Kenya is a country in East Africa that boasts of an incredible array of tourist attractions, ranging from scenic landscapes, exotic wildlife, stunning beaches, and vibrant cultural experiences.
The country's national parks and game reserves offer visitors the chance to witness the "Big Five" animals in their natural habitat, while its pristine coastline provides a perfect escape for those seeking sun, sea, and sand. In this article, we will explore some of the top tourist destinations and must-see attractions in Kenya.
Kenya is a top safari destination famous for its rich wildlife, diverse nature reserves, and beautiful coastlines. Its national parks offer a variety of landscapes and host an abundance of wildlife, with the Maasai Mara being the most famous.
Trekking Mount Kenya, ballooning over the Masai Mara, and snorkeling in Malindi are some other popular activities.
Lake Naivasha is a picturesque destination just a two-hour drive away from Nairobi, perfect for a day trip or weekend retreat. Although often overshadowed by the nearby Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha is a treasure trove of avian and animal life, not to be missed.
Nestled in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha's name means "rough water" in the Maasai language. Despite the name, this shallow freshwater lake boasts a tranquil and serene environment. With over 400 bird species, including African fish eagles, pelicans, and cormorants, the lake is a bird watcher's paradise. Visitors can also spot giraffes and buffaloes along the shoreline, while the lake is also home to a significant population of hippos.
Lake Naivasha has several lodges and resorts that offer comfortable and convenient accommodation. These lodges overlook the sparkling lake and provide guests with a relaxing and serene ambiance. After a day of exploring the natural beauty of Lake Naivasha, visitors can relax in their cozy lodgings, enjoying the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.
In conclusion, Lake Naivasha is a hidden gem that offers a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. With its abundance of avian and animal life, scenic views, and comfortable accommodation options, Lake Naivasha is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and anyone looking for a serene escape.
Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Karen Blixen Museum is a must-see for visitors interested in the life and times of the famous Danish writer, Karen Blixen. Here are some highlights of what you can expect:
If you're in Nairobi, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Karen Blixen Museum and learn more about the fascinating life of this renowned author.
Tsavo East National Park is one of Kenya's oldest and largest national parks, located in the southeast on the route from Nairobi to the coast. If you're wondering where to go on safari, Tsavo East is an excellent choice, offering a variety of incredible wildlife to see.
Once the hunting grounds of the Waliangulu and Kamba tribes, Tsavo East's sprawling savanna and semi-arid grasslands have been protected since 1948. The park is home to the Big 5 - lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo, as well as other fascinating wildlife, including hippopotamuses and crocodiles in the Galana River. The park's blue skies are also filled with crowned cranes and sacred ibis.
Overall, Tsavo East National Park is an excellent destination for a safari in Kenya, offering a unique blend of history, wildlife, and natural beauty.
Tsavo West, located across a river and the A109 from its namesake Tsavo National Park, is a mountainous and swampy terrain. Its unique landscape is home to a specially protected rhino sanctuary, making it a popular destination for visitors.
The park's rugged reaches are characterized by dramatic black lava flows and volcanic cones, making it an ideal location for rock climbing. A must-visit attraction in Tsavo West is the marvelous Mzima Springs, where you can spot hippos, crocs, and turtles.
Tsavo West is a treasure trove of wildlife, and it's possible to see rare and endangered species here. On our safari, we were lucky enough to spot an eastern black rhinoceros, a highly endangered species. It was an unforgettable moment as the rhino stared at us for a while before disappearing into the bush.
Located on Mombasa Island, Fort Jesus is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting this coastal city. The impressive architecture and vast collection of artifacts make for a fascinating experience.
Built in the late 16th century, between 1593 and 1596, Fort Jesus is an iconic symbol of the Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean. The square-shaped fort boasts four bulwarks and impressive Portuguese Renaissance architecture. Despite this, the local Swahili people provided most of the labour, materials, and masonry techniques.
While Fort Jesus is a remarkable sight to behold, the Old Town outside is equally captivating. The traditional Swahili buildings are home to local restaurants and shops selling traditional masks, textiles, and jewellery. The vibrant atmosphere of the Old Town is the perfect place to get lost and soak up the local culture.
Aberdare National Park, nestled in the Central Highlands on the way from Nairobi to Nakuru, is a nature lover's dream. Established in 1950, the park is home to part of the Aberdare Mountains, which range from 2,000 to 4,000 metres in height.
