Endless sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean, exciting safaris in a varied landscape and foreign cultures – all this and much more can be experienced by holidaymakers in Kenya. The country in East Africa exudes a pure African feeling and, unlike other destinations on the continent, is a very safe destination.
The capital Nairobi lies in the mountainous interior and has over three million inhabitants. The second largest metropolis is Mombasa, which was built directly by the sea and is regarded as the gateway to the country’s dream beaches. Both cities have numerous sights as well as international airports, which are regularly approached from Europe. Due to the colonial past, the official language is English, which makes communication with the local people very easy.
In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Kenya.
1. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nairobi
Kenya’s capital is a vibrant metropolis with more than three million inhabitants. Since the majority of airlines land in Nairobi, it is a good idea to spend a day or two in any case to visit the city in peace. Some of Kenya’s most exciting sights are located in the city centre or can be easily explored from here. Make sure you visit the Karen Blixen Museum and the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden.
The Nairobi National Park, where you can get a first impression of the animal life in Kenya, is practically on your doorstep. Wild giraffes in front of the skyline of a big city – unique photos are guaranteed. The highlight, however, is a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage, where the carers sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the animals, even sleeping with the babies in the stable at night to give them the bottle regularly.
2. Masai Mara
The most famous national park and one of the most important sights in Kenya is without doubt the Masai Mara. Situated in the very southwest of the country, it is an extension of the great Serengeti ecosystem and is one of the best safari areas in the world. A special spectacle is the large herd migration, when millions of hoofed animals make their way to new pastures and watering places – and naturally also the large predators have in tow.
But also outside the migration a visit in the Masai Mara is very recommendable. It is one of the most species-rich reserves on earth. The area is world-famous for its numerous cheetahs. Also exciting are encounters with the Massai, nomadic wanderers through the steppe. In the park, which borders on Tanzania, “Jenseits von Afrika” was also filmed. The private concession areas, in which off-road driving is also permitted, offer particularly close experiences.
3. Diani Beach and beaches of the south coast
Many travellers to Kenya describe the sandy beaches in the south of the country as the most beautiful in Africa. The wide beaches covered with fine icing sugar sand and lined with palm trees are indeed a feast for the eyes. The best-known of them is Diani Beach, which has already been included several times in the TOP10 lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are accommodations for every taste – from luxury hotels to private bungalows.
Diani Beach is one of the most important sights of Kenya and tourist center of the country. Most holidaymakers land in Mombasa, which is about an hour’s drive away. There are quieter sections like the Galu Beach in the southern part and the Tiwi Beach in the northern part of the south coast. In the neighbouring village Ukunda there is a snake farm and a shopping centre as well as several restaurants. In addition, dreamlike excursions are offered – for example to snorkel with dolphins in Wasini Island.
4. Lake Nakuru
Lake Nakuru National Park is the scene of a special spectacle that is unique in the world. Every year about two million flamingos meet there to fish for tasty algae. The birds colour the whole lake pink due to their number and offer unique photo motives for Kenya vacationers. The park is also one of the last retreat areas for the highly endangered black rhino.
Recently, there have even been sightings of lions climbing trees in the park. You are not allowed to leave the car – as in the other parks. However, there is one exception in the Nakuru Park: On the so-called Baboon Cliffs, one can enjoy the sparkling view over the lake under the open sky. A visit to this sight is especially recommended in the evening hours, when the sun sinks on the horizon and the whole country is bathed in twilight.
5. Mount Kenya
One of Kenya’s most spectacular sights is Mount Kenya. At 5199 metres, it is the second highest mountain on the African continent after Kilimanjaro. It is located almost 150 kilometres northeast of Nairobi and belongs to the nature park of the same name. Despite its location on the equator, the mountain top is covered with snow all year round. Hiking and mountaineering are also possible for beginners in the region.
