Kenya Discovery Guide

Overview

A Must-visit African Destination

Kenya is an African country located on the eastern central part of the continent. Kenya touches the Indian Sea at the southeastern border, and shares borders with Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, and finally with Tanzania to the south.

Recently made more famous as U.S. President Barack Obama’s birthplace, this African continent has made waves the world over in sporting competitions like the Olympic Games where Kenyan runners frequently dominate marathon competitions and other long-distance running, which tells something of the nation’s topography. The name Kenya is taken from Mt. Kenya, the tallest peak in Kenya and the second in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. Kenya is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east and northeast, Sudan to the Southwest, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south.

Kenya’s Topography and Climate

The topography of Kenya varies from low flat plains to elevated and cold highlands. The central part of the country is dominated by the Great Rift Valley, a very fertile and productive plateau that hosts most of Kenya’s agriculture produce. In terms of agricultural production, Kenya is notable for transforming even its mountainous areas into productive regions.

On the other hand, despite being only a few kilometers from the equator, Mt Kenya, just like Kilimanjaro is snowcapped, and the former is home to several glaciers. Generally, the climate is tropical. On the coastline hugging the Indian Ocean, it is hot and humid, while it is dry in the northern areas as these are the areas more proximate to the Sahara desert. Kenya receives sufficient rainfall, although it abruptly gets cold at night.

History

Prehistory
Scientists have dubbed Africa the “cradle of life”, and have found that it is the origin of all human life with people moving out of the African continent and seeding the entire world over the course of many millennia. This means that there are amazing remains and fossils, both human remains and fossils of prehistoric animals, abounding for interested scientists and paleontologists to explore and catalogue.

Kenya is the site of a rare African dinosaur fossil site as well, with two hundred dinosaur and giant crocodile fossils discovered in the country dating from the Mesozoic Era over 200 million years in the past. Primates are suspected to have roamed the area more than twenty million years ago according to fossil evidence, and significant discoveries have been made about human ancestors in the region.

European History
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to have a great influence in the area. They arrived late in the fifteenth century and demanded tribute from the coastal cities all along the Indian ocean, sacking anyone who would not submit until they had assured themselves tribute to the Portuguese crown and a safe haven for their own commercial interests in the area. In the seventeenth century, however, Portuguese dominance in the area was challenged by the Dutch, British, and Omani Arab incursions.

The colonization of the area was eventually conducted primarily by the British, who began to take an undue amount of control over the native population. They made a great deal of profit by taking land from the natives and growing coffee and tea, eventually banning natives from growing coffee at all. They retained control through a very bloody revolution, only to begin turning power over in 1957 until 1963 when Kenya finally became independent again.

Kenya’s Accessibility

Kenya is accessible by air. The airport at Nairobi receives calls from major European airlines. Apart from this, Nairobi is considered the most important city in eastern central Africa, and as such, it is a communication and transportation hub. On the other hand, the port city of Mombassa is frequented by cruise ships and luxury liners as well as cargo vessels from different nations trading with Kenya. The interior of the country is crisscrossed by roads and dirt tracks most of which lead to the numerous game reserves in the country.

Kenyan Culture

In addition to the amazing land, there is the culture of Kenya to take into consideration when you visit this amazing country. The amazing history of the country and the intricate dances with so many other countries over time has left Kenya with a unique and wonderful culture to explore. Learn about tribal customs and dress and enjoy learning about a whole different culture composed of many facets of the countries that have touched her. From Arab settlements to Portuguese fortifications, this region is no stranger to other cultures touching her shores and making a big impact on the way of life of the native people. Instead of entirely resisting change, however, the Kenyan people adapted to the newcomers with a remarkable flexibility.

The Kenyans are more than interested in welcoming you to their shores now and showing you a little bit of their history, such as the turbulent times of Fort Jesus, erected by Portuguese settlers. Let them tell you their history with fire, lights, and sound, and prepare to be welcomed to Kenya in a very Kenyan fashion: with open arms and a fierce pride born of survival.

Kenya’s Wildlife

Kenya enjoys a considerable amount of wildlife habitat that includes the “big five” animals of Africa: the lion, the leopard, the buffalo, the rhino, and the elephant. This makes the are great for the traditional safari adventures that tourists world over have been so fond of for so many years. These animals in the wild are one of the main tourist draws for Kenya, contributing significantly to its revenues. Watch the massive annual migration of the blue wildebeest among other bovids, as they desperately search for forage in the Kenyan dry season, some 250,000 perishing in the quest each year.

Aside from this, there are also other tourist attractions in Kenya, such as the following:

Tsavo East National Park. This park opened in 1948, becoming one of Kenya’s oldest and largest parks. Inside the park are numerous other attractions such as Yatta Plateau, a 290 km formation from lava spewed by Ol Doinyo Sabuk Mountain; the Aruba Dam whose reservoir attracts animals and birds; and the Mudanda Rock, which acts as a water catchment that supplies water to a natural dam below.

Nairobi National Park. This is Kenya’s oldest national park, established in 1946. The location of the park makes it unique: it is only 7 kilometers from the heart of the city with only a fence separating the wildlife from the busting metropolis. This proximity has caused debates on issues of urbanization and wildlife conservation as changes in the migration patterns of wild animals have been noted that are attributed to the park’s proximity to the city.

The Ruins of Gedi. These are the remains of a Swahili town dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The ruins were discovered only through excavations from 1948 to 1958.
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