12 Top Travel Destinations in Kenya

Kenya is among the best African countries to visit. From the coastline on the Indian Ocean to the beautiful savannah, and the bustling capital, you have not really traveled if you have not yet visited Kenya. Kenya is an East African country, famous for its breathtaking scenery, white sandy beaches, home to world-famous safari parks with an abundance of wildlife, and rich culture. This vivid country is home to some of the most exciting destinations in Africa, and extensively, the world.

Kenya is a country well known for it’s wildlife and surrounding natural beauty. As Large number of tourist from all over the world visit this country for experiencing the wildlife and the safari. Kenya is popular all over the world for it’s wildlife sanctuaries and National Reserve. Apart from Nairobi National Park there are a lot of parks in Kenya and many offer different ecosystem and different animal species, from Lions at Tsavo to flamingos at lake Nakuru to marine life in Mombasa. They say pictures speak louder than words.

Some of the most famous tourist attractions which you must visit during your stay in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mombasa, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Lake Natron, Hells Gate National Park, Lamu, Nakuru, Watamu and Mount Elgon National Park.

Top Travel Destinations in Kenya

Tourists in Kenya are spoilt for choice because the whole country is a beautiful place with numerous tourist attractions.

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve

One of the best places to visit in Kenya is the Maasai Mara National Reserve which is one of the popular tourist attractions to visit. In this reserve you will get to see various wild animals such as Zebra, Elephants, Lions, Rhinos and many more.

Maasai Mara, which is one of the best-known reserves in Africa, is known for its exceptional wildlife. The reserve is named after the Maasai who have resided and grazed their cattle as they have done for ages. The park is prominent for the Great Migration, which attracts thousands of tourists to the country every year.

Thousands of wildebeests originating from Serengeti, cross the Mara River, which is infested with crocodiles every year from around July to October. The reserve is also renowned for its large population of leopards, lions, and cheetahs. For wildlife enthusiasts, it is one of the best natural reserves on the continent. The fact that the BBC consistently return to the Mara for their nature documentaries is proof enough.

Also, some of the lodges there are truly amazing and you might choose to skip on game drives just to stay in the lodge. It would be a pity to miss out on some time in a lodge you are paying hundreds of dollars for per night. On top of it, the conservancies offer incredible activities like walking safaris and night drives.

People often lump the Mara Conservancies with the Masai Mara (The Mara Triangle and the Greater Mara), even though these are separate entities with different rules. Unless you are staying in a conservancy (Mara North, Naboisho, Lewa or The Mara Triangle) you will always have to wait at a gate to enter the Masai Mara National Reserve.

If you are not staying in a conservancy, like Mara North, and you have to enter the government owned Masai Mara National Reserve, you’ll probably need to leave earlier to make time at the gate. You can drive or fly, but driving gives you great views of the magnificent Great Rift Valley.

The landscape in Naboisho is significantly different, it is a lot woodier. Naboisho has the highest lion density in the world. Eagle View Camp is also spectacular, there is no view of the African savannah that can match the view from this camp. The sunset over Naboisho is out of this world.

When lions have cubs, they tend to stay in the same spot, so the local Masai trackers know where they are. Naboisho has very good relationship with the Masai communities in the area and their full support in protecting lions, so it’s likely the lions feel safer denning in this conservancy. The sweeping, open scenery is really unique, the Great Wildebeest Migration is a spectacle to behold, the local tribal culture is fascinating, and there are animals to be seen wherever you look.

2. Tsavo East National Park

Divided into Tsavo East and West, the Tsavo is Kenya’s largest national park. Tsavo East is famous for its vast and diverse population of wildlife including lions, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards. The Galana River flowing through the arid park provides a stunning juxtaposition. Other features include the Yatta Plateau which was created by the world’s largest lava flow, and Lugard falls.

3. Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park is wetter and with more mountains hence has some stunning scenery. Main places of interest include Mzima Springs, a series of four natural springs with crocodiles and hippos, and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Similar to Samburu, it’s very dry, but has unique reddish dust (which stains its iconic “red elephants”). There are a lot of cool spots, such as the volcanic rocks at the Shetani Lava Flow and a flourishing water-hole right next to a hotel.

4. Lake Nakuru National Park

The mention of lake Nakuru brings to mind a myriad of pink flamingos. The lake is one of the Great Rift Valley’s lakes. As you leave the capital going to Lake Nakuru National Park, Nairobi, pass by viewpoints and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Great Rift and the Menengai Crater. The park is a bird watcher’s sanctuary with over 450 species of different birds and wildlife.

This lush and forested national park surrounds a huge, shallow lake. The misty, wooded environment is a stark contrast to Kenya’s typical arid landscape, and bird life is jaw-droppingly abundant. It’s also the only part of the country where you can see Rothschild’s giraffes.

5. Amboseli National Park

Another popular tourist destination to visit is the Amboseli National Reserve which is popularly known for Asiatic Elephants and many other wild animals. Located in the shadow of the breathtaking Mount Kilimanjaro, close to the Tanzanian border, this has got to be the best place to see elephants in Kenya. The scenery is eerily remote, scarred by frequent tornadoes, and occasionally marshy. Great birdlife too.

The Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most popular parks, with stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Most visitors to the park will have wonderful pictures of large herds of elephants with a great background of the mountain. Lovers of nature can explore the five main habitats here; ranging from swamps, acacia, open plains, woodlands, even the dried-up beds of a temporary Lake Amboseli that floods during heavy rainfall.

6. Mount Kenya National Park

Talking about mountains mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya and second highest in Africa is covered in snow 366 days a year. Kenya is in equator but this place will make you think you are in arctic circle. Apart from Mount Kenya the Rift Valley offers alot of beautiful sceneries from Mau escarpment to mt Longonot. Mount Kenya, being the highest mountain in Kenya standing at 5,199 m, was formed by a set of volcanic eruptions.

The mountain is a sign to behold spotting the very rare equatorial snow. The mountain has 3 peaks; the highest being Batian, seconded by Nelion which legend says is more difficult to climb. The lowest peak is Lenana, which is the easiest to climb especially for amateurs like me.

Some of the highlights include the dense pockets of bamboo, glaciers, and lakes. Wildlife is also abundant as both white and black colobus monkeys have been spotted, hyenas, buffaloes, even elephants. For lovers of luxury, visit the Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club located on the equator, is a must-visit retreat where you golf, fish, play tennis, and nature walks. The place is ideal to unplug and relax.

7. Lamu

Lamu is often seen as the limit of the Kenyan coast over the Indian Ocean with wonderful vestiges of the Swahili civilization, to a greater extent even than Mombasa or Zanzibar, picture-postcard beaches, dhow-style sailboats sailing from one side to another, coral reefs. For anyone who comes looking for exoticism, Lamu embodies that mystery made of Levante and the ocean.

The dhow, a traditional boat of the Swahili people, is still used by fishermen every day. Dive into the sea of coral, populated by tropical fish of dreamy colors, in front of the Lamu island.

Named as a UNESCO world heritage site, Kenya’s oldest town hosts settlements dating back to the 12th century. Lamu Old Town integrates Swahili, Arab, Europe architectural designs and will make you feel like you traveled back in time. Donkeys and dhows are a form of transit in the town, with very few vehicles in sight.

Some tourist spots in Lamu include Lamu Museum which is a home for Swahili culture, Donkey Sanctuary, Lamu fort, Donkey Sanctuary, and the beautiful white sandy beaches.

8. Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is especially famous for being home to several black rhinos. In the past the lake was full of flamingos. This site is one of the best for taking close-up pictures of animals. A good trip would include both a visit to Lake Nakuru, and a visit to Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha shares many similarities with Lake Nakuru, but it’s a much better place to see hippos.

You can even take a boat tour onto the water! The terrestrial wildlife around the lake isn’t as rich as Nakuru’s, however.

9. Malindi

If you want to see alot of medieval East Africa you may need to travel to coastal cities such as Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu and Kilifi. These places not only let you understand the swahili culture but they also have beautiful beaches. Malindi is the second city on the coast of Kenya after Mombasa. Halfway between this and Lamu, it is a large seaside resort, well built and quite African. It has beautiful beaches and a fascinating marine natural park, full of tropical fish and ideal for scuba diving.

Take a trip to the Malindi Marine National Park. You will sail along the coast in a boat with a glass bottom and you will be able to observe a lot of tropical fish, before diving with them. Many Europeans go there to spend their vacations and it looks more like a seaside resort on the Costa Brava than a Swahili city.

When you move away from beach resorts all inclusive, the cosmopolitan and jovial side of the Swahili coast reappears. Ucuru is a fermented porridge drink from Kenya that’s drunk during celebrations much like how people in the West drink Champagne.

10. Samburu National Reserve

The Samburu area is different with more bushes that makes the animals tougher to see and is easily one of the most scenic parts of the country. It’s hot, dry and dusty, but is located along the beautiful Ewaso N’giro River, which is fringed with doum palms. Due to its unique semi-desert climate, it has a ton of wildlife you can’t see elsewhere in Kenya.

11. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

This area is famous for its rhinos, of both the black and white species. In fact, it’s home to the last two northern white rhinos on Earth, as well as a docile (but blind) black rhino which you can stroke and feed. There’s also a really cool chimpanzee sanctuary there.

12. Mombasa

Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city, is synonymous with Raha (Swahili word for happiness and enjoyment). The city is a multicultural magnet for tourists; there is something for everyone in Mombasa. History enthusiasts will enjoy visiting Fort Jesus, Mombasa Old town with ancient dwellings of the Swahili, markets, narrow streets and souvenir shops.

The city has a stretch of up to 480 km of coral reefs, providing ideal opportunities for divers especially around Wasini Islands, and Mombasa Marine National Park.

To top it all, the beautiful sandy beaches lining the city spot tourists all year round. Don’t you want to book a trip to Kenya already?

Karibu Kenya (Welcome to Kenya!)
Kalyan Panja