Gedi is one of Kenya's great unknown treasures, a wonderful lost city lying in the depths of the great Arabuko Sokoke forest. It is also a place of great mystery, an archaeological puzzle that continues to engender debate among historians.
Haller Park, Mombasa
Haller Wildlife Park (Lafarge Ecosystems) is a former disused quarry that has been reborn as a small private game sanctuary. A major initiative has been made to "green" the quarry and these efforts have literally blossomed into an area of lush beauty.
Karen Blixen Museum
For anyone with an interest in Karen Blixen's book Out of Africa or the subsequent film, this museum is a must see. The author lived on a coffee estate in a house known as Bogani from 1914 until 1931. This area has now developed into the modern suburb of Karen on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Nairobi National Museum
The recently renovated Nairobi National Museum is a good place to learn more about Kenya's history and culture. The construction of the present Museum Hill site began in 1929 after the government set aside the land for it.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is located near Nairobi National Park. This orphanage for Elephant Calves and Rhinos from all over Kenya was founded and still managed by Daphne Sheldrick, the widow of one of Kenya's best known Game Wardens David Sheldrick.
Giraffe Center - Nairobi
The AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) Giraffe Centre is located in Langata, just outside Nairobi. The center has been ostensibly set up as a breeding center for the endangered Rothschild giraffe, but now operates conservation/education programs for Kenyan school children.
Fort Jesus, Mombasa (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Today the majestic Fort Jesus is a National Monument, standing high over the Mombasa harbor. Fort Jesus is an interesting place to spend a day exploring the gun turrets, battlements and houses within the walls. There is an excellent Museum and trained guides available.
Kenya’s culture exemplifies the art of adornment and decoration, and history shows that this has been a long and influential tradition. Throughout the country, there are many examples of rock art and cave painting by early man, and of similar designs and motifs carried through recent centuries.
Many Kenyan traditional societies placed great significance on decoration of both functional and ritual objects, and the body. In tribes such as the Kuria and the Samburu, this was raised to the form of high art. The Samburu place great significance on physical beauty and adornment, especially among warriors who take great care with their physical appearance, using hair styling and ochre body painting to create an impression of great delicacy. It was this trait that earned them their name Samburu- Butterflies, given to them by other tribes.
Many Northern nomadic tribes such as the Boran, Oromo and Gabbra extensively decorate functional items, including water gourds, stools and neck pillows. The Turkana people, who live in one of Kenya’s harshest environments, still afford great care and attention to decoration of the body and objects such as ostrich egg water holders, wrist knives and clubs.
For the Maasai, the use of decorative beading is extremely significant, and jewelry is used to emphasize social status and to signify stages of initiation and passage. Modern forms of art came to Kenya progressively. The art of carving was practiced throughout Kenya to produce both functional and decorative items.
The Kamba people are considered the best Kenyan carvers, and have long been known as skilled woodworkers. Carving on the coast was centered on the island of Lamu, where the local Bajun tribe is believed to have influenced Arab craftsmen to create a unique hybrid of styles.
The Kisii of Western Kenya are also well known for their carving in stone, using a locally quarried soapstone. They use locally quarried soapstone to produce a range of carvings. The most popular items are small animals, chess pieces based on traditional African designs and more functional items such as egg cups, soap dishes, coasters and ash trays.
The soapstone there varies in color from white (the easiest to carve) through various shades of pink to a deep lustrous red (the most difficult to carve). The tourist trade has certainly had great influence over Kenyan carving, but many traditional designs have survived, and often new and interesting carving styles.
Graphical art in Kenya has a much less defined history. There are certain traditions in design and representation derived from rock art patterns, but also considerable influence from the coast. Textile design and decorative art throughout the coast created strong Swahili designs from Middle Eastern roots.
Painting and drawing in the formal European sense was introduced by colonialism. There were several European artists in colonial Kenya, the best known being Joy Adamson. Although better known for her conservation work and writing, she was also an accomplished artist. Her botanical paintings were used as a base for Kenya’s original textbooks on plants and her huge collection of tribal portraits remain a body of work of great anthropological importance.
