Kenya is an incredibly beautiful country and is home to a huge range of diverse environments and experiences. It has deserts, mountains, tropical forests, and is known worldwide as a top safari destination as well as having one of the most beautiful coastlines Africa has to offer.
Kenya has had its troubles in the past, but let us be honest, what country hasn’t. Today it remains a top tourist destination in Africa and is a very safe and pleasant country to travel around. It’s easy to get to, with direct flights to and from most major hubs in the world and once you are there, it is set up so well for tourism, that you can sit back an enjoy your holiday without any worries. “Hakuna Matata” as the saying goes.
Here are my top suggestions for things to do while you are in Kenya.
Trekking Up Mt Kenya
Mt Kenya is a 3-4 hour drive or a short flight from Nairobi. It sits 16 kilometers south of the equator and is part of Mt Kenya National Park, a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site. It is the second-largest mountain in Arica and is very popular with bird watchers, nature lovers, fly fishermen and hikers. It is home to some of Kenya’s endemic species as well as elephants, buffalo, leopard, lion, and the endangered bongo.
There are numerous operations and guides available that will happily take you on a hike around the park or to summit one of its 3 peaks, Lenana, Batian and Nelion. While you climb up the mountain, you will walk through ancient forests, bamboo and up into the heather before finally arriving at one of the peaks, all with the chance of seeing wildlife on the way. A summit is usually a 4-5 day walk and your guides will provide you with all the gear and food you need for the experience.
Lenana is a peak we can all walk to but if you are a technical climber you can try your hand at getting to the top of Batian or Nelion. There are a few different routes up the mountain and picking the right one will certainly make the trip more rewarding. Some include lakes and the chance of seeing more wildlife while others encapsulate some history of the mountain. Be sure to discuss the options with your guides before you book.
Visit The David Sheldrake Wildlife Trust in Nairobi
The David Sheldrake Wildlife Trust is an orphanage in Nairobi specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of baby elephants, rhinos and giraffes. Set up by lifelong conservationist Daphne Sheldrake after her husband and world-famous conservationist David passed away, the orphanage is a huge success.
It is based in Karen, is a part of Nairobi National Park and is easy to get to by taxi. It is open to visitors everyday between 11 a.m. and midday during feeding time for the baby elephants. While visiting you will have the opportunity to see the calves being hand fed by their carers, learn about each of their stories and personalities as well as have an insightful lecture about the history of the project, its challenges, and its successes.
See the Migration In The Masai Mara
Every year in late July, August, and early September when the animals move to find water and fresh grasslands, the huge wildebeest migration from the Serengeti into the Masai Mara occurs. This is one of the most famous migrations in Africa and is an opportunity to be part of a safari at its wildest.
Watch as thousands upon thousands of animals try to cross the Mara river, narrowly escaping or being snapped up by hungry crocodiles, lions, leopards, and cheetahs that are all lurking in the background waiting for their opportunity to strike.
The Masai Mara is a short flight or 5-6 hour drive from Nairobi and is one of the most famous national parks in Africa. It has plenty of stunning five-star safari lodges for you to stay in where you can get really up close and personal with the wildlife it has to offer.
Travel to Lamu
Lamu is a little island on the north coast of Kenya and is home to an old Arabic town also called Lamu. Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and was one of the original Swahili settlements along the coast of East Africa dating back to 1370.
It is full of history and culture as well as being a paradise sand dune island in the Indian Ocean. It can only be accessed by boat from the mainland and there is just one car on the island, making walking, donkey rides and sailing in dhows the main form of transportation. What a peaceful existence!
It is known for its beautiful and narrow winding streets, rooftop views, stunning carpentry, and immaculate beaches. It is truly a step back in time where life slows down and days are spent strolling around the waterfront, exploring the town’s cultural sites or relaxing on the beaches.
It is best visited between July and April and is easy and inexpensive to get to. There are daily flights from Nairobi or Malindi to Manda Island where you get you can catch your short 20-minute boat ride to the island.
Go Fishing In Watamu
Kenya has been on the fishing map every since Ernest Heminway first fished there in 1934. Its coastline offers a chance to catch blue, black, and striped marlin, broadbill swordfish, sailfish, tuna and more and Watamu is the place to do it.
‘Watamu’, which directly translated means ‘of sweetness’, is a town set on a series of beautiful white sand beaches and is easily gotten to from both Mombasa and Malindi airport, Malindi airport only being a 15-minute drive away whereas Mombasa is 2-3hours.
