Kenya’s diverse landscape means it offers more than just safari. Tropical beaches, sweeping savannahs and lofty mountain peaks make for a compelling variety of travel options.
Despite a historically-close relationship with the west, Kenya maintains a unique African character reflected in its hotels and lodges. The concept of the safari was developed here. Stories of the legendary plains and vast number of animals first reached western ears in the mid-1800s. This placed Kenya firmly on the map as the premier hunting safari destination of the time. In spite of its long history with hunting, Kenya banned the practice in 1977, focusing instead on photographic safaris.
Sadly, the development of wildlife tourism in neighbouring countries and ongoing political upheaval has removed some of the shine. Nonetheless, Kenya has maintained its status in the imagination of travellers worldwide. The annual wildebeest migration attracts millions of visitors every year, making tourism a linchpin of Kenya’s economy. This has its downside with overcrowded parks, and the search for that unique wilderness experience becomes a labour of love. Importantly though, it has resulted in a very comfortable, established tourism infrastructure. In addition to that, the establishment of private conservancies has satisfied the desire for lower impact, higher value tourism. It is these private conservancies that now offer the more authentic safaris with tailored, private experiences.
While safari will always be key to a visit to Kenya, there is much more to explore. The beautiful Indian Ocean coastline with its tropical beaches offers the perfect end to safari. Meanwhile the summits of Africa’s second highest peak, Mount Kenya, offer the adventurous traveller a unique alpine challenge. And no visit to Africa would be complete without authentic engagement with local villages. With over 70 distinct ethnic groups, Kenya’s cultural demography alone, is a reason to visit.