March 5, 2013

Kenya Travel Guide



How does a destination with great beaches and wildlife that is unique, affordable and visa-free (for us South Africans) sound to you? Amazing right? Well, Kenya is just that.

With ancient ruins of 16th century palaces and mosques, dhows sailing into the sunset, white sand beaches, coral reefs and the legendary wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, exploring Kenya is like discovering nature’s treasure chest. 



WHEN TO GO: 
January & February: Very dry and hot. The animals group around the natural lakes making for easy big game viewing. 
March to May: This is known as the green season - the rain usually falls in short showers with lovely sunshine in between.
June to September: June is known as the rainy season while July, August and September are the coolest months and the famous wildebeest migration takes place then. This once-in-a-lifetime experience only happens in East Africa and around this time the grasslands of the Masai Mara are covered by a vast mass of moving wildebeest. 
October to January: Springtime with warm days and cool evenings. This is an excellent time for many watersports – such as windsurfing, kite surfing or snorkelling and diving.

VISAS: No visas are required for South African passport holders. South African passport holders travelling to Kenya for tourism or business purposes for a stay of up to 30 days do not require a visa. Always check visa requirements with the relevant embassy before travelling as visa requirements are subject to change at any time.

SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES:
Fort Jesus: Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fort built in 1591, located on Mombasa Island to guard the old port. It was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air) and in 2011 was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.




Wasini Island: Sail on a traditional wooden dhow from Shimoni to snorkel in the pristine waters of the Kisite Marine Park. Then visit Wasini Island, a 5 by 1km sparsely populated island that has no cars or roads. This island is occupied by the Vumba people, who have a rich history and culture. 




Karen Blixen Museum: For anyone with an interest in the 1985 movie Out of Africa (based on Danish author Karen Blixen’s autobiography) this is something you must try see while in Kenya. Blixen lived at the house where she ran a coffee plantation until her return to Denmark in 1931. (This house was not however used for the filming of the movie, as the pictures were taken in her first farmhouse, Mbagathi, nearby). The museum offers guided tours of the house and gardens  - the house features rooms showing the d├ęcor of the time and props used in the movie.  




Gedi Ruins: The Ruins of Gedi are the remains of a Swahili town located in Gedi, a village near the coastal town of Malindi. Gedi is one of Kenya's great unknown treasures, a wonderful lost city lying in the depths of the great Arabuko Sokoke forest. It is also a place of great mystery, an archaeological puzzle that continues to engender debate among historians. To this day, despite extensive research and exploration, nobody is really sure what happened to the town of Gedi. The entire town was suddenly abandoned by all of its residents in the 17th century for no apparent reason. A must-visit for history buffs. 




Tsavo East: View the game filled grasslands of Tsavo East in the famous Tsavo National Park. Enjoy lunch at the Satao Camp, shaded by ancient Tamarind trees, before taking an afternoon game drive to the vast Aruba Dam where birds and wildlife congregate in the dry season. 




Wildebeest Migration: The endless plains of east Africa are the setting for arguably the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle - the wildebeest migration. From the vast Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara, over 1.4 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra and gazelle migrate each year in search of lush grass after the rains. The migration is a natural event and thus the timing varies each year but if you happen to be planning a trip to Kenya when this is expected, don’t miss it!




GETTING THERE:
SAA offers daily return flights from Johannesburg to Nairobi. Kenya Airways flies alternate days from Johannesburg to Nairobi. Ask your Sure Travel agent for more information regarding flights.

WHERE TO STAY:
Sandies Tropical Village: Whitewashed villas with palm-thatched roofs in the form of a Masai village overlook the resort’s shady garden with splashes of colourfull Bougainvillea. The main guest areas are decorated with a Swahili influence and lead to the restaurants, bars, pool and white beach beyond. The spacious rooms are furnished with hand carved wood and soft voile curtains. A perfect base for your holiday in Kenya!

Book a Kenya holiday package with accommodation at Sandies Tropical Village and flights on the Sure Travel website.  






Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa: Set in 30 acres of landscaped tropical gardens, Diani Reef is a charming resort set on a stretch of sandy beach. Cool rooms with sea views lead onto terraces or balconies and there are restaurants, bars and a host of activities on offer. Lazy days will prepare you for fun nights with themed evenings and entertainment galore.





Diamonds Dream of Africa: Tucked away in an exotic garden just steps from the ocean, Dream of Africa is an Indo-Arab style hotel on the northern shores of Malindi. Enjoy locally caught seafood on the outside terrace to the sound of lapping waves – the ultimate in relaxation. 





Photo credits: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, 12,13, 14,15

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