Cities and Towns of Kenya

View of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.
Kenya's cities and towns range from the famous beach and safari capital Nairobi with its hustle and bustle over busy trading centres and ports like Mombasa to small remote settlements.

Fresh fruit and vegetable markets invite visitors to have a look. Cultural highlights like meeting the Samburu people or purchasing local baskets and Maasai handcraft draw people to Kenya's towns. Trips to the tea plantations around Kericho and a stop over at the Equator line or at National Parks like Meru are other attractive possibilities.

Eldoret

Is the principal city in Western Kenya. Originally founded by Afrikaners in 1903. It is best known as being the heart of Kenyan running, it lies at an altitude of 7000 ft on a plateau above the Rift Valley. Eldoret is the largest town in the area and has all the modern conveniences. It is a good place to gather everything needed for explorations in the Western Highlands.

Homa Bay

Close to Ruma National Park, this is a small busy town on the south shore of Lake Victoria.

Isiolo

A very good place to get petrol and see to any banking, as there is nothing until Maralal or Marsabit, this frontier town is the gateway to the north-east, land of mountains, desert scrub and Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs, Mathews Mountains and Lake Turkana. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be purchased at the market and other food supplies can be found in the town.

Kakamega

This town is in Western Kenya located 30 Km north of the equator. It is close to the Kakamega Forest, and a good place to purchase groceries and see to any banking or postal requirements.

Kericho

A delightful place to stop in the heart of Kenya's tea plantations, Kericho is characterised by endless green hills, with neat rows of tea bushes. The plants absolutely love the climate here, thriving in the rains which fall every afternoon. Named after a Maasai Chief, Kericho boasts a war memorial, Holy Trinity Church and a village green. The Tea Hotel, built in the 1950s has a charming colonial atmosphere, it is here that a tour of the tea plantations can be organised and also trout fishing.

Kilifi

This pretty little seaside town is situated along the banks of the Kilifi Creek, on the North Kenyan coast, where an artistic and yachting community have settled in, the Mnarani Ruins are located nearby.

Kisumu

One of the main cities on the shores of Lake Victoria in the western highlands and third largest in Kenya. In the past it once held an important position connecting the coast to Uganda and Western Tanganyika.

Kitale

Kitale is a good base for visitors going to Saiwa Swamp National Park, Mount Elgon and South Turkana National Reserve. This Kenyan town has fertile soil and has long been an agricultural centre it was once a slave-trading centre back in the 19th century. There are good facilities such banks, a post office, a museum and a bustling market.

Loiyangalani

Known as “the place of many trees” in the Samburu language, Loiyangalani has palm trees lining the lakeshore of Lake Turkana. New roads are being invested in due to the development of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project which started in 2013 and should be completed by 2018. Those venturing this way need to be completely self sufficient as petrol and mechanical help is seldom available. There is an airstrip, post office, a lodge and a couple of campsites. Taking pictures of the local Turkana people is allowed but permission is needed first and a fee will usually be requested. Enquiries on bandit activity should be made before heading this way from Maralal.

Machakos

A small town just 63 Kms from Nairobi, off the Nairobi-Mombasa Road, Machakos is pleasant and may be the best place to purchase locally made baskets.

Malindi

Malindi, on the Kenyan North Coast, it seems has always been popular; it was an important Swahili centre by the 14th century and soon after the Portuguese came with the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in 1499. Many visitors now come to enjoy the long stretches of beach and the holiday atmosphere that still has an African feel about it.

Malindi has good amenities including restaurants, hotels, a post office and cafes. The Malindi Marine National Park has excellent diving and snorkelling, also surfing and game fishing.

Maralal

Maralal is a small hillside market town in Northern Kenya. It's a lively place to stop and there are plenty of people coming and going, mostly due to it being the administrative headquarters of Samburu County. Maralal has good banks, fresh vegetable markets and a large hospital.

Marsabit

Really the last stop on the edge of the huge desert in north Kenya, it is well served by shops, restaurants, lodges, a bank and a post office, there is also an airport amongst other services. This Kenyan town and its colourful mix of people is actually located on an extinct volcano that stands tall over the Marsabit National Park and Reserve and surrounding desert.

The summit is almost a kilometre high and the views are spectacular looking out over craters and other extinct volcanoes, thickly forested hills and then desert. The road between Marsabit and Isiolo is in good condition, however, visitors should travel in convoy and be completely self-sufficient and carry everything they need. An enquiry at the local police station should be made as to possible bandit activity in the area prior to setting off on this road.

Meru

This busy centre in the Central Province is the gateway to Meru National Park. It is located on the upper reaches of Mount Kenya and it's often cloudy, but on a clear day there are great views of the richly cultivated fields, forest and sweeping plains.

Mombasa

A busy trading centre and port in Kenya, Mombasa has a long and sometimes gruesome history over the centuries and has been host to a Greek Explorer, Arabs, Chinese, Muslims and the Portuguese even a tribe of cannibals! The fort and old part of town are good places to discover some of Mombasa's history.

