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Kenya

Kenya

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

4.5

Total Stars:

9.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Appeals most to Centric-Venturers, Mid-Venturers and especially true Venturers

Did You Know … ?

  • At the Mount Kenya Safari Club, guests cross the Equator to get to the restaurants.
  • In Kenya, hitchhikers flag drivers by flapping their arms up and down.
  • Roughly 3 million to 3.5 million animals move in East Africa’s annual Great Migration.
  • Kenya is home to the world’s only zebroids, a cross between a zebra and a thoroughbred horse.
  • President Obama’s father hailed from the village of Kogelo.

Of movies, and animals on the move

Moviemakers have taken to this land on the Equator, for its beauty, its animals and the stories associated with its history as a British colony.

“Out of Africa” was adapted from Karen Blixen’s book about her life in colonial Kenya. “Mountains of the Moon” recounted the 19th century search for the source of the Nile by Richard Burton and John Speke.

The movies and sometimes TV introduce Kenya to the world, helping lure tourists across oceans to survey the landscape and wonder at the great animals, especially in mid- and late summer when the Great Migration gets under way. The mass of moving gazelles, wildebeests, zebras and their predators can stretch across the landscape for up to 25 miles. However, wildlife is plentiful and compelling enough to attract visitors every month of the year. The more adventurous supplement game drives with game walks and hot-air balloon rides.

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is perhaps the best outfitted of the game parks and reserves, with accommodations of all types. It comprises about 600 square miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. It is home to buffalos, cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions and zebras, among others. The Maasai people and their cattle live on surrounding lands.

Amboseli National Park to the southeast also has the big animals and access to the colorful Maasai, but sits against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kenya is well set up to transport tourists around among the several parks and reserves, often on light aircraft. It straddles the Equator, but it is cool and humid in the central highlands, which include Nairobi, while warm and humid on the coast, and hot and dry in the north and east. The rainiest months are April and November.

Kenya also gives cause for concern. Human encroachment is a threat to wildlife, but tourists provide an economic incentive to protect the animals.

In addition, Kenya suffers from high crime rates, particularly in the cities, and threats from terrorism. Prospective visitors should discuss the issue with travel sellers and consult the U.S. State Department or the equivalent sources in their home countries.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a hot-air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara Reserve; afterwards, enjoy a Champagne breakfast while still in the park.
  • Walk the narrow winding streets and enjoy the Arab architecture in the old section of Mombasa, Kenya’s port city on an island. Also, visit the city’s 16th century Fort Jesus, which was the center of a long struggle between the Portuguese and the Shirazi Arabs for control of the Kenya coast.
  • Arrange for a private helicopter safari, and sightsee from the sky each day for several days.
  • Spend some safari time walking in the Amboseli National Park or Tsavo East National Park, or go on safari by horseback in areas surrounding the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
  • Hire a boat and a guide to explore Lake Turkana in the Sibiloi National Park on Kenya’s northern border. Some of the country’s most remote tribes, including the Turkana and El Molo, live on the lake’s shores.
  • Include the northern Buffalo Springs, Samburu and Shaba reserves in a safari itinerary. Visiting the reserves offers access to the culture of the Samburu, who are camel and goat herders. Shaba was the location for the TV series “Survivor Africa.”

Things to do for Centrics

  • Book a safari package that takes in several game parks and provides transport between parks by light aircraft. Include Tsavo East and West if you are an avid bird-watcher.
  • Or, time your Kenya safari for mid- or late summer, and see some part of the Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and the predators that live on them as they move into Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve in search of grass.
  • Stay at the Giraffe Manor outside Nairobi; it is adjacent to the Giraffe Centre, a sanctuary for once-endangered Rothschild giraffes. Feed the giraffes at the center, but be aware the long-necked residents also are in the habit of popping their heads into manor windows and the front door for treats.
  • Eat camel, crocodile or ostrich meat at the world-renowned Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi. Take a guided tour of the city.
  • Visit a Maasai village near the Maasai Mara Game Reserve; buy a beaded wedding necklace or other beaded items as souvenirs. These visits are typically arranged as part of packaged safari; to arrange an independent visit would almost certainly involve a fee to enter the village.
  • Retire to Kenya’s tropical Lamu island for a few days of relaxation in a place where there are no vehicles. Transport is by donkey and dhow. Enjoy the old town center, dating from the 14th century, in the town of Lamu. Take safaris by dhow to other islands to visit isolated villages, old ruins and exclusive resorts.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Live in luxury while on your game-viewing safari by staying at an &Beyond lodge. It would be perfect for a romantic getaway.
  • Stay at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, and attend a hosted demonstration of the effects of crossing the Equator on site. Also, visit the critters in the safari club’s animal orphanage.
  • Visit Karen Blixen’s home, also the setting for scenes in “Out of Africa,” outside of Nairobi.
  • Watch a performance of Chukka drummers, Maasai singers and dancers or representatives of other groups during evenings at the safari camps.
  • Visit the Sweetwaters Sanctuary for animals, a private facility that hosts Jane Goodall’s chimps among other wildlife. Watch these rambunctious scamps through a wire fence; also, board an “African Queen”-type vessel for a short river ride to view more chimps, or to allow them to view their human callers.
  • Fill your camera’s memory card with stunning photos of wildlife, mountains, locals in their traditional garb and sunsets. Also, get the best photos of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Kenya Tourism Board at www.magicalkenya.com