Kenya destinations and safaris guide
WHERE TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO IN KENYA
Here is your complete Kenya safaris and destinations guide to help you with all information needed before landing in Kenya.
Maasai Mara Safari Kenya
Maasai Mara also known as “The Mara” by the locals is one of the most wonderful game reserves found in the Great Rift Valley with a lot of animal concentration on the Western escarpment. It is located in the Southwestern part of Kenya in Narok County, covering an area of 1510sqkm. Masai Mara is bordered by Tanzania and is more like an extension of the Serengeti National Park in the North.
It derived its name “Masai” from the “Red cloak” that is dressed by the Maasai people who have lived in the park for centuries, and the word Mara means “mottled”
The Maasai Mara is a great Kenya safari park for game viewing with over 450 bird species, over 95 mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The game viewing involves observing the Great migration where millions of wildebeests, elands, gazelles and Zebras migrate from the Serengeti to the Mara from around July to October every year. Other animals include; the Maasai lions, elephants, buffaloes, hyenas, crocodiles, African leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and many others.
The park is approximately 270km from Nairobi which is Kenya’s capital and this is about 4 to 5 hours on road and 40 to 45 minutes by air. The road is basically good though it is a little dusty from Narok town to Sekenani Gate.
Maasai Mara can be visited any time in the year though the months of December to March are better for the viewing of the big cats since it is a dry season and July to October is the best time to observe the Great wildebeest migration. Concerning the climatic conditions there are two seasons; the rainy season that starts from October to December, March to June and the dry season from June to October, December to March. The temperature ranges from 20°C to 30°C.
Activities in this reserve include; Game viewing, visits to the Maasai villages (Manyatta), night game drives, camping, bush breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Mara is a good place for honey moons and also good for photography.
There are very many places to stay in and near the Maasai Mara such as Mara Serena (luxury), Governors’ Camp (luxury) and others around are Olonana, Tembo, Mara Siria Camps.
Tsavo National park Kenya Safaris.
Tsavo National Park is one of Kenya’s largest and oldest National Parks covering an area of 13,747 Sqkm. The park is divided into two; Tsavo East and Tsavo West. It is situated in a semi-desert area known as the Taru Desert. The park was opened in 1948 and was named after the Tsavo River which flows from west to east of the park.
Tsavo East is known for large herds of Elephants that bathe in the red dust, a lush view of semi arid plains good for game viewing, Mudanda rock, the Yatta plateau, different Kenya safari bird species Lugard falls which drop into crocodile-filled pools and rapids these make it an amazing place to visit and photography. Other animals in Tsavo East include; Hyenas, lions, cape buffaloes, gazelles, giraffes, impalas, black rhinoceros, zebras, and waterbucks among others. Tsavo West covering 9065sqkm is endowed with beautiful scenery and is a great spot for birds, Chaimu Crater, Mzima Springs and other various springs with large numbers of crocodiles and hippos. Viewing wildlife in Tsavo west is not as simple as it is in Tsavo East because the vegetation here is denser, but still the beautiful scenery over shadows this!
Safaris can be done in Tsavo throughout the year, though there are two rainy seasons such as from March to May (rainfall is very heavy and it makes game viewing difficult), October to December (lesser rains hence during this time safaris can go on). The temperatures are approximately 27-31°C during day and 22-24°C at night.
You can get to Tsavo National Park by road; either by booking a mini bus or land cruiser, it is 333km from Nairobi via Voi gate and 173km from Mombasa via Bachuma gate. The park can also be accessed by Air and Rail way.
Where to stay; there are various accommodation facilities in and near Tsavo National Park ranging from Luxury to budget. They include; Red Elephant Safari Lodge (Luxury), Kilalinda Lodge Tsavo (Luxury), Gladessa Bush Camp (Small luxury camp), Ithumba camp Tsavo (luxury), Voyager Safari Camp (Luxury), Kitani lodge Tsavo (Bandas), Ndololo Safari Camp (Backpackers), Sau Tsavo Camp (Budget) and many others.
Amboseli National Park Safaris.
