Kenya’s savannah sunsets, gorgeous lake lands and rocky mountain highlands make it one of the most stunning places on the African continent.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against travelling within 60km of the Kenyan-Somali border in all but essential circumstances as well as the Garissa County, the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, Lamu County and the areas of the Tana River County and the river itself. However, these areas do not impact the safaris in the south of the country and therefore acts as contextual information for travellers heading to Kenya.
Wildlife in Kenya is world-renowned, allowing you to have rare insights and experiences with some of the most fascinating species walking the Earth today. Safaris in Kenya, where big cats, elephants, rhino and buffalo roam free, are truly like no other.
Best Time To Visit
With the exception of a couple of extended good viewing times, the best months to safari in Kenya are June through to October. Some parks are also as good for wildlife viewing in January and February for those who wish to avoid summer holiday crowds or have no choice other than to visit then.
Kenya’s dry months occur during June through to October, meaning that many animals are moving towards the parks where there are water sources. This makes it easier to spot the wildlife than in the wet months of November, April and May as animals have naturally spread out with the increase in water sources.
The wet months also mean long and thick grass, conditions that are far from ideal when on safari. During the wet months, there is of course lots of rain but there is also a high chance of storms during the days and nights. The temperature during this time also depends on the rain: before it arrives, the temperature is high and after the rains, it gets cooler.
As a result, we would strongly recommend a safari in the dry season. The heat on an afternoon usually reaches around 31 degrees Celsius with the sun present all day long as there is very little chance of rain.
If you’re planning on heading on a Kenyan safari in August and September, you can expect daytime temperatures to rise and peak above the 31 degrees mentioned above. This is because after these months, the rains arrive and cool the parks right down (but also make it harder and less comfortable for travellers!).
Best Safari Parks In Kenya
We’ve managed to narrow down the top five wildlife safari parks in Kenya. It was a challenge, but we’re sure we’ve done it to the best of our abilities as there is something for everyone.
Masai Mara National Reserve
One of the things to know about Masai Mara NR is that just outside are private reserves run by local members of the Masai communities. These are a great way to give back to the locals in a sustainable way and also to experience the truly fascinating Kenyan culture.
However, one of the best (and the most important) part of the safari is, of course, the animals. At Masai Mara, you can see all three big cats – cheetah, leopard and lion – as well as the iconic wildebeest migration.
To see the hundreds of thousands of hooves migrate through Kenya, you will need to be at the reserve during September and October where you can watch it in action and also (hopefully) see the animals cross the Mara River. At this time of year, general wildlife viewing is also brilliant and so there is no compromise on the quantity and quality of safari.
Amboseli National Park
Do not be fooled by the small size of this park: it is home to giants. Amboseli NP is often referred to as the ‘Land of Giants’ due to the number of large-tusked elephants roaming its plains.
Giraffes, hippos, buffalos, zebra and wildebeest are all common to the park and play a huge part in its popularity with tourists. Lions are occasionally spotted (although you increase your chances by being in the right place at the right time: January and February; then June to October) but Masai Mara is definitely your best bet for all three of the big cats as leopards and cheetahs are not found at Amboseli.
If you love elephants, though, Amboseli is truly the safari for you. During the day you can watch them lie partially submerged in the Ol Okenya swamp living free from poaching due to protection efforts by the park. It really is a sight to behold, especially with the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro against them.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru NP is the best of all five safari parks/reserves to visit in terms of time flexibility. Although it is still not recommended you travel in April and May, the rest of the year is brilliant for wildlife viewing (apart from March, which is a little bit hit-and-miss).
Lovers of rhino will find themselves a second home at Lake Nakuru as it is renowned for its white rhino population. There is also a strong chance of seeing black rhinos as well, although there are less of them at the park.
Hippos, giraffes, baboons, colobus monkeys and zebras are all common at the park and so make for a fantastic experience of some captivating animals. It must be said also that there are no elephants at the park and that lions and leopards are only occasionally spotted at Lake Nakuru.
Samburu National Reserve
For travellers on a time restriction of just a few days, Samburu NP is a great option to seriously consider. Most safari animals can be seen in a couple of days, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebras and seven habituated leopards who are not unusual to see.
There are no rhinos at Samburu and lions are rare sights to see with the same applying to cheetahs. However, this doesn’t take away from the brilliance and convenience of Samburu NP.
Visiting this reserve is pretty good all year round apart from the months where there is heavy rain (April and May). In the summer months, the reserve can get quite busy, so there are plenty of options available.
Buffalo Springs, Samburu and Shaba are adjoining similar reserves, hosting pretty much the same animals in the same conditions due to a similar ecology.
Once again, for travellers without an abundance of time to head on safari, Buffalo Springs is great for you – especially if Samburu doesn’t have all that you want.
Several leopards have set up camp in the reserve, making Buffalo Springs renowned for its fantastic leopard sightings. They fight, interact and live together, making for fantastic viewing – even if you only have a couple of days.
Elephants, antelope, giraffes, hippos and zebras are all common at the reserve and buffalo and hyena are also pretty common to find strutting the plains of Buffalo Springs.
Whichever park or reserve you choose for your Kenyan safari, we hope you have a fantastic time!