The 17 best places to visit in Kenya

 

In the centre of the country, directly north from the capital, Nairobi, is the 2,000 metre (6,562 ft) high Mount Ololokwe, a distinctive flat topped sheer cliff mountain that towers alone over the flat Samburu plains. Great for hiking, the trail to the top takes around 2-3 hours one way, offering fantastic views over the surrounding arid landscape.

17. Mount Ololokwe

In the extreme north east of the country, straddling the border with Ethiopia on the Mandera Plateau is the 1,500 square kilometre (579 square mile) Malka Mari National Park, one of the least visited protected areas in the region. Relatively unknown and in a location most tourists don't venture out to, the park has allowed animals to thrive almost unhindered, with visitors that do make the journey able to see gazelle, giraffe, elephant and the Nile crocodile among many other species.

16. Malka Mari National Park

 

In the extreme south east of the country, on the Indian Ocean is the coastal city of Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya. Known for its night life, abundance of hotels, shops and its pristine beaches, Mombasa has become one of the countries most visited locations and a major tourist hub. One of the top attractions in the city is Fort Jesus, built in the late 16th century it is one of the finest examples of Portuguese military architecture from the period. As such, the fort has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured are the Mombasa Tusks, forming the letter M. They were built in 1952 to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth.

15. Mombasa

 

In the centre of the country, north east from the capital, Nairobi, is the 870 square kilometre (336 square mile) Meru National Park, an area of tall grass and lush swamps. Within the view of the incredible Mount Kenya, the park has become one of the most famous safari locations in the country, home to African bush elephant, lion, African leopard, cheetah, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, zebra and hippopotamus among many others.

14. Meru National Park

 

Just off the countries north eastern coast, in the Indian Ocean, on Lamu Island in the Lamu Archipelago is the main town of Lamu, one of Kenya's oldest continually inhabited locations. Established around 1370 AD, Lamu contains many examples of Swahili architecture, 19th century mosques and the main 19th century Lamu Fort. As the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, Lamu Old Town has been inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

13. Lamu

 

North along the coast from Mombasa, just outside the town of Malindi is the Marafa Depression, an unusual sandstone canyon known locally as Nyari, 'The Place Broken By Itself'. Particularly striking at sunset, the sandstone ridges are a mix of whites, pinks, oranges and even deep reds.

12. Marafa Depression

 

North west from the capital, Nairobi, is the 74 metre (243 ft) single drop Thomson's Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kenya. Visitors can view the falls, and then take a short walk upstream to see the highest hippo pools in the country.

11. Thomson's Falls

In the southern centre of the country is the largest and most populated city in Kenya, the capital, Nairobi, popularly referred to as the Green City In The Sun and the Safari Capital Of The World. Home to modern skyscrapers, museums and shopping malls, Nairobi is one of few cities in the world to have a national park within its limits and the only major city to border a game reserve. The first protected area in Kenya, Nairobi National Park boasts a large and varied animal population including Cape buffalo, baboon, gazelle, Grant's zebra, eastern black rhino, cheetah, African leopard, lion, impala, Masai giraffe and ostrich among many others. It is also one of Kenya's most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.

10. Nairobi

 

Directly north from the capital, Nairobi, covering some 767 square kilometres (296 square miles) is Aberdare National Park, encompassing and protecting part of the Aberdare Mountains. Ranging from 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) to 4,000 metres (13,123 ft) above sea level, the landscape is a mix of high mountains, deep valleys, moorland and thick rain forests. Wildlife in the area includes lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, olive baboon, colobus monkey and a large eastern black rhinoceros population.

Pictured is Karuru Falls, a 273 metre (896 ft) cascading waterfall that is the highest in Kenya.

9. Aberdare National Park

 

In the western centre of the country, covering a mere 66 square kilometres (25 square miles) is Kerio Valley National Park, protecting an area in the Kerio Valley, a branch of the Great Rift Valley. Isolated between the Charengani Hills and the Tugen Hills, the spectacular Elgeyo Escarpment rises more than 1,830 metres (6,004 ft) above the valley floor. Split by the crocodile infested Kerio River, the magnificent rugged terrain is among the most incredible in Kenya.

