Tourist Attractions in Kenya
Kenya remains, as it always has been, a favourite African destination – and this for the simple reason that Kenya is about as African as it is possible to. It is an enriching place to travel with its diverse geography, world-class wildlife viewing, culture and heritage. The main tourist attraction in Kenya is wildlife with 59 conservation areas, Masai Mara and Amboseli are the most famous, but they all provide abundant adventure opportunities.
Kenya’s two major cities are Mombasa and Nairobi located along the coast of East Africa. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and the most important city in the country. It is a cosmopolitan and multicultural religious city, with many immigrants from former British colonies, including India, Somalia and Sudan. This is highlighted in the number of churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras within the city. As a reflection of the cities multicultural composition, the night life offers a diverse range of watering holes.
Nairobi has the informal title “The Green City in the Sun”. Nairobi is not a prime tourist destination, but it does have several tourist attractions. The most famous is the Nairobi National Park. The national park is unique, in being the only game-reserve of this nature to border a capital city, or city of this size. The park contains many animals including lions and giraffes. The park is home to over 400 species of bird, which is more than the entire British Isles. Located just 10 mins from the city centre off Langata Road, its ideal to get your first feel of what Kenya has to offer, or for those quick visits without the time to see the Mara, Serengeti, Amboseli etc. It’s the ideal park to visit.
Nairobi has several museums. These include the Nairobi Railway Museum and the National Museum of Kenya, which houses many artefacts including the full remains of a homo erectus boy. The National Museum is currenly closed due to renovation, but is due to be reopened in 2007.
Nairobi is also home to the largest ice rink in Africa, the Panari Sky Centre. The rink covers 15,000 square metres and can accommodate 200 people.
Langata is a suburb of Nairobi, lying south west of the city centre and south of Karen. It is home to a large European population, and to a giraffe centre. The center was established in order to protect the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe, that is found only in the grasslands of East Africa. The main attraction for visitors is feeding giraffes from a raised observation platform.
A tourist village Bomas of Kenya is in Langata. Bomas (homesteads) displays traditional villages belonging to the several Kenyan tribes. Langata also has the famous Carnivore restaurant and Carnivore grounds, where many concerts are hosted.
The Karen Blixen Museum situated in the suburb “Karen” was the home of the author Karen Blixen between 1917 and 1931. She spent much of her life in Africa, Kenya in particular, and wrote the book Out of Africa. The museum includes many books from Karen Blixen’s library and also a number of her African portrait paintings.
Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya, is located on an island (Mombasa Island) in the Indian Ocean. It is connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. The city is the centre of the coastal tourism industry. There are several places to visit in Mombasa, including Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese, and the Old Town, which is by now in bad need of repair but still shows plenty of examples of the old Islamic architecture. Biashara Street in Mombasa which in Swahili means “Trade Street” is also an old part of the city where the Indian and Arab merchants set up shop and one can now find kangas and kikoys being sold in these small authentic shops.
Kenya is a great destination for beach holidays and has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, located along the coastal regions and the city of Mombasa.
There are many other islands of the Lamu archipelago to explore through local dhow (a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or more lateen sails) operators or on more formal organised visits and Lamu district also incorporates vast ranges of bushland on the mainland inhabited by fascinating ethnic groups such as the hunter-gatherer Boni people and the pastoralist Orma. It is though pretty inaccessible for the casual visitor or tourist.
The Rift Valley, a province of Kenya, is also a major tourist attraction. It is named for the Great Rift Valley that runs all the way through Kenya starting in the north-west where it crosses over from Ethiopia, and south via a series of lakes including, Turkana, Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmenteita, Naivasha and Natron. Access to the Rift Valley from Nairobi is only a matter of a 30 minute drive to a spectacular view point overlooking the volcanoes, Suswa and Longonot, on the road to Naivasha (a freshwater lake) and Nakuru (a soda lake and an ornithologists paradise mainly due to the vast populations of flamingos that live around).
Kenya has some of the world’s best parks (which may be referred to as National Parks or Game Reserves) where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. They are famous for Lions, Giraffe, Elephant and huge herds of Zebra, Wildebeest or Buffalo.
The annual Wildebeest migration (from Masaai Mara to the Serengeti) is a awesome sight and best experienced via a balloon safari. It has been a popular event for filmmakers to capture.
Kenya is also becoming a preferred golf holiday destination, with an abundance of beautiful courses around the major urban areas. Green fees range from US$15.00 to US40.00 per round, plus US$5-7 for caddy fee.
Kenya enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country.
The country receives a great deal of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning.
The long rain season occurs from April to June. The short rain season occurs from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August.
When travelling to the country, it would be appropriate to pack clothing that is ideal for both the hot and cold weather. It is also advisable to carry a small medical kit that contains all the essentials, such as painkillers and antacids. Adults will also need to have an antidiarrheal medication with them.