Epic Places in Kenya You Didn't Know Existed

A view across the remote Chalbi desert from the Kalacha oasis
A view across the remote Chalbi desert from the Kalacha oasis | © Pedro Ferrão Patrício / Alamy Stock Photo
Jean Wandimi

Are you visiting Kenya soon? Still waters run deep and some places, though calm and modest, rather surprise you with their charm. These are some of the best places in Kenya that you didn’t know existed.

Planning a trip to Kenya and want all the details taken care of? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s seven-day Kenyan adventure, where you’ll venture into national parks on game drives, visit an extinct volcano and have the chance to explore the best of Nairobi.

1. Visit the smallest national park in Kenya

Natural Feature, Park

A wild sitatunga, a deer-like animal, looks at the camera from among the greenery in the Saiwa Swamp National Park, Kenya
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Alamy Stock Photo

Saiwa Swamp National Park is the smallest national park in Kenya. It is home to the rare swamp-dwelling sitatunga antelope and the old world De Brazza’s monkey, recognisable for its white goatee. The acacia and riverine forest make this 3sqkm (1sqmi) park a stunning place to explore.

2. Visit a hidden island in Lake Baringo

Natural Feature

Men row out onto Lake Baringo, in the Rift Valley, on a boat at sunset
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Samatian is a private island on Lake Baringo in the Great Rift Valley. The Laikipia escarpment lies behind it, making for a breathtaking sunset backdrop. There is also a vast array of bird life, with more than 500 species. Take a scenic boat trip, go fishing or enjoy a nature walk during your stay.

3. Get lost on Takawiri Island

Natural Feature

Lake Victoria has around 1,000 islands, ranging from spits to inhabitable islets, but only a few are well documented. Takawiri is one such island, and has a resort, fishing village and a glorious white sandy beach lined with palm trees. From here you can visit other islands, like Rusinga, which is an hour’s boat ride away.

4. Visit the one of a kind Kazuri Bead Factory

Art Gallery

Kazuri means small and beautiful in Swahili, and this business started out as a compact beading workshop. The beads are exquisite and reflect the wildlife and culture of Kenya. The company employs more than 400 women and exports the beautiful beads to many countries. Every bead is special and unique, as you will learn when you visit.

5. Make some unique glassware at Nani's Kitengela Glass

Art Gallery

A worker walks inside the Kitengela Hot Glass studio on the outskirts of Kenyas capital Nairobi
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Nani’s Kitengela Glass & Cottages, near Nairobi National Park, is adorned with glass sculptures and mosaic ornaments. Here you can watch artisans transform recycled glass into art and decor, as well as partake in some activities yourself, including camel riding, felting and mosaic classes. Eco-cottages are available for a longer visit.

6. Meet the ostriches at the Maasai Ostrich Resort

Architectural Landmark

This resort, 45km (28mi) from Nairobi, was initially a ranch house with spacious accommodation, surrounded by 200 acres of rolling grasslands. One of the main attractions today, however, is the giant ostrich, the beautiful flightless bird that stands at around 2m (6.6ft) high. Although there are some ethical concerns about ostrich riding, this activity is listed here. Other activities include swimming and farm tours.

7. Glamp in a renovated bus


The Brandy Bus is an old school bus that has been revamped, and it makes a great Airbnb listing. Set in a lush mature garden in Karen, Nairobi, the doubledecker has two double beds upstairs and two small beds downstairs, as well as a kitchenette and outdoor firepit.

8. Visit Arabuko Sokoke National Reserve for endemic bird species

Forest, Park

A single Sykes monkey, also known as a white-throated monkey, looking back in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve in Watamu, Kenya, East Africa
© Steve Holroyd / Alamy Stock Photo
Home to over 20 percent of Kenya’s bird species, 30 percent of its butterfly species, and at least 24 rare and endemic birds, mammals, and other species, Arabuko Sokoke National Reserve is as diverse a landscape as you’ll find. This is the largest coastal forest in East Africa; explore the reserve via its tracks and trails.

9. Take a tour of the Fairview Coffee Estate

Natural Feature

Fairview Coffee Estate is a must visit farm if you’re looking for a full sensory experience. You’ll explore the fields and the factory before partaking in a coffee tasting session conducted by a skilled barista. After this, you can enjoy a cup of your favourite blend in the lush gardens surrounded by waterfalls, birds and unique flowers.

10. Visit the picturesque Chalbi Desert

Natural Feature

Aerial view of camels in the Chalbi Desert, in Marsabit County, Kenya
© Martin Harvey / Alamy Stock Photo

The Chalbi Desert is in Marsabit County, east of Lake Turkana. Here, you’ll traverse the bleached soils and walk on coarse sand and rocks. The desert is so salty that animals use it as a naturally occurring salt lick. There is an oasis in this desert called Kalacha, where travellers and animals go to quench their thirst under the palm and acacia trees.

11. Visit the mysterious Gedi Ruins


The ruined wall of the palace at the ancient Gedi Ruins in Gedi, Kenya
© Images of Africa Photobank / Alamy Stock Photo

This is a historical and archaeological site on the coast of the Indian Ocean, located near the town of Gedi in Kilifi County. One of Kenya’s mysteries, the Gedi Ruins consist of a walled town, which includes mosques, a palace and numerous houses, and is thought to have prospered between the 11th and 17th centuries, until it was abandoned.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article