Kenyan painting has gradually developed incorporating traditional designs with modern technique. One of Kenya’s best known painters, who has achieved international fame and recognition, is Joel Oswago. Joel is from Western Kenya, and his brilliant paint work depicts scenes of Luo life both traditional and modern.
His style is difficult to describe or define. He paints his subjects in an intense defined manner, emphasizing bodily and facial features with sharply contrasting primary colors. This can create an impression of harshness, but also of great physical vulnerability. His scenes of village life are usually structured in a tableau to suggest an immediate social or domestic situation. His art can be remarkably funny, terribly sad or often a combination of both.
Kenya has developed a name as a home for bohemian expatriate artists, and there are many international artists living and working in the country. Probably the best known of these is Peter Beard, an American photographer. Beard spent many years living and working in Kenya, and has become internationally famous for his photographic record of his life in the bush.
His work is mostly expressed in a series of journals, in which photographs, news cuttings, mud, blood and objects are plastered across the pages. These images have been exhibited internationally and converted into several books. While some consider his work ego-driven and overly avant garde, the heart of his collection is a deep passion for Kenya and strong but well founded concerns for its future.
At the National Museum an independent trust, called the Kuona Trust, has been established to foster and encourage Kenyan artists. The Trust has set up an artist’s residence by the shores of Lake Naivasha, where a space and accommodation for artists is available. This program is bearing great fruit, and the center located directly beside the Museum, is open to the public. There are displays of modern art in all media. Promising artists include Michael Wambua Soi and Rochard Kimathi Wamae.
Kenya’s eastern boundary is an unbroken line of blue, an azure strip of ocean lying within the protective shelter of reef. The coastline of Kenya is a tropical idyll of soft white sands and gentle sea breeze, where the passing of a day is marked by the slow arc of the sun. The pace of life on the coast is notably slower, languid, more relaxed and at peace with the world.
The turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean brought Kenya’s history to exotic life, washing these shores with influences from all over the world. To explore the coast is to explore history itself, and unwind a fascinating tale written on the winding streets of the 14th Century town of Lamu, or in the bustling dhow docks of Mombasa or the ghostly ruins of Gedi, a deserted city lost deep in the jungle. Dive beneath these waters and discover an undersea paradise. The coral reefs teem with fish, a kaleidoscope of color and life.
Go ashore to beach resorts and hotels that let you relax and experience paradise in style and comfort. Lay back and enjoy yourself, or get out and explore. Immerse yourself in a unique coastal culture as rich and rewarding as the local Swahili cuisine. Step back from the beach and discover expanses of rainforest, game rich river deltas, and much more than you ever expected.
Kenya has a culture born of countless sources. This region has been crossed by the paths of a long and complex history. From the prehistoric records of early man to the present day, Kenya has been a land of unending change, contrasts and diversity.
The early tribal states saw cycles of migration and shifting power, with Kenya as a meeting place for peoples from the plain lands of the south, the forests of the West and the deserts of the North.
The sea brought influences from the outside world, and the passage of the spice trade created the unique coastal culture, where lines between Africa and Arabia blurred. The open coast brought European influences into this world of change and began a turbulent struggle for control whose exotic history lingers today.
The first explorers discovered a land of great peril and greater beauty, and their great adventures created the most unique colony in the British Empire. This was a meeting place of cultures, where adventurers and soldiers of fortune mingled with a complex tribal society, and the arrival of laborers and merchants from India brought new and pervasive influences.
The colonial legacy lives on in the traditions of the great safari, and the pursuit of adventure and freedom. Kenya has drawn on all of these influences to develop its own unique culture. This is the nation’s greatest strength- the ability to blend the best of many worlds into a strong, singular identity.
Today, Kenya welcomes the world to its shores and continues to evolve a modern culture that is born of endless variety, and yet purely, proudly Kenyan.
Lamu Cultural Festival
Lamu Cultural Festival is a celebration of both the past and the future, and the beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of the Lamu community. Most visitors to the island fall in love with this relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, and visiting during the Lamu Cultural Festival is a chance to experience Lamu life at its most exuberant and joyous.
Each year, Lamu comes to life during the annual Lamu Cultural Festival. Several competitions and races are staged during this week long festival. These events are designed to each encourage local skills or practices that are central to Lamu life.
