Located in East Africa, Kenya is one of the most popular safari destinations across the continent. It’s home to the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, the Great Migration, and bordered by a coastline of the glistening Indian Ocean. The game viewing is exceptional throughout the year, with reliable sightings of the big cats, the wildebeest herds, and a host of resident game like elephants, hippo, antelope, and bird life aplenty. There are hundreds of reasons we would recommend a Kenya safari, but here are 15 reasons to whet your appetite. Banner image: Kichwa Tembo Camp, Kenya
You can make a difference & see critically endangered species
1- You can make a difference
Like all safari destinations, you will be charged national park or reserve fees. These go towards the protection of the national park, including donations to the salaries of rangers and funding of conservation projects. Some safari camps, particularly those that sit in private conservancies (such as the Greater Masai Mara Conservancies) will charge a small fee (such as $5) which go towards specific wildlife or current projects.
2 – You can see critically endangered species
Kenya is home to some critically endangered species – the black rhino, grevy’s zebra, the lesser kudu, and the pangolin to name a few. One species in particular is found in Kenya alone, and this is the northern white rhino. There are only two northern white rhinos left in the world. These are two females named Najin and Fatu, and can be visited in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya. You can fly into the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and enjoy a safari here, or combine it with another destination such as the Masai Mara.
Image: Governors Camp, Moses Manduku
Direct flights & great family destination
3- Direct flights from London and New York
One of the main draws to Kenya is that it has such great accessibility. There are direct flights from London with both British Airways and Kenya Airways. From New York, you can reach Nairobi directly with Kenya Airways in 13 and a half hours. From Nairobi, you can easily fly into any national park or reserve taking light aircraft internal flights. This maximizes your time on safari.
4 – It’s a great destination for families
Whether it’s a small family or a large multi-generational group, Kenya is a fantastic family destination. Destinations like the Laikipia Plateau and the Masai Mara offer activities for all ages. Activities like camel riding, tubing on the river, and ‘bush school’ give children an opportunity to connect with nature and the wildlife around them, and the guides are fantastically patient. For families, you will have your own family unit of accommodation, and your own safari guide/ vehicle. This gives you the flexibility of your safari.
Image: Governors Camp, Will Fortescue
Sleep under the stars & world-class game viewing
5 – You can sleep under the stars
Of course the wildlife in Kenya is second to none, but a part of Africa that is often underrated is the sky. With little or no light pollution, stargazing in Kenya is really special. A lot of the safari camps and lodges across Kenya offer sleepouts which are essentially beds on platforms, with nothing but the sounds of the bush and the stars above to fall asleep too. It is a really special experience to enjoy on your safari holiday.
6 – World-class game viewing
The safari experience in Kenya is one of the best on Earth. For safari enthusiasts, it’s often regarded as one of the top three destinations, on par with Tanzania and Botswana. There are 23 national parks and game reserves in Kenya, each offering their own unique experience. Often regarded as the best in all of East Africa however, is the Masai Mara National Reserve. This park, located on the southern border of Kenya and Tanzania, is where Disney’s The Lion King was researched and based on. Home to an abundance of big cats and the wildebeest migration (between the months of July and November), the Masai Mara offers a phenomenal safari experience.
Image: Ol Seki Hemingways Camp
Amazing views & cultural experiences
7 – Amazing views of Mount Kilimanjaro
Although it’s located in Tanzania, one of the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro is actually in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. This park, located in central Kenya, offers a great safari, with exceptional views of Africa’s largest mountain as the backdrop. Many photographers – both amateur and professional – head to Amboseli every year to capture the huge elephant herds in front of the mighty Kilimanjaro.
8 – An abundance of culture
A big draw to Kenya and East Africa is the colorful culture it has. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic tribal group who live around southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Their cousins, the Samburu people, can be found further north in the area around Samburu National Reserve. Both of these tribes are extremely colorful in their clothing. You can visit the Maasai or Samburu people, where a lot of singing, dancing and jumping will take place – a very joyous and welcoming experience from the local people.
Image: Governors Camp, Will Fortescue
Warm climate & an English-speaking country
9 – A warm climate with year-round visits
Kenya sits on the equator so it offers warm weather year round. You can visit Kenya throughout the year, but there is a rainy period between April and May which is best to avoid if possible. While you can still go on safari during this time, the vegetation will be much thicker and greener, which means that the game will be harder to spot. There is also a short rainy period in November. The dry period, and the busiest time of year, is the June-September window.
10 – An English-speaking country
English is the official language of Kenya. The local people will speak both English and Swahili. This is a big attraction for many people thinking about where to go for their African safari tours. The people of Kenya are very friendly and accommodating. From the moment you arrive in Kenya, you will be greeted by warm smiles.
Image: Ol Seki Hemingways Camp
Exceptional guiding & hot-air balloon safaris
11 – Exceptional guiding
Kenya has some of the best safari guiding on the continent. With a bronze, silver and gold guiding system in place, safari camps take great pride in hiring some of the best guides and kindest staff across the country. A lot of the safari guides will also be local to that area, who have been trained and worked their way up through the job roles. For example, the head guide will have more than likely started as a housekeeper, a mechanic, or a waiter.
12 – Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara
A hot air balloon ride is one of the most memorable experiences you can have- no matter where you fly over. However, flying over the plains of Kenya is a really heightened experience. From the air, you can see the wildlife below you, and get a perspective of just how big these national parks are. If you fly over the Masai Mara between August-October, you may be able to see the Great Migration herds in their natural habitat.
Image: Angama Mara, Kenya
Great Migration & idyllic beaches
13 – Witness the Great Migration herds
Although it differs every year, the Great Migration herds cross the Mara River around July every year, making their way into the Masai Mara National Reserve. Over 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras make this annual pilgrimage. They graze the Masai Mara plains between July and October, making their way back into Tanzania in October/November.
14 – Stunning white-sand beaches
Kenya is bordered by the Indian Ocean which makes it really easy to do a twin-center holiday. This is one of the reasons that Kenya is chosen as a destination, over other options. There are a lot of internal flights between safari destinations and the southern coast of Kenya, which means you can be on safari in the morning, and on the white-sand beach in the afternoon. Nairobi is also a very connected city and airport, which makes beach destinations like the Seychelles easy to combine with a Kenya safari.
15 – Experience the Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley – a result of tectonic activity – runs through Kenya. The eastern branch of the East African Rift runs through multiple countries – starting from Tanzania, continuing northwards through Kenya into Ethiopia. Kenya is also home to a collection of mountains like Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon. For experienced climbers and active travelers, you can hike these mountains.
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