A magnificent country with a rich and colourful past, this romantic East African destination is awash with Chic Retreats and boutique hotels. Kenya is where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, where Ernest Hemingway took his first safari and where the hedonistic Happy Valley set created havoc in the 1920s and 1930s. Whether you opt for the vintage chic of a canvas tented camp in the Maasai Mara for a chance to spot the big five, or the glamour of a boutique resort on the shores of the dazzling Indian Ocean for some rest and relaxation, you will be sure to find a boutique hotel or Chic Retreat to suit you and experience a holiday you will never forget. Kenya is the birthplace of the modern safari - safari being a Swahili word meaning journey, which was first brought into the English language by Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s. Kenya’s assets are second to none. Its landscape is rich and varied - from the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, to the deep drops of the Great Rift Valley and the large expanses of acacia-studded savanna - and it attracts a huge diversity of mammals. Add to this a a host of luxury lodges and boutique safari camps that put you right in the heart of the action and you are sure to have a safari experience you won't forget. If you want to get up close to the elusive rhino and experience the thrill of a tented camp, then you can’t get much better than Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in the South East Mara. Here you will wake up to the sounds of the savanna and can sip gin and tonic under the stars in much the same way as Hemingway would have done on his first safari. If it’s the big five you are after you won’t be disappointed with the opportunities on offer here or at the boutique safari camp, Elephant Pepper Camp in the Northern Mara, where you will also be able to witness the dramatic great migration of the wildebeest across the Mara river. Both camps can also arrange for you to visit a traditional Maasai homestead and witness the incredibly high jumping that the tribe do in their welcome dances (they say they remove their kneecaps in childhood to obtain optimum height).
But safari in Kenya isn’t all about the Maasai Mara, there is a wealth of world-class game reserves, from the wide expanses of Meru, where you’ll find the enchanting boutique cottages of Elsas Kopje, to the wilds of Shaba reserve in Northern Kenya where you can drive for hours without seeing another human and will find the exquisite Joys Camp, a chic safari retreat looking out over a natural spring. Alternatively you could head to the exciting Lewa wildlife conservancy, which is a crucial stronghold for the endangered Grevy’s zebra and home to more than 65 black and 45 white rhino. Here you can base yourself at the Lewa Safari Camp, a classic luxury safari camp at the foot of Mount Kenya, which boasts its own swimming pool. Or perhaps you’d prefer the dust-blown Amboseli, where you might catch marching herds of elephants against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro before heading back to the luxury of Tortilis Safari Camp, which is built entirely from local materials and blends into the surrounding acacia woodland.
Whether you choose beach or safari, you will begin and end your journey in the bustling city of Nairobi, the cultural and commercial capital of East Africa this is the meeting point not only for the 42 ethnic groups that make up the Kenyan population, but also people from all over Africa and the rest of the world. It is well worth adding an extra day to experience the vibrancy of the city, which will be in stark contrast to the relaxed pace of the rest of your holiday.Sir Richard Branson recently described Kenya as "a lovely country to visit." We would go a step further and say Kenya is a truly remarkable country to visit, and one you will never forget.