Kenya Safari – Complete Travel Guide
With zebra, giraffe and wildebeest, peppering its vast savannahs, lion or leopard hiding underneath its ancient acacia trees and picturesque lakes reflecting thousands of pink flamingos, Kenya has everything a safari enthusiast might ask for. Don’t miss an opportunity to meet the local Maasai tribes and rest on the white sand beaches at the end of your safari.
Best Time To Go
June-October for Great Migration, September-March for bird watching, November-December for calving
Average Safari Cost
$100 - $600 pp/day
Classic safaris at Aberdare and Amboseli, best bird watching in Africa, true African wilderness in Samburu and Laikipia, hot springs of the Hell's Gate, coastal resorts, lakes of the Great Rift Valley, culture and wildlife of Maasai Mara, pink flamingo of Lake Nakuru, Africa’s 2nd largest – Mount Kenya, Tsavo West, the Big Five
Why go on a Kenya Safari
Pros And Cons
- Less popular then Tanzania and South Africa, which translates into more animal and bird watching in true wilderness
- Clear seasons and easily identifiable times to go on a great safari
- Great variety of wildlife to spot, including out-of-this world pink flamingo congregation on Lake Nakuru
- Distinct indigenous cultures
- Very child-friendly
- Diverse landscapes
- Great beach holidays
- Less big cats than in South Africa and Tanzania
- A lot of visitors in the south of the country
- High risk of malaria
- Travel warning related to areas near Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan
Best Time To Visit
As many popular African safari destination, Kenya has dry and rainy seasons that clearly divide the year. As the rule of thumb the flights would be almost half cheaper during the rainy season, but for a very good reason – wildlife would be very hard to spot.
See our straightforward guide to when to visit Kenya month by month.
Start your Kenya Adventure
Popular Kenya Tours
Great Tour of Kenya – Masai Mara, Nakuru, Amboseli, Tsavo
1 week safari combining the best aspects of great tailor made safari for a family or an incentive group having range of interest in wildlife and beauty of Kenya and culture of different communities with a visit to Kenya’s famous parks which includes: Tsavo East, West National Parks, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara National reserve. This gives you a chance to visit the Great Rift Valley with its climax at Lake Nakuru National Park, view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from your lodge/camp while at Amboseli. Animals likely to see during game drives includes: Elephants Lions, Rhinos, Leopard, Buffalos, Cheetah, Giraffes, Zebras and different types of gazelles. For bird watchers, it’s also the best safari with lots of bird species to spot along the whole safari with its climax at Lake Nakuru National Park. The safari also combines very well with beach holiday in Kenya Coast as it starts from Nairobi and ends in Mombasa either at North or South Coast – Diani Beach.
4 Day Masa Mara Safari
This is a great safari and the best short safari one can do in Kenya visiting the Great Rift valley lakes, the famous Masai Mara which blends very well to any extension one might want to do like beach holiday at Lamu, Mombasa and Zanzibar.
10 Days Maasai Mara Great Migration
Best season: Kenya is a year round destination with excellent game viewing. One of Kenya’s greatest attractions is the annual wildebeest migration between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya between June and September. Peak season is from January to March when the weather is hot and dry. This is the most comfortable time for travelling. It is good for bird viewing on the Rift Valley lakes and game viewing is also best at this time. April – June and October – December are less popular times (this means no crowds!) for visiting Kenya as these are the months when Kenya receives its rain. You will still be able to get around easily during the rainy season.
11 Days Amazing Kenya & Tanzania Safari
Nakuru and Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for its flocks of pink flamingos. Meet the children of the East Africa Mission Organization. Rift Valley Escarpment UNESCO Listed Ngorongoro Crater, a vast unbroken caldera which is a haven for wildlife Kericho and the Gusii Highlands Masai Mara National Park and tribal lands UNESCO Listed Serengeti, Tanzania's flagship national park Musoma - fishing town of the banks of Lake Victoria Nairobi - Kenya's bustling capital. Extend your stay to explore the sites
3 Days Masai Mara Game Reserve Lodge Safari
This tour covers the popular Masai Mara ecosystem where the yearly migration of millions of wildbeestes and Zebra move from Serengeti national park in Tanzania into Masai mara. Great safari
The Great Migration Safari
Experience East Africa's landscapes and wildlife at their finest on this independent itinerary, embarking on game drives through majestic national parks and reserves in Kenya and Tanzania, keeping watch for the famous "Big Five," and visiting a Maasai village. Stay in the best boutique camp and luxury safari lodge accommodations in East Africa, and discover Africa's astounding diversity, including the iconic "Big Five" Experience six nights in the heart of the Great Migration - three in the Serengeti and three in the Masai Mara Explore Olduvai Gorge on a private visit, where the Leakey family discovered fossils linking man to his distant ancestors Visit a vibrant village in Tanzania to get a sense of daily life, as you ride by tuk-tuk and explore the local market.
