by Chris Walker Bush
January 17, 2016

 

The Masai Mara;

Lake Nakuru;

Amboseli and the Royal Court of Kilimanjaro.

Kenya's national parks and reserves conjure up such varied and exotic images, and game drives in these parks are often the primary reason for a visit to the East African nation.

While seeing the Big Five or the Wildebeest Migration from your Shadows of Africa safari vehicle is a fantastic way to see the best that Kenya has to offer, we've compiled an exhaustive list of additional activities you can add to your trip to ensure it's one to remember for the rest of your life.

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Nairobi

The Kenyan capital has an abundance of options for those spending time there. From half day activities to filling a few days on either side of your safari adventure, we've got you covered!

Half Day Nairobi National Park Tour

The world's most accessible safari destination, Nairobi National Park offers the safari experience in full view of the bustling city. Where else in the world can you photograph a herd of zebras against the backdrop of Nairobi's glittering skyscrapers?

The park is home to a large variety of wildlife, with four of the Big Five present (the park is not home to elephants). Half day trips can be scheduled to start at 6.30am or 2pm - making it a perfect activity for those with a late departure or an early morning arrival.

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1. Animal Orphanage Tour

Located on the fringes of Nairobi National Park, the Animal Orphanage is a treatment and rehabilitation centre for wild animals.

An activity you can combine with a Nairobi National Park half-day visit, the Orphanage is a great place to see animals such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, baboons, warthogs, and various bird species up close.

2. Nature Safari Walk

Also located close to Nairobi National Park, the Nature Safari Walk gives visitors a chance to see Kenya's native flora and fauna from the safety of a raised boardwalk.

A microcosm of the greater Kenya region, the Nature Safari Walk lets visitors see some of the animals they'll be able to see out on safari, including such rare finds as the white rhinoceros, the albino zebra, and the bongo. The park is also home to big cats, primates, and a huge variety of tree species.

3. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Sometimes known as the 'elephant orphanage', the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a home for young elephants who have been fortunate enough to survive the untimely deaths of their mothers - be it from natural causes or poaching.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust feeds and cares for these adorable baby elephants until they're old enough to be gradually reintroduced into the wild.

Visitors can see these gorgeous young elephants up close during a public feeding and bathing demonstration, and the charitably minded can even adopt one of these elephants to ensure the Trust can continue to do its good work.

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4. The Giraffe Centre

Fancy a kiss from Africa's tallest mammal? The Giraffe Centre is a conservation centre for the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and a fantastic place to get up close and personal with these statuesque herbivores.

From a raised platform, visitors can feed these gentle giants, and the especially lucky might even be able to steal a kiss from the curious creatures.

5. Bomas of Kenya

For anyone who is interested in learning more about the various tribal cultures that make up Kenya's rich cultural tapestry, the Bomas of Kenya is a great way to learn more about Kenyan traditional foods, arts, and dance.

A kind of living museum, Bomas of Kenya displays examples of traditional housing and tools, as well as arts & crafts.

Want to try some traditional Kenyan cuisine? You can do that at Bomas of Kenya too!

The unquestionable highlight of a visit is the dance display at the end of each day, where the traditional dances and music of the country's many tribes are displayed in an entertaining show. If you're pressed for time, this is one thing in Nairobi not to miss!

6. The National Museum of Kenya

Designed with the purpose of displaying Kenya's past, present, and future; the National Museum of Kenya is a good half day option for those wanting to explore Kenya's history at their own pace.

With displays for everything from tribal culture to Kenyan animals to modern Kenya, the National Museum offers an invaluable insight into the country.

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7. Mamba Village Tour

A replica of a natural paradise, Mamba Village is located away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Nairobi.

Most famous for its crocodile farm, Mamba Village is also home to a number of dining options and a large ostrich farm.

8. Utamaduni Centre

A centre for Kenyan arts and ornamental beadwork, the Utamaduni Centre is a good place to learn more about the creation of these local artefacts and even purchase a few gifts to take home.

9. Visit a Masai Market

For an authentic cultural experience, why not visit one of the many open air markets that spring up around Nairobi during the week?

Far from a tourist attraction, these markets are where locals come together to sell everything from wood carvings and paintings to pottery and local produce.

10. Kiambethu Tea Plantation Tour

One of Kenya's oldest tea plantations, Kiambethu dates all the way back to 1910. These days, the plantation and its attached gardens are a family run business and a fabulous place to find a little serenity while also learning about tea's vital role in the development of Kenya.

Have a cup of locally grown tea, explore the plantation's beautiful gardens, learn about the process of tea making, and enjoy a lunch made with locally grown vegetables. It's a study in serenity!

11. Olorgesailie Historical Day Trip

Located roughly an hour's drive from Nairobi, Olorgesailie is a world-renowned prehistoric site sometimes known as the 'factory of stone tools'.