These include traditional Swahili poetry, Henna painting, Bao competition. Bao is probably the oldest known game in human history, with archaeological evidence suggesting that the game has been played throughout Africa and the Middle East for thousands of years.
In order to preserve and encourage the art of dhow sailing, now threatened by increasing availability of engines and prefabricated boats, a dhow race is also held.
The town’s finest dhows are selected to compete, and race under sail through a complicated series of buoys, combining speed with elaborate tacking and maneuvering skill.
Other events include swimming, and at times a challenging cross country race along the waterfront, all the way to Shela village and back- all in the physically draining heat of the day.
The real highlight of every festival involves the town’s most endearing symbol- the donkey race. Local donkey jockeys literally spend the entire year honing their riding skills for this event, and the winning rider wears his title with great pride.
The Maralal Camel Derby
The Maralal Camel Derby is an annual event, held mid-year just outside of Maralal town. This is Kenya's best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting both local and international competitors. The event is a major draw for spectators as well as racers, and the competition is fierce.
Considered one of the highest honors in camel racing, many professional camel racers come to compete each year. Some of the finest specimens of racing camels are seen in town during the race period.
The race is a great social event, and the major event on the Maralal Calendar. Both competitors and visitors to Maralal join in the festivities in and around town. The atmosphere in town on race day is electric and entertaining. The race begins in the center of town, where a throng of camels at the at the start line.
A cycling race is also now held concurrently with the derby, with mountain bikes racing over a demanding course. The cycle race also attracts its share of dedicated professionals on world class bikes, as well as local amateurs on bikes that in some cases never see the end of the race.
The Maralal Camel derby is more than just a race. It is an entertaining festival of fun and local competition that brings this small desert town to life.
June is the month for the Rhino Charge. This unique off-road car rally is held every year to raise money for the construction of a perimeter fence around the Aberdare National Park. The Aberdares National Park is a sanctuary for the endangered Black Rhino and an important water catchment area providing water to the Tanaand Athi rivers, Kenya’s main rivers.
The Aberdares is a hidden world of wildlife; its thick vegetation provides perfect cover for countless species. The Aberdares National Park is a sanctuary for the endangered Black Rhino and an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers, Kenya’s main rivers.
The Rhino Charge is a truly unique event, both sporting and social. Hundreds of spectators head into the bush to watch the event, setting up campsites and starting off early to get to the Gauntlet (a combination of 2 or 3 checkpoints that invariably involve river crossings and other difficult obstacles).
If you are visiting Kenya - the Rhino Charge is a must see event. The funds raised from the Charge go directly to Rhino Ark, a conservation charity working to fence Kenya’s Arberdare Forest, affording protection to endangered species and habitat.
Lewa Downs, a private ranch and rhino conservation area, hosts an annual marathon in June through the property. This race is run over a bush course that winds its way across open plains, through forest and hills.
The race is a charity fund-raiser set up to raise money for the conservation of wildlife, in particular rhinos. The event attracts many international competitors, and is open to both professional and amateur runners.
The Lewa marathon is a race with a difference, often watched form the roadside by many of the species it has been set up to protect.
The Safari Sevens are held each year at the Kenya Rugby Union Football Club (KRFU) on Ngong Road in Nairobi. The Sevens is a major international Rugby competition with a wide range of teams coming to play in one of the most popular Rugby Sevens in the world.
The Sevens are also a major event on the Nairobi Social calendar and there are plenty of lively social events in town for the duration of the matches.
The Safari Sevens is now a world recognized tournament in the global sevens rugby series. In the international arena, the Kenya rugby seven-a-side team has had a good run in the IRB Seven’s series. Kenya is primarily well known for her world class long distance runners, but now, the country can boast of a fine sevens rugby squad and a tournament as big as the team itself.
For rugby fans in Kenya, the Safari Sevens is a great chance to see Kenya’s top players in action against some of the best teams in the region and internationally on home soil.
Visitors to Kenya during the Safari Sevens can enjoy thrilling rugby on the field and fantastic safari options before and after the sevens, plenty of action and excitement on and off the pitch.
Kenya’s abundance of natural produce, combined with the rich variety of cultures and traditions, has created a great culinary nation.
The fertile volcanic soil of the Rift Valley produce a bounty of fresh vegetables, while the coast is a great source of tropical fruit and fresh seafood.
