One of Africa’s classic safari destinations, Kenya offers an outstanding wildlife experience and we have answers to frequently asked questions to help you plan your trip to Kenya.
Famous game reserves and national parks capture the attention of all safari-goers, the Masai Mara also providing a dramatic stage for the magnificent Great Wildebeest Migration in July and at the end of September. Discover bustling Nairobi, embrace Masai culture and learn a few key Swahili words, the word “safari” meaning “journey”.
Contrasting topographies intertwine perfectly to create a vast and intriguing canvas, with flamingos painting Lake Manyara pink and the Serengeti bursting with wildlife. Knowing how to navigate the circuit as a senior or a family, how long to spend, and what to expect ensures a quality safari experience.
American citizens can travel to Kenya on vacation and for safari.
If you want to discover where else in the world you can travel restriction-free, view our guide on Where Americans Can Travel Now.
Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Kenya
Kenya is in East Africa, along the Indian Ocean coastline, with neighbors including safari destinations Tanzania and Uganda, which is popular for gorilla trekking.
The equator runs through Kenya and a small part of the southwestern border lies on the magnificent Lake Victoria. You can visit Kenya and more African safari destinations nearby on East Africa Safaris & Tours.
Kenya is most well-known for national parks and private concessions scattered throughout the country’s dramatic landscape.
Big Five game experiences, prolific birdlife, and a rich Maasai and Swahili culture make it a popular destination with international travelers.
Kenya is also a great place to combine with other east African experiences, such as gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, or a beach escape in Mombasa or Zanzibar off Tanzania on African Safari & Beach Vacations.
The most popular places in Kenya comprise mostly safari regions and parks, with the capital Nairobi offering a mix of cosmopolitan and cultural experiences. Regions visited most often are:
The 10 Best Places to Visit for a Kenya Safari focus on the variety of beautiful landscapes, surprising wildlife, and incredible luxuries that demonstrate the country’s wonders. You may not visit every place on the list, but depending on your schedule, you can explore a variety of options perfect for your interests.
Five to seven days is an ideal time to spend in Kenya, affording time to experience the capital city Nairobi and one or two of Kenya’s incredible safari parks.
Two nights in Nairobi is long enough to embrace the culture and charm of the city, and visit a few attractions, such as the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Karen region.
Dedicating a safari experience to one national park or reserve will require a minimum of two or three nights to fully embrace the wildlife in the region. Consider five nights in Kenya if you are looking to combine two or more safari destinations.
Kenya’s safari regions range from large national parks offering vast savannas, winding rivers, and captivating forested areas to glistening lakes, breathtaking escarpments, and views of famous mountains. The key safari regions are:
These are just a few of the places you can enjoy as you explore more of Kenya on safari.
Most safari experiences will take place in an enclosed 4x4 vehicle with large windows and a pop-up roof for optimal game viewing.
Some lodges and camps offer walking safaris, usually in private concessions, where qualified guides will take you through incredible wilderness in search of animals small and large.
Where offered, a night drive is a delight and a chance to witness nocturnal animals such as genet and porcupine, and get a feel for the bush in the evening. Hot-air balloon rides offer an aerial view of Kenya’s abundant wildlife and spectacular landscapes.
Learn more: Top 12 Animals in Kenya and Where to See Them
Seeing your favorite animal when on safari in Kenya is a highlight and your guide will do his best to give you a chance to witness those on your wishlist by traversing open savannas and forested areas.
Simply being in the wilderness is a privilege. Game drives are usually conducted in the early morning and late afternoon, and being out on safari for up to six hours a day will afford guests the opportunity to see a vast number of animals, hopefully with their favorites among the sightings.
Learn more: The Big Five, the Little Five, and How to See Them • How to Choose a Safari Destination for Your Trip
Most lodges and camps will wake guests early and, after tea or coffee, guides will gather their guests. Before sunrise, the first game experience of the day is under way.
With three hours spent searching for animals welcoming the day, guests have a chance to submerge in Kenya’s exciting safari scene. Back at the lodge or camp, brunch or lunch is enjoyed before some well-earned downtime brings the afternoon and more safari adventure.
Sunsets in Kenya are breathtaking and your afternoon game drive will see you stopping in a prime location overlooking spectacular landscape, a beverage of choice in hand. Thereafter, you will head back to your accommodations. Dinner, possible campfire conversations, and a good night’s rest wrap up your day on safari.
