We have released seeds on how to plan the perfect Tanzanian safari (if you missed it, read it here) and now it’s our turn in our next country in East Africa, so get ready for our best travel tips in Kenya! Kenya is home to endless plains full of wildlife, wildlife documentaries, the Great Migration, rolling hills and lush green mountains and the beautiful scenic Maldita coast. But what’s going on behind the scenes of the Lion King? What do you do when you travel on a budget and where are the best places to see? Read our top travel tips for Kenya safari planning.
Should I think about driving?
The first of our travel tips for Kenya is to have your car (and preferably your driver). Although Tanzania is undoubtedly the king of the racing circuit, there is a good 4 × 4 event in Kenya as well. It’s nothing for the faint of heart and the roads may be bumpy and more than a little dusty, but it’s a great way to see the country – and it’s great fun. If you are a group of three or four or more, it can also save you a few cents (big points). Try a combination of Naivasha, Masai Mara, a quick stop in Nairobi and then Amboseli. If you have little time, flying is probably the most convenient means of transport that will take us to the next point …
What about flights?
As in most African countries, domestic travel through the little bushes is the easiest way to travel, but it can be expensive. But not everything will disappear! A good tip for a trip to Kenya is to make sure you stay on the most common routes – good examples are conservation and culture in Kenya and a trip to Kenya without travelling. Flights are scheduled to run in parallel, so the more things you mess up, the more expensive it will be. Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, but you have to bury yourself a bit … Fly540 and Jambojet are two cheap airlines that can be used to plan adventures in Kenya across countries: they don’t fly over the runways in the bush, but connect to most major airports, from where you can arrange transfers and simple DIY.
The Kenyan reserve, the Masai Mara, has received a lot of attention in the travel media and it has not always been good. But never believe that everything you read about a safari in Mara is almost invincible. The key to our travel tips for Kenya is to avoid the low-cost “travel” you can find on the menu (you won’t find them in Timbuktu!) – unfortunately, you’ll get stuck in a minibus and spend time driving in it. Try to tour the “shoulder seasons” in June, February and March and look at the surrounding private protected areas – they have the same strange concentration of wildlife as Mara, but none of the fellows and many campsites offers walking safaris, which are always exciting. Experiences!
Make the most of Nairobi
You may sometimes have to spend the night in Nairobi on your safari in Kenya, so why not take advantage of it? Several luxury hotels have recently shown the scene of the city centre, but if you are not a lover of the city, choose one of the campsites in Nairobi-Emakoko National Park or Ololo Lodge, both great. Just 20 kilometres from the city, staying in the park is a quick way to enhance your wildlife experience at a low cost. And it was also a great experience with a leopard, a lion and a rhino walking across the field against the unique background of tall skyscrapers. Very nice.
The Great Migration
From almost July to September, the animals of the Great Migration can be found on the plains of the Masai Mara as they cross the Mara River from the Serengeti. River crossings are shocking and are right at the top of many lists, but running a Kenyan migration safari right now requires planning and a lot of planning. One of our best tips for travelling to Kenya is to plan a year or more if you want the best places at home. If you want to see wildlife but can’t travel (or don’t have time to plan), consider a safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti – migration takes place all year round, that’s one thing. where and when you want to visit.
Get back to nature
If you want to go on a safari, you will probably look away from it all. Wildlife watching is high on the list, as is some time in nature – not through glassy nature, but real, raw, beautiful nature and, if possible, nothing else around. So why stay in camps and cottages? A good, old-fashioned camp comes back and is an ideal way to experience the forest, as it is designed to have pop-up tents, home-cooked food by the campfire and a unique game (oh and warm rain!). This is the best way to dive into the ground and learn it from the beginning. Check out Gamewatchers Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp and Ol Malo Nomad, where you’ll find the best.
When should I go?
July to October is summer in Kenya and almost like the Great Migration breaks through the plains of the Mara. Thanks to the attractiveness of migration, great wildlife watching in other parks and lots of sunshine, it is a very popular travel time, but many people have the same idea … If you are looking for a little winter day at the beach, January to March is a very good time to visit. Expect mild temperatures and excellent water visibility up to 30 meters if you enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling. For those who want to save a few cents or travel at the last minute, February, March and June are good times to visit. Animal cubs grow around the green meadow, you can avoid big storms (less chance of getting stuck in the mud) and there are some great offers.
Check out the private houses
Three bedrooms, a garden and a private chef for each other. Like a dream? Check out some private homes in Kenya. If you travel in a group, private accommodation is always cheaper and you do not have to worry about anyone arriving late for breakfast. This safari is 100% according to your conditions and Kenya complements the private house model with many options available at various hotspots. Check out Mara Bush Houses in the Masai Mara and Mara North Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Cottages in Laikipia and Msambweni House on the beach.
Off the beaten track
One of our favourite travel tips in Kenya is to accept the unknown and get off the beaten track to find something special. Most people have heard of Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo, but what about Matthew’s Range, an old and completely magical scene with screams that you can find on the walk. Then there’s Meru National Park, which was once destroyed by mining, but is now back on top (and not many people know that yet). And if you’re looking for something completely different, one of our favourite travel tips in Kenya is to leave four wheels in favour of four feet Samburu and discover the dry land from the top of a camel or horse. Who says Kenya is known only for the Masai Mara …
Bush and beach
The Indian Ocean coast in Kenya is a must-see. Porcelain beaches and dangling coconut palms are millions of miles from the bush savannah, but it’s also not about lying on a lounger. Snorkel in the fascinating underwater world of Msambweni Beach or dine in the sun at Diani Beach Bar. With daily flights from Nairobi, the Masai Mara and even some bush runways, it couldn’t be easier to combine a safari with a seaside location – a dream forest and beach destination if we find one. We especially preferred our classic trip to the bush and beach in Kenya, which not only explored the Masai Mara and Lake Naivasha but also ended up on Diani Beach. Or you can use our travel designer and try to design your perfect safari getaway on the sand!