how to book a safari
Cost of an African Safari
Best Time to Visit Kenya
Returning Traveler Recommendations
how to book a safari
How to Book a Kenya Safari
Kenya is unique in its wildlife, landscape, and culture. Vast savannahs support teeming herds of wildebeest and zebras, snow-capped mountains cut across the equator, and traditional communities retain their soulful customs. Kenya dazzles visitors with its harsh deserts, palm-fringed coastline, Great Rift Valley, and lush forests. A Kenya safari will immerse you in grand wilderness and intimate lodges where you can find elephant herds and ancient histories.
A Kenya safari embodies a lifetime of unforgettable adventure. Whether planning a family-friendly safari in Amboseli National Park or your honeymoon in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Zicasso is here to assist you.
There are three ways to plan and book a trip:
1. Get a customized safari tour planned and booked by a travel professional. Travel independently on your own schedule.
2. Book a group safari tour. Join an escorted group tour with a fixed departure date.
3. Plan and book a safari yourself.
Zicasso offers the best solution for a customized tour by matching you with top travel specialists who plan and book the trip for you. Our travel agency division, Marageti, specializes in helping you book an escorted group tour. There is no extra cost to you for either service.
Custom Safari Tours
A customized tour is one that is planned by a travel specialist according to your specific interests, preferences, and schedule. Whether you desire a family-friendly adventure or a romantic getaway, each of the accommodations, activities, and destinations is tailored to your preferences.
The knowledge and experience of your travel specialist make a big difference. Zicasso has spent thousands of hours vetting the best travel partners. We act as a referral service, matching you with specialists that best meet your goals and priorities.
Escorted Group Safari Tours
A group tour offers the advantage of convenience at a great value. The schedule is fixed, the itinerary is pre-planned, and a dedicated tour director travels with the group throughout the trip. A group tour can be 30 - 50% less expensive than an equivalent customized tour.
Out of the many hundreds of group tours, how do you select the right one for you? Our travel agency division, Marageti, has sales agents who specialize in helping travelers weigh the pros and cons of each group tour. We give you personalized recommendations to find the best tour for you.
Goals and Priorities
What are your goals and priorities for the trip? These should drive your decision for either a customized tour or a fixed departure group tour. We are here to help you make the right decisions to make your dream trip a reality.
Must-See Destinations in Kenya
We have collaborated with our Kenya travel specialists to provide you with suggestions for a perfect trip of any length. A custom Zicasso tour is designed around your schedule and organized around your needs and desires; however, the following recommendations act as excellent guidelines.
How many days is enough for a safari in Kenya?
Between 10 and 12 days is the perfect amount of time for a Kenya safari. Kenya is closer to Europe and the United States than most other safari destinations, which makes the average travel time between four to six hours shorter when flying to Nairobi than when traveling to other African nations. Ten to twelve days in Kenya will give you a comfortable amount of time to visit two to three camps or parks.
Each day can be tailored to your interests and expectations. Many travellers try to visit too many parks or reserves during their safari. The best experience incorporates time and patience, which can provide your guide with the chance to interpret the environment in a meaningful way.
While Kenya has seven distinct geographical regions, the main divisions consist of the elevated formations of the southwestern third of the country versus the low plateaus and plains of the remaining two-thirds of Kenya.
With 10 to 12 days in Kenya, we suggest that you visit between two to three different parks. The different parks in Kenya reflect the diversity of the ecosystems, animal populations, safari experiences, and local cultures.
Days 1 - 2: Nairobi
Days 3 - 6: Maasai Mara National Reserve
Days 7 - 10: Laikipia and Lew Conservancies
Days 1 - 2: Nairobi
Days 3 - 5: Maasai Mara National Reserve
Days 6 - 9: Laikipia and Lew Conservancies
Days 10 - 12: Amboseli National Park
Essential Kenya Safari Experiences
A Kenya safari allows you to experience wildlife from a variety of perspectives. Distinctive cultural elements and diverse excursions add depth to your experience.
How Will I Experience Wildlife?
Most Kenya safari activities involve a Toyota Landscriuser with a removable roof. Long game drives will often begin before sunrise or shortly before sunset and be accompanied by experienced drivers. You will get surprisingly close to the wildlife but remain a safe distance from large animals and herds. Night drives are often available but only when accompanied by experienced guides and drivers.
In a number of parks and private concessions, you can participate in bush walks and horseback safaris. A hot air balloon ride also provides a unique perspective from which to view the wildlife and wilderness of Kenya.
Kenya has over 40 different language groups and approximately 42 different tribes, making cultural encounters a highlight of a Kenya itinerary. The most famous of these encounters is a visit to a Masai village. Other diverse communities that welcome visitors include the Samburu and the Turkana.
