Incredible East Africa has so much to offer, but it can be hard knowing what to see and do. So we asked an insider, Christine Mungai, for her tips on the best things to do in Kenya.
Kenya is a fascinating hotspot for wildlife activities. In fact, the terms Kenya and safari are almost synonymous. However, wildlife is just a minuscule part of the whole package of must do activities in Kenya – talk of exotic locations, glorious sunsets, quiet beaches plus captivating cultures and you’ll have a glimpse of what this charming country has to offer.
Now, Kenya is not so straight forward when visiting as a tourist that’s why an insider’s guide is necessary. Check out some of the best secret things to do in Kenya.
1. Explore the rich culture of the Maasai community
This may not be the most unique thing to do in Kenya but experiencing the Maasai culture is one of the unmissable things when visiting East Africa. For thousands of years, the Maasai community has roamed the land of Kenya and Tanzania living a free, nomadic lifestyle and unaffected by the growing technology.
Their villages are temporal since they move from one place to another for the search of greener pasture. It’s enchanting to see people who live the exact same way their ancestors lived hundreds of years ago.
2. Admire the bleak beauty of Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana is the largest permanent desert lake in the world and for those who appreciate stark beauty, it’s an off-the-beaten-track destination that’s great for a weekend getaway.
It’s probably one of the strangest yet interesting places in Kenya with three active volcanos, blue-green crater lakes, and a single campsite.
Lake Turkana is commonly known as the Jade Sea owing to the pale green colour of its waters, barren shores with black-beaches and saline waters that host the largest crocodile colony on the planet.
3. Cycle in Hells Gate National Park
If you are keen to get away from crowds and have a unique sort of safari then you can cycle your way past giraffes, zebra and warthogs grazing merely a meter away.
Getting up at dawn to have a moment with nature creates indelible memories and you’re bound to snap some epic close up photos of wildlife you’d otherwise never achieve from the distance of a safari vehicle.
After a blissful 8 km cycle, you can enjoy a hike in the geothermal landscape trekking your way through magnificent gorges and past otherworldly natural hot springs.
4. Visit Lake Victoria, one of the largest alkaline lakes in the world
Lake Victoria is huge- the second largest freshwater on earth surpassed only by Lake Superior in North America. Located on the western frontier of Kenya, this Lake is perfect for a pleasurable and relaxing vacation away from the chaotic cities in Kenya.
The lake is the heart of Africa being served by the mightiest river in the continent, the Nile and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
With its vastness, reefs, over 200 fish species, plenty of birdlife and magnificent dotted islands, the Lakes’ majesty is astounding plus the sunsets arouse a feeling of peace and tranquillity.
5. Visit the only true desert in Kenya
Being a country famed for a temperate climate, sand dunes and desert would seem like a dream far beyond Kenya’s reach. However, in the Chalbi Desert located in the northern part of the country in Marsabit County it’s possible to have ‘Dubai’ desert fun but in Kenya.
This is probably the hottest and the most arid region in the country but the peculiar charm and quest for adventure and challenge make a trip to the east of north Turkana worthwhile.
The desert is believed to have been a lake one that dried up thousands of years ago hence the name Chalbi translating to ‘bare and salty’ in Gabbra language.
Make sure you pack lots of patience since the infrastructure isn’t the best. Also, remember to carry enough water you might encounter some thirsty locals and water is a very precious commodity here.
6. Go biking, hiking and walking through the picturesque Ngong Hills
Ngong Hills is a great place to unwind and connect with nature. It’s only 30 minutes’ drive from the capital city and has the most spectacular views of Nairobi and the dramatic Great Rift Valley. The escapements are breath-taking, the vegetation beautiful and the hills so high you could touch the clouds.
As far as your eyes can see, the vastness of nothing but beauty, like no other place on earth. It’s surrounded by wind turbines at the start of the hike and the area experiences strong currents of winds, especially at the summit. Remember to pack some sunscreen, a warm hood, and a walking stick, lest you get blown away by strong winds.
7. Head down to the coast and enjoy water sports
The coast part of Kenya is a pretty famous destination especially to lovers of sand, sun, and water but only a few know the best things to do in Mombasa.
The Kenyan coast is remarkably diverse. Apart from boasting stunning pearly beaches perfect for a laid-back getaway, it’s also an ideal place to try out water sports and adrenaline rush activities.
You can try snorkelling, fish surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding, and if you are a daredevil have a panoramic aerial view of the fabulous island of Mombasa by sky diving at Diani Beach.
Make sure you stay in a Swahili themed beach where you can have a Swahili gastronomy experience as well as indulge in the Kenyan coastal culture.
8. Visit David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of the most heart-warming rehabilitation centres in the world. Baby elephants, victims of human-wildlife conflicts and poaching are rescued and nurtured back to health.
Not only do you get a chance to get up-close to these beautiful animals and watch them being fed, but the caregivers at the facility also have a very informative talk about each individual elephant and their unique journey leading to adoption.
The best way to experience David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is by adopting an elephant for $50 well in advance before you travel to Nairobi. They’ll get you engaged for one whole year by sending you monthly updates and photos showing you the progress of your adopted calf.
Once you visit you’ll have special access at 5 pm as a ‘foster parent’ where you can watch slurps and gurgles of the baby elephant being fed and pampered. If you are an animal lover, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Nairobi.
Nairobi and Mombasa airports are both well served from many international destinations, including direct flights from London other European cities.
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The best time to visit is either December through to February, or July through to October, which are the dry seasons. Being equatorial, Kenya is fairly consistently warm year round, with two rainy seasons, one in the summer and one in the autumn.
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