Kenya is home to a variety of rich cultural experiences within their local villages that one can join and have a lot of involvement in. The top Kenya cultural experience tours include learning about the Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Swahili, and other communities whilst taking part in the activities.
The various ways of getting involved in a Kenya cultural experience are by possibly visiting schools, doing a village visit, visiting the market, or moving with the herders. When planned in accordance with the time of festivals, it is also possible to visit the different festivals where culture is displayed to its best.
Kenya’s cultural experience activities are based on the values and traditions of the different societies that are rooted in traditions very different from what many visitors may be used to. Kenya is diverse in languages with about forty of them divided into three communities of the Maasai, Samburu, and Turkana. These three communities can be described briefly as;
The Maasai are traditionally semi-nomadic and entirely dependent on their livestock. Recently, they tend to be fairly sedentary, occupying small settlements of 8-15 houses protected by thorn bushes or fencing.
Livestock, including goats and sheep but especially cattle, are the primary source of income for the Maasai – when they can be persuaded to sell that is. A visit to the Maasai Mara villages can be customized with a Kenya safari to the Masai Mara Game Reserve which is popular for the annual wildebeest migration.
The Samburu are closely related to the Maasai. Both arrived in Kenya from the upper Nile region in present-day South Sudan in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they speak a common language – Maa. The traditional Samburu diet consists of milk and blood extracted from their cows.
Meat is only served on special occasions. Dancing plays a significant role in Samburu culture and is similar to that of the Maasai people with men dancing in a circle and jumping high from a standing position. Participating in this dance is such an amazing experience, and yes very challenging.
The Turkana are an important pastoral community in northern Kenya. Like other herders, they traditionally lived a nomadic life, always moving from one place to another depending on the availability of pasture and water for their animals.
Although trading and employment are increasingly important (many Turkana men work in the security services or as guards and night watchmen), the old cattle culture is still vitally important. Fishing is also a major source of food for those living close to Lake Turkana.
Top Cultural Events you wouldn’t miss in Kenya
If you would want to experience the uniqueness and hospitality of the Kenyan culture, then these festivals are part of what you can choose to attend while in Kenya.
For all car buffs, the Safari Rally is one of the most popular events in the Kenyan calendar with both the young and old alike. Since its onset in 1953 in honor of Queen Elizabeth, the KCB Safari Rally is an internationally acclaimed event and a significant part of Kenya’s history.
It is a sport loved by the Kenyan people and draws the attention of people of different ages and cultures both locally and internationally. A fast-paced race through the wilderness of Kenya where drivers have to negotiate through rough terrains and assortments of wildlife. The Safari Rally is one sport that attracts many visitors alike and has become a part of Kenyan culture.
Lamu Cultural Festival
Every year Lamu comes to life during the Lamu Cultural Festival, as Kenyans come together to celebrate both the past, future, the beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of this community in the lovely enchanting island of Lamu.
An ancient Swahili township, Lamu is a World Heritage site and the cultural festival offers an insight into how life in the old days was in terms of architecture and lifestyle.
The event is usually held annually in November, with exciting activities such as traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, donkey races, and dhow sailing, culminating with a traditional Swahili wedding and a chance to enjoy various Swahili dishes.
This annual festival gives one a chance to experience the traditional beliefs that are very deeply engraved with the locals and learn more about their simple and peaceful lifestyle.
Lake Turkana Festival
The uniqueness about this annual festival that is usually held around May is the fact the festival helps to overcome stereotypes and creates a mutual understanding of different cultures and promotes peaceful coexistence.
The event features unique performances and demonstrations of ten different ethnic communities which live in the Lake Turkana region. With traditional dances and a chance to taste various foods from these communities as well as being able to visit their unique huts and get a taste to experience life in Loiyangani in Northern Kenya.
The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the ten tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes arts and crafts, dances, and music is a fascinating experience that leaves one with a positive perception of the Lake Turkana region.
Mombasa Carnival is apparently the most popular festival in Kenya. The festival features numerous traditions and ethnicity in Kenya. It is a lively festival that takes place in November in Mombasa.
Mombasa, known as the major cultural hub in East Africa, depicts both the Arabian and African cultures in a unique way. The festival features multicultural floats, music, dance performances, and colorful parades with people in amazing costumes.
Tourists who visit Mombasa during the festival have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and enjoy delicious Kenyan dishes in the food stalls set up on the streets of Mombasa.
International Camel Derby Festival
Held every year in the northern region of Kenya in Samburu, the Camel Derby is slowly becoming a spectacular festival packed with a variety of events that draw visitors from all over the world.
The Derby attracts contenders from all over the world since it started in the early 90s with camel races, cycling races for both amateurs and professional racers alike. Each year the Carmel Derby brings color and action to the streets of Maralal as the finest camels gather for the big race.
Maralal is a haven for nomadic cultures and the town is a popular stopover for travelers looking for some form of adventure in the great unspoiled wilderness areas.
With difficult routes running through the semi-desert regions, the Camel Derby is such an exciting event for anyone wishing to compete and a chance to experience the culture, color, action, and adventure firsthand!
Lamu annually hosts the Maulidi historical festival which has become a permanent feature of Islamic activities. The Lamu Maulidi celebrations bring together thousands of Muslims across East Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world as they celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed which is a long celebration in every third month of the Muslim calendar.
Since the 1990s the National Museum of Kenya has sponsored the event in Lamu and organized various community-building competitions such as swimming, dhow and donkey races, henna competitions, and tug of war.
The uniquely Swahili music, dance, and culture in Lamu are unlike any other since this island is rich in culture, history, and traditions hence why East African Muslims choose Lamu to visit and observe this special time. It’s a wonderful experience as one gets to see the colorful and energetic procession and crowds reciting qasida’s prayers together.
Safari Kenya and have amazing Kenya cultural Experience encounters. These can be tailor-made itineraries including more wildlife viewing trips in Kenya. Enjoy more cultural and wildlife viewing trips with our customized Uganda safaris, Tanzania trips, and Rwanda gorilla safaris.