Top Holiday Destinations in Kenya

Kenya is one of the world’s most evocative and exciting travel destinations. Witness swarms of wildebeest thundering across the savanna during the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara; get up close and personal with elephants in Amboseli; visit dreamy beaches and dense forests; or gaze out at Lake Nakuru, which is flecked with thousands of flamingos. In these sun-drenched lands, tribal groups such as the Maasai, Kikuyu, and Samburu maintain their traditional customs, living in relative harmony with the natural world.

Mount_Kenya

1. Mt Kenya

Kenya’s highest mountain, at 5,199 m/17,057ft (5.2 kilometers), is also the second-highest in Africa, after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The stratovolcano formed around three million years ago when the East African Rift Valley (part of the Great Rift Valley) opened up. Today, its lower slopes are covered in bamboo and African rosewood forests, and mountain run-off supplies water to more than two million people. Mount Kenya is one of the most beautiful places in Kenya, with its rugged, snow-capped peaks and glaciers lining the upper slopes. Those wishing to reach the summit can hike to Point Lenana, one of the Three Summits, or climb to the highest point, Batian Peak, via the world’s highest Ferrata (iron path).

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

2. Ol Pejeta

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a Big Five preserve in Mount Kenya’s foothills, is well-known for its wildlife conservation. Sudan lost its last male northern white rhino in 2018; the subspecies’ last females remain at Ol Pejeta, where they are continually protected. Sweetwater’s Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which houses chimps rescued from the black market, is also part of the Laikipia conservation area. Ol Pejeta, one of Kenya’s most fascinating tourist destinations, is an excellent place to learn about the relationship between people and wildlife, as well as the challenges faced in the conservation industry. Experience lion tracking, bush walks, and night drives by visiting for the day or staying for the weekend.

Flamingos on Lake Nakuru

3. Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru National Park is home to a diverse range of bird species, most notably massive flocks of flamingos, which are estimated to number in the millions, though the lake’s population has recently gone down. Lake Nakuru is a Rift Valley lake with high algae levels that attract birds. Around the lake, you can see pelicans, cormorants, African fish eagles, Verreaux’s eagles, Goliath herons, and hammerkops. The national park also has black and white rhinos, Rothschild’s giraffes, lions, and cheetahs.

The park also safeguards Africa’s largest euphorbia candelabrum forest. These tall, branching succulents are endemic to the region and add a bold textural element to the arid landscapes.

Beautiful Lamu town in the north coast of Kenya

4. Lamu

Lamu, a small island northeast of Mombasa, exudes old-world charm. Lamu’s old town was founded around 1370 as a Swahili port, making it Kenya’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement, and has since been populated by Europeans, Indians, and Persians. As a result, it’s a cultural melting pot.

Visiting here is like going back in time. Dhows navigate the harbor, there are few if any motorized vehicles, and donkeys still rule the streets. One of the best things to do in this city is to take a stroll through the winding streets. The buildings reflect the island’s illustrious trading history. Architectural elements from the Arab world, Europe, and India can be seen, but with a distinct Swahili technique. There are 23 mosques and a 19th-century fort off the coast. Then there are the unspoiled beaches nearby. This is the ideal place to unwind after a safari tour in Kenya.

Elephants grazing in Samburu Buffalo Springs

5. Samburu, Buffalo springs and Shaba reserves

Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves are located in an arid region in Kenya’s remote north, on the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River.

The top attraction in northern Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve is the Sarara Singing Wells. In these local watering holes, Samburu people, famous for their many strands of brightly colored beaded jewelry, sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. The reserve is home to elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and over 450 bird species. Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and East African oryx are all possible sightings, as are the gerenuk (a long-necked antelope) and spotted hyena.

Shaba National Reserve is one of two locations where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa, the lioness, who became famous in the film Born Free.

Lion and Lioness in the Mara Savannah

6. Masai Mara

We couldn’t forgo the Masai Mara National Reserve, one of Africa’s most spectacular game reserves. The Mara, which borders Tanzania, is the northern extension of the Serengeti and serves as a wildlife corridor between the two countries. The spectacular Mara River crossings that occur between August and October as the animals enter Kenya during the great migration of nearly two million wildebeest, half a million antelopes, and thousands of zebras in response to the rains are the most anticipated part of this journey. It’s a popular safari destination on the continent, but you can avoid the crowds by staying in a private concession on the reserve’s outskirts. Aside from the fact that they are not accessible to the general public, concessions allow for activities that are not permitted in the national reserve, such as bush walks and night drives.

An Elephant in the green savannah of Amboseli with Mt Kilimanjaro in the backgrounds

7. Amboseli

Amboseli National Park, located near the Tanzanian border and east of the Mara, is a must-see. With the mighty, snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain, rising across the border, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kenya. The reserve is one of Africa’s best places to see large herds of elephants up close. Other animals commonly seen in the park include lions and cheetahs, as well as giraffes, impala, elands, waterbucks, gazelles, and over 600 bird species.

White sandy beaches of Diani

8. Diani Beach

Diani Beach, one of Africa’s most beautiful beaches, is located approximately 30 kilometres/20 miles south of Mombasa and is only a short flight from Nairobi. Its white sands are lapped by the brilliant Indian Ocean and backed by lush forests, where you can take nature walks when you’re tired of sunbathing or kitesurfing. Swim with whale sharks, go snorkelling, or simply relax in a hammock with a good book.

A herd of elephants in the Tsavo Savannah

Tsavo West and Tsavo East are two sections of Kenya’s largest park, Tsavo. These parks encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannahs, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an incredible diversity of wildlife.

Tsavo East is well-known for its photogenic sightings of large elephant herds rolling in red dust. The palm-fringed Galana River winds its way through the park, providing excellent game viewing and a lush contrast to the arid plains. The Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow, Mudanda Rock, and the Lugard Falls, which spill into rapids and crocodile-filled pools, are also key features.

9. Tsavo

Tsavo West is wetter and more varied in terrain, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the park’s northern reaches. Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles; Chaimu Crater, a great spot for seeing birds of prey; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary are all highlights. Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is less visible in Tsavo West, but the stunning scenery more than makes up for it.

Zebras in Nairobi National Park, Nairobi city in the background

Who says you have to leave Nairobi to go on a safari? Nairobi National Park is only a 15-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Kenya’s capital, and you can see a snoozing pride of lions or a graceful giraffe strutting through the golden grass.

Visiting this wildlife-rich park is one of the best things to do in Nairobi, and it makes a great day trip if you can’t get to one of the larger game reserves.

10. Nairobi National Park

The park’s rhino sanctuary houses some of the world’s most endangered species, including buffalo, leopards, zebras, wildebeest, hippos, elephants, and cheetahs.

No trip to the park would be complete without a stop at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery, located near the park’s main entrance. Also, make time to visit the Giraffe Centre, located near the famous Giraffe Manor, where these long-necked beauties eat right out of your hands.