Kenya — Attractions
The rich and diverse ecosystems and wildlife of Kenya make its many national parks the number one attraction, whether it is for the fossils, hippos and crocodiles of the Sibiloi National Park or to witness the annual migration of wildebeest across Maasai Mara. Kenya also has interesting human history which can be better understood after visiting the World Heritage old town on the island of Lamu or seeing the well-preserved Jesus Fort at Mombasa. Whether visitors prefer to appreciate the wonders of Kenya on a relaxing hot air balloon or get right into the landscape by hiking up Mount Kenya, this fascinating nation has something to offer curious visitors of all fitness levels.
Mount Kenya National Park
The beautiful multi-peaked Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in the country and the second highest in Africa. The 17,000 foot summit of Batian peak is suitable only for fit and experienced climbers, while the 16,355 foot high Lenana summit is an easier and more popular option. Visitors will move from forest and moorland up through rocky terrain covered in ice and snow. The best times to ascend are either January/February or between July and October, when the weather is more clement. Visitors making the trek can stay in huts or camp. The mountains and park are home to a diverse range of wildlife, which vary with the terrain. Nature-lovers can hope to spot elephants, white-tailed mongoose, and various species of antelope and deer. The park is also home to rarely seen leopards, bongo and rhino.
Address: Kirinyaga, Kenya
Fort Jesus Museum
When viewed from the air, visitors can see that Fort Jesus was built in the shape of a man. The World Heritage site was constructed on a rocky island by the Portuguese in 1593 to protect the Old Port of Mombasa. The well-preserved fortification is one of the major attractions and has a museum displaying artifacts relating to the time when Mombasa was a major stop on the slave trade route. The site is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: Ndia Kuu, Mombasa, Kenya
Maasai Mara Reserve
The Maasai Mara Reserve is one of Kenya’s best known national parks. Located in the southwest, this scrub and savanna game reserve is famous for the Maasai people and its animals, most notably the big five — elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo. The famous migration of wildebeest, gazelles and zebra from the Serengeti takes place annually from July to October and is one of the world’s great natural spectacles. A hot air balloon is one of the most popular ways to see the area.
Address: Ololoimutiek Gate, Maasai Mara, Narok, Kenya
Tsavo National Parks
The 5,436,318 acres of the massive Tsavo National park are divided into two for ease of exploration. Its spectacular scenery includes conical volcanoes, lava flows, the Tsavo River, and the Mzima Springs. The park also boasts abundant wildlife including elephants, hippos, antelopes, and crocodiles. The east portion is less developed, but is notable for swamps and savannah which are home to large herds of elephants and buffalo. The best time to visit is between May and October.
Address: Taita Taveta, Mangani, Kenya
Lamu Old Town
Sitting on an island of the Lamu archipelago, old town is a 700-year-old Islamic Swahili settlement that has achieved UNESCO World Heritage designation. The virtually car-free alleyways and footpaths can be explored on foot or on the back of a donkey. The town’s simple buildings are constructed of mangrove woods and coral and often feature verandahs, courtyards or ornately carved wooden doors. The town is also known for its traditional dhow sailing boats, which are still in use for fishing, pleasure and transportation.
Address: Lamu Island, Lamu District, Coast Province
Lake Turkana National Park
The World Heritage listed Lake Turkana National Park consists of the lake, its two islands and the Sibiloi National Park on the northeast banks. Stretching 154 miles from north to south, the jade waters of the world’s largest permanent desert lake make it Africa’s saltiest, sitting amongst an ecosystem which sees vast numbers of migrating waterfowl that is a breeding ground for Nile crocodiles, snakes and hippos. Its lunar landscape contains fossils, among which have been found the bones of early hominids, giant tortoise and 19-foot long crocodiles. Besides tourists and paleontologists, the area is populated by interesting local tribal people. It is usually very hot and often windy, with the coolest months to visit being June and July.
Address: Sibiloi National Park, Eastern Province, Kenya
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is located inside the World Heritage listed Rift Valley area, best known for the flock of a million flamingoes that visit the shallow, salty waters. Many other native and migratory birds frequent the park along with animals like giraffes, lions, warthogs, hippos, and the endangered white rhino. There are lodges and camps onsite if you’d like to spend the night.
Address: Nakuru, Rift Valley Province, Kenya
Mijikenda Kaya Sacred Forests
Eleven different forests along 124 miles of coast make up the UNESCO World Heritage Mijikenda Kaya Forests, which are noted for the ruins of 16th century fortified villages, known as kayas, built by the Mijikenda people. The sites are sacred and form part of a living tradition of ancestor worship that survived to this day. Not far from the major tourist town of Diani Beach, Kaya Kinondo is one of th emost sacred forested areas where visitors can access by guided walk.
Address: Coast Province, Kenya