Where did you go?
My trip focused on southern Kenya. I began in the capital city, Nairobi, before heading north to explore two lakes in the Rift Valley, Lake Elmenteita and Lake Nakuru. I wrapped up my trip in the incredible Masai Mara National Reserve.
Where should our guests start for unique experiences and destinations in Kenya?
More than just a convenient starting point, Nairobi’s vibrant capital city is filled with a myriad of unique activities and breathtaking natural beauty. For those looking to experience firsthand encounters with wildlife, I recommend the Giraffe Center, where you can stand side by side with the majestic, gigantic creatures. I also spent time at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an orphanage for baby elephants and rhinos that’s been protecting wildlife through its conservation efforts for over 40 years. Visits are available to the public, but private tours can be arranged for those who have adopted an orphan.
If you’re looking to taste two of Kenya’s largest exports—coffee and tea—you can visit plantations where these goods are grown, harvested and packaged. You can learn what life is like for local farmers as you tour the plantation grounds and enjoy special tastings and pairings.
Masai Mara is a must-visit, with ample opportunities to see abundant wildlife including lions, cheetahs, elephants, hippos and wildebeest. If the incredible animals weren’t enough, the savanna wilderness is a stunning and extraordinary backdrop.
What are some can’t-miss experiences and destinations?
Hands down, a can’t-miss experience is witnessing the Great Migration, when millions of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife traverse the Masai Mara to the Serengeti. The best time to go is between July and August, and it’s an absolutely spectacular natural phenomenon—a seemingly endless herd pours across the grassy horizon. It will take your breath away and be a memory you will remember forever.
While in Masai Mara, don’t miss your chance to see the captivating landscape and wildlife from the sky. Float above the savanna on a hot air balloon and watch the sun rise over the hypnotic golden plains.
In scouting new locales and adventures for future trips, I made sure to stop at Lake Elmenteita, a birdwatcher’s paradise. You can find a large variety of birds, including white pelicans and pink flamingos congregating at the lake’s shoreline. Set against the panorama of the Great Rift Valley, this is truly a sight to behold. You can also relax and unwind, listening to a choir of singing birds.
You stayed in some remarkable properties. What made them special?
Hemingways Hotel is a beautiful property, located in the upscale and historic suburb of Karen. The ample grounds invite an oasis of calm and are a perfect place to relax after long transatlantic flights. The rooms are bright and spacious, adorned with colorful plants. From the hotel, you can easily visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or the Giraffe Center, with the added benefit of avoiding heavy traffic within Nairobi’s city center.
Describe some of your favorite food experiences.
I enjoyed sipping on dawa, a local cocktail concocted with Kenya Cane (vodka), African mint, lime and honey, while watching the sun drop behind a veil of pink and purple clouds each evening.
The morning bush breakfast on Lake Elmenteita was delicious and memorable. We made a short trek through the bush down to the Lake Elmenteita shore, where a luxurious champagne breakfast, local fruit and pastries awaited us. We tucked into our relaxing breakfast surrounded by a chorus of chirping birds, the deep croak of frogs and flapping wings of the nearby pink pool of flamingos.
I was surprised by the multitude of Indian cuisine and spices. With Kenya’s history as a British colony, you can find heavy influences of other cultures and foods such as British tea and Indian food.
What surprised you about Kenya?
Kenya is a colorful destination with stunning landscapes and beautiful skies that seem to constantly change—pink sunrises, purple or deep-blue clouds when the showers roll in, and warm sunsets whose colors continuously evolve as you sip your sundowners. It’s a photographer’s paradise.
The Masai Mara boasts an astonishing quantity and dazzling variety of animals. To witness the migration of around two million wildebeest and zebra across the Mara plains is truly breathtaking and inspiring. We were able to get incredibly close to the wildlife.
During my four days on safari, I saw numerous cheetahs, leopards, lions and cubs, elephants, colorful birds, gazelles, buffalos, ostriches, flamingos, Colobus monkeys, rhino and so much more. On top of that, we had an up-close and exclusive viewing of a lion with a kill; we were the only safari vehicle at the scene. We witnessed the full circle of life as a huge flock of vultures closed in on what remained, leaving behind only bones.