Known for impressive wildlife and the large national parks that provide protection, Kenya is an epic place to travel for any adventurer. This is a land that’s wild, mystical, and inspiring, and the sightseeing opportunities extend far beyond the obligatory safari. The dramatic landscapes, shopping opportunities, traditional foods, and coastal areas are unlike anywhere else in the world. Here are our top 10 things to do on a trip to Kenya.
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Amboseli National Park
One of the top national parks in Kenya is Amboseli, and this is an ideal place to see elephants with the towering Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. Plan to visit this park around dawn or dusk for the best views of the mountain. Elephants, zebras, and wildebeests are all common sightings around this area, as well as birds, lions, and hyenas. You can also learn about the Maasai people and visit homesteads for an enriching cultural experience in the Loitoktok District and Rift Valley Province.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
David Sheldrick was a warden of Tsavo National Park who worked to end the brutal poaching of Kenya’s wild animals. This trust was established after his death in the late 1970s, and it has become one of the top attractions in Nairobi, Kenya’s largest city and the capital. Visitors who come here get to watch animal handlers feed baby elephants and watch the elephants play around in the mud. This is a great place to learn about orphan elephants, conservation practices, and how you can help by getting involved. This facility is open to the public for an hour every day (11am to noon) except for December 25. You can visit by making a donation of at least $7 U.S. dollars in cash. There are three eco-lodge camps that you can stay at to further support the group’s mission.
Nairobi National Park
It’s very convenient to visit Nairobi National Park because it’s only about five miles from the city center of Nairobi. This is the oldest park in the country and home to lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and buffaloes. While you’re in the capital city, it’s also fun to visit the Nairobi National Museum to learn about the region’s art, culture, and history. The Karen Blixen Museum is also here if you’d like to learn about the author of the famous book, Out of Africa. Crime rates in this city continue to be a concern, so travelers should use extra caution and avoid leaving belongings unattended while exploring the attractions.
Shopping in Mombasa
For traditional clothing, fresh produce, and souvenirs, head to Mombasa. Biashara Street is a fun place to walk down and browse items for sale, as well as the Makupa Market and the Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Village. Overall, Mombasa is an enjoyable coastal city that has a heart for sailing, narrow streets, and the Fort Jesus museum to check out too.
Go Sailing on a Dhow
There’s just something endearingly romantic about sailing on the outskirts of Kenya in a traditional dhow. Dhows are traditional Arab boats made for sailing, and you can find local guide companies to take you on a sunset cruise or a dinner cruise to take in the landscapes from the water. You can even take a multi-day luxury dhow trip that includes camping either on-board the boat or on the beach.
Lake Nakuru National Park
The most famous thing that Lake Nakuru National Park is known for is the many pink flamingos and ostriches that call it home. This is a Rift Valley soda lake that is large and takes up a significant part of the entire national park. Hundreds of species of birds, in addition to the iconic flamingos, live here, as well as lions, rhinos, and pythons. A euphorbia candelabrum forest is also located inside Lake Nakuru National Park. Camping is available in the park at numerous guest houses, cottages, and even a tree top hut.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is another must-see place in Kenya and along the Tanzania border. The Maasai native people live in this area, which is known for giraffe, gazelle, zebra, and wildebeest populations too. There is a large migration of these animals to the Serengeti between July and October. Other animals you may see here include hippopotamuses, crocodiles, cheetahs, and leopards. Visitors tend to see more wildlife during the dry months of December, January, and February.
Sample Nyama Choma
Nyama choma is one of the most traditional foods of Kenya, so definitely make a point to try some when you visit this country. It is traditionally prepared by roadside butchers and consists of roasted and grilled goat, chicken, or beef. There are quite a few places where you can walk right up to the butcher, who will cut off a section of meat and grill it right in front of you. In addition to this roast meat, other traditional Kenyan foods to try include irio (green peas, potatoes, and corn), coconut rice, and sukurma (a kale or collard greens-like dish).
To get a little more off the beaten path in Kenya, consider making a trip out to Lake Turana. This is in the more remote northern region of the country and referred to as the Jade Sea by locals. The Turkana tribe is a semi-nomadic group of people who live here, and you can also find excellent fishing opportunities and hippos and crocodiles in the lake.
Lake Victoria is also worth a visit on your trip to Kenya, as well as the coastal city of Kisumu. This town is a great place to enjoy a laid-back vibe, shop for fresh fish, and simply enjoy the sunset. Lake Victoria is the largest lake on Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. It also has islands, which are best explored on a day-trip fishing package. You can learn about the Luo tribe’s culture while in this region, but just don’t plan to go swimming here to avoid mosquitoes that potentially carry disease.