Kenya – Holidays in Africa in the land of the Lion King
Hakuna Matata! What does this actually mean? Translated from Swahili, the official Kenyan language, it means "no worries“ or “there are no problems” which is a slogan one can certainly try to live by. Why don’t you find out for yourself whether Kenya lives up to its unofficial motto?
Africa: The second largest continent is impressive with its beauty, wildness and undiscovered vast areas. In particular the sheer size of this continent should be kept in mind when you are forming an opinion about the different countries here. This is because the west is certainly not the same as the east and because the south is as far from the north as France is from India, Africa is simply too large to make generalised statements about it.
Kenya is in the in the east of this enormous continent which is also known as the “cradle of life”. This East African country borders Somalia and Ethiopia in the north, Tanzania in the south and in the west Uganda and South Sudan. The open Indian Ocean awaits holidaymakers in the east of Kenya. For many years Kenya was an insider tip for individual tourists, but these days this country on the eastern coast of Africa has an established tourist scene and attracts holidaymakers from all over the world. The recent increase in tourist numbers has resulted in huge improvements in the country's infrastructure, especially in the coastal areas. We have been there and are convinced that Kenya is a true African gem. One reason for this is that Kenya can offer all the typical natural characteristics of Africa - snow covered mountains, small tropical rain forests and jungles, as well as coral reefs and rolling savannahs – all of that on an area of 580,367 km². The main argument for spending a holiday on the east coast of Africa is however, that you will find perhaps the most beautiful beaches in the world in Kenya.
Tourists in Kenya – A sensitive past with ups and downs
Without a doubt, the reputation of this otherwise popular holiday destination has suffered in recent years because of negative headlines. However, with some restrictions, it is still seen as a safe holiday destination. More information about this can be found under “Regions and Places” and “Travel Tips”
It is a fact that Kenya is a poor country which in part relies on tourism as an important source of income. In recent years the country has recovered again and again from setbacks and only to find itself repeatedly the subject of negative press. However, hotels and travel operators offer package holidaymakers a reliable all-inclusive, safe holiday and in theory you do not have to worry about anything - in other words Hakuna Matata!
For backpackers and tourists who want to discover the culture and the landscapes of Kenya on their own, is it a different story. Kenya is a challenging travel destination because of the large gap between rich and poor and the politically difficult situation sharing a border with Somalia in the north. However, by using common sense and obtaining information and tips beforehand, this can be kept under control and exciting experiences are available here which cannot be found anywhere else. It is therefore well worth finding out about Kenya and getting information and tips before you travel and if it is your first time travelling in the east of Africa you should preferably not travel alone, or even better travel with a friend from the area.
Sights in Kenya
To be honest, what would a holiday in Kenya be without the monkeys, elephants and all the other wild animals? If you want to avoid looks of disappointment when your friends and family look at your holiday photos then it is important that you include a visit to a National Park in your itinerary. an important aspect of tourism in Kenya. These have offered protection to the breathtaking natural landscape here which has been able to develop undisturbed. As well as ancient, majestic trees and breathtaking scenery you can also experience live all of the animals from Lion King here. If you want to get to know not just Simba and Rafiki, but also the people, then Kenya has a large variety of sights and highlights. We have put together for you below some of the most beautiful and important sights of Kenya which you should definitely see.
On safari in Masai Mara National Park
Probably the most famous National Park in Kenya is inland in the south, directly at the border with Tanzania. It is a real piece of paradise covering about 1,510 km². Masai Mara has a mountain range, a river, streams and a large savannah grass area. It is also the reserve with the most animals in Kenya. Antelopes, wildebeests, gazelles, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles and, of course, lions live more or less peacefully together in the Masai Mara National Park. The park is so big that we would recommend booking a safari lasting several days. You will find hotel complexes and lodges, as well as camping sites in the Masai Mara Park. You are only allowed access to the National Park in the company of a guide, who knows a lot of useful things, such as how to fight with a snake.
Hell’s Gate National Park
Near to Kenya’s capital of Nairobi is Hell’s Gate National Park, which got its name because of the hellish rock surroundings. You can see a variety of rock, mountain and savannah animals in the approximately 68 km² of the National Park. Rugged cliffs alternate here with soft grass. The Hell’s Gate National Park is above all known for its beautiful scenery and is well known among climbing enthusiasts who can of course book climbing tours on the cliffs of the National Park.
