Before dawn, the middle of the world, the birthplace of humanity, feels surprisingly chilly. The only movement in this corner of the Masai Mara comprises wavering, whispering grass and prematurely active insects. The rock high above the shallow gorge looks like a giant's clumsy attempt at drystone walling – or a couple of seriously rotting molars. It is, though, a natural fortress where three lionesses have taken up residence, where they can keep their offspring safe from predators; even lions, at least their young, are vulnerable in this wild world. As a tourist, though, you feel supremely safe – and privileged. Kenya's wide, open spaces have rarely been wider and more open.
In most areas of life, being "counter-cyclical" is good. Doing the opposite of what conventional wisdom (or mass misconception) suggests often proves a rewarding choice, especially in travel. Take my advice: take a trip to Kenya and take pleasure in enjoying East Africa's most accessible nation before the crowds come back. Whether you are here to seek close encounters with predators at one of the many national parks, to test your attitude to altitude on Mount Kenya or to drift lazily at or around sea level on the Indian Ocean coast, there has rarely been a better time to visit. Until travellers realise that not a single tourist was harmed in the unrest at the start of the year, safari lodges, mountain refuges and luxury resorts will be easier to access and may well offer lower prices. And in a world where a holiday decision has an impact way beyond your personal gratification, Kenya is a special case: its economy is powered by tourism. So many families depend on incoming visitors for their livelihood, that the contribution an intrigued traveller makes can help to restore and repair communities. The nation may feel as raw as the pre-dawn air, but Kenya remains above all a very human place.Reuse content