In order to boost tourism and appeal to beginners, a tarred road from Sirimon Parkgate to Old Moses Camp was extended in 2016. However, climbing the summit is still considered to be much more difficult than climbing the higher Kilimanjaro and is only recommended for experienced mountaineers. The scenically varied Mount Kenya is cheaper than the one Kili-climb in Tanzania, but no less impressive.
6. Samburu Reserve
The Samburu people are mainly specialized in cattle breeding and live in the north of Kenya, a very hot and dry region of the country. The Samburu National Reserve is a real insider’s tip, as the 165 square kilometre nature reserve is one of the most impressive sights in Kenya for nature lovers and animal lovers. Here you will not only meet numerous elephants, but also very rare animal species.
The elephants are one of the highlights in many camps in Samburu, as they often get very close to the accommodation and drink from the swimming pools or get delicious fruit from the trees on the riverbank with a strong shake. Samburu is famous for a healthy population of Grevyzebras, Reticulated Giraffes and the Gerenuk called Giraffe-gazelles. Gerenuks not only look peculiar, but often stand on their hind legs when eating in order to reach high branches.
7. Amboseli National Park
Because the Massai own the surrounding land and do not allow foreigners to hunt on their lands, Amboseli National Park has been largely spared from poachers. The positive effects are particularly noticeable in elephants, which show a richer social behaviour than elsewhere and are very relaxed with people. Large herds roam the park, which is also home to over 400 bird species.
But many other animals are also at home in the Amboseli National Park, which offers fantastic panoramic views of the Kilimanjaro massif. Among them are gazelles, zebras, lions, cheetahs, hyenas and monkeys. Also the flora is rich due to the marshes and water holes. Amboseli lies south of the capital Nairobi and borders on Tanzania. The view from Observation Hill close to the airfield is a must.
8. Tsavo East National Park
The Tsavo National Park is divided into an eastern and a western part, which differ in landscape. Together they form the largest national park in Kenya. The western part borders Tanzania in the south and offers spectacular views of Africa’s highest mountain, the Kilimanjaro. The landscape is multi-faceted: from volcanoes to forests to savannahs and rivers, everything is here. A popular destination for safari tours are the Mzima Springs.
Since the western part of Tsavo is sometimes unpleasantly crowded and we like the savannah landscapes in the east better, we only list Tsavo East among the best sights in Kenya. Here you will meet above all stately lion prides and the “red elephants”, which protect themselves from the sun and parasites with the dry red earth of the national park. Tsavo East was co-founded by the world-famous animal rights activist David Sheldrick.
9. Aberdare Mountains
The Aberdare National Park is located about one hundred kilometres north of the capital Nairobi and, due to its special landscape, has made it into our list of the best sights in Kenya. The diversity of species is not exceptionally large, but there are some spectacular impressions to collect in the mountains. There are some elephants in the park and even rare species like the Bongo antelope and the giant boar. The best chance to see animals is at the waterhole of the legendary The Ark Lodge.
Nevertheless, the animals are not the highlight of the Aberdare mountains, but the interesting topography with an alpine heath landscape and extensive moor areas as well as an impressive mountain cloud forest in which even bamboo grows. Within only one hour you can experience the constant change of fascinating landscapes with changing altitudes (between 2100 and about 4000 meters). In the park black leopards (with a gene mutation) have already been spotted several times!
10. Lamu Island
Kenya’s Lamu Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has long been spared from tourism, as the small island is not accessible by car and the inhabitants have attached great importance to the preservation of its narrow streets and picturesque houses. Even today the tradition on Lamu still plays an important role – and to this day the island has remained car-free. But they have gently opened themselves to tourism and now also show foreign visitors the beauty of this paradise.
The city of Lamu is, in a sense, the cradle of Swahili culture with numerous buildings in the typical architectural style, which are well preserved and are today in a cultural melting pot. Lamu is an interesting mix of African, Arabian, but also Indian influences and inspires above all therefore with its unique charm and character.
More things to do and activities for your Kenya holiday
Best time to visit Kenya
We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Kenya:
January, February, March, June, July, August, September, October, and December
You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Kenya.