The longer I’ve had the pleasure of working with South African Airways Vacations, the deeper my knowledge of this vast, incredible country of Africa truly becomes. What unfamiliar travelers may think of as one large continent is, in fact, a region with so many various countries, each of which hold their own special magic to be discovered, and Kenya is at the top of my list to visit this year.
With the warmth of the Indian Ocean grasping its coastline and Mount Kenya rising high above a tapestry of farms, savannahs, and lavish tree-filled highlands, Kenya is an amazing country in which to travel. Its variating landscape offers a surplus of wildlife, while its cultural and social history results in a fascinating demographic that includes the Swahili area near the Kenyan coast, and the Maasai region of the stunning Great Rift Valley. The country is known for its national parks, exotic wildlife, cultural history, and stunning beaches, all of which blend together to create an alluring destination for travelers.
Below are some of the most highly recommended areas for you to visit on your journey to Kenya. As the region is vast and filled with so many things to see and do, I would recommend planning at least a 10-day trip when traveling here.
Visit Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel set on 12 acres of private land within a large indigenous forest in Nairobi. The appeal of Giraffe Manor lies largely in its beautiful interior and exterior design, which maintains much of its original 1930’s appeal. However, the manors very special visitors- a herd of Rothschild’s giraffes that may visit both morning and evening, occasionally poking their long necks into the windows in hopes of receiving a snack- are the most unique feature of this very private and luxurious experience.
Heads up for first-time travelers: Giraffe Manor can book fully up to a year in advance, so we recommend planning your trip well ahead of time to ensure you can get a reservation at this exclusive boutique property.
Kenya’s capital city with almost 3 million people in population is the main stop for travelers who would like to stay an evening before flying or driving out to wildlife parks to go on safari. Within Nairobi lies an abundance of things to see and do, including the Nairobi National Museum, and the Nairobi National park, which lies right outside the city.
Visit the Flamingos at Lake Bogoria
Lake Bogoria is a saline-alkaline like that is home to one of the largest populations of flamingos in the entire world. The lake is also famous for geysers and over 200 hot springs that run along the banks of the lake. There are few accommodations available in Lake Bogoria, however, there are campsites available at the south shores for the more outdoorsy traveler.
Admire the Serengeti
Besides being largely known for the great migration, the Serengeti is also famous for its large lion population and is one of the best areas to observe lions in their natural environment. There are over 70 large mammal species and over 500 bird species found throughout the region, due to the high diversity of habitats in the area. Over 80% of the Serengeti region is legally protected by Kenya and Tanzanian governments, making it a consistently beautiful area to visit.
Visit Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate lies south of Lake Naivasha, and was established more recently in 1984. There are several speculations as to the reasoning behind the memorable naming of the park, ranging from the extreme geothermal activity to the narrow break in the cliffs from the top. Hiking, bicycling, motorcycling and camping are encouraged within the park, making it a great place to stop and explore. At only 26 square miles and filled with wildlife, this is also an excellent spot for day trekkers, photographers and birding enthusiasts.
Admire Watamu Beach
Less well known to travelers are the beautiful sandy white beaches that hug the Indian Ocean on the southern side of Kenya. Watamu Beach is a hidden gem amongst the locals, with the main attraction being the Marine Park, which is known as one of the best snorkeling and diving areas on the coasts of Africa. There are many options when looking for good beach destinations in Kenya, and Watamu is at the top of the list.
Follow in Bill Gates Footsteps in Eldoret
Set near the border of Uganda, Eldoret is a pretty highland town in the Rift Valley, which serves as a great launchpad into Kenya if you’re crossing the border or looking to experience some of the many attractions around the area. Perhaps the town’s personal and biggest claim to fame is its connection to Bill Gates, who spends a lot of time here as part of his foundation work. In fact, you can spend a night where Bill normally stays, for a bargain price!
Get Chaotic in Mombasa
Back in Kenya’s coast, the important harbor city of Mombasa is one of the best destinations to explore when it comes to things to do in Kenya, even if only for a night. The UNESCO-listed Old Fort Museum is definitely the highlight attraction in this ancient city, but absorbing the chaos in the streets of this bustling city or checking out the markets is just as, if not more, fun in my opinion!
Foster an Elephant
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park, Kenya and is only open to the public for one hour every day, during feeding hours, from 11 am to noon. During this time the orphans arrive for their midday mud bath and feeding. The entrance to the orphanage for the visiting hour requires a minimum contribution of $7 US dollars. A gift shop is on-site and visitors can also set up a fostering during their visit.
The DSWT operates a digital foster program which allows individuals across the world to support their field projects by fostering an orphaned elephant, rhino or giraffe in their care for themselves or as a gift. For a suggested donation of $50 per orphan per year, individuals receive via email: a personalized certificate, an interactive map, monthly update on the progress of their orphan and watercolor by CEO Angela Sheldrick.
All elephant, rhino and giraffe orphans rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are available to foster, including those orphans living back in the wild, and proceeds benefit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s conservation projects.