How Can I Ensure I See My Favorite Animal?
Wildlife encounters are exciting and unique but never guaranteed; however, Kenya is best-known for its spectacular countryside teeming with herds of wildlife and species that are endemic to Kenya and East Africa.
Kenya’s pristine landscapes include the Great Rift Valley, which is the third-highest freestanding mountain in Africa, volcanic peaks, and glassy lakes that offer some of the best game viewing in Africa. Kenya is steeped in tradition and romance, offering greater diversity than any other country on the continent.
The Great Wildebeest Migration also takes place in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Park between July and October. The event is the largest migration of wildlife in the world when animals like wildebeest and zebra cross the Mara River.
You rarely see just one animal during a safari in Kenya. Instead, you will likely spot large herds of animals, such as elephants and Big Five, which consist of elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and Cape buffalo. Kenya also possesses the Ugly 5, the Shy 5, the Small 5, and the Impossible 5, which speaks to the remarkable biodiversity of the country that includes approximately 25,000 different animal species.
What Is a Day on Safari Like?
A typical day on safari depends on the type of experience you wish to have inside a specific park. A game drive in a larger park can include a packed lunch, and smaller parks may have you return to your lodge or camp by midday. The following is an example of a typical day on a Kenya safari:
- 05:30 – Wake-up call
- 06:00 – Light breakfast (cereals, fruit, muffins, toast, tea, coffee, etc.)
- 06:30 – Morning guided walking safari – drive a short distance, park the vehicle, and walk 2 – 3 hours or Game drive - stop for tea and biscuits along the way
- 11:00 – Brunch in camp or a bush lunch.After brunch, there is a siesta time when animals and people rest in the shade – you can relax in the camp lounge area, enjoy a siesta in your tent, or read your book on the deck – just relax during this quiet time of the day. If you take lunch in the bush, your guide can set up a hammock in the shade where you can rest until your afternoon game drive.
- 16:00 – Afternoon tea.
- 16:30 – Afternoon game drive with sundowners and snacks at sunset on the banks of a prime river where elephants bathe and drink. This is a very interesting transition time when predators are very active, the bush is alive with animals, and birds add their chorus before sunset.Your guide will explain the change that takes place when night arrives and the important role played by the nocturnal species. You will slowly drive back to camp, and while you probably won’t see a profusion of game, you will certainly get to see several species that you won’t see during the day, such as bush babies, genets, civets and pennant winged nightjar.
- 19:00 – Arrive at camp in time to take a shower before dinner.
- 19:30 – Cocktails served at the campfire and then a delicious 4-course meal followed by cocktails at the campfire.
What Choice Do I Have With Accommodation on a Kenya Safari?
Kenya has a wonderful diversity of high-quality safari accommodations. Although a number of budget safaris use rudimentary camps, a Zicasso safari specialist ensures that you can enjoy your experience in comfort and convenience while basking in the secluded bush.
What is the Difference Between a Camp and a Lodge in Kenya?
It can be difficult to understand the difference between a camp and a lodge, especially when a five-star camp can offer a more luxurious experience than a permanent lodge. The following explanations will help you understand the differences between the two.
Camps can generally be divided into three main groups:
- Permanent tented camps are located in a prime wildlife area close to permanent water within reasonable distance of a bush airstrip. The construction is normally upscale with many amenities. Bathroom facilities include a shower, bath, 2 sinks, up to 20 tents, a spa, and a curio shop. The dining menus are often extensive and accompanied by large, comfortable furnishings.
- Mobile tented camps are normally located in an area for a number of guests and then broken down, loaded onto trucks, and re-built in a new area for the same group of guests. At the end of the safari, the camp is pulled down, loaded onto trucks, and returned to storage at headquarters. The equipment used for mobile tented camps is lighter and results in smaller tents, smaller beds, bucket showers, and flush toilets that generally drain into a pit.
- Seasonal mobile tented camps are the same as mobile tented camps in regards to their equipment but are often built on specific campsites and remain there for the entire season. Wildlife often moves to different areas in search of food and water; these camps may remain in one area for several months and move to where the wildlife has migrated.
Lodges can generally be summed up into a single grouping:
- Lodges are usually much larger than camps. They are often constructed with brick and mortar and topped with thatch or tiled roofs. A lodge facility is similar to a small hotel hidden in the bush; they lack the atmosphere of a tented camp but offer a more solid and secure structure for guests.
How Many Days Should I Stay at Each Camp or Lodge?
The number of days you should stay at each lodge or camp depends on your destinations and your interests more than the accommodations in which you are staying. You should stay between three to six days at any one destination during your safari.
