See You Soon, Kenya

With the world of travel being on pause, I can’t help but dream of where will be the first destination I go to using those unused flight credits from my cancelled spring break trip. Growing up, my mom had a CD of African music that we would listen and dance in the kitchen to, creating a lively atmosphere in the household and getting our dance exercise while we were at it. Africa’s simply joyful culture inspired me since I was young – I’ve wanted to know the secret behind their genuine smiles and free movements. As someone who thrives in the outdoors (if it involves physical activity, sign me up), I can only imagine how living in such a naturally stunning country would shape someone’s soul. Although I cannot say I have ever stepped foot on African soil, I’ve sure done my research about it and I already know where I would be taking this trip. Here are the first five things I would do when (not if!) I fly to Kenya.

  1. Nairobi

Nairobi will be the first city I will encounter, mainly due to the biggest international airport of the country being located there. Being the country’s capital, it is one of the most developed cities in Kenya, and is a buzzing safari departure point (yes, please!). From the downtown area, I will be traveling to Nairobi National Park to spot some giraffes, buffalo, leopards, zebras, and spot at least some of the 400 bird species they have there. All this beauty has a unique backdrop – since the park is so close to Nairobi, the city skyline is the backdrop for these observations

2. Lake Nakuru

Did someone say flamingos? Lake Nakuru’s abundance of algae make it the perfect hub to attract the famous pink birds to its shorelines – no surprise as to why it is a popular safari destination as well. At the floor of the Great Rift Valley, this view is the reason you should bring your camera

3. Serengeti

Just across the border between Kenya and Tanzania is Serengeti National Park, also known as one of Ten Natural Travel Wonders of the World. Serengeti is home to the greatest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. Millions of lions, leopards, elephants, and other wild mammals migrate north to escape the drought in their mating region, which provides for a breathless spectacle for the lucky observers.

4. Maasai Village

A trip to Kenya would not be complete without a visit to a Maasai Village. Like Amish in America, the Maasai peoples practice a very customary way of life. Their primary source of food is their cattle, which, along with their number of children, are a status symbol for the men of the tribe. Many Maasai villages welcome visitors to show them their ways of life, for a fee of course. This is one way to interact with the native people and learn their open approach to life.

5. Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate got its name from intense geothermal activity occurring within its borders. Whether hiking one of its two volcanoes, motorcycling between the cliffs or rock climbing on “thrilling” terrain, Hell’s Gate sounds like a bucket-list destination that is a must-see for any Kenyan visitor. After all, this is where several producers of The Lion King traveled to gain inspiration for the Disney movie from the bustling environment and culture. The park’s proximity to Nairobi makes this destination accessible for visitors with transportation limitations.

*This travel guide was made for Wisconsin Union Directorate Publication Committee’s Deep into the Surface week.*