Mombasa is now Kenya's 2nd largest city and the largest port in East Africa. The climate tends to be hot and humid but it is a great place to start before venturing off to the fabulous beaches and reefs on this coastline. There are shops, travel agencies, banks, hotels and restaurants in Mombasa.

Nairobi

With its origins as a shanty town on the railway line between Mombasa and Lake Victoria, Nairobi is now the capital city of Kenya. It has a bustling city centre, very typically African with a mix of skyscrapers, shanties, markets and leafy suburbs.

It's a bit shabby but nonetheless a vibrant and cosmopolitan place where it will take up to half an hour to walk through the business district. For visitors passing through, Nairobi has all the facilities available in which to catch up on things, there are bookshops to browse in, do banking and send off postal items.

In between beach holidays and safaris, visitors can tune in to international news and also find interesting places to eat. A famous eatery is The Carnivore, with many unusual items on the menu but for those who don't eat meat you can also find vegetarian options. Another popular restaurant is in the Stanley Hotel, called the Thorn Tree Cafe

Visitors will need to keep their wits about them in the city, the taxibus drivers can be alarming, curio sellers and others intent on doing business with tourists will need cheerful but firm handling, visitors should always be conscious of petty theft, swindling and even robbery which does occur especially at night.

Naivasha

This town once had a decadent past with extravagant settlers living it up, but it is now really just a good spot to stock up on supplies before heading off to Lake Naivasha, Mount Longonot and Nakuru as well as Hell's Gate National Park.

Nakuru

Located close to Lake Nakuru National Park, Menengai Crater and Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site, Nakuru is the capital of Nakuru County and an agricultural centre, there is a very good vegetable market here.

Namanga

Namanga is about 60km (37 miles) from Amboseli on a very bad road; however it is the main route visitors take on the way to Amboseli. Namanga is on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, it is a good place to get petrol and purchase interesting Maasai hand craft. Overlooking the town is the Black Mountain or Oi-Doinyo Orok which is sacred to the Maasai.

Nanyuki

Nanyuki is the capital of Laikipia county, situated just north of the equator. It was founded by British settlers in 1907 as a small market town. Nanyuki continues to be a supply centre for farms, ranches and game parks in the region. There is a British army base and also a Kenyan Air Force base; visitors will find banks, good supplies and a post office too.

Naro Moru

This small market town, in Nyeri County in central Kenya, is a good starting point for visitors wanting to climb Mount Kenya on the Naro Moru trail and the river lodge is nearby. Solio Game Reserve lies near the town. There are a few basic shops and hotels in Naro Moru and also a post office.

Narok

Situated west of Nairobi, it is the last major town to stop and refresh for place to find petrol and refresh for visitors going to the Masai Mara Reserve. Because it is the main access point to this famous reserve, it is busy with visitors stopping to stretch their legs, as a result there are a number of shops and hawkers selling Maasai hand craft, the tall Masaai people can be seen in their traditional dress which is bright red in colour. Narok also has banks and a post office.

Nyahururu

Nyahururu lies east of Nakuru and is part of the Laikipia County. It was founded as Thomson’s Falls, which is a scenic waterfall on the Ewaso Ng’iro river and 2 miles from town. Now it is a commercial centre to the flower farms and other agricultural industries in the area. It has many supermarkets, banks and fast food joints in town.

Nyeri

Nyeri is the gateway to the Aberdares with Mount Kenya in the distance. It is situated in the central highlands of Kenya, and is the county headquarters of Nyeri County. Nyeri has various banks, book shops and a colourful market. Visitors can get their vehicles repaired here and visit a hardware store too.

Shimoni

This is a seaside port village and tourist destination in southeastern Kenya near the border to Tanzania. Also of interest in the town are the Shimoni Caves, once a holding area for slaves ready to be shipped, visitors can follow the path from the jetty that goes into the jungle.

It is very rural with no banks or ATM’s. There is however a post office and internet cafe. There are several wells in the village, but it lacks a reliable fresh water supply. The majority of the population here are subsistence farmers and fishermen.

Takaungu

This is a small rural village on the Kenyan North Coast located between Mombasa and Malindi, 10 km south of Kilifi, in Kilifi County. The site of Swahili myths and mysteries going back to the days of slavery, Kilifi is reputed to be the oldest slave port on the coast of Kenya; none of the local villagers will go to the beach at night except to fish.

Thika

This is an industrial town 42 Kms north of Nairobi. Thika is home to the Chania Falls, Fourteen Falls and the Thika Falls. It is famous as the prime pineapple growing region in Kenya.

Voi

A good place to stop on the way to Taita Hills and the southern end of Tsavo West, visitors can find refreshments and petrol on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

Watamu

This is a charming Kenyan North Coast town which has retained its character despite the rise of up-market hotels and other tourist ventures, it is 24km (15 miles) south of Malindi. Turtle Bay beach is one of the best in Kenya, it has lovely white sand and a great marine reserve for snorkelling and water based activities. Visitors can also discover the Gedi Ruins, Mida Creek and Sokoke Forest.

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