Kenya Travel Guide
As one of Eastern Africa’s most economically powerful countries, Kenya stands out from its more modest neighbors. With a vibrant society that is on the rise, you may be tempted to think whether you are really in the Africa of your dreams.
Once you leave the modern city of Nairobi however, you will gain the sense of place that you have been searching for, as its vast wildlife reserves contain the beasts that you had previously known from the zoos you had only been to as a child.
Put these together with a variety of historical attractions and dream beach resorts, and you’ll have a holiday destination that your mind will drift to long after your trip has ended.
Currency: Kenyan Shillings
Languages: English, Kiswahili, various indigenous languages
What To Do
There are many attractions to enjoy while in Nairobi, but if you are pressed for time, carve out some to visit the Karen Blixen Museum. The former home of the Danish author that wrote the famous novel, Out of Africa, this estate is a representation of the European pattern of settlement that took place in Kenya throughout the 19th and early 20th century.
Guided tours will take you through the home as it was back in the 1920s, the immaculately maintained gardens, as well as the coffee farm that it was situated upon.
If you are looking to take in more historical attractions in Kenya before heading out to the game reserves, be sure to check out the Old Town of Mombasa. Situated on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, the port was settled by a variety of traders from different parts of the world.
Today, there are people living here that are descended from those that came from Arabia, Asia, Portugal, Britain, and other places around the world. As a result of this heterogeneous population, the architectural styles of the buildings that had been built over the centuries are incredibly diverse, making a stroll around its streets an attraction all by itself.
If you are looking for one specific point of interest that you do not want to miss while here, be sure to drop by Fort Jesus, as this fortress has been recognized by UNESCO as of the best surviving examples of a sixteenth-century Portuguese military installation.
When the time comes to head into the Kenyan countryside, make sure that you spend some serious time exploring the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This place is one of the most famous game reserves in all of Africa, as it contains abundant populations of the Big 5 mammals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos) within its borders.
Another reason for its popularity is that its open grasslands makes spotting wildlife an easy task. This park got its name from the fact that tight thickets of trees and the shadows of passing clouds make the landscape appear spotted from nearby hills (Mara is the word in the Maasai language for ‘spotted’).
Be sure to time your visit to take in the Great Migration, which is the time of year when over a million wildebeest move across these plains in search of pasture land.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of wildlife after visiting Maasai Mara, head on over to Tsavo East National Park. In addition to the abundance of wildlife found here, which includes over 500 avian species, there are a number of other attractions here that are well worth your attention.
The Yatta Plateau is the world’s longest lava flow, spanning over 290 kilometers from its ancient source at Ol Doinyo Sabuk Mountain, Lugard Falls is the series of muddy colored rapids that looks immensely powerful just after rainy season, and Mudanda Rock creates a natural reservoir that attracts countless elephants throughout the year.
If your hectic schedule of safaris has begun to wear you down, then a trip to Diani Beach will certainly be in order. A beach resort situated on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, this glamorous place is a favored destination for locals and foreigners alike.
There are options for every budget, from backpacker bungalows to luxury resorts. However, its prized asset is equally accessible to all that make the trip out here: bleach white powdery sand, and an emerald sea that is as warm as bath water.
What to Eat
Just like in many other sub-Saharan countries in Africa, the presence of Ugali on the plates of everyday people is a ubiquitous sight. Made from cornmeal that is boiled in water until it attains the consistency of dough, it is often served with vegetables or meat, giving Kenyans their primary source of energy they need to go about their daily business.
If you are looking for a dish that is specifically Kenyan, find a local restaurant that serves Irio. A dish that became popular among the Kikuyu people, it is made from potatoes, peas, and corn that have been boiled then simmered together.
While Irio is often eaten by itself, it is served on the side frequently with Nyama Choma. Translating directly to English as grilled meat, it is a Barbecue done Kenyan style.
The meat used will probably be unlike any that you have experienced in the world, as it is sourced from cattle that have grazed on grass rather than grain in a free-range environment, producing flesh that is far more flavorful.
Seasoned simply with salt, it is an experience that any self-respecting carnivore will never forget.