The Best Things to Do in Kenya
Think of Africa and the vast beauty of Kenya usually springs to mind: iconic savannahs, home to millions of wildlife, and a strong and proud people who continue to maintain their identity and traditions.
Here in this vast wilderness, conservation, and tourism work together to preserve the soul of this spectacular country, giving visitors the opportunity to experience nature as it should be.
Snow-capped mountains and savage savannahs where wildlife migrate in their millions, powder-white beaches peppered along stunning coastline, the bustling vibrancy of Nairobi; Kenya offers incredible experiences that will stay in your heart forever.
Here’s a roundup of some of the very best things to see and do in Kenya.
On safari, you can see the big five and other wildlife in their natural habitat, while learning about them from an expert guide. As well as a traditional vehicle-driven adventure, you can also experience a safari on horseback, from a hot air balloon, helicopter or hovercraft.
Located in the south-western corner of Kenya, the Masai Mara makes up the most northern part of the Serengeti. The name comes from the indigenous Masai tribespeople and the Mara River, which divides the region.
Kenya’s premier game reserve is most famous for the Great Migration, which takes place during the southern hemisphere winter. As the waterholes on the Serengeti plains begin to dry out, over two million wildebeest and zebras migrate north in search of water and food. The migration is one of the most spectacular sights on earth.
During the migration, wildebeest and zebras must make the perilous crossing over the Mara River, where crocodiles lie in wait ready to snatch them as they surge across to reach the lush, green pastures in the north. On land, they’re prey to the larger carnivores – the Masai Mara has one of the largest densities of lions in Africa.
The best time to witness this spectacle is between July and October.
Amboseli National Park
Lying at the foot of the spectacular, snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park is most notably famous for the vast herds of elephants that dominate the region. Other big game such as lions, giraffes, cheetahs, and buffalo can also be spotted here.
Amboseli is also home to the Masai tribespeople. Visitors have the opportunity to meet them and learn about their ancient customs, traditions, and way of life.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo is one of the largest national parks in the world. Open plains, rivers, waterholes, forests and volcanic hills make up the spectacular scenery of this diverse and fascinating landscape.
Here you’ll find a fantastic variety of wildlife, including the big five. To the east, there’s the Lugards Falls that flows into the Galana River. Crocodile Point is the best place to spot crocodiles and hippos. Tsavo East is also the location of the Yatta Escarpment, 300km of the world’s largest lava flow.
In the lush, green landscape of Tsavo West, you’ll find Mzima Springs, which provides the bulk of Mombasa’s fresh water.
Samburu National Reserve
Up in the dry, rugged, remote north of Kenya, the Samburu National Reserve is off the typical tourist track. Crocodiles glide along the Ewaso Ngiro River searching for prey that are attracted to its banks. Buffaloes, giraffes and the rare Grevy’s zebra all drink here, while the sparse, arid landscape makes it easier to spot the big cats.
One waterhole well worth seeing is the Sarara Singing Wells, where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs as they collect water for their cattle.
Kanderi Swamp in Tsavo East is only one of two water sources in the park during the dry season. Lions, elephants and giraffes congregate here to drink. It’s a fabulous spot to enjoy the sunset. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a leopard or two lying in the trees of the surrounding area.
Lake Nakuru National Park is a sanctuary for the black rhino. It’s also home to a shallow soda lake where flocks of flaming pink flamingos gather in their millions. You can also spot lions, leopards, warthogs and occasionally white rhinos here.
The survival of Kenya’s magnificent wildlife is mainly down to the efforts of communities to preserve and protect their natural habitat. Conservation is a major concern in Kenya and there are many centres dedicated to working towards conservation success.
Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary
Below the Ngulia Hills in Tsavo West National Park, 90 square km of land is enclosed by a metre-high electric fence where 80 endangered black rhinos are protected from poachers.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Founded in 1977 by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick in honour of her late husband, David, naturalist, conservationist and founder warden of Tsavo East National Park, the centre is dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of orphan elephants and rhinos. Watch the babies being bottle-fed and learn about the efforts being carried out to eventually reintroduce them back into the wild.
The Giraffe Centre, which focuses on the protection of the endangered Rothschild giraffe, is a great place to combine conservation with interactive activities.
Get close up and personal with giraffes from a purpose-built raised wooden hut where you can comfortably observe and even feed these long-necked creatures. If you’re very lucky, you might even get a kiss!
The centre has had great success at rehabilitating and releasing the giraffes back into the wild, primarily to the Lake Nakuru National Park.
Colobus Conservation Centre
The urbanisation of Kenya’s south coast infringing on the coastal forests has led to the depletion in numbers of the rare Angolan black and white colobus monkey.
The conservation centre at Diani Beach works tirelessly to protect and preserve these adorable creatures while educating visitors about the plight they face. The expert and enthusiastic guides proudly show what’s being done locally to protect the monkeys and conserve their natural habitat.
Watamu Turtle Watch
This rescue and treatment centre for sick and injured turtles educates and highlights the need to improve conditions for turtles and other marine life. Learn about these fascinating creatures and watch as the specialised, dedicated local staff release them back to the sea.
