Travel

Travel Spotlight… Kenya, Africa

The safari capital of Africa is full of contrasts. And awesome animals.

1 month Discovery Channel

Like many of the other great destinations we’ve shone the travel spotlight on, Kenya plays host to both modern wonders, as well as untamed and beautiful areas that harken back to older days. Depending on whether you want a few thrilling days on a wildlife safari, or to take in some of Africa’s most jaw-dropping architecture, Kenya will be a feast for the senses.

See: Diani Beach is incredibly beautiful and relaxing; luxury hotels and backpacker lodges will suit all budgets.
Eat: If you’re a meat-eater, Carnivore in Nairobi is a hearty exploration into African cuisine.
Drink: Give local lager, Tusker, a try.
History: Nairobi National Museum is located on the aptly-named Museum Hill.
Relax: Take a sunset cruise on Lake Naivasha – complete with hippo sightings!
Adventure: Any of the many safaris on offer will take you deep into the wild – in safety of course.
Shopping: Nairobi’s many street markets have souvenirs aplenty.
Art and Culture: Kenya has a rich artistic scene; if you can get there in November, catch the Kenya Art Fair, which showcases the best in the area.

GET YOUR TREK ON

Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain, and, as such, may seem daunting to first-timers, but a variety of peaks makes it the perfect place to scale for expert hikers and newcomers alike.

It’s the third-highest of the peaks that is the most rewarding and achievable to climb, and a number of walking tours are available; doing these kinda things in a group is the best way not to get lost and end up on the news.

The views are — not at all shockingly — fantastic, but if you can’t be dealing with all that climbing, the entire place also functions as a stunning national park – meaning you can stick to the lower altitudes and still enjoy some breathtaking natural scenery.

THE WILD CITY

If you want to hit the current cultural and social hub of Kenya, then Nairobi is where you’ll want to gravitate to.

First, a word of warning: the street crime rate is alarmingly high in this area, especially at night, so travellers will want to keep their wits about them, travel in groups, and stay within well-populated establishments. Don’t let that scare you off though; after all the same can be said for New York City. If you want to check out art galleries, gardens, clubs, restaurants, museums, street markets, and ancient churches, Nairobi is where you’ll wanna be.

WHEN IN LAMU

After the hustle and bustle of Nairobi, Lamu should prove to be a jarring but welcome change of past.

The oldest Swahili settlement still in living existence, this coastal paradise has remained largely unchanged for centuries. The entire town is walled, and motor vehicles (aka: cars) are completely banned, meaning if you need to travel a non-walkable distance, you better believe you’ll be getting around by donkey.

While in Lamu, you’ll want to take it easy: mosques pepper the surrounding beaches, while tiny local markets provide food, drinks, and souvenir shopping. The community is still tiny, restricted from growth by virtue of its walled-in status, but increased tourism to the area means it’s not quite the remote place it was in centuries past.

GO ON A SAFARI

If you want to see jungle animals in the wild, you are certainly spoiled for choice in Kenya, not surprisingly.

The Masai Mara is the most high-profile safari in Africa, although true traditionalists will argue that human interference has resulted in such a close concentration of otherwise-wild animals, and this isn’t true nature as intended. Still, when you are spotting wild elephants, rhinos, cats, and everything in-between, it’s hard to argue against authenticity.

If a more relaxed, chance-based experience is your bag, head to Lake Nakuru.

Famous for the thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos that line its shores, Lake Nakuru is also known for rhino spotting. There’s a sanctuary around the lake fenced off to protect these critically endangered animals, so it shouldn’t take long to see one. Although they are used to humans, with the high influx of year-long tourists, it’s best to remember they are wild creatures – and don’t play by the rules.

For a similar experience, but with elephants subbed in for rhino, head to Amboseli National Park, where you’ll be able to enjoy watching these majestic creatures live their lives with the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, just to put things into size perspective.

Posted by Nathan Jolly | Images from Shutterstock