Sandra Dowling

Personal Travel Consultant

Nairobi

A cosmopolitan capital of fabulous food and striking administrative architecture, Nairobi is the city where wildlife and modernity meet, and is much more than a safari starting point. 

The city itself may be just over a century old, but the human heart of the country - most markedly the Masai tribe - has a history that runs far deeper. Travellers should visit the National Museum, which spans over 7 million years of mankind in Kenya.

The European impact is equally felt in Nairobi. The manicured gardens and single-storey farmhouse of Karen Blixen Museum are a pretty reminder of a colonial-era past, as well as a lament to the 'Out of Africa' author herself, who once ran it as a coffee plantation.

Although Kenya is famed for its coffee, it is the variety of food which spices up the capital’s dining scene. Away from the tasty traditional stews, the city’s chefs are becoming more adventurous with restaurants finding infamy serving camel, ostrich and crocodile for diners daring enough to try.

Better in the pastures than on the plate, Nairobi boasts a National Park a hippo’s roar away from the city centre. Black rhinoceros are the star attraction, but wildlife enthusiasts are spoilt too with gazelles, zebras and giraffes as well as lions and leopards. Home to over 400 species of birds, the park is almost as cosmopolitan as the city itself.

Rift Valley Lakes

The main lakes of Kenya's Great Rift Valley include Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Lake Mgadi and Lake Victoria. The area is a birdwatcher's paradise with a plethora of bird species.

Lake Nakuru National Park is a fenced area, which provides a sanctuary to one of the largest populations of rhinos in Kenya, as well as Rothschild's giraffes, leopards and lions. The alkaline lake often attracts flamingos, pelicans, cormorants and terns.

Over 240 species of birds have been recorded in and around the freshwater lake of Lake Naivasha. The best time for bird watching is from October to March when the migrant birds from Europe inhabit the area.

Masai Mara

The Masai Mara is named after the Masai people that inhabit the region and the Mara River which snakes through the reserve. It is home to the 'big five' amongst many other species making a Masai Mara safari tour one of the most popular destination and activities in Kenya. The Masai Mara also plays host to the incredible spectacle of the annual wildebeest migration. The area has an amazing concentration of wildlife, particularly when the migratory wildebeest and zebras are grazing on the lush plains from June to October. Surrounding the Masai Mara National Reserve are a number of private conservancies of varying sizes owned by Masai communities.

Mombasa

Mombasa is the largest city on the Kenyan coast and combines city excitement with beach relaxation. The coastal area features nearly 500 kilometres of tranquil white beaches, golden sand dunes, warm aqua water and idyllic secluded islands. Mombasa is a historic city with an old town and Fort Jesus, now a national monument and museum. Malindi is located just a few hours north of Mombasa, and offers complete relaxation combined with world-class scuba diving and outstanding international and local cuisine. Watamu, like Malindi, is a small beach village with a few small shops. The beaches are one of the main attractions and the coral reefs offer some of the best diving in Kenya. During May to September the beaches are subject to seaweed and tidal variance.