Spotlight on Kenya

With long, tropical beaches and dramatic wildlife parks, Kenya has an exotic tourist image. Enter the more genuine and different world inhabited by most Kenyans: a ceaselessly active, contrasting landscape of farm and field, of streams and bush paths, of wooden and corrugated-iron shacks, tea shops and lodging houses, of crammed buses and pick-up vans, of overloaded bicycles, and of streets wandered by goats, chickens, and toddlers. Discover the warmth, openness and curiosity in Kenya's towns and villages, especially off the more heavily trodden tourist routes. Out in the wild, there is an abundance of authentic scenic glamour - savannah dotted with Masai and their herds, high Kikuyu moorlands, dense forests bursting with bird song and insect noise, and stony, shimmering desert. On the Indian Ocean coast, the palm-shaded strands of beach and an almost continuous, reef-protected lagoon are even better than the brochures depict - no photo can do justice. Of course, Kenya's wildlife adds a startling and rapidly addictive dimension.

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and one of Africa’s most modern and fastest growing major cities. The original center retains Asian influence in its older buildings with glassy modern buildings. Visit City Market with local produce and handicrafts. Other attractions are: National Museum, displaying ethnographic, paleontological and ornithological exhibits; the Arboretum, with an excellent collection of East African flora; the University, known for its unique architecture; the excellent Kenya Railway Museum; and Nairobi’s landmark, the extraordinary Kenyatta Conference Center, the country’s most monumental building, visible from miles outside the city. There are casinos at Safari Park Hotel and Inter-Continental, and there’s Sunday-afternoon horse-racing. Visit the Karen Blixen Museum, where some action of the book and film Out of Africa took place. Beautiful forested Ngong Hills is a spiritual place for the Masai and excellent area for hiking and enjoying views of Nairobi and the Rift Valley. Nairobi National Park is a wildlife game reserve. 

Amboseli - Amboseli National Park, at the foot of Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, is one of Kenya's most popular parks. The snow capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rising above a saucer of clouds dominates every aspect of Amboseli. Despite its small size and fragile ecosystem it supports a wide range of mammals and birds. The snows of Kilimanjaro, white and crystalline, form a majestic backdrop to one of Kenya's most spectacular displays of wildlife - lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah, buffalo and hosts of plains' game, creating Kenya's most sought after photographer's paradise. The Park's best game runs are around swamps and there is a fine lookout on Observation Hill which offers views over the whole of the Park and beyond.

Masai Mara is Kenya's finest and most outstanding wildlife sanctuary where gentle rolling grassland ensures animals are never out of sight. The climate is gentle, rarely too hot and well spread rainfall year round. The sensation of the great wildebeest migration between July and October is unparalleled. The wildlife is far from being confined within the Reserve boundaries and an even larger area extends beyond the game Reserve. Centuries of close association with the wildlife has resulted in an almost symbiotic relationship where wildlife and Masai people live in peace with one another. The first sight of this park is breathtaking. There is nowhere else on earth to compare with this wildlife marvel. The combination of a gentle climate, scenic splendor and untold numbers of wildlife makes the Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya's most popular inland destination.

Mombasa, also called Gateway to Kenya, is the country’s most historic city and largest port on Africa’s Coral Coast. Today impressive Fort Jesus still dominates the entrance to the old harbor and serves as a museum about Mombasa’s colorful past. The most exotic part of Mombasa is Old Town. Here, narrow alleys lined by mosques and cramped old houses slope down to bustling dhow harbor where pier vendors offer arts and crafts. Local cuisine includes spicy stews and game such as eland, gazelle and impala. One of the best-known restaurants is the Tamarind; it is regarded as the best in East Africa. Old Dhow Harbor is where traditional boats (dhows) load and unload goods from faraway places and nearby islands. Nyali Resort Area is a coastal stretch with white sand beaches and hotels offering resort facilities. Mamba Village is a crocodile farm where more than 10,000 crocodiles live in their natural habitat. Shimba Hills National Reserve is Kenya’s most underrated wildlife refuge.

Samburu National Reserve is not very well-known, but definitely worth a visit. It is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya. This means plenty of water, trees and shade to attract wildlife like elephant, lion, giraffe and zebra from the surrounding savannah plains. Leopards are also regularly spotted.

The reserve is not particularly well-known and is therefore not too crowded - a huge plus in Kenya where so many reserves are often overflowing with tourists. It is often grouped together with the Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves as they lie so close together.

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