Republic of Kenya
566,970 sq km
22% Kikuyu, 14% Luhya, 13% Luo, 12% Kalenjin, 11% Kamba, 6% Kisii, 6% Meru, 16% other
English, Swahili, indigenous.
Republic (multiparty state)
The Swahili word safari (literally, journey) wouldn't mean much to most people if it wasn't for this East African adventure land. No matter how many Tarzan movies you've seen, nothing will prepare you for the annual mass migration of wildebeests in the Masai Mara.
On Africa's east coast, Kenya straddles the equator and shares a border with Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Its coast is lapped by the Indian Ocean and it shares the vast waters of Lake Victoria with its western and southern neighbors. The Rift Valley and Central Highland area form the backbone of the country, and this is where Kenya's scenery is at its most spectacular. Western Kenya takes in the fertile fringes of Lake Victoria and, with the southern part of the country, some prime wildlife parks. The vast, arid northern region is where Kenya is at its wildest and most untouched by the modern world.
Kenya's flora and fauna defies easy description. The vast plains of the south are dotted with flat-topped acacia trees, thorn bushes and the distinctive bottle-shaped baobab tree.
If you're more into fur and feathers, then head for the teeming wildlife parks. Lions, buffalos, elephants, leopards and rhinos all cavort openly in at least two of the major parks. Endangered animals such as the black rhino are slowly making a comeback and sanctuaries for these creatures can be visited in Tsavo and Lake Nakuru National Parks.
For trekking, Mt Kenya tends to be the place and offers a range of routes, while getting to one of its higher peaks, Point Lenana, requires no climbing skills. Kenya is famous for its game-fishing opportunities off the coast around Malindi, and white-water rafting on the Athi/Galana River is becoming increasingly popular. For a superb, silent aerial overview of the Masai Mara and Serengeti, several lodges in the Masai Mara National Reserve offer ballooning. Around coastal towns such as Malindi and the Lamu Archipelago, there are plenty of diving, windsurfing and good old beaches.