Expectations, goals, and group dynamics remain important factors in determining how much time you spend at each location. For example, in order to really feel a part of the African bush, you need time to unwind and change gears to appreciate the slower pace of Africa.
Cost of an African Safari
How much is a Kenya Safari?
The starting price of a custom-tailored private Kenya safari is approximately $XXX per person, per day. For an escorted group tour, the starting price is approximately $XXX per person, per day.
The cost of a Kenya safari is dependent on many factors, such as the:
- Length of your trip
- Season (month) of travel
- Class of camps / lodges
- Number of destinations
- Whether you use safari flights or overland travel between destinations
A vacation such as this is often the biggest purchase of the year. It will also likely be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime. To get the most out of your trip, we highly recommend using an expert travel specialist to plan a customized safari that is tailored to your specific interests and budget.
How long in advance do you need to book for your choice of accommodations and safari?
You should book your Kenya safari between 12 to 14 months in advance. The best areas and accommodations are typically booked one year ahead of a person’s travel dates, especially during the peak season. Working with your Kenya travel specialist up to 14 months in advance will provide you with enough time to build an itinerary to fit your specifications, account for needed changes, and learn about lesser known camps and lodges that offer equal or greater value than the more popular destinations. To ensure you have your desired Kenya safari experience, you should start the booking process as early as possible.
Cost of a Safari vs the Season
Prices for a Kenya safari rise during the peak of dry season, which is between January and the end of March. The change in prices during high season is not as pronounced as in other countries across Africa but can result more in busier lodges and camps.
National Parks vs Private Concessions and The Impact on Cost
National parks are government-run and open to any visitor who pays the daily park fee. Famous parks, such as the Maasai Mara, can result in large crowds during high season due to the admission policy coupled with the park’s fame. The high volume of visitors also results in strict rules in regards to where visitors can go, which ensures the conservation and protection of the wildlife, ecosystems, and visitors.
Private concessions overtake the same ecosystems as national parks; however, due to their private ownership, they allow access to fewer visitors, even during the high season. Less visitors often allows you to explore off the marked trails with a licensed guide and driver in addition to trying different activities, such as bush walks and night game drives. Private concessions are much more exclusive than national parks but result in a higher daily cost.
The national parks and the private concessions are not fenced, which allows the wildlife to move freely across the landscape.
Best Time to Visit Kenya
Best Time to Visit Kenya
Kenya has four distinct seasons, but the closer you travel to the equator, there is less variation in temperature between summer to fall and winter to spring.
How Does Kenya’s Climate Change During the Year?
Kenya’s fascinating wildlife is accessible year-round, from the open plains of the Maasai Mara to the drier environment of the Samburu Game Reserve.
January to March offers warm temperatures that support Kenya’s lush landscapes. During this time, the short rainy season has finished and results in mild weather that gives rise to colorful birdlife.
April to May starts the “big” rainy season. During this time, Kenya experiences warm weather with torrential but short-lived daily rainfall. The quick appearance and disappearance of the heavy rains usually does not affect your safari. Instead it replenishes the rivers and watering holes around Kenya. The rain also deters many visitors, so you can have a more intimate safari experience.
June to early October has little rain, resulting in the typical dry season. These months also host the renowned Great Migration. Large herds of wildebeest and zebra make their way across the Maasai Mara, which peaks between July and September. These months are generally when tourists peak in the region as well.
Late October to December results in the “small” rainy season that refills the watering holes after months of drought. The landscape is generally bare for easier wildlife spotting. Elephants and birdlife tend to return to the national parks, making it an exceptional time of year to visit Kenya. These months typically experience smaller crowds than the dry season.
How Does the Safari Experience Change During Different Seasons of the Year?
Wildlife is more concentrated during the dry season, which lies between June to October and December to March. The pans and rivers dwindle, and the wildlife migrates closer to the remaining vegetation and water. This concentration makes for excellent game viewing, but photographs are also not as colorful because of the dry vegetation.
The wet season generally takes place between April to May and late October to December. The wet season is a great time to see calving, and the bush is alive with a profusion of wild flowers and fruits. The lower cost during the green season has more to do with peak travel times and holidays that fall between July and September. The green season and the shoulder months can be just as rewarding but require a little more time when searching for your favorite animals.
Modes of Transportation in Kenya
Kenya is easy to navigate due to its infrastructure that connects its larger cities, such as Nairobi and Mombasa with safari destinations. This results in more efficient travel that allows you to indulge in complex and varied itineraries.
The Best Airports For Flying In and Out of Kenya
The main airports in Kenya are in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Most European and Arab-based airlines serve Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Nairobi also has non-stop flights from the United States from larger cities like New York.
Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA) is also served by some European and Arab airlines but far less frequently.