Boasting the world's largest collection of ancient stone tools, the historic site is home to a museum displaying the best finds from the site, and visitors are also invited to wander the site itself.

Topping off your trip is a visit to Lake Magadi. Surrounded by natural salt flats, this alkaline lake is home to tens of thousands of brightly coloured flamingos at certain times in the year. You'll enjoy a picnic lunch by the lake before returning to Nairobi.

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Masai Mara National Reserves

Comprised of both the famous Masai Mara and its surrounding private reserves, this is arguably the most visited corner of Kenya.

While its obvious attraction is the yearly Wildebeest Migration, there's a wealth of options for visitors to the Masai Mara.

1. Balloon Safari

What better way to take in the majesty of the Masai Mara at dawn than from on high? Departing before sunrise, you'll see the sun set fire to the savannah as predators such as lions and cheetahs venture out in search of a morning meal.

After enjoying the silence at 1,000 feet, you'll then land out on the plains for a champagne breakfast before returning to your camp.

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2. Guided Bush Walks

Accompanied by an armed ranger, you can venture out into the reserve on foot to experience the Masai Mara from a different perspective.

Different lodges offer different routes and rates.

3. Night Game Drives

While it is not possible to drive after dark in Masai Mara itself, the surrounding private conservancies have different policies that make it possible to experience the thrill of a night game drive.

While game-viewing can obviously be quite a bit more difficult under cover of darkness, it's possible to spot nocturnal animals you might not otherwise see while on safari.

4. Bird Watching

The Masai Mara has a huge variety of bird life, and special bird watching tours can be arranged for budding ornithologists.

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5. Bush Dinner

For those looking for a little extra romance or a little more peace and quiet, a bush dinner or breakfast can be arranged by many of the lodges in the Masai Mara.

Set away from the camp, these intimate meals are a great way to enjoy the natural peace of the wilderness.

6. Sundowners

An African tradition, an afternoon drink after a long day of game driving is the perfect way to bring to an end a memorable day on safari.

Most lodges have well-stocked bars that can provide ice cold beers, fine wines, and a variety of cocktails.

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7. Camping

While there is an abundance of quality lodges and tented camps on the Masai Mara, for those wanting to be closer to nature or to save a few dollars, there is a number of campsites around the Masai Mara that allow visitors to pitch and tent.

8. Traditional Dance Demonstration

Arranged on special request, a traditional Masai dance performance can be arranged during the evening at your lodge or camp.

Sit back and enjoy a cocktail or a coffee while some local Masai showcase their culture's distinctive dance and music by the fire.

9. Wellness Spa & Gym

There are a number of luxury lodges in the Masai Mara that boast on-site spas and gyms. Whether you're after a soothing massage, a pampering facial, or to burn off some extra calories - we can recommend lodges that have what you're looking for.

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10. Wedding and Honeymoon Packages

Most of the Masai Mara's medium and luxury level lodges offer wedding and/or honeymoon packages.

Ask your Shadows of Africa safari specialist about how to make your wedding or honeymoon a truly unforgettable experience.

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Amboseli National Park

The Royal Court of Kilimanjaro is most famous for its views of Kilimanjaro and its large herds of free-roaming elephants, but there are a number of additional activities available nearby.

1. Visit Masai Manyatta Village

For those wanting to learn more about Africa's most famous tribal culture, a visit to the Masai village of Manyatta can be arranged.

Village visits include a tour of the bomas, a chance to witness traditional Masai dance, and the opportunity to purchase locally made arts and crafts.

2. Night Game Drives

While night game drives are not permitted within Amboseli National Park itself, night tours can be arranged within nearby private conservancies.

With many of Africa's animals being nocturnal, a night game drive can be a great way to see some rarer animals in action.

Sunset with safari car silhouette at Masai Mara

3. Bush Breakfast or Dinner

For those looking for a little extra romance or a little more peace and quiet, a bush dinner or breakfast can be arranged by many of the lodges.

Set away from the camp, these intimate meals are a great way to enjoy the natural peace of the wilderness.

4. Guided Nature Walks

With the company of an armed ranger to ensure you're safe, a guided nature walk in Amboseli National Park is a great way to stretch your legs and experience Africa's beauty on a more intimate level.

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Lake Nakuru National Park

With its swollen lake, flooded visitor centre, and dusty plains, Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya's most visually stunning national parks.

In addition to traditional game drives, there are a number of additional activities that you can add to your itinerary.

1. Bird Watching

Lake Nakuru is regarded as something of an ornithological paradise, with a huge variety of bird-life calling the park's forests, plains, and lake shores home.

Whether you simply want to indulge in a little bird watching during your game drive or would like a trained ornithologist to accompany you, we can arrange it.

