Kenya

For many people Africa is Kenya. It is the 'Land of the Lion King' and sits at the centre of the African safari experience, with an outstanding variety of wild animals and Big Five viewing opportunities.

Although safaris are its greatest attraction, it is a country of great diversity with much more to offer than wildlife.  There are a million different reasons to come here, and picking just one is impossible. Stunning landscapes set the scene, from Kakamega’s rainforests to Indian Ocean beaches by way of Mount Kenya National Park; the rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara to searing deserts on the shores of the Jade Sea; with The Rift Valley, home to Hell's Gate National Park, cleaving a massive gash through it all.

When you think of Kenya, you immediately think safari. They have been the mainstay of the country’s tourism for decades and Tsavo National Park is amongst the best places in Africa to see lions, elephants, leopards and the famous wildebeest migration.

Kenya is also rated as one of the top five bird-watching destinations in the world; other popular activities include trekking the glacial ridges of Mt Kenya, ballooning over the Masai Mara, and snorkelling at the Marine National Park in Malindi on the Indian Ocean coast. Kenya's biggest city, Nairobi, offers an interesting urban appeal with its cafes and nightlife.

Kenya has a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, with two major cities controlling the majority of the tourism trade. Nairobi, the capital, is the safari and hiking hub, situated in the cool Central Highlands, while on the east coast the hot and humid trading port of Mombasa is the gateway to the resorts and pristine beaches of the area.  Here a mixture of African and Asian produces the unique Swahili culture.

Its diverse population adds further vibrancy to this colourful country. There are about 40 different tribes, all with their own languages and cultures. Major tribes include the Kikuyu, the Luyia and the Luo, but the most famous are the Masai, who still lead a traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle of cattle-herding along the southern border.

The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KSH). Credit cards (especially VISA, MasterCard and American Express) are widely accepted in tourist hotels and generally in Nairobi and Mombassa. But if you are travelling in remote areas make sure you have enough currency with you as you won’t be able to rely on your plastic.

Tipping is not customary in Kenya, however a 10% service charge may be added to bill in more upmarket restaurants. Otherwise small change in local currency may be offered to taxi drivers, porters and waiters. On safari, however, drivers, guides and cooks often rely heavily on tips to get by, but these are discretionary.

 

Mombasa
Introduction
Located on Kenya’s Eastern coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, Mombasa has become popular for its exotic beaches (such as Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Tiwi), diverse marine life, world-class hotels and friendly people. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean cater to all types of tourists: those looking for a quiet swim, a place for kids to play, deep-sea fishing, and water sports activities such as scuba diving and sailing.  
Hot and humid, Mombasa is the biggest port on the east coast of Africa serving five different countries, and sits at the beginning of the only railway that crosses the Kenyan interior.
On an island linked to the mainland by bridges, Mombasa is surrounded by a natural harbour where commercial shipping mixes with traditional sailing dhows. The entrance to the harbour is protected by the commanding 16th-century fort, Fort Jesus, whose remnants tell the story of a historic struggle for control of the coast between the Portuguese and Arabs. Behind, on Treasury Square, is the Government Game Department's Ivory Room, exhibiting elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns, hippopotamus teeth and other animal trophies confiscated from poachers or taken from dead animals on the reserve.
The Old Town retains a strong Arab flavour and is the true heart of the city. It is best to visit this area with an official guide as mugging is not uncommon. It is well worth making the effort though so you can experience the intricate pattern of winding streets that are crammed with faded houses and street sellers, and filled with the heavy scent of spices. It is a colourful and vibrant city with much to offer.

See & Do
There is a vast array of things to see and do in and around Mombasa.
Venture into the old town to see its narrow lanes lined with traditional Arabian wooden-balconied houses. Well worth a visit are the 15th century Mandhry Mosque and the exquisite Hindu Temples around the city.
Fort Jesus, which dominates the town, is the largest fort in Africa. Built by the Portuguese, it has been converted into a national museum and displays the historical past of Mombasa.  
Other attractions include:
·         Baombolulu Workshops
·         Gedi Ruins
·         Mombasa Tusks
·         Haller Park (animal sanctuary)
·         Mamba Village (East Africa’s largest crocodile farm)
·         Tsavo National Park
The best beaches in the area are Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Tiwi. For water sports enthusiasts’ facilities such as snorkelling, diving etc., are available on the beach front. 
A dhow (traditional boat) safari is the best way to see the sights around.

Shopping
Mombasa is a great place to buy traditional Kenyan crafts and clothing.  The city is full of markets that give visitors a genuine taste of Mombasan life as well as the opportunity to purchase hand crafted wooden furniture, sculpture, toys, jewellery, and baskets. They are worth exploring if not for bargains then simply for atmosphere. There is a large central fish market, and several produce market including the large Maembe Tayari (Fresh Mango) market.
 