Learn more: What to Expect From a Day on Safari
The key difference between camps and lodges in Kenya is in the style and construction of the accommodations.Camps comprise tented structures with canvas walls, some with wooden decks, and small public areas. Lodges offer rooms and suites resembling chalets or hotel-style blocks, and the main areas are usually larger spaces.Both offer outstanding accommodations set in prime locations in game reserves and national parks, as well as incredible safari experiences. Some lodges have swimming pools and some camps are mobile and can be moved from riverbank locations to forested areas as the seasons shift.
Learn more: 3 Reasons to Stay at a Luxury Tented Camp • 3 Reasons Why You Should Stay at a Mobile Tented Camp
A minimum of two nights will give guests a full day to explore the surrounding bush. Game drives with qualified guides will give visitors the chance to see two different sides of the reserve they are visiting during a one-day experience.
To immerse yourself in a true safari experience, three or four nights is optimal at any lodge or camp, with five to seven nights spread between two or more game reserves or parks. Mix styles and settings with a combination of camps and lodges in different safari locations.
The best time to visit Kenya is during the winter months, between June and September, when the grass is low due to the dry conditions.
The lack of rain means animals are out on the open savannas and along river banks in search of water. Waterholes teem with wildlife coming to drink and excellent visibility makes this a phenomenal time for game viewing.
Temperatures are mild during the day, with chilly starts and fresh ends, to a day on safari. A communal fire warms guests at night and the sky is clear, with millions of stars seemingly pinned to a black canvas.
Learn more: Best Time to Visit Kenya
The safari experience varies during each season, as rains, cooler temperatures, and the growth patterns of the flora and fauna dictate the wildlife landscape and occurrences.
The start of the year sees short rains fall over the plains and mountains of Kenya’s safari reserves and national parks. Birdlife is prolific and the birthing season is in full swing. Many lodges and camps see a lull in visitors once the long rains start, so April and May are quieter, with game viewing slightly more challenging.
The winter months bring dry weather and low grass, so a safari experience between June and September is phenomenal. Visitors wanting a chance to witness the great migration will follow the seasonal crossing of thousands of wildebeest from Tanzania to Kenya in July and back into Tanzania in late September or early October.
Kenya’s flavors are as vibrant as its people and culture, traditional foods blended with modern delights, with some not to be missed:
Nairobi is a hub for Kenyan safaris, with most reserves and parks accessible by road. Getting around Kenya by car can take several hours. However, sites and scenes along the way are part of the fascinating journey.
Transport will be in 4x4 safari vehicles, large windows and pop-up roofs offering an immediate opportunity to spot wildlife from the moment you leave the tar highways and enter the dusty roads of a game reserve.
Guests have the option to fly from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to the game reserves and concessions of the Masai Mara or Amboseli parks. Several airstrips exist in the famous Mara and lodge-hopping between one reserve and another, including from the Mara to Tanzania’s Serengeti, is easy, enhancing a safari experience.
If visitors are looking to combine a beach escape in Mombasa with their Kenyan safari experience, a short flight will have you out of the bush and into paradise in no time, with a short stop en route, perhaps in Nairobi.
Kenya’s main airport is Jomo Kenyatta Airport, located in the capital, Nairobi, which welcomes international flights from many destinations in Europe and Africa. Nairobi’s Wilson Airport services guests coming in from neighboring Tanzania, connecting visitors to more incredible safari experiences and an idyllic beach escape in Zanzibar. The main airports are:
Kenya is safe for travel as time spent in the city of Nairobi will be at luxury accommodations in built-up settings, and along with your safari, will be secured with a local destination partner.
A representative will be on hand to assist at all times, while out on safari, your guide will be with you each day sharing their knowledge and safari havens with you, while highlighting the dos and don’ts during your adventure.
Health-wise, malaria is present on the Kenyan safari circuit, so taking a malaria prophylactic is recommended. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for visitors to Kenya and traveling with your certificate is a must.
Tipping is customary in Kenya, with 10% the usual amount added to food bills in restaurants and cafes. Gratuities can be made in USD or the local currency, Kenya shilling. It is important to note that gratuities are added to the total amount before card payments are made.
On safari, tipping your guide is based on a per person per day amount, which your Zicasso safari specialist can discuss with you.
English and Swahili are the official languages of Kenya. Several dialects exist in rural areas, but in the key cities and on the main safari circuit visitors will have no problem communicating with locals. Picking up a few words in Swahili is a given and appreciated by those around you.
A yellow fever certificate is required for visitors to Kenya and a Covid-19 proof of vaccination. A negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure is required for travelers who are not fully vaccinated. Your health professional may recommend other vaccines that are not mandatory, but can be taken as a precaution should you wish.