Unlike many of the country's parks, Aberdare is renowned for its scenic hikes and waterfalls rather than its wildlife. Its diverse landscapes, including rivers, forests, and waterfalls, cover vast valleys and the lower slopes of prominent peaks. The park also hosts a large population of eastern black rhinos and elephants.
These sites are perfect for capturing epic photos and provide a rewarding viewing experience.
If you're looking for a place to unwind and relax after all the safaris and sightseeing, Diani Beach is the perfect destination. Located just south of Mombasa, this idyllic beach offers wide, white sands where you can lounge lazily and enjoy fun watersports.
Diani Beach stretches around 17 kilometers along the Indian Ocean, providing a relaxing resort area. Luxury hotels and resorts are scattered along the palm tree-fringed beach, many of which offer all-inclusive packages and safari trips for guests.
Aside from being one of the most beautiful beaches out there, Diani Beach has so much to offer. Whether you're looking to relax and soak up the sun or get your adrenaline pumping with exciting water sports, this beach has it all.
Hell’s Gate National Park is a must-visit destination for active travellers seeking adventure. Located south of Lake Naivasha, this park is named after a narrow gap in its colossal cliffs. Here are some reasons why you should consider visiting this park:
The park offers excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. Visitors can explore the slender gorge’s ruddy red rocks and the long-extinct volcanoes. The park also features some of the most captivating formations created by cooling molten lava.
The park's location is relatively close to Nairobi, and the entrance fees are affordable. This makes it a popular destination for both local and international tourists.
Hell’s Gate National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including African buffaloes, elands, hyenas, baboons, and ostriches. As very few predators reside within this part of the Great Rift Valley, visitors can hike or bike around the park while enjoying the scenic views and wildlife.
Visitors can also enjoy the park's hot springs and Maasai Cultural Centre, where they can learn more about the local Maasai culture and customs.
Nairobi National Park is the only nature reserve of its kind in the world, located right on the doorstep of Kenya's capital city. It was established in the 1940s to protect the region's dwindling wildlife and today it offers visitors a unique experience.
The park mainly consists of endless open grass plains with pockets of forests along rivers and small rocky gorges scattered about. Visitors can see a variety of wildlife living in the park, from gazelles and cheetahs to crocodiles, jackals, and common eland. The sight of Nairobi's skyline while looking at lions, elephants, and giraffes is a surreal feeling that needs to be experienced.
Although we did several safaris in Kenya, visiting Nairobi National Park was still a highlight. The diverse wildlife and delightfully different views made the visit quite special. It's not every day that you can witness wildebeest and zebra migrations almost right through a city. We highly recommend visiting Nairobi National Park to experience this unique destination for yourself.
Located on Kenya’s northeastern coastline, Lamu Island is one of the best places in East Africa to experience traditional Swahili culture. As the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the nation, it offers a relaxing escape that feels like a trip back in time.
Part of the Lamu archipelago, the island’s Old Town features labyrinthine streets lined with charming coral stone buildings and quiet inner courtyards. Lamu is known for its intricately carved wooden doors and cute donkeys, making it a more peaceful and better-preserved alternative to Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Be sure to check out the local museum and fort before relaxing on the island’s white sandy beaches or exploring nearby villages.
Many visitors also take tranquil dhow boat trips around the archipelago, enjoying the stunning scenery and rich culture of the region. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply soaking up the laid-back island vibe, Lamu is a must-visit destination in East Africa.
Mount Kenya is a towering mountain that stands at 5,199 meters above the plains, valleys, and forests of Kenya. As the second-highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro, it is a popular destination for adventurers seeking to conquer its summit.
Formed around three million years ago, Mount Kenya is an extinct stratovolcano and one of the main symbols of the country. In fact, the country's name is derived from the mountain. Its slopes are heavily eroded while its upper reaches are coated with ice caps.
Mount Kenya has three separate peaks for adventurers to summit, with Batian being the loftiest of them all. Nelion is the toughest of the three, while Lenana's unpredictability can pose a problem. Climbing the summit is a challenging but rewarding experience, with spectacular views waiting at the top.
Protected as a national park, it generally takes four or five arduous days to reach the summit of Mount Kenya. Climbing the summit is probably one of the most difficult and rewarding things to do in Kenya. For avid adventurers seeking a challenge, Mount Kenya offers an unforgettable experience.
Located along the Indian Ocean, Malindi offers plenty of options for those seeking a beach holiday. This beautiful destination boasts fantastic beaches, hotels, and nature parks for visitors to enjoy.
