Kenya Attractions

Tano Safaris will create the perfect tailor-made, private safari in East Africa, for you. Read our info below on some of our favourite attractions and places to visit in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, and remember to browse our ideas below for inspiration for your next safari!     
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The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport serves as the entry point for most visitors to the country, and an arrival into Nairobi greets you with the juxtaposed Nairobi National Park on one side of the road, and traffic, and modern high-rise buildings on the other. The city was first established as a supply depot at “Mile 327”of the Kenya- Uganda Railway in 1899. The city replaced Mombasa as the capital city in 1905.

Today, a small Railway Museum pays tribute to the workers and engineers who worked on the tracks that opened up the interior of the country, and has on display original wagons and engines that had originally been shipped in by the British, piece by piece, from India.

The National Museum has on display historical art and weapons from Kenya’s 42 tribes, prehistoric archaeological exhibits from diggings carried out in various parts of the country, and a modern art and culture section which frequently hosts exhibitions, plays and concerts.

There are several restaurants, clubs, shops and markets to be visited, as well as the Karen Blixen house, the Giraffe Centre, the Snake Park and Aviary, the Nairobi Arboretum, the Bomas of Kenya Cultural Centre which presents traditional dances daily, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust- an orphanage for elephants and rhinos which are rehabilitated prior to being released back to the wild, and the Nairobi National Park, rich with wildlife and the top rhino sanctuary in East Africa.


Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, a small island connected to the mainland by bridge. With its bustling and winding narrow alleys in its historic Arab Old Town, its landmark structure the old Portuguese Fort Jesus, and its eclectic mix of colonial buildings reminiscent of the British influence on the formation of the city, and later of Kenya as a country, Mombasa is one of the most vibrant cities in Africa. Mombasa was the former capital prior to independence, when Nairobi took over due its more central location in the country.

For hundreds of years, Mombasa’s deep-water harbour lured traders, missionaries and explorers from as far away as China, Holland, Portugal and Oman, who were all eager to access the mainland through this natural gateway to the world. A rich cultural identity is prevalent among the Swahili people, who preserve their culture in their attire, poetry and dance, and in their delicious cuisine, which is often spiced with flavours from lands across the Indian Ocean.

Snorkelling and water sports such as scuba diving, big game fishing, sailing and windsurfing are popular pastimes at the coast, and the long, sunny days mean that the sunbathing and relaxing on the beaches are possible throughout the year. Although busier than the other small towns to the north and south, Mombasa has its fair share of beautiful hotels, some of which have less crowded beaches.


The park is a fairytale paradise of dense highland forest and misty spaces of Afro-alpine moorland, deep gorges and ravines where icy rivers plunge in glorious cascades and waterfalls such as the Gura (791ft) or Karura Falls (894ft). The park is truly spectacular – an authentic jungle right at the heart of Kenya, a tropical forest mostly shrouded in dense fog. The Salient stretches out towards the nearby town of Nyeri, and was once an elephant migration route. These great animals remain within the park together with buffalo, a wide variety of antelope, giant forest hog, the elusive bongo antelope, black rhino, lions, leopards and hyenas.

At 2000m, forest gives way to dense clusters of bamboo. At 3500m, the vegetation is already scarce and is mostly composed of tracts of heather. Here, Giant Lobelias and Giant Senecio, which grow to heights of 5m, flourish. The highest point is Ol Doinyo Lesatima, at 3999m. The views of Mt. Kenya from the park are fantastic, especially in the early morning. A visit to either of these areas provides an opportunity for bird watching in three distinctive vegetation zones. These are thick highland forest, bamboo forest and Afro-alpine moorland and no less than 13 species of sunbirds; including the Northern Double Collared, Golden Winged, Tacazze, Green Headed, Variable and Scarlet Tufted Malachite sunbirds, along with the larger birds of prey such as the Mountain Buzzard and African Goshawk.

The most popular way to visit the park is to spend a night in one of the tree hotels, where you can watch the forest animals as they come to drink at the spot lit water holes, or to enjoy the salt licks. Game drives are exciting not so much for the variety or numbers of animals seen as for the thrill of navigating extremely narrow forested paths and coming across elephants, buffalo and even leopards. Trout Fishing in the cold mountain streams and guided forest walks are available. Similar adventures can be had in the nearby Mt. Kenya National Park, including the tree hotel experience.


