Why Is Kenya A Popular Tourist Destination: 11 Crazy Things!

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Why is Kenya a popular tourist destination?

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There are a thousand and one reasons to visit Kenya. This beautiful country is bordered by Somalia to the East, Tanzania to the South, Uganda to the West and Ethiopia and South Sudan to the North.

That is quite an eccentric mix of neighbors, if you ask me. All the more reason to visit Kenya since you can use it as your “launch” base to visit the other countries in the East African Bloc.

But really, why is Kenya the best tourist destination? There is abundant wildlife, sunny beaches, unique geographical features, the most hospitable tropical weather and incredible people. 

Why Is Kenya The Best Tourist Destination?

Most people ask: what makes Kenya special? Well, it is not special per se, it is just a country that is trying her best to survive, like any country in the world.

But if you consider things like the first home of mankind, incredible physical features such as the Great Rift Valley,

1. You find a little of home

If you stand in the middle of the Nairobi Central Business District and look around, you must spot something that will remind you of home.

It might be a Coca Cola signboard, A Samsung sign, KFC, a turbaned Singh walking down the street, a Ford Ranger, an Audi sedan or anything. You could be thousands of miles from home, but you will be surprised to feel right at home.

There is a little bit of everything from Middle Eastern, European, American, South American, Asian and African.

2. The WRC Safari Rally

In 2020, the WRC Safari Rally took part in Kenya, after a hiatus of 19 years. It will happen again in 2022 and in the future … who knows?

If FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has all the confidence to entrust such a huge even to Kenya, there is no reason why you should be apprehensive about visiting.

Frenchman Sebastien Ogier won the 2021 Safari Rally while second place went to Japanese Takamoto Katsuta. This was a spectacular race with the route going through some fantastic places and terrains.

We expect that the 2022 even will be tougher and more spectacular.

3. Kenya is low-key gay tolerant

Okay, not many people will come right out and say that they don’t mind gay people. Likewise, a great majority of the urban population just don’t care.

Thus, while gayism is illegal on paper, it is happening! I mean, no one is going to refer to you using nasty names, or jail you, or openly discriminate against you.

This tolerant attitude of Kenyans endears the country to many visitors. But it is illegal to have sex with underage girls as has been happening in Malindi and other coastal towns.

4. The infamous matatus are a must-see

They are colorfully pimped, with loud speakers, pictures of Snoop Dogg, Jay Z and other notorious rappers from the USA. They are quite a spectacle!

Yet they are also annoyingly rowdy and… most of the time, non-compliant. Deep inside, we all detest authority, right? That’s why we love them!

I guess we can compare matatus to the cowboy culture of the Wild West. If you are a Louis L’Amour enthusiast, you definitely know what I am onto here.

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Of course, you must ride in a matatu if you visit Kenya. You are not going to pay 30 cents (three, ten-cent coins) fare from which the name matatu was coined.

But yes, in the same spirit, you will pay a fraction of what you would pay for a cab ride.

5. To experience the resilience of the Kenyan people

So you think life is hard because … Trump, or Biden!

It is not!

Believe it or not, the Kenyans know what hardship is. Imagine, from political and economical volatility, living below a dollar a day and yet … they smile!

If you want life lessons to remind you why life is worth living, go to East Africa. See people who live under a dollar a day and they are still hopeful that tomorrow will be better.

6. The hospitable culture

It is all about the people of this country. Many westerners marvel at how easy it is to get along with Kenyans.

They are lovely, hospitable, always shouting a greeting, eager to show you directions and give you the time of day with the slightest prompting.

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Tell you what, a Kenyan will stop working to talk to you. That is how important you are to them.

7. Kenya is the origin of man

The Leakey family is credited with most of the early man findings in Turkana (remember the Turkana Boy?)

So many discoveries have been found in this country. When you walk there, you feel proud to know that your ancestors walked the same land.

8. Because … Even the Queen loves Kenya!

One day, Kenyan intelligence services helped thwart a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.

Surprised? Me too.

I did not know about that until very recently, but it is out there on the web. You can search for it.

In addition, the same Queen Elizabeth and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh did visit Kenya in 1952, took a 5-day wilderness safari and the impression it left on her has never faded.

11 years later, this country would gain her independence from her colonial masters.

9. It is home of the big five beasts

You will love the ever graceful, but sneaky bugger of a leopard. If this one invades a homestead, it kills goats, sheep and dogs without mercy.

