Kenya is located in the eastern part of the African continent. The Indian Ocean borders the country to the east, and the equator divides the country into almost two equal parts.
Topography and climate
Kenya has a diversified topography, ranging in altitude from the sea level (tropical) on the coast to 17,057 feet above sea level at the peak of Mount Kenya (glacial).
Annual precipitation ranges from below 10 inches in the northeastern part of the country, up to 79 inches on the slopes of Mount Kenya. July and August mark Kenya’s cool season with temperatures dipping down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Kenya experiences its rainy season in April and May, and to a lesser extent in October and November. While the temperature varies according to the altitude, Kenya’s climate is primarily warm to hot.
Kenya has a population of about 30 million. Kenya has 42 different cultural groups. More than 80 percent of Kenyans live in rural areas.
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, has a population of nearly 2 million. Mombasa is a major port and the largest city on the East African coast.
Kenya is thought of as the cradle of mankind. According to recent fossil evidence, the first humans were born on the eastern shores of Lake Rudolf, now Lake Turkana, where remains of Homo Erectus, the man’s closest ancestors, have been discovered.
Kenyans speak more than 40 different languages. Swahili is the national language, while English is the official language in Kenya. Approximately 65 percent of the population speaks a Bantu language, 30 percent speaks a Nilotic language, and a minority, 3 percent, speaks a Cushitic language.
In addition to world-class wildlife viewing, Kenya offers more travel experiences in more corners of the country than ever before: Cultural and heritage tours, photography and art safaris, world-class ornithological tours, romantic honeymoons, big game fishing, scuba diving and family holidays are just a few travel programs continuously expanded to provide travelers with the best of Kenya.
Wildlife is the principal tourist attraction in Kenya with a total of 59 wildlife conservation areas (parks and reserves) occupying a total area around 7.5 percent of the total area of the republic. Kenya’s parks extend over marine areas, mountains, arid and semi arid parks and lakes. Adventure opportunities are abundant, including walks with elephants, hang-gliding, parachuting and paragliding, white-water rafting and rock climbing. Arid and semi-arid areas form the largest percentage of Kenya’s parks and have a great diversity of plains game. Popular activities include: safaris, trekking, camping and photography.
Safari in Kenya extends far beyond the traditional trek in a four-wheeler to accommodate travelers’ different interests. Travelers can choose from wildlife safaris, ornithological safaris, camel safaris, hot air balloon safaris, horse riding safaris, cycle and trekking safaris, golf safaris, camping safaris and others.
Golf safaris are increasingly popular, with 38 golf courses spread around Kenya – from beaches along the Indian Ocean, to the bottom of the snow-capped Mt. Kenya.
Stretching 300 miles along the Indian Ocean, the Kenyan coast is known for its fine sable-white sand beaches and warm tropical climate. The coast is sheltered by 150 miles of coral reef, protecting it from strong currents and sharks.
Lake parks contain the greatest concentration of bird life in the world, with some 1,500 species recorded. Lake Nakuru is home to 30 percent of the world’s population of flamingos. The world’s second largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria, lies on the western border of Kenya and is home to enormous Nile perch weighing more than 200 pounds. Other lake attractions include the endangered Sitatunga Antelope in Saiwa Swamp, and the greatest crocodile colony in the world in Sibiloi near Lake Turkana.
Kenya’s highest mountain, Mt. Kenya, is the second largest mountain in Africa (17,057 ft.), and one of the highest mountains in the world. Parks like Mt. Kenya offer excellent climbing adventures and beautiful moorlands for hikers and climbers.
Environmental protection, health and safety
The Ecotourism Society of Kenya has launched an initiative to establish an eco-rating system to encourage Kenya’s lodges and tour operators to comply with eco-sustainable business practices. Businesses across Kenya’s tourism sector have shown strong commitment to protecting the environment.
There are several safety features implemented by the Kenyan government to help ensure the well-being of tourists. For example, the Kenya Tourist Federation Safety and Communications Center was established to provide dependable communication between tour groups, police, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Flying Doctor Service and individual tourists. The Kenya government also implemented a specially trained tourist police unit to patrol areas with high concentrations of tourists. Together, these systems ensure rapid assistance to tourists when needed.
Kenya contains the greatest varieties and concentrations of wildlife populations in the world with more than 80 major animal species.
A popular draw for visitors is the “Big Five:” lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard. These animals were the most desired trophies amongst the old hunting clubs. However, hunting is no longer permitted in national parks and game reserves.
Endangered animals such as the black rhino are slowly making a comeback as a result of effective conservation efforts. The other species of rhino, the white rhino, can be found throughout Kenya’s national parks and reserves in growing numbers.
Other Kenyan mammals the grazers such as gazelle, impala, antelope, dik-dik and zebra; and of course, the giraffe, the world’s tallest creature, and the water-loving hippopotamus, the third largest land animal. In addition to leopard, felines include the big cat cheetah, and the smaller serval, civets, and caracal. Other well-known yet exotic species include the crocodile, python, mongoose, jackal, hyena and bushbaby. Two species of baboon, olive and yellow, and monkeys, including the colobus, vervet and golden, are easily seen and heard.
Every year, millions of wildebeest migrate north into Kenya from the Serengeti to the green grass of the Maasai Mara. This exciting spectacle usually occurs between July and September.
Kenya is considered the greatest country in Africa for birdwatching with 1,054 recorded feathered species. Birdwatchers in Kenya stand a good chance of seeing nearly 60 percent of all African birds. Within the Nairobi area lies 50 percent of all Kenya’s bird species. Kenya holds the world record for the greatest number of bird species spotted in one day. It is not unreasonable to see more than 100 species of birds in a day in certain areas of Kenya. The alkaline Great Rift Valley lakes support an immense number of water birds and many other species are found in grasslands and acacia woodlands surrounding them. Lake Nakuru is world-famous for its concentration of lesser and greater flamingos at about 6½ million. Vultures, ostrich, secretary bird, paradise flycatcher and hornbill are also well-known exotic birds found in abundance.