Kenya has started selling hiking holidays to foreign and local tourists as it seeks to position itself as an outdoorsy, experiential destination.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) is adding mountaineering into the adventure travel package, which will allow tourists to do physical activities —that have been tacked with fitness enthusiasts— while on a business or leisure trip.
“Hiking resonates with this time now. People don’t want to spend all their time indoors, especially after the pandemic. When they get an opportunity, they want to go out. Hiking is not just about adventure but also wellness,” said Dr Betty Radier, the KTB chief executive.
“We are showcasing the diversity of experiences found in Kenya. This is also part of fitness tourism as travellers are keener on experiences that contribute to their physical fitness,” she added.
Adventure travel is not new in Kenya, but it had been left to small tour companies courting tourists coming to walk with rhinos in the wilderness, watch birds in Meru, do camping, and climb Mt Kenya, as the ministry focused more on marketing the beaches and safaris.
Dr Radier said the package will involve travelling to remote places, to explore the ways of living of local communities.
“We are rediscovering the magic in our country. Nothing has changed. We are getting a bigger voice because travellers’ preferences have changed and they are always looking for different experiences, out of the norm,” she added.
Some of the attractions KTB will sell as hiking destinations include areas around Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Ranges, Nakuru, Naivasha and Northern Kenya which has numerous hills and mountains in Samburu.
Others include Bogoria, Baringo, Iten, Eldoret and Kitale.
“Hiking complements the diverse experiences and destinations as it takes travellers across amazing landscapes, pure nature through the routes and trails, wildlife viewing, and the cultures of the different communities in these varied landscapes. Therefore, Kenya is unique for the adventure. Hiking unravels other experiences along the way,” she added.
Curfews and restrictive movements last year saw local travellers seek ways to beat cabin fever by hiking in Ngong Hills, Sleeping Warrior, and Mt Longonot, increasing the number of hikers to these areas drastically.
Other Kenyans discovered Table Mountain, Ragia falls, forest and caves, Mt Kipipiri, Elephant Hill, and the breathtaking trek leading to the seven ponds in Aberdare.
In addition to hiking, last year the Tourism ministry unveiled 29 new experiences as part of Magical Kenya Signature Experiences with travel experiences that cut above the rest.
Some of the experiences in the list are homestay experience in Nyandarua, the warrior academy in Mara North conservancy, yoga sunset experience in Watamu, kayaking in River Athi or River Tana and Watamu.
“Kenya is an open canvas for those keen to create their own kind of magic and make unforgettable memories with family and friends. From the snow-capped mountains to open savannah, the tropical forests to vibrant cities and desert landscapes to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are the variety of experiences travellers are spoilt for choice,” the Tourism Board boss said.
“To showcase this diversity, KTB works closely with the private sector to curate a unique experience for local and international travellers.”