Ruins of Gedi
Only 16 kilometres south of the town of Malindi, are the ruins of the 500-year-old city of Gedi, which is surrounded by a dense forest area. The ruins of the formerly magnificent buildings are well preserved and are built from coral stone. As well as houses, there are also the remains of an old mosque among the ruins. Gedi is a perfect example of East African architecture and you can get to know some of the typical Kenyan culture better here.
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park is in the south of Kenya. The savannahs of the 9,065 km² national park stretch from Tanzania across Kenya’s border right up to the capital of Nairobi. We have been there and were particularly impressed by the varied natural surroundings of the park, which is characterised by a hilly mountain range and lush vegetation.
Best time to travel to Kenya
The weather in Kenya is mild and warm all year round and on the coast it tends to be generally warmer than inland. The best times for a holiday at the Kenyan coast are from June to September and December to February. These are the dry periods at the coast when there is hardly any rainfall and the temperatures are between 27°C und 33°C. The best time to travel through Kenya's interior is in winter from December to March when temperatures are between 21°C und 25°C and there is less rainfall than at the coast. In the summer months from June to August rainfall inland is more frequent, while the coastal area remains dry.
Obviously most holidaymakers come to Kenya because of the beautiful beaches at the Indian Ocean. However, there is so much more to do in Kenya apart from relaxing under palm-trees.
Visit relatives in Nairobi’s National Museum
Life as we know it is supposed to have evolved on the African continent and it was here that man eventually descended from the ape. This evolution was of course not as straightforward as that, but you can find out just how complex it really was in Kenya’s capital. The National Museum of Nairobi displays a huge collection of paleo-anthropological findings, among them a 1.6 million year old human skeleton which impressively documents the history of mankind. As well as evidence of our prehistoric ancestors, you can also explore a geological and natural science department in the National Museum. In addition there is also a separate section dedicated to the history of Kenya from the 9th century until the present time.
Snorkelling in Kenya is a must!
Kenya has a breathtaking underwater world which could not be more varied. Coral reefs stretch along almost the entire coast of Kenya. Grab your snorkelling equipment and just jump into the sea - it is definitely worth it. In the crystal clear water off Kenya’s beaches you can see giant manta rays, sea urchins, sea turtles as well as colourful coral. Mother Nature shows us her most beautiful face here. However, extreme care is also needed, because Kenya's underwater life includes creatures which are lethal for humans, such as the extremely poisonous stonefish, morays and box jellyfish.
Relax at the waterhole together with animal friends
In the south of Kenya at the edge of the Tsavo West National Park is a hilly area known as Taita Hills. Here a privately run nature reserve offers holidaymakers a very special highlight. Huts around a waterhole provide you with your own personal area from where you can observe the wildlife day and night. Here all your favourite safari animals come to drink and cool down completely undisturbed. You can very rarely experience this unique relaxed proximity to exotic animals on safaris in the wild and therefore the nature reserve is definitely worth a visit.
Regions & places
While the interior regions of Kenya remain interesting for individuals, the most attractive and best developed tourist region in Kenya is the 480 kilometres long coast. This can be divided into three areas, north, central and south. Along the entire length of the coast you will find beautiful stony and sandy beaches and bays. The main tourist centre is Diani Beach which is a 12 kilometres long, fine sandy beach with a very special reputation, as it is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is therefore not surprising that thousands of holidaymakers come here to see for themselves. The uneven distribution of tourism in Kenya is also a reason for the large differences in infrastructure and wealth between coastal and inland areas.
Kenya’s coast – The North
Visiting the northern border region of Kenya is made more difficult by the politically complicated relationship to the neighbouring country of Somalia. Please follow the recommendations of your country's foreign office before travelling to the border region. South of the border are the popular holiday islands of Lamu and Faza where you will see mainly individual tourists and backpackers exploring the country on their own.The coast in the north of Kenya is steeper than in the centre and in the south, but has the advantage that the water becomes deeper quicker and swimming conditions are good.
