Kenya is loaded with wonderful destinations that attract both local and international tourists every year. Of course, there are those who believe there is no better place to enjoy Kenya than at the coast. Although, Kenya’s 500KM plus coast line is one of the most attractive geographical features of the country, there is more than half a million square kilometres of absolute marvel waiting for you if you look deeper into the country.
There are secret places the locals visit that the tourists have not yet discovered. If you really want to enjoy Kenya as Kenyans do, you would be clever enough to ignore the tourist angles and head to off-the-beaten-track gems the country has.
Here are 10 secret places where you can enjoy Kenya like a Kenyan and discover some parts of the great country that only the locals know.
1. Rusinga Island Lodge
If you are going to travel inland, you might as well go all the way. Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. The lake itself is a spectacle in its own right, but therein, lays Rusinga Island – a small patch of land in one of the remotest areas in the Western part of the country. As beautiful as this island is, nothing on it compares to Rusinga Island Lodge. This magnificent establishment rivals any resort in the country in terms of beauty, serenity, service and just sheer tranquillity. Being situated in such a remote area, accessible by road, boat or airstrip, the lodge is often not packed with tourists. This gives you a chance to enjoy Kenya like any regular Kenyan does, without all the fuss and congestion.
2. The Chalbi Desert and Turkana
If you are one for experiencing things in their rawest form, then you will want to visit Turkana and Chalbi Desert. Being the world’s biggest desert lake, Lake Turkana is not only a marvel in its own right, but it is also home to some of the most interesting cultures in the world. One that stands out is the El Molo people. Research shows that the El Molo are on the verge of extinction due to the receding lake waters. Their unique culture and way of life can only be witnessed once you travel through to Turkana.
3. Ole Polos
You have not tasted Kenyan cuisine until you have had a serving of roasted meat in Ole Polos. Ole Polos is a secluded area in Kajiado County that is indigenously Masaai territory. Ole Polos is a popular destination for many Kenyans when the weekend arrives. This is because not only is it secluded and peaceful, it has great scenery and the roasted meat is to die for. The prices are equally affordable.
4. Masaai Lodge in Rongai
Still in Kajiado County, there is a lodge deep into the wilderness called Masaai Lodge. It is quite off the beaten path and is rather secluded. You will get a great view of the Nairobi National Park while driving to your destination. Once there, you will simply not believe what you see. Masaai Lodge is a lodge that should be rated as one of the best lodges in the world. It is so beautifully decorated, so wonderfully situated and so impressively built that you will have no choice but to stay a while and return on your next visit to Kenya.
5. Rolf’s Place
There is no mentioning a list of places that you can relax and enjoy yourself as a Kenyan would without mentioning Rolf’s Place. Built on the side of a cliff, and only accessible by a roped bridge over a deep gorge, Rolf’s Place is as breathtaking as the stars on a clear night. The service is impeccable and they even have a paint-balling facility, should you feel like you want to have a taste of home. Their menu is also quite eclectic, from local cuisine to international dishes.
6. The Gedi Ruins
Okay, let’s just be honest, the Coastal Province of Kenya has a great deal to offer. From an endless stretch of white sandy beaches, to a loving and welcoming people and impossibly great weather. That is all well and good. But that is to be expected in any coastal region. If you walk, just a few kilometres from Watamu Beach, you will see one of the most peculiar and hardly ever recorded coastal cities in the world. The Gedi Ruins are shrouded in mystery. All we know is that it was a medieval Swahili city, located near the coastal town of Malindi. There is not much else recorded about this place. It is certainly beautiful though!
7. Lord Egerton Castle
In the 1950’s Lord Egerton built his, to-be-wed fiancée, a castle just 14 kilometres from Nakuru town. Word has it, that the Lady visited from England, spent no more than 2 hours in the expansive castle, left and never returned. From then on, Lord Egerton developed a loathing for all women. Heart-break does strange things to men. All that aside, Lord Egerton Castle is one of the most eye-catching castles within the country. You can have a paid tour to see how the rich lived in times-passed. Most of the materials used to construct it were imported. It truly is a marvellous piece of art.
8. Mount Kenya
In Africa, it comes second to only Kilimanjaro in height. Kenya’s highest mountain is one of the most lush and serene location to take a vacation if you do not mind a little ‘trekking and climbing’. Although, for the lazy folk, there are lodges within and near the mountain that you can drive up to and enjoy the wonderful view that accords the locals every day.
9. The View Point at Iten
Best known for its production of world champion runners such as Ezekiel Kemboi, Iten is a small centre a few kilometres from Eldoret town. The centre itself does not have much to offer. In fact, it is just an ordinary centre. But if you go to its outskirts while heading towards Kabarnet, there is a view point that will take your breath away and never give it back! Iten viewpoint allows you to see more of the Great Rift Valley than any other place on the ground. In fact, you can only see more of the Rift Valley if you are on a plane.
10. Saiwa Swamp National Park
Arguably the smallest National Park in the Country, Saiwa Swamp gives the visitors a great chance to see one of nature’s peculiar creatures, the Sitatunga antelope which is semi aquatic. You can also see the white bearded De Brazza’s monkey that can only be found in this region.
The Masaai Mara and Mombasa are all wonderful destinations. But if you want to enjoy Kenya like a Kenyan, you should travel inland and see what else the country has to offer.
Have you visited any to these secret places? Share your experience with your in the comment below.