The coast is also the home of the world renowned Swahili cuisine, a blend of Middle Eastern and African cooking with a particular coastal twist.
Further inland, Kenyans are formidable meat eaters. One of the best known Kenyan specialties is Nyama Choma- meaning literally ‘roasted meat’.
There are many popular 'Choma Joints' in most Kenyan towns. Probably the best known is Nairobi's Carnivore, Kenya’s most famous restaurant.
This is usually slow roasted over an open fire or charcoals, and served with a mixture of basic greens (known as Sukuma Wiki) and Ugali. Ugali is the much loved staple food of Kenya. Essentially a stiff porridge of maize flour, Ugali is served in large, freshly cooked bricks. Pieces of Ugali are broken off and used to eat meat, stews or vegetables.
Vegetarians need not feel threatened- Kenya's large Asian population has led to a great many Indian, Pakistani and sub-continental restaurants throughout the country.
Excellent vegetarian meals can always be found alongside the best of regional Indian cuisine.
All over Kenya, the climate is ideal for alfresco dining. In many camps, lodges and restaurants, meals are served outside, letting you enjoy a feast with a view.
You can start the day with a bush breakfasts after an early morning game drive, and finish it with sundowner drinks and snacks taking in the view of one of Kenya's spectacular sunsets.
There is an incredible range of restaurants in Nairobi covering a world of cuisines. From Korean BBQ to French Novelle Cuisine, Ethiopian Injera to a Traditional Roast Sunday lunch, Hamburgers to Tandoori specialties, you'll find exactly what you're looking for, or a new and unexpected treat.
You may not have associated Kenya with world class cuisine, but after a safari here, you most certainly will.
IPR Nature Trail, Karen
Tucked within the Oloolua Forest in Karen, the Institute of Primate Research nature trail is a fascinating escape in the woods for nature lovers. Attractions in the forest include a serene environment with spectacular waterfalls, picnic site, natural cave, campsite and a viewing tower.
The National Museums of Kenya helps to conserve and protect this valuable natural heritage for future generations.
Located right in the heart of Nairobi City next to Nyayo House is the Nairobi Gallery. Built in 1913, this Old PC's office building was fondly referred to as 'Hatches, Matches and Dispatches' because of the births, marriages and deaths that were recorded there.
Today, the museum holds temporary exhibitions all year round giving visitors something new to look forward to.
Karen Blixen Museum
Built in 1912, Karen Blixen Museum was home to Danish Author, poet and Artist- Karen Blixen. Made famous by the Oscar Award winning film ‘Out of Africa’, based on Karen’s autobiography by the same title, the then farmhouse was established as a museum in 1986 by the National Museums of Kenya.
The museum continues to captivate visitors inspired by Karen’s life story.
Nairobi National Museum, Snake Park and Botanical Gardens
Nairobi National Museum was initiated in 1910. The museum closed for refurbishment in 2006 and re-opened in 2008 as a World Class Museum complete with shopping and dining facilities.
The museum presents Kenya’s History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art in all its splendor. Also within the grounds are the famous Snake Park, Botanical Gardens and Nature Trail.
Visit the National Museum and discover Kenya’s rich heritage.
Located along Langata road, Uhuru Gardens is a national monument and Kenya’s largest memorial park. A symbol of independence, this is where Kenya’s first flag was raised. Today, the park offers a tranquil picnic site, a family outing destination and is also a famous events venue. The Hero’s corner is set to be developed in honor of Kenya’s heroes and heroines.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Covering an area of over 1,500 square km, the Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Kenya. The reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley in primarily open grassland. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment.
Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is one of the lesser-known national parks, but is nevertheless teeming with life. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is unique by being the only protected area in the world with a variety of animals and birds close to a capital city. The park is a principal attraction for visitors to Nairobi.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park is the largest park in Kenya and was established on 1st April, 1948. Tsavo National Park was split into East and West for administrative purposes. The two Parks are divided by Nairobi–Mombasa railway and road.
Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park
Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park is located on the south coast off Shimoni and south of Wasini Island in Kwale District on the south Kenyan coast near the Tanzanian border. The complex covers a marine area with four small islands surrounded by coral reef. Kisite Island is a small waterless coral island, 8 km offshore in the Marine Park.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is a shallow strongly alkaline lake set in a picturesque landscape of surrounding woodland and grassland. The landscape includes areas of marsh and grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woodland and rocky hillsides covered with a Euphorbia forest.
Aberdare National Park
The Aberdares is an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern wall of the rift valley, running roughly 100 km north-south between Nairobi and Thomson’s Falls. Soils are red and of volcanic origin, but rich in organic matter.
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park covers approximately 30 per cent of Kenya’s park area, and contains a diversity of habitats, wildlife and a mountainous scenic landscape. The park is a vast expanse of savanna stretching from Mtito Andei, along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. The Park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur there in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by six communally owned group ranches.
Mount Kenya National Park
The Park, which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is also a Biosphere Reserve, covers 715 square km, and includes the peaks consisting of all the ground above 3,200 meters with two small salients extending lower down to 2,450 meters along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2,095 square km.
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Shimba Hills were gazetted as a National Forest in 1903, grassland areas were incorporated in 1924 and several subsequent extensions took place to bring the reserve to its present size. In 1968 most of the reserve was double gazetted as the Shimba Hills National Reserve.
Kora National Park
The Kora National Park was gazetted in 1973 as a reserve and gazetted as a park in 1990. It comprises of an area of a little over 1,700 square km.
Meru National Park
Meru is part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana River that includes the adjacent Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves, Kora National Park and Rahole National Reserve. The wetter North Western sector is hilly, with rich volcanic soils. The land flattens towards the east, where grey alluvial volcanic soils appear.
Ruma National Park
Ruma national park was established mainly to protect the Roan antelope, common only to this park. Ruma national park was established mainly to protect the Roan antelope, common only to this park. The soils are largely black cotton clay. The surrounding area is settled, with a mix of small scale cultivation and grassy pasture land.
Malindi Marine Park and Reserve
Malindi Marine Park and Reserve was the first marine protected area in Kenya, established in 1968 and designated as a Biosphere Reserve under the Man & Biosphere Reserve program of UNESCO in 1979. The park is located south of Malindi town extending to Mida creek. It neighbors the Gede ruins and Arabuko Sokoke forest.
Watamu National Park
Watamu National Park is part of a complex of marine and tidal habitats on Kenya’s north coast stretching from Malindi town to beyond the entrance to Mida creek. It is enclosed by the Malindi Marine National Reserve which also encloses Malindi Marine National Park. Habitats include inter-tidal rock, sand and mud; fringing reefs and coral gardens; beds of sea grass; coral cliffs, platforms and islets; sandy beaches and Mida Creek mangrove forest.
Mwea National Reserve
The reserve was gazetted in 1976 covering an area north-west of Kamburu Dam at the confluence of Tana and Thiba rivers. Two islands within Kamburu dam (constructed in 1976) are in the protected area. On the southern boundary is the Tana River, the eastern is the Thiba River and the northern boundary is an electric fence that stops animals from invading Makima settlements. The earliest human settlement in Makima dates from 1914, though wildlife conservation intervention was not until 1972.
Bisanadi National Reserve
Bisanadi National Reserve acts as a wildlife dispersal area for Meru National Park. It is a part of the Meru, Kora, Mwingi and Bisanadi conservation area, adjacent to northeast boundary of Meru, Isiolo district, covering an area of 606 square km. The vegetation is mainly thorn bush land and thicket with combretum prevailing in the north and commiphora in the south.
Tana River National Primate Reserve
The Tana River National Primate Reserve was gazetted in 1976 to protect the Lower Tana riverine forests and two highly endangered primates, the mangabey and the Tana River red colobus. The reserve consists mainly of patches of riparian forest extending for 16 km along the meandering course of the Lower Tana River, 350 km east of Nairobi and 240 km north of Mombasa.
