of the ‘Big Five’ are present as well.
Lake Nakuru is a shallow soda lake in the Great Rift Valley once renowned for its huge concentration of flamingos and over 460 species of birds. Due to increased water levels in recent years and alkalinity changes the flamingo numbers have been on the decline. Lake Nakuru National Park is not only a bird watchers paradise, it also offers a superior game safari experience. Allowing for potential sightings of the elusive leopard, the rare Rothschild’s giraffe and other water loving animals like waterbucks and hippopotamus . The park has also recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino.
Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve in the dry northern reaches of Kenya is rugged and remote, with a backdrop of jagged mountains, sun parched hills and arid plains. The Ewaso Ngiro River which runs through it, is home to a huge population of crocodiles and attracts plenty of wildlife to its river banks, including buffalos, reticulated giraffe and the rare Grevy’s zebra. All three big cats, lion, cheetah and leopard, can be found here and are easily spotted due to the lack of grass cover. Rhinos are no longer present in the park due to heavy poaching. Samburu is a real treat for wildlife enthusiasts and less crowded than other reserves.
Mombasa on the east coast of Kenya, has pristine white sandy beaches and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Diani beach is the most popular, with a range of watersports and Tiwi beach south of Mombasa is an excellent option for those who prefer peace and quiet. In addition to its beautiful beaches, Mombasa offers a diverse cultural history. The city traces many of its cultural traditions to former Portuguese, Arab and British settlers – all of which have left a lasting influence on the city’s food, architecture, and people. Also amongst Kenya’s finest beaches are Malindi which has a wide range of shops and restaurants and Watuma, a quiet, low key resort which is excellent for snorkelling and diving.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is one of the most picturesque places in Africa to enjoy a safari -because it is located at the foot of spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa’s highest mountain. Kilimanjaro is actually in neighbouring Tanzania, but Amboseli is right on the border, offering stunning views of the snow-capped mountain. Amboseli is renowned for its scenic beauty and big game, most notably elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, and buffalo. The principal attraction in Amboseli is its vast herds of elephants. Amboseli is also home to the Masai community and the opportunity to meet them and learn about their ancient customs and traditions is another drawcard.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park is one of the largest parks in Kenya and indeed the world. At almost 22,000 km² Tsavo’s diverse habitats, which range from forests and volcanic hills to vast open plains, savannahs, waterholes and rivers, are home to a wonderful variety of wildlife including the Big Five. Tsavo-East has spectacular scenery, including Lugards Falls on the Galana River, the Mudanda Rock and the Yatta Plateau - the world’s largest lava flow. In Tsavo-West the landscape is much greener and a particular highlight here is Mzima Springs. Tsavo’s close proximity to Mombasa makes it ideal for a safari and beach combination.
Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake, unlike many in the region, which are soda lakes. It is the highest of the Rift Valley Lakes, although reasonably shallow, with the depth varying dependent upon rainfall. The lake itself is not technically a national park, as most of the land around it is privately owned. Only 100 km from Nairobi, Lake Naivasha has become a popular recreational area for Kenyans; with a yacht club, private cruisers and fishing boats. Naivasha is a birdwatchers dream with over 450 species in the area. The water also attracts wildlife, with giraffe, colobus monkeys, hippos and buffalo most commonly spotted.
Majestic Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano that sits grandly astride the equator. At 5199 m high, it is Africa’s second-highest mountain, and conquering the two snow-capped highest peaks requires considerable rock climbing skills. Nevertheless, the mountain's lesser peaks are wonderful for trekking if you’re fit and active. For those content with simply admiring the mountain, the cool highlands that surround its base are a perfect base for relaxation. The forests are ideal for game viewing and are home to elephants, buffalo, monkeys, antelope, and giant forest hogs, not to mention wonderful birdlife.
The Gedi Ruins are a historical and archaeological site found in a dense forest close to Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline, 94 kms north of Mombasa town. The Swahili town located in the Kilifi district remained undiscovered until 1884, with it opening to the public in 1948, though it’s believed to have been built in the early 13th century. Over the years the forest has crept over the ruins, adding to the eerie beauty and the mysterious atmosphere of the ancient town. Wander the paths to see the remains of a number of houses, a palace and a mosque with tombs still standing today. It was declared a UNESCO site as it represented the advanced social and economic structure of the Swahili people at the time, disproving the assumption Africa was behind the rest of the world before colonialism.
Kakamega Forest ReserveKakamega Forest Reserve is Kenya’s only tropical rainforest. It’s a remote, isolated part of Kenya’s wilderness for those looking for an off-the-beaten-track adventure. The indigenous forest lies over the equator and has a year-round warm climate however it’s easier to spot the wildlife in the dry months of January, February, August and September. A spectacular amount of wildlife lives in this canopy of natural beauty including many species of monkey, forest squirrels, pangolins and bush pig and some 400 species of bird. There are many trails to walk, stretching from one to seven kilometres. One of the most popular is the Isiukhu Trail which connects Isecheno to the Isiukhu Falls and takes about half a day to complete.
Our handy Travel Resources are an excellent source of information for planning your visit to Kenya so have a look at the below:
Best Time to Visit - Kenya's climate and seasons
Tourist Visas - details on visa procurement
Top Travel Tips - travelling with children in Kenya and info on money and food
About Overland Safaris - what to expect on an overland expedition in Africa
About Lodge Safaris - all you need to know about lodge accommodated safaris
The Great Migration - our guide to nature's most incredible spectacle
Safari Wildlife Guide - where to find Africa's most iconic wildlife
Spotting Africa's Big 5 - our guide to the Big 5 and the best places to find them