Roaring lions, snorting wildebeest and trumpeting elephants puncture the silence between Kenya's vast African sky and sun-baked plains. Fishermen haul in nets of crabs and lobsters off Mombasa's shore and Maasai warriors point out rhino tracks to stupefied safari-goers. Wildlife and humans mingle peacefully in modern-day Kenya. Luxury safari camps and ecolodges comfortably cushion the outdoor adventure and Nairobi's AFEW Giraffe Center and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust advance the cause for wildlife protection. Hearty, fire-roasted meat fuels the climb up Mount Kenya and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean.
Stroking dappled giraffe noses and the trunks of bashful, orphaned baby elephants in Nairobi's AFEW Giraffe Center and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, respectively, is an intimate introduction to spotting Kenya's magnificent beasts in the wild. Inhale the spice-scented air of Mombasa's Arabic-tinged Old Town, where fishermen unload their daily catch in the port and women swathed in vivid kanga wraps barter in Swahili. Roam the 16th century biscuit-colored Fort Jesus nearby.
Eating and Drinking
Juicy nyama choma (hunks of meat slow-roasted over an open fire) is devoured off tribal spears in Nairobi's famed restaurant, The Carnivore, sitting around safari campfires in the wilderness and across the country. Kenya's Indian population whips up flavorful vegetarian dishes, such as mild Swahili curries with enticing aromas of coconut oil, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Order up Indian Ocean crabs, lobsters and fish, dished up with tamarind sauces and tropical fruits, at restaurants in Mombasa and along the coast.
Snap photos of camels nibbling acacia trees and cheetah outrunning gazelles on a safari. Seasoned guides lead the adventurous on foot safaris, horseback rides and undulating camel treks to witness how Kenya's arid plains are refreshed with rivers and melt into rocky outcrops. Feeling daring? Hike the second-highest peak in Africa, Mount Kenya, to see its glacier-studded summit. Keen anglers go fishing in Lake Turkana. Snorkeling companions in the Indian Ocean are bright, patterned fish flitting past you.
More than any other, Meru National Park allures with its few visitors and abundance of the Big Five animals and other wildlife. Study the ground for tracks and find yourself a stone's throw from a rhino at Laikipia with a Maasai warrior's expert help. You're likely to spot white and black rhino and fantastical flocks of flamingos at Lake Nakuru. Drift above the Maasai Mara in a hot air balloon to see swarms of zebra and wildebeest.