The original safari destination

By | Category: Travel destinations

That is the title Kenya claims for itself. It has also been prominently in the news recently for it was here, sixty years ago last February, that the Queen learnt of her succession to the throne. On this jubilee weekend you can see, on television, the black and white grainy pictures of her visit there in 1952 to Treetops Hotel. (which is itself celebrating its 80th year in 2012.)
So what is the attraction of Kenya sixty years later? The lure of the safari and the opportunity to see animals in the wild is still the strongest draw to not only us but to other nations as well. But we are still – by a long way – the leading visitors to Kenya despite the discouragement of APD. Last year just over 200,000 of us visited the country up nearly 26,000 on the year before.
Treetops is found in the Aberdare National Park. That alone points to the long links between Kenya and our countries. But we don’t only visit the country for safaris. Increasingly important is appeal of its beaches, its deep-sea diving opportunities and the coastline. As all this attracts us, the Kenyans have – or are in the process of – overhauling their infrastructure links. The airport in the capital, Nairobi, has been expanded. Roads have improved enormously over the last sixty years making twin-centre holidays even more of a reality in a short, one week break.
Cruise ships regularly dock and a new port of Lamu is being developed to encourage even more ships to visit the country whilst the port of Mombasa is being upgraded as well. With increased safety in the north, it means that it is easier to get to “new” tourist destinations like Lake Turkana which straddles the Ethiopian border. This is now a national park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest permanent desert lake. And it is also where some of the earliest of our ancestors have been found by the famed Leakey family.
So in sixty years, much will have changed since the Queen was first there. What hasn’t is the enduring appeal to British visitors.

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