Territory

Wonders of Kenya

Lake Nakuru with flamingoes
Lake Nakuru with flamingoes. / Guillaume, Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Kenya has a very diverse natural and cultural heritage with some truly unique monuments. Among the wonders of Kenya should be mentioned:

  • Remnants of the very first humans – humans have lived in Kenya always, since their origin. And here lived ancestors of humans, ancestors of these ancestors, and so on. The geological deposits in Kenya – for example, Koobi Fora and Olorgesailie – contain remnants of all these humans, hominins, hominids, as well as some of the oldest man-made tools in the world.
  • The "islands" of biodiversity – remnants of ancient tropical forest in isolated mountain ranges. A characteristic feature of the Kenyan landscape is separate mountain ranges, divided by hundreds of kilometers of savannah or even desert. Several such mountain ranges – such as Taita Hills or Matthews Range – have well preserved tropical forests, often containing numerous unique species of plants and animals. Very impressive are the Afromontane biotopes in the high mountains – Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon.
  • Old coastal cities and villages – the Eastern African coast in the 12th – 19th centuries was a melting pot of very diverse cultures. Swahili and other indigenous cultures here met with Arab, Persian, Ottoman, Portuguese, English, and even Chinese influences. Several medieval trade towns now are covered with jungle (Gedi, Takwa), but some continue to live up to this day (Old Mombasa, Lamu, Faza).

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Kenya

Geological wonders

Loburu Geysers and Hot Springs, Lake Bogoria

Rift Valley

In several geothermal areas around the Lake Bogoria there are more than 10 active geysers, up to 5 m high.

Lake Bogoria, geyser and flamingos
Kit-Mikayi

Nyanza

Unusual rock formation – a natural sculpture. This 70 m high stack of stones served as sacred site for local community.

Kit-Mikayi
Kitum Cave

Rift Valley

Unique caves in pyroclastic rocks, up to 250 meters long. Possibly created by elephants and other animals digging the salt in caves up to this day. Kitum cave became known worldwide after two people caught the extremely dangerous and deadly Marburg virus disease in this cave.

Kitum Cave, Kenya
Gura Falls

Rift Valley

305 m tall waterfall with 3 drops. Considered to be the tallest waterfall in Kenya.

Karuru Falls

Rift Valley

272 m tall waterfall with three steps. The tallest plunge is 130 m tall.

Karuru Falls
Leviathan Cave

Eastern (Kenya)

Sixth longest lava tube in the world – 12.5 km long, 3 – 10 m in diameter. Some 100 lava tube caves are known in Chuylu Hills.

Glaciers of Mount Kenya

Eastern (Kenya)

Glaciers close to equator on 5,199 m high mountain. The largest glacier here is Lewis Glacier. All glaciers of Mount Kenya are disappearing and in a few decades they might be lost. In the night here often is freeze, has formed a permafrost.

Glacier on Mount Kenya
Thomson’s Falls

Rift Valley

A beautiful 74 m tall waterfall. The Ewaso Narok River here falls in a single plunge.

Thomson's Falls, Kenya
Suswa Volcano

Rift Valley

Volcano with unique double crater – it resembles a mountain with deep pressed ring around its summit. The isolated inner summit is covered with dry bush – forest. Fumaroles are observed here. Volcano has more than 30 interesting lava tube obsidian caves.

Biological wonders

Shimba Hills

Coast

Remnant of Eastern African coastal tropical forest with very high level of endemism. Here grow approximately 280 species of endemic plants (out of 1,100 total) that are not met outside this forest. In the hills live hundreds of elephants.

Shimba Hills
Lake Nakuru flamingos and Lake Baringo flamingos

Rift Valley

At times these lakes are colored pink by millions of flamingos nesting along the shores – this is one of the greatest spectacles provided by live nature in the world. Lakes are very rich with algae and thus can support rich ecosystems.

Millions of flamingos in Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Ngangao Forest, Mbololo Forest, and Chawia Forest

Coast

The largest remnants of the Taita Hills forest – some of the most ancient African forests. In Taita Hills still are found numerous endemic species of plants and animals not met outside these mountains, including species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. In each of the smaller forest remnants have been found numerous species that are not known even outside these forests, for example only in Mbololo Forest is found Saintpaulia teitensis – a beautiful flowering plant. Some parts of the forest are sacred to local people, there are still existing caves with skulls of ancestors.