There is more for tourists to do in the coastal town of Malindi. Here you can visit many museums such as the Malindi National Museum. In addition there is the Malindi Marine National Park which is a special highlight. In this national park, which has been recognised by UNESCO, you can admire rare species of birds and fish in their natural habitat at the beaches which have been left to nature. It is popular to rent holiday homes around Malindi and some are even offered with in-house staff.
Kenya’s coast – Central Area
The tourist centres are concentrated in Kenya's central coastal areas and here you will mainly find families and couples who have booked package holidays. This kind of holiday in this region of Kenya guarantees that you can spend a carefree holiday in Africa. The hotels offer all kinds of services ranging from breakfast in bed through to organising safari weekends, and even if you have not booked a package holiday with a hotel, you can still take advantage of some of their services and benefit from their good facilities.
The central part of Kenya’s coast is the city of Mombasa and the area around it. In this region you are most likely to find package holidaymakers who prefer spending a nice time with their family at Kenya’s beautiful dream beaches. Some of the beaches have been taken over by the hotels next to the beaches and the locals in this region earn their living from tourism. You can fix a price with the locals in advance and benefit from their knowledge and the services they offer. The old town of Mombasa is a very special highlight and is situated on an island which you can reach from the mainland via a bridge. Not far south of Mombasa is Diani Beach which is Kenya’s most famous beach. This gem of a beach attracts countless holidaymakers all year round from all over the world to the east coast of Africa.
Kenya’s Coast – The South
So close and yet so far away, the south of Kenya is much quieter with a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the tourist hotspot of Mombasa. The southern part of the country shares a border with Tanzania, another African holiday destination which is becoming increasingly popular and which also has a lot to offer. In this region of Kenya you will also find luxury hotels and package holidaymakers, but also more and more individual travellers looking for the coveted, undiscovered spots away from mass tourism. Fishing villages such as Shimoni are typical for this region and give you the chance to experience the everyday life of the Kenyans. The coral reef, which is several kilometres in length, serves as a natural barrier against the tides, ensuring that the water here is calm.
In the very south of Kenya, only a few kilometres off the coast, lies the island of Wasini with an area of about 20 km². This is a popular trip destination and you can book a day trip to this exotic beauty from many towns and holiday resorts in Kenya, such as Diani Beach. You will find dream beaches on Wasini Island and can enjoy the feeling of being in paradise. In addition, there are popular and exceptionally beautiful - even by Kenyan standards - snorkelling and diving spots. Trips to here often include the diving experience, breakfast and lunch, together with an exploratory tour of this natural, unspoilt dream island.
Nairobi – A journey inland
Kenya’s capital has been through revolutionary development and in the last 100 years has developed from being a supply depot and provisional camp to become a lively metropolis. Living here on an area of about 4,500 km² are more than 3 million people of many different backgrounds. Nairobi offers the typical busy, big city feeling with many clubs, bars and discos, but Simba’s friends are not to be forgotten either. Therefore there is also a national park where you can enjoy watching wild animals with the city in the background. Nairobi is also known for being the hub of public transport and from here you can travel easily and comfortably to the popular sights further inland, such as Mount Kenya and Masai Mara.
Travel tips for Kenya
Getting here and traffic system: You can get to Kenya by plane, ship and train. In the main season from December to February a flight ticket is accordingly more expensive. The main airports are in the capital of Nairobi and in the coastal town of Mombasa. There are some train and bus connections between Tanzania and Kenya and also between Uganda and Kenya. In Kenya you can travel fairly inexpensively by long distance taxis and buses.
Safety in Kenya: Although Kenya is generally seen as a safe travel destination, it is not advisable to travel to the border area in the north of Kenya. In large towns such as Nairobi and Mombasa you should avoid going out at night and this also applies to certain areas during the day and here common sense is needed. It is worth discussing your travel plans with the locals and asking them what they would recommend. You should also contact your country's foreign office for their up-to-date security advice before travelling to Kenya.
Vaccinations: There are several tropical diseases in Kenya and therefore you should seek the advice of your country's foreign office and get the recommended vaccinations accordingly. Many of these have to be carried out weeks before travelling and therefore we would recommend checking your vaccination status and carefully planning your trip to the doctor well in advance.
