Kenya is a country rich with big game safari viewing and a diverse terrain boasting snowcapped mountain peaks, pristine beaches and coral reefs. In addition to all this beautiful terrain, Kenya plays host to the great wildebeest migration. Topping off all the natural beauty and wildlife of the country, it’s also home to more than 40 distinct tribal groups, keeping Kenya as one of the top safari and cultural destinations on the African continent.
Kenya’s appeal in easy to understand. Beneath its snowcapped mountains lie the vast plains and beautiful lakes that support its exotic wildlife and set the stage for the epic migration. Kenya’s temperate year-round climate is a blessing to travelers and travel planners, though the best months for game watching are the dry seasons that last from January – February and July – August.
No other country on earth can offer a visitor as much to see and do as Kenya within the borders of a single country. Culture, wildlife, and dramatic scenery rightfully make Kenya the top safari destination.
Have your clients visit the farmhouse and grounds of the Karen Blixen Museum (www.museums.or.ke/karen-blixen), author of Out of Africa, which served as her home and coffee estate from 1914 until 1931. The house is now a national museum and furnished with a mix of its original décor as well as original props used in the film production of “Out of Africa.” It lies on the outskirts of Nairobi and easily accessible by taxi or bus. It makes for a perfect afternoon excursion from the city.
For the best of the best in game viewing, send your clients out to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, home to one of the most exciting spectacles in the world, the Great Migration. A sight to behold, indeed, as two million wildebeest and zebras pass through the Maasai Mara/Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya and Tanzania every year. Encountering many river crossings, this is not only an epic journey taking place, but a dangerous one as well for the animals with hungry crocodiles also waiting for this great migration. Witnessing the migration is a once in a lifetime experience. The Mara comprises 200 square miles of open plains, woodlands and forest. One of the top places in this area is the Mara Leisure Camp (www.maraleisurecamp.co.ke) located along the Talek River, at the junction of the Maasai Mara’s four wildlife-viewing areas on the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. If your clients want to challenge themselves with the ultimate fitness test, have them go running with the Maasai, the world’s most notable marathoners. For those who prefer to fly than run, hot air balloons can take them over the plains.
Beyond safaris and museums, Kenya offers National Parks to impress even the most well traveled clients. To begin, Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for its huge flocks of flamingos, is a must see for any bird watcher. A superb lodge to view the wildlife here is The Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge (www.sarovahotels.com), situated perfectly for viewing the pink-rimmed lake.
Meru National Park is a game park located east of Meru, about 200 miles from Nairobi. The park is famously known as the area where Elsa the Lioness from the movie “Born Free” was raised, and subsequently buried. There are large amounts of rainfall here resulting in an abundance of wildlife, along with tall grass and large swamps. Although it is home to many of the big five game, elephant, lions and cheetah, the viewing can be a bit hampered by the terrain. A popular lodge in Meru National Park is the Elsa Kopje Game Lodge (www.elewanacollection.com/elsa-s-kopje-meru/rooms), obviously paying homage to the movie star lioness.
Tsavo National Park, one of the oldest in the country, is divided into east and west areas. With two airstrips inside the park, it’s accessible by private, light planes. The Athi and Tsavo rivers converge here to form the Galana River, one of the largest rives in the country, eventually entering in the Indian Ocean. Covering an area of almost 30 percent of the country’s total national parks, Tsavo National Park is a photographer’s dream come true with a bio-diverse topography ranging from open plains, lush grasslands and woodlands. Game in the area includes lions, leopards and elephant as well as 500 species of birds. Some of the major attractions in the park include The Yatta Plateau, boasting the world’s longest lava flow and the Lugard Falls, most of which are a series of white water rapids along the Galana River.
Amboseli National Park is perhaps most well known for having up-close and personal views of free-ranging elephants. The views of Mount Kilimanjaro are unobstructed from here and a major reason for visiting this area. Tortilis Camp (www.elewanacollection.com/tortilis-camp-amboseli/at-a-glance), located nearby to this park, is located in an Acacia woodland and offers the same spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Where to Stay
The Tribe hotel (www.tribe-hotel.com), is a luxury boutique hotel exuding a funky vibe with eclectic furnishings. Wooden masks and leather sofas adorn its lobby giving it an almost cosmopolitan feel. It has just the right amount of rustic comfort with city glitz. If your clients are in Nairobi on a Sunday, the Tribe is also known for their Sunday brunch, which offers more than 50 items from the farmers’ market. Tribe, a proud member of design hotels and SPG, takes hospitality back to its essence. It is this return to core fundamentals that heralded the advent of “boutique” hotels – properties that define themselves through individualized attention, genuine concern for the guests’ needs and a sense of pride in delivering solutions not just service.
For an out-of-the ordinary stay, unlike the normal safari lodges or hotels, The Aberdare Country Club (www.ab
erdarecountryclub.com), located approximately 2½ hours by car from Nairobi sits on a beautifully manicured hill in the Aberdare Highlands, part of the Great Rift Valley. The estate was once home to an English couple, who came to reside in Kenya, and is now considered a heritage property in the country. The Aberdare Game Sanctuary located nearby to the Aberdare Country Club covers over 1,300 acres filled with wildlife and birds along with an abundance of flora and fauna. For the more athletic visitor, a hike to the top of Satima, the highest peak in the Aberdare Range is a great option to see the country while enjoying an outdoor endurance activity.
A unique and funky accommodation, set in the heart of the Aberdare National Park, is The Ark Kenya (www.thearkkenya.com), modeled after Noah’s Ark. This “ark” of sorts overlooks a floodlit waterhole attracting an abundance of wildlife. There are four viewing decks with balconies and lounges to provide the perfect spot for game viewing from the comfort of the lodge. It’s a nice option to driving in a safari vehicle searching out the wildlife. This way, the animals come to you!
A surprising escape to the island of Lamu will win bragging rights for your clients among their friends who mainly visit Kenya for safari. Lamu is easily reachable from the country’s main airports of Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. All flights land on Manda Island, just across the channel from Lamu.
Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been influenced by many different ethnic groups over the years, from Portuguese to the Omanis and is an important center for Islamic and Swahili cultures. There are plenty of resorts readily available on Lamu so be sure to suggest a few days here to experience it’s full eclectic mix of food, cultures and scenery. Peponi’s, located on Shela Beach on Lamu, (www.peponihotel.com) overlooks the Lamu Channel along an 8-mile stretch of beach. Charming and private, the hotel is perfect for a romantic retreat. The rooms are each individually decorated in bright, breezy decor, and fine dining is to be had in the romantic restaurant on its premises.
Suggest they spend some time on the island of Manda, part of the Lamu Archipelago. Here lies the Takwa ruins which were once were the part of an ancient Swahili town that prospered between the 15th to the 17th centuries. While your clients will only need an overnight on Manda to explore the island, they should check into the Majlis Resort (www.themajlisresorts.com), one of the most luxurious accommodations on the island.