When you think about Kenya, you’ll likely think of three places: the beach, Maasai mara, and Nairobi. However, being a diverse country, there are numerous places to visit in Kenya and many things to do in Kenya, Africa. For starters, a trip to the geological wonder of the Great Rift Valley can be just as exciting as a stroll with giraffes at the Giraffe Manor.
So, if you’re searching for the best places to add to your itinerary, here’s a great guide. But first, let’s take you through some visiting Kenya requirements you, your family, and your friends should satisfy before your trip to Kenya.
As we review the best things to do in Kenya, we’ll also talk about the best time to visit Kenya so you’re sure to experience nothing short of bliss. Why would you visit Kenya to enjoy watersports during a rainy season or witness the wildebeest migration while it’s off-season? So keep reading to get the inside scoop.
Before traveling, check your travel documents to ensure they’re valid. That means your passport should be valid six months from your arrival date and have at least two blank pages. For your single entry visa, ensure you apply for the electronic entry visa on time(before departure), as that’s the only mode of visa issuance.
You must present a yellow fever vaccination certificate for ages one and older, especially if your country has a high risk of transmission. For COVID-19, all travelers over 12 years of age must present either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test conducted not more than 72 hours before departure. Lastly, to curb the spread of Ebola, all travelers inbound via the Kisumu International Airport must fill out a health surveillance form and undergo an Ebola screening effective from 27th September 2022.
Note that there are exceptions you should know: Always confirm if you do or don’t need an entry visa into Kenya, as this is relative to your country of origin. Age matters with visas depending on the location of foreigners. For example, British passport holders aged 16 and over need individual visas. Health guidelines and requirements can change at any time. That said, let’s have a look at 15 Kenya things to do on your next trip.
Located in Loitokitok District in Rift Valley, the southern part of Kenya, the Amboseli National Park is one the best places to visit in Kenya. Not only because of wildlife but also the majestic landscape of Mount Kilimanjaro. The National Park is named “home of the African Elephants” because, on its horizon, you can see large herds of wild elephants just grazing in the vast fields.
But besides elephants, the vegetation around the park also supports the livelihood of other animals such as the Lion, giraffes, spotted hyena, cape buffalo, Grant’s zebra, cheetah, Impala, and blue wildebeest. For bird-watchers, you’ll be delighted to know that you can also view over 400 species of birds, like the crakers, pelicans, kingfishers, hamerkop, and 47 raptor species.
What’s truly unique about this park is that it boasts five primary wildlife habitats: open plains, marshlands, swamps, yellow-barked acacia woodlands, and lava-strewn rocky thornbush. This is to facilitate and ensure that the animals within the park are well taken care of throughout the year.
It seems unlikely that a trip to a lake warrants a spot on this list, but Lake Victoria is among the most beautiful places in Kenya because of the wildlife and livelihood the lake supports. It’s Africa’s largest lake by surface area, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, and the world’s largest tropical lake, so you can expect an abundance of activities.
First, the lake is a haven for the sitatunga antelopes, the wetland birds, and over 200 fish species, including rare fishes like deepwater Catfish and cichlid. Two, the lake has economic value as it supports its inhabitants with returns from fishing, coffee, and cotton production. And three, there are many tourist destinations and activities you can indulge in during your trip.
From bird watching to hiking, boat riding, fishing, and swimming with caution, there’s something for everyone. Again, because of so many activities, there’s no best time to visit Kenya. Instead, you can come any time of the year and have a splendid time.
It’s no lie that the best things to do in Kenya, Africa is to go on safaris; by boat, air or road. Established over half a century ago, the Mount Kenya National Park is one area you can’t and shouldn’t miss experiencing. From daily road safaris to mountain hiking, to climbing the second tallest mountain in Africa(Mount Kenya), to camping and caving, you’ll be thrilled your entire trip.
The park is 715 square km of dense forest, alpine vegetation, rare, diverse and endangered animal species, lakes, glaciers, tarns, and mineral springs all coming together to protect wildlife. You can expect to spot elephants, buffalos, and Columbus monkeys in the forest and giant hogs by the densely wooded terrain. As you hike up the mountain, you’ll see a moonscape of rocks and snow until you reach its peak for breathtaking views of the Kenyan highlands.
For safety reasons, the ideal months to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site are January and February, as well as August and September as they’re dry months. Otherwise, you’ll struggle with cold, difficult trails and poor visibility during the rainy season.
Nairobi: the hub of entrepreneurship, leisure, pleasure, networking, and so much more. This is the city to be if you’re looking to view Kenya and what it’s all about. As Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi is home to many of the best places to visit in Kenya, starting with the infamous Giraffe Manor.
