The diversity of Kenya’s wildlife and other natural wonders are represented in the country’s many national parks and game reserves. If you are planning on witnessing once-in-a-lifetime events, like the Great Annual migration, or simply want to enjoy an authentic East African safari experience, then Kenya is the place to visit. Planning your safari in Kenya might seem a bit overwhelming, and you’re probably asking questions like what time of the year is best for each destination, which airport do you fly into, which camp you should book, how many days should you go for, etc. Not to worry. Check out this easy guide for some pointers:
Top Safari Parks
For tourists and adventurers seeking active adventure activities of East African explorations, Kenya offers varied ecosystems that you can explore during game drives, walks, horseback safaris, hot-air balloon safaris, camel rides, village visits, and bi-plane flying. Top safari parks include:
The Masai Mara National Reserve
Dubbed as the most popular wildlife park in Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve is the perfect safari destination for tourists who desire the non-stop action of wildlife demonstrating an utter will to survive. The Mara showcases the big 5, as well as other wildlife. Cultural tours are offered by the Maasai tribesmen which adds richly to the experience and it is the best location to witness the annual great migration of wildebeests.
Lake Nakuru National Park
For flamingo lovers, there is an abundance of algae in the Lakes, thereby attracting millions of flamingos as the flock the shores of Lake Nakuru along with white rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, and a host of others.
The Amboseli National Park
Centered around the observation hill which offers great views of the plains below, Amboseli National Park is home to some of the largest tuskers you’ll ever see. You can also witness the social behavior of elephants and heart-touching interactions of these creatures at the foothills of Kilimanjaro. It is also home to over 50 species of mammals and over 400 species of birds.
Tsavo East And West National Parks
Tsavo West and Tsavo East are located in the Southeastern region. When combined, they create the largest protected wildlife safari in Kenya and are more remote than any other Kenya safari parks. The massive area offers vast landscapes to explore, and the sight of elephants spraying the blue waters of the Galena on themselves is indeed an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Leopards, giraffes, striped hyenas, and a host of others can be spotted and approximately 500 species of birds.
Samburu, Shaba, And Buffalo Springs National Reserves
With game drives that boast elephants, lions, buffaloes, and leopards, Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs are three reserves bordering one another in the dry landscape of North Central Kenya. The Ewaso Nyiro river runs through these reserves where wildlife congregate and it is indeed a breathtaking sight to behold. You also get to spot Samburu own special five including the Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, gerenuks, and the reticulated giraffe. Tourists can also opt for a camel safari, an iconic African adventure that will stay evergreen in your memory.
Mount Kenya Natural Park
A Unesco world heritage site and the seat of the Kikuyu god, Ngai, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest peak with huts on the mountains, lodges, and private camps in the surrounding area. It is home to rare species of animals as well as spectacular lakes, mineral springs, and forests. Mount Kenya is also an incredible watershed providing water for about 50% of Kenya’s population and produces 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.
Visa and Other Travel Documents
Please note that the information provided here is only provisional and subject to change at any time. Here are a few requirements, immigration rules and regulations you’ll need to adhere to:
- $50 each in cash for visa fee if you plan to obtain visas on arrival. It is important to make sure you have the exact amount in cash, as there is no foreign exchange facility in immigration and they do not accept traveler’s cheques, credit cards, and do not give change.
- One passport-size photo taken on a white background and within the last six months
- You would be given an immigration form on the plane and it is best to complete this before you land, so you can head straight into the queue to purchase your visa
- Children under the age of 16, traveling with an adult do not require a visa
- Valid passport for at least 6 months left beyond the date you expect to leave Kenya with at least 2 blank pages for visas
- E-visas, if applying online should be made at least 7 working days to give plenty of time for the application process to be completed
- E-visa costs $52.53 and you are to present your printed E-visa to the passport control officer on arrival at the airport in Kenya
While the African bush is the centerpiece of your vacation time in Kenya, your accommodation further enhances your experience. Maybe you wish to immerse yourself in the bush experience by sleeping under the stars or prefer to retire in a contemporary lodge with modern amenities. Guests tents at the camps are well furnished with modern conveniences yet are comfortable with the minimalistic nature of these features. While there are fundamental differences between camps and lodges, the safari tier you choose, whether budget or luxury further affect the amenities, services, and facilities at a camp or lodge, and also the safari experience specific to guiding safaris. Here is a list of some of the best accommodations in Kenya near the country’s top attractions:
Masai Mara National Reserve
- Lake Naivasha Crescent Camp
- Lake Naivasha Country Club
- Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge
- Enashipai Resort & Spa
Samburu National Reserve
Amboseli National Park
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo East National Park
While the weather in Kenya generally ensures you a pleasant African trip all year round, there are some wildlife events that occur only during certain times. If you wish to witness these events according to your needs and specifications, your tour operator will further advise you, as to the climate, including rainfall, temperature, humidity, etc.
The climate on the coast of Kenya is relatively the same as the inland weather. January, February, and from July to October are the best times to travel to Kenya as it is the dry season(hot and cool respectively). November, December, and from April to June are the short and long rain months respectively. Late March and October herald the first sprinkles of the long-short rains, while late June and early January pronounce the dusting of the long-short rains respectively.
- January to February: The weather is mostly dry and hot with little or no rainfall. Newborn animals can also be seen during this period and in general, you will still see plenty of wildlife.
- March to May: Raining season where you can expect showers on a daily. It is also the cheapest time to visit Kenya since game viewing and safari activities are at their lowest. Plenty of birds and wildlife can still be seen during this period, and as the rain progresses, the number of tourists will drop and some lodges and camps may shut down.
- June to October: Little or no rainfall as this is the dry season and the skies are sunny all the time. The Great migration that arrives in the Masai Mara from the Serengeti during the long dry season around late July to October is one of the most popular wildlife events. Naturally, this is also the most expensive time to visit. Migratory feathered species escaping the Northern winter hemisphere also start arriving at Kenya’s lakes and terrestrial wilderness around October.
- November to December: Usually sparse rainfall during this season, sometimes heavy and sometimes just a little shower. Short rains usually only last a matter of weeks and are unlikely to perpetuate whole day safaris with rains happening in the late afternoons and evenings. Lots of migratory birds are present but wildlife may be harder to spot as animals no longer feel the need to congregate around waterholes.
Health And Safety
This information is just a brief, general guide and should not be used in replacement of consultation with your travel doctor.
- The risk of malaria is high throughout the country except in high altitude areas over 2000 m including Nairobi, Nairobi NP, Laikipia Plateau, and Mt Kenya. Most safari parks are also high-risk zones and the highest risk of transition is usually during the rainy season from September to April. So it is advisable to always cover your arms and legs in the evening and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes. The repellent should contain 30% Deet at least.
- Up to date routine vaccinations including MMR, tetanus, influenza, yellow fever, and diphtheria are also a must for travelers
- It is also advised not to wear dark-colored clothing such as black or dark blue as it attracts tsetse-flies
At the end of the day, it is always best to talk to expert tour operators so they can provide real-time answers to all your questions, and sort out the best itinerary that suits your travel needs and budget. If you’re looking to plan your safari in Kenya, give us a call or visit our website for more information.
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