This week saw the unveiling of the Magical Kenya Signature Experiences collection for 2021-200, by the Ministry of Tourism that is meant to showcase the country’s diverse attractions aside from the traditional wildlife safaris and beaches.
The MKSE program began in 2019 when fifteen experiences were selected. The first group had pricey traditional tourism attraction like the Karen Blixen Museum, Finch Hattons Luxury, the Tamarind Dhow, Il Ngwesi, and helicopter trips to Suguta Valley, which music legend Madonna did a few weeks ago.
MKSE has now added 29 signature experiences in an ongoing process from 59 entries, and the ones that didn’t make it, also get mentorship to improve and qualify. Joining starts with completing an application questionnaire, and one criterion for selection includes that the investor/operator has been offering the experience for over two years. Tourism officials then do a desk audit to shortlist the promising ones, followed by a physical visit to check out the experiences. The Signature Experiences facilities will be marketed by the Kenya Tourism Board at local and international trade fairs.
The second group of MKSE experiences is more diverse and probably more accessible, though price rates were not shared. The big winners on the list are the Watamu coastal area and Nanyuki, with multiple experiences, while operators Watamu Treehouse and Savage Wilderness each feature three unique activities for visitors and tourists to try.
Some unique additions include:
- Bicycling in the Maasai Mara and at Diani.
- Watersports: Rafting/kayaking at Watamu, Sagana & Tana River and floating adventure at Mida Creek (Watamu).
- Camel walking safaris with Karisia.
- El Karama Lodge experience for children.
- Warrior Academy with Saruni.
- Climbing Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro with African Ascents.
- Golfing at Great Rift, Naivasha.
- 16th century stone ruins at Thimlich Ohinga Migori, now a World Heritage site.
- Interacting with rare rhino: treks at Borana, extravaganza at Solio, tracking at Saruni,
- Also, two unique experiences are farm ones: At Ololo in Nairobi, there is a farm experience package in which guests can tour and dine on food from the farm. They can partake in picking eggs, vegetables, visit the orchard, milk animals and buy handmade furniture. Then at Olepangi, farm guests can milk cows, make bread, collect vegetables, ride horses, do yoga, and get massages.
The new list also had some of the traditional pricier offerings that draw tourists to Kenya, including Breakfast with Giraffes (sometimes a hot topic), In the footsteps of Elsa (inspired by the story of Joy Adamson’s adopted lioness), and humpback whale watching at Watamu, that controversially featured on CNN recently.