Things to do in Kenya

Our top activities in Kenya

Game drives

Whether you’re parked up to watch a million wildebeest attempting to cross the Mara River without getting eaten by crocodiles, tracking the huge elephant herds of Amboseli against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro or visiting the highly endangered black and white rhino, a game drive tops our list of things to do in Kenya.

Meet the Maasai

Of Kenya’s 40-odd ethnic groups, it’s the Maasai who have most successfully tapped into tourism, and no matter how much wildlife you see, a Kenyan safari would not be complete without meeting these elegant people.
Cultural tourism has, thankfully, moved on from the bad old days of looking and pointing. As landowners, the Maasai have a network of communal conservancies where you can stay in Maasai-owned lodges and go out on bush walks and game drives with Maasai guides – discovering as much about them as you do about the wildlife. Evening entertainment may include traditional music and dance – or discussions on tribal traditions and ways of life – and the importance of cattle. If you fancy something a bit more hands on, warrior training sessions will get you throwing spears, fighting with sticks and using bows and arrows.
As fun as this all may be, it’s also a vital source of income for the Maasai, as well as a way for them to preserve their traditions and folklore. And for most visitors, it actually ends up being the most treasured part of their Kenya holiday.
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There’s no shortage of ways to give back to Kenya, and a carefully chosen volunteer placement can have a huge impact on the lives of local people – as well as the volunteer.
Teach English or science to a lively classroom of up to 50 children, run environmental awareness sessions, construct school buildings or be a sports coach. Qualified volunteers can work in healthcare – in rural communities or central hospitals, giving them valuable hands-on experience. You might even be our researching wildlife – in the savannah or the sea.
Placements can last from a couple of weeks to several months – but given the time to settle in and get to know the local people you’ll be working with, a longer place means you really can make a difference. It’ll also give you chance to pick up some of the local language, and make genuine friendships.
Remember – this is not a holiday. You won’t be in a luxury lodge but in a local house, probably with other volunteers. Electricity and running water may not always be available, and the food may be basic, but that’s a surefire way to get you focusing on what’s truly important – and helping you understand the daily life of your new Kenyan friends.

Kick back on the coast

Diani’s 10km of white sands are a classic, palm-fringed retreat – check out the reefs and the colobus monkeys. Lamu offers archaeological sites and Arab and Swahili architecture as well as beaches, and Malindi – the Italian favourite – has a cluster of affordable hotels, restaurants and bars. Wherever you decide to pull up your sunbed, Kenya’s beaches are a welcome retreat at the end of your African adventure.
Photo credits: [Game drives: ninara] [Meet the Maasai: Xiaojun Deng] [Volunteering: United Planet] [Kick back on the coast: McKay Savage]
Written by Vicki Brown
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Photo credits: [Page banner: MAKE IT KENYA PHOTO / STUART PRICE]
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