Mombasa is home to excellent woodcarvers from all over Kenya, producing many traditional designs. But the coastal speciality is fine woodwork, including furniture, and Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work and Makonde. These are beautiful and intricate carvings.
The Biashara  (swahili word for 'trade' ) Street in the middle of Mombasa Island  is a good place to look for Khangas, kikoys and kitenges, which are the brightly coloured traditional coastal textiles worn as clothing or head wrappings.  
When you shop make sure that you do not pay the price straight, negotiate first.
If you want to go some larger shops:
·         Nakumatt in Nyali or near the Likoni Ferry
·         Nawal Center ne Membe Tyari
·         Bawarzier Plaza near the Market
·         Bestlady Supermarket Digo Road
Food & Drink
Mombasa offers its visitors a very diverse choice of cuisines, including a host of quality restaurants offering everything from British, Chinese, Indian and Italian, to a variety of local and traditional Kenyan dishes.
Given its ocean-side location, seafood options are abundant and outstanding and can often be eaten within a couple of hours of being caught.  
Here are a few places you might like to try:
·         Blue Room
·         Mubins
·         Yuls
·         Chinese Galaxy
·         Hunters Steak House
·         Il Coro
·         Sea Haven
·         Shehnai
·         Tamarind
Tea is widely drunk in Mombasa and highly sugared. If you want something slightly stronger you will mainly find lager. A favourite drink of the area is dawa which is a mixture of Kenyan Cane Rum, honey and lime.
In the more rural areas moonshine is readily available, the most famous of which is Tembo.
Entertainment
Nightlife in Mombasa is always exciting, and the City offers many dance clubs and casinos that cater to a variety of entertainment tastes. Or, you can always catch a movie at the cinema, go bowling, or grab a drink at the local pub.
Here are a few clubs, bars and casinos:
·         Bora Bora Night Club
·         Il Covo Bar
·         Jungle Village
·         Mamba International Night Club
·         Pirates
·         Starion
·         Florida Beach Casino
·         Gold Key Casino
·         Nyali Beach Hotel Casino
·         Royal Casino
 
Excursions
As well as visiting the near-by beaches, you could also do the following:
·         Dhow safari
·         Mamba Village and crocodile farm tour
·         Haller Park
·         Wasini Island trip
·         Tsavo East National Park
·         Deep sea fishing
·         Visit Gedi ruins
·         Safari
 
Health & Safety
Take medical advice before travelling as to what inoculations you should have. Only drink bottled water and only eat food that has been thoroughly cooked and avoid unpeeled fruit.
Mosquitoes are an issue so ensure you take plenty of repellent with you and sleep under a mosquito net. The sun will be very strong so cover up and ensure you have sufficient high factor sun cream with you.
Mombasa is safe provided you stick to a few commonsense rules. Travelling during the day is generally considered safe. However, as with many tourist areas, crime does happen to ensure you do not carry valuables with you or travel documents etc. Travel in groups and only in daylight and avoid any secluded beaches or areas of the city.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nairobi
Introduction
Nairobi is the largest city in East Africa, the region's commercial hub and Kenya's industrial and political heart.  Its reputation for being hard and fast and dangerous means that the unfortunate nickname Nairobbery' still has a ring of truth to it. This is a shame though, since Nairobi is a vital and lively introduction to the real Kenya. The safari capital of the world, the city is actually an excellent base for travel and adventure.
 
As one of Africa's largest and most interesting cities, Nairobi is a place of enormous energy. It is home to a fascinating variety of people and the stimulating mix of cultures means that there is a buzz about the place.
The city exudes a surprisingly modern feel with its collection of cosmopolitan shops, an unrivalled selection of cultural activities, a varied restaurant scene and café culture. If you want to escape from the hustle of city life head to the suburbs and take advantage of the city's close proximity to a national park, where wildlife that was here long before the city existed now gazes on skyscrapers.

The city is full of sights and sounds - Kenyatta Avenue (the city's favourite tourist image), several museums (including the National Museum and Snake Park), and numerous markets selling traditional crafts (especially the Masai market). If you venture just outside of the centre there is the Nairobi National Park, and the nearby Bomas of Kenya host performances of traditional dancing and singing.  If you want to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife then head for the Langata Giraffe Centre which offers visitors the chance to hand-feed the Rothschild giraffes that inhabit the area.
 
From the wildlife to the nightlife, Nairobi is unique: fantastic music scenes, excellent international restaurants and an endless and colourful array of shops and markets are everywhere.
 
