5 Best Areas For Safari Holidays In Kenya
Safari holidays were invented in Kenya, albeit that the first safaris wouldn’t have been purely photographic. The word safari means journey in Swahili and would have been used in that region for multi-day expeditions into the uncharted African bush.
Safari Holidays In Kenya
Kenya offers those on a safari holiday a wide range of experiences, wildlife, cultures and landscapes. It’s a country with open grassy plains, rocky gullies, arid semi-deserts, mountains and forests. This variety of habitat means diverse wildlife and incredible safari encounters.
Flying is a great way to combine wildlife areas in Kenya. It means more of your safari holiday is spent enjoying the wildlife or scenery than would be the case if you take long road transfers.
You’ll get to appreciate the lie of the land from the air before arriving on a tiny airstrip in the middle of nowhere.
Kenya works brilliantly as a safari destination between December and March when you can holiday away from the British winter. If you want to experience the wildebeest migration then travel between July and October.
Masai Mara National Reserve & Surrounding Conservancies
The Masai Mara tops many lists for the best place for a safari holiday in Africa and is Kenya’s most popular park. To include it among the best areas for wildlife in Kenya is therefore a bit of a given.
It has good resident wildlife, which is boosted by the arrival of the wildebeest and zebra migration between July and October. During these months the millions of herbivores battle for survival against stalking lions, speeding cheetahs, ambushing leopards, and crocodiles lurking below the surface at the river crossings.
Getting There: By twice daily scheduled flights from Nairobi.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is the second most popular national park for those on safari in Kenya. It enjoys some of the best views of Kilimanjaro just across the border in Tanzania and while there is little water locally, the park has a series of five swamps at its heart. These draw in wildlife from miles around, particularly elephants which gather in large numbers.
The neighbouring plains and hills of the Chyulus teem with wildlife and enjoy some of Kenya’s most spectacular scenery. The area is Masai owned, with conservation a partnership between local communities and the small number of lodges based here. As it is outside the national park, visitors can enjoy walks, riding and cycling as part of their safari.
Where to stay: Try Tortilis Camp for easy access to the national park; or Ol Donyo Lodge for its spectacular hillside position and to learn about its conservation partnership with the local communities.
Getting There: By road it is between two and three hours to the park from Nairobi, depending on where you are staying. We recommend flying and there are daily scheduled flights to Amboseli and lodges in the Chyulus from Nairobi.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Want a safari holiday in Kenya where you might see white and black rhino together? Then Lewa and neighbouring Borana are the places to visit. Lewa was set up primarily as a reserve to conserve black rhino, sitatunga and Grevy’s zebra. In addition it has done excellent work for elephants. Recently the fence between itself and Borana was dropped ensuring an even bigger range for the wildlife.
As it is not a national park, there is great freedom for those on holiday. Walking safaris, camel safaris, and riding are all possible alongside more traditional game drives.
Where to stay: The cottages at Lewa Wilderness have fabulous views from the hillside; or if you prefer to stay under canvas try Sirikoi. For those looking for holiday adventures try Borana Lodge from which you can enjoy different activities every day.
Getting There: There are daily scheduled flights to Lewa from Nairobi, with easy access by vehicle into Borana.
Meru National Park
Tell people you’re going on a safari holiday to ‘Meru National Park in Kenya’ and most will assume you said ‘Mara’.
The park really is little known which means you will have few people to share the wildlife with. And there’s good wildlife including the ‘Big Five’ of lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant and the ‘Northern Five’ of oryx, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, lesser kudu and reticulated giraffe.
Getting There: There are daily scheduled flights to Meru from Nairobi
Laikipia isn’t one of Kenya’s national parks. In fact it’s not an area where wildlife is officially protected at all. The farmers and tribes people of this area simply came together to pioneer the community ranches. These formed the template for the rest of Africa to follow. Fences were torn down and cooperation between neighbouring farms became the norm, opening up a huge landscape of grasslands, forests and dramatic basalt mountains.
Laikipia now has some of the most diverse populations of large mammals in Kenya. These co-exist with the human population in a wonderful celebration of African diversity.
More than half of Kenya’s black rhino live in Laikipia, as well as a large number of the hugely endangered Grevy’s zebra. Even wild dog, perhaps the most endangered of all carnivores, can be found here.
A safari holiday in this area of Kenya combines brilliantly with a stay in the Masai Mara. The arid north complements the open grassland of the south, and the number of activities possible in Laikipia get you out of a vehicle in a way barely possible in the Mara.
Getting There: Both these lodges are accessed from daily scheduled flights to Loisaba’s airstrip from Nairobi.
Any questions on safari holidays in Kenya?
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We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been on safari holidays in Kenya, please just send us an email or give us a call.