Kenya

Kenya: Luxury & Private Safaris

Kenya is where the African safari was born and remains the perfect destination for unparalleled game-viewing, cultural interactions and lots of unique activities. Kenya safaris offer a tremendous diversity of both landscapes and animals.

From the awe-inspiring animal migration and open grassy plains of the Maasai Mara to Amboseli’s stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, to the arid landscapes of Samburu. Kenya is the perfect destination for an active traveler – with all the horseback riding, camel riding and hiking you can handle. There is something for everyone on a Kenya safari.

Conservation is central to Kenya’s tourism industry and is of great importance throughout the country, and the work of communities and old families with historic ties to the land ensures the continuity and success of Africa’s animals. From the rhino breeding programs in Lewa to the elephant research at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and predator programs, there is a groundswell of support for the precious resources of this fascinating country.

With Nairobi as a major African hub, it is easy to combine a Kenya safari with virtually anywhere else in Africa.

Secrets and Tips from our Experts

  • Combine the Maasai Mara with an area with lots of activities like Laikipia.
  • Head to Samburu for authentic cultural interactions with the semi-nomadic tribes.
  • Adopt an elephant and get special afternoon access to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage to interact with the babies.
  • Kenya’s shoulder seasons are our favorite times to travel.

When to Plan a Kenya Safari

Classic peak season for a Kenya safari is July through September when the great wildebeest migration is most likely to be in the Maasai Mara. Game-viewing during this time is sure to be great, but it is also the most crowded time of year in the national park, especially in August. As a result, we love the less crowded months of May-June and October-February when you have great weather and great game-viewing combined with fewer people and lower prices.

Kenya is viable almost year-round as a destination particularly because of all the activities available in addition to game-viewing. Some camps are closed March, April, (and some) in May due to the long rains, however, the weather is far from predictable anymore.

Best
Jul
Aug
Sep
Good
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Oct
Nov
Dec

How much should I budget for a safari to Kenya?

$ $ $ $ $

Budget itineraries can start as low as $300 per person per night – but this is the bottom of the range for mass-market tourism and we don’t recommend or sell these trips.

Kenya: Luxury & Private Safaris are the Best Option

The upmarket, exclusive properties cost between $700-$1,800 per person per night during peak season. For the best experience, we do not advocate going below $500 per person per night for a Kenya safari.

We recommend staying in the private conservancies if you can afford it. They offer a better safari experience away from the crowds and allow you to drive off-road, go on walks, or head out for a spot-lit night drive.

What Kenya offers

  • Kenya is perfect for travelers looking for an unparalleled wildlife experience, opportunities for cultural interactions and lots of activities. Many will visit 2, 3, or 4 different regions within Kenya before heading off for a gorilla trek or retreating to the beaches of the Indian ocean.
  • Couples, honeymooners, families and small groups will all find the perfect accommodation be it in a classic tented camp, a quirky family owned lodge, an exclusive-use house, or top of the line luxury.
  • Many camps and lodges across Kenya are hosted by their owners, many of whom are from families who have lived on the land for generations. If you enjoy warm, home-hosted hospitality, Kenya is a great choice.

Our favorite areas for Kenya safari

  • It is very rare that the Maasai Mara isn’t included in a Kenya itinerary and it is second to none in Africa for game-viewing.
  • Kenya is a country of varied landscapes, cultures, animals and activities that make for a wonderfully diverse safari experience. SamburuAmboseli, and Meru each offer a wonderful mix of those elements.
  • We love including the Laikipia area, particularly Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in itineraries to give you the chance to get out of your game vehicle (if you want) and out into the bush on a horse, camel or on foot.
  • There are great opportunities for different kinds of cultural interactions throughout Kenya, particularly in Samburu, Laikipia, and the Maasai Mara.
  • A night or two in Nairobi  offers a chance to see a bit of the city and get up close and personal with giraffes and elephants while shaking off the jet lag.

What else should I know before planning a safari in Kenya?

  • Kenya: Travel Warnings: Travel warnings and occasional bad publicity will always be a reality for Kenya, which may be more than some travelers want to handle. That said, no incidents of violence in Kenya have targeted tourist areas and properties in and around the national parks, which are very remote with few people of any kind around. We would all personally travel to Kenya in a heartbeat, but another destination such as Tanzania or Botswana might be a better fit if you want to avoid the worry.
  • Kenya: Not for Budget Travelers: Travelers with very low budgets should avoid a Kenya safari. There is a quite substantial mass tourism market in Kenya, which means if you cannot afford to be in the private conservancies, or in the exclusive camps, you could find yourself being part of the mini-bus craziness during peak season, which will make for an unpleasant experience.
  • Kenya: Luxury & Private Safaris: Many of the camps and lodges are family- or staff-hosted. Sitting around a communal dinner table, or socializing around a camp fire is part of the package. If you are looking for a private experience you may need to look further south for a safari destination – South Africa would be more appropriate. Part of Kenya’s charm is sitting and chatting with the people who have lived and worked the land for generations, taking in their views on life.

Ways to experience Kenya

Game drives are the hallmark of a classic Kenya safari experience because they’re the best way to cover the most ground and see the most wildlife. Kenya will check that box for every visitor, but it’s also the country where you can let loose a little and create memories outside of a vehicle.

The Lewa/Laikipia area is a hub of fun activities, from bi-plane flights and helicopter excursions to camel and horseback ridingfly fishing, biking, quad biking, tubing in the river, game walks, and canopy walks, but it’s not the only region where these things are possible.

In addition to flying or driving between regions, multi-day walking safaris are a fantastic option for active travelers. Take a helicopter to fish in the snow fed streams on Mt. Kenya, enjoy afternoon tea with giraffes, bike through the tea plantations of Tigoni, or head out on a game census to contribute toward conservation efforts.

Culturally, Kenya offers some of the most interesting and authentic experiences that can be had on safari, with numerous opportunities to interact with and learn from members of Kenya’s 40+ tribes, including the semi-pastoral groups such as the Maasai and Samburu.

Wildlife you will you see

Kenya supports a wealth of animals and some of the best game viewing and highest wildlife concentrations in Africa. You will see the Big 5 in addition to numerous grazing species, big cats, wild dog and stunning bird-life. Between August and October you have an excellent chance of witnessing the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. If you combine areas like Samburu or Laikipia with the Mara you will also have opportunities to see animals only found north of the equator, such as the rare Grevy’s zebra and the reticulated giraffe.

Rhino – both black and white – are found in Kenya’s parks. Reserves such as Solio, Lewa and Ol Pejeta are well known for their rhino conservation work, ensuring you will see these endangered species.

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IMG_1212 Lisa Newby-Fraser