Kenya is famous in the athletics tracks all over the world. But this East African country is also synonymous with raw African wildlife and cultural experience. It’s perhaps the only country on the African continent and the world at large that harmoniously conjures romance and the spirit of adventure. Tourists from all over the globe are dazzled by the sheer diversity of cultural and fun activities. On top of this list is wildlife- wildebeest thundering across the Maasai Mara, elephant herds in Amboseli, or even thousands if not millions of flamingoes at Lake Nakuru. If you are planning to visit this magical country, we have compiled a list of kenya tourist attractions to visit while there.
#1. Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara is famed as one of the best game reserves in Kenya. Located near the Kenya Tanzania border it forms a corridor for wildlife between the two countries with Serengeti on the neighboring country. The Mara is named after the indigenous and cultured Maasai community who have lived here and grazed their animals for centuries. In the local dialect, Mara means “speckled”, possibly a reference to the vast grassland and acacia trees.
The Mara lies at an altitude 5,300 feet and experiences rainy season from the month of November through May. If you don’t have an issue with the long rains, you can also visit during the peak rainfall season between December-January. For a more authentic Savannah feel, you can visit during the dry season from June-November when the sun is at peak. Temperatures can shoot to a maximum of 30°C and dip to minimums of 20°C.
The park is famed for providing exceptional sights for wildebeest migration to and from the Serengeti. You will appreciate the predator crocodiles looking to take a fair bite on the migrating wildebeests. If you have ever dreamt of seeing the big 5 in a true authentic wild Mara presents you the opportunity. You also get to see impala, waterbuck, warthog, hippo, hyena Thompson’s gazelle, oribi among others.
When you have had enough of the animal sighting, you can keep yourself occupied with a wide range of activities like game drives, camping, hot air balloon ride, and a visit to the indigenous Maasai cultural villages.
#2. Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve is another amazing place to visit while in Kenya. Crowned by the beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro the highest peak in Africa, it forms a diverse and magnificent eco-system. You get to appreciate the great view of the snow-covered Mountain as you watch large elephant population at a close range. Located at the South-East of Nairobi and across the Kenya-Tanzania border, Amboseli covers about 39,206 acres emerging second as the most protected game reserve after Mara National reserve.
The environment to explore in the park includes woodland, savannah, and wetlands. Temperature can rise to a maximum of 28°C/82°F and fall to 15°C/59°F at night. You will require warm clothing for early morning events like game drives. Peak shower periods are in April and November. the ‘short rains’ are from late October to mid-December while the ‘long rains’ frequently drop as from mid-March to mid-May.
Firstly, Amboseli national park offers a lifetime opportunity to see a variety of iconic Africa wild animals which includes hyena, zebra, kudu, elephants, wild dogs, lions among others. For the bird lovers, you also get to see about 600 bird species including kingfishers and pelicans. You can also venture into horse riding thanks to the horseback ride services at the reserve. This is also a great chance to make a fanciful backdrop of the parks jewel, Mount Kilimanjaro while on game safaris. Although the mountain itself can be covered by clouds, it often reveals itself at sunrise and sunset.
Engage in a series of fun-filled activities like bird watching, star gazing, and even hiking.
#3. Nairobi National Park
Located just 7km south of Nairobi, the Nairobi National Park is one of the most historically protected areas and Kenya’s first national park. It also happens to be the only national park in the world to be located within a city. The park is home to leopards, the endangered black rhino, and the king of the jungle, the park affords you an opportunity to observe the animals from the city’s high rise buildings. On this park, you also get to view the ivory burning monument where a statement for conservation was made by burning 12 tons of ivory at the site back in 1989 by the former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi as a way of curtailing poaching. Against the vast savannah backdrop, is the capital city of Kenya Nairobi whose rapid expansion is slowly decimating the park. Indeed it’s among the best kenya tourist attractions.
The park homes a wide variety of wild species, such rhinos, buffalos, cheetah, hyenas, buffalos, baboons, impalas, gazelles, eland, and lions
You can also indulge in wooden boardwalk across safari park, bird sighting, and game drives. For the photographers, this is the perfect spot for capturing the sunset.
#4. Tsavo National Park
Comprising of Tsavo East and Tsavo West, the park forms one of the biggest hybrid national parks in Kenya. The name Tsavo originated from the Tsavo River that flows through the protected area. With the country trying to emerge as an economic powerhouse in the region, the government has constructed a railway line that connects Nairobi with the Coastal town of Mombasa. This move has seen its fair share of criticism from environmental lobby groups citing the disruption of wildlife movement. However, all is not lost. You get to enjoy magnificent views and a rare viewing opportunity of different wild animals on your train journey to Mombasa.
The hot temperature varies from 27-31°C during daytime and 22-24°C at night. The rainfall varies but the temperature is equally constant throughout the year. With heavy rainfalls season lasting from March to May, its not the best period for wildlife safaris. However, the short rain season lasts from October to December presenting a perfect weather for safaris during morning hours.
Tsavo East has the flattest ground and home to the infamous Lugard falls and Yatta plateau. This flat land and lack of vegetation make wildlife spotting much easier. Also, The focal attraction is the wildlife and here you get to see hyenas, leopards, cheetah, lions, buffaloes, African hunting dog among others. On the western side of the park are attractive geographical sites like swamps, mountains, and lakes which make it an ideal spot for bird watching.
Engaging in morning and afternoon game drives affords you an ideal opportunity to photograph varied wildlife species within the sanctuary. You also get a once in a lifetime opportunity see the animals at a close range in their natural habitat.
#5. Lake Nakuru National Park
Commonly referred to as the bird watchers paradise, Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the Kenya tourist attractions, popularly known for its huge pink flamingoes flocks wading the lake. The park also plays host to other birds including multiple terrestrial birds species totaling to about 450 species. It is also home to 56 different mammal species including waterbucks, rhinos, lions, leopards, and zebras. The landscape ranges from woodland, rocky cliffs, and sweeping grasslands.
Lake Nakuru National Park is permeated by hot and humid climate. It receives an annual rainfall of about 965mm which is significantly lower compared to other parts of the country. The wettest months begin early March to May and while the long rains period comes between October and December.
On top of the birds, Lake Nakuru National Park offers sanctuary to a variety of native African animals that include Rothschild giraffes, waterbucks, impalas, warthogs, elands, black and white rhinos. On some occasions, leopards also come to this park making it interesting for game viewing.
Game viewing, bird watching, and interacting with the local culture are some of the activities you can engage in.
The take home
Kenya holds a key position as one of the best tourist destinations around the world. In addition to the wildlife, there are other multiple cultural aspects to explore like the food and local languages. With these best tourist attractions in Kenya that we have listed, you should have a memorable holiday full of surprises.
Dan Chabert – Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an award-winning web lover and the Co-manager of several sites for your house needs and others. You can check these out Contractorculture, That Sweet Gift, Borncute and Runner Click. He is a travel Scholar at the same time a Health Enthusiast