Kenya may already be on your travel bucket list for a once-in-a-lifetime epic wildlife safari through its sweeping African landscapes. But visitors can now easily connect to its culture and lifestyle in more ways, thanks to a new program by Kenya’s tourism board.
The Magical Kenya Signature Experiences Collection is a growing selection of authentic and unique activities, accommodations, and tours for visitors with a wide range of interests in Nature, local arts and crafts, cuisine, sports, communities and more.
Each has been rigorously vetted and curated by the Kenya Tourist Board. In addition to being giving visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the best of Kenya, the experiences are chosen for being responsible to the environment and benefit their communities.
Already, dozens of experiences around Kenya have been added to the collection. Imagine how some of these activities and places would really make your trip to Kenya truly “magical.”
Safaris with a Twist
Alternative, camel-train supported walking safaris in Northern Kenya, famous for the largest diversity of the great mammals: elephants, big cats and other predators, zebras, hartebeest and more. These ecology and conservation minded foot safaris provide perspective on the wildlife but also the land that homes them.
‘Vintage’ safaris, self-driven in Land Rovers dating back to the 1950’s. In a vast, private conservancy in Northern Kenya, overlooking snow-capped Mt. Kenya, guests at a canvas camp overlooking a watering hole that draws wildlife daily. From that base camp, you can walk, drive, climb and camp in woodland or savanna in search of views of wildlife, spend time learning from Maasai elders, and communing with nature and yourself.
“In the footsteps of the Lioness” immerses guests in the fascinating history of Meru made famous by Born Free, the bestselling novel and subsequent award-winning movie released in 1966 recounting the lives of George and Joy Adamson and Elsa the lioness in Meru, that made a wildlife park in Kenya the stuff of Hollywood legend.
A “Rhino Extravaganza” brings you up close and immersed in the lives of rhinos in a 45,000 acre game reserve where the magnificent creatures live in prolific numbers. And a “Black Rhino Tracking Experience” while staying at a remote river camp in Sera Conservancy gives guests a unique, hands-on wildlife encounter.
History, Arts and Culture
The “Warrior Academy” allows you to be immersed in the philosophies, practices, and teachings of Maasai Warriors in the iconic Mara North Conservancy.
Explore Thimlich Ohinga, with the National Museums of Kenya. It’s a 16th century stone complex that employs local traditional interlocking technology, and the experience gives visitors insights into Kenya’s tangible, archaeological history.
On the edge of Nairobi National Park, you can even experience the unique process of glass blowing at a workshop that creates recycled glass pieces.
Kenya on Film
Kenya has been the backdrop to some epic storytelling on the silver screen, and some of the Magical Kenya experiences let you engage in some of those tales.
Pride Rock in Borana Conservancy is the inspiration for Pride Rock – yes, ‘that’ dramatic promontory - in Disney’s animated film The Lion King.
Did you swoon over Out of Africa? Two of the experiences keep that story of star-crossed lovers in African landscapes alive.
Karen Blixen by National Museums of Kenya brings you inside the country’s first house museum: the former home of Baroness Blixen, whose autobiographical book inspired the movie. The Oscar-winning movie was actually filmed at her house, so the connection is complete.
Blixen’s ill-fated lover, Denys Finch Hatton, went from hunting safari leader to early conservation advocate during the inter-war years. That bygone era, and Finch Hatton himself, inspired this luxury safari, 5-star boutique hotel named Finch Hattons. Surrounded by untouched wilderness, and with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu hills in Tsavo West National park, guests stay at Architectural Digest award-winning Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp, enjoying tailor-makes experiences “reminiscent of Old Africa.”
It’s safe to say that bygone era of ‘Old Africa’ inspired future generations who have come to re-embrace what we now call ‘glamping’ (or glamorous camping.) No one does it like Kenya.
From tents to treetops, on beaches or in coffee plantations, or in the mountains, Kenya’s the place to get ‘outside the box’ of a traditional hotel room.
Another standout “Magical Kenya” experience are the “Star Beds at Loisaba” (above and top), where guests stay in “the biggest bedroom in the world” – under the African night sky. Poised on a rocky hill, the Loisaba Star Beds are handcrafted, four-poster wooden beds on raised wooden platforms jutting out from a thatched-roofs overlooking the vast scenery and visiting wildlife below. A team of traditional Samburu & Laikipiak Maasai warriors welcome and host guests.
There are also homestay opportunities for visitors to experience Kenyans’ modern family lifestyles.
Sports and Outdoor Activities
You can go beyond safari in Kenya with a vast range of activities that connect people of many abilities with the outdoors from mountains to rivers and village landscapes. Imagine:
- Yoga at sunset in a treehouse.
- Mountain climbing and fishing expeditions on Mt. Kenya.
- Rafting or kayaking down one of Kenya’s longest rivers.
- For more extreme outdoor activities, you can even go ziplining, rock climbing, or abseiling in a Kenyan outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
- Cycling in the Mara in a whole-new approach to safaris, or take a winning beach village destination on a cycling tour.
- “Golfing in the Wild” of an African setting.
- Helicopter tours, that include one of remote desert landscapes and sand dunes, and another that soars over Mt. Kenya and even takes guests fly fishing in crater lakes hidden in its valleys.
In the Surf
Kenya’s almost as famous for its seaside as it is for its safaris. Add Humpback Whale Watching or Stand Up Paddleboarding surrounded by dolphins on your beach schedule in the country.
Farming and Dining
Visitors to Kenya can get off the beaten track to experience farm life. Some are associated with Lodges, others are small, independent family farms.
You may have heard about Giraffe Manor. Where else in the world can you share your breakfast table with a wild African giraffe, sipping a freshly brewed coffee whilst the tallest animal on the planet peaks in curiously at you?
Kenya’s coast has historically been dotted with Arabian dhows sailing from the north, and you can dine on board a floating dhow restaurant while soaking in the sights and sounds of Mombasa’s coastal skyline.
If a Safari in Africa is a bucket-list item you’re hoping to cross off soon, let your travel advisor help you plan enriching ways to extend your trip and make your Kenyan trip even more ‘magical.’
Start your African Safari Trip!
Images courtesy Kenya Tourism Board