Lamu town has that quality of immediately standing out as you approach it from the water (and let’s face it – everything is better when approached from water). The shopfronts and mosques, faded under the relentless kiss of the salt wind, creep out from behind a forest of dhow masts.
Hell's Gate National Park
Dry and dusty but infinitely peaceful, Hell's Gate is that rare thing: an adventurous Kenyan park with large animals, safe to explore by bicycle or on foot. Large carnivores are very rare, so you can cycle to your heart's content past grazing zebras, giraffes, impalas and buffaloes, spot rock hyraxes as they clamber up inclines and chase dust clouds as they swirl in the wind.
Aberdare National Park
While there’s plenty of reason to wax rhapsodic over herds of wildlife thundering over an open African horizon, there’s also something to be said for the soil-your-pants shock of seeing an elephant thunder out of bush that was, minutes before, just plants. And that’s why people love Aberdare National Park.
With an Italian-sounding name, some of the best pizza in all of Africa and, well, plenty of Italian tourists, it would be easy to dismiss Malindi as just another European holiday resort. Until, that is, you wander through the alleys of the atmospheric old town, stop for fresh oysters beside the Indian Ocean and pause for Swahili cakes on Jamhuri St.
Set against the backdrop of Mt Kenya, the Laikipia plateau extends over 9500 sq km (roughly the size of Wales) of semi-arid plains, dramatic gouges and acacia-thicket-covered hills. This patchwork of privately owned ranches, wildlife conservancies and small-scale farms has become one of the most important areas for biodiversity in the country.
Longonot National Park
One of the shapeliest peaks in all the Rift Valley, Mt Longonot (2776m) and its serrated crater rim offer fabulous views. The dormant volcano rises 1000m above the baking-hot valley floor and was formed 400,000 years ago; it last erupted in the 1860s. The park itself covers only 52 sq km, and was set up to protect the volcano’s ecosystem and little else.
Chyulu Hills National Park
One of Kenya’s least-visited parks, Chyulu Hills National Park is an oasis of green rising above the arid plains of southern Kenya. The park, just northwest of Tsavo West National Park, is dominated by extinct volcanoes that rank among the world’s youngest range of mountains – some of the mountains here were formed perhaps no more than 500 years ago.