Travel to Kenya?
wildlife, wildlife; Kenya's national parks set the wild standard
in East Africa with a huge diversity and quantity of parks, animals and great
game lodges, tented camps and superb resort hotels.
A dramatic new private management system in the Masai Mara, the
country's most famous park, is returning the Mara to
its former glory.
The weather is perfect in season, sunny but not too hot, the mountains are
over the moon, and there is a herd of great beaches too.
• Violent crime is a fact of life in the big towns, especially Nairobi
(sometimes known as Nairobbery), and areas near the Somali border
are suspect too. Car-jacking is almost as popular as mugging. The
police do little without substantial bribes. Read Travel
• The accepted way to see the country is with a knowledgeable Africa tour operator a) to keep
you away from the bad guys b) to keep you near the good animals.
This is fine but expensive, as are flights to wildlife zones and
decent game lodges.
• Malaria, the bad kind. Read Malaria.
• Locals tribes like the Masai can be sadly unnatural and mercenary.
• What's the difference between a Kenyan road and a cigarette? There's
more tar in a cigarette.
January-February, June-September (migration time)
OK: October-December (so-so with small rains and low prices)
Worst: March-May (big rains, animals disperse and long grass conceals the action)
and Local Tribes
***Masai Mara. Huge, flat and
loaded with beasts of every description, including herds of jeeps.
This used to be the world's best wildlife experience, then things
fell apart under the local council but are now back on track under
private management. The Mara is still on the receiving end of the
million beest migration June-September, the ultimate wildlife experience?
The Mara is a bad day's drive from Nairobi, or an expensive flight.
**Samburu. Less visitors and more romance
than the Mara, tho' slightly less wildlife visible, especially predators.
A day's drive, or flight.
*Amboseli. A small park not far from
Nairobi, with a backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro and plenty of big
game, it's bound to be crowded, and it is.
*Tsavo West. The most scenic of the
parks, with hills, a pretty oasis and a mass of hippos and crocs.
*Aberdare. A mountain park, partly
rainforest, with good walking routes, poor weather and great views,
especially of waterfalls..
* Nairobi National Park. Only minutes
from the town centre it has most of the must-see creatures except
*Kakamega Forest, west Kenya. A classic equatorial
African rainforest buzzing with birds, monkeys and reptiles and accessible
on foot. A day's ride from Nairobi.
Flamingoes are often found massed
in/on Lake Nakuru or Lake Bogoria, but no guarentees. 3 hours drive
**Malindi. A big, busy, beach resort with plenty of everything
except mosquitoes (they don't fly well in sea breezes). Good food,
fishing, windsurfing and some atmospheric ruins at Gede nearby.
*Watamu has beautiful bays in a
marine park, good for snorkelling, bad for ethnic culture.
*Diani and Tiwi. South of
Mombasa, palm-fringed, white sand and reef-protected (so no shark
danger). Diani is longer and more developed than Tiwi, tho' Tiwi
sometimes has a seaweed overload situation. Both beaches have a
shortage of cheap accomodation.
Walking and Hiking: Mount Kenya is a common target, as are
the few walking wildlife parks (see under 'Where to go..' Mt Elgon
and Ngong Hills are also good, less frequented hiking areas.
Watersports: windsurfing, snorkelling,
and scuba all have excellent, varied locations.
Game Fishing: Malindi and south of
Airsports: ballooning & microlight
available. And by the way, don't expect your balloon flight
to be quiet! (the burner is bloody noisy).
White Water Rafting: Athi and Galana
***Lamu. A tiny, pretty little Arabic
town on the island of Lamu; narrow carless streets in use by donkeys,
traditional Muslim locals, neo-hippies and affluent adventurers.
Adjacent to some great beaches. So laid back it's almost horizontal.
Nairobi would be a pleasant, lively,
walkable town if not for the criminal element - particularly after
dark. A couple of good museums and the usual market, of course.
You'd probably have to spend some time here anyway.
*Mombasa is hot, humid and stretches
onto Mombasa island, with a big history, a small attractive old
town and a small, unattractive criminal element.
Walking with Wildlife
Mount Kenya Park (alpine vegetation)
Lake Bogoria (hot springs and antelope)
Hell's Gate (scenic gorge and plenty of wildlife)
All are accessible by public transport from Nairobi.
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