It’s no exaggeration to say that Kenya holds a place uniquely its own among Earth’s greatest adventure destinations. Other countries might lay claim to towering mountain ranges, or bottomless canyons, or deep, forest-shrouded lakes and wild, glacier-fed rivers; but this – this is something else entirely. This is the Earth at its most primeval, where over 35 million years ago 3 diverging tectonic plates began tearing the Great Rift Valley into its crust. This is the cradle of civilization, a land where some of our earliest human ancestors began a struggle for survival and proliferation that would last two and a half million years into the future. And this is the last great stronghold of some of our planet’s wildest inhabitants, where even now kings and dinosaurs reign atop the food chain. For many, that alone would be reason enough to stamp the passport; but trust us – when it comes to adventuring in Kenya, we’re just getting warmed up.
Of course, for first timers, no East African itinerary is complete without that quintessential adventure experience - and it just so happens that Kenya does the safari as well as anyone. Renowned national reserves like the Maasai Mara and the massive Tsavo National Park (containing both Tszvo East and Tsavo West) are home to innumerable animal species, including the kind that still give you goose bumps while watching The Lion King. But in your haste to observe lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes, cheetahs, crocodiles, leopards, ostriches, flamingos, rhinos, zebras, buffaloes, wildebeests and countless other species in their natural habitats, don’t forget that Kenya’s parks are numerous, and sometimes its most memorable experiences will be the ones you didn’t see coming. Why not start by checking out the country’s tallest waterfall (Karuru) as it cascades in 3 beautiful levels down the 14,000 ft peaks of Aberdare National Park? If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, substitute Kilimanjaro for a hike or a climb up Africa’s second highest (but hardest to ascend) mountain. You’ll find the views from Mt. Kenya N.P.’s 17,000+ ft namesake equally as stunning, with far fewer tourists around to share them with.
But those that know the country well will tell you that adventuring in Kenya is so much more than just climbing mountains and photographing wildlife. It’s navigating the drop-pool rapids of the Tana River; it’s circumnavigating the outer rim of Mt. Suswa’s double cratered volcano; it’s paddling among mangrove forests off Avicennia Island and floating above brain coral at the Watamu Marine Park. Because, believe it or not, the time will come when your sense of awe begins to wane just slightly at the sight of a parade of stately elephants plodding along the sun drenched soil of the African plains – and when that happens, it will be good to know that you’re still in one of the most exciting, adventure packed countries this wild continent has to offer.