Kenya is considered the home of the safari and epitomizes what many imagine Africa to be. Dating back as early as the 1890s — with added zest in the 1920-30s during Hemingway's time — Kenya has become the destination of choice for those with the means.
Over the past century, the western world has discovered Africa through books and film, with stories and images presenting danger, excitement, beauty, romance, and tragedy. More recently, the movie Out of Africa, books such as Born Free, and the animated film The Lion King have won the imagination of adults and children alike and fueled a love affair with Africa.
Split by the Rift Valley, Kenya is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Indian Ocean. Slightly smaller than the size of Texas or France, Kenya has spectacular game viewing, bird watching, fishing, horse riding, scuba diving, mountaineering, hot air ballooning, cultural experience, and more. For visitors who want to relax, that can be arranged too.
Whether in the national parks, reserves, sanctuaries, or group ranches, Kenya is undoubtedly one of the best places to see animals in large numbers at almost any time of the year. Safari camps and lodges are available for all tastes and budgets. Popular game viewing areas are Nairobi National Park, Chyulu Hills, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo, the Masai Mara, Mount Elgon, Aberdare National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, Meru National Park, Lake Nakuru, Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, Laikipia, Samburu, and the coastal areas of Mombasa, Malindi, and Lamu.
On a cultural level, Kenya offers visitors the opportunity to learn from and interact with the indigenous people. Visitors can learn about the culture and beliefs of the Masai, Kikuyu, and Samburu, among others, and understand more about the Arab influence, which dates back to the trading days. After a trip to Kenya, travelers will come home with an education far beyond anything found in a book.
Given its popularity, Kenya can be crowded with tourists during the high season; however, there are areas within the private reserves that allow for a more personal experience. Even so, there are some things worth tolerating the higher density of tourists, such as the Great Migration. As the Masai Mara is a northern extension of the Serengeti National Park, both Kenya and Tanzania enjoy this awesome event.
The migration of more than a million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles crossing the Mara River is possibly one of the most infamous wildlife scenes witnessed either firsthand or on film. This annual mammoth undertaking occurs when the herds follow the rains from Tanzania to Kenya and back again.
International arrivals enter through Nairobi. Nairobi is six thousand feet above sea level and houses some interesting stops for visitors, whether their focus is on wildlife or history. Kenya straddles the equator, and the climate is quite temperate. December through March and July through October are the best times to travel to Kenya for game viewing, though each season has its allure.