Kenya uncovered: explore the landscapes of this ultimate bucket-list destination

From red savannahs and lush rainforests to soaring mountains and pristine beaches, Kenya boasts an abundance of unlikely landscapes, primed for adventures with or without kids

Wednesday 19 October 2022 15:29 BST
Sweeping savannahs, abundant rainforests and a coastline that just won’t quit: Kenya’s natural beauty is etched into its wonderfully diverse landscapes
Sweeping savannahs, abundant rainforests and a coastline that just won’t quit: Kenya’s natural beauty is etched into its wonderfully diverse landscapes (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Kenya truly has it all - whether you’re looking to spot the African Big Five, hike up snow-capped mountains, or sunbathe on a paradisiacal beach. Few people realise how diverse this East African country really is. With temperature rarely dipping below 20°C, it’s an ideal year-round destination for couples looking for R&R as well as families eager for adventure. Here’s a brief rundown of the wide-ranging experiences you can expect from this nature-rich republic.

Snap-worthy savannahs

Join a photography workshop to enjoy an alternative wildlife experience (Getty Images)

You can’t visit Kenya without going on safari. Maasai Mara National Reserve is arguably the most famous savannah in the country. 4X4 is the most common way to explore the golden grasslands in search of lions, cheetahs and zebras. However, for an alternative way to experience the savannah, why not join a wildlife photography workshop? Learn how to capture majestic elephants and wallowing hippos on camera within a small group setting. For the ultimate place to stay, book Mahali Mzuri, a luxury safari camp owned by Richard Branson, where you can unwind in the tented spa before a candlelit dinner in the African bush.

Adventure peaks

Kenya’s magnificent snow-capped mountains are home to black rhinos, hyenas and leopards (Magical Kenya)

Glancing across the snow-dappled peaks of the East African mountains, you’d be forgiven for thinking you are in Europe’s Alps. Towering 4,000m summits characterise this craggy landscape, inhabited by black rhinos, hyenas, leopards, and even the rare bongo (a striped antelope).

For adventure seekers, there’s no better terrain to explore. Must-do activities include a five-day climbing expedition up Mount Kenya, the second highest peak in Africa. Alternatively, if you’re travelling with teenage children, head to Mount Longonot. You can easily tackle the emerald slopes of this dormant volcano on a one-day hike. Soak up spectacular views across the Great Rift Valley from the top.

Recuperate back at the Hotel Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, formerly owned by 1950s Hollywood movie star William Holden. Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby are among the star-studded guests that have stayed at this European-style resort.

Protected forestland

The best way to explore the protected rainforests of Kenya is on a guided or self-guided hike (Kenya tourist board)

For thousands of years, a vast band of rainforest stretched across the African continent from the Atlantic coast to the Indian Ocean. Today, the only part that remains is in Kenya, known as the Kakamega rainforest. Hiking is the best way to explore this protected area, home to endangered species like colobus monkeys and gold’s tree cobras, as well as some of the best birdwatching in Kenya. Stop by the Isiukhu Falls, before ascending Buyangu Hill for sensational views across the treetops.

Stay at the Rondo Retreat Centre, a rare accommodation option in the national reserve itself. Here, white clapboard cottages are surrounded by fig trees and hibiscus flowers. At night, watch fireflies dance around the forest canopy, backed by the distinctive call of the giant forest squirrel.

Tropical beaches

Snorkel, surf and swim with dolphins along the far-stretching Kenyan coast (Magical Kenya)

White sand beaches, swaying palm trees and the Listerine blue Indian Ocean awaits along Kenya’s 333 mile-long coastline. This tropical setting is no surprise, given the country sits on the same latitude as the Seychelles and Maldives.

From Mombasa, head south to award-winning Diani Beach where coral reefs provide prime conditions for snorkelling with technicoloured fish. Families will love the private pool villas at Leopard Beach Resort, as well as the dedicated kids’ club and babysitting service. Kitesurfing is also a huge draw here for watersports fans.

However, if you’d rather explore off-the-beaten-track, venture north to the remote Lamu island. Dive with dolphins, learn to sail, or just lounge by the pool with a lime-infused dawa cocktail. Book Peponi Hotel where you can sleep in an ocean-facing suite and dine on Asian dishes, such as chilli squid tempura and citrus-spiked duck with soy noodles.

Click here to experience these staggering landscapes for yourself, and for inspiration on other unmissable Kenyan experiences

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