Mwingi National Reserve
Mwingi National Reserve is one of four protected and contiguous areas that comprise the 4,400 square km Meru Conservational Area (MCA). The other three are Meru National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve and Kora National Park. Mwingi borders all three and is the least accessible. Mwingi has been designated a Wilderness Activity Zone by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which allows for fly camping, camel and horseback safaris as opportunities for traditional game viewing are extremely limited. Formerly known as Kitui National Reserve and located in Kitui District, Mwingi covers 745 sq km and is little visited by tourists.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is Kenya’s second highest mountain. It lies 140 km north-east of Lake Victoria and is bisected by the Kenya-Uganda border. An ancient eroded volcano with a huge caldera, its summit has the spectacular flat-topped basalt column known as Koitobos. Another unique feature of the mountain is the lava tube caves, some over 60 meters wide and only caves in the world frequented by elephants (and other animals) digging for salts. Mount Elgon National Park was gazetted in 1968 and covers a narrow transect on its north-eastern slopes. The remaining forest and moorland is part of the Mount Elgon Forest Reserve.
Marsabit National Reserve
Marsabit National Reserve covers an area of 1,500 square km and consists of a forested mountain that rises like an oasis in the middle of the desert wilderness and is the only source of permanent surface water in the region. The reserve has three spectacular crater lakes that provide habitat for a variety of birdlife.
South and Central Island National Parks
These remote and wild parks, along with Sibiloi National Park, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park offers visitors some stunning scenery and excellent bird-watching opportunities with flamingos, pelicans and water birds.
Arabuko Sokoke Forest National Park
Arabuko Sokoke is a few kilometers inland, between the towns of Kilifi and Malindi, 110 km north of Mombasa. It is the largest existing fragment of the tropical forests that once covered much of the East African coast and is an important habitat for endemic/endangered birds, insects and mammal species.
Kiunga Marine National Reserve
The reserve incorporates a chain of about 50 calcareous offshore islands and coral reefs in the Lamu Archipelago, running for some 60 km parallel to the coast in northern Kenya and adjacent to Dodori and Boni National Reserves.
The beaches are bordered by lush green coastal rainforests with prolific birdlife and variety of wildlife including baboons, rare colobus monkeys and even leopard.
A wide range of World Class resorts, centered around Diani Beach allow visitors to relax and enjoy this natural paradise with the best standards of accommodation, service and cuisine.
The south coast also has many smaller quiet getaways such as Tiwi Beach, ideal for travellers looking for a low key break. Inland, the fertile hinterland of Kwale District consists of small villages inhabited by the Wakamba, Digo and Duruma tribes.
Further south, the small fishing village of Shimoni is home to a series of deep mysterious coastal caves that stretch from the sea to deep into the jungles.
Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. When railway construction workers reached this area in 1899, they set up a basic camp and supply depot, simply called ‘Mile 327’. The local Maasai called this highland swamp Ewaso Nai’beri – the place of cold water.
The camp became a rustic village, and then a shanty town, which by 1907 was the capital of all of British East Africa. It was soon an important center for the colony and a mecca for adventurers, hunters and travellers from all over the world.
Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities. Nairobi is a city that never seems to sleep.
The city has not lost its sense of the past, with an excellent museum and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors. This is not a modern capital separated from the great wilderness that surrounds it. Just outside the city is Nairobi National Park, 113 sq kms of plains, cliffs and forest.
The park is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and more. Rhino, Cheetah, and a large number of Lions are all found here, living wild within 20 minutes of the center of town.
Further out of town, the spectacular 27 meter deep 'Fourteen Falls' waterfalls at Thika are perfect for a scenic day trip. Nearby Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, is centered around an imposing 2,146 meter mountain.
For the adventurous, take an hour's drive from town and you will find white water rafting on the beautiful Tana River.
South Western Kenya is the heartland of the Maasai. The Maasai are a strongly independent people who still value tradition and ritual as an integral part of their everyday lives. They regard themselves not just as residents of this area but that they are as much a part of the life of the land as the land is part of their lives.
Traditionally, the Maasai rarely hunt and living alongside wildlife in harmony is an important part of their beliefs. Lions and Wildebeest play as important a role in their cultural beliefs as their own herds of cattle. This unique co-existence of man and wildlife makes this Maasai land one of the world’s most unique wilderness regions.
At the heart of these lands is the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 200 sq miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti, the Mara is home to a breath taking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle, and Topi.
Mombasa is a place steeped in history, yet at the same time fascinating commercial and cosmopolitan port town. Mombasa is an island connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. The town overlooks a wide harbor, where commercial shipping mingles with traditional sailing dhows.
