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Straddling the equator and with a temperate climate, Kenya offers a bewildering choice of destinations and experiences. With landscapes that vary from rolling savannah and mountain forests to stony parched deserts and a tropical coastline, it is these habitats that harbour some of Africa’s most incredible animals and a safari, meaning ‘journey’ in Kiswahili, is a highlight for many visitors.
The principal draw card is the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, but there are numerous other interesting species. Some of the game parks and reserves, such as the Masai Mara and Amboseli, are world famous for their plains game, while thousands of flamingos live on the Rift Valley lakes, and the verdant woodlands are home to primate and a profusion of African birds.
If you time your visit right, you may coincide with the Great Migration when over a million wildebeest and several hundred thousand zebra and Thompson’s gazelle head north from their breeding grounds in Tanzania’s Serengeti – one of nature’s truly amazing sights. Even without the migration, however, the game viewing is superb.
The Kenya Highlands are popular with visitors interested in a more energetic holiday, particularly stately Mount Kenya with its permanently snow-capped peaks. Climbing or hiking around Africa’s second highest mountain offers a quieter but equally rewarding alternative to neighbouring Kilimanjaro.
The perfect place to unwind and wash away the dust, Kenya’s shoreline is a beguiling blend of white-sand sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. The warm waters of Indian Ocean team with life and colour, protected from sharks by a coral reef just off the coast. The beach resorts offer a wonderful opportunity for relaxing, with a range of facilities including diving, snorkelling and day trips along the coast to Wasini Island or the marine parks.
Kenya’s two main cities – the high-altitude colonial-built capital Nairobi and the steamy trading port of Mombasa – have a vibrant urban feel. On the coast, ruins of once-sophisticated cities with their old mosques, Arabian-style houses and coral palaces remain, while places like Lamu or Old Mombasa are living testaments to the Swahili tradition that has survived for thousands of years.
Kenya is known for its diversity of people: the majestic Masai and Samburu still stalk the arid plains dressed in their trademark red and purple robes, while the legacies of the European white settlers who came in search of pristine farming land and hunting trophies can still be seen.
Places of interest in Kenya
This is the most popular of Kenya’s parks, with very good reason. Almost every species of animal you can think of...
The second tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya is about 150 km northeast of Nairobi and is protected in the Mount...
Nairobi, capital of Kenya, is a lively cosmopolitan and bustling city that sits at 1870 m above sea level. The centre...
Nakuru is the largest town in the Rift Valley lakes region and is a good place to stock up on provisions and browse...