Kenya – Africa in microcosm
You would be forgiven for thinking Kenya’s sole attraction was wildlife safaris. It certainly has some of the best wildlife-spotting opportunities on offer in the world; you’ll spy lions, leopards, giraffes, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, flamingos and elephants on safari in Aberdare, Amboseli, Masai Mara, Nairobi, Tsavo and Lake Nakuru National Parks. However, it would be a mistake to think they’re the only ‘game’ in town. This colourful East African country is also home to lush rainforests, searing deserts, secluded Indian Ocean beaches, immaculate coral reefs, lofty mountains… and well-maintained golf courses! Urban Nairobi is likely to be your gateway to Kenya, but venture inland and explore natural wonders like The Rift Valley and Hell’s Gate National Park and take the chance to trek along the glacial ridges of Mount Kenya.
Although the mainstay of Kenya’s tourism has traditionally been wildlife safaris, there are plenty more things to see and do in Kenya. Go for the deserts and rainforests, the Indian Ocean beaches and coral reefs. Kenya is also one of the top five best places on the planet for bird-watching.
When to Go?
The hottest, driest weather and prevalence of most wildlife attracts the most tourists in January and February. Prices tend to be highest in these months and around Christmas and Easter. The annual wildebeest migration is a sight to behold between June and October when thousands of animals stream into the Masai Mara National Reserve. Low season runs from March to the end of May when rainfall, mosquitoes and a general absence of wildlife keep tourists away.
How to get there?
Kenya’s main international airport is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Charter airlines and domestic flights tend to use Moi International Airport (MBA) in Mombasa. If you arrive in Nairobi without an onward or return ticket, you may have to buy one on the spot at considerable expense. Direct flights from the UK are available from London Gatwick and Manchester to Mombasa with Thomson and from London Heathrow to Nairobi with BA, Virgin and Kenya Airways.
No holiday in Kenya would be complete without spending some time in the magnificent Masai Mara National Reserve. As well as spotting the big cats, the annual Serengeti wildebeest migration is breathtaking, and is best viewed from a balloon. Make sure you book accommodation several months in advance. Other top wildlife destinations are Tsavo National Park, Amboseli and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Marvel at Mount Kenya, experience the dense grandeur of Kakamega’s rainforests, snorkel pristine reefs at the Marine National Park in Malindi or recline on Kiwayu’s empty beaches.