Best places to visit in Kenya
Are you looking for the best places to visit in Kenya? You have come to the right place! Seeing African wildlife in their natural habitat is one of the main reasons why Kenya is a popular tourist destination. So here travel experts give their advice on exploring Kenya and the best places to go on safari in Kenya and things to do beyond the National Parks.
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Amboseli National Park
by Shara of SKJ Travel
If you want to see elephants in the wild, a safari in Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya is nearly a sure bet, particularly in the dry seasons of June-October and January-February. Although Amboseli boasts many different mammals — including lions, zebras, giraffes and wildebeest — and a variety of birds, Amboseli is renowned for its large elephant population.
It’s not uncommon to sit witness to a couple hundred elephants, from towering bulls to tiny tots protected by their female relatives, streaming past your vehicle on all sides.
There are 400 species of birds in the park. If you are a birder, the wet season is a paradise for you. Iconic African birds such as exotic grey crowned cranes and flamingos visit the park. Watching an elephant shuffle through a huge flock of flamingos is a sight you will not quickly forget.
Amboseli encompasses a range of habitats, but the predominant natural feature is massive Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, looming over the landscape.
There are a variety of lodges inside the park to suit a variety of budgets. Ol Tukai is well-situated with prime views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. And if you want to see baboons, this is where you should stay. They are so prevalent that guards are on duty around the dining areas to keep them at bay.
Amboseli was established in 1974 and protects 150 square miles of land. Due to its dedicated research programs and vigorous anti-poaching efforts, it is one of the last strongholds for “tuskers” — large-tusked elephants.
Nairobi National Park
by Vicki of Make time to see the World
Boasting 4 of the Big 5 – Buffalo, Leopards, Lions and Rhinos – including the critically endangered Black Rhino – along with over 50 other mammals and 400 different bird species, Nairobi National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in Kenya.
If you would like to see Elephants, the last of the Big 5, be sure to visit the David Sheldrake Elephant Orphanage – but book in advance and arrive early!
There are full and half-day game drives available in Nairobi NP, led by expert rangers, who guide you through the park, sharing their knowledge of the animals, their behaviors, and the conservation initiatives run by the park – the most important of which are working against poachers.
Masai Mara National Reserve
by Pam of Directionally Challenged Traveler
In Kenya’s famous Masai Mara National Reserve, one of the world’s greatest wildlife parks lies waiting for you. It has an extremely diverse ecosystem, containing countless species of plants and animals.
The Masai Mara Reserve is one of the best safari parks in Kenya, with incredible opportunities to see wildlife including the Big 5 Safari animals. You can spot Elephants, water buffalo, lions, and the elusive leopard traversing the landscaping.
You might want to go see the wildebeests if you’re visiting during their migration period from late August through mid-September. Millions of wildebeest and zebra make the trek from Tanzania to Kenya along the Masai River. It’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
For a unique view of the wildlife, you can take a hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara! It’s a great way to really see the massive numbers of animals who call the Mara home.
The Mara River Bushcamp is an eco-friendly glamping experience where guests sleep under canvas surrounded by nature. From the patio of your tent, you may be able to spot hippos in the river!
It’s unlike anything else on earth and definitely not disappointing!
The Giraffe Centre, Nairobi
Visiting the Giraffe Centre, located on the outskirts of Nairobi City, is one of the most unique experiences you can have in the whole of Africa, and one where you can hand-feed giraffes!
Founded in 1979, the center’s mission is to conserve and support the continued breeding of the Rothschild Giraffe, one of the most endangered sub-species of the giraffe in the world. Over the years the centre has helped support over 300 Rothchild Giraffes, placing family groups and herds back into Kenya National Parks to encourage growth in the population.
Today, the rehabilitation centre, and the luxury, Instagram-famous hotel next door, Giraffe Manor, is home to 10 Rothschild Giraffes. It is an educational centre both for the children of Nairobi and for international visitors from around the world.
The giraffes are free to roam around the sanctuary and hotel grounds, are happy to eat from your hand, give kisses and even take a pellet of food from your mouth – if you’re brave enough! The staff answer all your questions and help teach you everything you could ever want to know about these beautiful creatures.
by Cailtin of the Country Jumper
Diani Beach lies on the Kenyan coast of the Indian Ocean. It is just south of the city of Mombasa (which is a good destination for a day or two on its own and your best choice of access point to the beaches) and only about 40 miles from the Tanzanian border.
The waters off the coast are a constant clear, sparkling array of blues and the beaches are white and sandy, though some stretches of sand are not maintained. The best option is to stay at a hotel with private beach front access. That means the hotel will keep the beach looking nice and clean and usable.
Hotel Sonrisa has exactly that plus a large and inviting pool, epic breakfasts, clean, cool, comfortable rooms, and a friendly, inviting owner.
Safety unfortunately can be a concern in the region, but staying at a secured spot like Hotel Sonrisa will take care of that issue for you.
Beyond the beach and pool of your hotel, head out on a boat tour. You’ll get to snorkel through the clear, warm waters. Have some fish for lunch, and enjoy all the stellar views of the coast. Later, go for dinner in a cave at Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant.
Samburu National Reserve
by Heather of Conversant Traveller
Samburu National Reserve lies up in the wild northern reaches of Kenya. It is a world away from the busier safari parks in the south. The landscapes here are semi-arid, with rocky mountain peaks keeping watch over the remote plains. Samburu is a must for safari fans who have already visited places like the Masai Mara and want to experience something a bit different.
The reserve is famous for being home to the Samburu Special Five – a curious collection of animals endemic to this region. Of particular note is the gerenuk. This unusual antelope stands on its hind legs to feed from high tree branches.
There are a handful of exclusive lodges here, with safari activities being the main draw. You can enjoy game drives, wilderness walks, and bush breakfasts on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
Safari highlights include encountering large herds of elephants, while lions and even leopards are often spotted when they hunt. For night safaris, stay in one of the neighbouring conservancies where this is allowed. Wildlife viewing here in Samburu really is superb, with the sparse vegetation making it especially easy during the dry season.
You might also be lucky enough to see the Singing Wells, where Samburu herdsmen take their cattle for water, and sing as they work. It isn’t a tourist attraction, and photos are forebidden. But the experience is one of the most moving you’ll ever have in all of Kenya.