Packing for a Kenyan safari is exciting and quite simple. Long, cool pants are recommended, with a light jacket for the early mornings and late afternoons essential. Beige, khaki, and brown colors are recommended, with a hat or peak cap and comfortable shoes rounding up your safari dress code.
If you’re visiting in winter, gloves and a scarf will come in handy, but blankets will be provided. During the rainy season, ponchos are on hand for guests’ use.
Standard must-haves include sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, and charging equipment. Many lodges and camps offer laundry services, and with the smaller planes that fly into safari airstrips requiring soft-sided bags and a maximum of 33 pounds, packing light is recommended.
Whether looking at the different ways your packing list can positively impact your safari experience or eager to understand how to lighten your luggage, our What to Bring on an African Safari: 12 Tips to Consider as You Prepare and Pack can help you to prepare.
Kenya is a wonderful destination for families, with many camps and lodges offering family-friendly safari experiences.
Kiddies clubs, safari bumbles, and a team dedicated to taking care of children make a family safari a fun and educational adventure.
Share the varied wildlife experiences Kenya has to offer with the whole family, from pink flamingos in Lake Nakuru to witnessing the Big Five in the Masai Mara and feeling mesmerized by the myriad elephants in Amboseli.
Learn more: Kenya Family Safari Holidays
A senior safari in Kenya is ideal as travel time can be split between short road transfers of a couple of hours to even shorter flights to major safari parks and reserves.
Spend time in Nairobi relaxing at classic hotels, a chance to relax before or after your safari experience, and travel in comfort in air-conditioned vehicles as you venture to nearby game parks at a leisurely pace.
Out on safari, your guide will assist in any way required, and lodges and camps have rooms closer to the main area and reception, so long walks to your room are unnecessary.
Learn more: Kenya Safaris for Seniors
Kenya’s classic wildlife locations and experiences make it the perfect destination for romantic safaris, a combination of city, safari, and beach creating the ultimate romantic experience.
The country’s landscape, with dramatic mountain backdrops, including that of the famous Mt Kilimanjaro, stunning lakes, and a plethora of animal encounters set the scene for romance.
Luxury accommodations with breathtaking views, private dining options, and intimate sunset moments all point to Kenya being a high contender when it comes to a romantic safari destination.
Learn more: Kenya Honeymoon Packages
Travelers with mobility issues can get around Kenya on a safari, with ground operators and hotels catering to clients with mobility requirements.
Hotels and larger safari lodges offer rooms that are equipped for travelers with mobility issues, offering wheelchair access or rooms that are closer to the main area and set on one level.
While some ground operators specialize in physically challenged safaris, the 4x4 safari vehicles used by most ground handlers are comfortable, easy to get into and out of, and your professional safari guides and drivers will always ensure clients’ comfort is considered throughout the safari experience.
A 90-day visa is required to enter Kenya.
This can be purchased before departing on your Kenyan adventure and your Zicasso specialist can guide you regarding the online visa application process. It is important to ensure your passport is valid for six months after your date of return and contains at least two blank pages.
The currencies used in Kenya are USD and Kenya shilling.
Payment can be made in either when in restaurants, hotels, and lodges, or with vendors selling souvenirs. However, any change you receive will most likely be given in Kenya shilling. Major credit cards are accepted at restaurants, retail stores, hotels or lodges.
Discover several travel ideas to assist in planning your Kenya itinerary with our Kenya Safari Guide. You can select a sample trip that aligns with your ideal vacation, be it a trip for seniors, a honeymoon, or family adventure, a great place to start when looking to create your unique Kenya safari itinerary.
When you are ready, you can complete a Trip Request to begin planning your vacation. We ask for more information on where you would like to go, how long you would like to spend in Kenya, the size of your party, and traveler ages to help streamline your planning.
You can also provide additional ideas and set a travel budget, after which our Travel Care team will contact you to match you with a Kenya travel specialist who will use their expertise and understanding of your preferences to create your ideal safari.
Learn more: 7 Tips for Planning a Spectacular Safari • 7 Things That Affect the Cost of an African Safari
Kenya’s dramatic and diverse landscapes, and incredible wildlife destinations, make it a popular choice for those looking to embark on an African safari.
Understanding how to plan and prepare for your journey to the tip of Africa will ensure the experience leaves you relaxed, confident, and with unforgettable memories. Be inspired with some of our sample safaris by visiting Kenya Safaris & Tours to help create your perfect experience. You can also find more information on where to travel and when with our Kenya Safari Guide.