If you've never visited Kenya, the stunning country may well be on your travel bucket list. But apart from generalized visions of safaris, game drives, and epic landscapes, how much do you really know about the African nation? As part of our Tour Group guide to Kenya, six travel experts who know the place well weigh in with their insider intel.
1. It's not really THAT hard to get to.
Yes, it's far from the U.S., and yes it can be spendy to travel there — but maybe not as much as you had in mind. "You can get some really good airfare deals to Africa and Kenya, says Michaela Guzy of Oh The People You Meet. "Kenyan Airways is actually launching a new direct route from JFK.
And if you just do a little homework, you can make your travel easier: "Think about places that have hubs that will get you directly to Nairobi," says Teri Johnson, who runs Travelista Teri.
2. Safaris can be exhausting.
Maybe you're picturing chilling in the bush at sundown as the game goes by. But the experts paint a bit of a clearer picture of the total experience. "I don't know if people know how exhausting safari can be," says Fresh Traveler's Patricia Serrano. "You start to get a little sick because you’re in a vehicle all day and it’s bumpy terrain."
Here's some more vivid imagery from Guzy: "It's called the African massage: You spend days bouncing around and at the end you’re like, 'I hurt everywhere.'" (Good to know!)
3. You don't need to block out crazy amounts of time.
Many of us would love a weeks-long (or months-long) holiday... but that's also not how many Americans can manage to travel. Fear not: If your dream is a Kenyan safari (and it should be), you can make it happen in just a short window. "A three-day safari is fine," says Clint Johnston of Triphackr. "You’re going to save money [if you plan a short trip because] safaris are expensive. And you’re going to see all the animals, most likely, in three days."
4. Kenya's for trekkers.
Sure, Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro makes for an epic peak to bag for hikers and trekkers. But Mount Kenya is no schlub either at 17,057 — and it too would make for a lifetime of bragging rights. "Trekkers and hikers are going to love it because the second highest peak in all of Africa is in Kenya," Johnston says. "And that’s a cheaper — and often said — better experience than doing Kilimanjaro."
5. Camping doesn’t mean roughing it.
What do you conjure when you hear the word "tent?" Because if you're picturing a Coleman number from the aisles at Target, you'd be (extremely) — pleasantly surprised by the options in Kenya. "When I say I’m staying in a tent in Africa, it is often on a raised wooden platform with a really plush bed and pillows," Guzy says.
And Laura Begley Bloom tells tale of an even more epic-sounding rustic adventure: "There’s a wilderness hotel in the Laikipia area where you can stay in these [open-air] star beds. It's is just an experiences that you won’t experience anywhere else." Sign us up. Pronto.
6. You’ll eat goat.
Get ready to step outside what may be your existing carnivorous comfort zone. In Kenya, the people eat goat — and you will too, when you visit. You just about have to! After all, "It's the local delicacy, " says Jessica Festa of Jessie on a Journey.
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