World Heritage Sites In Kenya

About 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are waiting for you to experience on a safari in Kenya, 3 natural and 4 cultural. They carry historical significance, unique natural beauty and cultural importance. They range from ancient forest villages, military forts to saline lakes and glacier covered mountain peaks.

Lake Turkana National Parks

Lake Turkana is one of the scenic water lakes, stretching across 3 National Parks in Kenya; The South Island, Sibiloi National Park and Central Island National Park. It is found along the Great Rift Valley area in Kenya. Lake Turkana is amazingly the biggest desert lake in the world and supports a number of aquatic life including the Nile crocodiles.

Interestingly, Lake Turkana also offers refuge to several of archaeological and paleontological sites which makes it one of the key areas for research. It is an ideal research spot for early human and animal history especially on the different mammal, human and mollusk fossils that exist here.

More than 300 bird species can also be spotted here and they include resident birds, migrant species and more. The notable birds to come across here include lots of pelicans, water fowl, raptors, storks and more.

Lake Turkana is approximately 250kms long and has a width of up to 30kms making it the world’s biggest desert lake. It covers over 7000sq.kms and with no outlets. It is fed by River Omo, Kerio and Turkwel.  From Nairobi to Lake Turkana, it is about 800kms.

Mount Kenya National Park

Boasting of its spectacular snowcapped peak and savanna grassland below, Mount Kenya is amazingly a distinct UNESCO Site with stunning landscapes. It is the second highest peak in Africa and makes a focal point in Mount Kenya National Park.

Mount Kenya National Park lies in Meru county and it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. This is due to its distinct flora and biodiversity. Additionally, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve make up the low lying areas of this heritage site.

The 2 protected areas are linked through a wildlife corridor that makes up part of the buffer zone for Mt. Kenya National Park. It also serves best as linking point for elephants that roam between Mt. Kenya and the vast conservation area of Samburu-Ewaso Ecosystem.

Mount Kenya National Park is a remarkable hiking spot and occupies up to 715sq.kms of land area. Hiking to the summits of Mt. Kenya is amazing and hikers have 3 peaks to conquer that is Batian, Lenana and Leona.

 Lamu town

Lamu town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and it is famous for its narrow labyrinth streets modeled from old Arab towns- mtaa layout. It is one of the very few ancient Swahili settlements in East Africa integrating the unique Indian, Arab, European and Swahili designs.

Lamu features one of the ancient and well-preserved Swahili monuments in East Africa. This has been inhabited for over 700 years, set up in the early 14th century. The ancient traditions can be explored while at Lamu Old Town found along the coastal islands in Kenya, about 250kms from Mombasa. While at Lamu, expect to explore the distinct architectural design of Indian, Arabic, Swahili, European and Persian. For visitors who are interested in exploring more about Islamic and Swahili cultures, history, Lamu Old Town is the right place to be.

Fort Jesus

Lying on Mombasa Island Kenya, Fort Jesus is typical example of Portuguese military fortification. Built by the Portuguese between 1593 and 1596, the Fort Jesus is one of fully preserved historical sites and it is strategically located overviewing the Old Port of Mombasa.

Currently, Fort Jesus is a museum and holds valuable historical landmark in East Africa. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. It occupies over 6 acres with a single main entry point in the rear and 2 passages facing the Indian Ocean.

Kenya’s Lake System

There are 3 interlinked lakes in Kenya with strikingly spectacular beauty. The 3 lakes area shallow lakes and they include Lake Elementaita, Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria. They are located along the Rift Valley Province of Kenya and occupy over 32034 hectares.

Over 13 globally threatened species of birds live here and also plays an important part as foraging spot for the lesser flamingos as well as breeding ground for the white pelicans. In addition, there are also several mammals to see here including lions, cheetahs, black rhinos and Rothschild giraffes.

Thimlich Ohinga cultural landscape

Thimlich Ohinga cultural landscape

Thimlich Ohinga cultural landscape

Thimlich Ohinga is found 46kms Northwest of Migori town. It was constructed in the 16th century and believed to be the biggest and well-preserved traditional enclosures depicting early settlements typical of the first pastoral communities around Lake Victoria basin. It was designated as UNESCO Site in 2018. This heritage site is accessible through Migori-Muhuru road or Migori-Nyarongi route. From North of Macalder site, this heritage is 10kms away.

Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests

Located 11.3kms from Diani shopping mall, Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests comprise of 11 different forest sites. These are found along 200kms of coastline in Kenya and shelter the remains of fortified villages belonging to the Mijikenda people. The Kayas were created in the 16th century prior being abandoned in the 1940s and currently, they are under management of councils of elders.

Kaya literally mean homesteads. Kayas became of significance to Miji Kenda communities as sacred groves. Recently, Kaya Kinondo eco-tourism project plays an important part and it is aimed at connecting tangible social and economic benefits of local community. The other Kayas are found in Kwale county and they include Chale, Chonyi, Bombo, Teleza, Gandini, Sega, Kiteje, Mtswakara, Lunguma, Sega and more.

Over 50 Kayas sacred groves are dotted around the coastal forests in Kenya. Miji Kenda Forests comprise of 11 distinct forest sites lying on more than 200kms at the coast. The sites are typical testimony to locals’ cultural tradition.

Other than the 7 premier World Heritage Sites, other unique places to consider a must-visit include Maasai Mara, Tsavo National Park, Samburu, Amboseli.