The unmistakable image of elephants casually strolling in the arid Amboseli National Park, with the magnificent Mt. Kilimanjaro providing a picturesque backdrop, is one of the most iconic image representing Africa, and with such stunning natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Amboseli is one of the most photographed parks in the world. The park is mostly hot and dry, and mirages rising up from the dried- up salt pan of the ancient Lake Amboseli are a common sight. Some areas are however surprisingly lush and green, with several swamps and marshes fed by underground streams originating from Mt. Kilimanjaro’s melting ice and snow, all the way across the border in Tanzania.

These cooling marshes are where most of the animals in the park can be found, seeking solace from the midday heat. Elephants love to play in the water, while silent grumpy hippos spend the entire day submerged in the refreshing pools. The park is also home to large numbers of predators including lions, cheetahs and leopard, hyenas and jackals. Plains game abounds, with herds of wildebeest, two species of zebras, hartebeests, waterbucks, giraffes and gazelles. The birdlife in Amboseli is spectacular, and with over 400 different species represented, it figures high up on any bird watcher’s list of places to visit.

While at Amboseli, it is possible to visit traditional Maasai villages, and learn about the culture of the equally iconic communities living in the area. Amboseli was declared a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Site, one of several initiatives introduced with the aim of promoting peaceful co-existence between the local communities and the protected wildlife.


Most of Kenya’s 480km long coastline is protected by coral reefs, which result in the long stretches of sandy, white beaches characteristic of the Kenyan coast. Two of the country’s largest rivers, the Athi and Tana, drain in to the Indian Ocean.

The Tana Delta, north of Mombasa, is an area located in what used to be the old delta of the Tana River (the longest river in Kenya), and is the only wetland of its type in Eastern Africa. The area’s unique location makes an incredible mosaic of landscapes and experiences. Miles and miles of wide, sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean, shaded by doum palms, baobabs and exotic tamarind trees. The wetland area boasts a rich diversity of wildlife such as hippos, bushbuck, baboons. The stunning birdlife includes waders, seabirds and Palaearctic migrants, while in the bushes and forests, colourful songbirds provide a melodious background beat. Miles of rolling rippling sand dunes sit overlooking the creek on one side, and are excellent for relaxed walks.

Also located to the north of Mombasa are the towns of Malindi and Watamu, the former of historical importance as it was the first site which the explorer Vasco da Gama visited when he arrived at what is now Kenya. A commemorative pillar was erected to mark the location. Both Malindi and Watamu boast some of the country’s best marine parks, teeming with superb snorkelling and diving opportunities. Watamu is often considered to be the best location for deep-sea fishing and attracts serious anglers taking part in competitions.

Tiwi and Diani beaches are located south of Mombasa and Diani is accessed by ferry if driving from Mombasa. There is an airstrip at Diani, as is the case in Malindi and Lamu, both further up in the north. Diani Beach has many times been voted among the top beaches in the world, thanks to the white sandy beaches, warm waters of the ocean, and the unmatched underwater natural attractions.

Most of the luxury hotels are found at Diani Beach, Msambweni and Galu beaches. Shimoni, close to the Tanzanian border, and close to the Pemba Channel, is fantastic for scuba diving and dolphin spotting. The Funzi Keys are in the same area, and offer a private getaway on small keys filled with magical mangrove trees.

Snorkelling and water sports, such as scuba diving, big game fishing, sailing and windsurfing are popular pastimes at the beach, and the long, sunny days mean that the sunbathing and relaxing on the beaches are possible throughout the year.


The wildly scenic Laikipia Plateau is a stunning area that stretches from the northern slopes of Mt. Kenya to the rim of the Great Rift Valley. Built upon a pioneering foundation of incorporating private and community ranches and grazing land, an immense wilderness area of about 9500 square kilometres has been created, offering the most exclusive and unforgettable safari experiences in the country.