The true heart of Mombasa is found in the exotic old town, among the narrow winding streets and Arab architecture. The air there is always heavy with the scent of spices. Women wearing the traditional bui bui fill the narrow streets and busy markets. At the dhow docks fresh fish and goods from all along the coast arrive daily.
The streets are alive with the bright colors of the traditional coastal khanga and kikoy, the all-purpose wrap around cloth worn by both men and women. At the water’s edge is Fort Jesus, an imposing fort that stands watch over the harbor.
Mosques, Hindu Temples and Christian churches surround streets that thrive with a world of cultures. Mombasa is a place where both history and progress are greatly valued, where a busy harbor existence is lived at its own unique, tropical pace.
Malindi and Watamu
The small town of Malindi is at the center of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches offering the visitor a range of world class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways. Further south, the sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches.
This tranquil haven is home to several well established resorts, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along the deserted shore. At Watamu a Marine National Park has been established, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkelers alike.
Northwest of Malindi is the spectacular Marafa Depression, locally known as Nyari and popularly known as Hell's Kitchen. An extensive series of sandstone gorges and sheer gullies, this unique and otherworldly landscape has become part of local folklore.
Mt Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. Traditionally, all Kikuyu home were built to face this sacred peak. They call it Kirinyaga, or place of light.
The mountain is an awe-inspiring sight. Its ragged series of peaks are crowned with snow, and its slopes are thick with forest. The mountain is best seen at dawn, when the day’s early light silhouettes its impressive summit high over the surrounding plains.
The coastline North of Mombasa is a world of enthralling history and natural beauty. The coast is lined with pristine palm fringed beaches, and the calm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean.
The beaches are broken by the wide mouth of Kilifi Creek, whose azure waters are a popular port of call on the international yachting circuit. The beaches of Nyali, Vipingo, Kikambala and Shanzu are home to a wide range of World Class resorts with fine cuisine and services.
The peaceful beach havens of Mtwapa and Takaungu offer an ideal escape from the outside world, with endless deserted beaches. The offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles and dolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens and drop offs, and Kenya's best wreck diving on the MV Dania.
Standing over the shores of Lake Naivasha, at 2886 meters this massive dormant volcano dominates the landscape for miles around. The brooding hulk of the Mountain is lined with spectacular fissures and laval canyons.
As you climb these slopes, you pass through herds of grazing game as spectacular views of the Rift Valley and Naivasha unfold below. Its vast crater is an awesome sight, the jagged edge surrounding a broad expanse of vegetation. Geothermal steam trickles upwards from the walls, while buffalo and other game make their way across the crater floor.
Nakuru provides the visitor with one of Kenya’s best known images. Thousands of flamingo, joined into a massive flock, fringe the shores of this soda lake. A pulsing pink swathe of life that carpets the water, the flamingo are a breathtaking sight.
The lake has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on algae that forms on the lake bed. They move back and forth, feeding and occasionally and spectacularly taking to flight, filling the sky over the lake with color. The lake is extremely variable in size- changing from 5 up to 30 sq kms in area. Nakuru has more than just flamingos. This is a major National Park and an important sanctuary for Rhino. Both Black and White Rhino are found there, and are often seen resting under acacias by the Lake shore.
Amboseli is a land of giants. This is a place of wide dry plains, where the horizons stretch into the furthest distance and become one with the sky.
Amboseli is renowned for its elephant populations and large herds, including some impressively tusked bulls are drawn to a series of large, lush swamplands. But the most impressive giant of all is Mt Kilimanjaro. Africa’s largest mountain lies just over the border in Tanzania, but the most impressive views of its snow-capped peak are to be found in Amboseli. The early light of dawn turns the mountain a dark hue of purple, and its snows into an ethereal pink. The sight of Kilimanjaro high above herds of elephant crossing the plains of Amboseli is a timeless African image.
Kisumu is a quiet port town on the Lakeshore, with wide streets and fine colonial architecture. To the south fishing villages line Lake Victoria towards the broad waters of Homa Bay. This area is home to Ruma National Park, a small but attractive park with many unique species.
