Hospitality in the Horn of Africa

The number of annual visitors to Kenya keeps climbing higher, and it’s easy to see why.

Kenya attracts all types. Ecotourists love to explore its vast wildlife preserves. Mountain-climbers visit on their way to Kilimanjaro. These represent recreational tourists, who make up the bulk of Kenya’s tourist traffic.

But tourism to Kenya also has global, historical significance. After all, the Horn of Africa is where archaeologists discovered evidence of the first-ever human beings. Moreover, Kenya’s savannas give biologists from across the planet ample field to study African animals in their natural habitat.

Knowing all that, can we really be surprised Kenya’s tourism keeps growing?

The growth in Kenya’s hotel industry has caught the attention of some big names. Statistics show that the percentage of working Kenyans in the Hospitality sector rose from 9% in 2017 to 12% in 2018. We’ll have to wait a few more months to get the stats for 2019, but many predict this upward trend to continue. After all, they can’t seem to stop winning awards. 

In fact, some say Kenya’s poised to be the best place to travel this year.

Why Kenya Is The Best Place To Travel in 2019

You’ll see nature like you’ve never seen it before.

Urban areas are mostly concentrated in the southwestern regions of the country where mountainous terrain dominates the landscape. In the flatter Savannah region that runs along the coast, though, permanent settlements are more spread out. You can see what we mean from these maps below; the two big population spikes in the image on the right represent Nairobi (left) and Mombasa (right).

Here’s a quick list of some of Kenya’s most popular destinations.

Sunrise across a plain in Kenya.

Maasai Mara National Reserve

This game reserve famously supports the Great Migration, an annual trek where thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle migrate in humongous herds to and from the Serengeti in Tanzania.


Elephant walking through Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Amboseli National Reserve

Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, overlooks this pristine Savanna space speckled with Acacia trees and migratory elephants. Although Kilimanjaro is technically in Tanzania, Amboseli runs right along the border. The mountain’s visibility from such a grand distance helps give us an idea of just how tall 4,000 meters is.


Giraffes walking across African Savannah.

Tsavo National Park

As Kenya’s largest park, Tsavo makes up almost 4% of Kenya’s total territory, and it’s home to some of Kenya’s most iconic sights, including the Mzima Springs (a hotbed of natural springs populated with hippos and crocodiles) and the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.


Herd of flamingos grazing in a wading pool.

Lake Nakuru National Park

There are more than 450 species of birds here, but most people usually associate Lake Nakuru with one in particular.

You’ll experience life that appreciates tradition.

The semi-nomadic Maasai, ancestral inhabitants of the Rift Valley and African Great Lakes areas, continue to lead traditional pastoral lives in Kenya’s southern regions. The Maasai have gained notoriety in Western cultures for how they maintain a balanced relationship with urbanized civilization, and their brightly-colored cloaks have become an iconic symbol for savanna tribes in West Africa. 

Historically, the Maasai emerged from an area just north of Kenya’s northernmost lake, Lake Turkana, and they began migrating south in the 1400s. As integration with commercial Kenya has become increasingly necessary, it’s commonplace for Maasai in their traditional cowhide shoes and colorful tribal dress (Shúkà) to enter urban areas for various errands only to return to their villages, where daily life continues to uphold the traditions of hundreds of years ago [source].

Many hikers visiting Kilimanjaro take the opportunity to visit the Maasai. Some tribes welcome the opportunity to share their culture, sell their wares, and establish a sustainable relationship with their surrounding social orders.

Maasai warrior looking out across African plains

Things to remember when visiting

Kenya’s warm, hospitable culture places a high value on making guests feel welcome. Still, travelers should always take time to learn about the etiquette and customs of the country they’re visiting. 

Here are a few tips you should always keep in mind when visiting Kenya, especially if it’s your first time.

Respect your elders. 

The elderly always have the first go in Kenyan culture, and younger people can show their respect through small acts of kindness. For example, it’s customary for the senior-most person at the dinner table to be served first. Priority for seniors extends outside the family, so small acts like giving your bus seat to an older passenger are important for upholding Kenyan tradition.

Let yourself be outgoing.

Kenya embraces warm greetings across all aspects of day-to-day life, both informal and formal. Even interactions with strangers follow this rule of thumb. For instance, let’s say you’re visiting a shop. It would be normal for the shopkeep to offer you a handshake and ask about your day. Enjoying a brief chat helps build a sense of community, and by returning their handshake, you can show your appreciation for their welcoming you.

Learn a quick greeting in the local language.

Humility is important when accepting a host’s hospitality, and one way to politely show your gratitude is to use the native tongue. Visitors often use the Swahili word “Jambo” to say hello, since Kenya’s extremely diverse society includes a total of 68 spoken languages. 

Maasai tribes leading a walking safari
Some Maasai tribes offer to lead visitors on walking safaris.

See what Kenya Has to Offer

Kenya continues to become more competitive in the global tourism market. As a result, hospitality students from Kenya become increasingly competitive too.

Thousands of culinary students and recent graduates travel to the U.S. each year from outside countries, and kitchens throughout the states are quickly realizing just how valuable international talent can be when building a team.

To learn more about why international cultural exchange is quickly becoming the cornerstone of American hospitality, [click here.]

Are you a Kenyan student looking for an internship in the United States? We’d love to help you get started. Click here to apply today!

Thousands of culinary students and recent graduates travel to the U.S. each year from outside countries, and kitchens throughout the states are quickly realizing just how valuable international talent can be when building a team.

To learn more about why international cultural exchange is quickly becoming the cornerstone of American hospitality, visit our employers page.


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