Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley, mountain highlands and abundant wildlife such as lions, elephants and rhinos. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris visit the Maasai Mara reserve, known for its annual wildebeest migrations, and Amboseli National Park, offering views of Tanzania’s 5,895m Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Population: 44.35 million (2013) World Bank
Currency: Kenyan shilling
President: Uhuru Kenyatta
Official languages: Swahili, English
1.Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara is one of the world’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries. It’s named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here as they have done for centuries. In their language, Mara means “mottled”, perhaps a reference to the play of light and shadow from the acacia trees and cloud-studded skies on the vast grasslands.
The park is famous for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October. In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk. The park is also known for providing excellent predator sightings thanks to its relatively large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard – especially in the dry months from December through February. Thanks to the parks altitude, the weather here is mild and gentle year round.
2.Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves
On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film “Born Free”. The wildlife in all three reserves depends on the waters of the river to survive, and many species are specially adapted to the parched conditions such as Grevy’s zebras, Somali ostriches, and gerenuks, the long-necked antelope that stand on two rear legs to reach the fresh shoots on upper tree limbs.
A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve is the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. Tourists here may also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.
Location: Northern Kenya
3.Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park, in Central Kenya, is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingoes. The birds throng on Lake Nakuru itself, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes that comprises almost a third of the park’s area. The park was established in 1961 and more than 450 species of birds have been recorded here as well as a rich diversity of other wildlife. Lions, leopards, warthogs, waterbucks, pythons, and white rhinos are just some of the animals visitors might see, and the landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland.
The park also protects the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall branching succulents are endemic to the region and provide an interesting textural element to the arid landscapes.
Location: Central Kenya
The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Strolling the labyrinthine streets, visitors will see the island’s rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
Most of Lamu’s population is Muslim and both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region’s nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary. If all the history is a little too much, visitors can bask on one of the island’s white sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local cafĂ©.
Location: 341 km northeast of Mombasa
Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi, is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, luring settlers who came here to stake their fortune in the coffee and tea industries. Today, tourists can explore the city’s famous historic sites as well as some excellent wildlife-related attractions. The Nairobi National Museum is a great one-stop spot to see exhibits on Kenya’s history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. Green thumbs will also enjoy the botanic gardens on the grounds. Another popular tourist attraction is the Karen Blixen Museum, the restored residence of the famous Danish author of the book, “Out of Africa”, also known by her pen name, Isak Dinesen.
To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, visit Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a host of other classic safari stars including lions, leopards, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest, and cheetahs. Within the park’s borders, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offers close-up encounters with elephant orphans. And no visit to Nairobi would be complete without popping into the Giraffe Centre near the famous Giraffe Manor where these long-necked beauties eat out of visitors’ hands. While visiting Nairobi, travelers should exercise care as crime rates have escalated in recent years.
Location: South-central Kenya
Address: Woodvale Grove, Nairobi City, Kenya
2.Villa Rosa Kempinski
Address: Chiromo Rd, Nairobi, Kenya
Phone:+254 20 3603000
3.Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club
Address: Mount Kenya, Nanyuki, Mount Kenya, Kenya
Phone:+254 20 2265555