Kenya: what to see and do. An African adventure trip with wildlife safaris in majestic landscapes

Kenya Elephant Conservation
Kenya Elephant Conservation

Why go

A trip to Kenya is a guaranteed adventure. It has captured the imagination of explorers and nature lovers for hundreds of years. Today it’s known for successful conservation programmes that have helped its wildlife bounce back from near extinction.

Kenya is a friendly and easily accessible way to fall in love with majestic East Africa. Big cats, fascinating tribal cultures and stunning landscapes will have you hooked.

What to do

Kenya. Lion. Unsplash Bram Vranckx
See how close you can get to one of these magnificent creatures on your East African adventure

Kenya is a fantastic holiday for nature and animal lovers. From diving in crystal clear waters on coral reefs to the famous safaris in the Masai Mara savannah, Kenya is one of the most diverse countries in the world.

Head to Kakamega Forest near Uganda for rich rainforest and prime birdwatching territory or watch monkeys play at Lake Naivasha (where Born Free was based).

Discover the country’s Arabic and Swahili heritage in Mombasa on the Indian Ocean and take a boat tour round the ancient harbour at sunset. Or just gaze upon our ancient past at the Great Rift Valley, where the earth plunges 2,000 metres to a flat-bottomed valley.

Where to stay

Kenya. Kempinski Olare Mara
The Kempinski Olare Mara is a luxurious stay during your safari

For an overnight stay in Nairobi, the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel is a luxurious colonial-style experience. Chill out in the relaxing Serena Beach Resort in Mombasa, for a perfect way to end a safari holiday. And there are endless safari options – from large-scale lodges to seriously deluxe private camps.

For a luxurious glamping safari experience inside the Masai Mara park, try Kempinski Olare Mara, where ‘tents’ come with wooden floors and four-poster beds. Mara River Lodge is a mid-range lodge that overlooks a river full of basking hippos.

What to eat

If you’re in Nairobi you can’t miss a meal at Carnivore, a famous barbequed meat restaurant that serves up camel and crocodile as well as pork and beef. It’s all carved right at your table.

Sample Kenyan fish curry in Mombasa at legendary restaurant boat The Moorings. Tamarind combines Kenyan seafood with its tandoori oven to delicious effect. Most safari camps serve an international menu come meal-time.

Getting around

Kenya landscape. Kenya Tourist Board. 620x349
There are stunning landscapes as well as wildlife and safaris

A safari trip will often have transfers and charter planes built into the itinerary so check what your holiday includes. Domestic airlines’ twin-prop planes fly regularly from Nairobi or you can charter one. Public transport and the rail network are best avoided.

When to go

Avoid October to December, which have monsoon-style rain, but outside those months Kenya is sunny most days. Due to its vastly different terrains, from ice at the top of Mount Kenya to sweltering heat on the Masai Mara plains, pack clothes suitable for the type of holiday you’ve booked.

Three things we like

  1. The famous Masai Mara plain in the south-west is home to the Big Five – rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo. It’s one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves and the final destination for the famous wildebeest stampede that happens from July to October as they pour over the Serengeti from Tanzania.
  2. Watch the baby elephants at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage on the Nairobi border, where they are looked after before being released back into the wild. You won’t be able to resist fostering one.
  3. Relax at Lake Victoria, a 300 kilometre-wide lake that seeps into Uganda and Tanzania. The source of the Nile is a great spot to fish, with luxurious fishing lodges set up on the lake’s islands.
Kenya. Safari. Leopard has a stroll. Unsplash Martyn Seddon
The leopard is one of the Big 5, the elusive animals everyone wants to spot on safari

Something we don’t like

All the jabs beforehand. Yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitus A and B, rabies, meningitis and tetanus vaccines are recommended before a visit. You should also take anti-malaria medication, which often needs to start a week or two before you go. Check with your GP.

Don’t miss

Kenya Coast. Kenya Tourist Board. 620x349
There is beautiful coastline in Kenya as well as plains and mountains

Kenya isn’t just about adventures on land. North of coastal city Mombasa, discover fantastic diving in protected coral reefs and lagoons or swim with wild dolphins at Kisiti Marine Park.

It’s a great country to golf in and cheaper than Europe or the States. Course locations range from fertile tea plantations in the east to the Great Rift Valley, one of the most interesting geological sites in the world.

The Langata Giraffe Centre near Nairobi is home to a family of Rothschild giraffes. You can get up close and feed them and take a stroll round the nature sanctuary there.

Kenya. Giraffe. Kenya Tourism Board. 620x349
At the Langata Giraffe Centre near Nairobi you can get close enough to feed the giraffes

Travelling with family

Compared with other African countries that offer safaris, Kenya is set up well for children, though it is best to choose a tour that is for families. The Masai Mara is a perfect destination as the wildebeest migration falls in school holidays, so there will be plenty to see.

High50 insider tips

  • Take a small medical kit with you that includes anti-histamines for bites, Imodium and plenty of sunblock.
  • Avoid a bumpy five-hour car journey with a 45-minute flight from Nariobi to the Masai Mara. Once there, take a hot balloon ride for spectacular views of this unique and precious ecosystem.
  • Make sure your safari tour operator has decent eco-tourism credentials and limits the number of cars it will take into the park. You don’t want to be one of 50 people trying to take a picture of a lion.
Fairmont's The Norfolk
Fairmont’s The Norfolk

Need to know

  • Kenya is three hours ahead of the UK (GMT +3).
  • The flight time from London is nine hours to Nairobi.
  • Get your visa on arrival. It costs US$25 for three months and payment has to be in cash.
  • The currency is the Kenyan Shilling. Small US dollars are also useful and accepted.
  • Wall electric sockets use the three-pin British system, but some appliances use the European two-pin.
  • Remember to haggle! Prices are never fixed in Kenya, so give your bargaining skills a go.
  • Use bottled water, including to brush your teeth with, to minimise the risk of any stomach upsets.
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