Last Updated on March 30, 2023
If you’re planning a trip to Kenya, you’re in for a treat. This East African country offers something for everyone, whether you want to visit a bustling city, explore breathtaking landscapes, or just relax on a beautiful beach.
From the savannahs of the Maasai Mara and the stunning beaches of the Kenyan coast to the bustling cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya has something for everyone. Its natural wonders include Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest mountain, Lake Nakuru, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Great Rift Valley, which offers breathtaking views of the Kenyan landscape.
One of the main reasons people visit Kenya is to experience its wildlife. The country is home to some of the world’s most magnificent animals, including lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and cheetahs. Witness the annual migration of wildebeests and zebras, a natural spectacle that draws in thousands of tourists every year.
Kenya is also a hub of culture, with over 40 different ethnic groups, each with its unique traditions, language, and beliefs. Immerse yourself in local cultures by visiting traditional villages, attending cultural festivals, and interacting with locals.
Keep on reading to discover the best places to visit in Kenya!
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Best Places to Visit in Kenya
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is a thriving metropolis with a unique blend of modernity and wildlife. Before going on a safari in the nearby Nairobi National Park, tourists can explore the vibrant city’s bustling markets, museums, and art galleries. Lions, giraffes, and zebras are just a few of the diverse variety of wildlife that can be found in the park.
Nature lovers can also take a stroll through the lush Nairobi Arboretum or visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the most iconic safari destinations in Africa. Located in southwestern Kenya, this vast savannah ecosystem is home to the famous “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), as well as other animals, such as cheetahs, hyenas, and wildebeests.
The highlight of the reserve is the annual wildebeest migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles migrate in search of greener pastures. The best time to see this is usually between the months of July and October.
Visitors have the option of taking guided tours, hot-air balloon tours, or even camping trips to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Maasai Mara.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park, located south of Nairobi near the Tanzanian border, is another great place for nature lovers. Known for its large herds of elephants, visitors can get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, as well as other animals like lions, zebras, and giraffes.
The park is also famous for its stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Photographers should consider visiting this park to capture some incredible images of large animals with Kilimanjaro in the background.
Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is a truly unique destination. Located in the Rift Valley northwest of Nairobi, this geological wonder provides a distinctive outdoor adventure experience. Visitors can hike, bike or rock climb through the park’s rugged terrain and admire the towering cliffs, deep gorges, and hot springs.
In addition, the park is home to a variety of wildlife, such as baboons, zebras, and buffalo, and also provides breathtaking views of Lake Naivasha. Hell’s Gate is a popular filmmaking site as well; it has appeared in a number of films, including Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life.
Lake Nakuru National Park
For avid birdwatchers, Lake Nakuru National Park should be at the top of your list. This large lake, located northwest of Nairobi, is home to over 400 species of birds. Not only will visitors see flamingos and pelicans there, but also other animals, including lions, leopards, and rhinos.
You will have the option to enjoy guided game drives or walks, as well as boat tours of the lake. The park also has several picnic spots and campsites for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Lake Nakuru.
Tsavo National Park
Covering a huge area of over 21,000 square kilometers, Tsavo is Kenya’s largest national park. It is divided into an eastern and western part. Tsavo East is known for its large herds of elephants, while Tsavo West is home to the stunning Mzima Springs, where you can see hippos and crocodiles swimming in crystal-clear waters.
The park is also home to a wide variety of birdlife, including very unique species, such as the Secretary bird. This is a great place for nature lovers to enjoy a safari.
Kenya’s second-largest city is a melting pot of cultures and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the country’s rich history.
Founded in the 12th century, Mombasa has been a hub of trade and commerce for centuries, and its architecture reflects its diverse cultural influences.
Visitors can explore the narrow streets of Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and admire the Swahili-style buildings, ornate doorways, and mosques.
Mombasa is also conveniently connected to Nairobi via train, allowing for quick transportation between the two cities. As an added bonus, you will also pass through Tsavo National Park and be able to see elephants, zebras, and more during your trip!
If you like clear water and white sandy beaches, you should check out Diani! This popular beach destination is easily accessible from Mombasa and is a great spot for water sports, including kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The beach is lined with palm trees and is perfect for sunbathing or taking a leisurely stroll. Visit the Colobus Conservation Center to see these endangered monkeys in their natural habitat.
This is also a great place to scuba dive and see sea turtles, and maybe even a whale shark!
This small island off the coast of Kenya is a peaceful oasis with no cars, just donkeys and boats. Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of narrow alleys lined with coral stone buildings, many of which date back to the 18th century.
The island is also home to a thriving Swahili culture, which can be seen in its architecture, food, and music. Relax on the white sand beaches, take a dhow ride, or visit the donkey sanctuary to see these gentle creatures up close.
This coastal town is a popular destination for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. The town’s coral reefs are home to a rich variety of marine life, making it a great destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Take a stroll through the Gede Ruins, a 13th-century Swahili village that was abandoned about 400 years ago. For a taste of local culture, visit the Marafa Depression, also known as Hell’s Kitchen, which is a series of deep gorges and canyons that change color with the sun’s position.
This is a great destination for nature lovers! Located just south of Malindi, Watamu is known for its pristine beaches and the Watamu Marine National Park. The park is home to over 600 species of fish, including barracudas, tuna, and reef sharks.
Take a walk through the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, which is home to rare birds such as the Amani Sunbird and Clarke’s Weaver.
Visit the Watamu Turtle Watch, which is dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles, and learn about their nesting habits and the threats they face.
Travel Tips for Visiting Kenya
1. Stay hydrated
Kenya’s climate can be hot and dry, so it’s essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Bring a reusable water bottle with you and refill it often. Avoid drinking tap water and opt for bottled water instead. It’s a good idea to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and long clothes.
2. Learn a little bit of Swahili
Saying even just a simple greeting in Swahili can go a long way in Kenya. Nobody there will expect you to know any Swahili, so speaking it will surprise them and make them feel good. You can greet somebody with “mambo” and thank them with “asante”.
3. Use local transportation options
Using local transportation options like matatus (minibus) and tuk-tuks (three-wheeled vehicles) can be a fun and affordable way to get around in Kenya. The money you save in doing so will allow you to splurge on things that are special to you. Just be sure to agree upon the fare before departing.
4. Bring insect repellent
Mosquitoes and other insects are common in Kenya, especially in the evenings. Protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases like malaria by wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellent. You can also sleep under a mosquito net.
5. Be mindful of your belongings
Like any other destination, it’s essential to keep an eye on your belongings while in Kenya. Don’t carry valuables out in the open and be cautious when using ATMs. Keep your passport and other important documents in a secure location.
Kenya truly has something to offer everyone. The diversity of destinations on this list is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to visit them.
Written by Andy Alcalá
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