There really is no place like Kenya; boasting golden-sand beaches, parks filled with wildlife, and cosmopolitan cities, there’s something for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re looking to go on an adventurous safari or simply take in the breathtaking landscapes made even more beautiful by the red glow of the sunset, Kenya is your country. Pack your bags and prepare for rich traditions with unbelievable sights—here are five reasons why Kenya should be your next vacation.
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Dive in at a beach
Want your vacation to consist of lying on warm, soft sands with clear waters lapping the shore in front of you? With a tropical climate and stretches of unspoiled nature, Kenya is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the world. Diani beach is particularly popular with travelers. Stretching over 18 miles along the Indian Ocean coast, sun-worshippers can enjoy the colorful vegetation or take to the waves for a spot of surfing. If you prefer a little more privacy, Nyali beach isn’t as busy and is surrounded by luxury accommodation—meaning you can roll out of bed and onto a sun lounger. Nyali beach is also particularly good for building sand castles, so if you’re traveling with kids, be prepared for some serious competition. Elsewhere, Shanzu beach is lined with coconut trees, providing a cool shade from the glowing sunshine. The water is crystal blue, welcoming swimmers and water sports enthusiasts alike. Restaurants, bars, and hotels are easily reachable from the shore, making it a convenient slice of paradise for vacationers.
Source: Volodymyr Burdiak
Go wild at a National Park
When most people think of Kenya they conjure up images of racing through open plains in search of wild animals—and that’s exactly right. As a highly-rated safari destination, Kenya hosts some of the most unique and surprisingly cheap, safari explorations in Africa. Amboseli National Park lies in southern Kenya and is the spot for catching a glimpse of elephant herds. The magnificent creatures move together, causing dust from the ground to rise up in front of the Mount Kilimanjaro backdrop. Other inhabitants of the park include cheetahs, zebras, and giraffes—all visible from the peak of Observation Hill, looking out onto the breathtaking landscape below. Meanwhile, in the Coast Province, Tsavo National Park is divided into two separate parks. The eastern park is relatively dry and flat, while the western park has springs and swamps, as well as regular sightings of buffalo, leopards, rhinos, lions, and hippos. For a little history with your safari, check out Nairobi National Park. The park was the first to open in Kenya and is home to a variety of endangered animal species, plus campsites and a wonderful blend of rugged nature with city skyscrapers in the distance. Other notable parks include Hell’s Gate National Park and the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the stage for the Wonder of the World wildebeest migration.
Be immersed in city life
For travelers seeking an urban skyline, Kenya has a selection of cities worth venturing to. The capital, Nairobi, is a must-see with its tall buildings, diverse population, and buzzing energy. A modern city, Nairobi is known for its tasty cuisine, cultural festivals, and exciting nightlife. Spend a few days here learning to navigate the busy streets before heading into nature—Nairobi is the only city encompassed by a National Park. Fancy something closer to water? Mombasa has a year-round warm climate and is a coastal city with great viewpoints for looking out on the small fishing boats dotted on the Indian Ocean. As Kenya’s oldest city, there’s a variety of historical sites in Mombasa. Make time to see Fort Jesus, built in the 16th century the fort reflects Portuguese influence in Kenya, covering 2.36 hectares and complete with cannons. Over on the northwest coast, Kisumu is easily accessible to Lake Victoria, attracting visitors daily for tranquil scenes and activities on the water. Kisumu is a little calmer than Nairobi, although the boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) certainly make the place more lively.
Source: John Wollwerth
Get lost in nature
The landscape in Kenya is fantastic and an opportunity to explore the lush greenery should not be missed. Southwest of Nairobi, the Ngong Hills are ideal for travelers looking to stretch their legs in the great outdoors. The hills sit 8,070 feet above sea level, among a forest reserve popular with runners, picnickers, and families. Tours depart daily, offering a guided route of the vast land, along rust-colored paths, past wind turbines and animals grazing on the grassy fields. The hills get particularly busy at weekends, so aim to arrive early to enjoy the scenery in silence. For travelers wanting a real challenge, Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya. With three peaks to choose from, the steep routes and extreme altitude are best-suited to experienced climbers. The difficult terrain is certainly worth the panoramic views, on a clear day even reaching Kilimanjaro. It’s best to avoid rainy season when organizing your ascension, instead opt for June through to September or January to March.
Source: Angelo Giampiccolo
Brush up on art & culture
It’s not all wildlife and glorious sunsets in Kenya, the country also has some of the best artists in the world. In the heart of Nairobi, the Nairobi Gallery Building is a national monument housing temporary art exhibitions. The six-room museum displays work from the colonial era through to contemporary designs, representing cultures from around the African continent. Visitors can wander around for hours admiring the paintings, sculptures, and textiles. Also located in Nairobi, the Uhuru Gardens mark Kenya’s birthplace. ‘Uhuru’ is the Swahili word for ‘freedom’ and grand structures in the park symbolize the country’s independence in 1963. These days the pretty green space is popular with locals who head there to play sports and enjoy live events.
Over in the Central Business District, Jamia Mosque is considered one of the most significant religious buildings in Kenya. The iconic structure has three silver domes, archways with traditional Arabic-Muslim detailing and two twin minarets. Only Muslims are permitted to enter the mosque, but the view from outside alone is impressive.