Laikipia has also become a focus for many conservation efforts, and some ranches and conservancies have become breeding sanctuaries for the critically endangered rhinos. Most notable is the 90,000 acre Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to 3 of the 5 last remaining Northern White Rhinos in the world. At Sweetwaters Game Reserve, a refuge for chimpanzees rescued from the pet and bush meat trade in Central Africa has been established, the only place in the country in which chimpanzees can be seen.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is world renowned for its conservation efforts, and it is host to the highest concentration of wildlife in the country. These include the endangered Grevy’s zebras, of which there are about 2500 left in the world. The local population within Lewa accounts for over 20% of the world’s population of Grevy’s zebras.

Second in diversity of animal species to that of the Masai Mara, Laikipia is home to half of Kenya’s Black and White Rhinos. It is home to the second largest population of elephant in the country, all the country’s predators including lions, wild dogs, cheetahs and leopards are present, and gorgeous Oryx antelopes, Jackson’s hartebeest, Reticulated Giraffes and spiral horned Kudus can be seen.

Archaeological sites dating back over 800,000 years can be visited during the stay at one of the lodges or camps in the area. Kenya’s most exclusive and stylish safari lodges are located within Laikipia, and apart from the pampered comfort they offer, they form the base from which to experience Laikipia’s playful side: from day and night game drives, horse riding, camel safaris, quadbiking, helicopter trips taking you to the sacred Mt. Ololokwe and atop Mt.Kenya, authentic biplane excursions flying over the plateau, hiking, swimming and tubing in the rivers, fishing and many more.


One of the oldest civilisations on the East African coast, Lamu was founded in the 14th Century and was the centre for much of the trade and interaction between the Arabs and the East Africans for hundreds of years. A rich diversity of peoples existed then, a result of the notorious Slave Trade carried out by the Arabs and Portuguese. This mix of cultures brought about the birth of a new language, Kiswahili, now spoken all over East Africa.

Today Lamu is probably Africa’s last stronghold of Shirazi customs and architecture. The charming Old Stone Town of Lamu is the largest Stone Town in East Africa, with most of the buildings having been constructed during the 18th century, or the “Golden Age”. Distinctive flat-topped, white-washed houses with court yards and splendid carved doors line narrow, shaded streets.

A picturesque and laid back atmosphere welcomes you; the slow tempo is accentuated by the fact that the whole archipelago has only 1 motor vehicle! All transport is done by Dhow or by the island’s donkeys. In 2001, UNESCO declared Lamu a World Heritage Site.

Since then Lamu has grown in popularity amongst travellers looking for an insight in to the authentic Swahili culture and heritage that lives on in the Lamu Archipelago. The numbers of chic private houses that can be rented have grown. While there aren’t really any proper beaches on Lamu Island itself, there are sandy stretches within walking distance, one in front of the landmark Peponi Hotel, and other more ample beaches a short walk away (depending on the tides), at Shela Village or other pristine beaches reachable by boat. The wonderful underwater world along the reefs in the Kiunga Marine National Park and the hideaways on Kiwayu and Manda are for those who dream of deserted tropical islands in the sun.


The Masai Mara Game Reserve encompasses 1510 square kilometres of the expansive Serengeti- Mara Ecosystem, a range of land defined by the limits of the migratory wildebeests’ movements throughout the year.

This is without question the world’s prime game viewing area. With the highest diversities of species, and one of the highest concentrations of animals in the country, the acacia- dotted plains of the Mara offer wonderful scenery and a spectacular abundance of wildlife. Regal black- maned lions, colourful topi antelopes, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, Maasai giraffes, hartebeest, serval cats, bat eared foxes; cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and jackals; monkeys and baboons, vultures, secretary birds, saddle bill storks, hundreds of migratory birds are just some of the hundreds of species that inhabit the park.

Together with the private conservation areas and group ranches surrounding the actual reserve, the Greater Masai Mara receives the largest amount of rainfall in the entire ecosystem, and this is a primary attraction for the millions of Wildebeest, Gazelles and Zebra that return to the Mara from the southern Serengeti plains every year. The conservancies surrounding the Mara Reserve are managed hand in hand with the local communities, and visitors to the Masai Mara get the chance to visit Maasai villages and cultural centres, where they can learn more about perhaps the most well known African tribe, that to date maintains its traditional way of life.