But it is beautiful and to watch such a killing machine do its bit in nature is just so impressive. Then there is the lion, a living legend that has drawn admiration from time immemorial. As brave as a lion!

Forget Alex, the lion of the famous animation movie series Madagascar. These are real lions, wild!

The intelligent elephants, weighing even up to 6 tons… did you know elephants have emotions? They walk around in herds with at least one aggressive bull for defense.

The built-like-a-battle-tank rhino is also available in good numbers, both the black and white rhinos.

Did you know that the African elephant, lion, rhino and buffalo are bigger than their Asian counterparts?

You will also see herds of Cape Buffalo, sometimes in groups of up to 500 members. These bovine creatures are aggressive especially when isolated. Keep your distance, and stay from their calves too.

The entire country is a vast ecosystem, with diverse species of animals. Giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, cheetahs, baboons, zebras and thousands others… There is something for everyone in the Kenyan wild.

The best thing is that some of these species can be seen right in the Nairobi National Park which is located in the outskirts of the city of Nairobi.

Hippo and crocodile are available in the freshwater lakes and rivers. There is also a wide variety of bird life.

10. Picturesque beaches in Mombasa

This is the biggest coastal town in the country where you can go to catch some sun and sand.

It is beautiful, warm without humidity and if you love testing your taste buds, you will get an opportunity to taste some of the best Arabic and Swahili cuisines.

There are world-class resorts, hotels, and… would you believe this… there is a little town called Malindi that has been nicknamed “Little Italy” because of the number of Italians who own homes and businesses there.

Image of The Fort Jesus in Mombasa
The Fort Jesus was constructed in 1593. It still stands!

Snorkeling, surfing and windsurfing, diving, scuba diving, sailing, dhow races and many more water adventures await you in this coastal city.

11. Hakuna matata in Kenya

This is Swahili for there are no issues in Kenya. Whether you are black or white, you are welcome to this country.

Does this mean there are no issues? Like any other place in the world, this country has her challenges, and many of them too.

One of them is poverty – the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Other issues include corruption, poor health care, poor urban planning and many more.

Tell you what though… the good outweighs the bad, anytime.

Where is Kenya?

Kenya is in East Africa. It’s capital city is Nairobi.

You will access the country through Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kisumu International Airport or you can dock in Mombasa on a cruise ship.

Best time to visit? Anytime. Even when the weather is at its extreme, you will find it friendlier for all sorts of outdoor activities than in many other countries.

Visit Kenya this year. You will be glad you did.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still not convinced? Well, some of the reasons sound really flimsy, you know, like the queen visiting Kenya.

In this section for frequently asked questions on why is Kenya a popular tourist destination, we will shed more light on the beauty that is Kenya:

What is Kenya most known for?

It is the idyllic beaches in the coast region and the old, timeless city of Mombasa that was established in 900 A.D as a trading center.

Then there is the spectacular wildlife and incredible geographical features such as the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya, Mount Longonot and many others.

The tropical climate is quite good throughout the year with even the coldest months of June and July being comfortable.

What makes Kenya special?

This is the most hospitable country in East Africa. For more than a decade, it has been home to the biggest refugee camp in the world, housing Somalian, Rwandese and South Sudanese refugees. If that is not special, we really don’t know what is!

Is Kenya expensive to visit?

Yes it is. It has some of the highest cost of living in Africa. Of course, as a tourist, you can expect to spend close to two hundred pounds or dollars a day, which is quite expensive for a developing country.

Is visiting Kenya worth it? Definitely. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you visit once, you might be tempted to stay.

Is Kenya Poor or Rich?

Kenya faces the scourge that most developing countries face. For instance, it is possible to find the richest man on earth in India. It is also possible to find the poorest man on earth in India.

Kenya is not any different. You will find ridiculously wealthy people and rock bottom poor people. According to knoema, the poverty rate in Kenya by 2020 was 37.1 percent.

Is $100 a lot in Kenya?

Yes! In Kenyan standards, this is quite a lot of money. By the time of writing this post, $100 was equal to KSH 10500.00. There are many Kenyans earning such an amount of money per month. However, as a tourist, you are likely to spend double that amount for food, sightseeing and hopping from place to place.

Conclusion

So, why is Kenya a popular tourist destination?

Well, now you know! It is home to the big five beasts of Africa, has awesome people, a hospitable culture and a fairly developed infrastructure.

When you visit this country, it leaves a lasting impression on your mind.

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