Kenya Destination Guide

Although going on a safari is the most common reason for visitors to come to Kenya, there are numerous other options of things to do whilst here. Whether enjoying the beaches, snorkelling and diving off the coast, sailing on dhows, shopping in Nairobi and Mombasa, hiking and mountain-climbing or exploring some of the heritage of the unique tribes that make up the country, you will never be short of interesting things to see and do.

You will quickly come to realise that the wildlife spotting and safari tours make up only a small portion of the wealth of attractions available to you in Kenya.

This Kenya Destination Guide lists some of the attractions that you may wish to experience on your trip to Kenya. General country information can be found by visiting our Kenya Country Guide. To read more about detailed city information, and what there is to see and do within specific cities, go directly to our Nairobi Tours or Mombasa Tours page.

Kenya - Things to See and Do

Mombasa Top

As Kenya's second biggest city, Mombasa offers a veritable treasure trove of activities and sights for visitors. A unique experience is to take a traditional Arab sailing ship, known as a dhow, from Mombasa.

Indeed, the Arab flavour of the city is very evident in the Old Town, with narrow, crowded streets and alleys and vendors selling all manner of imported and local arts and crafts. Shopping in Mombasa is always a highlight, with Makupa Market as the main city market, as well as a floating market located at Tudor Creek, to the north of the city.

An excellent place for souvenirs is Bombolul Workshops and Cultural Village, where high-quality jewellery, leatherwork and other goods are created by over 250 disabled men and women. Being on the coast, Mombasa also offers excellent opportunities for diving, snorkeling, sailing, swimming and a number of other watersports.

Close to Mombasa are a number of parks and farms, including a snake farm, crocodile village and butterfly farm.

Lamu Town Top

Lamu Island, and specifically Lamu Town, is another Kenyan area which has had a significant Arab influence. Lamu Island offers fantastic week-long celebrations and dancing on the Prophet's Birthday, and it is well worth visiting during this time.

Lamu Town is dotted with intricate mosques and old Arab houses, many with massive, spectacularly carved wooden doors. Two museums worth visiting are the Swahili House Museum and the Lamu Museum.

Other sights in the city include the Fortress, the Hindu Temple and the bazaars located around town. The 14th and 15th century ruins on the islands of Manda and Pate can be visited as day trips. These trips can be arranged and negotiated for with the local boat owners.

Great Rift Valley Top

The Great Rift Valley is one of the most inspiring and compelling sights in all of Kenya. The flat-bottomed valley is towered over by the escarpment walls, which rise to a height of 2,000 metres. Meanwhile, a small collection of volcanoes and lakes dot the valley floor.

Mount Longonot (2885m/9466ft), a dormant volcano and now a national park, offers the chance to witness some of the wildlife and also offers stunning views of the crater and the Rift itself.

The Aberdare Mountains make up the eastern wall of the Rift, and in the Aberdare National Park there are numerous enchanting waterfalls, the most magnificent of which is Guru Falls, which drops dramatically over 300 metres. Between the Aberdare Mountains and Mount Kenya, further east, lie a number of interesting and attractive small towns which are worth a visit.

Safari Top

Safaris are one of the most common activities that visitors to Kenya partake in. There are a number of excellent game parks and National Reserves where it is possible to see the abundant wildlife.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is perhaps the best known, and is located in the southwest corner of Kenya. It is here that you can see the migration of about two million wildebeest and zebra, that arrive in the Masai Mara from late June, before heading south again in September.

The largest park in Kenya is the Tsavo, which covers 21,000 sq km (8,000 sq miles). Other parks, also rich in game but a bit less touristy, are the Kora, Meru and Samburu national parks. Closest to Nairobi is the Nairobi National Park, which was Kenya's original game park. Some of the animals you are likely to see are baboons, cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, elephants and of course lions.

To try a safari with a difference, you can go on either light airplane or hot-air balloon safari trips, which are available at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Additionally, camel safaris are offered in the Turkana and Samburu areas.

Mount Kenya Top

The highest mountain in Kenya, and second highest in Africa, is Mount Kenya, which is 4,986 metres (16,385 feet) above sea level. Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano, and on its lower slopes are one of the last places to see both the black and white colobus monkey and the black leopard.

The Mountain Club of Kenya (www.mck.or.ke) sells "A Rockclimber's Guide to Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro", which is a useful piece of literature for anyone considering climbing Mount Kenya. It is best to check local weather conditions before setting out.

Nairobi Top

Nairobi, known as the "Green City in the Sun", has a number of different things with which to occupy your time. A must see is the Kenya National Museum, which displays a number of archaeological and ethnographic exhibits of Kenya. Included are a number of the finds of the Leakeys.

At Olduvai and Koobi Fora, as well as other well-known prehistoric sites, these reknowned archaeologists discovered some of the world's earliest human remains, which are displayed in the museum.

The author of Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, has a museum located in the suburb of Karen. It is housed in the farmhouse that was made famous in the book. To see some traditional dancing, you can head out to the Bomas, which is a short distance from Nairobi's city centre. A

And for something just a little surreal, you can ice skate on The Solar Ice Rink, which is East Africa's first ice skating venue. In the Panari Hotel, the newly opened rink can hold up to 200 ice skaters and measures 15,000 square feet. For further information about things to see and do in Nairobi, visit our Nairobi site.