You can take home more than just memories of your trip to Kenya. Kenya has on offer a wide range of diverse and unique products that make ideal gifts.
In many hotels, lodges and camps throughout the country, you will find well stocked gift shops offering a wide array of traditional artifacts, jewelry, Kenya’s famous tea and coffee, all-purpose fabric wraps to beautiful stone and wood carvings all inspired by the diverse range of cultures within Kenya’s borders.
Modern Nairobi, the safari capital of Africa, is a perfect place to combine the safari and shopping experience. Nairobi is a place of great contrasts where diverse cultures all become components of a unique Nairobi character.
The city hosts several separate open markets on various locations around the city. Commonly christened the Maasai Market, this marketplace offers a wide range of local arts and crafts from all parts of the country in one single spot where travelers can look around and bargain at will.
These colorful markets are interesting to visit and a good place to find assorted indigenous gift items suited for this festive season and all year round.
A quick enquiry from your hotel or tour agent can reveal where this rotational markets are held and on which days. Nairobi undeniably has numerous options for the ardent shopper.
Kitengela Glass Studios, located just outside the city of Nairobi, provides the perfect location for a day trip, ideal for the entire family. There you can truly combine the safari and shopping experience.
The studio borders Nairobi National Park, the world’s only wildlife capital. The park’s rolling plains are home to buffalo, zebra, black rhino, giraffe and diverse birdlife. Cheetah and lions are often seen. Visitors can take a game drive through the park on the way to the studios.
The ambience at the studio, complete with sculptures, unique architectural designs, mosaic pathways and a backdrop of the thriving modern Nairobi city is an unforgettable one. For those who do not fear heights, a walk across the suspension bridge linking Silole Sanctuary and Kitengela Glass provides the added thrill to the whole experience.
Visitors have the opportunity to see the artistic styles of the local skilled artisans as they transform recycled glass and scraps of other materials into beautiful works of art, jewelry and home-ware. The patience and skill devoted to the entire process is simply remarkable as is the final product.
Melted scrap glass is meticulously shaped to form beautiful glass pieces, walls and walkways lined with bottle tops and scrap glass pieces creating astonishing mosaics. Steam injected oil is used to power the furnaces, all aimed at getting the most out of the materials used and striving for a low lifetime energy consumption.
The wide variety of glass hand made products available at Kitengela make exceptional gift items.
For those looking to extend their stay, accommodation is available at the adjacent Maasai Lodge. Large groups planning to visit the studio or wish to make any sort of special request should call for appointments.
Located on part of the farm once owned by Karen Blixen of 'Out of Africa' fame, at the base of the Ngong Hills in the leafy suburbs of Karen Nairobi is Kazuri Beads.
Kazuri, which is Swahili for small and beautiful, has perfected the art of using clay as a medium in the making of beads, finished jewelry, tableware and pottery. The distinct and beautifully designed jewelry and ceramic pottery is delicately handcrafted by local women in a process where attention to detail is everything.
To add to the overall shopping experience visitors to the workshop in Nairobi can take a guided tour of the factory to see the work that goes into producing these unique beads.
Just watching the detail the glazers put in each bead as they hand paint each one with such precision is simply amazing. The now colorful beads are then sorted according to color and design combinations. Threading of the necklaces is done using fishing line and brass spacers available locally.
All products are of the highest quality and make ideal gifts for friend and family. A number of international celebrities have adorned jewelry from Kazuri whose products are readily available online.
Nairobi has an endless and colorful array of shopping malls and markets with plenty on offer for the visitor.
Many of the major shopping malls in the city such as the Sarit Center, Village Market, Yaya Center and the Mall have a variety of stores well stocked with a wide assortment of authentic Kenyan gifts for you to take home this Christmas.
A stroll on the streets of Nairobi one is bound to find several streets lined with shops selling a wide selection of gifts and other memorabilia to crown your safari experience.
Kenya is the ideal destination for the development of world beating athletes as many runners across the world seek to come and discover the source of Kenya’s athletic prowess.
For the traveling Golfer teeing off in one of Kenya’s many world class golf courses makes for a perfect break from a safari.
While in Kenya you can enjoy thrilling rugby on the field and fantastic safari options in one of the world famous game parks, plenty of action and excitement on and off the pitch.