Hot air ballooning is one of the best ways to augment a visit to the Masai Mara, an always exciting adventure any time of the year, but especially so during the Migration, when the plains are teeming with hundreds of thousands of wildlife. Day trips by small aircraft to visit Lake Victoria, less than an hour away, are also available.

The experiences outside the reserve itself have the added value of having smaller and more intimate accommodation options, from the rustic to the absolutely luxurious, and in addition, they offer both day and night game drives, walking safaris anD overnight fly camping adventures, hiking, fishing in the rivers, to name a few.

The Mara can be visited throughout the year, and offers wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities due to the very large numbers of resident animals that do not follow the migration. The landscape is simply stunning, especially so in the rainy season, with characteristic grey-blue clouds framed in silver by the African sun casting gorgeous light over the land.

Perhaps the most famous natural feature of the reserve is the Mara River, which begins in the Mau Escarpment of the Rift Valley in Kenya, winding its way down to Tanzania and on to Lake Victoria. The river, which is gentle and slow in some areas, and wild and gushing in others, is home to several families of hippos and to ageless crocodiles. During the Migration, this is the centre stage for dramatic river crossings.

>>> Read more about the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara and Serengeti.


Mount Kenya rises to the twin snow-covered peaks of Batian (5199m or 17,058 feet) and Nelion (5188m or 17,022 feet). Mount Kenya’s peaks are named after Maasai Laibons (ritual leaders) of the nineteenth century. According to legends of the Kikuyu people, Ngai (the creator of all things) dwelt on the summit of Kirinyaga. “Kirinyaga” means “mountain of brightness, or contrasts” in the Kikuyu language.

The mountain slopes are covered with rich deciduous and bamboo forests and open high altitude moorland just below the glaciers and snowfields. The mountain shelters a huge variety of wildlife, including the rare and elusive Bongo antelope. Wildlife resident within the forest includes elephants, buffalos and even lions, with several species of antelope and other smaller animals present. The plant life varies from rosewood and bamboo to heather, giant lobelia and brilliant flowers. Amateur hikers can reach Point Lenana, the third highest point on the mountain, while the higher peaks are restricted to professional mountaineers.

The most popular way to visit the park is to spend a night at the one tree hotel located inside the park, where you can watch the forest animals as they come to drink at the spot lit water holes. Excursions to see the Giant Lobelia and Senecio plants can be arranged. Exciting helicopter excursions for a day trip to visit the high altitude mountain lakes or to fish for trout can be arranged.


The Lake Nakuru National Park, located within the Great Rift Valley, is visually stunning with Yellow Bark Acacia trees and a large pale blue-green Euphorbia forest providing a backdrop for over 1 million pink flamingos wading along the shores of the shallow, alkaline water lake.

The Lake Nakuru National Park is located within the spectacular Great Rift Valley, and is the only fully fenced park in Kenya. Home to one of the oldest rhino sanctuaries, both the larger White Rhinos and the smaller Black Rhino can be found in the park. The White rhinos can easily be found close to the lakeshore, while the more reclusive Black rhinos can be found in the thickets and bushes away from the lake.

A blue-green euphorbia forest, and beautiful yellow bark acacias scattered throughout, are characteristic to the park, framed by the hills of the Mau Escarpment. Initially established as a bird sanctuary in 1960, the park is also a sanctuary for Greater and Lesser flamingos, and hundreds of thousands of these pink flamingos, a pink flush on the lake visible from miles away, along with the park’s population of the endangered Rothschild giraffes, are the main attractions.

It is common to see jackals and hyenas lounging in the shallow waters of the lake, and hippos can be found in the fresh water rivers that empty in to the lake. Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the easiest places to find leopards, casually draped over the branches of an acacia tree, especially during the day. The parklands are filled with numerous buffalo, waterbuck, gazelles and impalas, and lions, leopards, hyenas and jackals are commonly sighted. Hundreds of species of water birds, can be found at the lake itself, colourful wood hoopoes play in the acacia trees, and the rocky cliffs of the park house Verreaux’s eagles and vultures.