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2. Sundowners

Many of the local lodges have fully stocked bars for those wanting a cold beer, a well aged red, or a fruity cocktail at the end of a day's dusty game driving.

3. Nature Walks

Guided nature walks are available at several of the local lodges. With an armed ranger in tow, you'll be safe to explore the local area.

4. Mountain Biking or Horse Riding

Several lodges in the area have bikes or horses for hire, and guided tours on either can be arranged to fit into your Lake Nakuru visit.

Lake Naivasha

While it's not a national park in its own right, beautiful Lake Naivasha is a popular inclusion on many Kenyan safaris due to its serenity and calm beauty.

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1. Boat Safari on Lake Naivasha

Clamber into a canoe and enjoy a scenic guided canoe safari across the calm waters of Lake Naivasha. With the lake home to hippos as well as a huge variety of bird life, a boat safari is a relaxing way to take in the sights and sounds of Africa.

Your boat safari can be combined with a visit to Crescent Island, or done as a single hour long trip out on the water.

2. Walking Safari on Crescent Island

A private game sanctuary with no predators to worry about, Crescent Island is a popular place for visitors to take a walking safari and come face to face with animals such as giraffes, zebras, and cape buffalo.

3. Golfing

The nearby Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort boasts an impressive 18 hole golf course that was voted Kenya's leading golf course at the World Travel Awards in 2010.

A tee time can be arranged upon request.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in North Kenya

4. Horse Riding

A number of resorts in the Lake Naivasha region offer guided horse riding treks within their grounds.

Hell's Gate National Park

Famous for inspiring the scenery of Disney's Lion King, Hell's Gate National Park is a popular park with adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts.

Not a game viewing destination as much as it is a natural playground, Hell's Gate has a wealth of fun activities available.

Canyon in Hell's Gate National Park

1. Cycling Tour

Bicycles are available for hire at Hell's Gate, and its open spaces and winding trails are perfect for those wanting to stretch their legs and feel the wind in their hair.

There are a number of trails to explore.

2. Rock Climbing

For those wanting a bit more adventure in their trip, rock climbing equipment is available for hire. With a number of gorges and craggy hills to explore, Hell's Gate offers a challenge for all levels.

3. Horse Riding

Exploring Hell's Gate National Park on horseback is a unique way to take in the park's stark beauty.

4. Hike the Deep Gorges

If you’re looking to get off-the-beaten-track, a hike down into Ol Nojrowa Gorge might be just what you’re looking for.

While wildlife viewing opportunities are few and far between, the serenity of the hike ought to be a real treat.

Hell's Gate, Kenya

5. Visit the Geothermal Station

The first power station of its kind in Africa, Ol Karia is a geothermal power station making use of Hell’s Gate’s proximity to the now extinct Ol Koria volcano whose lava still flows beneath the park.

Harnessing the super-heated steam from 1,500m below the surface, Ol Karia is able to provide 25% of Kenya’s electricity.

Visitors can not only see the station itself, but also the geysers that feed it.

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Ol Pajeta Conservancy

Kenya's most famous private conservancy boasts a lot of fun activities, ranging from guided hikes to enclosures for the viewing of endangered species.

1. Night Game Drives

As a private conservancy, Ol Pajeta allows guests to participate in night game drives within the park. Spot nocturnal hunters such as lions, leopards, and the elusive bat-eared fox as they go about their nightly business.

2. Lion Tracking

The lions within Ol Pajeta Conservancy have been fitted with radio collars for their protection, and this means it's always possible to find them within the park and spend some time in their presence.

Accompanied by a trained tracking guide, you'll be participating in the ongoing study of these lions as you observe their behaviour.

lions in Ol Pejeta Conservancy

3. Endangered Species Enclosure

Pay a visit to the last three northern white rhinoceros in existence, with your contribution going directly to the hard work being done to bring these beautiful creatures back from the verge of existence.

Also within the enclosure are other endangered animals such as Grevy's Zebra and Jackson's hartebeest.

4. Bird Walk

From the towering ostrich to the diminutive cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Ol Pajeta has a large variety of bird life.

Accompanied by a trained ornithologist, you'll enjoy a three hour guided walk through the park to see some of its bird-life.

5. Guided Nature Walk

A guided walk through Ol Pajeta is a journey of discovery, as your guide will educate you on the local plant, bird, and insect life, as well as looking for the tracks and spoor of the park's larger residents.

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Aberdares National Park

A beautiful highland forest, Aberdares is nothing like the other parks of Kenya. The park in which Queen Elizabeth was overnighting when she learned she was to become the Queen, Aberadares offers a number of engaging activities to make up for its lack of genuine game driving.

