An array of mountains and ranges so lush that you would be forgiven for thinking they were part of paradise; rivers and lakes so bountiful they could feed a nation; beaches and island destinations that are just as stunning as the stuff fantasies are made of and then there are the people: so diverse, friendly and full of interesting anecdotes that showcase their differences.
That’s what Kenya has in store for those who visit.
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The fact that Kenya is a wonderful tourist destination is not in doubt. After all, Diani Beach has been voted as Africa’s leading beach destination by the World Travel Awards on several occasions. The Maasai Mara also has also won Africa’s leading National Park on a number of occasions as well. These are all places worth your time and money.
There are, however, many other destinations both inland and coastal that rival these award-winning locations. Here are 12 bucket list-worthy attractions in Kenya that you should absolutely visit at least once in your lifetime.
Bucket list worthy attractions in Kenya
1. Visit the Maasai Mara National Reserve
Yeah, you are not going to make it through a list of “Kenya’s most bucket-list-worthy attractions” without including the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This award-winning park is very much a microcosm of everything Africa has to offer.
Vast rolling plains littered with wildlife from majestic herbivores such as wildebeest, zebras, giraffes and all sorts of gazelle species to fiercely revered carnivores like lions, leopards and cheetahs. Then there are the stunning, child-friendly resorts such as the Mara Serena, Mara Intrepids and Speke’s Camp.
2. Scale Mount Kenya
The iconic Mt. Kenya has long been a must-visit for mountaineering enthusiasts from around the world. Being the second highest mountain in Africa and the highest in Kenya (Elevation: 5,199 metres (17,057 ft.) this giant has three main peaks (Batian, Nelion and Lenana). You can actually hike to Point Lenana (4,985 metres (16,355 ft.). You will need technical skills to scale Batian and Nelion.
3. Marvel at Mount Kenya from Nanyuki
If you are not into that whole “get muscle aches trying to climb a mountain” scenario, then you could choose to gaze at it from the nearby tourist haven that is Nanyuki town. There are tons of things to do here and a host of family-friendly resorts full of activities like fishing, horseback riding, game watching and so much more. You could even tour Mt. Kenya by helicopter.
4. Spend a day in the capital, Nairobi
If you are flying in, there is a good chance that you will be landing in Nairobi anyway. Why not take the time to enjoy the city? See the sights, sample some of the food and most importantly, get lost in the ever-vibrant nightlife.
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5. Enjoy the island life in Lamu
If you are going to head out to the coast, there is a host of destination options at your disposal. Each one is almost more stunning than the next. From Malindi to award-winning Diani and even Mombasa itself. The Kenyan coast was specifically crafted to give people a wonderful stay. Lamu, however, is what you would call the Kenyan coast if it were on performance enhancement drugs. You will be hard-pressed to find one part of this beautiful archipelago that doesn’t take your breath away.
6. Get close to a member of the Big Five at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Would you like to get up close and personal with elephants? At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, you can watch as baby elephants get fed or you could even give a hand if lucky.
7. Frolic with flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is the perfect place to go see a host of different bird species including the world-famous pink flamingoes. These majestically beautiful birds congregate in the thousands on the shallows of the lake as they feed on the algae and crustaceans that give them their hot pink colours. You can also see other kinds of wildlife here from warthogs, giraffes, baboons and even rhinos now.
8. Gaze at the roof of Africa from Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve not only has a host of wildlife including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) but it also has sweeping views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Of all the parks and reserves in Kenya, Amboseli (Maasai for “salty dust”) is one of the best places to view large herds of gigantic elephants up close.
9. Be unique at Nairobi National Park
There is only one national park within city limits in the entire world: Nairobi National Park. That, however, isn’t the only thing that makes this park unique. Nairobi National Park gives you a glimpse of what the entire country has to offer in terms of wilderness and wildlife. If you want a taste of Kenya, all in one tidy spot, you definitely have to spend a day at Nairobi National Park.
10. Travel up north into wild Turkana
Lake Turkana just so happens to be the world’s largest alkaline lake as well as the world’s largest permanent desert lake. Talk about being one of a kind. While the lake itself is something of a marvel, there are myriad of attractions that come with travelling up North that most tourists would appreciate.
From Chalbi desert to a couple of islands within Lake Turkana itself as well as large stretches of untamed and unpopulated sandy beaches. You simply have to go there to appreciate it all.
11. Get lost at Rusinga Island
Rusinga Island is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and attraction-rich destinations in Lake Victoria. The thing about this island, apart from being part of Lake Victoria which is the largest lake in Africa and the main source of River Nile, is that it is riddled with a myriad of prehistoric sites and gorgeous beaches.
12. Go to Hell’s Gate National Park
There are very few national parks around the world that allow you to explore it on foot or while riding a mountain bike. Hell’s Gate National Park is one such park. At less than 2 hours from the capital city, Hell’s Gate National Park is a popular destination for locals who want to experience the vast outdoors and take in the sites. It’s also a wonderful place for avid climbers who want to try out their skills on steep cliffs and smooth rock faces.
Kenya has so much more to offer. You only need to open your mind to the numerous possibilities. Do you have a favourite bucket-list-worthy destination in Kenya? Share the details with us in the comment section below.