Kenya is a prime safari destination with abundant wildlife, dynamic scenery, and incredible safari experiences.
When one thinks about the word safari, an image of classic khaki and colonial lodgings in the great African country of Kenya often comes to mind. With great predators and epic herds traveling during the Great Migration, it feels as though the entire landscape wakes and heaves with the call of the wild.
Kenya is exciting and captivating year-round, with highlighted sights and sounds present at various times. From savannas to forests, lakes, and a cultural experience like no other, Kenya is the perfect place to safari, and below are some of the reasons why.
Kenya offers safari-goers the opportunity to witness the extremes of wildlife. Follow the large herds and groups of animals across open savannas, and then follow that up with quiet walks near lightly-forested regions with the sound of birdlife filling the African skies. Lakes, rocky outcrops, and magical mountains offer a wildlife experience like no other.
Spending several days in each destination allows one to get a broader idea of Kenya’s diverse wildlife, with specific parks and reserves a favorite for certain animals. Watch as flamingos flock at Lake Nakuru, buffalos wallowing in the mud in Amboseli or numerous elephants gathering at waterholes in the Lewa Conservancy. Each safari destination within Kenya has something for everyone and will offer unforgettable general game viewing experiences.
Kenya is also the starting point for the great migration. The Maasai Mara National Park is setting the scene for a dramatic show in May and again late September and October, as thousands of wildebeest migrate between Tanzania and Kenya. The great migration is a natural spectacle that has an incredible impact visually with the feeling of being surrounded by millions of animals in motion, truly unforgettable. Far different from seeing the elusive leopard perhaps or sitting out in an open savanna marveling at one lone cheetah just resting, the chance to see this spectacular event is an epic flourish to top off any safari experience.
Related: How to See the Great Migration
The expanse of the Maasai Mara brings a dry charm to visitors while the glistening of Lake Nakuru soothes the soul. While animals roam the open plains, the waters are a splash of pink as flamingos gather en-masse and dry riverbeds act as a tanning bed for crocodiles and hippos alike.
Mountains feature throughout the country, with an exceptional highlight being the view of Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park. Capture the iconic photo of a lone giraffe standing in the forefront, the tip of Kili capped with snow. Known as the Holy Mountain, Kenya’s highest mountain, Mount Kenya, is well worth visiting or hiking with its extinct volcano and jagged peaks, a breathtaking sight.
The landscape of Kenya is graced with wildlife, but rural settlements and cultural homes add diversity and balance to this magical country. Scenes of long, dusty roads with homesteads randomly positioned along the side add contrast to a vast open game reserve where at times, not a soul is seen. Local crop farms and land teeming with cattle paint the rest of the Kenyan masterpiece.
The language of Kenya, Swahili, is a language that provides a colorful description of many of Kenya’s sights and sounds. The word “safari” is the Swahili word for “journey,” and the people of Kenya will proudly guide you through creating a journey of your own. The Maasai people have a rich culture they love to share through stories and experiences, and many open their villages and their culture to visitors. Learn from these hospitable locals as you embrace their day-to-day lives and understand their fascinating history and culture.
The cuisine in Kenya is a mix of Indian, Arab, and African influence, and dishes served in the cities and at safari lodges never disappoint. Create memorable moments based on the stories local delicacies divulge and savor tradition every day during your visit. For a special treat and a chance to give back, take some time to experience Kazuri Beads. Meaning “small and beautiful” in Swahili, this workshop boasts incredible beaded creations thoughtfully designed by the many talented women who work at the space in the Karen Blixen Estate in Nairobi.
The excitement you feel on safari does not have to go away as soon as the last game drive has ended. If your time allows you to extend your safari vacation, you can move from the African bush to an idyllic beach with ease, with several enticing options available to you.
Mombasa lies on the southeast coast of Kenya and offers a sandy retreat to all visitors. Known as the "Blue and White City," the colorful charm of the region is inviting, and especially after the early morning starts on your safari, a lazy lie-in is most welcoming. With just a simple flight from Nairobi, the logistics are simple, and you can end your safari with relaxation in a true paradise.
A little further out is the island of Zanzibar, offering a long coastline of bliss, with the city of Stonetown home to rich art and history begging to be discovered. Spending a night in the capital before a few nights on the beach is highly recommended, immersing yourself in culture and learning all about their spice connection. Relax on white sandy beaches for a few days, perhaps a Dhow boat trip at sunset to round off your overall experience.
For those looking to explore far and wide, combining a Kenyan safari with any Indian Ocean Island brings a chance to experience even more in this captivating part of the world. Your safari specialist can give you more information about discovering dream destinations such as the Seychelles, Mauritius or one of the Mozambican Archipelagos, and create your ideal beach and bush itinerary with you.
Heading out to your safari destination from Kenya’s capital is quite convenient, and there are several options to consider. Time may dictate where you choose to go on a safari, and Kenya offers options for any length of trip, recognizing that perhaps 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, a full day of entertainment and joy combined with an established base in the capital.
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 reserve, 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 either Jomo Kenyatta or Wilson Airports saves time and offers an aerial view of the magnificence of Kenya, with convenient connections and schedules.
When we think of the word transfer, perhaps a ride with a friendly local driver from the airport to a city hotel comes to mind. However, a transfer out in the bush can be as exciting as a planned game drive. Moving from small airstrips to your lodge or from one camp to another presents an incredible opportunity for wildlife spotting as you drive slowly from one lodge to another in an open 4x4 vehicle, luggage jiggling in the back. This could be seen as a bonus game drive with eyes peeled in all directions on the lookout for any animal out and about.
Being on safari is one thing, getting there extends the adventure and making this part of the journey as pleasant as possible is important. Kenya lies on the east coast of Kenya and is easily accessed by flights from Europe. Some travelers may choose to spend time in either Amsterdam or Paris before heading to Nairobi or simply break up their two international flights with a stop in Europe.
Kenya is easily accessible and offers a good mix of both wildlife and cultural experiences, with the chance to explore other nearby destinations. Learn more at our African Safari Guide, and explore sample safari itineraries for more inspiration. Whatever your safari dreams, your Zicasso safari specialist is a destination expert and ready to answer your questions to help you find the right destination for you. Ready to start planning? Fill out a Trip Request, or call our Traveler Care team at 1-888-265-9707.