Welcome to Kenya, the magical land
Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise. A hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia.
Beryl Markham, West with the Night.
Known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind', probable Garden of Eden, and the place where, six million years ago, ‘Millennium Man' walked the Tugen Hills, Kenya is the ethnic homeland of us all. It was from the nurturing embrace of Kenya that we wandered forth to colonize the world, realize our destiny, and reach for the stars.
Back on the shores of Lake Turkana, however, where Homo erectus took his first, falteringly upright steps, little has changed. The searing wind still scours the waters of the so-called ‘Jade Sea', the hippos wallow alongside 12,000 crocodiles, and the nomadic tribespeople live a life essentially unchanged from that lived by their 50 million year old ancestors.
Motherland of mankind and the adopted home of over seventy different groups of ethnic migrants, who wandered here from Ethiopia, the Nile and the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya has emerged as a land of miraculously harmonious contrasts; tropical ice, teaming wilderness, vibrant culture and gentle tolerance. A place where, despite the burdens of poverty, drought and famine, the phrase ‘Hakuna matata' (‘no problem') embodies the national attitude; and a smile is the most valuable currency.
Dubbed the ‘Safari Capital of the World'; Kenya has 56 national parks and reserves, and offers sanctuary to some of the worlds most ancient and most threatened creatures. Named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, she shelters the last of the primordial rain forests and boasts more species of birds than almost anywhere else in the world. Stunning, scenic, steeped in history, a sportsman's paradise and a lover's idyll, Kenya has provided a playground for royalty, millionaires, aristocrats and eccentrics for centuries; and she still remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Offering the best of African travel, a Kenya safari unfailingly reveals the authenticity of the Africa wilderness, beautifully parading the array of Kenya wildlife and safari lodges.
It's not for the typical trappings of tourism, however, that Kenya is usually remembered; it's for her people. Time and time again, the careful questionnaires of the hotel industry reveal the same fact; that Kenya's visitors go away indelibly touched by the warmth, sincerity and generosity of the Kenyan people; and the poorer the person, the richer the welcome.
Karibu means ‘welcome' in Swahili, and is the traditional answer to the question ‘Hodi?' which means ‘May I draw near?' Traditionally a visitor to a tribal encampment would call this question from the darkness beyond the fire; and the answer would be returned ‘Welcome, step into the light'.
Kenya Travel Information Guide - An Overview of Kenya: Facts, History, Culture & Safari