For tourists Kenya is quintessential Africa. Seemingly endless blue skies over-reach red savannahs, where the big five animals still roam freely. Most visitors of course come here to go on safari, the Swahili word that has become synonymous with the country.

Taking a safari during your stay in Kenya is essential. The wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara is quite rightly proclaimed one of the animal kingdom's most impressive phenomena. The plains they sweep across are just one of a myriad of terrains found within the nation. Wetlands are home to crocodiles and hippos while the mineral rich lakes of the Rift Valley attract vast flocks of pink flamingos, which come for the small fish that thrive here.

However, it is a mistake to think of Kenya merely as one big safari park. There is a lot more to this fascinating country. It is known as the "Cradle of Civilisation" for it was here that the most ancient remains of early man were found in the 1920s, at the Hyrax Hill site near to Lake Nakuru by renowned anthropologist and archaeologist Louis Leakey. You can see many of these and other findings in the Kenyan National Museum in Nairobi.

You'll also find intriguing relics of history on and in the landscape of Kenya. The Gedi Ruins are the most spectacular remains of the people who inhabited the coast - an enigmatic settlement of amazing sophistication yet unrecorded in any period of literature. Malindi meanwhile is a reminder of the colonial influences on the country - the Portuguese were here for a couple of centuries and the shameful slave trade from the Kenyan coast under British jurisdiction is well documented.

Kenya isn't a tourist playground though - bush resorts and safaris are all well and good but in Nairobi and the other major cities the steady march of progress has come at a price - they aren't always the most pleasant locations for the stranger. However these are more transitional than terminal problems; head outside the cities and you'll find the uncynical and hospitable nature of the people is once more asserted.



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