Domestic flights offer a more practical way to travel around Kenya. The nation has a large number of domestic airlines that efficiently serve major cities in addition to smaller cities, game parks, and many secluded areas of northern Kenya. Domestic travel is convenient and quick, and the majority of flights take approximately an hour. A Zicasso travel specialist ensures that you always have a representative of your accommodations waiting for your arrival at your final destination.
Flights Via Zicasso
Zicasso Air Desk is an international air ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation by employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso. Our competitive flight pricing, 24x7 Service & Support, and Complimentary Consultation of Routing vs. Pricing with an Expert Flight Specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.
What to Consider When Traveling in Kenya
When traveling to Kenya, you must consider travel logistics, accessibility, and safety. The following information covers important travel considerations that you should make before your visit to ensure a stress-free travel experience.
Is Kenya Safe for Travel?
Kenya is safe for travelers, especially once on safari. It is sensible to take basic precautions while traveling anywhere in the world. Petty theft is fairly prevalent in large cities, such as Nairobi, with incidents of purse snatching. You should always take the advice of your hotel’s front desk and avoid walking the streets after dark. We recommend that you learn about your surroundings and ask camp/lodge staff and local residents about areas to avoid. Sanctioned taxis are very safe to use when traveling to restaurants or specific destinations, but it is best to tour Nairobi using a pre-arranged guide service.
Kenya does have a moderate risk of malaria.You should consult with your doctor or a travel nurse on whether malaria medication is best for you during your trip based on the specific destinations to which you will be traveling.
To ensure our guests’ well-being and ease of cross-border travel, our Kenya travel specialist recommends that travellers acquire an “international certification of vaccination,” which is commonly known as the “yellow book.” This is issued by any travel clinic and is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). This booklet is not only for Yellow Fever but also serves as a record for other vaccines that are recommended by the CDC such as cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, and tetanus. Most of these vaccines are now life-long.
You’ve booked your dream vacation, now protect it with travel insurance. A wide range of factors can leave your vacation in limbo. Medical emergencies, inclement weather, and unexpected cancellations can cause turmoil for your trip, so in the unlikely event of a disaster, get the travel insurance coverage that provides peace of mind. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.
A small number of camps are wary of admitting small children. As a result, they do not like sending families and other guests in the same vehicle on game drives; however, many safari camps and lodges have facilities to keep small children entertained, such as a swimming pool. Some camps have built reputations on their ability to look after families with young children.
Families traveling with young children should speak with a travel specialist who is aware of family-friendly accommodations in order to cater to the entire family while also respecting other visitors interested in listening to the calls of the wild. A travel specialist understands the best destinations and experiences in Kenya for families as well as the most appropriate destinations.
Your travel specialist will obtain as much information as possible about your desires, goals, and needs in order to accommodate necessary considerations. Africans traditionally take great care of children and seniors. Some camps or lodges may not be suitable for seniors while others will find comfortable ways to accommodate guests, such as by having older guests closer to the dining area and guides who take special care when assistance is needed on safari. Dietary requirements need to be communicated well in advance so that camps can make sure they have any necessary food(s).
A travel specialist understands the desire to balance adventure, seclusion, and luxury in Kenya for couples who are eager to indulge in the romance of a safari. Hidden properties on the plains, horseback game drives, and sunset drinks on the veranda can create intimate memories for the perfect Kenya safari. Exclusive activities will also shape your unforgettable experience, such as dinner under the stars or a luxurious camp with a view over an active watering hole.
Returning Traveler Recommendations
Recommendations for the Return Traveler
When returning for another Kenya tour, you can travel into the depths of the countryside and beyond the essential destinations of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Laikipia and Lewa Conservancies, and Amboseli National Park. The following list offers our suggestion for where you should visit during your return trip to Kenya.
The Old-World charm of Lamu Island exudes from the colonial architecture and a rich trading history that dates back to the 12th century. Intricately carved wooden doors, hidden courtyards, and coral stone structures reflect the variety of cultures that are connected to the island.
With a mixture of tropical escape and historic architecture, Malindi brims with a relaxing charm. With a marine national park, excellent white-sand beaches, Swahili history from the 12th century, and eclectic international cultural influences that date back to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century, Malindi possesses a singular personality with welcoming ambiance.
Mount Kenya National Park
The peak in the Central Highlands represents the tallest mountain in Kenya, which reaches 17,057 feet above sea level. Three peaks cloaked in glaciers cap the summit and are visible when trekking through the national park. Glistening lakes, mineral springs, alpine forests, and unique pockets of bamboo showcase the diversity of the flora. Wildlife in the park includes white colobus monkeys, elephants, and tree hyrax.