When you think of Kenya, you may imagine a desert silhouette. A baobab tree breaks up the horizon, the unmistakable shapes of giraffes and wildebeest surround it. And while much of Kenya does tell this story in a visually evocative way, it shows many others, too. Kenya is recognizably wild: lions and elephants do roam the land just beyond the skyscrapers of Nairobi, and the Maasai, Kenya's most famous tribe of indigenous people, still share their lives with them, undisturbed by the rapidly changing country they inhabit.


Kenya's culture is based on the origin story of the human race. And while it may seem homogeneous, this is a country of a large number of ethnic groups, each with their practices, traditions, language, and artistic expressions. This is why you should head out of the comfort of downtown Nairobi and discover the country to see how many different, rich and varied lives it is possible to live without the presence of a subway system or smartphones, things that so many people around the world now take for granted.


Kenyan barbecue may not have rocketed to global fame as its Korean counterpart has, but it's undoubtedly something visitors should try. Look for places offering delicious roast meat from street-side stalls to more formal dining. Other than meat, Kenyan cuisine has a lot of similarities to Indian food, with some things borrowed outright. You can have chapatis, pilau, and all manner of curry-like dishes over rice. But that's where the similarities end, because Kenya is an arid country not well suited to growing many forms of produce, so the meat is all but necessary.


Kenya, as a whole, has a particular sort of entertainment, that of safari. But head to bustling Nairobi, and you can have a night out on the town just like you would in any other city: crowded bars, dancing, noisy youth, karaoke, only one more drink before heading home at dawn. Ideally, you leave early enough so that your plans of going wildlife-spotting can be followed, because to get into a car at first light and drive to where lions and rhinos roam free is one of the unique African experiences, worth a trip to Kenya in and of itself.