1. Game Viewing

While traditional game drives are not permitted within the park, it is still possible to see the animals in their natural habitat from the raised viewing platforms of the park's two prominent tree-house hotels.

From the comfort of your lodge's viewing deck, you can observe animals as they come and go from the local watering hole.

2. Bush Walks

Accompanied by a trained and armed guide, you can explore Aberdares boreal beauty on foot along one of several established hiking trails.

Waterfall in Aberdares national park

3. Bird Watching

Whether you see them from your safari vehicle or during a guided walk, there is a huge variety of bird life living within the forest park.

4. Trout Fishing

For fishing enthusiasts, the nearby moorlands offer great trout fishing conditions. Talk to us about arranging a little fishing expedition to go along with your safari.

5. Moorlands Visit

The nearby Moorlands offer a unique landscape for those who think they've seen it all. Home to such landmarks as Karura Waterfall and the Chania River, the Moorlands exist in stark contrast to the comparatively dry and open plains of the Masai Mara or Lake Nakuru.

Elephant family in Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Game Reserve

One of Kenya's less well known parks, the wilderness of Samburu Game Reserve is perhaps best known for being home to the Special Five - unique animals found only in this region of Kenya.

1. Cultural Village Tours

The Samburu people are distant relatives to the more famous Masai, and a visit to a Samburu village can be arranged in concert with your safari experience.

2. Bird Watching

As a park with its own unique fauna, Samburu offers bird-watching unlike any you'll find elsewhere in Kenya. There are more than 350 recorded species of bird within the reserve.

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Tsavo West National Park

Once infamous for the presence of the Tsavo man-eaters who were immortalised in The Ghost and The Darkness, Tsavo West National Park is now a popular destination for game-viewing and its unique volcanic terrain.

1. Bird Watching

The park is home to a large variety of bird life, and your experienced guide can tell you all you need to know about the park's feathered residents.

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2. Hippo Watching at Mzima Springs

For those wanting to see the enigmatic hippopotamus up close, Mzima Springs offers an unparalleled viewing experience to see these great, wallowing beasts.

3. Bush Breakfasts, Bush Dinners, and Sundowners

If you're looking for a meal or a drink with a difference, many lodges can arrange special bush meals away from the camp.

Away from the comforts of civilization, you'll enjoy a delicious meal in the company of Tsavo West's plant and animal life.

Thirsty? Most lodges have fully stocked bars so you can wet your whistle after a hard day's game-driving.

4. Guided Nature Walks

Many lodges can arrange guided nature walks close to their properties, with armed guides along to ensure your safety.

5. Volcano Climbing

Tsavo West is unique for its volcanic terrain, and there are a number of volcanic formations that can be climbed by the adventurous.

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Mount Kenya National Park

Africa's second tallest mountain isn't quite as famous as neighbouring Mount Kilimanjaro, but is nonetheless an impressive spectacle.

Surrounded by Mount Kenya National Park, there's more to the area than attempting to tackle the towering peak.

1. Game Drives

While it's not known as a game drive destination, Mount Kenya National Park nonetheless offers the chance to see a number of Africa's iconic animals such as elephants, bushbucks, eland, and even the occasional leopard.

2. Mountain Climbing

The main attraction at Mount Kenya is obviously a chance to conquer the mountain, and Shadows of Africa can arrange guided climbs up this mountain.

Climbers can expect to see glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs, and a selection of rare and endangered animals as they ascend.

Not an experienced climber or pressed for time? We can arrange one day hikes to an altitude of up to 4,000 feet.

Day trips from Nairobi can also be arranged for day hikes.

Mount Kenya Climb

3. Camping

There is a large variety of camp-sites around the mountain for those wishing to get away from it all and rough it a little.

Shadows of Africa can arrange all camping equipment and the services of a private chef upon request.

4. Golfing

The Mt. Kenya Safari Club is home to a nine hole golf course with one hell of a view. Golfing equipment is available for hire at the lodge.

5. Trout Fishing

A number of mountain streams coming off Mt. Kenya are perfect for trout fishing. We can arrange a side trip to try your luck fishing the Kenyan highlands.

6. Guided Forest Walks

With relatively few predators in the area, guided nature walks are available at a number of lodges and locations.

7. Bush Breakfasts and Dinners

Enjoy a little mountain serenity as a garnish to your meal with a bush breakfast or dinner. Many lodges can arrange your meal to be served away from the resort.

8. Horse Riding

Guided horse riding tours can be arranged at a number of lodges.

9. Weddings and Honeymoons

Getting married in the shadows of Mount Kenya certainly offers an unforgettable backdrop for your special day, and the peace & quiet to be found high in the highlands is perfect for a romantic honeymoon as well.

Ask your Shadows of Africa safari specialist about arranging your wedding in Mt. Kenya National Park.

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