If you're looking for a country with a bit of everything, Kenya could be your perfect destination. It has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, from white sand beaches to wild grasslands, coral reefs to mountains and deserts that stretch across the glorious landscape. Or if city life is more your speed, you will find a plethora of nightclubs, restaurants and bars in the lively capital of Nairobi.
DO... Make sure you visit Kenya's Coast. Kenya is most well-known for its incredible wildlife, but did you know it also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world? From the historic Swahili town of Lamu on the North coast to the city of Mombasa in the South, Kenya's coastland boasts sand as white as sugar and some of the best seafood in the world.
DO... Try traditional Kenyan food. You can't leave Kenya without having had a meal of nyama choma, which literally means "barbequed meat" in Swahili, Kenya's local language. The dish can be chicken or beef, but the best and most common nyama is made from goat. At most nyama choma restaurants there's a butchery on site, and customers can choose their cut of meat (I recommend the ribs, definitely the tastiest part). For sides, choose Ugali – a thick maize dish that's a Kenyan staple, chips (or French fries as we know them) and kachambari, a salad made of tomatoes and onions. Top it off with the local Tusker brew and you've had an authentic and delicious Kenyan meal.
DO... Drive across the country. You can fly from the capital city of Nairobi to the city of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, but if you can spare the time take the six-hour drive and experience the true beauty of Kenya -- you'll see the best of the Great Rift Valley, often considered the cradle of humanity. You'll drive through Kericho, an area of rolling hills of tea farms so vividly green it seems like the entire scene is in Technicolor. You can even pull over and talk to some of the tealeaf pickers. Kenya produces more black tea than any other country in the world. By the time you reach the magnificent shores of Lake Victoria you'll be overwhelmed by the vast beauty of the nation. One caveat: If you've never been to Kenya, it's more enjoyable to hire a local and let them do the driving.
DO... Check out Nairobi's nightlife. Tourists are often surprised at the abundance of clubs, restaurants and bars in Nairobi. There's a little something for everyone -- upscale nightclubs, dive bars, world-class Indian food and Italian restaurants run by Italian immigrants. Unlike most of the nightclubs in the U.S., bars and clubs stay open until sunrise with people dancing the night away.
DO... Go on a safari outside the Masai Mara. The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya's most famous wildlife park, and rightfully so. In just two days many people can see almost all of the "big five" : lions, elephants, cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. The park is also famous for the annual great migration, where hundreds of wildebeests migrate, but the Mara is often crowded and expensive. Kenya has many other national parks to explore. Among them are Nakuru National Park which is home to thousands of pink flamingos and rhinos, and Naivasha, an area with many nature reserves without predators like lions or leopards. These reserves allow you to go on walking safaris, where you can get as close to giraffes, zebras, gazelles and baboons as the animals will let you, allowing for a truly organic nature adventure.
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
DO NOT... Carry around a lot of valuables – This rule is especially true for expensive phones, iPods and other gadgets. It's not uncommon to be stuck in Nairobi's notorious traffic with the window down and have a thief come by and snatch your phone or purse out of your hands. The same is true for walking around while talking on your phone or listening to your iPod. Thieves can spot someone who isn't paying attention a mile away. Don't be an easy target.
DO NOT... Be a sucker. Know how much services and goods are supposed to cost before taking part in them. Ask your hotel concierge how much a taxi ride is supposed to cost, consult with guidebooks or any locals you know about how much trinkets and souvenirs should cost. Always bargain. Expect that if a vendor knows you are a tourist their price has automatically doubled if not tripled.
DO NOT... Pay any bribes. Police and authority figures are often looking for ways to make an extra buck. Have an idea of what the laws and regulations here are, stick to them, and disagree vigorously if someone of authority asks you for a bribe. If you do pay any type of fine, insist on a receipt.
DO NOT... Be afraid to travel to Kenya despite the country's notoriety for corruption; the country remains a safe and pleasant place to visit. Even during the last year's post-election violence not a single foreigner or tourist was harmed. The country depends on tourism – it's the second largest source of income and tourist dollars are often used to help maintain the Kenya's magnificent wildlife. The people of Kenya are amazing too – funny, open and warm. Don't let political issues keep you from experiencing the many joys Kenya has to offer.