The first word that will cross your mind when you hear the name Kenya is safari. This east African nation has made its way into the hearts of travelers, especially nature and wildlife lovers, for being one of the premier tourist destinations in the world. It has some of the most well-known safari parks where you can come up close and personal with some of the famed African fauna. There is no doubt that a trip to Kenya is a memory and adventure of a lifetime. In this blog we will list 12 of the top tourist attractions in Kenya, ranging from its incredible nature attractions to its urban appeal.
Considered to be the oldest continually inhabited place in Kenya, Lamu still retains the charm to easily transport you back in time. Part of an archipelago, Lamu is located on the eastern coastline of Africa, about 340 km north east of Mombasa. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town has a sprinkling of architecture that has its roots in Europe, India, and the Arab world. Most of the inhabitants are Muslim and there is a strong Swahili presence in Lamu. You can explore all of Lamu Town by foot, but if you really need a ride, do not expect readily available motorized cabs — the age-old donkeys still rule these streets. Visit the Lamu Museum to understand the rich history and culture of Lamu, which has its origins in the 12th century. Visit the Shela white sand beach or take a romantic cruise in the traditional dhow sailing vessel.
Malindi is a picturesque beach town located about 115 km north east of Mombasa. Extremely popular with European tourists, especially from Italy, Malindi presents its visitors the best of both worlds — a traditional African charm and a modern tourist hub. The Old Town of Malindi dates back to the 12th century and there are many monuments and buildings in that neighborhood that are over 500 years old — like the Jami Mosque, St Xavier Church, and the Vasco da Gama Cross. But all of these attractions are dwarfed by the popularity of the stunning white sand beaches and the coral reefs of Watamu and the Watamu Marine National Park. Once a rival to its now-famous neighbor Mombasa, Malindi is a quiet coastal town where you forget the grind of daily life and enjoy the a slice of tropical paradise.
- Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is one of the selected few national parks in Kenya that allow hiking on foot, cycling, and camping. The park is located just south of Lake Naivasha, about 120 km north west of the capital Nairobi. There are a number of attractions in the park that are popular with the visitors, namely Obsidian Caves, Hell’s Gate Gorge, Fischer’s Tower, 2 extinct volcanoes, and a number of natural geysers and hot springs. It is also home to a wide variety of fauna including leopards, gazelles, baboons, hartebeests, ostriches, and eland. Bird watchers will be in for a treat in this park as it has recorded sightings of over 100 different species of birds. Hell’s Gate National Park has 3 geothermal power stations with the oldest one — established in 1981 — being the oldest of its kind in the whole of Africa. If you have time, try to visit the Oloor Karia Masaai Cultural Center where you can enjoy cultural shows and hand-crafted jewelry by the Masaai tribe.
The capital and largest city of Kenya, Nairobi is also home to the Nairobi National Park, the only instance where a major game reserve is within a country capital. Historically, this was the capital of British East Africa, which is reflected through monuments from the colonial era. There are several attractions in and around Nairobi that can take up to a good part of a week for any traveler. Other than the Nairobi National Park, you can visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Center, 14 Falls, and Mamba Village. To know more about the history and culture of the region, visit the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi National Museum, Karen Blixen Museum, Village Market, and the National Railway Museum. If you are into ice skating, then visit the Solar Ice Rink — the largest in Africa. Tired of all the sightseeing? Then head to the Westlands after sundown to enjoy a drink or enjoy the nightlife.
- Lake Naivasha
Located just 90 km north west of the capital Nairobi, Lake Naivasha is one of the most prominent attractions of the region. This lake, with a surface area of nearly 139 sq km, is the highest point of the Great Rift Valley. This region is extremely popular with bird watchers with sightings of more than 400 different species. Floriculture and fishing are the 2 main industries associated with the lake. Tourists visiting this lake will not only enjoy the sizable bird population, they will also have generous sightings of hippos. If you are into movies, then visit the Elsamere Conservation Center at the southern shore. It’s the former home of Joy Adamson, who wrote Born Free, which was later adapted into a movie.