Catch a glimpse of the country’s rich history, lifestyle, and tribal influences brought to life through museums like the National Museum, the Railway Museum, Karen Blixen, and the Kenya National Archives. If you’d like a touch of nature, take a trip to Ngong Hills, Karura Forest, paradise lost, or the Nairobi Arboretum. And, of course, for animal lovers, we couldn’t fail to mention the Nairobi National Park located just 15 minutes from the Central Business District.
With over 15 malls within the city, you ideally can’t miss fun things to indulge in like, ice skating at the Panari Sky Centre, GP Karting, Paintballing at the Paintball Fury Center, and indoor rock climbing at the Diamond Plaza.
From pristine beaches and beach resorts to diverse watersport activities, vibrant cultural heritages to lush green palms, Mombasa city is a tourist gem. Located in southeast Kenya, Mombasa is the oldest city in the country, with tourist attractions influenced by over 2000 years of history and the cultural heritage of Africa, Europe, Indians, and Arabs.
That said, one of the first Kenya things to do when you visit Mombasa is to visit the mosques, temples, and old war buildings that showcase the city’s rich history and cultural diversity through its unique architecture. For example, Fort Jesus, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a dated military fortification designed into a man shape. From the barracks, you can access views of the Indian Ocean and its blue waters and old trade items between the Portuguese Arabs, and British including weapons(cannons).
Other Kenya places to visit in Mombasa include the Shimba Hills National Reserve, the Mombasa Marine National Park, and the beaches of Diani and Nyali, both famous for exquisite resorts and retreats. For a more intimate experience, you can stroll Mombasa’s beautiful nature trails and experience the city’s amazing flora, fauna, floweryand vegetation. Alternatively, take a dhow cruise on a ferry and dine under the moonlight.
Located in the southern part of Mombasa, Ukunda is a coastal town adjacent to Diani beach in Kwale County. The town is rather calm, with tropical weather conditions (hot and humid) all year round. But the joy of Ukunda lies in the adjacent beaches where you can enjoy the best things to do in Kenya, Africa such as jet skiing, kite surfing, scuba diving, and tandem skydiving.
On land, beautiful places in Kenya you must visit include the Colobus Conservation, the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, the starfish island of Tiwi, Shimoni caves, the Jungle snake park, and Kaya Kinondo forest for peaceful walks and bird watching. Let’s not forget you must eat, so enjoy a wide selection of hotels, resorts, and roadside delights.
Samburu County is a game-driven delight. Within walking distance from each other, you have the Samburu National Reserve and the Shaba National Reserve. On the other side of Ewaso Ng’iro river, there’s the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. All three locations qualify as the best places to visit in Kenya because you can see the country’s rich biodiversity.
Spread across 165 square km, the reserve has immense ecological wealth ranging from over 900 wild elephants, Somalian ostriches, Kamunyak lions, leopards, reticulated giraffes, gerenuks, oryx, cheetahs, Grevy’s zebras, cape buffalos, and hippos. Besides these game species, you’ll also see various mammals like Kirk’s dik-dik, the olive baboon, the waterbuck, and the Impala. Lastly, you’ll also see over 360 bird species, like the red and yellow-billed hornbill, vultures, bateleur, and Marabou stork, among others.
Time and time again, Diani Beach always comes up as one of the top Kenya places to visit. Just 30 km south of Mombasa, there are clear blue waters, calming palm trees, pleasant ocean waves, and white sands perfect for a relaxing getaway of sun basking, snorkeling, and swimming. Diani beach is a serene and ideal location that blends beach vibes, local and international cuisines, and wildlife eager to be explored by you.
Surrounded by the vast Indian Ocean, you can expect thousands of resorts, retreats, boutique hotels, villas, and lodges to accommodate your stay. What’s more, with such proximity to the ocean, you enjoy a myriad of watersports such as swimming, kayaking, diving, kite-surfing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and deep-sea fishing. Speaking of fishing, around the peak months of September to April, you can view and fish even more fish species.
While at Diani beach, don’t miss a trip to the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park. This protected sanctuary is for fish, birds, water turtles, and dolphins. And for that last-minute excitement, take a glass boat tour to learn more about marine life.
Still in Mombasa, Malindi is a very tourist town located 120 km northeast. The destination has many explorable locations like museums, animal parks, beaches, and ancient monuments like the Gedi Ruins and the Vasco Da Gama Pillar.
These monuments date back to the 13th century when the pillar, made of old stone, was erected as a navigation tool, while the Gedi Ruins remain an ancient mystery. In the same century, Vasco also erected the Portuguese church, over 500 years old and the oldest serving church in the country.
As you explore wildlife, take a trip to the Kipepeo market and see incredible moths, insects, and butterflies, as well as how locals prepare silk clothing. Close by; you can visit the Falconry and spot thousands of birds like peckers, owls, eagles, and pelicans. Finally, take a turn to the slithering Bio Ken snake park for a glimpse of the Green Mamba, Python, or cobra.