Amboseli national Park is the second famous park in Kenya and is located approximately 240km from Nairobi Kenya’s capital in Kajiado County, it covers 8,000sqkm. The Park derived the name “Amboseli” from a Masai word that means “Salty dust”, its former name was Masai Amboseli game reserve. The local people around this place are mostly Masai though also other people from different parts of Kenya stay around. The rainfall received in this area is approximately 350mm which is lower than that received in other parts of the country.
Amboseli is one of the best places for game viewing since it is endowed with wildlife such as the very many numbers of elephants, impalas, waterbucks, giraffes, elands, big cats like cheetahs, lions, over 400 bird species such as kingfishers, pelicans, and other attractions include Masai villages and the beautiful spectacular views of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
You can get to Amboseli by road and by air since there is a small airport in the park called Amboseli Airport. Also while in the park follow all rules- they are set for the good of the tourists and wildlife like ‘No harassing animals’, ‘No driving off tracks’. Another thing to note is that the roads in the park are of volcanic soil so they get muddy and impassable during wet/rainy seasons and are too dusty in the dry season.
Where to stay; there are many accommodation facilities around Amboseli ranging from Luxury to mid range lodges. They include; Sentrim Amboseli Lodge, Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge, AA Lodge Amboseli, Weru Weru River Lodge, Africa Amini Maasai Lodge, Maasai Simba Camp among others.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is located near Lake Nakuru in Central Kenya and it is commonly known for its Pink Flamingoes. The park was established in 1961 and is home to over 450 bird species, 56 different species of mammals such as waterbucks, rhinos, over 550 plant species like the yellow acacia woodlands and euphorbia candelabrum forest, Makalia waterfalls and many more attractions.
The park can be accessed by road and air;
By road: There is a tarmac road that connects to Nairobi with a distance of 156km northwest of Nairobi. There is a route usually used which is around 4km from Nakuru Town, though also other routes can be used and you can enter the park through various gates such as the Lanet Gate, Main gate and Nderit gate.
By Air: You can also fly to the park landing on Naishi Airstrip.
Where to stay; there are various campsites, guest houses and lodges to stay in while on a safari in Lake Nakuru National Park such as Lake Nakuru lodge, Sarova Hill lodge, Naishi guest house(KWS Self catering), Makalia campsite, Rhino campsite, Acacia Picnic site, Baboon Cliff, Kambi Nyuki campsite, Chui Campsite among others.
Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves
These reserves are found on the banks of Ewaso Nyiro River in Osiolo county which is arid and semi arid. The reserve was established in 1948 as part of the Samburu game reserve and in 1985 the other boundaries were established. These reserves are managed by the Isiolo county council. The major attraction in Samburu National reserve is the Sarara singing wells; it’s where the local Samburu warriors sing songs while hauling water for animals (cattle), there is also chance of seeing the wild dogs and big cats while here. The Shaba National Reserve is known for the endangered Grevy’s Zebra. The climate in this area is hot, dry and semi-arid.
While here one can engage in activities like visiting cultural villages, get entertainment from the pastoralist dancers, nature walks, game viewing safaris seeing various vegetation types in the reserves and wild life such as the Spotted hyena, African elephant, Africa leopard, Masai lion, African buffalo, Somali Ostriches, Tanzanian cheetah, Oryx among others.
The Samburu, Buffalo springs and Shaba National Reserves can be visited all year round and can be accessed by road and air from Nairobi.
Accommodation facilities in these reserves include; Sarova Shaba game lodge, Larsens tented camp (Samburu-Luxury), Samburu Serena lodge (luxury), Sentrim Samburu lodge, Joy’s camp (Shaba-Luxury) among others.
Lake Navaisha is a nice freshwater lake, surrounded by thick papyrus. It is located outside
Naivasha town in Nakuru County found in the Northwest of Nairobi. This lake also lies at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley. Originally it was called “Nai’posha” by the Masai which means “rough water” but the British wrongly spelt it as “Naivasha”.
Lake Naivasha is endowed with over 400 bird species like African fish eagles together with other animals such as the buffaloes, elands, waterbucks, zebras, giraffes, hippos and others; all can best viewed while on a boat cruise on the lake.
Different activities can be done in this park such as game drives, afternoon boat excursions to the crescent island or around the lake, Nature walks, community visits, horseback riding, flower farm trips. One can choose to have an added experience by visiting the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, Lake Nakuru National Park and Hell’s gate park which are not far from the location of the Lake Naivasha.