Mombasa, located on the southern coastline of Kenya, is the 2nd largest city in the country, after Nairobi. It is a historical city with plenty of attractions. Mombasa was founded sometime between the 1st and 5th century by the Swahilis. Over the centuries it has been ruled by the Arabs, Portuguese, and British — each of them leaving behind a piece of their culture and architecture that has made Mombasa such a multicultural melting pot. Explore the Old Town in and around the 16th century Fort Jesus to have a feel of its ancient past. If you love beaches, Mombasa has a long list to choose from, but our pick would be Diani, Tiwi, and Bamburi beaches. Dolphin watching and deep sea fishing are popular in and around the Mombasa Marine National Park.
- Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs National Reserves
These are 3 reserves bordering each other in northern central Kenya. The reserves are on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, which is the lifeline of this arid region. Most of the animals can be found near the river which provides them with drinking water. The reserve is closely associated with the film Born Free, as one of the places where Elsa the lioness was raised by the Adamsons. This region is inhabited by the Samburu people alongside a wide variety of African fauna like elephants, giraffes, zebras, and blue-legged ostriches. Take a camel safari or visit the Laikipia Plateau and the Sara Singing Wells. The best time to enjoy this region is between June and October.
- Mount Kenya National Park
Home to Mt. Kenya, the tallest peak in the country, and the 2nd highest in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya National Park is one of the major attractions of Kenya. Spread over an area of almost 715 sq km, most of it is more than 3000 m above sea level. The park lies east of the Great Rift Valley, about 175 km from Nairobi, and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. With a landscape that is influenced by volcanic activities, the highlight of the park is undoubtedly the stunningly picturesque Mt. Kenya with its 3 peaks. While Batian at 5200 m and Nelion at 5188 m are rarely challenged for their treacherous landscapes, Lenana peak at 4985 m is a favorite with climbers. Even if you are not into mountain climbing, visiting this park is a must to see the picturesque equatorial snow-covered Mt Kenya and to enjoy a wildlife safari.
- Lake Nakuru National Park
Located in central Kenya, Lake Nakuru presents one of the most vivid and recognized images of the African savanna — huge flocks of pink flamingos lining the shores of the water body looking like a pink fluffy carpet spread over it. It is undoubtedly one of the most stunning images that you will take back from your Kenya trip. The best vantage point to witness this spectacle is the Baboon Cliff. Lake Nakuru National Park is spread over an area of 188 sq km and is a reserve for not only the flamingos but also giraffes, and black and white rhinos. It is a bird lovers’ paradise with recorded spotting of over 450 different species of birds.
- Tsavo National Parks
The Tsavo National Parks are basically made up of 2 different parks — Tsavo East National Park spread over 13,747 sq km, and Tsavo West National Park spread over 9065 sq km. Together, these 2 parks make up the largest national park of Kenya. For tourism purposes, Tsavo West is the one to visit, for its magnificent scenery, rich wildlife, several trekking trails, and a good network of roads. Take a guided tour along the Tsavo River or to Mzima Springs to explore the beauty of this region. You can also visit the Chaimu Crater and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Tsavo East is more famous for its large herds of African elephants bathing in the red dust of the arid plains. If you are looking for photo ops, head to the Lugard Falls, Yatta Plateau, or Mudanda Rock.
- Amboseli National Reserve
This is the 2nd-most popular reserve in Kenya, after the Masaai Mara National Reserve. Located near the Kenya-Tanzania border, the park covers an area of nearly 392 sq km and is best known for its sightings of large herds of free-ranging African elephants. The backdrop of the park is majestically crowned by Mt. Kilimanjaro — the highest peak in Africa. However, the peak is actually across the border in Tanzania. This reserve is very popular for safaris with several sightings of cheetahs, lions, spotted hyenas, giraffes, impala, and zebras, to name a few. It is also home to a wide variety of birds. The reserve is so diverse that it has 5 different habitats ranging from wetlands to the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the most renowned game reserves in the world and the top-rated attraction of Kenya. No trip to Kenya is complete without a visit to this reserve, which is located near the Tanzania border, in the southwestern region of Kenya. Wildlife safaris are rated according to the best sightings of the Big Five — the African Lion, the African Elephant, the African Leopard, Cape Buffalo, and the rhino — and there is no other place which can beat Maasai Mara on this regards. Between July and October — the dry season — millions of wild animals migrate to and from Serengeti in what is termed as the Great Migration, creating a visual spectacle that is truly unparalleled.
Originally posted 2017-03-20 07:11:27.