Things to Do in Kenya
Apart from shooting wildlife – with a zoom lens. Hint: never use the digital zoom, only the optical, and it had better be long, at least 400mm equivalent.
• take an early balloon ride ending with a champagne breakfast. Sounds terrific but actually cold, noisy and expensive though the panoramic views are pretty good.
• if you’re lucky enough to be in a luxury camp or lodge there may be a wellness centre, massages, swimming pool, jacuzzi and so on.
• visit Maasai villages. This can range from pathetic, dress-up charades by village kids for budget tour groups or really fascinating excursions to meet and learn about the real thing. The difference is cost and connections.
• Walking and Hiking: Mount Kenya is a common target, as are the few walking wildlife parks. ‘ Mt Elgon and Ngong Hills are also good, less frequented hiking areas.
• 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.
• You can’t take a walk, bike ride or go jogging when out in the wilds at a tented camp. This is wild life, red in tooth and claw! At our camp in the Mara we had to walk with an armed guard at night. One guest that took a moonlit stroll a few months earlier was killed by a Cape Buffalo.
However, walking with a guide – or even without on occasion – is possible in some parks such as Hell’s Gate, obviously places where Cape buffalo and lions are not commonly found lurking on the sidelines.
Sunrise on Diani Beach, Kenya. Photo by Lukasz Ciesielski.
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 are palm-fringed with wide 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.
Lamu is 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. It’s adjacent to some great beaches and so laid back it’s almost horizontal.
• Game Fishing: Malindi and south of Mombasa.
• White Water Rafting: Athi and Galana River.
And finally, on Safari!
A female hippo with two young showing some displeasure.
Trivia: Safari is taken from the Swahili word kusafiri meaning journey or travel that is itself derived from the Arabic word safariyah. Thus safari did not originally mean cruising around looking at animals, more like getting from A to B in a reasonable time, which on a camel was not very fast.
Richard Francis Burton, a famous English explorer who reputedly spoke 29 languages introduced the word safari to Europe in the 1860’s after returning from Africa in search of the source of the River Nile from 1856-1860.