Wildlife of course, is top on the list of tourist attractions in Kenya and for first-time visitors, the sheer diversity of things to do is dazzling. There’s nothing more famous about Kenya than going on a safari to one of the many national parks or reserves located throughout the country. The most famous wildlife viewing sanctuaries include Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Lake Naivasha.
You can also snorkel and pot of cultures and cuisines in Mombasa and Malindi, and explore tropical islands steeped in Swahili history.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara is one of the world’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries. It’s named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here as they have done for centuries.
The park is famous for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October. In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk.
Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi, is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, today tourists can explore the city’s famous historic sites as well as some excellent wildlife-related attractions. The Nairobi National Museum is a great one-stop spot to see exhibits on Kenya’s history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. Green thumbs will also enjoy the botanic gardens on the grounds.
To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, visit Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a host of other classic safari stars including lions, leopards, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest, and cheetahs.
Climb Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the country’s highest mountain at 5,199 m and providing the rare sight of equatorial snow. Not nearly as popular as neighboring giant Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya remains Africa’s second tallest peak and is often considered a more challenging climb. The breathtaking scenery is marked by incredible views of Kenya and even great glimpses of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Most trekkers summit Mount Kenya at Lenana Peak point.
Amboseli National Reserve
Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, an apt description for the park’s parched conditions. The reserve is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats such as lion and cheetah as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. Look for the local Maasai people who live in the area around the park.
Hell’s Gate National Park
A hotspot for climbers, Hell’s Gate National Park is one of the few parks in Kenya that allows camping and enables visitors to explore on foot or bicycle. Hell’s Gate offers excellent climbing and hiking opportunities with two extinct volcanoes, the red cliffs of Hell’s Gate Gorge, Obsidian Caves, and the pointed column of rock known as Fischer’s Tower, a former volcanic plug. Geothermal features include hot springs and natural geysers hissing steam through vents in the earth’s crust. The park also protects a wide variety of wildlife including leopards, baboons
Hang Out on Lake Victoria
Kisumu is one of the choice cities in Kenya to visit that is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, the African great lake. From serene sunset views of the lake to the fresh fish and and laid back atmosphere, Kisumu is a pleasant town. Ndere Island national park is a sanctuary of birds and other wildlife that is set up with hiking trails and a few campsites.
Kenya’s second largest city and biggest port, Mombasa is a multicultural tourist magnet.Mombasa is actually an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for 480 km provides fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, especially at Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular.
The north shore of Mombasa is crammed with attractions including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants. This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby.
Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves
On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film “Born Free”.A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve is the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. Tourists here may also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dog
Lamu Old Town
The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
Most of Lamu’s population is Muslim and both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, Lamu Fort and the Donkey Sanctuary. If all the history is a little too much,you can bask on one of the island’s white sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local café.
A haven for birders, Lake Naivasha lies at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley and has been known to shrink considerably in times of extreme drought. One of the best ways to view the wildlife is by boat. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted here, including African fish eagles. Hippos slosh in the water, and giraffes, zebra, buffalo, and eland graze around the edges of the lake. Keep a lookout for colobus monkeys in the canopies too.
North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, it is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, part historic old town and part modern tourist hub, Malindi is where travelers come to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach, dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks, and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town. Here tourists can visit the Jami Mosque, two pillar tombs from the 14th century, and the Church of St Francis Xavier, one of East Africa’s oldest churches.
Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds, the Marafa Depression, also called Hell’s Kitchen or Nyari, is a set of sandstone gorges sculpted by the wind and rain.
Here are my top tourist attractions in Kenya, If you have more to add, comment it below. Happy travel