Safaris in Kenya, at a Glance

Your day starts with a 6 am wake-up call and freshly brewed coffee. The sun is barely above the horizon; streaks of pink and orange paint the sky. You hear the engine of the jeep splutter to life outside.   

By 8 am, you've already seen elephants, zebras and antelope mingling by the clear watering hole, a cheetah prowling the plains and tall giraffes munching on acacia leaves.

Beneath the shade of a tall tree, you stop for a bush breakfast. You have the choice of eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, cereal, and freshly baked rolls. Soon, you're a back in the vehicle, searching for a pride of lions. 

Back at camp, relax on your private veranda and soak up the afternoon sun, before heading out for an evening game drive and sundowners.

Safaris in Kenya

What makes a safari in Kenya special?

Diversity. Kenya has several national parks and reserves, each with something unique to offer, from the Maasai Mara (the site of The Great Migration), to Amboseli National Park and Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya's wilderness areas are some of East Africa's most beautiful and important.  

You don't have to stick to a game drive either. Head for the skies via hot air balloon, or head out on foot or horseback.

There are 23 national parks and several conservancies to explore. Kenya has a fantastic domestic flight network that makes it easy to combine several national parks or conservancies, and you can even head to the coast for a beach holiday to close out your adventure. 

Great Migration Maasai Mara National Park

Which safari is right for me?

  • For the bucket lister

    The Maasai Mara is one of Africa's most incredible safari destinations, and one of Africa's most famous. The Mara River is a dramatic stop along the Great Migration route. The park has outstanding wildlife densities, including the Big Five, and there are several ways to explore the park, including hot air balloon, on foot and on horseback.

    There is no shortage of accommodation choices for those wishing to have the ultimate safari experience, from luxury lodges to simple camps. 

  • For the conservationist

    Kenya is a great example of how conservation and environmentalism can work hand-in-hand with tourism. Ol Pejeta and Lewa Conservancy have played vital roles in protecting endangered species. 

    Many safari camps and lodges are becoming increasingly eco-friendly, with initiatives to stay local, reduce waste, and use renewable energies. Tortilis Camp, in Amboseli National Park, is the largest eco-lodge in Kenya. 

  • For those short on time

    With a great domestic flight network and national parks situated relatively close to Nairobi, there are plenty of options if you're strapped for time.

    Nairobi National Park, located just 7 km outside of Nairobi, close to Jomo Kenyatta International  Airport, is home to four out of the Big Five. Visitors can spot lions, leopards, rhino, and buffalo without venturing too far from the capital city. This is a great option if you want to squeeze in one last mini safari before flying out. 

    Against the looming backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park, often referred to as 'land of the giants' due to its thriving elephant population, is another fantastic choice.

  • For the beach enthusiast

    While Kenya is best known for its epic safaris, it is also home to some of the world's best beaches. If your travels take you tos Tsavo National Park (halfway between Nairobi and the Coast), you needn't choose between the two. 

  • For the great outdoors lover

    Fly camp in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, or sleep on beds that wheel out onto a private veranda under the night sky in Loisaba Conservancy

    Walking safaris and horseback riding is available in many of the country's reserves. 

Types of Safari in Kenya

Game Drives

Driving an open-top Land cruiser through savannah plains, game drives are the quintessential safari experience.

A lot of game drives in Kenya take place in the early morning, typically starting at 5-6 am.

Wildlife is often more easily found at this time of the day thanks to the cooler temperatures, and the sunrise provides the perfect backdrop for cruising around the national parks. 

Safaris in Kenya

Walking Safaris

Walking safaris are only possible in certain conservancies in Kenya (and not allowed in the national parks). 

Certain game sanctuaries and wild areas offer walking safaris, for example Lake Naivasha where you can walk amongst the local giraffes, zebras and more at Crescent Island.

Ol Pejete Bush Camp, Kenya

Curious wildebeest, Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Safaris by Air

Take to the skies for a bird's eye views of the landscapes and animals in the national parks. 

Air safaris provide access to all areas of the national parks, which often means more wildlife sightings as you are not limited by the ground access routes. 

Of course, air safaris are more expensive than traditional game drives, but can be well worth it if you want to see as much of wildlife in the parks as possible, not to mention the unmatched views. 

Safaris in Kenya

Safaris on Horseback

Horseback safaris are possible at certain conservancies and parks, but most famously in the Maasai Mara. 

If you have previous horse riding experience, you can ride amongst giraffes, elephants, zebras and wildebeest on horseback.

Horse riding can either be done as a half-day/day excursion, or over the course of a few days from a mobile luxury tented camp. 

Safaris in Kenya

Horseback safari, Lewa Wilderness

Best time to go on safari in Kenya

The best time to go on safari in Kenya is from June to October, or December to January.

The months of June to October guarantee the best weather and the greatest chance of wildlife sightings, but the lodges will be busier and rates higher as this is peak season. 

Weather from December through to January is great, and there will be fewer visitor numbers at this time of year. 

Outside these months, wildlife is less visible due to migration patterns, and there is a good chance of overcast skies and rains. 

What wildlife will I see on safari in Kenya?

Kenya has immense diversity in wildlife.

All the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo can be found, along with giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and a wide variety of bird species.

It's important to set your expectations - just because all of these animals can be found in Kenya, doesn't mean that you will see all of them. The national parks are big, and much of the time on a game drive is spent looking for the animals.

To some extent, the best safari experiences come down to being in the right place at the right time.

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