Now, Malindi offers the best things to do in Kenya Africa, like watersports and wildlife exploration; still, sometimes a spa treatment at the Billionaire’s Resort and Retreat is all you need. Unsurprisingly, you can’t miss a fantastic hotel to relax and unwind.
We’ve mentioned this before, but as unlikely as it is for a valley to appear on this list, it’s very much deserving. The Great Rift Valley earned a spot as one of the best places to visit in Kenya because you can view the geological wonder of how the earth split. Moreover, you’ll also explore the thousands of miles of great mountains, free-flowing rivers, deep forests, and incomparable lakes.
After the arid floor split, the valley creates such picturesque views that you don’t have to only view the horizon. Yes, you can hike up Mt Longonot to its vast Crater, cycle through the game-rich Hell’s Gate National Park, view the “sea of pink” at Lake Nakuru, the home of Flamingos, or spot hot water geysers and freshwater springs on the Lake Bogoria shore. Other things to do include wild walking at Crescent Island, taking a boat safari at Lake Naivasha, and hot air ballooning at Lake Elementaita.
Lamu Island is an old age splendor with over 700 years of history. For centuries, the island has grown to become the most developed tourist island by upholding its Swahili and Islamic culture. Because the island was once home to Persians, Europeans, Asians, Indians, and Kenyans, the island has a unique charm of blended cultures, which you’ll see in its resorts, food, and architectural structures.
However, its natural beauty and intriguing history isn’t the only thing that pulls tourists to Lamu but also its vast network of narrow alleyways at Lamu town and the Zanzibar stone town. As it’s the largest Swahili settlement in East Africa, the area imbues evocative laughter and warmth from its residents.
With warm days and cool nights, the island doesn’t have the best time to visit Kenya as you enjoy delightful cuisines, beautiful Swahili sunrises, and epic beaches any day.
In southwest Kenya, Maasai Mara is Africa’s (even the world’s) largest, most diverse big game ecosystem. This wildlife reserve harbors some of the most beautiful places in Kenya because you can experience safaris, witness the Wildebeest Migration, and discover over 95 species of mammals all in one destination.
The Maasai mara is 1,510 square km of African savannah plains, offering an animal paradise for the big five: Lions, Cheetahs, Rhinoceros, Elephants, Buffalos, Giraffes, and many more animals. This vast wilderness also has luxury experiences like hot air balloon flights, night and walking game drives, horseback riding, nature rides, and sundowner/bush meals. That means, at Maasai Mara, Kenya, things to do are never-ending.
Some of the best things to do in Kenya, Africa, is just to admire the beauty of nature and what better way to do that than to admire and bliss at the 27-meter deep Fourteen Falls Fall? This spectacular waterfall is located in Thika, Kiambu County, a prime tourist location.
Now, you may not be looking to sit by the falls all day, so why not take a short boat ride around, photograph the scenic views, bird watch, fish, or hike the neighboring Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park and view the herd of buffalos? Yes, the falls may not be a vacation destination, but it’s an excellent idea for a day trip.
In aid of curbing poaching and protecting orphaned elephants, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded as a rehabilitation program that rescues elephants from parks and reserves and affords them a safe shelter at the nursery until it’s old enough to survive in the wild. What makes the WST one of the best places to visit in Kenya is the hands-on approach the caregivers give to these animals alongside any visitor who’s open to help with the process.
Yes, you can spend time at the nursery watching, bathing, feeding, or playing with the baby elephants as much as you’d like. Furthermore, you can also adopt an elephant at a small cost and have the Trust update you on its status regularly. Therefore, at only $5 a head, don’t miss out on such Kenya places to visit in Nairobi
Last but not least, we take you back to the Kenyan coastline on the Northern peninsula of Manda Island. Manda Bay is a refreshing boutique hotel located in the Lamu archipelago. It is braised with beautiful white sandy beaches, airy vegetation of palm and acacia trees, and a variety of wildlife.
This privately owned lodge takes it a step further to ensure all its palm-thatched cottages enjoy ocean fronts for a relaxed experience of bush and beach. The idyllic beach getaway in Kenya also offers numerous things to do, such as outdoor dinners on the dhow and watersports like snorkeling and waterskiing.
From beach getaways to wildlife safaris, road trips to the Great Rift Valley, and day trips around the city, these are only but a few of the best things to do in Kenya. Places to visit are as many as the stars in the sky, surely you can’t go through them all nor can you explore the vast experiences this country has to offer.
Nonetheless, pick your passport, book your trip, pack your suitcases, and explore most, if not all, of these beautiful destinations. Be sure to go through the visiting Kenya requirements so you don’t miss out on these exciting holiday destinations. Happy wandering!