Country guides Africa
Kenya Travel Guide
Kenya has held a powerful attraction for visitors ever since early European explorers and intrepid settlers brought back tales of endless plains filled with antelope, man-eating lions and mountain peaks, along with perfect beaches to top it all off.
The country is certainly the premier African safari destination, offering unparalleled wild game experiences in its iconic parks: the Maasai Mara with its vast rolling grassland; Amboseli's regal elephant herds; and the dramatic vistas of the Great Rift Valley. Peak safari time is the mid-year wildebeest migration, which is an unforgettable sight as millions of animals make an epic journey across the land seeking fresh pastures.
The physical diversity of the country is reflected in the many distinct cultural groups, although the distinctive Maasai people are of most interest to tourists seeking the classic images of Kenya's African identity. Kenya's coastline offers treasures of its own with excellent beaches and resorts, many with pristine coral reefs to explore and all of which are easily accessed by regular flights to Mombasa, the country's oldest and second-largest city.
Safety has been a concern in the last few years. Kenya has in the past experienced a spate of terrorist attacks, particularly in Nairobi, Mombasa and coastal regions, and many governments have issued travel warnings for the country. Warnings do not, however, include Kenya's safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies, and these are safe for tourists. Travellers are advised to inform themselves on the situation though and to avoid areas identified as dangerous by official government sources.
Yet despite these unfortunate incidents, a trip to Kenya is usually trouble free and the people are warm and welcoming. Nothing has stopped the droves of northern hemisphere visitors seeking respite from the cold of their home countries and they inevitably enjoy Kenya's near-perfect tropical climate and year-round sunshine.
'Africa in one country' is the richly fulfilling promise of a holiday in Kenya and, ultimately, the combination of wildlife, beaches and mountains make it the perfect safari destination and excellent option for an African holiday experience.
Best time to visit Kenya
Kenya's weather is best over the winter months of June to September when both rainfall and temperatures are at their lowest. The wildebeest migration occurs sometime between early August and November so this is also a popular time to visit. February and March can be very hot and humid.
What to see in Kenya
-Visit the Karen Blixen Museum near Nairobi to learn about the woman immortalised in Out of Africa.
-See the pink flamingos of Lake Nakuru Park, also renowned for its sightings of leopard and lion.
-Get up close and personal with herds of mighty elephants at Amboseli National Park with magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro as a backdrop.
-Spend time in Mombasa and see the 16th century fort guarding the harbour entrance.
What to do in Kenya
-Experience the wild beauty and rolling savannahs of the Masai Mara Reserve.
-Watch the wildebeest migration from a hot-air balloon over the Masai Mara and Serengeti.
-Take a dhow trip from romantic and laid-back Lamu, Kenya's oldest town.
-Enjoy the perfect beaches of Malindi, also a base for excellent fishing and diving.
Getting to Kenya
There are direct flights to Kenya from many international cities via Jomo Kenyatta Airport, a major hub. There are also flights to Kenya from Europe to Mombasa's Moi International Airport.
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallmann and Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o.
Out of Africa (1985), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), The Constant Gardner (2005) and The White Masai (2005)
Local game such as zebra, crocodile and camel.
Tusker Lager or Tangawizi ginger ale for the teetotalers.
What to buy
Kisii stone (soap stone) carvings, Masai jewellery, Mkonde wood carvings, Lamu chairs and batiks.
What to pack
It gets hot and humid so bring a good hat, sun-screen and mosquito repellent spray; a light rain-jacket will be handy during the wet season.
What's on in Kenya
The Wildebeest Migration is one of the most majestic sights on earth, taking place each year from June to August.
Did you know?
Kenya has 65 national parks and reserves, and 42 ethnic tribes - but only two official languages: English and Swahili.
A final word
Africa in one country, with all the wild animals, natural beauty and ethnic diversity that entails: a holiday in Kenya offers the best of the continent for the safari seeker in us all.