Set inside the reef in the Watamu Marine Park, a fleet of sport fishers wait to take you out for a chance to catch some of the amazing species on offer.
Visit the Giraffe Centre In Nairobi
The Giraffe Centre is in Karen just down the road from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphanage. It is a great experience to do on a day out in Nairobi and can easily be combined with a trip to the Orphanage. It is about a 30-minute drive from Nairobi town center via public transport or a taxi.
The Giraffe Centre was set up to protect and rehabilitate the endangered Rothschild Giraffe whose numbers took a huge turn for the worse due to the destruction of their habitat in western Kenya. At the center, you can feed, pet and interact with the giraffes from a purposefully built platform that makes you eye level with them. If you are lucky, you may even get a giraffe kiss from one of these gracious creatures.
Admission to the center is around a $15 donation for adults and a $7 donation for children and they do not accept cash so remember to take a card with you.
Go Snorkelling At Kuruwitu
Kenya has some excellent snorkeling along its coastline but one of the most impressive projects lies at Kuruwitu, about an hour or two drive north of Mombasa. This project is a community-led conservation effort to establish a marine protected area in order to protect the coral, fish life and turtles that call this area home.
It was started by the elders who remembered how productive this patch of coastline once was and now through community-based efforts, they have established a 30-hectare marine protected area where the ecosystem is protected and only open to snorkeling.
When you snorkel at Kuruwitu there is a $10 mandatory donation and you are provided with snorkeling equipment and a guide to show you around the now impressive ecosystem. There are stunning corals and fish to be seen and the best time to go is on a neap tide between August and April, although it is open all year round.
Step back in time at Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest alkaline lake in the world. It is found in northern Kenya and is accessible through charter flights or by 4×4.
This area is known as the cradle of humankind. Some of the earliest human remains have been found there and the oldest complete human skeleton which is 1.5 million years old. The surroundings are ever-changing, rough and unspoiled. The lake, known as ‘The Jade Sea’ thanks to its bluish color has three islands that are a stopover for migrant birds and a breeding ground for Nile crocodiles.
The scenery is second to none with Mt Kulal on the eastern side of the lake, the Chalbi desert to the south and Sibiloi National Park to the north. Cultural visits and bird watching are the main attractions here and there is wildlife to see in Sibiloi National Park but it is not really a safari destination.
There are some good places to stay around the lake and with a quick search online they are easily found. The lodges will also help and advise you about the best way for you to get up there as it is not that easy.
Visit the Arabic Ruins at Gede
Kenya’s coast was first colonized by Arabic traders and you can find ruins of their settlements dotted up and down the coast. One of the most impressive is Gede Ruins, situated just near Watamu.
It is a 12th century Swahili village that was mysteriously abandoned 600 years ago and was only rediscovered in 1920. Since then about 18 hectares of the site has been excavated to show the remains of an old town and its structure. The findings included the remains of several mosques, a palace, a court and old tombs.
Gede is now a National Museum and is intermingled with beautiful indigenous trees and wildlife. Walk under the huge baobabs and tamarind trees while looking for syke’s monkeys, owls, and turacos as well as the ruins themselves.
The site is open every day between 7 am and 6 pm and is easily accessed from Mombasa, Watamu or Malindi by public transport or taxi. Upon arrival, you will be introduced to your guide who will take you through the ruins and teach you all about their history and the ways of the people you used to live there. There is also a snake and a butterfly park at Gede which are well worth a visit.
Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist. There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook.
Recommended tours in Kenya
- Hell’s Gate National Park Private Bike Tour from Nairobi
- David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center Full-Day Tour from Nairobi
- Day Tour: Giraffe Center, Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park
- Nairobi National Park, Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Center and Karen Blixen Museum
- 3-Day Maasai Mara Guided Safari from Nairobi
- Half Day Nairobi National Park Tour From Nairobi
- 12-Day Kenya and Tanzania Safari from Nairobi
- Full-Day Lake Nakuru National Park Private Tour from Nairobi
- Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Centre in Nairobi
- Full-Day Tour of Mombasa
- 8-Day Best of Kenya and Tanzania Safari from Nairobi
- 1 Day Nairobi Tour with Park, Elephant Orphanage Giraffe Center& Bomas of Kenya Tour