A beginner's guide to Kenya
There is something of a tendency to think that Kenya is defined by one thing and one thing only: safaris. The reality of Kenya is that it is a country blessed with stunning diversity, from the snowy peaks of Mount Kenya to the perfect white sand beaches of Mombasa and the tropical paradise of Lamu.
A true safari experience
Of course, there’s no getting away from them: safaris are undoubtedly the most popular reason for people to visit Kenya. The unbelievable diversity of wildlife and stunning natural sights make the excursions some of the best in the world. But many people don’t realise the range of safaris on offer.
For some people, a safari naturally means an escorted tour – expert guides taking you through the beautiful African wilderness, seeking out the continent’s most famous and fearsome animals. But even this has follow up questions: do you go as part of a larger group with a broader itinerary, or do you hire a private vehicle for a more personal experience?
The Magical Kenya 4x4 safari is one of the most renowned. On it, you get the opportunity to visit a variety of national parks as well as an elephant orphanage. With rare opportunities to see Africa’s ‘Big Five’ up close, this is something you shouldn’t miss.
Alternatively, a form of safari gaining popularity is the self-drive. These offer you the opportunity to explore the wonders of Kenya on your own terms, creating an utterly unique experience you’ll never forget. One particularly spectacular option is the Porini camps; they are the proof that camping doesn’t mean being uncomfortable. The award-winning eco camps offer luxury camping or “glamping” with hot showers and delicious food.
The range of wildlife is just unbelievable. You’ll find flocks of blushing flamingos at Lake Nakuru, majestic lions in Tsavo National Park, the Great Migration of zebra and wildebeest in Maasai Mara and night game drives in search of the elusive leopard. No matter what you want from Kenya, you’ll be able to find it.
Sublime sandy beaches
It’s a shame that many people don’t immediately think of Kenya as a beach destination because the country’s coastal region is blessed with achingly beautiful white sand and a number of luxurious oceanfront resorts.
Mombasa is the big name – a huge city acting as a gateway to the coast. The Kenyan coast is designed for utter relaxation in a Caribbean-esque setting. One of the jewels of the region is the Pinewood Beach Resort & Spa, an elegant and intimate boutique hotel. Here you can lounge on the unspoiled beach with beautiful views of the Indian Ocean.
Another amazing location is Lamu, one of Kenya’s best kept secrets. Lamu is a stunning island drenched in equal measures of culture and sunshine. Stay here and you’ll experience a very different side to Kenya.
Nairobi: capital city with a difference
Kenya’s capital Nairobi isn’t glamorous like the beach resorts, but it is the only capital city in the world that is surrounded by its own National Park. That means Nairobi is well equipped for travelers staying a short time.
If you’re stopping off here on the way through to another part of your vacation, you should consider going on a safari. Watching the wildlife in the wilderness and being so close to a bustling city is a truly unique experience.
The dream combination
The best part of Kenya might be that you don’t have to try to do these things individually. Combine a fascinating safari with a relaxing beach vacation and you’ll experience very different forms of African wonder.
If you do find yourself traveling between locations, it’s worth remembering that the small planes don’t allow you to carry much luggage. The limit is usually around 15kg, so be sure to pack light.
Article written by David Wells.