Must see attractions in Kenya

  • Sights in Masai Mara

    Masai Mara National Reserve

    The world-renowned Masai Mara National Reserve needs little in the way of introduction. Its tawny, wildlife-stuffed savannahs are familiar to anyone who has watched nature documentaries. Reliable rains and plentiful vegetation underpin this extraordinary ecosystem and the millions of herbivores it supports. Wildebeest, zebras, impalas, elephants, Masai giraffes and several species of gazelle all call the Mara home. This vast concentration of game accounts for high predator numbers, including cheetahs, leopards and the highest lion densities in the world.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southeastern Kenya

    Amboseli National Park

    Amboseli belongs in the elite of Kenya’s national parks, and it’s easy to see why. Its signature attraction is the sight of hundreds of big-tusked elephants set against the backdrop of Africa’s best views of Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m). Africa’s highest peak broods over the southern boundary of the park, and while cloud cover can render the mountain’s massive bulk invisible for much of the day, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas when the weather clears, usually at dawn or dusk.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mombasa

    Fort Jesus

    This 16th-century fort and Unesco World Heritage treasure is Mombasa’s most visited site. The metre-thick walls, frescoed interiors, traces of European graffiti, Arabic inscriptions and Swahili embellishment aren’t just evocative, they’re a palimpsest of Mombasa's history and the coast writ in stone. You can climb on the battlements and explore its tree-shaded grounds.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nairobi

    David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

    Occupying a plot within Nairobi National Park, this nonprofit trust was established in 1977, shortly after the death of David Sheldrick, who served as the antipoaching warden of Tsavo National Park. Together with his wife, Daphne, David pioneered techniques for raising orphaned black rhinos and elephants and reintroducing them into the wild, and the trust retains close links with Tsavo for these and other projects. The centre is one of Nairobi's most popular attractions, and deservedly so.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nairobi

    Nairobi National Park

    Welcome to Kenya’s most accessible yet incongruous safari experience. Set on the city’s southern outskirts, Nairobi National Park (at 117 sq km, one of Africa’s smallest) has abundant wildlife that can, in places, be viewed against a backdrop of city skyscrapers and planes coming in to land – it's one of the only national parks on earth bordering a capital city. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by it all.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nairobi

    National Museum

    Kenya’s wonderful National Museum, housed in an imposing building amid lush, leafy grounds just outside the centre, has a good range of cultural and natural-history exhibits. Aside from the exhibits, check out the life-size fibreglass model of pachyderm celebrity Ahmed, the massive elephant that became a symbol of Kenya at the height of the 1980s poaching crisis. He was placed under 24-hour guard by President Jomo Kenyatta; he’s in the inner courtyard next to the shop.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nairobi

    Karen Blixen's House & Museum

    If you loved Out of Africa, you'll love this museum in the farmhouse where author Karen Blixen lived between 1914 and 1931. She left after a series of personal tragedies, but the lovely colonial house has been preserved as a museum. Set in expansive gardens, the museum is an interesting place to wander around, but the movie was actually shot at a nearby location, so don’t be surprised if things don’t look entirely as you expect!

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nairobi

    Giraffe Centre

    This centre, which protects the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, combines serious conservation with enjoyable activities. You can observe, hand-feed or even kiss one of the giraffes from a raised wooden structure, which is quite an experience. You may also spot warthogs snuffling about in the mud, and there’s an interesting self-guided forest walk through the adjacent Gogo River Bird Sanctuary.

  • Sights in Western Highlands

    Mt Elgon National Park

    Straddling the Ugandan border and peaking with Koitoboss (4187m), Kenya’s second-highest peak, and Uganda’s Wagagai (4321m), the slopes of Mt Elgon are a sight indeed – or at least they would be if they weren't buried under a blanket of mist and drizzle most of the time. While there are plenty of interesting wildlife and plants here, the real reason people visit Mt Elgon National Park is to stand atop the summit high above Kenya and Uganda.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lamu Town

    Lamu Museum

    The best museum in town (and the second best in Kenya) is housed in a grand Swahili warehouse on the waterfront. This is as good a gateway as you’ll get into Swahili culture and that of the archipelago in particular. Exhibitions focus on boat-building, domestic life and weddings, the intricate door carvings that you're likely to encounter (from Swahili and Omani to Kijumwa, Swabu and Bajun) and traditional silver jewellery. Don't miss the ceremonial siwa (side-blow) horns of ivory and brass.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Tsavo East National Park

    Galana River

    Running through the heart of the park and marking the northernmost point in the park that most visitors are allowed to visit, the Galana River, which combines the waters of the Tsavo and Athi Rivers, cuts a green gash across the dusty plains. Surprisingly few visitors make it even this far and sightings of crocs, hippos, lesser kudus, waterbucks, dik-diks and, to a lesser extent, lions and leopards are relatively common. Watch out also for the distinctive Somali ostrich.

