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Five unsung holiday destinations


Kisite Mpunguti marine park is among Kenya's unsung holiday hotspots. (Courtesy/Kenya Wildlife Service)

If you fancy a serene walk in a natural forest, away from the humming engines and a thousand footsteps, Ngare Ndare is the place to be. Located on the border between Meru and Laikipia, Ngare Ndare boasts trees that are more than 200 years old. It overlooks the well-known Borana and Lewa wildlife conservancies and a vital corridor for animals moving between Mount Kenya and the two conservancies.

Ngare Ndare is more than a forest. Captivating waterfalls drop about 30 feet to serene azure pools hidden deep within the forest where visitors can take deep, relaxing dives. A suspended bridge, which, at 450 metres is the longest such structure in East Africa, provides a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy and terminates on a platform where one can view the wildlife below from a safe environment.

Getting there: if you are a budget traveller, you can get public transport from Nairobi to Nanyuki. A local taxi to Ngare Ndare Forest can drop you there and pick you back up the same day. However, hiring a 4x4 ensures a more comfortable (and reliable ride)

Accommodation: There are budget hotels in Isiolo, Meru and Nanyuki

Clothing: Dress warmly as the forest can get chilly. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended


How would you fancy a holiday in Tana River? Who does that? you may ask. Is it because few positive stories seem to filter out of Tana River? The only news that inundates us from the region include community conflicts, terror cells, pangs of hunger, and lately, deadly floods.

Granted, the pastoralist Orma and Pokomo farmers have had some conflicts over resources in the past. However, the two former antagonists have since kissed and made up and the region is now open to tourism.

Here, at the delta of Kenya’s largest river lies one of the country’s best-hidden secrets. There is the beauty created by the distributaries, channels that empty into the Indian Ocean. On Kipalo Hills and surrounded by water is Delta Dunes, a lodge that has existed for over 30 years and has hosted the high and mighty in society.

The main hospitality banda lies on the topmost part of the property where one has a bird’s eye view of Tana River’s vaunted serenity. The residential bandas are beautifully crafted spaces with no walls! The developer has made use of rusty logs, old canoes and driftwood to create the magical enclave, one that Fred Flintstone would be proud of. Here, you sleep under the stars with only the mosquito net separating you from the bed and the wide world outside. No doors, no walls, just you and the wide world.

Did you know? A river delta is named after the triangular Greek letter Delta. In most cases, the distributaries form the shape of this letter as they empty into the larger water body.

Getting there:  Charter aircraft from Nairobi, Lamu or Malindi. You can also take a scheduled flight to Malindi and a two-hour road transfer branching off the Malindi -Garsen road up to Marafa village followed by a boat ride of 20 minutes. You can also get to the lodge by road from Nairobi. A 4x4 is recommended.

Clothing: light clothing for the beach. Evenings can be windy.


Kisite Mpunguti lies in the coral gardens south of Wasini Island and was established in 1978, combining two contiguous areas surrounding two islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya in Kwale.

Kisite Marine National Park is 28 km2 and the second, Mpunguti Marine National Reserve is 11 km2. Kisite is a fully protected area while Mpunguti allows artisanal and recreational fishing by the local community. Both areas host snorkelling, diving, and wildlife-viewing activities.

The parks protect several distinctive ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. The diverse area shelters a rich biodiversity of marine mammals, fish, seabirds, and sea turtles.

Kisite Island is globally recognised as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International. Marine mammals include dugongs, whale sharks, and sperm whales, all considered vulnerable or endangered species. Several sea turtle species found here are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve is globally recognised as Kenya’s first Blue Park for achieving the highest science-based standards for marine life protection and management.

Getting there: The marine park lies 574 kilometres from Nairobi and 11 kilometres off the Kenyan Coast (at Shimoni). It is 8 kilometres north of the Tanzanian border. It is manned by the Kenya Wildlife Service and only accessible by boat. Use the SGR to Mombasa and connect by road to Kwale

Accommodation: Shimoni Cottages; Sh2,000 a night for citizens and residents


An eerie desert habitat, volcanic formations, a petrified forest, casts of elephants, giant tortoises and a museum. How creepy can Sibiloi National Park be? Located on the upper eastern shores of Lake Turkana in Marsabit, Sibiloi is as ‘alien’ as it can be. It was established to protect ancient sites that cement the area as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’.

The region was made famous through the works of leading paleontologist Dr Richard Leakey whose ‘discovery’ of what was termed as a ‘2-million-year-old fossilised skull’ in 1972. An elephant fossil is said to date back 1.7 million years in addition to a 1.6-million-year-old tortoise fossil. Enough said of Sibiloi. Visit the park and see if you have been told the whole story.

Getting there: Sibiloi is 733km North of Nairobi, or a three-day drive from the city via Marsabit and North Horr, or Maralal and South Horr routes. Alternatively travel by road from Nairobi to Kalokol on the lake’s western shores, via Kitale and Lodwar. From Kalokol a boat hire takes you across the lake to Alia Bay.

By air: Fly directly to two all-weather airstrips in the park or use the airstrips in Marsabit, Loiyangalani, Kalokol, North Horr and Lodwar. However, only Lodwar offers scheduled flights.

Accommodation: Alia Bay Guesthouse located on the shores of Lake Turkana and close to the park offices.


Admit it. Even you have never heard of such a place in Kenya, right? Malka Mari is a scenic park in the northeastern corner of the country. It is more of a semi-arid bush and grassland with some palms along River Daua on the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Established in 1989, Malka Mari was reputed to have a high concentration of wildlife and is considered a site for plant endemism.

Getting there: A2 road to Isiolo and then to Moyale Town on the Ethiopian border. From Moyale take the D504 road, passing Takaba, Derkale and Bannissa. This is the safest and most secure route to the park.

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