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The Best Reserves and Resorts in Kenya

by Annabel Jenkins on 21 December 2015, 13:12PM

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Kenya is often referred to as the ‘Heart of Africa’ – largely due to its central location on the continent. Plus, the capital city, Nairobi, is a major hub for plane traffic to East Africa. But the meaning goes deeper than that. With its great sweeping plains, the second highest peak on the continent, and stunning wildlife, Kenya showcases Africa at its very best.

But, where should you go on your holiday to Kenya? Here, we shine the spotlight on two of Kenya’s most iconic safari reserves and two of the country’s stunning beach resorts. Step this way for holiday inspiration...

 

The Maasai Mara

The Massai Mara National Reserve is synonymous with safaris in Kenya, and is widely regarded as the jewel in Kenya’s natural crown. The reserve is tucked away in the Great Rift Valley, where the open grassland and stretches across 1,672 kilometres.

Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment. There have been some 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 birds species recorded on the reserve. There's an abundance of wildlife here, so you have an increidbly good chance of seeing ‘The Big Five’ – elephant, leopard, lion, rhino and buffalo.

David Attenborough fans may also be interested to know that the Maasai Mara is home to the annual wildebeest migration. During this journey, more than one-and-a-half million wildebeest and zebra walk to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara. The wildebeest can be heard from miles away as they thunder over the Kenyan border towards freshly grown and nutritious lands. Visitors can watch in awe as the banks of the Mara river swell and burst with wildebeest as they storm down the river bank into crocodile-infested waters. It's one of the most dramatic natural events in the whole of Africa.

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Samburu National Reserve

Found within the north central Great Rift Valley area towards the North of Kenya, Samburu is visited by large herds of elephants, drawn by the promise of water in this otherwise arid landscape. In the dry season the elephants use their tusks to dig into the dry river beds, unearthing precious water.

These waterholes become a focal point for other game and a great place for viewing a variety of animals. The reserve is thriving with wildlife and has an abundance of rare northern species such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx which are often referred to as the ‘Samburu Special Five’. Samburu is also home to large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs and over 450 species of bird have been recorded in the reserve.

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Diani Beach

After a few days on safari – when you'll have to get up very early each morning – you'll have earnt a relaxing beach beak. On the south coast of Kenya, Diani Beach is one of the most beautiful and well-known spots. Here, 10 kilometres of palm-fringed coastline meets the calm waters of the Indian Ocean, which are protected by an off-shore coral reef.

With its wide variety of luxury hotels fronting onto the Indian Ocean Diani, while popular, tends not to be crowded to still provide travellers with a relaxing experience with white sand beaches and a year-round tropical sunny climate. It's an easy spot to get home from as well – Mombasa’s International Airport is just one hour’s drive away.

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Watamu

The sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches home to several well established hotels and is a popular resort for scuba diving. Just outside Watamu, a Marine National Park offers an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers alike. The coral gardens are only 300 metres from the shore and home to over 600 species of sea-life.

A big attraction here is the whale sharks. These gentle giants pass through each year from October to February, with good sightings reported each day. You'll also see migratory pods of whales from Southern Africa swim through this area from June to September – they're often spotted breaching in deep waters beyond the reefs. The Watamu area is also an important egg laying site for the endangered green sea turtle. They lay their eggs on these beaches several times a year, and you'll see them gliding in the waters surrounding the reef.

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Want to see the 'Big Five' for yourself? Be inspired by our holidays to Kenya, or take a look at our exciting tours to see everything this wonderful country has to offer.


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