Whether you’re an African traveling in Africa or a foreigner travelling to Africa, there are 54 countries to choose from.
Today we will be exploring the East African country of Kenya. You can expect a humid tropical climate refreshed by the Indian Ocean on its East Coast with cooler weather conditions when traveling inland towards Mount Kenya and it’s permanently snowy peaks.
Further to the West, you will experience equatorial heat and dryness that brings the humidity around Lake Victoria. And the North-Eastern region will give you desert and arid areas.
Quite the contrast from forest to desert, but that is just one of the many things that make this country unique and intriguing.
Things to Do in Kenya
The culture-scene in Kenya is, amazingly, more diverse than the Rainbow Nation concept adopted by South Africans. With 40 African ethnicities, each with their own dialect and mother tongue (62 languages to be exact), there are three identifiable and major cultures that can be associated with tourism-focused Kenya. Maasai, Bantu and (the more common) Swahili.
Like South Africa that tries to live the concept of Ubuntu – a person is a person through other persons – Kenyans live out the concept of Harambee, meaning “to pull together” when it comes to others.
With regards to what to do and what not to do when interacting with the locals, there is a general etiquette of respect and formalities as one would find almost anywhere.
With regards to their traditional cultures, in the main cities, you will find more westernised influences in dress and media. Traditional tribal dress, body modifications, jewellery and weapons are reserved for special occasions. There are some areas, however, where traditional rituals and lifestyles are preserved.
Kenya tourist attractions range from National Parks to old towns. There is definitely something to do for every member of the family.
If you’re a fan of the sea, then Mombasa is your stopover town with close access to the coast. If you enjoy white sandy beaches and clear blue seas full of marine life that make for perfect snorkeling conditions, then you’re really going to enjoy what Kenya has to offer.
A few popular beaches include:
Diani Beach, which offers both the sea and a lagoon.
Watamu Beach is a secluded unspoilt seaside-haven and turtle breeding ground.
Malindi Beach is a great spot for surfers.
Kiwayu Beach is popular amongst celebrities.
Lamu Beach is arguably the most beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and white sand.
Bamburi Beach offers both a beautiful beach day (with camel rides for those who dare) and a colorful nightlife.
Kenyatta Beach is the tourist, family and local-friendly beach that’s always buzzing and offers a little bit of everything.
When you’ve had enough of the beach for one day, you can always travel around the towns and stop at some of the museums and heritage sites.
Popular sites include the ruins of Gede, Lamu Fort, Fort Jesus and Siyu Fort. And to place some history in context, or to just experience some of the traditional cultures of Kenya, you can arrange tours to the Samburu, Turkana and Maasai tribes.
When in Kenya, you should also make the time to visit some of the 64 lakes. That’s a lot of lakes, but to make the decision easier for you, definitely visit the eight that make up part of the Kenyan Great Rift Valley.
Lake Turkana, Lake Logipi, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elmenteita, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Magadi, to be exact. Lake Nakuru is most popular for its incredible display of flamingoes. But we can’t forget Lake Victoria, after all, as it’s the largest lake in Africa and second largest (fresh water) in the world.
And then we have Mount Kenya, spectacular to see and a feat to conquer for the expert mountaineer.
There are six main national reserves or parks in Kenya, all offering safaris through wildlife and different areas of the country.
Masai Mara National Reserve is by far the most popular reserve in Kenya, promising the Big Five and the annual wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River. These savanna grasslands are found within the borders of the Great Rift Valley and can be enjoyed via hot air balloon if safari game drives are too mainstream for you.
Amboseli National Park finds itself at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro and home to over 900 African elephants traversing through a variety of acacia woodlands, swamps, thornbush, swamps and grasslands.
Nairobi National Park is found in the capital city itself and has a Black Rhino Sanctuary. There may not be elephants in this park, but the rest of the Big Five are home here as well as the Embakasi River. Go along for a walking trail or stop at one of the designated picnic spots for a view of wildlife and cityscapes.
Some of the other parks include Tsavo East and West National Parks, Hell's Gate National Park and the Samburu National Reserve.
If you’re looking for a more up close and personal encounter with some wildlife (specifically giraffes), when in Kenya be sure to visit the Giraffe Manor and possibly have to share your breakfast with these graceful animals.