Kenya is home to incredible travel destinations. From scenic mountains to wildlife safaris and hospitable cultures, Kenyan destinations are worth exploring.
To enjoy Kenya in the best way possible, we suggest skipping the obvious travel destinations and instead, get off the beaten path to discover some pristine gems! These off the beaten path destinations are more tranquil, cleaner, and less congested than ordinary destinations.
There is a great deal about those fantastic places that nobody hears about. They provide more intimate, immersive travel experiences. Also, it’s a great way of avoiding overtourism, a practice that has a negative impact on the planet.
We have brought you some of the best Kenyan destinations to explore. Whether you are traveling alone or in a group tour, these destinations are a true traveler’s delight:
Gede Ruins is an abandoned city in the Northern coast region near the town of Malindi. It is one of Kenya’s ancient mysteries. Constructed with lime, sand, and coral stones, the once medieval Swahili city depicts neat streets, remains of pillar tombs, a mosque, drainage gutters, and vault-like secret treasure stores.
Buried in a lush forest, this town is believed to have been founded in the 13th century. What’s perhaps mysterious is how advanced the construction was! Tale has it that jinnis (evil spirits) used to guard the remains of the abandoned city. Despite its mystery, it is a beautiful travel destination that will fulfill your wanderlust desires!
The way to visit the Gede Ruins is through a local tour. Since the place is secluded and forested, traveling with local tours is more thrilling. Also, you’ll learn alot from the local guides.
Arabuko Sokoke National Park
The Arabuko Sokoke National Park is a pristine travel destination. Located on the Kenyan Coast 110 km from Mombasa, this forest reserve is rich in diversity and is home to rare wildlife species.
Adding to its charm are the rare species of birds you’ll find here, including owls and Clarke’s weaver. The park has lush vegetation all year round.
If you are a hiking enthusiast, this destination is the ultimate. The well-marked nature trails through the enchanting woodlands provide a once-a-lifetime experience. From the Nyari Cliff, you can view wildlife, birds, and plants.
Lake Victoria has numerous islands, but nothing comes close to Takawiri. With a 1-hour boat ride from Rusinga Island, it is literally off the beaten path, and one of Kenya’s best destinations. It is a quintessential nature preserve with a scenic lake frontier and a sense of calm.
This island is the perfect definition of serenity and sheer tranquillity. It has turquoise waters, cool breezes, and palm trees, uniquely synonymous with the Kenyan coastline.
Here, everything is refreshing, from the people to the ambiance. On landing, you can feel the gentle waves and the soothing sounds of birds singing sweet melodies. The beach has a beautiful shade thanks to the palm trees.
This destination is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Make sure you have plenty of time to wander around and enjoy the place.
Lake Bogoria is a saline lake located in the Rift Valley, famous for its large population of flamingos and geysers. This less-visited and less-celebrated lake appears beautiful regardless of what direction you approach it from. Millions of flamingos flock here adding to Lake Bogoria’s breathtaking scenery.
The most captivating parts of Lake Bogoria are the hot springs and geysers that spout due to hydrothermal activity. They give the lake an irresistible effect. Thanks to its equatorial location, it has consistently warm and ideal temperatures.
Hell’s Gate National Park is among the most pristine Kenyan destinations you can escape to. It has high cliffs and jaw-dropping gorges that fuel your adrenaline. The deep gorges, which you can get inside as long as there are no signs of rain, are terrifying yet exciting at the same time. Crawling through the deep gorges is a fantastic feeling, especially if you are an adrenaline junkie.
Situated in Lake Naivasha is a hidden gem not known to many. The Crescent Island is a stunning sight to behold, and the sprawling Lake Naivasha is a can’t-miss destination as well.
You can spend the whole day watching birds and animals on this hidden island. The Crescent Island Game Sanctuary is a reserve home to some incredible animal species like fish-eagles, waterbucks, gazelle, wildebeest, and Maasai giraffes, zebras, & pelicans. The hilly part of the island gives you a 360-degree view of Mt. Longonot, Hell’s Gate, and the Mau Escarpment.
To get to Crescent Island, all you need is a boat ride either from the Karagita or Kamere landing beaches or from any of the lakefront hotels.
Taita Skull Caves
Few people know about the Taita Skull Caves. These caves have thousands of skulls that depict a strange ancient burial culture among the native Taita community. Located in the Wundanyi area of the Taita, this destination is rich in traditional history.
The skulls were taken to these caves once their buried bodies had decomposed. These caves are surrounded by spectacular cliffs on the sides. This cultural practice ceased to exist in the early 1900s, so all skulls are for people who died several centuries ago. If you want to immerse yourself in this ancient culture, we recommend visiting the site with a sustainable tour guide that respects the cultural significance.
How about a place that defies gravity? A place where water goes uphill? An intriguing place where a car goes uphill in free gear?
The Ngelani Hills near Machakos have defied physics and the laws of nature. In a strange phenomenon that Sir Isaac Newton would find hard to explain, this hill has no gravity.
This area, which covers one square kilometer, will astound you. The native Kamba people have numerous myths that try to explain this occurrence. All you need is to set a car in free gear and watch it go uphill unaided. Sounds interesting?
The Nzambani Rock is another off the beaten path destination to explore. Located in Kitui, this stone outcrop stands 183 meters above the ground and is another mystical gem worth exploring.
Tale has it that going around the Nzambani Rock 7 times changes a person into the opposite gender. At the foot of the rock is a cave. Word has it that the local Kamba people used it as a shrine to appease their gods.
