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Top 7 Must-See Places in Kenya Beyond a Safari

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Beautiful landscape, Aberdare National Park, Kenya

Aberdare National Park, Kenya

There is so much to see and do in Kenya beyond a traditional safari getaway, and this list shares the top 7 must-see places in Kenya for an alternative adventure.

When one thinks of Kenya, the first thing that comes to mind is safari, game viewing in one or two of Africa’s classic national parks or reserves and luxury tented or class lodge accommodation. Kenya has so much more to discover, from hands-on cultural experiences to ancient ruins and historical buildings to scenic forests and unique towns.

Kenya has adventures and explorations that are well worth discovering for those seeking a little more than an incredible wildlife experience. Below are a few ideas to consider.

1. Koobi Fora, Turkana

Lake Turkana in the Koobi Fora region, Kenya Rift Valley.

Lake Turkana, Koobi Fora, Kenya

Archeological and paleontological treasures are uncovered in the East African region of Koobi Fora on the banks of Turkana Lake in the Kenyan Rift Valley. The fascinating history of the province emerges from Koobi Fora Ridge where paleontologists have discovered exciting fossils including the remains of a hominid dating approximately three million years old. Many of the fossils on display inside the Koobi Fora Museum reveal the size of extinct crocodile, giraffe, and tortoise over four times larger than their contemporary cousins. Visitors may also relax around the lake, explore ancient history, and witness stellar sunsets over the water.

Things to Experience: Koobi Fora Museum | Lake Turkana | Ancient forests | Rural settlements | Fossil hunting | Wildlife viewing | Bushveld walks | Stargazing

2. Gedi Ruins, Malindi

Ruins of Gedi - amazing abandoned city, Malindi, Kenya

Ruins of Gedi, Malindi, Kenya

The famous Gedi Ruins are located approximately 342 miles from Nairobi but are easily reached by a quick flight to Malindi, which is less than 30 minutes away from the spectacular historical site. The complex reveals the once thriving community on the eastern seaboard dating back to as early as the 11th century until the start of the 17th century. The surprising abandoned city opens up the tropical forest in an isolated space where archeologists have discovered beads, coins, pottery, and evidence of rising prosperity through the course of the kingdom’s progression until its abandonment.

Highlights of Gedi Ruins: Arabuko Sokoke primeval forest | Tree canopy walks | Kipepeo Butterfly Project | Gedi National Monument | Malindi snake park | The Great Mosque | The Small Mosque | The Palace

3. Fort Jesus, Mombasa

Ancient Fortress - Fort Jesus, Mombasa, Kenya

Fort Jesus, Mombasa, Kenya

Nairobi is a gateway to the marvels of Mombasa located on the eastern seaboard with a flight taking approximately an hour. The city hosts the Portuguese colonial structure of Fort Jesus, which provides a lavish example of Renaissance military design as a part of Kenyan history. The architecture embraces the amalgamation of European, African, and Middle-Eastern aesthetics crowned by the expansive panorama of the Port of Mombasa amid the five bastions and imposing walls. The design of the fortress immerses visitors in nearly five centuries of history bearing witness to the interchange of cultural values accumulated over time.

Other Attractions in Mombasa: Haller Park | Nyali beach | Mombasa Marine National Park | Old Town | Mamba Village Centre | Nguuni Nature Sanctuary | Bamburi beach | Mama Ngina’s Drive

4. Lamu Town

Waterfront in Lamu Town, Kenya

Waterfront in Lamu Town, Kenya

Discover rich Swahili culture in the historic town of Lamu. This old town lies on Lamu Island, just off the coast of Kenya, in the Indian Ocean and comes with a history of gold, spice and slavery. Lamu is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become popular with visitors, bringing a fascination regarding its former rivalry with Mombasa, a 40minute flight away, to be the chosen port off the east African coast up to the late 19th century. Buildings in Lamu boast mangrove-poled roofs, creatively designed doors and quaint finishes of the walls.  Authentic clothing and jewellery collectors would not want to miss exploring this town and owning some Lamu originals.

Top attractions on Lamu Island: Lamu Museum | Lamu Fort | Riyadh Mosque and Islamic Centre | Takwa Ruins

5. Chyulu Hills National Park and the Leviathan Caves

Masai Man, Cheulu Hills National Park, Kenya

Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya

In south-eastern Kenya, located between Amboseli and Tsavo, you will find the Chyulu Hills National Park. Lying at the edge of the Nyiri Desert this park is home to the fascinating Leviathan Caves, Africa’s longest lava tube and truly spectacular site. From January to March and June to September, explore not only the caves but the western side of the hills where Maasai group ranches own the West Chyulu Game Conservation. From the higher points of the Chyulu park, breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro with snow-covered tips stand tall just across the border in Tanzania. The Chyulu Hills were used to represent the Ngong Hills in the movie “Out of Africa”.

What to Experience:  Leviathan Caves | Horse riding | Mountain Biking | Spectacular Views | Chance to See a Large Variety of Orchid Species

6. Aberdares

The Aberdare mountains form part of the Great Rift Valley and lie east of the Laikipia plateau. An isolated volcanic range, they comprise two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima and Kinangop and the slopes boast ravines that cut deep accompanied by crystal streams and magnificent waterfalls. The sheer drops are impressive and the area is covered by mist and rain throughout the year, giving nourishment to rich alpine and sub-alpine flora found here. The Aberdare National Park offers wonderful game viewing with a chance to see some favourites such as elephants, black rhinos, spotted hyenas and the more elusive leopard, serval cat and giant forest hog. Bird life is prolific with over 250 species to marvel at.

Highlights of Aberdares: Game Viewing in Sweeteaters Game Reserve | Spectacular Waterfalls | Unrivaled Bird watching | Sleep at Treetops or The Ark for a unique experience

7. Narok County

Maasai men, Narok area, Kenya

Maasai men, Narok area, Kenya

Travel west of Nairobi and towards the famous Maasai Mara National Park and you will come across Narok county and Narok town. Serving as the financial hub for south-west Kenya, the area is also a great example of the rich Maasai and Kalenjin cultures and tribes. It is rich in resources and offers a few hidden treasures such as the Mau Forest, the largest water catchment area in Kenya and home to a variety of flora and fauna as well as numerous birds. The Maasai speak Maa, and the Narok Museum highlights the creativity of local artists through incredible artefacts and art.

Why Visit Narok: Get to know the Maasai culture in a slightly off the beaten track setting | Visit the wonderful Narok Museum | Convenient stop en route to the Mara Game Reserve

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Great Rift Valley,Kenya

Great Rift Valley,Kenya

Cultural discoveries, unique adventures and a rich history begging to be explored, Kenya’s soul is captivating and definitely worth considering when planning a visit to this east African country. Zicasso’s Kenya Travel Guide has much more helpful tips and information on how to craft your ultimate safari adventure. Thinking of planning a trip? You can speak with a Kenya safari specialist for free by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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