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Maasai Mara is one of the world's most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries. It's named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here as they have done for centuries. In their language, Mara means "mottled", perhaps a reference to the play of light and shadow from the acacia trees and cloud-studded skies on the vast grasslands.

The park is famous for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson's gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October. In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk.


 

 

A haven for birders, Lake Naivasha lies at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley and has been known to shrink considerably in times of extreme drought. A flourishing floriculture industry in the area is also impacting water levels and quality. One of the best ways to view the wildlife is by boat. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted here, including African fish eagles. Hippos slosh in the water, and giraffes, zebra, buffalo, and eland graze around the edges of the lake. Keep a lookout for colobus monkeys in the canopies too.

Near Lake Naivasha, the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary features a wildlife-rich nature trail. Just south of Lake Naivasha, the relatively affordable Hell's Gate National Park protects a wide variety of wildlife and offers excellent climbing opportunities with two extinct volcanoes and the red cliffs of Hell's Gate Gorge. On the southern shore of Lake Naivasha, visitors can pop in for a cup of tea at the Elsamere Conservation Centre, the former home of the late Joy Adamson, author of "Born Free", and her husband George.


 

On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film "Born Free". The wildlife in all three reserves depends on the waters of the river to survive, and many species are specially adapted to the parched conditions such as Grevy's zebras, Somali ostriches, and gerenuks, the long-necked antelope that stand on two rear legs to reach the fresh shoots on upper tree limbs.

A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve is the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. Tourists here may also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.


 

The Giraffe Centre is located at Karen, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the centre of Nairobi, Kenya. It was established in order to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi, that is found only in the grasslands of East Africa.

The Giraffe Centre was started by Jock Leslie-Melville, the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl, when he and his wife Betty captured a baby giraffe to start a programme of breeding giraffe in captivity at their home in Langata - home of the present centre. Since then the programme has had huge success, resulting in the introduction of several breeding pairs of Rothschild Giraffe into Kenyan national parks.

The main attraction for visitors is feeding giraffes from a raised observation platform. The centre is also home to several warthogs which freely roam the area along with the giraffes.


The Aberdare National Park covers the higher areas of the Aberdare Mountain Range of central Kenya and the Aberdare Salient to their east. Rhino Ark is a charity devoted to the protection of this critical habitat area.

The park is located about 100 km north from Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrains because it covers altitudes from about 7,000 feet (2,100 m) to 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above sea level. Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 square kilometers and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range. The park contains a wide range of landscapes - from the mountain peaks that rise to 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above sea level, to their deep, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Moorland, bamboo forests and rainforests are found at lower altitudes. Animals easily observed include the leopard, african elephant, african hunting dog, giant forest hog, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, cape buffalo, suni, side-striped jackal, eland, duikers olive baboon, black and white colobus monkey, and sykes monkey.


Nairobi National Park is a national park in Kenya. Established in 1946, the national park was Kenya's first. It is located approximately 7 kilometres (4 mi) south of the centre of Nairobi, Kenya's capital city,with an electric fence separating the park's wildlife from the metropolis.Nairobi's skyscrapers can be seen from the park. The proximity of urban and natural environments has caused conflicts between the animals and local people and threatens animals' migration routes.

Still, despite its proximity to civilisation and relative small size for an African national park,Nairobi National Park boasts a large and varied wildlife population.Migrating herbivores gather in the park during the dry season, and it is one of Kenya's most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.


Kenya's second largest city and biggest port, Mombasa is a multicultural tourist magnet. British, Portuguese, Arab, Indian, and Asian immigrants add to the rich cultural mix and their influence is evident in the architecture as well as the many different types of cuisine. Mombasa is actually an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for 480 km providing fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, especially at Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular.

History buffs will enjoy exploring the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops. The north shore of Mombasa is crammed with attractions including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants. This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby. North of the city, Nyali and Bamburi Beaches are favorites, while the white strands of Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani Beaches are popular spots south of Mombasa.


A hotspot for climbers, Hell's Gate National Park is one of the few parks in Kenya that allows camping and enables visitors to explore on foot or bicycle. Hell's Gate offers excellent climbing and hiking opportunities with two extinct volcanoes, the red cliffs of Hell's Gate Gorge, Obsidian Caves, and the pointed column of rock known as Fischer's Tower, a former volcanic plug. Geothermal features include hot springs and natural geysers hissing steam through vents in the earth's crust. The park also protects a wide variety of wildlife including leopards, baboons, hartebeest, eland, ostriches, gazelles, and more than 100 species of birds as well as eagle and vulture breeding grounds.