Wildlife And Birds
This is the time to visit the area, as you will also see the Big Five. Head to the secluded Laikipia Plateau for a chance to spot wild dogs or Grevy’s zebra – both are endangered species. Elephants are most likely seen in the rough and dry Samburu chilling in the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
- Black Rhino
Rare or Endangered Animals
- African Lion
- Black Rhino
- Grevy's Zebra
- African Wild Dog
- Golden Cat
- African White-bellied Pangolin
- Reticulated Giraffe
Infrequently Seen Animals
- African Elephant
Frequently Seen Animals
The annual event of the wildebeest migration is one of Africa’s most fascinating wildlife events. Over two million animals, including wildebeest, gazelle and zebra migrate through the vast area between Serengeti in Tanzania and Maasai Mara in Kenya.
Fortunately for those who chose Kenya to follow this amazing occurrence, the massive crossing of the dangerous Mara River is a climax of the entire migration.
This usually happens around August time, but heavily depends on the rainfall and needs to be checked with your safari operator prior to booking.
Breathtaking landscapes featuring Mount Kilimanjaro pose the magnificent backdrop to Amboseli's abundant wildlife and vast horizons. The park is famous for great wildlife sighting as herds of elephants with impressive tusks roam the open plains along with lions, cheetahs and many other creatures. Climb to the top of Observation Hill and witness the spectacular expanse of the open lands and endless skies of the Amboseli National Park.
Lake Nakuru forms part of the Eastern Rift Valley, and has been a National Park since 1968. It was especially famous for the millions of flamingoes, which would flock to the soda lake for its rich blue-green algae. However, since the raise in water levels, flamingoes only flock to the lake when the conditions are just right. Lake Nakuru is beautiful all year round, with acacia forests, a savannah, as well as a swamp and the Makalia Falls which is situated on the southern end of the park. Lake Nakuru is also world-famous for the 400 different bird species that can be spotted there, making it a birdwatchers dream come true.
The Masai Mara National Park is exactly what you picture when you think of an African safari. It is one of the most famous reserves in Africa and is known for its epic wildlife sightings. Horizons of endless grassy plains and ancient acacia trees are filled with impressive herds of wildebeest and zebra, as well as big cats and enormous, roaming elephants. The reserve's name is derived from the local Maasai people and the Mara River, which flows through the land. Travel to the Masai Mara National Reserve for an authentic African safari and an enriching cultural experience.
The Samburu National Reserve is a rugged and dry stretch of land that is home to many wildlife species. The Ewaso Ngiro River carves a contrasting emerald ribbon in this semi-desert land, as vegetation flourishes along its banks and animals can find relief from the heat of the sun in its cool waters. This arid, rocky land is a place to experience the natural tranquillity and true wilderness of Kenya.
Nairobi National Park is one of the most unique safari destinations in Africa as it is situated so close to the city of Nairobi that its animals pose against an urban city backdrop. Despite being so close to a major city, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen here, including four of the Big Five. Travel here and experience the sudden immersion from the bustling city into the beautiful, unspoiled wilderness of Kenya
Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is not only a world heritage site, but the biggest lake in the world that is situated in the heart of a desert. While this isn't a typical wildlife safari destination, Lake Turkana is a beautiful and mysterious place. Its luminous, blue-green waters sit in stark contrast to the barren desert surroundings in a breathtaking landscape. This place is a breeding site for crocodiles and hippos which are found in abundance. The crocodiles here grow to enormous sizes and can be found in impressive numbers on the Central Island. Three parks make up the Lake Turkana National Parks and a visit here offers a more rewarding experience than you would find on a typical safari trip.
The Aberdare National Park is renowned for its beautiful rainforest scenery and rugged mountain landscape. This is a mysterious stretch of land, home to many rare and wonderful creatures. Overlooking a beautiful, watery oasis in the midst of forest and vast moorland, sits the Treetops lodge - a place where you can relax while watching the diverse wildlife gather at the waterhole. Travel here for a very different and unique safari experience as you immerse yourself in the misty rainforests and jagged mountains.
Getting There And Safety
As the most historically versed in tourism, this East African country still tops the lists of many visitors of the continent. Unlike other safari destinations, Kenya is welcomes travelers with children with well-educated and patient guides, child-friendly accommodation and vehicles.
Please note that some countries have travel warnings related to areas in Kenya near Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Most international flights land in two airports, one in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, and the other in Mombasa, relative to other safari destinations, Kenya offers more affordable flights.
Two airports: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and Moi International Airport (MBA)
If you are based in the UK and Europe check out these flights to Kenya.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Kenya.
Because the road to the Masai Mara is rather long and a little on the rough edge, it could be a good idea to take an internal flight from Wilson Airport (WIL) to the park. Please don’t forget check with your safari operator for more details. Other parks will also have an option of a domestic flight.
Certificate of yellow-fever vaccinations from some countries in South America and Africa is required.
Most of the country below 2,000m poses high risk of malaria, so you are safer with taking malaria tablets.
Check your local travel health authority for more information:
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Kenya. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check the World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.