The most comprehensive travel guide to Africa      

About Kenya

Map of Africa

Map of Africa showing the location of Kenya

Kenya is a country in East Africa with an area of 582,646 sq km or 224.961 sq miles. It borders Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia and the Indian Ocean to the East. Kenya is bisected by the Equator and the physical basis of the country is composed of extensive erosional plains, cut across ancient rocks of Pre-Cambrian age. These are gently warped – giving an imperceptible rise from sea level towards the highlands of the interior which have their base at around 1500m above sea level.

Lava rocks, Kenyas Northern Frontier Region
Rocks of hardened lava in Kenyas Northern Frontier District

Kenyas natural environment and cultural heritage is almost unmatched in Africa and since tourism has become the largest contributor to the country’s BNP, there are widely distributed and well developed tourist facilities in most parts of the country. Still most Kenyans depend on a more or less traditional lifestyle depending on commerce as well as land for farming and livestock.

Masai warriors dancing, masai Mara

The nomadic Masai people are often given an almost iconic status when promoting Kenya for touristic purposes and when a group of warriors dances on the savannah, dressed in their traditional outfits -one of them wearing a hat made out of a lions mane and blowing a horn from a kudu, it’s quite easy to understand the fascination of these people. Maybe the Masais cousins – the Samburu even surpasses the Masais in using colorful adornments using feathers and pearls as part of their traditional headdress. However the people of Kenya consists of more than 42 tribes – some equally colorful and exotic looking as well as having their own distinct cultural practices and languages. Not only regarding natural beauty is Kenya amazingly diverse – its peoples have a great diversity as well.

Livestock in the Mau escarpment in kenya
Herders with their goats on a road in the Mau escarpment – the major catchment area for the Mara River and if it havent been raining, a short cut between Nakuru and Masai Mara

Kenya has a long list of exquisite national parks spread all over the country and nowhere else in Africa will you see big herds of elephants with snowclad Kilimanjaro as a scenic background. Only 5-6 hours of driving from the Capital Nairobi you will find some of the worlds best wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara Game Reserve and this is also the place to watch the great annual migration of the gnus when they cross the Mara River. Samburu-Buffalo Springs-Shaba National Reserves are other great places to see some unique African species with lots lets tourists competing for a picture. Add to this the spectacular Kenyan lakes, lake Nakuru being a Ramsar site and the home to tens of thousands flamingos as well as a wealth of other species – the rhino probably being the most prominent – and you have a multitude of fantastic places to choose from within a relatively small geographical area.

Elephants Amboseli
A huge herd of elephants in Amboseli with Mount Kilimanjaros 4,330 m high Mawenzi in the background

Apart from being among the best countries in the world for seeing the African wildlife, Kenyas other drawcard is the Indian Ocean coast with its white coral sand beaches fringed by swaying coconut palms. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing, parasailing and golf is some of the activities you can do on the coast.

Kenya is one of the premier destinations in all of Africa for safaris and a walking safari might be one of the most thrilling experiences in your life

For those seeking even more energetic pursuits, Kenya has some excellent mountains to climb – Mount Kenya being the most spectacular but also Mount Elgon is well worth a visit as the unique Afro-Alpine vegetation here is even more lush and varied than on Mount kenya and of course Africas highest mountain Kilimanjaro, is situated just across the border to Tanzania making it another great choice to visit. You can follow the beaten track, dine in the finest restaurants and dance to the grooviest rhythms or you can experience the “real” Africa and do a “John Hillaby” and venture out on a safari to Kenyas Northern Frontier District assisted by a few camels or donkeys.

Elephant in the camp
An elephant comes close to the camp in Gametrackers campsite in Samburu

In rural Kenya – and especially around the national parks close encounters with the animals might occur. Yet it is extremely rare that any fatal encounters happens and most likely even huge and dangerous animals like elephants can be chased away with some yelling and noise and the presumption that all Africans are facing wild animals like lions or even deadly snakes are rarely in allignment with normal life in Kenya. Somehow the Mosquito could be argued to be the most dangerous animal in Africa as millions of people die every year from Malaria. Still anyone should of course take the preliminary precautions when dealing with the African wildlife and listening to the locals advise and fascinating stories about encounters with wild animals in Africa.

People watching elephants coming into the camp
People have sought to a Landcruiser for a feeling of safety while some elephants enters the campsite

The cradle of humanity is a designation often attributed to Kenya because some of the world’s oldest archaeological finds unearthing the earliest forms of humankind, dating back more than 1.8 million years, have been discovered here. At Lake Turkana in northern the eminent anthropologist Richard Leakey discovered the remains of early hominids, Homo Habilis and Zinjanythropus Bosei (Nutcracker man), and their implements. Such seem reason enough to view Kenya as the land where human origins began.

Bird on pole
Kenya is a country with an incredible natural wealth and just the birdlist exeeds 450 species living all over Kenya and not only in the national parks

The possibilities in Kenya are almost unlimited and the Kenyans will make sure that you will always feel most welcome in their beautiful country.

Like many places in Africa, water is an extremely scarse and therefore an equally precious resource in most of Kenya – especially Northern Frontier District. Due to Devolved Funds in kenya that can be used for construction of dams and other beneficial efforts, some Samburus are collecting water inside a barrel dug into the seemingly dry riverbed

The Kenyan coast boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world as well as a rich swahili culture influenced by the Arabs, Indians, Europeans and other nationalities who have been trading on the east coast of Africa for centuries. The hot and moist tropical climate also allows for lush jungle-like vegetation to thrive.

Nyali in kenya

A small patch of jungle remains between some of the bigger hotels in Nyali in kenya and gives a primordial feeling to the place

Kiosk in Dunga
Small shops are everywhere in kenya – here Pentagon Take away chips in Dunga outside Kisumu

Here is some images showing the diversity of the Kenyan people:

Contact us for any inquiry about your next travel to Africa:


Be Sociable, Share!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Africa-Expert

    Photography safaris in Africa

  • E-books

    Storytelling with film and photography in Africa