Stretched across the equator, with the peaks of Mount Kenya – the second highest mountain in Africa – rising out of a natural environment of exceptional beauty, Kenya is a hugely rewarding place to travel. The country's dramatically diverse geography has resulted in a great range of natural habitats, harbouring a stunning variety of mammals and birds, while its history of migration and conquest has brought about a complex social panorama, which includes the Swahili city-states of the coast and the nomadic pastoralists of the Rift Valley. The world-famous national parks, unselfconsciously colourful peoples and superb beaches lend the country a genuinely exotic image with magnetic appeal.

Maasai Lions  Mombasa Beach  Mount Kenya

But treating Kenya as a succession of tourist sights isn't the most stimulating way of experiencing the country. Travelling with your eyes open, you can enter the very different world inhabited by most Kenyans: a ceaselessly active landscape of farm and field, of streams and bush paths, of wooden and corrugated-iron shacks, tea shops and lodging houses, of crammed buses and pick-up vans, of overloaded bicycles, and of streets wandered by goats, chickens and toddlers. Off the more heavily trodden tourist routes, you'll find real warmth, openness and curiosity towards visitors. And out in the wilds, there is an abundance of superb scenery – vistas of rolling savanna dotted with Maasai and their herds, high Kikuyu moorlands, dense forests bursting with bird song and insect noise, and stony, shimmering desert – all of which comes crisply into focus.

Kenya Safari