In the previous post on this blog, I mentioned the need for Kenya to move beyond the traditional safaris and diversify its tourism product offering, or risk going stale. This may have created the impression that apart from wildlife safaris, there is nothing else for you to see and to do in Kenya. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. The country offers you plenty of holiday activities and other great reasons why you may want to travel to Kenya. Today’s post highlights a few of these opportunities.
1. Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE)
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is one of Africa’s most important commercial hubs. This also makes it a key destination for business meetings, conferences and other events. Fortunately, the city has plenty of world class hotels and venues to meet this demand.
Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya
The Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya
The most famous, and by far the largest, conference venue in Nairobi is the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). KICC is located in the city centre, within a walking distance of many of the city hotels. This makes it the ideal place if you are hosting a large event with participants
Besides KICC, most of the good hotels in Nairobi have great facilities for conferencing and meetings. The hotels include several respected regional and international brands, among them include Hilton, Intercontinental, Fairmont, Serena, and Sarova hotels. This is in addition to a number of equally high quality local hotels such as Safari Park, Fairview, and Jacaranda hotels among others. Every year, new hotels get established in Nairobi every year, some of which I mentioned in this old post. The newest entrants include Eka Hotel, The Boma, Hogmead, among many others. Even more are set to open in the next one or two years, including notable international brands like Radisson Blu and Kempinski.
But Nairobi is not the only venue for conferences and events in Kenya. All the other major cities, including Mombasa, Kisumu, and Nakuru, have good hotels where you can hold your meeting or exhibitions too. There are even plenty of excellent conference venues in smaller and less crowded towns like Limuru, just a short distance from Nairobi.
2. Sports Tourism
Kenya is the home of marathon champions and other world-class athletes. If you love athletics, you may want to travel to Kenya for one of the several annual marathons, half-marathons, and other athletic events. You will get to race against some of the best runners in the world as well as many upcoming athletes destined to be world beaters.
The most popular annual marathons in Kenya include the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, the Safaricom Lewa Marathon, the Kass International Marathon in Eldoret, the Masai Mara Marathon, and the Ndakaini Dam half-marathon. There are also plenty of other less known, but equally competitive, marathons held all around the country.
Apart from athletics, Golf tourism is the other form of sports tourism you can enjoy in Kenya. There are more than 40 golf courses in Kenya, over a dozen of which are 18-hole courses.
The Muthaiga golf club is arguably the most renowned of these golf courses. Each year, the club hosts the Kenya Open, which is also part of the European PGA Challenge Cup. Other beautiful and popular courses include the Great Rift Valley Lodge, Karen Golf and Country Club, Nyali Golf and Country Club in Mombasa, and the recently opened Vipingo Ridge Golf Resort.
Two upcoming golf resorts -the Olerai Golf Resort near the Masai Mara and the Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resort near Eldoret – underline the importance of golf tourism in Kenya.
3. Romantic Vacations
Did you know that Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton while on vacation in Kenya? Rutundu Logs cabin, the actual place where the Royal couple were staying, is set in a beautiful location on the slopes of Mount Kenya, only a short distance from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. That in itself is testimony to the fact that Kenya is home to some nice hideaways for romantic vacations of all sorts.
Whether you want an ideal place for popping the question, honeymoon, or whatever romantic occasion, you will find something in the Kenya. Not just in the wild, but even more so in the coastal beaches. Some of the best romantic beach destinations in Kenya are in Lamu, Diani, Chale Island, and Wasini Island.
4. Adventure Travel
If you are an adrenaline junkie, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wide array of adventure opportunities available to you in Kenya. The ultimate is perhaps the technical fifth class rock climbing and mountaineering at Mt. Kenya. Even though it is the second highest mountain in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya is more difficult and technical to climb.
Skydiving is another notable adventure activity you can undertake in Kenya. The annual Diani skydiving Boogie (see this website) is considered by some experts as the skydivers’ Mecca. Whether you are a novice or a veteran skydiver, you should attend the boogie at least once in your life. What makes it most special is the atmospheric condition of the Indian ocean, which allows for a free fall of up to one minute.
Other adventure travel activities you can enjoy in Kenya include kayaking, white water rafting, and bungee jumping in the Sagana, Tana, and Athi rivers.
5. Water Sports
The Kenyan coast is not just ideal for beach holidays, it is also well suited for several water sports. Among the water sports you can engage in in Kenya include:
Water skiing (see this website for example)
Wind surfing (website)
Kite surfing (website)
Deep sea sport fishing (website)
Scuba diving (website)
And many many more
Although most beach hotels can help you arrange your watersports adventure, some are particularly more focused on such. They include Ocean Sports Resort in Watamu, the Majlis in Lamu, and Almanara resort in Diani.
I have mixed feelings about volunteer travel as it is currently practised in Kenya, moreso because I believe the best solutions for any local problems can only come from within Kenya. But in its purest state, the overall concept is noble. Voluntourism is a way to have a holiday while at the same time actively contributing to the betterment of the community in your destination. There are some few honest organizations out there through which you can offer to volunteer your skills to positively and genuinely benefit certain disadvantaged communities in Kenya.