Kenya's World Heritage SItes
Kenya is home to six World Heritage Sites notable for their hostorical importance, impressive natural beauty and cultural significance. From ancient forest villages and military forts to saline lakes and glacier covered mountain peaks, these are Kenya's World Heritage Sites:
Located on Mombasa Island, Fort Jesus is a prime example of Portuguese military fortification. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1593-1596 based on designs by Giovanni Battista Cairati and is incredibly well preserved. The structure is perched on a ridge, overlooking the Old Port of Mombasa. It is a structurally beautiful example of the Renaissance ideal that perfect proportions and geometric harmony can be found in the human body; an ideal reflected in the fort’s layout. Today, the fort is a museum and has become an incredibly important East African historical landmark.
Lamu Old Town
Narrow, winding streets, white-washed buildings and elaborately carved doors make up Lamu Old Town. The world heritage site is the oldest and most-well preserved Swahili monument in East Africa which has been continually inhabited for 700 years. It was built in the early 14th century as a Swahili settlement and has continued its original function over the centuries. The Lamu community is strong and close-knit and believes in upholding traditions and maintaining respect for the past. Lamu Old Town is located on one of Kenya’s coastal islands, 250km from Mombasa. The fusion of Swahili, Arabic, Indian, Persian and European building styles make for an architectural delight. Today, Lamu Old Town is an important centre for the study of Swahili and Islamic culture and history.
Kenya’s Lake Systems
Three interlinked, shallow, alkaline lakes glisten under the sun across the Great Rift Valley. Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita make up Kenya’s lake systems are have proved to be incredibly valuable for the study of important ecological processes. The lakes have some of the highest diversities of bird species in the world and are home to three endangered species. Mammals such as black rhino, lion, cheetah and Rotschild Giraffe wonder around the lake systems. Throughout the year, the great lakes provide foraging sites for the iconic pink flocks of lesser flamingo and are a breeding ground for great white pelican.
Lake Turkana National Parks
Lake Turkana’s strikingly turquoise coloured waters stretch across three of Kenya’s National Parks; Siboli National Park, South Island and Central Island National Parks. Located in the Kenyan area of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Turkana is the world’s largest desert lake and is a hive of animal activity. It provides a base for migrant water fowl and breeding grounds for Nile crocodile. Lake Turkana is also home to an abundance archaeological and paleontological sites making is a prime spot to researching early human and animal history with many human, mammal and mollusk fossil remains being found and excavated around the lake.
Mt Kenya National Park
From the snowcapped peaks of Mt Kenya to the savanna grasslands below, Mt Kenya is full of impressive landscapes. Africa’s second highest peak is in actuality an ancient, extinct volcano forms a focal point in the National Park. Moving from the mountains to the plains, there is a transition of unique Afro-Alpine flora. The local Kikuyu people regard the park as the realm of their god Ngai. The diverse landscapes ranging from grasslands to glaciers to lakes combined with the resident wildlife make for a destination overflowing with natural beauty.
Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests
This World Heritage Site is spread out along Kenya’s Coast. The Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests are made up of 11 separate forest sites dotted along 200km of Kenya’s Coastline. The forests are home to the remains of fortified villages belonging to the Mijikenda people. They were created in the 16th century before being abandoned in the 1940’s. Today they are considered sacred sites and are under the control of councils of elders who revere the forests as the sacred ancient homes of their ancestors.