The local Kamba people have many myths surrounding this rock. Some will tell you that a girl named Nzamba picked up a small grinding stone to take home, only for it to get stuck on her body and continue to grow day by day. The Kamba people are known to have engaged in witchcraft to date, could this myth indeed be a true one?
The Mida Creek is another Kenyan destination off the beaten path, particularly for sustainable travel enthusiasts. The 32 square kilometer tidal inlet is tucked in the serene village of Dabaso, a few kilometers from Watamu. It’s an ideal destination if you are looking for a relaxing getaway.
Punctuated by a mangrove ecosystem, the Mida Creek is what you need to unwind and freshen your mind. Several types of mangrove thrive here, along with hundreds of bird species. Local communities embrace eco-friendly activities that you’ll definitely enjoy. The sundowner experience is worth relishing!
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
It is by now fairly well known that tragically there are only two surviving Northern White Rhinos alive. Both are female. The last male in the species, named Sudan, died in March 2018 ending millions of years of the species’ unique evolutionary biology. The two females are being protected and cared for at The Ol Pejeta Conservancy located in Kenya's Nanyuki region. This sanctuary is home to other vulnerable animal species such as non-indigenous apes, gravy zebras, and giraffes.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a mixture of acacia woodlands, grass plains, and wooded grasslands. The amazing wildlife coupled with the stunning views of Mount Kenya across the plains guarantees an unforgettable experience.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is located 25 km from Nanyuki town. You can access it through the Rongai Gate (main gate) on the east or the Serat Gate on the Rumuruti Road. There are tour guides on arrival, so ensure you get one to show you around. Ol Pejeta tours with registered guides also come in handy when you want to visit the conservancy.
Watamu, which loosely translates to the place of sweetness, is an ideal beach destination. Located 90 km north of Mombasa town, the Watamu beach is every eco-tourist’s dream. The white sandy beaches and palm trees make the place a small paradise. You can walk freely, enjoy the coastal breeze, swim in the ocean, or relax under the beautiful palm trees.
The laid-back Watamu region is exquisite, to say the least. The gorgeous coastline, along with the relaxed village vibe and other natural endowments, is what you need to have a wonderful adventure. From Watamu, you can as well visit the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve and the Gede Ruins.
Meru National Park
While Kenya has dozens of game parks, the Meru National Park is one of a kind. This Park is located on the foothills of Mt Kenya and is home to the big 5 animals (Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, and the Leopard). The park features khaki grasslands, coursing rivers, vast jungle, termite mounds, and exotic birds.
Few places compare to this little-visited, unspoiled, pristine wilderness. Here, wildlife is abundant. If you’re a birdwatcher, you can capture sightings along the river banks. Snake enthusiasts can explore Pythons, Cobras, Puff Adders, Black Mamba, and more.
From the Meru National Park, you can clearly view the snow-capped Mount Kenya. Also, you can enjoy a cascading waterfall as it descends across the rugged rocky terrain. After a thrilling wildlife safari, you can enjoy a relaxing farmstay on the foot of Mount Kenya.
Samburu National Reserve
Like the Meru National Park, the Samburu Game Reserve is a less-visited off-the-beaten-path destination. This game reserve is home to the big 5 animals, hundreds of bird species, and plenty of plants.
It’s in the Samburu Game Reserve where an incredible story of a lioness who ‘adopted’ a baby antelope originates. The whole region is scenic, and you’ll encounter rare sightings of spotted hyenas, golden cats, bongo, the African civet cat, and the Giant Forest Hog. All these animals and birds are quenched by the meandering Ewaso Nyiro River that extends to the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Featuring savanna grasslands and a riverine forest extending over the expansive plains, the Samburu National Reserve has a magnificent landscape worth exploring. The tranquil ambiance and the arid terrain make this place unforgettable.
Lwayo Lwa Mulungu
Lwayo Lwa Mulungu, which translates to God’s footprint, is an ideal travel destination on Kenya's South Coast. Located 5km from Lunga Lunga town, Lwayo Lwa Mulungu is a footprint-like shape embedded on a rock face.
What makes this place interesting is the religious and superstitious myths surrounding this phenomenon. The Local Duruma People believe the footprint must be God’s as no human foot can be as huge. Others say that God walked on the rock and view it as a holy place of worship.
Lord Egerton Castle
Lord Egerton Castle is a quaint British-style castle located in Njoro 14kms from Nakuru town. The Castle, which stands on a 100-acre land, conceals a love story gone wrong. It was built by Lord Egerton of Tatton, England, for his Australian fiancé, who never stepped foot in it. Regardless, this castle is a beautiful piece of architecture.
A visit to Lord Egerton depicts how the rich aristocrats lived in the 1900s. Everything here is an eye-catching piece of art, from old pianos, jacuzzis, telephones, pine timber, and antique machinery.
Iten View Point
The Iten region, also known as the home of champions, is known for its world champion marathon runners. This region has some of the most picturesque sites ever. The Iten View Point allows you to see the breadth of the Great Rift Valley.
Resting in the awe-inspiring mountains, the Iten View Point is a little-known paradise. It provides sunny scenic views over the expansive Kerio Valley and allows you to explore Kenya far outside the ordinary.
The Bottom Line
These Kenyan destinations are full of fun and adventure. If you are looking for an escape from the often over-traveled more well-known areas of Kenya, you can try any of these destinations. Their natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, and memorable experiences will forever stay in your memory!
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