What Africans don’t know about Kenya’s Tourism
by Ruth Olurounbi
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine
Realising how apt the above quote was, I went on a familiarisation tour of Kenya, Nairobi, toward the end of last year. Although I had travelled extensively prior to this, and had even been to Kenya, albeit in a more restricted situation, this familiarisation tour, which exposed me to Kenya’s rich wildlife attractions, exciting shopping experience, and delightful beaches drew my attention in an almost rude manner to how oblivious many Africans are to the beautiful continent they call home.
Apart from the direct experiences in Nairobi, the Majestic Maasai Mara and Mombasa, the tour guides and Kenya Airways officials who were on the trip gave extensive information about great attractions that other African countries had, quite a number of them unique to the wonderful continent.
On returning home, after an extensive research and dialogues with Africans on their preferred holiday locations, I came to a realisation that many Africa probably do not have an idea how beautiful the continent is. So this year, I decided to write something on my experience traveling the Kenya, and hopefully, more Nigerians and Africans generally would choose to pay a visit to the beautiful country as Kenya.
Over the past five years, about 1,650,000 million people have visited Kenya every year. Only a tiny fraction of this figure is represented by other Africans, with the overwhelming majority of the tourists come in from Asia and Europe, a Kenyan tour guide, Consaga Khisa, said.
The question then is, what could those in the East and West have seen in the country to have driven such number of visits annually?
Africa is known for its exotic and breathtaking destinations and the wildlife play a significant part in the continent’s travel industry. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi or Zambia are all homes to exotic wildlife, and in Kenya specifically, travelers are exposed to lions, leopards, buffalos, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, zebras, gazelles and many more in their natural habitats.
“There’s nowhere where this experience is felt to the core than at the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. The annual migration of wildebeests between the Maasai Mara in the north and Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south is an experience like no other,” Khisa told me was we toured Massai Mara.
For those who have a particularly soft spot for gorillas, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo are the places to go.
Contrary to what may have been said, it is not at all complex traveling within Africa; especially if travelers plan well and choose the best means. We might not have sophisticated tube and rail systems across countries, but air travel is pretty much straightforward. Not to mention affordable airfares.
Kenya Airways’ Sales Representative for Abuja, Abiola Bakare, boasts that the clearly leads the pack in Africa’s travel industry, as it provides 500 connections across 52 African destinations every week. For example, Kenya Airways flights depart from Nairobi at different times every day for Johannesburg. That means that for potential travelers from Abuja or Lagos in Nigeria, they would have a total of 13 opportunities every week to depart Nigeria (three times a week from Abuja and 10 times a week from Lagos) for Nairobi and four options to choose from when they connect from Nairobi to Johannesburg. That is a lot of options and opportunities. Even more options are available when the trip is to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania or several other great holiday destinations.
On the trip, Nigerian Country Manager, Kenya Airways, Hafeez Balogun told me that the company “is so committed to making Africa accessible to Africans that it has an entire business unit dedicated to holidays called KQ Holidays. This unit is based in Nairobi and so far has only two branches outside of Kenya.
“There is KQ Holidays Lagos and then there is KQ Holidays Kaduna. And to ensure that a combination of the airfare and the holiday rates is still within reach, KQ Holidays has partnered with hotels and tour operators in all these holiday destinations to negotiate significant discounts. For example, a three-night vacation at the awesome beaches of Zanzibar, including airport transfers, three-night accommodation, breakfast and dinner as well as exciting tours at really affordable rates,” he said.
For those ending their trip in Nairobi to enjoy the wildlife, nightlife and beaches, the current Kenya Airways schedule is perfect.
Beach lovers have several options to choose from. In Kenya alone, you are spoilt for choice between Diani, Nyali, Lamu, Tiwi and several other beautiful beaches. Then, there is the option in several other African destination including Zanzibar, Seychelles and South Africa.
One of the many attractions of Kenya tourism is the golf holiday, which creates the ambience for players to meet business contacts from East Africa’s biggest economy and still get to do a brief wildlife tours.
Most Africans travelers don’t even require visas to travel to other African countries. In most cases, those who require visas can easily acquire them inexpensively online prior to travel. If both cases do not apply, you can purchase visas on arrival at point of entry for a nominal fee, something I experienced while traveling to Kenya.
Aside its gorgeous wildlife, breathtaking cultural masterpieces, Kenya’s food and weather stood out for me. Like most African countries, some of the tastiest, hygienic and nutritious meals in the world where found in Kenya. Dining on a cruise underneath the spectacular mood sets off an even greater romantic evening for couples honeymooning in Kenya or are just there on a short visit.
From golf holiday to a romantic evening walk on the beach, a crazy wildlife adventures, shopping and dining, Africa has it all, and so do Kenya.