Entry and visa requirements: You will need to buy a visa to travel to Kenya. You can apply for this online beforehand, but you will also be able to get a visa at the airports of Nairobi and Mombasa. If you are also planning to visit the neighbouring countries of Kenya, you can apply for a multi-entry visa.
Religion: Historically the coastal region of Kenya is Muslim, while inland the Christian faith is dominant. Please make sure that you show the necessary respect for the local religions.
Language: There are over 50 different languages in Kenya, but the official languages are English and Swahili.
Currency: The currency is the Kenyan Shilling.
The beaches of Kenya
The main reason for going on holiday to Kenya is of course the selection of seemingly endless and most beautiful beaches. There is one, white sandy, palm-tree lined beach after another along the east coast of Africa. The clear sea with its varied underwater world is ideal for diving and snorkelling tours and on land there is a well established infrastructure. At the same time you can also discover untouched, stony bays and hidden, white sandy beaches under palm-trees where you can relax undisturbed. There is a huge variety of beaches in Kenya and with such a large choice everybody can find their perfect dream beach here.
Diani Beach – Perhaps the most beautiful beach in the world
Only 25 kilometres south of Mombasa is one of the most famous beaches in the world and one of the most popular holiday destinations of Kenya, Diani Beach. It has been one of the top ranked beaches in the world for decades and some people indeed regard Diani Beach as the most beautiful in the world. The 12 kilometres long, white sandy beach is without doubt breathtakingly lovely. The white sand gleams in the sun, large palm-trees provide shade and the clear sea shimmers in a deep blue colour. At Kenya’s most popular beach you will also find a good infrastructure and easy travel connections to other dream beaches in Kenya.
Beaches in the south of Kenya
The beaches in the south of Kenya are protected by a natural barrier, a coral reef several kilometres in length, which means that the sea here is calm and forms a natural habitat for a large variety of creatures. Not far away from the tourist hotspot of Mombasa, in the southern coastal region of Kenya, you will find a much calmer atmosphere and also tropical vegetation. The beaches here are surrounded by rainforests and small fishing villages. If you would like to completely switch off and relax in a hammock, then the beaches here are just right for you. The offshore sandbanks mean that the sea is shallow in places for hundreds of metres and is therefore ideal for snorkelers and children. Beaches such as Msambweni Beach offer undisturbed tranquility and you can also relax on the popular island of Funzi which is well away from the mainland.
Beaches in the north of Kenya
The beaches in the north of Kenya are often remote and wild. While the coast in the south of Kenya has tropical dream beaches, in the north you will find rocky bays with clear water together with beaches without any hotels which have been completely left to nature. Waiting for you here are for example the remote beaches of Kipungani Beach and Turtle Bay Beach. The sea at the northern coast becomes quickly deep and, together with a water temperature of over 20°C, provides perfect swimming conditions. The beaches in this region are also not so much influenced by the tides as in the south and you do not need to walk a long way out in knee-deep water for swimming.
"Beautiful beach, ideal for nature lovers and kitesurfers"
"A king among the beaches of Africa"
"Kitesurfing in one of the last traditional places in Kenya!"
"Spectacular natural beach in the oldest Marine Park in Africa"
"Natural dream beach for relaxation not far from the hectic Kenyan metropolis"
"Enjoy nature and solitude at a wonderful sandy beach"
"Perfect dream beach for tours to the reef and for beach parties"
"Spacious, quiet and magical golden sandy beach – a genuine nature experience!"
"Fine sand, ideal for walks and tours to the reef"
"Remote dune beach – perfect for switching off completely"
"Very beautiful and a perfect beach to meet the locals"
"African dream beach with a special atmosphere"
"A picturesque place, ideal to spend time relaxing"
"For nature enthusiasts and beach bar fans"
"Comfortable relaxation at the beach hotel and exciting diving at the coral reef"
"Idyllic dream beach not far from Diani Beach"
"The most changeable beach in Mombasa"
"Quiet dream beach not far from lively Lamu"
"Deserted dream beach with some disadvantages"
"A beach which shimmers like pure gold in the sun"