Saturday, May 9, 2009

Two excellent updated travel guidebooks on Kenya

I am a collector of travel guidebooks on Kenya. It allows me to know my country better and discover new and exciting places, including the Hippo Point Tower (on the shores of Lake Naivasha), one of the top retreats in the world, one of the most luxurious and less known of Kenyan hideaways, where I would like to book the master room for my dear e-friend Pink M one day: "Custom-built by Dodo Cunningham-Reid for seasoned romantics, guests are able to enjoy breath-taking views over Oloidien Bay and follow at eagle-eye the movements of the hippos grazing at the foot of the Tower. The rustling of the lake and the sounds of the bush create at all hours a magical symphony of peace and tranquillity, broken only by the splashing of water as the hippos venture out into the bush under the cover of darkness. From the first floor verandah nature lovers can enjoy safe and relaxing sunset viewing while the top meditation room is reserved to those who want to plunge silently into the essence of Africa. A romantic morning breakfast is served outside, under the towering acacias, while in the evening intimate candlelit dinners bring the guests back to bygone days of wild simplicity and unspoiled elegance."

Okay, enough on that particular place, and back to the travel guidebooks now. Amazingly, several of the best travel guides about Kenya have been written by foreigners. And interestingly, after spending only a couple of months here in Kenya, many of them seem to know our country better than most of us... So, it is time for Kenyans to catch up! Now is a good time, since two of the most respected travel guides have just been updated: Lonely Planet and Footprint.

The new Lonely Planet Kenya Country Guide (7th edition) contains a color wildlife chapter, interviews with locals and a green index with listings for an ecofriendly trip. Note that the book is not available in hardcopy until May 14 or even June, but you can already preview and download individual chapters or the whole book here with 'Pick and Mix'. And yes, Lonely Planet got it very right where it says: "Kenya may be a somewhat more intimidating destination than it once was, but it remains one of the undisputed highlights of Africa. Check your inhibitions, ignore the hype, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready for some truly inspiring and life-changing travel." And about our beloved Hippo Point: "We could try and tell you about the absolute lavishness of the main house and the tower, but you'd never believe us - we still can't believe it, and we saw it!"

The second edition of the Footprint Kenya Handbook has also been fully updated and revised. It includes a full-colour 32-page wildlife guide and accommodation listings for all, from luxury tented camps to blissful coastal hideaways. And yes, this book mentions thousands of interesting little things: the cuisine at Hippo Point is superb for example.

I don't really endorse one guide over another, but I am slightly more biased towards the Footprint because it brings me some more surprises, some things I hadn't heard or read about anywhere else. But both books are well-researched and will serve you well.


pinkm said...

Awwww!! Thanks!

I should get me one of these, because I intent to leave my footprints all over this beautiful country this year.

Rafiki said...

@ pinkm: You could start with The Rough Guide to Kenya, which is currently a bit outdated, but the full text is available online for free. And it doesn't feature the tower, but in Naivasha, you will have a personal guide of course.

Tamtam said...


I always make sure I have the latest copies of Lonely Planet and Rough guide, before I make a trip home. I have discovered some good tips on hotels,books and restaurants in there.

I have never bought Footprints, or even looked at it, but will now.

Thanks for the tip on Hippo point too.

Biche said...

Now, I want to visit Hippo Point too! It sounds so magical. I had never heard of it before. Done.It's now on my list of places to visit! :-)


Shiko-Msa said...

I've never thought to buy a travel guide. How could such a light bulb moment pass me? Lol.

Thanks Rafiki. Very timely article at a time when local tourism is taking ground.

I recall our tweets about Hippo Point and it has since earned a place in my bucket list. Lucky Miss Pink! Are gatecrashers allowed?

Biche said...

Hi Rafiki,

Completely unrelated to this post, I wanted to let you know that I "prized" you with The Honest Scrap Award in this post on my blog. I've seen you tagged elsewhere in the East African blogosphere, but I haven't seen a post on your blog yet.

I hope you shall indulge us, your readers. :-)

Wishing you a good weekend,

Mo said...

I'd also include the 'Rough Guide' in there; excellent resource. I can't wait to start using mine.

p.s. Oh, I see you already mentioned it. Slightly outdated, yeah, but preferable to Lonely Planet IMO.

Mark Benson said...

Grabbing one of these and heading for flights to Kenya is a spectacular idea as the guidebooks seem to be of quite assistance and great help for the trip to Kenya.