Whether it's an adventurous safari, beach bliss or some relaxing pampering you're after, Kenya can cater for all
Safaris are an adventurous mix of mud-splattered game drives, hot, lazy afternoons, surprisingly good food and boozy nights chatting round a camp fire. A good place to start your love affair with Africa is Joy’s Camp in the Shaba National Reserve. An hour’s flight north of Nairobi, it offers a blend of wilderness and comfort. Tribal fabrics decorate the ten canvas tents and there’s a pool to relax by. Barnabas the barman mixes a brilliant dawa (vodka, honey and lime) and dinner is served under the stars.
A great second stop is Saruni, in the Masai Mara. It’s busier, but the endless green vistas and robed Masai warriors are pure Kenya. With just six cottages, terrific Italian cuisine and a spa, it feels remote and exclusive and you’re certain to see lots of animals, including lions and cheetahs. Everything has been built with local materials, the electricity is solar-powered, and there’s a shop selling Kenyan crafts, plus guests gain insight into the way safari lodges support the community. lodges support the community.
Up, up and away
Drifting silently in a balloon over the Mara’s vast plains, as zebra and antelope graze below in the buttery morning light, you’re presented with a vision of timeless Africa that’s only capped by the slap-up breakfast that follows. Visit between July and October to see the wildebeest migration. A seven-night tour with Virgin Holidays costs from £1,370, including flights. Balloon trips cost from £249.
Most trips require a stay in Nairobi. Enjoy a soft landing at House of Waine, an 11-room mansion with beautiful gardens. Visit the home of Karen Blixen, whose life inspired Out of Africa and visit the baby rhinos and elephants at the orphanage.
Fight festive flab on the beaches of Watamu with Wild Fitness, a mix of workouts, yoga and diet advice, or explore the wilds with Masai warriors plus camel. Offbeat Safaris offers horse-riding in the game-filled Lewa Conservancy, orkayak around the Lamu Archipelago. If you want to relax, spend a night in an open-air Star Bed, or be pampered by the beach at the Uzuri Spa and Fitness Forest.
Thirty miles south of Mombasa, Msambweni House is a hedonistic escape that makes a perfect follow-on to bush adventures. With a private beach, infinity pool, complimentary massages and a verandah for sunset cocktails, it’s pure relaxation. Suites and villas have chic, Swahili-style décor, plus there’s delicious food and a boat for snorkelling trips. It’s worth shopping in Mombasa for ethnic jewellery and fabulous lamps.