Lake Naivasha can be accessed by road which is approximately 2 hours from Nairobi or one could opt for a 15 minute flight still from Nairobi. Considering all things, a tourist is recommended to visit Naivasha during the dry season which could also be the best time to view the wildebeest migration. There are many hotels and lodges around which offer accommodation.
MOUNT KENYA CLIMBING.
Mt Kenya is an extinct volcano with jagged peaks rising to 5,199m/17,057ft. It has three main peaks; Batian, Nelion and Lenana Peak. Batian and Nelion are permanently iced with snow and small glaciers, and home to an array of technical alpine climbs.
Apart from the superb climbing potential on Mount Kenya, its tarns and alpine meadows; exotic, equatorial, high-altitude vegetation; sunbirds, hyrax and soaring eagles make the walk around the peaks one of the most beautiful expeditions in the East African mountains.
There are three main routes, which penetrate the forest and the moorland. The routes are Naromoru route, Sirimon route and Chogoria route and each of which has something different to offer. The Trek Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions has offers for the below hiking routes. It is possible to combine hiking Mt. Kenya with Kenya safaris.
Climb Mount Kenya Naromoru route – The fastest route to point Lenana but not as scenic as the other two. It is often overcrowded with many climbers since it’s the most popular route compared to Chogoria route and Sirimon route trek Mount Kenya.
Mount Kenya Climbing Chogoria route – The most scenic and interesting of the three main routes on the mountain. The route passes the enchanting Hall Tarns and looks down sheer cliffs into the spectacular Gorges Valley and onto the beautiful Lake Michaelson.
Climbing Mount Kenya Sirimon route – The least used of the three main routes, but features the most gradual ascent profile and best acclimatisation options and above all the most interesting since its on the drier side on the mountain. The route passes through impressive Yellowwood forests in the lower reaches and features abundant wildlife and beautiful alpine scenery higher up.
This is the largest town and capital city of Kenya located in the south-central of the country. It is known for its historical background such as the colonial history since during the colonial rule it was the capital of British East Africa. Nowadays tourists visit this city’s historic sites and the nearest beautiful wildlife attractions, which include; The Karen Blixen Museum, the Nairobi National Museum which has a lot of information concerning Kenya’s history, culture, art, and nature. Also there are beautiful botanic gardens around this place.
In case one wants to see wildlife in a place not far from the city; Nairobi National Park would be the best option to take- this is a home to black rhinos, buffaloes, cheetahs, lions, wildebeests, leopards, zebras etc. Also a visit to the David Sheldrick wildlife trust where there are close-up encounters with orphaned elephants, Visit the Giraffe Centre. Keep in mind the safety of your property since recently crime rates have increased in Nairobi.
This is Kenya’s second biggest city and largest port; it is located in the southeast of the country. Are you in need of exploring cultures; visit Mombasa since it a multicultural destination with cultures like the Kenyan, Indian, Arab, Portuguese, and Asian cultures; this is evidenced by the different cuisines and architecture.
Mombasa has other things to visit such as Fort Jesus and Old Town which were built in the 16th century; there are markets, small streets and souvenir shops. These bring a memorable experience especially to tourists interested in history. For the beach lovers you cannot be left out since there are various beaches like White strands of Shelly, Diani beaches in the south of Mombasa.
Lamu is a small island located in the northeastern part of Mombasa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its town (Lamu) was established way back in the 12th century. While visitors are here they are able to venture around seeing various Architectural buildings of the Arabs, India and Europe, visit the donkeys sanctuary and see some along the streets, Visit Lamu fort, arts and crafts, dhows; generally this is a great place for historians. Don’t forget to sip an Arabic coffee in the local café!
Kenya being a safari destination has a lot to offer, starting with the National Parks such as Tsavo, Nakuru, and Masai Mara, Mount Kenya National parks, Museums like Malindi museum and Nairobi National museum, old towns and cities like Mombasa, Beaches like Watamu Beach, Lakes such as Lake Naivasha, Caves like Obsidian caves in the Hell’s Gate National Park. Not living out the diverse cultures.
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