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Original Issue

Kenya Top This?

A golden sunrise illuminates the eastern shore of Africa, the light glancing off the tidal lagoons, white beaches and towering dunes that line Kenya's 250-mile-long coast. Murmuring casuarina trees bend to the Indian Ocean surf. Though Kenya lies on the equator, soft sea breezes cool the morning air, ruffling the feathers of heron that come to the shore to feed. But wait. What's this zebra doing on Tiwi Beach? Actually, it's a not-very-camouflaged Kim Alexis in wild stripes by Norma Kamali for OMO ($55). On the cover, Carol Alt, in a fiery suit from David Haag ($45), lures fishing dhows to Manda Island at sunset.

Daybreak on inland Lake Turkana: Fishermen march off to work carrying "ibude" nets woven of bark from the "mkana" tree, as Charissa Craig angles for the rays in a moonstruck suit by Marcia Friedman for Le Bag ($56).

Kim fits right in with the bougainvillea at Indian Ocean Lodge near Malindi. Her "Persian Garden" pants ($180) and bikini ($48), by Leah Gottlieb for Gottex, complement the lodge's Arabic architecture. They also do a lot for Kim.

Kim's a most welcome sight (above) in a Persian print from Gottex ($68) as she greets visitors to a thatched-roof "banda" at Club Che-Shale near Malindi. The club offers superb food, plus excellent big-game fishing.

On the great sand dunes of Lamu Island, the aptly named Kathryn Redding (left) turns a warm shoulder to the sun as she works on her tan—yes, redheads do tan—in a star-studded suit by Marcia Friedman for Le Bag ($54).

At dusk, while musing in a tidal lagoon, Kathryn (above), wearing a strapless by David Haag ($55), is blissfully unaware that she has attracted a mysterious following. Not to worry. Her admirers are kids from nearby Lamu Town.

Hot sun, white sand, cool sea—and Carol's mellow yellow suit made in Italy by Oceano ($115)—add up to a languid afternoon at Lamu. Carol gets a lift from a Beachstyxx canvas chair that rolls up like a window shade ($29).

Carol and Charissa can't get an oar in as they canoe on Lake Baringo, 160 miles northwest of Nairobi. The scoop on such travel, as the ladies' fishermen friends well know, is to use coconut shells to keep the reed "gadich" moving. Carol's suit is from Ariella ($110), Charissa's from Keiko ($70).

Talk about your hot spots: Clouds of steam rise from the bubbling geysers at Lake Bogoria, a favorite hangout for flamingos. Carol generates some BTUs of her own in cotton-and-Lycra with rhinestones by Le Bag ($48).

Who's that untamed beauty peering from the high grass that grows on the endless dunes at Lamu? Why, it's Kathryn, who's stalking the goats that graze there. She's in a clingy nylon-and-Lycra that's also from Le Bag ($48).

Norma Kamali, who has a knack for creating suits that almost aren't there, triumphs again with a one-piece topless ($35) that lets Kim get down to the bare facts. For the faint of heart, a bra and bikini bottom are optional ($45).

Amid the wind-sculpted hills of coral sand at Lamu, where the dunes attain 90 feet in height, Charissa is definitely not out of her gourd but really out of her maillot with a T back from Cole of California ($32). Behind her a dhow sails serenely by on its way to the Indian Ocean.

Kim, in Monika Tilley's design for Elon ($55), takes a breather after climbing the steep stairs at Indian Ocean Lodge. The steps were no sweat for Kim, an ex-competitive swimmer, who—for those with weak eyes—is still in shape.

The stars, not to mention the starfish, come out at twilight on Tiwi Beach (right), where Kim demonstrates that she's a real supernova in this luminous nylon-and-Lycra suit with appliqués strategically placed by Liza Bruce ($78).

It seems there's more than one starfish suit in the sea, and Kathryn has hitched herself into this one from Keiko ($65) that has apparently washed up among the coral formations on Kiwaiyu Island, 20 miles north of Lamu.

Is a laid-back Charissa (left), here toasting in the sun on the coral of Kiwaiyu, playing the old shell game? Of course not. After all, you can't hide much under the three nylon scallop shells so cleverly strung together by Keiko ($80).

Holy cow! Kim's perched on the bow of a dhow (below), in a wow of a bikini that's topped off with a gold fishnet shirt by Gottex ($90). She's waiting for the afternoon tide to float her fishing boat off the beach at Indian Ocean Lodge.

Well, the tide's gone out and left Carol (right) high and dry—well, almost—at Lamu in a Gottex design of Lurex, nylon and Lycra ($58) that's the merest suspicion of a suit. Now to quote the eloquent Porky Pig: "That's all, folks."