Kenya is regarded as one of the jewels of Africa's East coast. The Capital Nairobi and the city of Mombasa are a gateway to the very rich tourist area's. Tourism is regarded as one of the primary sources of revenue for Kenya, and with so many attractions and activities to participate in, a visit to Kenya should be on your list. From pristine white beaches, to lots of eco-tourism ventures, this is certainly a region to visit. Most visitors to Kenya make their way to the Masai Mara National Park for some of the best game viewing in Africa, but the coastal towns such as Diani and Lamu are also very popular.
Masai Mara National Park.
Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Kenya- Africa. The reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley in, primarily, open grassland. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment. The Masai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas. The annual wildebeest’s migration alone involves over 1.5 million animals arriving in July and departing in November. There have been some 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 birds species recorded on the reserve. Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant, and it is for this reason a visitor rarely misses out on seeing the big five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino).
The Mara is known as one of the finest wildlife destinations in the World. There is an excellent chance of seeing the Big 5, cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reed-buck, zebra.
During the migration (July to November) huge numbers of wildebeest move in.
Amboseli National Park.
Amboseli lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. The Park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by six communally owned group ranches. The National Park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty – and the landscape is dominated by the towering Mount Kilimanjaro.
Meru National Park.
Meru National Park is wild and beautiful. Straddling the equator and intersected by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an especially beautiful area of Kenya. It has diverse scenery from woodlands at 3,400ft(1,036m) on the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain Range, north-east of Mt. Kenya, to wide open plains with meandering riverbanks dotted with doum palms. Game to view includes: lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard black rhino, zebra, gazelle, oryx and some of the rarer antelope, Lesser Kudu and duiker, also the more common Dik Dik, one of Africa’s smallest antelope. Large prides of lion can be seen and some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo. The rivers abound with hippo and crocodile, fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at camp sites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980’s, the Park suffered from poaching. However KWS armed wildlife security patrols have driven out the poachers and the elephant population has stabilised with breeding herds settling down.
Over 300 species of birds have been recorded, including: Red-necked falcon, Heuglins courser, brown-backed woodpecker, sunbirds Peter’s Finfoo inhabiting the Murera and Ura Rivers; Pel’s Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and weavers.
The Park is most famous as the setting for Joy Adamson’s book “Born Free”, the story of the Adamson’s life and research amongst lion and cheetah. “Elsa” the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. There are two routes to Meru national park from Nairobi. The first is the main road via Nyeri, Nanyuki and Meru, the second is via Embu-Meru road. It offers the best approach via the Ura gate. Dry weather route from Meru is through Mathara and Kangeta towards Maua turning left on the Kinna road leading to the National park gate. There are airstrips in the vicinity, as well as places to stay, such as Leopard Rock and Meru Mulika Lodge.
At Kenya’s Western frontier lies the great expanse of Lake Victoria. This massive lake, commonly known as Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The lake is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish.
Lake Nakuru provides the visitor with one of Kenya’s best known images. Thousands of flamingo, joined into a massive flock, fringe the shores of this soda lake. A pulsing pink swathe of life that carpets the water, the flamingo are a breathtaking sight. The lake has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on algae that forms on the lake bed. They move back and forth, feeding and occasionally and spectacularly taking to flight, filling the sky over the lake with colour. Nakuru has more than just flamingos. This is a major National Park and an important sanctuary for Rhino. Both Black and White Rhino are found here, and are often seen resting under acacias by the Lake shore. The park abounds with game. There are huge herds of waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and more. This is one of your best chances of seeing
leopard in Kenya, and there are also several large prides of lion. Exploring beyond the lake is always rewarding, there are forests, cliffs, waterfalls and more to be found here.
North coastline and Malindi.
The coastline North of Mombasa is a world of enthralling history and natural beauty. The coast is lined with pristine palm-fringed beaches, and the calm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean. The beaches are broken by the wide mouth of Kilifi Creek, whose azure waters are a popular port of call on the international yachting circuit. The beaches of Nyali, Vipingo, Kikambala and Shanzu are home to a wide range of world class resorts, with fine cuisine and services. The peaceful beach havens of Mtwapa and Takaungu offer an ideal escape from the outside world, with endless deserted beaches. The offshore reefs are alive with coral, myriad fish, sea turtles and dolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens and drop offs, and Kenya’s best wreck diving on the MV Dania.
The small town of Malindi is at the centre of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches offering the visitor a range of world class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways. Further south, the sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches. This tranquil haven is home to several well established resorts, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along the deserted shore.
At Watamu a Marine National Park has been established, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers alike. Northwest of Malindi is the spectacular Marafa Depression, locally known as Nyari and popularly known as Hell’s Kitchen. An extensive series of sandstone gorges and sheer gullies, this unique and otherworldly landscape has become part of local folklore.
The thick jungles of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest reserve hide a world of wonders. In the cool of the forest winding paths will take you in search of rare endemic birds and mammals, and visiting herds of Elephant. The forest holds another secret, the lost town of Gedi, a deserted trading Swahili town hidden deep in the forests, whose winding passages and crumbling walls tell of a long and mysterious past. Walk through the Forest, explore the mangroves by boat, dive on the reef or try your hand at big game fishing. At the North coast you have all these choices and more, with the space and freedom to relax, unwind, and soak up the atmosphere.
Best time to visit :
Climatic conditions– Altitude 5,300 feet (1,600 metres). Rainy season from November through May, with peak rainfall in December-January and April-May. Dry season from June-November. Often sunny mornings with cloud build-up in the afternoons – during the rainy season this develops into thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Max temperatures up to 30°C and min temperatures around 20°C. Peak season is between July and October, during the migration. Early November and February can also offer excellent game viewing.
There are both compulsory for entry and strongly recommended vaccinations for Kenya. All travellers are required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate in order to gain entry to Kenya. Furthermore for most short-term travellers the usual recommended vaccinations for Kenya include cover against the childhood diseases (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Poliomyelitis) as well as cover against the food and water borne diseases of Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
Those planning a more adventurous time, especially if they will leave the normal tourist routes should consider further vaccination cover against diseases including Rabies, Hepatitis B and Meningococcal Meningitis. Tourists should start their vaccines about 4 to 6 weeks before they leave Ireland.
In Kenya, malaria poses a very real risk outside Nairobi. One of the highest risk areas is Mombasa which is where many travellers will find themselves at some time
In general, travellers to Nairobi find that the level of health care facilities are good. Doctors in Kenya speak English and the level of care they provide is usually excellent for the holiday maker.
It is essential for visitors to remote areas of Kenya to have a comprehensive medical insurance policy, to provide coverage for the treatment of serious illnesses/accidents, and if required, medical evacuation. Personal effects insurance is also advisable.Check that your insurance policy will be accepted by service providers in Kenya. Ensure that you are treated by licensed medical personnel to enable you to provide your insurance company with appropriate documentation and receipts.