Travel Review: Kenya, Beyond the Lion King!
The first thoughts that sprung to mind when we heard we were heading to Kenya were ‘wildlife safari’ and ‘Maasai Mara’. But there is much more to Kenya than just safaris and Lion King vibes. Away from the vast savannah grasslands, Kenya’s amazing landscapes, especially in the Rift Valley and Central Kenya, are riddled with adventure trails.
It’s here you can challenge yourself to the top of Mount Kenya, paraglide on the Kerio Valley, bike through the escapades of Mount Longonot or better yet, climb the rocks of Hell’s Gate. There are many ways to see Kenya on safari, but how about from 14,000 feet above the ground, falling earthwards at 120 miles per hour? Now that’s certainly a more unique way to see a country, and that’s exactly how Ahlan! experienced captivating Kenya (and survived to tell the tale).
Get active at Hell’s Gate National Park
About 8 percent of Kenya’s land mass is protected for wildlife conservation. Hell’s Gate National Park, despite the name, is undoubtedly one of its most remarkable protected parks. Named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, Hell’s Gate National Park is a remarkable quarter of the famous Great Rift Valley.
Spectacular scenery including the towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam make it one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa. Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for a day trip from Nairobi where, in addition to the bio-diversity that includes magnificent raptors, you can enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing and a natural spa in the presence of the country’s wildlife.
During our scenic cycle we came across warthogs (Pumbaaaa!), zebras and giraffes, to name a few. INFO: kws.go.ke
Face your fears at Rapids Camp Sagana
Do you get a rush from terrifyingly thrilling activities? Perhaps you get undeniable pleasure from performing near death stunts that most people fear to do? Or maybe living on the edge is what gets your juices pumping? Then you’ll feel right at home at Rapids Camp. Here you’ll find a risky 40 feet jump down a waterfall, a dizzying whirlpool, and exciting rafting and kayaking activities.
If you are still raring to go, try out the bungee jumping. One of the truly adrenaline pumping ground activities at the Rapids Camp, bungee jumping involves a dive from a structure 60m tall with an elastic cord connected to your back, so that you enjoy the sensation of free falling but you do not fall to the ground (instead, you might dip into the river below). Truth be told, we watched folks throw themselves off the crane into the river, but we didn’t have the guts to go through with it. Maybe one day… INFO: raftinginkenya.com
Drop from the sky at Skydive Diani
The Kenyan coastline is among some of the finest scenery in the world; the beaches are breathtaking and the calm seas are protected by a reef, giving them an indescribable colour when you admire them from above. And when we say above, we literally mean while falling from the sky thanks to Skydive Diani. Just a short drive from Mombasa, Diani is a picturesque coastal town that attracts adrenaline junkies from around the world thanks to its skydiving facilities.
Here at Ahlan!, we’ve always said we would NEVER skydive. Ever. But somehow, during our visit to Skydive Diani, we were convinced it would be a good idea. Once we were strapped to our instructor and the plane starting taking off, we weren’t so sure. And once we came face to face with the open plane door, which felt like we were a million miles up in the sky, we instantly regretted it. While free falling, we admittedly kept our eyes closed in terror. It was only once the parachute opened – and we could admire the azure waters and coastline below – that we started to relax a little. Are we glad we did it? Yes, because YOLO. Would we do it again? No, because YOLO. INFO: skydivediani.com
Where to stay in Nairobi
Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities.
So it’s no surprise the city has seen a number of high-end hotels pop up in recent years – perhaps the most glamorous being the Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi.
Offering the perfect fusion of European luxury and Kenyan hospitality, Villa Rosa Kempinski is perfectly positioned between the city and countryside. The hotel is one of the city’s most recognisable venues and features an array of top dining destinations, a spa, heated outdoor swimming pool, shops, fitness area and various other facilities. If it’s luxury you’re looking for in Nairobi, Villa Rosa Kempinski is sure to make you feel like royalty. INFO: kempinski.com/nairobi/villa-rosa
Where to stay in Naivasha
If staying in a farmhouse in (what feels like) the middle of nowhere sounds like bliss, then you’ll be blown away by the charming Loldia House.
Only two hours’ drive from Nairobi, it is a perfect place from which to begin your exciting holiday around Kenya. The guest house is situated on the banks of Lake Naivasha, which means wild animals roam free on the farm. In fact, in the evenings hippos munch quietly by the waterside.
From the main road it can take up to 30 minutes to reach the hotel itself, but once you’re there you’ll be charmed by its stunning cottages and five-star facilities. From horse riding on the ranch, to game drives, bird watching, fishing and nature walks, Loldia House offers the ultimate African experience.
Be sure to request a hearty breakfast spread on the lawn overlooking the lake. Take our word for it – it’s an authentic brekkie experience that won’t be easily forgotten. INFO: governorscamp.com.
Where to stay in Mount Kenya
With magnificent views of majestic Mount Kenya, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club Resort’s 120 luxuriously appointed hotel rooms, set in over 100 acres of stunning landscaped gardens, offer a unique blend of comfort, relaxation and adventure.
With some of the country’s finest attractions on the doorstep, you can enjoy an enormous range of excursions and activities without spending hours and even days traveling between each.
For those who want to spend time relaxing at the resort hotel, there are many Nanyuki recreational activities available: horseback riding, golf, croquet, a bowling green, table tennis, swimming, an animal orphanage and loads more. Plus it’s an Instagram hotspot! INFO: fairmont.com/mount-kenya-safari for more