Crescent Island is actually a peninsula on Lake Naivasha, a beautiful freshwater lake in the Rift Valley. The lake is home to hippos, while the island, accessible by boat, is a haven for zebras, wildebeests, gazelles and impalas.
As there are no predators on the island, it’s safe to walk among the wildlife, making for an unforgettable and life-changing experience.
The diverse, fascinating landscape of Kenya makes it ideal for a range of sporting pursuits: from hiking in the mountains and rafting on the rivers, to snorkelling and scuba diving in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Climb Mount Kenya
The second largest peak in Kenya is more accessible than its bigger brother, Kilimanjaro, although a certain level of fitness and understanding of altitude sickness is still required. Point Lenana trekking route is suitable for novices.
Following routes accompanied by expert guides, you’ll be able to experience absolute wilderness, wildlife and breathtaking mountain lakes during the trek.
Rafting on the Tana River
White-water rafting on the Tana River is an exhilarating, fun-packed adventure available all year round.
The river features a mixture of calm, tranquil waters where you can marvel at the surrounding scenery and wildlife, fun but easy smaller rapids for beginners, and extreme rapids for those who want a more thrilling challenge.
The beaches along the eastern coast of Kenya are a tropical paradise: powder-white sandy beaches fringed by swaying palm trees and lapped by the warm, crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Whether you’re a water sports enthusiast or you just want to lie back and soak up the sun, the east coast of Kenya has something for everyone.
Diani beach, south of Mombasa is popular with European visitors and offers a good range of water sports.
The beautiful stretch of white sandy beach is also home to the most famous bar in the area, Forty Thieves. Sip on a refreshing sundowner with the waves lapping at your feet and take in the lovely views of the Indian Ocean.
For fine dining under the stars, book a table at Sails, a beautiful restaurant specialising in fresh seafood and flavoursome, spicy curries.
North of Mombasa, Malindi is one of the finest beaches in Kenya and is a hub for visitors wanting to dive the coral reefs just off the coast. The ancient town, a mixture of various cultures where visitors can learn about Swahili history, is also worth visiting.
Watuma beach is the perfect location for snorkelling and diving. It’s also a more tranquil and peaceful haven for those who want to simply lie back and soak up the sun on its pristine white sands.
The vibrant, bustling and chaotic capital of Kenya is a direct urban contrast to the natural beauty and vast wilderness the country is famous for.
If you’re visiting Nairobi, make sure to include the following during your stay.
A City Safari
Incongruous as it may seem, the Nairobi National Park is located on the southern outskirts of the capital. There’s an abundance of wildlife to see amid a backdrop of city skyscrapers, while planes fly overhead preparing to land. It’s the only national reserve you can visit by taxi or shuttle bus. The national park is also home to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Giraffe Centre.
Karen Blixen’s House and Museum
Meryl Streep famously portrayed author Karen Blixen in the epic film, Out of Africa. The beautiful colonial house where the Danish author lived between 1914 and 1931 has been lovingly preserved and is now a museum that contains artefacts and books from her time there.
The National Museum features a fascinating mix of cultural and natural history displays. Highlights include the Birds of East Africa exhibit, a vast collection of over 900 specimens, the Great Hall of Mammals and the Hominid Skull Room, ‘the single most important collection of early human fossils in the world’.
Upstairs is dedicated to Kenyan cultural history where you can find out about the country’s tribal and ethnic history.
Eat Nyama Choma
If you’re a barbecue fan then you can’t leave Kenya without trying its most famous dish, Nyama Choma, which literally means ‘roasted meat’. Goat is usually used, while beef and chicken are also popular.
Traditionally Nyama Choma is eaten from a communal cutting board and accompanied by side dishes of vegetables or French fries.
One of the best places in Nairobi to eat Nyama Choma is the aptly named, Carnivore. The open-air restaurant is one of the most popular in town. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also try crocodile, ostrich or camel here. And what better way to wash it down, than with a cold, locally brewed Tusker Beer.
Drink Coffee at Java House
Although Kenya has grown coffee for more than a century, most of it was exported. However, in the last few years Nairobi has seen a surge in popularity for the caffeine brew and coffee culture has well and truly taken off.
For coffee with a ‘kick’, head to Java House, the most popular and successful chain of coffee houses in Africa, which offers delicious tasting coffee made from a select blend of Kenyan beans.
Former settlers from Europe, Arabia and India have left their influence on Kenya’s second largest city, to create a mixing pot of cuisines, architecture and culture.
The Old Town has a certain charm featuring narrow, winding streets, ancient traditional dwellings and a spice market filled with the enticingly heady aromas of cardamom, pepper and turmeric.
16th century Fort Jesus is also worth a visit. The UNESCO World Heritage site is a fascinating example of African history and past colonialism in Kenya.
True Luxury can offer expert advice and a personalised service to ensure you experience the very best that Kenya has to offer. For an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime, contact us today.
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