If you have ever asked someone “Why should I go to Kenya?” they would have probably given you the same cut and paste response:
“Safaris! They have the greatest wildlife show on earth!”
But this East African country is so much more than just its incredible wildlife. It is home to forgotten civilizations, Africa’s bravest tribe and a group of giraffes that would love to share a meal with you. The list of things to do in Kenya is endless, but we have tried to choose the best options for you.
If you are looking to escape throngs of tourists, attempting to get the perfect snap of ‘Simba’, and have a more authentic experience, read on. Here are five off-the-beaten-track activities to add to your Kenyan itinerary.
5 Essential Things to Do in Kenya
Go Diving at the Canyon
Hidden beneath the surface of Kenya’s warm waters, lies a wilderness that is just as rich and diverse as any of the country’s national parks.
Some of the best sites lie in the Watamu Marine National Park. It is an important egg-laying site for the endangered Green sea turtles. The Moray Reef boasts an awe-inspiring overhang dropping 28 meters to a sandy base. The site is also perfect for beginners. The reef discoverable here is close to the shore, thus making the coral gardens easily accessible to snorkelers.
But if you are looking to spot some of the larger fauna, take a plunge down into the Canyon. This sandy channel is 28 meters long and bordered on each side by deep drop offs. You will have no problem spotting rays and reef sharks, but this dive site’s real prize is its mega-fauna.
From October to February divers have a good chance of seeing whale sharks. From June to September, the site is frequented by migratory pods of whales often breaching in deep water just beyond the reefs.
Visit Kenya’s Own Machu Picchu
The Lost Town of Gedi baffles archaeologists and historians even today. There is almost no written record about the town, but artefacts and its advanced infrastructure prove it once hosted a prosperous civilisation. It was mysteriously deserted in the 17th century.
Discovered in 1927, remnants of Ming Dynasty Chinese pottery have been unearthed, along with a pair of Spanish scissors. The city was clearly once a hub of international trade, yet there is no written record about it from other countries.
Today, Gedi is fast becoming a popular destination for adventure-seekers who wish to explore ancient ruins amidst a lush tropical forest. Located at a distance of just 105 km north of Mombasa, this mysterious city is a must-visit.
Stay at Giraffe Manor
About 20 kilometres outside of Nairobi, lies an exclusive boutique hotel known as the Giraffe Manor which is owned by The Safari Collection. The building itself dates back to the 1930’s when safaris in East Africa turned popular.
What makes this hotel unique is its herd of endangered Rothschild giraffes. Every morning during breakfast, this herd roams in the grounds of the manor. Sometimes these giants stick their neck through the windows in the hope of a quick nibble.
And if you still can’t get enough of these gentle beasts, the hotel allows guests to explore the giraffe sanctuary on a memorable guided walk. Others can join their new friends for a high tea on the terrace and appreciate the colourful sunset over the vast acres of indigenous forest.
Check out Lake Turkana and the El Molo Tribe
Lake Turkana, located in the Kenyan Rift Valley, is the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the planet’s biggest alkaline lake. Its northern end crosses into Ethiopia and is home to some of the world’s most fascinating cultures.
But one that stands out among the rest is the El Molo tribe. This tribe may be facing extinction with only 300 members left, but it is considered as one of Africa’s bravest due to their penchant for crocodile and hippo meat.
Lake Turkana has been drying up at an alarming rate especially over the past decade, making it a must-see for nature lovers. Just don’t get any ideas about cooling off in the river, it still has got a healthy population of 20,000 hungry Nile crocodiles.
Dine at The Carnivore: The Ultimate Beast of a Feast
If you are not a picky eater and want to try some unusual meat dishes spend some time in The Carnivore. Just outside of Nairobi’s city centre, this meat eater’s paradise boasts lip-smacking specialities like skewered kidneys and camel meat all roasted on traditional Masai swords.
Oh, and there is no menu! Servers will continue to bring you strange and familiar cuts of meat until your stomach forfeits and you lower a white flag to admit defeat. The restaurant is also home to the Simba Saloon, an à la carte restaurant by day and one of Nairobi’s hottest clubs by night, meaning after you eat to your heart’s content, you can burn up some of those calories by dancing the night away to contemporary African music, rock, soul and jazz.
Of course, no one is saying you shouldn’t book that safari. It is a once in a lifetime experience, but don’t let it define your trip. Discover what goes on in Kenya beyond its biggest tourist attraction, learn about its history, taste some exotic flavours and experience a different side to this top East African destination.