- Location: In east-central Africa with the Indian Ocean to its south east, Tanzania to its South, Uganda to its west, Sudan to its North West, and Ethiopia to its north
- Country Capital: Nairobi
- Language/s: English, Swahili
- Currency: Kenyan Shilling
- Time Zone: UTC + 3
- Best Time to visit: January and February
- International Airport: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi
Maasai Mara National Park
The favorite destination for most tourists, this park is connected to Serengeti National Park to the southwest in Tanzania. Known as an ideal place to experience native grasslands, it is most famous for the millions of animals – wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles – that move between the two each April and October in a circular pattern, a phenomenon known as the Great Migration. This attracts many of the park’s most famous residents, a relatively large population of Big Cats. Lions and leopards prowl the herds in search of a meal, meaning you might be able to see the circle of life firsthand.
The second-highest peak on the continent, this mountain stretches to a height of 17,000 feet and gives the country its name. To some, it is more beautiful than its taller neighbor (Mount Kilimanjaro) thanks to its jagged appearance and steep rock face. The Kikuyu tribe called it home to one of their gods, not least because the glacial runoff provides water to the verdant land below – and, nowadays, some 50% of the country overall. Outdoor types will jump at the opportunity to get a climb in, as the highest peaks – Batian and Nelion – require a great deal of skill to reach.
The Great Rift Valley
One of the natural wonders visible from space, this rocky valley stretches some 3,600 miles from the Mozambique in southern Africa northwest to Jordan. For Kenya’s portion, it begins at Lake Turkana and cuts across the countryside to Lake Natron on the borther with Tanzania. The territory is incredibly diverse, with a massive number of species calling it home. Lake Nakuru, for example, is well known as a home to millions of flamingos and Lake Baringo is a prime spot to see hippopotamuses and crocodiles cooling themselves. It’s an excellent spot for archaeology, too: ongoing excavations continue to find fossils from our earliest human ancestors.
Amboseli National Park
Those in search of an experience more in line with traditional life will love this massive grassland adjoining Tanzania. Many come here for a look at Africa’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, visible on a bright day from 20 miles away. Though Lake Amboseli is an interesting attraction (the dry salt lake bed is scorching), most visitors come to see the local Maasai people and the large herds of elephants. Trails crisscross the land, providing plenty of opportunities to see water buffalos and hippos wandering to the next watering hole, as well as the chance to interact with the area’s famous nomadic farmers. Maasai warriors are known for their custom of jumping during pre-hunt rituals, a sight only trumped by witnessing their skill in the field against some of Africa’s fiercest creatures.
Of all Kenya’s cities, none is quite able to represent the striking difference between old and new quite like its second-largest. Situated on some of the most beautiful beaches the Indian Ocean has to offer, this sprawling metropolis is the oldest in the country. First settled approximately 2,000 years ago, the native culture is influenced by the European, Arab, and Asian nationals who have emigrated for work. Visit the historic town square, a winding combination of narrow streets lined with charming shops and houses. Once you are done (and before you head to the powdery white sands), be sure to take in Fort Jesus – the converted museum was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century rises majestically over Dhow harbor and is filled with antiques from up and down the coast.