When one thinks of an African safari, immediately a vision of vast open savannahs, dramatic scenery, and a plethora of wildlife as far as the eye can see comes to mind, all just a few of the reasons you should choose Kenya for your safari.
The country is captivating year-round, with specific sightings prominent at certain times of the year and highlights such as the Great Migration a definite pull. Immerse yourself in Swahili culture as you get to understand this rich heritage, learn the Maa language from the Masaai, and indulge in cuisine with Arab, Indian and African influences.
A bustling capital city connects one to wildlife, with savannas, forests, lakes, and mountains forming a breathtaking and biodiverse landscape. Feast your eyes on the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro from one of the best viewpoints ever. All this makes Kenya the perfect place to safari and below we highlight why.
Kenya offers safari-goers the opportunity to explore immense wildlife diversity in several distinct national parks and game reserves, creating optimal viewing. Vast herds and flocks are prevalent in Kenya, which means sightings are virtually guaranteed.
Each safari destination offers unique topography that caters to specific wildlife. Visit the plateaus of Tsavo, home to rare bird species and pod after pod of hippos. Watch as flamingos flock at Lake Nakuru, buffalos wallow in the mud in Amboseli, or numerous elephants gather at waterholes in the Lewa Conservancy.
Kenya is also the starting point for the great migration. The Masai Mara National Park sets the scene for a dramatic show in May and late September and October, as thousands of wildebeest migrate between Tanzania and Kenya.
Learn more: Masai Mara Safaris • Kenya Great Migration Safaris • How to See the Great Migration
From the striations of the Great Rift Valley to the metamorphic rock formations in Tsavo East and the expansive open plains of the Masai Mara, the landscapes of Kenya make it a key reason to embark on a safari here.
Discover mountain ranges, the rugged beauty of Tsavo west, and Mount Kenya, the country’s highest peak. A highlight has to be the view of Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park.
The landscape of Kenya is graced with wildlife, but rural settlements and cultural homes add diversity and balance to this magical country. Long, dusty roads with randomly-placed homesteads add contrast to a vast open game reserve where, at times, not a soul is seen. Crop farms and land teeming with cattle paint the rest of the Kenyan masterpiece.
Learn more: 10 Best Places to Visit for a Kenya Safari • 8 Mountains in Africa You Should Explore
The language of Kenya, Swahili, provides a colorful description of many of Kenya’s sights and sounds. The word “safari” is Swahili for “journey”, and Kenya’s people will proudly guide you while you create one of your own. Known to be artistic and of mixed background, spending time with a Swahili family is a fascinating immersion.
Rich culture is shared through stories and experiences, many Masaai opening their villages and lives to visitors. Learn from these hospitable locals as you embrace day-to-day existence, an introduction to the Maa language, and an understanding of their fascinating history. Meanwhile, local delicacies highlight Kenya’s mix of Indian, Arab, and African influences.
For a chance to give back, take some time to experience Kazuri beads, meaning “small and beautiful” in Swahili. Boasting incredible creations thoughtfully designed by the many talented women who work in the Karen Blixen Estate in Nairobi, a visit is one more way to experience Swahili culture.
Learn more: Top 10 Travel Destinations and Experiences in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya’s location along the east coast of Africa means an incredible safari experience can easily be linked to a beach escape, making the country the perfect beach and bush destination. Most visitors embarking on a Kenyan safari will consider Mombassa or nearby Zanzibar for a beach escape. However, with a short flight, guests can explore any of the Indian Ocean Islands, such as the Seychelles, Mozambique or Mauritius.
Mombasa lies on the southeast coast of Kenya, only a short flight from Nairobi or a three-hour road transfer from Tsavo East or West, and offers a sandy retreat. Often requiring a night between a safari and the seaside, within 24hrs visitors can find themselves moving from a wildlife haven to a marine paradise.
A little further out is the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, offering a long coastline of bliss, with the city of Stonetown its capital. Home to rich art and history begging to be discovered, spending a night in the town before heading to your beach resort is highly recommended. Discover the island’s connection to the Spice Route and its rich Swahili culture, before watching the sunset from your dhow cruise.
Learn more: 7 Amazing African Safari and Beach Holidays • African Safari & Beach Vacation Packages • Top 7 Diving and Marine Destinations in Africa
With Nairobi as your base, it is relatively easy to access several parks by road, with the drives becoming very much part of the journey, sights of local villages and vast open lands leading the way to your safari. Driving into the reserves, your closed vehicle suddenly transforms into a game-viewing vehicle. With the roof popped up, you have the chance to stand and look out for your first animal.
Flying into the parks and reserves from Jomo Kenyatta or Wilson airports saves time and offers an aerial view of Kenya, with convenient connections and schedules. Moving from small airstrips to your lodge or from one camp to another presents an opportunity for wildlife spotting as you drive slowly from one lodge to another.
Time may dictate where you choose to go on safari. Kenya offers options for any length of trip, recognizing that one of the closer parks may work best for some visitors. Day trips to Nairobi National Park or one of the lakes make Kenya the perfect place to enjoy a city and safari break.
Learn more: 4 Ways to Get Around on an African Safari
The journey to your safari should be convenient as it forms an important part of your trip, and with Kenya’s location on the east coast of Africa, several options exist to get there.
Flights connect in Europe, with some visitors choosing to break up their two international flights with a stop there or in bustling Dubai. Create a cultural and classic safari package by carefully choosing your stopover destination according to your interests.
Extending to other parts of Africa is possible, with several scheduled flight connections. These can see you combine Kenya with gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, or the majestic Victoria Falls.
Learn more: How to Plan an African Safari: Frequently Asked Questions
Kenya is filled with wildlife wonder spread among national parks and game reserves of varying topography. With easy access from international destinations and nearby extensions, the destination is the perfect place to experience a classic safari, Swahili hospitality, and extend to nearby beach escapes.
Learn more with our Kenya Safari Guide and explore sample safari itineraries for more inspiration in our Kenya Safaris & Tours. Whatever your safari dreams, you can explore more possibilities with How to Choose Your Safari Destination: Top 5 FAQs Answered before speaking with a Zicasso safari specialist who can help you find the right destination and experiences.