• Nicole Sandra

10 wanderlust travel destinations in Kenya

One of the advantages of this pandemic has been an increase in domestic vacations. The strict borders between countries and across the world are driving citizens to explore their countries and realize hidden gems. Home to over 44 tribes, Kenya is simply breathtaking. Every corner of the country is rich in culture, thus the name Magical Kenya. If you are looking for an amazing travel experience, look no further than Kenya. From swimming with dolphins in a marine park along the Kenyan Coast to taking a hot air balloon flight over the African Savannah, the possibilities are endless.

Lamu Island

This is an island in the north of the Kenyan Coast right on the border of Kenya and Somalia. Lamu Old Town found on the Island was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage since the town has retained most of its traditional functions. The buildings in Lamu are made from coral stone and mangrove timber enriched by carved wooden doors and inner courtyards and verandas. The town which has been around since the 12th Century has narrow streets and only 2 cars. The town which served as the main port at one point has retained most of its cultural and social integrity over 700 years. Shela village which is found 3.2km from Lamu has amazing white sand beaches and a variety of accommodation options.

Mombasa Island

Mombasa is the second capital city of Kenya, after Nairobi. The town considered the oldest city in Kenya is connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. A harbour overlooking the town serves as a commercial shipping centre where also you could sail the ocean via traditional dhows. Old town Mombasa located on the south-east part of the island is a breathtaking place rich in culture and history. You can expect to see the first hotel in Kenya, Africa Hotel, which was built in 1901 among other historical structures such as the first post office and the old port. The famous Fort Jesus is also located close to the Old town and it served to protect the port of Mombasa as well of as a safe haven for the Portuguese. Here are 6 affordable things to do in Mombasa.

Maasai Mara National Reserve

This is considered one of Africa's greatest wildlife reserve. Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, hippos and crocodiles just to mention a few. You could opt to take a balloon flight over the Savannah, provided by Hot Air Africa Eco Adventures, which has a fleet of 8 balloons with a capacity ranging from 4 to 16 people. Additionally, if you visit the reserve from July through October, you could witness The Great Wildebeest Migration which consists of the migration of over two million animals from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. One of the highlights is the wildebeest trying to cross the Mara River which is infested with crocodiles that prey on the animals.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Located in Nanyuki, at the foothills of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the only park where the big five and the chimpanzee can be seen. Additionally, the park which covers an area of 364 sq km has 10,000 animals and is considered to have an unmatched game to area ratio. To see the animals at the park, you could choose to go for safari game walks, horse rides, camel rides or a night safari game drive. Activities at the park include a visit to the Endangered Species Boma where you will get to see the last two Northern White Rhinos in the world. You could also meet and have a chance to feed Baraka, the blind black rhino found on the grounds. Moreover, you could also pass by the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary which is the only place in Kenya where non-indigenous Chimpanzee can be seen or participate in tracking the lion population at the Conservancy, which is a great way to support the conservation project. The Conservancy fees are $98 for adults and $68 for children (up to 11 years) from January to June and September to December while in July and August charges are $113 for adults and $76 for children. Lion Tracking is charged separately $60 per adult and $30 per child from January to June and September to December but $75 for adults and $38 for children in July and August.

Rusinga Island

Found in Western Kenya, Rusinga Island is surrounded by the waters of Lake Victoria. Since it is around 450km from Nairobi, it is not a popular tourist attraction but the area has a lot to offer. The island is found at the eastern part of Lake Victoria at the mouth of Winam Gulf and can be accessed by both road and boat via Mbita causeway. The surrounding area is generally rural and is a great hideaway from the busy city life of Kisumu, Kenya's third capital. Accommodation is offered by several island and lodges from around Ksh 5,000 and upon request, boat rides and fishing is available for guests. Ruma National Park is found on the island and offers a chance to discover new wildlife and enjoy peace. Additionally, you could take part in bird watching or enjoy the white sand beaches dotting the island.

Lake Nakuru

Located in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is found within Lake Nakuru National Park and is home to flamingos. The lake is located south of Nakuru and approximately 3hr drive from Nairobi. Flamingos are long-legged, long-necked pink-feathered birds which are found in the shores of Lake Nakuru during the rainy months, November to May. In peak season, the flamingo population can rise up to 1.5million birds. During the dryer months, the birds migrate to Lake Bogoria, where they can be found all year round.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

David Sheldrick Wildlfe Trust is located within Nairobi city and its Orphans’ Project is the first successful elephant orphan and rehabilitation in the world. The orphanage protects endangered species- among them black and white rhinos and African elephants. The area is open to the public from 11 am to 12noon for elephant mud bathing and feeding. Additionally, there are animal adoption services available.

Mt. Kenya

If you are adventurous and fit, Mt. Kenya is Kenya’s highest peak and the second tallest in Africa. The mountain is located 200 kilometres northeast of Nairobi in Nyeri Town, 5199m above sea level. The lesser peak, Point Lenana is 4985m takes between 3 to 5 days to reach and enjoy the panoramic views of volcanic peaks, the gorgeous flora and fauna, and the wide valleys and surrounding savannah. The trip up takes you through a mountainous forest jungle with wildlife and unique montane vegetation such as pod carpus and groundsel. You can expect to see one of the world’s rarest sights, equatorial snow. You will definitely need a guide to help you manoeuvre your way to the top.

Mt. Longonot

This is a stratovolcanic mountain located in Naivasha which is approximately 2 hrs from Nairobi, 2700m above sea level. It is considered a dormant volcano which is believed to have last erupted in 1863. The hike to the top can be covered in around 5 hours and thus it is a less strenous hike compared to a Mt. Kenya hike. The mountain has lava canyons on its steep slopes and a circular caldera over a kilometer in diameter. There are a number of viewpoints on the way to the top of the mountain which are popular stopovers for hikers due to the immaculate views. The mountain is within Mt. Longonot National Park and there are a variety of wild life although spotting them is not guaranteed.

Ngong Hills

Located southwest of Nairobi, Ngong Hills are 7 peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley. The hills stand at 2760 metres compared to Nairobi’s 1795 metres above sea level. It takes approximately an hour from Nairobi City Centre and the area is accessible via Ngong Hills Forest entrance and entry fees range from 200 for citizens and residents and 600 for non-residents. Hiring a guard is recommended as the area is quite wild and the very top, you may encounter a herd of buffalos. Armed guards are available to escort hikers on the trail from Ksh. 1500 to Ksh. 3,000. There is an organization offering restaurant services alongside Ziplining, Archery and Biking at the beginning of the ascend.

Bonus!: Swim with Dolphins in Wasini Island

Dolphins are considered the second smartest animal in the world, right behind chimpanzees. Kenya has an active and growing dolphin-watching industry which debuted in the 1990s. Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins are both resident year-round. Spinner dolphins are seasonally present in some locations and humpback whales migrate along Kenya’s coast between August and October every year. Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park in Wasini Island along the Kenyan south coast is where you can snorkel and swim around with dolphins.

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