 

See & Do
There is a wealth of activities and places to visit in and around Nairobi. Listed below are just a few of them:
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Kenya National Museum
  • Snake Park
  • Parliament Buildings
  • City Hall
  • McMillan Memorial Library
  • Municipal Market
  • Kenya National Theatre
  • Sorsbie Art Gallery
  • Ice-skating (The Solar Ice Rink, Panari Hotel)
  • Maasi Market
  • Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
  • Langata Giraffe Centre
  • Bomas of Kenya
  • Karen Blixen Museum
Shopping
Nairobi’s best shopping is found two days a week (Tuesday and Friday) at the city's "Maasi Market". You can buy virtually any kind of souvenir here from craftsmen and traders from all over the country. Be warned though, although friendly, the sellers are persistent and the cramped location can be dusty.  
Shopping in Nairobi is an art form – never accept the first price (except in supermarkets), haggle hard and play the game. Here are few of the best places to go:
  • Gigiri open-air bazaar – stores and ethnic restaurants
  • Moi Avenue – Nairobi’s prime shopping district with many standard stores
  • Zanzibar Curio Shop, Moi Avenue – great range of crafts
  • Zebra Crafts, Koinange Street – for carvings
  • Biashara Street – great for fabrics, textiles and kikoys (brightly coloured woven cloth often worn as sarongs)
  • Kanafro Antiques, Koinange Street – beads and jewellery
  • Embakasi Village Craft Market – good-value crafts
  • Muindi Mbingu Street – fruit and vegetables
  • Wakulima – farmers’ market
  • Kariokor – workman making clothes, tyre-rubber sandals, toys and traditional sisal baskets
 
Food & Drink
As you would expect, the cuisine available in Nairobi is as cosmopolitan as its people. There is something for everyone here. Listed below are a few of the eateries you might like to try:
  • Carnivore Restaurant - Nairobi's most famous nyama choma (literally, ‘roast meat') restaurant. Although it no longer serves plains game, you can still dine on camel, ostrich and crocodile cooked over giant barbecue pits.
  • Tamarind – Nairobi’s finest fish restaurant ( also serves venison, steak and poultry dishes)
  • Panda – Nairobi’s best Chinese restaurant
  • Swahili Corner – sample traditional Swahili food
  • Thorn Tree Café – snacks, pizza and cakes
  • Nairobi Java House – coffee shop
Entertainment
Nairobi has a number of lively venues for drinking and dancing as well as musical attractions that include some of East Africa's busiest clubs and best bands.  It also has several cinemas and theatres if you are looking for a quieter evening.
 
Bars include:
  • Lord Delamere Terrace Bar (Norfolk Hotel)
  • Zanze Bar (Moi Avenue)
  • Havana (Westlands)
  • Bar Code (Westlands)
Nightclubs:
  • Sahara City (Mombasa Highway)
  • Florida 2000 (Moi Avenue)
  • Black Cotton (Langata Road)
 
For live music try:
  • Simba Saloon
  • Club Sikiliza (Limuru Road)
  • Green House (Nyangumi Road)
  • Ngong Hills Hotel (Ngong Road)
 
Excursions
There is plenty to see and do in and around Nairobi. Listed below are just some of the attractions that you can visit during your stay:
  • Amboseli National Park
  • Mount Kenya National Park
  • Masai Mara National Reserve
  • Lake Nakuru
  • Nairobi National Park
 
Health & Safety
The city centre is comparatively trouble-free as long as you use a bit of common sense, and there are plenty of askaris (security guards) around at night. The area around Latema, River Roads and Uhuru Park are hotspots for petty theft.
Before travelling you are advised to get the latest medical advice on inoculations and malaria prevention at least three weeks prior to departure. Immunisation against yellow fever, polio and typhoid are usually recommended.
Protection against bites from sand flies, mosquitoes and tsetse flies is the best prevention against malaria and dengue fever, as well as other insect-borne diseases. AIDS is a serious problem in Kenya and the necessary precautions should be taken.
Water is of variable quality and visitors are advised to drink bottled water and should be cautious of food prepared by unlicensed roadside vendors. There are good medical facilities in Nairobi but health insurance is essential.   
 
