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
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
4 days Masai Mara Action 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.
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.
3 Days Mara Safari
Maasai Mara National Reserve is an area of preserved savannah wilderness in south west of Kenya, along the Tanzanian border. Its animals include lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos. Wildebeest traverse its plains during their annual migration. The landscape has grassy plains and rolling hills, and is crossed by the Mara and Talek rivers. The area nearby is dotted with villages (enkangs) of Maasai people.
9 Days Kenya Tanzania Safari
This safari will give you a chance to visit the major game parks and reserves both in Kenya and Tanzania with each of them giving a different experience from the other. Maasai Mara and serengeti will give an opporunity to experience the savannah, the Big five and a beutiful wild nature feeling, Nakuru will be able to sight the rhinos, lake and different bird species, amboseli will offer he BEST views for Mt. Kilimanjaro while Ngorongoro is the most scenic unique park that you must visit. The combination of all is perfect for a great Africa safari experience.
4 Days Mara & Nakuru Safari
You'll have a chance to visit Maasai Mara National reserve that's BEST for wildlife and a great probability of seeing the BIG five among other wildlife. This is where the wild beest migration takes place and should visit in the months that the migration takes place you are likely to encounter this beautiful experience. Nakuru will offer you abit of bird watching and a big likelyhood of seeing the rhinos.
Classic Kenya highlights safari
Kenya for many years has been voted as one of the best safari destinations in Africa with one of the main reasons being hospitality, world-class safari lodges, and best national parks with a lot of game animals in their natural habitat.
This classic Kenya highlight safari program is drawn with that in mind which has made this itinerary voted as one of the best in many platforms.
This safari will take you to several national parks to enjoy game drives and you will be given a chance to see almost half of the country as you will criss-cross from large coffee, tea plantations, rift valley lakes, and the beauty that goes with the volcanic activities as well as the interaction with local communities mainly Kikuyu, Masai, and Samburus. Get to know African land on this safari!
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.
Hell's Gate National Park is an ideal destination for a day trip or camping spot outside of Nairobi. This park is a World Heritage Site filled with striking landscapes and incredible biodiversity. This is one of the few safari destinations where you can get a break from driving and travel the land on foot or bicycle. Walk freely among the animals in this beautiful African wilderness for an unforgettable experience!
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is an area of protected land and has one of the biggest rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. This is a very special place with amazing wildlife diversity and density. Travel here for the day and see a multitude of birdlife and different animals, including the Big Five. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is an ideal safari destination to see many animals thriving on the natural land. The Conservancy is a non-profit business where its profits are put to good use and invested in conservation efforts. This is a remarkable place that helps to protect the wild, natural environment and its animal inhabitants. A visit here is a rewarding and enriching safari experience!
Wildlife roam across the sprawling plains of Tsavo East, with the song of 500 birds filling the air. While the Galana river is most prominent landmark, the quartzite rock of Mudanda is truly striking.
Tsavo West is a mesmerising portrait of rugged hills providing a stunning backdrop for dense forests and sprawling savannah plains, with an oasis shining in the west. With rhinos hide in the thick vegetation, and predators lurking on the vast lava field and in nearby caves, this is a primal land that will captivate you with its wild beauty.
Stunning vistas from sloping hilltops, fly-fishing on Mount Kenya and exciting off-road game drives, makes Lewa Wildlife Conservancy a beautiful, fun-filled destination. The Big Five, rare mammal species and brilliant bird life, offers visitors a wide variety of sights and sounds to satisfy all their expectations.
Lush, sloping green hills, dense forest, sprawling plains and rivers filled with hippos, backdropped by Mount Kenya’s enchanting snow-crowned peak – Meru National Park is Kenya’s best, underrated jewel. Like the proverbial diamond in the rough, Meru is not a popular park, and is so rarely visited, that it is mostly empty throughout the year. This provides a rare, peaceful safari for those who discover this beautiful landscape.
Beautifully lush, with sharply sloping hills, steep valleys and a striking waterfall, Shimba Hills National Reserve offers some spectacular vistas and an amazing scenery. Although not a typical Big Five safari destination, the park is home to the largest elephant population in Kenya. It rarely gets busy, and you might end up with exclusive use of the park rangers on game drives and hikes.
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.