Kenya Travel Guide
Kenya is located in eastern Africa, close to the African horn. It’s neighbouring countries include Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the east. Despite its relative proximity to Somalia, Kenya is considered a safe tourist destination. In fact, between 2006 - 2018, Kenya welcomed an average of about 81,000 tourists annually. The country’s domestic population sits at just over 48 million people, which include over 40 ethic groups or tribes, each with their own dialects, traditions and identities. Of these tribes, the largest is Kikuyu. The most famous would be the Maasai, however in Kenya, the Maasai only make up about 1% of the domestic population.
Kenya is a country of interesting contrasts. For example, the capital of Nairobi is a bustling city sprawl, while the coastal town of Mombasa is a beach getaway with numerous resorts and idyllic white sand beaches nearby. Outside of Kenya’s city centres, you’ll find a vast wilderness perfect for wildlife viewing. In fact, Kenya is home to over 20 national parks and reserves. Of these, the most popular include the Maasai Mara (which extends into Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park), Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru, and Samburu National Park.
If you’re traveling to Kenya to view the wildlife on a safari, it’s imperative that travellers choose tour operators with strong environmental and animal welfare policies. By doing so, you are ensuring that your activities do not stress or harm the animals. These national parks and reserves can be as wild as it gets, and it’s important that your safari vehicle keeps its distance from the wildlife for your safety and theirs. Additionally, selecting a safari company or tour operator with stringent animal welfare policies typically means they care about the animals and understand their importance to the country’s economy (via tourism) and cultural significance. Many tour operators that runs safaris in Kenya are often passionate conservationists as well, doing what they can to protect these animals from poachers. If you choose a responsible tour operator, you’ll be sure to receive a great education from these guides as well.
Kenya also offers the ability to get up close and personal with animals outside of its national parks. Nairobi offers a number of zoos and animal sanctuaries to visit. Many zoos, aquariums and animal sanctuaries ought to be scrutinized as many have a poor record when it comes to animal welfare, education and conservation. However, there are two in Nairobi that have great reputations on all of these fronts.
The Giraffe Centre allows you to get up close and personal to these giants (sometimes too personal, as people are often photographed kissing them). The centre itself was created by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), a non-profit whose mandate is dedicated to environmental conservation. The Giraffe Centre breeds the endangered Rothschild Giraffes, and releases them into the wild after 3 years after they’ve become independent enough to survive on their own.
The other animal sanctuary worth visiting is the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Here, they rescue baby elephants, orphaned due to poachers and natural causes such as drought. Much like the Giraffe Centre, the elephants are rehabilitated and once they reach a mature age where they can survive on their own, are released safely back into the wild.
From personal experience, visiting Africa to view the wildlife should be on everyone’s bucket list. I had the time of my life while seeing some of the world’s most majestic animals in their natural environments. Just make sure you follow these simple guidelines in order to make your trip to Kenya as sustainable as possible.