 
 
 
Masai Mara
Introduction
The Masai Mara is Kenya’s most popular tourist attraction. Bordering Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara offers a wide variety of wildlife and your best opportunity to see lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, buffalo, giraffe, and hyenas just to name a few.
Bordering Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara offers a landscape of rolling plains crossed by rivers and dotted with lone acacia trees. The 700-sq-mi/1,800-sq-km reserve can be toured in a variety of ways: four-wheel-drive vehicle, small aircraft and hot-air balloon.  
The Masai Mara is characterized by four different kinds of topography: sandy soil and small bushes to the east, the Oloololo Escarpment forming a spectacular plateau as the western boundary of the reserve, lush grasslands and woodlands around the Mara River (home to hippos and crocodiles) and open plains with scattered bushes making up the largest part of the reserve. The landscape is very varied and has a romantic feeling to it, as can be witnessed in the film 'Out of Africa', which was filmed here in 1985.
 
See & Do
Not surprisingly the main attraction of the Masai Mara is game viewing. You can go on morning, afternoon and night drives over several days to try and see as many of the resident animals as possible, such as lion, leopard, elephant, zebra, giraffe, Thomson's gazelle, hyena, rhino, hippo and the thousands of migrating wildebeest that makes this park so famous.
A lot of the camp sites and lodges offer game drives with experienced drivers and skilled, well-informed guides. These are well worth your money, as they provide you with priceless knowledge and help you spot animals you wouldn't see on your own. 
For when you want a change of scene from wildlife spotting, there is a Masai village near the Oloolaimutiek gate of this game park. It is a good experience and will help you to deepen your understanding of the Masai's culture and simple way of life.
For some stunning photos and memories of this incredible place you can splash out on hot air balloon safari early in the morning to see the sun rising above the wildlife and the magnificent landscapes. Plus, after a hard days safari some lodges and camps offer massage and wellness treatments making you able to combine wildlife watching with luxury.
 
Shopping
Needless to say shopping opportunities in the Masai Mara are limited. However you can buy strings of beads or beads already made up into necklaces and other pieces of jewellery at the gate and outside the entry to the park. 
If you want to support local communities do not buy trinkets from the camps and lodges and instead buy them from a local village - 'manyatta'
Food & Drink
As you can imagine there are few eateries in the Masai Mara other than those provided by the various safari camps and lodges. Many of these offer excellent restaurants and bars that over look the reserve.
Entertainment
Most of the entertainment comes in the form of stunning scenery and wildlife. A few of the lodges offer residents entertainment.
Excursions
The main reason for visiting the Masai Mara is the safari experience. Whether enjoying a jeep safari or the stunning view from a hot air balloon, the safari experience will be the main highlight of your stay.
When you are ready for a change of scene, there is a Masai village near the Oloolaimutiek gate of this game park. It is a good experience and will help you to deepen your understanding of the Masai's culture and simple way of life. Alternatively why not visit Lake Victoria.
 
Health & Safety
The main health issue at the Masai Mara National Reserve is malaria. But provided you have taken care by following all the medical recommendations and wear long-sleeved clothing after dark and applying insect repellent, you will be fine.
The water is safe to drink and there's a major hospital at Nairobi, 100km east of the park.
The Reserve is a fairly safe place but be sensible; getting out of your vehicle in the game reserve is highly inadvisable and you should make sure you follow the instructions of your guide when out game viewing.
 
 
Safari
Kenya is home to the original safari holiday and still one of the most popular destinations for safaris in the world.
It offers everything from its incredible scenic beauty, diverse cultures and abundant wildlife, to stunning beaches and warm tropical waters. But above all it is the wildlife that attracts the safari traveller to some of Africa's best-known national parks, including the Masai Mara, Tsavo, and Amboseli.
Enjoy the full Kenyan Experience
Kenya is a rich and diverse country; from the bustle of Nairobi to the exotic beaches of Mombassa, there is something for everyone.
Any holiday to Nairobi or Mombassa would be enhanced with the adventure of a safari. Experience first hand the stunning spectacle of seeing wildlife in its true habitat. Witness the awesome sight of the Great Wildebeest Migrations from the Serengeti (July to October) or take in a breathtaking hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara.
A safari to Kenya can be done using a 4 wheel drive, horse back, or on foot. There are all sorts of accommodation options for your stay in Kenya, from holiday inns to lodges, guest houses, bed and breakfast and so much more.
Because of its unfailing guarantee to have you experience the Big Five (namely lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) its fame is unequalled by any other regions who themselves offer other wonders.  
A Kenyan safari is not only rich in wildlife but also its kaleidoscopic landscapes which are characterized with highlands, rift valley, grasslands, moonscape at the north and the snow capped magnificence of Mount Kenya.
The Parks
Probably the best know of all the national parks in Kenya are the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo. But there are many more besides which all offer their own unique experiences:
  • Abedares National Park
  • Arabuko Sokoke National Park
  • Lake Nakuru
  • Meru National Park
  • Marsabit National Park and Reserve
  • Mount Kenya National Park
  • Hell’s Gate National Park
  • Ruma National Park
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Chyulu Hill National Park
  • Central Island National Park
  • Kora National Park
  • Malka Mari National Park
  • Saiwa Swamp National Park
  • Sibiloni National Park
  • Oldonyo Sabuk National Park
  • Impala Sanctuary
  • Kuinga Marine National Park
  • Mombassa Marine National Park
  • Maindi-Watamu Marine National Park
  • Arawale National Park
 