Malindi's stunning beaches have long been popular with Italian tourists. Vasco da Gama himself landed on the string of pearly white beaches in 1498 and erected a coral pillar that still stands today overlooking the ocean. For those interested in history, the Gede Ruins are a must-visit attraction. The ruins are the remains of a twelfth-century Swahili town.
Most visitors to Malindi come for the beaches. Here are some of the best ones to check out:
While the beaches of Malindi are beautiful, the ocean can turn murky brown in the Sabaki River mouth. Visitors should be cautious when swimming in this area.
If you're looking for an unforgettable animal encounter, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a must-visit destination. Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, this sanctuary is home to baby elephants that will charm you with their playful antics.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded in 1977 and has since rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of orphaned and injured elephants. The young elephants are raised by their keepers until the age of two or three, after which they are sent to Tsavo East before being released back into the wild.
Each day, a limited number of guests can visit the orphanage and see the elephants up close. Watching them feed, play, and roll around in the mud is an incredibly cute and unforgettable experience.
Don't miss your chance to witness these adorable creatures in their natural habitat at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Lake Nakuru is a breathtaking destination located within the Great Rift Valley of Africa. It is renowned for its vast population of bright pink flamingos that have made it their home. The lake's reflective waters and beautiful landscapes provide a perfect backdrop for photography enthusiasts.
Lake Nakuru is now a national park that offers protection to over 450 bird species and a few of Africa's big cats, including lions, cheetahs, and leopards. It is home to millions of flamingos that flock here regularly to feed on abundant algae. In addition to the flamingos, visitors can also spot white rhinos and Rothschild’s giraffes in close proximity.
Apart from the flamingos and big cats, Lake Nakuru offers a lot more to visitors. The scenic lakeshore is a great place to spot zebra and waterbucks that often come here to drink water. The dense woodlands around the lake are also home to sizable pythons that can be spotted slowly slithering around. Visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking views of the Great Rift Valley that surrounds the lake.
Overall, Lake Nakuru is a haven for flamingos and wildlife that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor who ventures to its shores.
Amboseli National Park is a renowned wildlife destination, known for its vast herds of elephants and abundant wildlife. It is consistently ranked among the top places to go on safari. The park is situated on the border of Tanzania and boasts a diverse landscape of savannas, woods, and wetlands, providing a unique and fascinating experience for visitors.
Amboseli National Park, whose name means 'salty, dusty place' in the Maa language, has been recognized as a nature park since 1908. Despite its arid terrain, the park is home to a rich array of wildlife, with 1,600 free-ranging elephants being the main attraction for many visitors. The areas around its swamps offer a refreshing oasis, where life thrives.
With its unique landscape and diverse wildlife, Amboseli National Park offers an unforgettable safari experience. The park's vast herds of elephants and other wildlife make for an exhilarating adventure, while the local Maasai culture adds a touch of authenticity. Moreover, the park's awe-inspiring view of Mount Kilimanjaro only adds to its charm and appeal.
Located to the north of Mount Kenya, the Samburu National Reserve offers a wild and remote experience for nature lovers. With fewer visitors than other parks, it is a haven for a diverse range of animals.
The reserve is mostly dry and dusty, with occasional rivers and forests. However, its varied vegetation and the winding Ewaso Ngi'ro River attract a wide range of wildlife.
Apart from the typical lions, cheetahs, and leopards, the reserve is home to dry-country fauna such as the East African oryx, generuk, Grevy’s zebras, and reticulated giraffes.
Although it takes some effort to get there, the Samburu National Reserve is a must-visit destination for those who love wildlife and scenic landscapes.
The Masai Mara is a world-renowned safari destination located in Kenya. It is one of the most famous safari parks on the African continent, attracting visitors from all over the world. Here are some of the highlights of this incredible park:
The Masai Mara boasts exceptional populations of some of Africa's most iconic wildlife species, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, and elephants. Visitors can also expect to see a wide range of other animals, from giraffes and zebras to hyenas and jackals.
Named after the Maasai people, the Masai Mara is home to the Great Migration, one of the world's most awe-inspiring natural phenomena. Every year, millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles migrate across the park's plains, pursued by predators such as lions and crocodiles.
Even outside of the Great Migration, visitors to the Masai Mara can still easily spot all of the Big 5 - lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos - as they roam about the park. The Mara and Talek rivers are also home to crocodiles and hippos, while long-crested eagles and African pygmy falcons can be seen overhead.