Olkaria Geothermal Station, the first of its kind in Africa, lies within Hell's Gate National Park and generates power from heated, pressurized water underground. The Oloor Karia Maasai Cultural Centre within the park is worth a visit with Maasai singing, dancing, and jewelry-making demonstrations.

Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya's most popular tourist parks. The name "Amboseli" comes from a Maasai word meaning "salty dust", an apt description for the park's parched conditions. The reserve is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats such as lion and cheetah as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. Look for the local Maasai people who live in the area around the park.


 

Mount Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, "Kibo", "Mawenzi", and "Shira", is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, and rises approximately 4,877 metres (16,001 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent to the summit of the mountain was by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers.

Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano and is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at 5,149 metres (16,893 ft)and Shira, the shortest at 4,005 metres (13,140 ft). Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again.

The mountain is drained by a network of rivers and streams, especially on the wetter and more heavily eroded southern side and especially above 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). Below that altitude, increased evaporation and human water usage reduces the waterflows.


Kenya's largest park, Tsavo, is sliced in two; Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these parks comprise four percent of the country's total area and encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an impressive diversity of wildlife. Midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo East is famous for photo-worthy sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust. The palm-fringed Galana River twists through the park providing excellent game viewing and a lush counterpoint to the arid plains. Other highlights here include the Yatta Plateau, the world's longest lava flow, Mudanda Rock, and the Lugard Falls, which spill into rapids and crocodile-filled pools.

Tsavo West is wetter and topographically more varied with some of the most beautiful scenery in the northern reaches of the park. Highlights here are Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles, Chaimu Crater, a great spot for spotting birds of prey, and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.


The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya's oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Strolling the labyrinthine streets, visitors will see the island's rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.

Most of Lamu's population is Muslim and both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region's nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary.


The Bomas of Kenya is a cultural centre at Langata, near the main gate to Nairobi National Park. The talented resident artistes perform traditional dances and songs taken from the country's 16 various tribal groups, including Arab-influenced Swahili taarab music, Kalenjin warrior dances, Embu drumming and Kikuyu circumcision ceremonies. It's touristy, of course, but it's still a spectacular afternoon out.

The centre itself has such a high profile that the first meeting of the National Constitutional Conference was held here in 2003, producing the so-called Bomas Draft of the new constitution.

 

 

 


The Museum aims to interpret Kenya's rich heritage and offers a one stop for visitors to sample the country's rich heritage both for education and leisure. In addition to the museum, visitors are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities, as well as botanical gardens that offer a serene environment. 

The museum is open on all 356 days throughout the year from 0830hrs -17300hrs.Nairobi National Museum is located at the Museum Hill, approximately 10 minutes drive from the Nairobi city centre accessible both by public and private means. Built in 1929, this is the flagship museum for the National Museums of Kenya, housing celebrated collections of Kenya's History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art.


North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, it too is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, and also sports a split personality. Part historic old town, part modern tourist hub, Malindi is where travelers come to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach, dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks, and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town, dating from the 12th century. Here tourists can visit the Jami Mosque, two pillar tombs from the 14th century, and the Church of St Francis Xavier, one of East Africa's oldest churches. On the promontory, the Vasco De Gama Cross is one of the oldest standing monuments in Africa. In the former home of an Indian trader, the Malindi Museum has displays on Vasco de Gama and also doubles as an information center.

Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds. About 30 km northeast of Malindi, the Marafa Depression, also called Hell's Kitchen or Nyari, is a set of sandstone gorges sculpted by the wind and rain.

In the Central Highlands, east of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing the country's namesake highest mountain at 5,199 m and providing the rare sight of equatorial snow. Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, Mount Kenya is actually comprised of three glacier-cloaked peaks. The highest is Batian, although Nelion, the next highest, is a tougher climb. The lowest peak, Lenana, is considered the easiest climb, although unpredictable weather can pose challenges.

Scenery varies from glaciers, lakes, and mineral springs to alpine forest and dense pockets of bamboo. The diversity of flora and fauna provides rewarding opportunities for safaris. Among the wildlife here visitors may spot black and white colobus monkeys, buffalo, elephant, tree hyrax, leopard, and hyena. Nestled in the foothills, the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club is a luxury retreat with trout fishing, golf, and tennis.