Giant groundsel forest on Mt. Kenya

Eastern (Kenya)

Afro-alpine zone of the mountain (just below the snow line) contains unique stands of unusual plant – up to 8 metres high Dendrosenecio keniodendron that has evolved special form for survival in harsh montane conditions. Numerous other endemic species of plants and animals.

Giant groundsel forest on Mt. Kenya
Matthews Range (Mathew Ranges)

Rift Valley

Mountain range covered with tropical forest. For many thousands of years this forest has been isolated with dry lands extending for hundreds of kilometres around it. As a result here have evolved unique species of plants and animals. Here grows the Matthews Cycad (Encephalartos tegulaneus).

Mount Marsabit Forest

Eastern (Kenya)

Unique, isolated 150 km² large tropical forest. One of few places in the world where a pure, wild natural coffee is found.

Kasigau Forest

Coast

Remnant of ancient African forests, mountain rainforest in 1400 – 1641 m height. This forest is geographically well isolated and surrounded by savannah.

Tugen Hills

Rift Valley

Valuable find of fossils in a succession of deposits that are between 14 and 4 million years old. Here have been found remnants of one of the oldest (6 million years old) bipedal hominins Orrorin tugenensis, as well as more recent hominins.

Koobi Fora fossil find

Eastern (Kenya)

Pliocene – Pleistocene sediments near Lake Turkana. Scientists in this area found remnants of numerous hominins, who lived here over the last 4.2 million years. This rich find provided remnants of Homo rudolfiensis, Australopithecus anamensis, early stone tools as well as remnants of other mammals.

Lothagam

Rift Valley

Very important find of fossils including the fossils of human ancestors. In deposits have been found remnants of numerous now extinct mammals, fish, birds and reptiles who lived in Late Miocene. Very interesting are remnants of primates, including hominoids (Australopithecus).

Archaeological wonders

Olorgesailie

Rift Valley

In this world-famous site were found numerous tools made by man 600 – 900 thousand years ago. These tools were made by Homo erectus – there have been found also remnants of these people. Specialists have found also numerous bones of now extinct animals that, possibly, were hunted in this region.

Architecture wonders

Kaya Kinondo, Kaya Kwale, Kaya Giriami and other Mijikenda settlements

Coast

11 coastal hillforts – settlements – ceremonial centres developed by immigrant Mijikenda culture in the 16th – 17th centuries. Abandoned in the 19th centuries. Now covered with forest and considered to be sacred places of ancestor spirits. This is one of the few locations where in Eastern Africa has been preserved coastal tropical forest.

Fort Jesus in Mombasa

Coast

A large fort, built in 1593 by Portuguese. From air the plan of fort resembles a man. The first European fortress outside Europe built to resist cannon fire. Much used in warfare.

Lamu Old Town

Coast

Oldest town in Kenya, established by Swahili and influenced by Chinese, Arabian, Turkish and Portuguese settlers. Flourished in the 17th – 18th centuries. Contains many excellent examples of Swahili architecture, no cars can enter the old town. Impressive structure is Lamu Fort that is built on the seafront.

Lamu Old Town, Kenya
Mombasa Old Town

Coast

One of the main historical metropoles in East Africa, developed since medieval times. Buildings and planning represent a fusion of Swahili, Portuguese and Islam architecture. Buildings often are adorned with intricately carved doors.

Faza fishing village

Coast

Interesting monument of urban planning: a fisher settlement taking whole small island, surrounded by mangrove swamps and water. Long elevated causeway leads to the village, there are no cars in Faza. Development of this town started in the 14th century.

WorldYellow Recommended books

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya is your in-depth guide to the very best of Kenya. Whether you want to go on a safari adventure and come within feet of this country’s spectacular wildlife in its world-famous national parks, lounge on superb beaches, or experience the lively nightlife and cultural attractions of Nairobi, visiting Kenya is a richly rewarding escape.

The Rough Guide to Kenya


The Rough Guide to Kenya has been the most authoritative guide to the country since it was first published in 1987. The fully revised, full-color 11th edition covers the country in fine detail. Learn how to cope with and enjoy Nairobi; visit the Maasai Mara without the crowds; explore lesser-known parks and conservancies; and make the most of the Indian Ocean coast. A wealth of practical information covers the highways and byways, supported by the most thoroughly researched and reliable background coverage available.


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