  • Sights in Amboseli National Park

    Elephant Research Camp

    The elephants of Amboseli are among the most studied in the world, thanks largely to the work of Dr Cynthia Moss, whose books include The Amboseli Elephants and Elephant Memories; she was also behind the famous documentary DVD Echo of the Elephants. The research camp remains in operation in the heart of the park, under the guidance of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (www.elephanttrust.org).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Tsavo West National Park

    Mzima Springs

    Mzima Springs is an oasis of green in the west of the park that produces an incredible 250 million litres of fresh water a day. The springs, whose source rises in the Chyulu Hills, provides the bulk of Mombasa’s fresh water. A walking trail leads along the shoreline. The drought in 2009 took a heavy toll on the springs’ hippo population; the population is stable at around 20 individuals. There are also crocodiles and a wide variety of birdlife.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Tsavo West National Park

    Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary

    At the base of Ngulia Hills, this 90-sq-km area is surrounded by a 1m-high electric fence and provides a measure of security for around 80 of the park's highly endangered black rhinos. There are driving tracks and waterholes within the enclosed area, but the rhinos are mainly nocturnal and the chances of seeing one are slim – black rhinos, apart from being understandably shy and more active at night, are browsers, not grazers, and prefer to pass their time in thick undergrowth.

  • Sights in Southern Rift Valley

    Lake Nakuru National Park

    Just two hours' drive from Nairobi, Lake Nakuru is among Kenya's finest national parks. Flanked by rocky escarpments, pockets of forest and at least one waterfall, the park is gorgeous year-round and is home to black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, hippos and giraffes. Rising water levels in 2014 forced the park's famous flamingos to flee, as well as the park authorities to move the entrance gate – the old one now stands submerged along with hundreds of now-dead trees, a haunting first impression.

  • Sights in Kakamega Forest

    Kakamega Forest National Reserve

    All that's now left in Kenya of the massive Guineo–Congolian rainforest that once covered much of western Kenya, the Kakamega Forest National Reserve, though seriously degraded, is unique in Kenya and contains plants, animals and birds that occur nowhere else in the country. The reserve is especially good for birders, but is also home to several primates, including de Brazza's monkeys, colobus monkeys, black-cheeked-white-nosed monkeys and Sykes monkeys.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southeastern Kenya

    Tsavo West National Park

    Welcome to the wilderness. Tsavo West is one of Kenya’s larger national parks (9065 sq km), covering a huge variety of landscapes from swamps, natural springs and rocky peaks to extinct volcanic cones, rolling plains and sharp outcrops dusted with greenery.

  • Sights in Laikipia Plateau

    Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

    While this massive 222-sq-km conservancy, just south of Isiolo, could boast about its luxury lodges, stunning scenery and astounding wildlife activities, it’d rather talk about its community and conservation projects, which invest around 70% of their annual US$2.5-million-plus budget into health care, education and various community projects for surrounding villages. Remaining funds further conservation and security projects.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Wasini Island

    Kisite Marine National Park

    Off the south coast of Wasini, this gorgeous marine park, which also incorporates the Mpunguti Marine National Reserve and the two tiny Penguti islands, is one of the best in Kenya. The park covers 28 sq km of pristine coral reefs and offers colourful diving and snorkelling, with frequent dolphin and turtle sightings. The marine park is accessible by dhow tour from Diani Beach or private boat hired in Wasini (per person from KSh2500 to KSh3000).

  • Sights in Western Highlands

    Saiwa Swamp National Park

    North of Kitale, the small, rarely visited Saiwa Swamp National Park is a real treat – as long as you're not here for the Big Five, this is a chance to tick off some real safari highlights. Originally set up to preserve the habitat of Kenya’s only population of sitatunga antelope, the 15.5-sq-km reserve is also home to blue, vervet and de Brazza’s monkeys and some 370 species of birds.