When one thinks of Kenya, the images that automatically come to mind include that of game reserves where large animals roam freely in the wild. It’s easy to see why. The country has over 50 national parks and reserves to spot the “Big Five”: lion, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard, and elephant. Then there are parks that play host to more exotic animals such as Nile crocodiles, reticulated giraffes, and dik-dik zebras. On the other hand, the Kenya also has great beaches where you can relax amongst palm trees. Whether you choose to stay for a month or simply a week, make it a point to explore one of these must see attractions in Kenya.
Must See Attractions in Kenya
Safaris and Game Reserves
Maasai Mara National Park
Kenya’s most famous game reserve is Maasai Mara National Park and unsurprisingly on many folk’s travel bucket list for a wildlife safari. Located on the southwest corner of the country, the Maasai Mara covers over 500 square miles of land and is next to Serengeti National Park in neighboring Tanzania. The highlight of the Maasai Mara is the annual Great Migration, a natural event that occurs as large mammals such as wildebeests and zebras travel in a clockwise rotation from Tanzania to Kenya. This spectacle is where you’ll see the greatest concentration of land mammals anywhere on the planet and produces some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world.
The best time to visit varies and generally depends on the amount of rain the reserve gets every year but most experts will say that the months of July through September is the optimal time to visit especially if you want to witness the Great Migration.
Amboseli National Park
Another spot to see some of Africa’s giant mammals is Amboseli National Park. Breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro as well as some of the best close-up views of African elephants in the wild are what makes Amboseli one of the must see attractions in Kenya worth visiting. The park also sits in the Rift Valley, near the border of Tanzania, but is slightly smaller than the Maasai Mara (392 square miles). Other animals that can be seen at the park include different species of birds, hippopotamus, cheetahs, and leopards.
In addition to the wildlife viewing and scenic views of Mount Kilamanjaro, Amboseli National Park gives guests plenty of opportunities to learn about and meet the Maasai people. Despite their semi-nomadic culture, they are indigenous to the Rift Valley sections within Kenya and Tanzania. They are excellent cattle herders and have a reputation for having great wilderness skills.
Lake Turkana National Parks
If your idea of an African safari involves a desolate landscape and learning about Africa’s oldest and most unique tribes, then the parks surrounding Lake Turkana are just the right ones for you. Its location northwest of the country (near the border of Ethiopia) makes it harder to get to. As a result, it receives fewer visitors compared to the other parks and reserves, particularly those located in the southern Rift Valley.
Lake Turkana is Africa’s largest saline lake and features island craters originating from extinct volcanoes. This unique feature gives the area a lunar like topography. One particular island, Central, is famous for the largest concentration of Nile crocodiles. On the other hand, the area referred to as Kobi Fora is a paleontologist dream destination. The area is rich with fossil remains, which provide context to the evolution of mankind.
Kenya boasts over 400 miles of coastline so it’s not surprising to hear that the country has also become a popular beach destination.
Diani Beach is Kenya’s most popular beach and the preferred spot by folks staying in the city of Mombasa. Located just 20 miles south, it boasts a relaxing atmosphere with fine sand and plenty of palm trees. It’s not uncommon to see hammocks or families with picnic baskets scattered around the beach, particularly on bright and sunny days. What makes Diani one of the must see attractions in Kenya worth visiting however is its gentle waves and abundance of coral reefs, which also makes it a great place for surfing and diving.
For something completely different, though equally satisfying seaside getaway, head north towards Lamu, the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. This UNESCO World Heritage site features a fascinating architecture that combines generations of cultural influences and attract travelers who want a peaceful, yet scenic beach getaway.