Kenya is synonymous with the image of Africa at its wildest. Its vast horizon and undulating landscapes are host to one of nature’s grandest spectacles. Kenya is the home of the Maasai Mara game reserve, where gigantic herds and iconic creatures dominate the land. This breathtaking experience is what draws in many of the country’s hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, however this is just the beginning of what Kenya has to offer.
To the east lies the warm Indian Ocean, to the west the shores of Lake Victoria, with the snowy peak of Mount Kenya at its heart. Just a stone’s throw from Nairobi itself is the majestic Great Rift Valley and Lake Naivasha.
As well as natural beauty, Kenya also offers exciting cultural encounters, with great tribal diversity from the Maasai to rural Bantu speakers, Swahili coastal towns, nomadic Cushites and the melting pot cities of Nairobi and Mombasa.
Nairobi is the primary business, cultural and political hub of Kenya, and is an attraction in itself. Mombasa, Kenya’s second city, also has its charms – above all its proximity to Kenya’s coastal attractions. From Mombasa you can catch a small plane to the dazzling island of Lamu, an Arab influenced island founded in 1370, full of serene charm, where in certain parts the only form of transport are donkeys. Lamu also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The dominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, just one of the many reminders of Kenya’s colonial heritage. The ‘Colony of Kenya’, as it was called at the time, was a key component of the British Empire. One of the cultural remnants of the old empire is the existence of a sizeable Indian population in Kenya, alongside notable Arab influences. Colonial heritage in Kenya has also manifested in the form of the country’s aesthetic penchants, namely architecture, interiors, and the odd English style country club dotted here and there.
In recent years Kenya has become a target of a number of brutal terrorist attacks. The main perpetrator is Al Shabab, a Somalia based jihadist group. The Westgate siege of 2013 is the most notorious of the attacks that Kenya has suffered, largely because it took place in the heart of Nairobi’s most affluent landmarks.
Nevertheless Kenya is a well-established tourist destination, with good infrastructure, and an abundance of beautiful and stylish hotels, from high end-luxury, to boutique, to basic. Kenya is a part of the new East African Visa initiative, which allows tourists to use one visa to travel within Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Nairobi is also within two-hour flight time of other eminent East African cities: Addis Ababa, Dar Es Salaam, Mogadishu and Kampala.