When it comes to tourism, Kenya is a hotspot in Africa. And it’s not by chance that it is featured high up on the list of the most visited countries on the continent. However, this remarkable country still holds some rare gems – from elephants by the thousands, breathtaking natural treasures to its warm and friendly people who are proud of their heritage.
Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, a sanctuary of biodiversity
The Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary is one of a kind. Set up inside a 500,000 hectare reserve, the sanctuary is an example of an ecologically responsible safari at the heart of Tsavo National Park in southern Kenya.
The founding principle of this site was to combine the development of village communities with the protection of nature, flora and fauna.
Founded in 1997 by Mike Korchinsky from Canada, the sanctuary is not only home to cattle farming villages, but also to more than 300 bird species and over 50 large mammal species, including buffaloes, Grévy’s zebras, African wild dogs, and even lions.
Concerted efforts to provide incomes to local populations have paid off, and today the reserve is proud to have created 327 jobs in surrounding communities thanks to two factories that manufacture fair-trade, carbon neutral products.
Diani Beach, a paradise between land and sea
Diani Beach… where the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean meet glorious white sands: a place for nature-lovers and thrill-seekers alike. This is where you can find the only parachute jump in East Africa – an idea brought to life by Gary Lincoln-Hope, a passionate Englishman in his early forties and former parachutist in the British Army.
You don’t need to be an experienced skydiver to do the big jump. The adventure starts with a speedy registration process before being given the relevant safety instructions by an experienced instructor.
You’re told there is still time to pull out, but before you know it it’s time to board the small twin-engine plane and you’re soon up in the air. The instructor jumps out – with you in tow – and you free fall for a minute, emotions running high, with a stunning view of the landscape that will take your breath away.
Then the parachute deploys and everything suddenly becomes calm, your body gliding above the green and blue lagoon. Six minutes later you’re back on the white sand, listening to the sound of the waves caressing the reef. Welcome to Diani Beach, Kenya’s most beautiful beach.
Kilifi, the coastal pride of Kenya
Where Diani Beach is a paradise between land and sea, Kilifi is an authentic Garden of Eden situated on the Indian Ocean coastline. Fine vegetation interspersed with coconut trees completes the postcard-perfect scene of blue sea and immaculate white sands that run along it. Kilifi has some hidden treasures.
The seaside town is an unobtrusive place, located just 56 kilometres from Mombasa. Take a leisurely stroll around town and it won’t take long to discover what the people and attractions of this town have to offer. Bofa Beach, the main beach of the town, is a must for surfing enthusiasts who are seduced by the rhythm of the waves.
Kilifi is also great for walking. The stone ruins of Mnarani, a 16th century Swahili settlement, and a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean are the prizes waiting for avid walkers. For those who like to get out on the water, a boat tour is just the ticket.
If you’re looking to while away some time with simple pleasures, you can spend a lazy day strolling around the bay, take a break from the sun under the shade of the lush mangroves, or have a dip in the sea – a pleasure that can be enjoyed at any time of year thanks to the climate here. Round off the day sampling the local cuisine with a dish of freshly caught fish accompanied by a traditional chapati flatbread.
All aboard the Madaraka Express!
Launched in 2017, the Madaraka Express combines comfort with a chance to enjoy the beautiful Kenyan wildlife. The railway track was built at a slightly raised height to give passengers the best possible view of the country’s natural scenery.
The route is all mapped out: Nairobi to Mombasa in six hours. While the train speeds along the track, a voice-off, reminiscent of a skilled tourist guide, provides information on the various places of interest, as passengers try to catch a glimpse of elephant or buffalo herds wandering through the landscape.
There is delight and excitement at having witnessed such a unique and unexpected spectacle. While the mysteries of African wildlife draw your attention outside, inside passengers can enjoy all the comforts of a train designed by advanced Chinese technology).
The Madaraka Express is more than an alternative means of travel between the two main cities of Kenya, in the long term it hopes to link Kenya to Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. A timeless trip you’d never want to end!