Tsavo
At nearly 22,000km2, Tsavo is the largest national park in Kenya and one of the largest in the world. Tsavo is the ideal destination for people who seek solitude and privacy as well as the chance to explore the wilderness.
With its proximity to Mombasa (less than 100 km away) it is also a great safari option for those staying on the coast or those planning to relax on Kenya's beaches after a dusty safari. Tsavo also combines well with the nearby Amboseli National Park.
Because of the size of the park, it is split into 2 areas: Tsavo West and Tsavo East
The Tsavo West National Park is covered in volcanic cones, rocky outcrops and lava flows.  Tall vegetation makes game spotting a little trickier than in some of the other parks. The Big Five can be found along with a range of antelope species.  Places to visit include the Chaimu Crater and the Roaring Rocks viewpoint.  
Just across the highway from Tsavo West is the Tsavo East National Park which is famous for its large numbers of elephant and spectacular herds of up to 1000 buffalo. There is far more savannah here than its western neighbour.
The best game viewing is along the watercourses and at the Kanderi swamp. Thirty kilometres from the gate is the Aruba Dam and lion are commonly spotted around here.
Tsavo East is home to some interesting geographical features, including the Lugard Falls and the Mzima Springs (the source of much of Mombasa’s fresh water). At Mzima you can walk down to a large pool, a favourite hang out for hippos and crocodiles. There is an underwater viewing chamber where you can observe thousands of primordial looking fish.  
Amboseli
Amboseli National park (now Amboseli National Reserve) is located near Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa), on the border of Tanzania.
Amboseli is about 200km from Nairobi and combines well with Tsavo National Park to the east.
Amboseli only covers 392 sq km but despite its small size and its fragile ecosystem it has large concentrations of wildlife even in the dry season. It has over 50 of the larger species (including the endangered Black Rhino), such as lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs and buffalos and over 400 bird species.
One of the classic and most enduring images of safari and East Africa is a herd of elephant strolling across the plains with the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro in the background. It is to catch this sight that people flood to Amboseli National Park.
Health & Safety
You should consult your doctor before travelling to determine the vaccination requirements for the areas that you will be travelling to.
Malaria exits all year round throughout the country so you are advised to seek medical advice before your holiday to ensure you receive the correct preventative medication. You are also advised to wear long sleeved clothing after dark and apply insect repellent.
The water is safe to drink.

Land of the Lion King

 

For many people Africa is Kenya. It is the 'Land of the Lion King' and sits at the centre of the African safari experience, with an outstanding variety of wild animals and Big Five viewing opportunities. 
 
Although safaris are its greatest attraction, it is a country of great diversity with much more to offer than wildlife.  There are a million different reasons to come here, and picking just one is impossible. Stunning landscapes set the scene, from Kakamega’s rainforests to Indian Ocean beaches by way of Mount Kenya National Park; the rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara to searing deserts on the shores of the Jade Sea; with The Rift Valley, home to Hell's Gate National Park, cleaving a massive gash through it all. 
 
When you think of Kenya, you immediately think safari. They have been the mainstay of the country’s tourism for decades and Tsavo National Park is amongst the best places in Africa to see lions, elephants, leopards and the famous wildebeest migration. 
 
Kenya is also rated as one of the top five bird-watching destinations in the world; other popular activities include trekking the glacial ridges of Mt Kenya, ballooning over the Masai Mara, and snorkelling at the Marine National Park in Malindi on the Indian Ocean coast. Kenya's biggest city, Nairobi, offers an interesting urban appeal with its cafes and nightlife.
 
Kenya has a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, with two major cities controlling the majority of the tourism trade. Nairobi, the capital, is the safari and hiking hub, situated in the cool Central Highlands, while on the east coast the hot and humid trading port of Mombasa is the gateway to the resorts and pristine beaches of the area.  Here a mixture of African and Asian produces the unique Swahili culture.
 
Its diverse population adds further vibrancy to this colourful country. There are about 40 different tribes, all with their own languages and cultures. Major tribes include the Kikuyu, the Luyia and the Luo, but the most famous are the Masai, who still lead a traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle of cattle-herding along the southern border. More info
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