8. Kerio Valley National Park

 

North west from the capital, Nairobi, is the 188 square kilometre (72 square mile) Lake Nakuru National Park, centred around the famous Lake Nakuru, meaning Dusty Place, one of the Rift Valleys soda lakes. Located at an elevation of 1,754 metres (5,755 ft) above sea level, the area around this alkaline lake is home to wildlife that includes baboons, elephants, black and white rhinoceros as well as other large mammals, though its most famous residents are the thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos that visit this algae rich lake to feed and breed.

7. Lake Nakuru National Park

 

In the extreme west of the country, shared between Kenya and Uganda is the 1,279 square kilometre (494 square mile) Mount Elgon National Park, taking its names from the 4,321 metre (14,177 ft) high extinct shield volcano of Mount Elgon. The terrain of the park is a wonderful mix of cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mountain peaks, calderas and hot springs among huge montane forests, home to a number of species that include antelope, colobus monkey, blue monkey and red tailed monkey among many more. Though most of the park, including the highest peaks sits within Uganda's territory, the landscape within the Kenyan portion remains to be some of the most beautiful in the region.

6. Mount Elgon National Park

 

In the south east of the country, split into East and West sections by the Mombasa/Nairobi A109 road and accompanying railway is the 22,812 square kilometre (8,807 square mile) Tsavo National Park, situated in what was once the Taru Desert. Home to a large wildlife population, species in the park include eastern black rhinoceros, hippopotamus, Cape buffalo, elephant, lion, crocodile, leopard, Masai giraffe, zebra and baboon among many more. Of the two portions of the park, Tsavo West is the more popular destination, owing to its magnificent scenery, rich and varied wildlife, easier access, rhino reserve and guided hiking routes along the Tsavo River.

5. Tsavo National Park

 

South from the capital, Nairobi, located on the border with neighbouring Tanzania is the 392 square kilometre (151 square mile) Amboseli National Park, considered one of the best wildlife viewing locations in the world. Made up of large swamps and areas of semi arid vegetation the park is home to African bush elephant, Cape buffalo, impala, lion, cheetah, Masai giraffe, Grant's Zebra and blue wildebeest among many others. As well as offering the chance to get close to wild elephants and visit Masai villages, the park also offers one of the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

4. Amboseli National Park

 

In the north west of the country, covering an area of some 3,990 square kilometres (1,540 square miles) is Lake Turkana National Park, a group of three national parks centred around the worlds largest permanent desert lake, Lake Turkana. Situated in the Kenyan Rift Valley, the park is a majorly important stopping point for migrating birds, as well as a breeding ground for Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, zebra, giraffe, snakes and a large number of other species. Surrounded by arid desert in one of the hottest places on Earth, its a place few tourists venture. One of the most spectacular locations on the lake is that of the Nabuyatom Crater, its caldera the remnant of a collapsed volcano. The entire protected area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Lake Turkana National Park

 

North east of the capital, Nairobi, covering some 715 square kilometres (276 square miles) in the centre of the country is Mount Kenya National Park, a protected area that is itself encircled by an equally large forest reserve. Mostly situated above 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above sea level, it is a rugged landscape of high peaks, forested slopes, huge valleys and even ancient glaciers. Home to a large number of wildlife species that includes a large elephant population, the parks biggest resident is Mount Kenya, at 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) above sea level it is the second highest mountain in Africa. The national park and the surrounding natural forest has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Mount Kenya National Park

 

Every year millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle follow their migration route throughout the Masai Mara and Serengeti ecosystems, lining the banks of Mara River for one of Earth's most spectacular wildlife events, an event known as the Great Migration. Having crossed the Grumeti River in Tanzania, the millions of animals migrating will now attempt to cross the crocodile infested Mara River, the ultimate life or death for greener pastures on the other side. Busiest during July and August, it really is one of natures most raw and spectacular sights.

1. Masai Mara Great Migration

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