Kenya is all about wildlife and nature, so it is not surprising that things to do mostly relate to the spectacular landscape. Water-lovers can scuba diving with the whale sharks at Watamu, while landlubbers won’t want to miss hiking up the peaks of snow-capped Mount Kenya. Two of the most amazing experiences in Kenya are wildlife spotting and hot air-ballooning, particularly for those who can combine the two.
Kenya is famous for its wildlife safaris, particularly in Aberdares National Park, East Tsavo National Park, West Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara region, and the Nakuru National Park. The annual June to September wildebeest migration is a particularly popular spectacle, which can be arranged through Wildlife Kenya Safaris, who operate day trips out of Mombasa to Tsavo and Aberdares. Responsible Travel conducts multi-day safaris of Maasai Mara that include camping in the park.
Kenya’s beaches, particularly around the small town of Malindi and the nearby villa-lined Silversands are ideal for sunbathing and snorkeling. South of Malindi is Watamu National Park, which also has great shorelines, Landmark Safaris and go2africa both offer multi-day tours along the coast that include water sports such as diving and snorkeling.
Visitors who like to explore at their own pace will enjoy hiking scenic Mount Kenya. It is the nation’s highest mountain and features stunning snow-capped peaks. The highest of the bunch should only be tackled by experienced, fit climbers, while the lower hills are accessible to anyone with average fitness. Specialist mountaineering firms such as EWP offers fully guided hikes up Lenana peak with porters, while tourists who prefer to a self-guided trek can get information and rent equipment from Naru Moru River Lodge.
Dhows are traditional sailing boats originally introduced during the 8th century by Arab sailors. They are still in use today, particularly around historic Lamu old town. Dhow sailing trips are very popular, particularly at sunset, although some boats also offer overnight accommodation. Many operators, such as Captain Baji offer trips around Lamu Island, Manda Island and Manda Toto, which usually include lunch and fishing or snorkeling. Alternatively, Pilli Pipa Dhow Safari operates sailing expeditions out of Diani that can also include diving, swimming or dolphin spotting.
The underwater world of Kenya’s coasts can best be appreciated through scuba diving. Watamu National Park is known for its reefs and the occasional whale shark, particularly between February and March. Aqua Adventures offers day trips to dive various sites in the marine reserve of Turtle Bay, as well as the shallow wreck of the Mida shrimp trawler. Mombasa based Buccaneer Diving has full PADI certificate courses and conducts excursions to various locations including the wreck of the M.V. Dania, which has batfish, moray eels, barracuda and grouper.
Seeing Kenya from a bird’s eye view is the best way to appreciate its diversity and vastness. Hot-air ballooning is a hugely popular activity, particularly over the national parks where elephants, rhinos and other large animals roam below. Maasai Mara is the popular spot for balloon tours, with operators such as Gamewatchers Safaris and Skyship Company offering dawn flights and a champagne breakfast.