Lake Naivasha is extremely popular with visitors who would like to enjoy a lazy boat ride to admire the proliferation of over 350 species of birds which include fish eagles and ospreys, herons and egrets, purple gallinules, lily-trotters, red-knobbed coots and black crakes, or to admire the families of hippos that inhabit the lake. Those who prefer a faster pace could hire a speedboat and cruise the lake in spectacular style! The beautiful and expansive Lake Naivasha, the highest and coldest lake in the Rift Valley, gets its name from the Maa word for “tempestuous”, or capricious! A typical day in Naivasha is hot during the first half of the day, most likely rainy in the afternoon, and quite chilly at night. There are several accommodation options available along the lake shore, and close by, some in large sanctuaries that offer wildlife viewing as well. These range from campsites to proper English Manor houses, eclectic towers to mainstream lodges. Naivasha is also popular with guests who wish to visit the nearby Lake Nakuru, but would prefer higher-end properties for their overnight accommodation.


The fresh water Lake Baringo lies in the solitude of the semi-desert of the northern Rift Valley, a haven of beauty and peace in harsh, rugged but majestic surroundings. The 129 square kilometre lake has plentiful fish, and attracts many pelicans, cormorants and fish eagles, and is home to a sizeable population of crocodiles and hippos. Over 460 species have been listed in the Lake Baringo area, and the Goliath Heronry on a rocky islet in the lake (known locally as Gibraltar) is world famous. You are likely to encounter Heuglin’s or Threebanded coursers, Lichtenstein’s Sand-grouses, Spotted thick-knees, Pale and dark phase Gabar Goshawks, African Fish Eagles, Marabou Storks, Shikra and White-faced Scops Owls, Jackson’s Hornbills. Some less common birds here include Hemprich’s Hornbill, the African Darter and the occasional African Skimmer. This area is a must for any serious bird watcher. The lake derives its beauty as much from the overwhelming sense of being at repose with nature as much as its scenic splendour. The lake itself is truly beautiful, surrounded by volcanic ranges that stretch as far as the eye can see. At the lakes’ heart is Ol Kokwe Island, a stark rocky island that is home to the Njemps fishermen’s villages and a luxury tented lodge. The Njemps people are the only pastoral, cattle herding tribe in the country that also practices fishing.


One of the prettiest Rift Valley lakes, Lake Bogoria is coloured a deep pink-red, due to the high concentrations of iron oxide in the water, and the western shores are scattered with hot springs, bubbling geothermal pools and active geysers spurting steam and water high up. The lake is the heart of an arid landscape, in the shadow of the dramatic walls of the Siracho Range. The alkaline waters of the lake, filled with Blue-Green algae, attracts massive flocks of flamingos, while the fresh water springs at the lake’s edge attract an abundance of birds and wildlife. There are many Fish Eagles, which often prey on the flamingos. The shores are always lined with gazelles, zebras, baboons, and jackals, and the park is one of the best places to see the Greater Kudu.


The sharp contrast of colours is the most remarkable feature of the trio of the Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. The hazy blues of the surrounding hills and the infinite sky, the chocolate brown of the Uaso Nyiro River, the white dusty soils interspaced with the vivid greens of semi-desert vegetation, and the black scattered granite boulders and ancient black lava flows, which are found in the Shaba Reserve, make this an extremely photogenic area.

The region’s animal life seemingly pays tribute to the artist’s palette, with curious blue- legged Somali ostriches, chestnut coloured Reticulated giraffes, black and white Grevy’s zebras, tan Gerenuk gazelles, tricoloured oryxes, black and grey Striped hyenas, and the grey-green Nile Crocodiles which inhabit the Uaso Nyiro River that flows through Shaba and Samburu. Samburu is often considered to be the country’s best leopard- viewing area, and sightings of prides of lions, cheetah, monolithic herds of elephants and buffalos in all the reserves is practically guaranteed. The birdlife in this area is as striking for its diversity, as it is for its colour!

