Vast savannahs peppered with immense herds of wildlife. Snow-capped mountains on the equator. Traditional peoples who bring soul and colour to the earth. Welcome to Kenya.
When you think of Africa, you’re probably thinking of Kenya. It’s the lone acacia silhouetted against a horizon stretching into eternity. It’s the snow-capped mountain almost on the equator and within sight of harsh deserts. It’s the lush, palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean, it’s the Great Rift Valley that once threatened to tear the continent asunder, and it’s the dense forests reminiscent of the continent’s heart. In short, Kenya is a country of epic landforms that stir our deepest longings for this very special continent.
This is the land of the Masai Mara, of wildebeest and zebras migrating in their millions with the great predators of Africa following in their wake. But Kenya is also home to the red elephants of Tsavo, to Amboseli elephant families in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro and to the massed millions of pink flamingos stepping daintily through lake shallows. Africa is the last great wilderness where these creatures survive. And Kenya is the perfect place to answer Africa’s call of the wild.
The survival and abundance of Kenya's wildlife owes everything to one of Africa's most innovative and successful conservation communities. Through some pretty tough love – Kenya pioneered the use of armed rangers to protect rhinos and elephants – Kenya stopped the emptying of its wilderness, bringing its wildlife back from the brink after the poaching holocaust of the 1970s and 1980s. More than that, in places like Laikipia and the Masai Mara, private and community conservancies bring tourism together with community development and wildlife conservation in a near-perfect marriage. In other words, if you want your visit to make a difference, you've come to the right place.
Why I Love Kenya
By Anthony Ham, Author
Kenya is where my love affair with Africa took hold and promised never to let go. Wildlife (big cats especially) and wilderness rank among the grand passions of my life and it was here that I saw my first lion on the march (in Amboseli), my first cheetah on the hunt (Tsavo East), my first leopard on a kill (Tsavo West) and where I came so close to elephants (Taita Hills) and black rhinos (Lewa) that I could have reached out to touch them. This is the home of Maasai and Samburu friends who give me hope that the old ways can survive.
Peopling that landscape, adding depth and resonance to Kenya’s age-old story, are some of Africa’s best-known peoples. The Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, Swahili, the Kikuyu: these are the peoples whose histories and daily struggles tell the story of a country and of a continent – the struggle to maintain traditions as the modern world crowds in, the daily fight for survival in some of the harshest environments on earth, the ancient tension between those who farm and those who roam. Drawing near to these cultures, even coming to understand them a little better through your presence among them, could just be a highlight of your visit.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park (051-2217151; adult/child US$30/10, smartcard required) rivals Amboseli as Kenya’s second-most-visited park. This is one of the best places in Kenya to see leopards, and white rhinos are commonly seen at the lake’s southern end, but the park’s most famous attraction is the flamingos that ring the lake in thousands.