Kenya was recently declared the world leading safari destination by the World Travel Awards, and right so, it is a land of immense beauty and contrasts. From the towering peaks of Mount Kenya to the rolling plains around the Loita Hills, the country has everything an adventure-seeking soul could wish for.
The country is most famous for its high abundance of game parks and wildlife sanctuaries, most of which teem with the Big 5, endemic vegetation and a vast variety of African animals. Kenya is also a cultural hotspot and home to some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in the world. These include Wasini island, Chale Island and Diani beach.
It is this matchless beauty that saw over 2 million international tourists visit the country in 2019 alone. But which are the top 5 things to do and see in Kenya?
Hiking Mount Kenya
There’s no better place to begin your tour around Kenya than from the country’s highest point. Mount Kenya is located some 180 kilometres northeast of Nairobi and rises to an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level.
Most visitors to the mountain prefer to take scenic road drives along the Nairobi – Nyeri – Nanyuki road. However, you can also fly into an airport that’s located in Nanyuki town, and then manoeuvre the rest of the distance by road. If you’re a first-time visitor, always work with professional tours and safari companies in Kenya, such as AjKenyasafaris.com. The operators will help you to determine the best way to get to the mountain from any location within the country.
Mount Kenya is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site @ Biosphere Reserve, featuring lots of fun activities for hikers. Mountain climbing is the main highlight here. The mountain has four peaks – Nelion, Batian, and Point Lenana – whose altitudes vary.
Besides mountain climbing, there’s also the opportunity to go on wildlife hiking tours at the Mount Kenya National Park. The park lies at the foot of the mountain and is a haven for leopards, elephants, and other endangered animals, such as the Bongo.
The dry seasons of January to March, as well as June to October are the ideal times to go on hiking tours of Mount Kenya, just before the NFL betting season start.
Scuba Diving at Diani Beach
Diani Beach is the most famous beach vacation and April holiday destination along the Indian Ocean coast. Diani enjoys the prestigious title as Africa’s preeminent beach destination, a record it has held for six consecutive years. The beach is located approximately 30 kilometers from the coastal city of Mombasa, in Kwale County. You can easily drive there from Mombasa or fly directly into Ukunda Airstrip that’s located roughly 1.7 kilometres from the beach.
While Diani promises a cocktail of adventure activities for travellers, scuba diving is undeniably the main highlight here. Scuba diving tours are the perfect way to explore the rich marine life of the Indian Ocean. Swim with the dolphins as you encounter some of the ocean’s iconic dwellers, including the hawksbill sea turtle, the green turtle, and the great white shark. And if you find the idea of deep-sea diving quite aversive, you can keep it at the shallows and simply marvel at the surreal beauty of the ocean’s pristine waters.
Other exciting things to do in Diani include jet-skiing, snorkelling, boat riding, and kitesurfing. Not to mention, camel rides and hot air balloon rides. Should you have more time to spare, you might consider visiting nearby points of interest, such as Wasini Island, Shimba Hills National Reserve, Robinson Island, and Fort Jesus.
You can plan your trip to Diani either during the cooler seasons of July to September or the dryer months of January to March.
Game Drives at the Masai Mara National Park
Masai Mara lies in the southwestern plains of Kenya, 260 kilometres from Nairobi. In 2017, the park was voted the leading game park in Africa, thanks to its vast collection of wildlife. In fact, Masai Mara has the world’s largest concentration of wild animals.
You can get to the Mara by going on a scenic road trip through the expansive Narok County where the park lies. However, the easiest way is to fly into the Mara Serena Airport that’s located within the park. Masaimarasafari.in facilitates most safaris to Masai Mara Game Reserve by offering affordable travel packages.
As an iconic African safari destination, Masai Mara is home to Africa’s Big Five, plus around 100 animal and 500 bird species. If you schedule your trip between July and October, you’ll be able to glimpse the Great Wildebeest Migration. Dubbed the Seventh Wonder of The World, the Great Migration sees millions of wildebeests make a journey from neighbouring Serengeti National Park into the Mara. The main action happens at the Mara River, which lies directly on the migratory route. Here, you can watch as the mighty Nile crocodiles savagely feast on the crossing herds.
Mountainbiking Tours of Hell’s Gate
Hell’s Gate is located 125 kilometers from Nairobi, west of Naivasha town. The best way to get there is by road, a trip that takes approximately 2 ½ hours.
Hell’s Gate is the best park in Kenya to go on cycling and biking tours. As you enter the park, you’ll be welcomed by two extinct volcanoes, namely Olkaria and Hobley’s. The park is also famous for the Hell’s Gate Gorge, which is lined with red cliffs containing two volcanic plugs – Central Tower and the Fischer’s Tower. The 25 meters-high Fischer’s Tower is the climbers’ favourite.
Other spectacular features within Hell’s Gate include visits to the park’s caves, geysers, and geothermal springs. And like most parks in Kenya, Hell’s Gate also teems with wildlife. Some of the animals you’ll encounter during your mountain biking tours include hartebeest, African buffalos, Thomson’s gazelles, baboons, and some of the park’s over 100 bird species.
As there are no accommodation facilities within Hell’s Gate, the park is ideal for day trips. You can visit Hell’s Gate anytime, except the wet months of March through May.
Birdwatching at Lake Nakuru
Lake Nakuru is located 166 kilometres west of Nairobi. Nakuru is actually the administrative centre of Nakuru County, which also includes Naivasha town where Hell’s Gate is found. The close proximity of Lake Nakuru to Hell’s Gate makes it practical to visit both locations in one trip.
You can easily get to Nakuru by road, a trip of about 3 hours. The road trip is quite a scenic one, as you get to sight Lake Naivasha and Lake Elementaita on the way.
Lake Nakuru is a bird watcher’s paradise, with the main attraction being the huge flocks of pink flamingos. To get a sweeping view of the birds and the lake’s lush greenery, you’ll need to perch yourself on top of the Baboon cliff. From this point, you can observe how these graceful birds play frantically at the water’s edge, as you take in the calm and serenading breeze from the sea.
The lake is part of Lake Nakuru National Park, which is a designated World Heritage Site. The park is a haven for hippos, warthogs, impalas, Rothschild giraffes, and many more animals.
The best time to visit Lake Nakuru is during the dryer months of January to March as well as June to September.
There are obviously many more exciting things to do in Kenya. However, the ones we’ve highlighted here should definitely feature in any traveller’s itinerary.