Home to the ‘Butterfly people’, the Samburu tribe whose culture is similar to that of the Maasai, cultural visits can be arranged to their villages, including the infamous women-only village, where they explain their lifestyle and culture. You can visit the Singing Wells, Penny’s Drop, and for the more energetic, the Samburu can accompany you on camel safaris or walking safaris in this area of remote natural beauty.


Extending over an area greater than 21,000 square kilometres in size, the adjoining Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks form the largest wildlife park in the country. The first safari lodge that was built in Kenya is located in Tsavo West. Thorn bush and scrub are the main types of vegetation in this savage wilderness which is home to the Shetani Lava Flows and to the Mzima Springs, where an underground viewing tank allows you to watch the underwater antics of hippopotamuses.

The region’s infamous mane-less Tsavo Lions and Red Elephants, so called because of the red dust the elephants cover themselves in, are some of the top attractions of Tsavo. Lions, cheetahs, Fringed-Eared oryx, klipspringers, kudus, Striped hyenas and the occasional caracal can also be encountered.

Immortalised in Ernest Hemingways’ book “The Green Hills of Africa”, the Chyulu Hills are located close to the Amboseli and the Tsavo National Parks, with beautiful views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Together with the dense forest vegetation of the Chyulu National Park, the surrounding conservation areas provide for some of the most exclusive and far from the crowds safari experiences, with low numbers of tourists and its two luxury safari lodges offer game drives, horse back safaris, fly camping and walking safaris. Scenic flights are also popular in the area. The area hosts an abundance of wildlife, from the Big Five (lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards and rhinos) to wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, impalas, wildebeests, hartebeests, elands, the curious gerenuk, lesser kudus, reedbucks, waterbucks, Grants and Thomson gazelles, warthogs, and many more. The forests are filled with huge, indigenous trees and colourful orchids, and over 400 species of birds can be found in the area.


This magnificent lake is the largest body of fresh water in Africa. With a shallow depth of an average of 40m (85m at its deepest point) it encompasses an area of 68,800 square kilometres, making it the second largest lake in the world. It measures 337km at its greatest length, and 250km at its greatest width, and the lake is shared among the three countries of Kenya (5%), Tanzania (49%) and Uganda (45%).

In Kenya, the lake is home to several tribes, including the Luo people, who moved into the area in the 15th Century, from their ancestral homelands in the Sudan. Fishing for tilapia and Nile perch provides a living for many. The fish are sold at local markets or to the processors for sale in Nairobi and for export. Most of the fishing is from small picturesque dugout canoes, equipped with lateen sails.

The deep blue waters support an abundant ecosystem. The Lake is rich in fish and birdlife, its islands are lush and verdant. Some come for the abundant birds, fish eagles, kingfishers and pelicans, others to glimpse the playful otters. There are huge nesting colonies of egrets, gannets and cormorants, and pairs of vocal Fish Eagle who patrol their territories every 100 metres. Bird species found around Lake Victoria but rarely if ever seen anywhere else in Kenya include the Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue Swallow, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp-warbler, Whitewinged Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Carruthers’ Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Redchested Sunbird, Red-headed Quelea, Slenderbilled Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Black-throated Seedeater and the Papyrus Canary. The chance to fish for the giant Nile Perch and Tilapia draws many anglers, and it is possible to stay at one of the island lodges for a few nights, or visit the lake as part of a day excursion from the Masai Mara.

Mfangano Island still retains its air of an obscure small fishing village. Locals fish at night with lanterns to attract the tiny silver Kapenta sardines (known locally as Omena), which are brought back early in the morning and laid out in the hot sun to dry. There are interesting rock paintings on the island, judged to date back over 2000 years, created possibly by the ancestors of the hunter-gatherer Twa people.

Rusinga Island is connected to the main land by a man-made causeway. The island is rich in fossils and Mary Leakey first put this tiny island on the map with her discovery of a 3 million year old skull belonging to Proconsul africanus. Additional fossils were also found dating back 18 million years, or the Miocene period. Pleistocene mammal fossils, including those of an extinct antelope are common around the island. Over 100 species of bird have been recorded around the island and other residents include hippos, giant monitor lizards and spotted neck otters.

Both islands are laid back, with pretty plantations of banana trees and colourful fishing villages where you’ll always be greeted with a friendly smile and a wave.