There’s a certain draw to Kenya’s safaris that make it a popular tourist destination. For one, Kenya’s Masai Mara Ecosystem holds the highest lion densities in the world. There are over two million wildebeest, zebra and Thomsons Gazelle that migrate through Kenya, and the country is home to over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds.
That said, you’ll need some direction on where to go when you get there. Here are 4 of best safari destinations to hit up once there.
The Masai Mara National Reserve
There’s a hippo on my roof eating cake. After visiting the Masai Mara Reserve, you will almost be able to legitimately claim to have experienced just that (you may have to provide the cake, however) Kenya’s primary drawcard, the Masai Mara was established in 1961 to protect the area’s incredible wildlife from bloodthirsty hunters. As well hosting the ‘big 5’- lions, rhino’s, buffalo, elephants, and leopards-, the reserve is also home to cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, impala, wildebeest, topi, baboons, warthogs, buffalo, zebras- and, of course, hippo’s.
When you’ve finished admiring all the land based creatures in their natural habitat, it’s time for a visit to Lake Nakuru. A shallow, alkaline soda lake, it’s inviting enough to have lured over 1 million flamingos to it’s waters, not to mention a stunning array of birdlife. Ostrich’s, giraffes, warthogs, lions, and white rhinos also call Lake Nakuru home. A great year-round destination, accommodation runs to two main lodges and a mix of both public and private campsites. It’s around a three hour drive from Nairobi.
Malindi and Watamu
Thanks to it’s magnificent beaches, Malindi- though a speck of a town- is one of Kenya’s most popular attractions. Excellent snorkelling opportunities abound, thanks to the town’s no-fishing policy. For resorts and small villas, check out Silversands, just south of Malindi. Further south still lies Watamu, a slice of heaven in the form of a national park. Watamu hosts two main lagoons, Blue Lagoon and Turtle Bay, and many resorts and hotels. Activities include dolphin watching, water sports, diving, and sunset sailing. You may not spot a loin cloth clad Brooke Shields lounging on the sand, but it’s unlikely you’ll leave disappointed.
Visitors are drawn to Lake Turkana thanks to it’s incredible lunar landscape. A northern Rift Valley lake in Kenya, Turkana is the biggest permanent desert lake in the world. Don’t let the high volume of crocodiles put you off, the Lake is a true spectacle, changing colour with the wind. Many unique tribes call the area home, and for a road-less-travelled Safari experience it can’t be beaten. It’s also a hot bed of archaelogical activity, with early hominid remains regularly unearthed. For any bedroom (or actual) paleontologists, it’s a must do. Accommodation comes in the form of three separate lodges, and the ideal time to visit is around June/July.
These are only a few of the destinations you might like to visit should you travel to Kenya. While in the popular imagination, the term ‘African Safari’ means one thing- big animals at close range- the breadth of experiences available in Africa is far more diverse and complex than any such preconceived notions. While wildlife is doubtless the primary drawcard, you’ll be amazed to learn just how many different experiences an African Safrai can encompass. For expert consultation, check out African Safari, a tour group for organizing safari’s in Kenya.